God and The Monster

I'm not a big fan of the beach.

Honeymoon - Jelleyfish My wife and I on our honeymoon, we went on a Disney cruise and one of the destinations was 'Castaway Key' which is Disneys island. Yes they own an island. Well we were walking out in the water, it might have come up to our wastes. - The Story of how I pushed jordan into the jellyfish

Fascinated - Deep Water.

But I am fascinated by deep water.

Swimming/Snorkeling DEEP

When I was young my family and I went on a cruise where I think we were somewhere around jamaica, and there was this place where we could swim and the water so just SO clear. And as you swam out, you could look down and you realize that it's like 60 feet down, and that's terrifying.

There's definitely something powerful about the sea. Something romantic / terrifying about it. -

I also love stories that are set at sea.


Movie 'All is Lost'.

This past week, I watched a movie called 'All is Lost'.

I had told you before I've recently found myself in a place where I'm very aware of the struggles that people are going through. Many of my friends and many people in here over this past year have suffered unbelievable losses.

And to me there was something about this movie that struck me as really metaphorical of my life and the life of other people around me.

Robert Redford is the only actor.

But he's 80 now. And he was 77 when this movie was shot.

So he's so much more weathered now.

He's alone at sea. There's no other actors. You go to IMDB and there's only 1 actor in the whole movie.

There's not much of a plot, just one man trying to survive alone at sea.

He gets a hole in his boat.

His boat eventually sinks and he's on just this life raft.

The raft is in a constant state of taking on water. So he has this rag that he fills with water and squeezes out, he does this for hours.

He's made this fishing pole thing and finally manages to catch a fish only to have shark come and grab the fish right as he's about to get it on the raft.

He's doing this evaporation water thing.

He gets all these systems in place, only to have a storm come and totally destroy all his little inventions.

He's charting his course on this map and after such an incredible effort, it's devastating that he's gone such a short distance.

At one point there's this huge boat that comes by and he uses the only 2 flares he has, and he's trying to yell but he has no strength to yell, and the boat just passes by.

And for me, it was really metaphorical - in that it reminded me of this feeling that many of us know - which is feeling adrift, alone in the middle of a storm that you know can and just might swallow you up.

You don't know if you're gonna make it to the other side or not.

There's this one scene - It's after his boat has sunk, and he's on this raft, and it's just one man, completely alone in a sea of nothingness and the camera just keeps going up and up and up, until he and the raft are just a speck on the water.

I thought it was both beautiful and scary. - How small we are when compared to the sea.

Then a little later, they do the same thing, but they do it from underneath the water, and you see the camera going deeper, and deeper, and deeper until finally the raft is tiny and you see sharks and all this other stuff swimming underneath him that he has no idea about.

It reminds me of the end of the book of job, when Job says 'Oh how small I am in light of all these things that are created.'


In - Old Testament - Mythology of - sea.

In the Old Testament - there's this whole mythology of the sea. How it's not just the water, it becomes symbolic of evil and chaos.

All that is wild, and untamed, and untamable.

It's where the monsters live.

Ex: Daniel - Has this great vision - and he sees the monsters coming out of the sea.

Book of revelation says that when Christ returns there will be no more sea. When I was younger, that used to bum me out. 'Ahh weak!'. But he's again using a metaphor for Chaos. - All will be known, all will be light.

That time is coming, but it's not now.

The book of Job - talks about not only the Chaotic sea, but the sea monsters.

Leviathan. Gustave Doré 1865 Painting (pic)

The Leviathan is the mysterious sea monster. The description of it in Job describes it in a lot of ways like the Loch Ness Monster

He has a lot of these contrasting descriptions of it. They can't all be true, but it's almost like he's communicating the lore behind the sea monster.

Some say that leviathan is always Satan or Evil, and there's certainly a sense of that, you can see in parts of the bible where God is going to war with the leviathan. But you can also see in Job and Psalms in particular like the Leviathan is God's pet, or like God's plaything.

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. (Psalm 104:24)

Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. (Psalm 104:25)

There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. (Psalm 104:26)

What kind of being would make a hideous sea monster to play around in the sea?

Pets.

I think you can learn a lot about a person by what kind of pet they have.

Me and Jordan - tiny dogs

Ever met - lady - glasses / bun -- cats.

Ever met a lady - with particular glasses and a particular bun on her head and you get the distinct impression: This lady has cats.

So when I think about God, and I think about this ferocious animal that David said is essentially God's pet, I think it says a lot about the wildness of God.

That he's comfortable with what they used to call 'A Chaos Monster'.


Job

Job has become one of my favorites books. I think it's the best poetry found in the bible, personally.

I also feel like Job is the bible's most primitive book. When I'm reading it, it FEELS old in a way the rest of the bible doesn't.

Not surprising that you hear a lot of talk about sea monsters. He talks about all the things that are primally human.

I don't even think you need to be a Christian to understand the book of job.

Unlike the rest of the books of the Old Testament, there's no reference to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, no reference to the exodus. There's none of that.

Talks about really primal human emotions - trying to understand good and evil, and God, and pain.

Job is the 1st reference in the bible to have an explicit reference to Satan. What's interesting is Satan isn't a surname like 'Hi my name is Bob', no, Satan is a title. In Hebrew it's actually 'The Satan' which means 'The Accuser'.

Karl Marx - "Opiate for the masses"


Rich guy - ‘Job’ living in a land called ‘Uz’ w/large family and huge flocks.

He’s ‘blameless’ & ‘upright’. “Always careful to avoid doing evil.”

One day, ‘The Satan’ appears before God in heaven.

God brags how great Job is.

Satan says ‘well yeah but it’s only because you’ve blessed him so much.

‘The Satan’ challenges God - give him permission to punish Job, he would curse God.

God says ‘Fine. Just don’t kill him.’

All hits the fan for Job.

News: livestock, servants, 10 children - dead.

Only thing remained: his wife. Not a blessing.

Rips his clothes, shaves his head.

But still blesses God in his prayers.

Satan appears to God again, God gives permission to try again.

Horrible skin sores.

"Clothed in worms and scabs"

His wife tells him to curse God and commit suicide.

Job refuses.

3 Friends - Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar

Sit in silence w/Job for 7 days. After, Job finally speaks.

Begins a conversion where each of the 4 men discuss ‘why'.

Chapters 4-37 are mostly his friends giving some of the more insane, ridiculous, ignorant advice that has ever existed.

Book ends w/God speaking to Job and restoring him. More livestock, more servants, more children.

Don't want to get into the theology of the book. But suffice it to say that I think theologically it's one of the most misunderstood books in the bible, but the key is to realize the book is comprised almost totally of wrong ways to understand suffering, and God comes and rebukes Job and his friends for being so ignorant in thinking they understand why this stuff happens.


I identify w/ job - lot of ways.

I identify with job in a lot of ways. Certainly not b/c I feel like I suffer while being sinless, definitely not that. But I identify with the feeling of life feeling really wild, and chaotic, and scary.

Anyone who has suffered in any way can enter into this kind of story. You don't have to understand the complex theology or anything, all you need to know is what it feels like to suffer.

It speaks the language of suffering.


Gets interesting - friends come -

Where things get interesting in when his friends come to try and comfort him and end up just saying all sorts of awful things.

I'm actually fairly sympathetic to job's friends, b/c I know how many times I've been that person, offering unhelpful advice to people who are hurting.

It SEEMS that they have pure motives, they sit with him in silence as a friend and then try to offer helpful words.

But like is so often the case, our explanations of pain end up just making everything 1000x worse.

I think of job as kind of the worst case scenario - it's bad enough that the worst thing imaginable happens to job, and then what makes it even worse is his friends come and try to tell him WHY it happened.

I think where they really go wrong is not in the actual reasons they give, it's earlier than that. I think they go wrong when they try to offer any explanation at all.

Lazarus. Remember when Jesus's friend Lazarus died - he comes and he cries - he offers no explanation at all. Simply compassion 'to suffer with'.


I'm convinced that the reason jobs friends come and offer explanations is the same reason we do - because we feel like if we can understand why it happened to them, it somehow reassures us of it not happening to us.

Their lives feel nice, and ordered, and job's life spins into chaos, and they need to reassure themselves that that's not going to happen to them.

It almost looks like they're telling job things to help him sleep better at night, but I think they're telling job things that will make themselves sleep better at night.

So often I hear people give meaning to other peoples suffering not because it helps the other person feel better but because it makes THEM feel better.

"I'm able to understand why everything happens." So my life is perfectly ordered, and neat, and clean and I can sleep good.


Natural disaster strikes - Televangelist 'We know why - hurricane.'

You see this happen when some sort of natural disaster strikes - inevitably some televangelist will get on TV and say 'We know why this hurricane came!' it's the abortionists, or the gays.'

Of course no one would ever get up and say 'Hey about that hurricane, I'm pretty sure that was me. My bad.'

Breaks down pretty quick

Las Vegas is called sin city. Not likely to get taken out by a hurricane.

No one is saying 'Hurricanes are caused by changes in barometric pressure."


There's something comforting about knowing why something bad happens, and really, I think it's to insulate ourselves for how chaotic the world can be.

His friends come and make job feel like HE'S the monster.

Because his life threatens their sense of order.


What's really interesting - while we tend to think of job just as this man who has lost so much, what's amazing is what he complains about the most is the rejection of his friends.

That's what's really cutting.

Rene Girard - calls job - "the victim of his people"

The more job talks, the more he talks about how monstrous he feels.

“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11)

Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me? (Job 7:12)

Job is saying to God "Am I now the monster that you oppose?"

He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. (Job 9:17)

It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ (Job 9:22)

When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. (Job 9:23)

Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked? (Job 10:3)

If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. (Job 10:16)

You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave. (Job 10:17)

Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy. (Job 10:20)

He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes. (Job 30:19)

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. (Job 10:20)

You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. (Job 10:21)

You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. (Job 10:22)


This goes on for like 38 chapters - where job is talking, and his friends are talking, and then finally everyone shuts up long enough for God to talk.

Isn't that the way that it is? That maybe God would speak if everyone else would just stop talking for a minute.

Once God finally comes and speaks - it's incredible.

LOVE opener - Chapter 38

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 38:2)

Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. (Job 38:3)

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. (Job 38:4)

Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? (Job 38:5)

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? (Job 38:16)

Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? (Job 38:17)

Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. (Job 38:18)

What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? (Job 38:24)

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? (Job 38:33)

God comes and points out the massive ignorance of what we’ve been doing for 38 brutal chapters.

He sits Job down and begins to talk about the sea, and the sea monster.

And the wildness of things. The chaos of things.

His friends have been offering explanations, and God comes and offers a vision of the world in it's terrible freedom

Gives this amazing picture of the freedom and wildness of creation.

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? (Job 39:1)

“Who has let the wild ass go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass, (Job 39:5)

to which I have given the steppe for its home, the salt land for its dwelling place? (Job 39:6)

“Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will it spend the night at your crib? (Job 39:9)

Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes, or will it harrow the valleys after you? (Job 39:10)

“Do you give the horse its might? Do you clothe its neck with mane? (Job 39:19)

“Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars, and spreads its wings toward the south? (Job 39:26)

Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes its nest on high? (Job 39:27)

It lives on the rock and makes its home in the fastness of the rocky crag. (Job 39:28)

Amazing wildness - Almost disorder of the universe. Unlike jobs friends who have a cause and effect for everything.

Basically karma - if you do good, then good will happen to you and God will bless you. If bad…

A big key to understanding the book - People will quote the book of job as some sort of truth, but then in the end you see that job isn't right about how he understood why things happen.

Job assumes that God is pulling all the strings - micromanaging the entire universe.

Job is commended at the end of the book by God, not because of his theology, no his theology is horrible, he's commended for speaking rightly TO God. God loves his honesty.


Then God begins to talk about Leviathan - the sea monster.

And not only does God speak about leviathan, when he's done talking about Leviathan, he's done talking.

“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope? (Job 41:1)

If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! (Job 41:8)

Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering. (Job 41:9)

Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. (Job 41:18)

Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. (Job 41:19)

Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. (Job 41:20)

Nothing on earth is its equal — a creature without fear. (Job 41:33)

It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud. ” (Job 41:34)

Unusual response.

It's sort of unusual - Job is coming to God in his agony and pain and suffering, and God finally shows up, and says that Job doesn't know what he thinks he knows then goes into this big long explanation of a sea monster.

Which on the surface is like 'Uhh.. you're not answering my question God.'

But really he's explaining the idea of evil and chaos.

That's it's not how all these boys thought it was - that it's just God DOING something, or it's Job fault cuz he did something bad.

God comes and explains this ferocious chaotic reality of the world.

No one is able to stop the monsters but Him.

Can you :

  • Pull in Leviathan with a fishhook? No.
  • Pierce Leviathan with a sword? No.
  • Capture the sea monster? No.
  • Tame the chaos? No.
  • Remove the ambiguity? No.
  • Wrestle down the mystery? No.

BUT I CAN.

The mistake that people make is thinking they can make sense of everything all the time.


Moby Dick

Who's read moby dick?

It's a book about Ahab this man who is on a quest to kill the giant whale - Moby Dick'.

The author is constantly quoting job and attributing all these horrible attributes to moby dick.

Spoiler alert - it came out in the 1850's - so I think it's fine. - He dies trying to kill Moby Dick.

He's trying to capture that which man cannot capture. To kill that which man cannot kill.


Crazy - book of job - Horrible thing - plaything to God. It's not intimidating to God.


So often I'm hoping: Tame & Orderly life.

I think so often, people come to God hoping that he's going to provide a tame and orderly life. And when he doesn't, we feel betrayed by him.

But I really think that's the wrong expectation.

That God doesn't say there's never going to be chaos, but simply that he's with us in the chaos.

And he's not scarred of the chaos, he's not befuddled by the chaos.

Joyce Meyers - 2 artists.

Joyce Meyers tells a story of 2 artists that were asked to paint a picture of 'peace'. One painted a quiet, still lake nested up to the mountains. The other painted this huge raging waterfall and out of the waterfall was this branch with a bird sitting in his nest on it.

Her point is there's no such thing as a life without opposition.

Amazingly, I think that sometimes when life seems really crazy and chaotic, it's when God is able to come and do his best work.

Beautiful dream society

We're not the ones who are able to tame the chaos, the only thing we can do is come to trust the one who treats the chaos as his plaything.

We can spend so much time being Job or being his friends - trying to tame or at least understand it all.

When really, I think what God is calling us to do is come to learn to trust Him with the stuff we don't understand.

The whole deal - Invite God - cracks / crevices…

I think that's the whole deal - We invite God into the cracks and crevices where I don't understand what's going on, and I don't know how to fix it, and I don't know how to change anything. But He does.

Pretending - horrible - body of Christ.

One of the reasons I think pretending is such a horrible thing in the body of Christ - we try to come to God having all this stuff figured out already. You don't come to God and have doubts or questions. But it's him who can guide you through those waters.

I love what the Psalmist says to God "Even the darkness is light to you."

God's not afraid of the dark. God's not afraid of what lives in the dark.

He's not coming to crush you.

You're the not the monster.


As we prepare…

A day is coming when there will be no sea. But today is not that day.

In the meantime, we can't take the chaos out. But we submit ourselves to the one who is able to control the chaos.

I wonder if there's some people in here tonight that would even say 'I don't know how to invite him into these dark chaotic places, I don't even know how that works.

I feel you.

"I don't know how to handle this stuff. But you do."

So all I know how to ask is that you bring a light into these chaotic places.

So long as our posture is "This isn't happening! The monsters aren't real!" Nothing changes.

But when we can say "Man, there's these monsters and chaos here, but I believe in a God who's able to get down into the depths.

Just learn to trust that he's always at work even when you don't see it.


Communion

  • While the world can be cruel, God is never cruel.
  • The world can bring nightmares, but God’s not behind the nightmares.
  • The world feel chaotic and scary, but God can tame the monsters.
  • And though we'll never understand it all, we find comfort in the fact that it won't always be like this.

As they pass : Spend a minute - in your heart, be honest with him and invite him in and be confident that he'll help you.

(Pass)

Whatever you're going through.

I've learned this: everyone is going through something.

He knows and he's there with you.

If you let him. He will help you.


We invite him in, and he’s the master of bringing good out of evil, success out of failure. Healing out of disaster.