One of my favorite stories in scripture has this line at the penultimate showdown of two wills at war.
My paraphrase of Job 42:2
I know that you can do all things! No purpose of yours can be rendered void!
This story is the story of Job. Here, in Job 42:2, Job cried out to God when he saw how utterly dismal his own understanding of the universe was. It serves as a very stark change of tone from a man that spent many, many words in his own defense of what he thought he knew about God, and his Nature. Talk about waving the white flag!
According to scholars, the story of Job is probably one of the oldest stories in the Bible, most likely predating the events of the Pentateuch (the first five books of scripture). I feel it is pretty safe then to say that it offers a great view of how some of God’s most ancient followers thought about him.
There are also four other interesting characters in the story worth mentioning for the unfamiliar. You have Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar (<– sounds like the name of an alien. Who knows?), and another one… his name is Elihu. The first three basically came from the vantage point that Job must have done some major stuff wrong against God to be suffering the way he was. So throughout the book, as Job defended what he knew about God, and his own righteousness, he also dealt with, and passionately spoke against the premises of their arguments.
On the other hand you have Mr. Elihu — and in my opinion — Elihu is special. He is the only character in the book who actually defends God, and his goodness. After he speaks God also defends Himself, and in that discourse, Elihu is the only one not corrected by Him after he rebukes Job and his friends.
Job 32:19, KJV, as Elihu was speaking to Job, and his friends.
“Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles”
Elihu you felt quite strongly about this didn’t you? In all seriousness though… I’d say he was quite a passionate ancient fellow. An early orator of a theology uncommon at that time.
Pivoting now — it’s unique considering the age of the story that for all of Job’s long-winded self-commentary, and wrathful assumptions that were flying around about God’s nature towards Job — there is the one detail that really turns the plot and metric of the dialogue in a new direction. Instead of giving Job a hefty dose of concentrated wrath the Lord of the Heavens showed him MERCY.
Mercy is very different to what people of his time probably thought they would have gotten from a deity of any sort. And no joke… the deities commonly believed in that period were quite capricious, and some were beyond bloodthirsty.
Common as those deities were in the minds of people at that time, and in contrast to what was expected to be given by them — when Job humbled himself before the Lord of Heaven, he was blessed instead of cursed in vengeance. Instead of wrath, he was given what must have been like wine, metaphorically speaking. That being strong blessing, the tannic return of honor, and the intoxicating restoration of his very soul. All that being freely given by God from the bottomless reservoirs of His grace and goodwill.
Could it be that this is a deeper dynamic to life than lies on the surface? To our current human lives with their problems, and irritants?
For example, many times in scripture there is the recurring theme of being humbled by something, and then being blessed by the fruit of humility that comes from the experience (provided the person going through it has the right perspective). For how can one receive a handful with a clenched fist? Your hands — and the hands to your own heart — have to be open in order to receive something from someone. The same deal applies to you and God.
You cannot hold a wine glass without cracking it if you hold it too tightly. Likewise, how can you embrace the blessings of life; of God; or of anyone, or anything else in whatever form they take — if you are constantly trying to control the variables of the River that they come from, and influence the Maker of them?
At any rate, Job could not control the bad things that happened to him simply by being righteous and constantly offering sacrifices to God. Even with the Shepard of Souls, he faced difficult and frustrating times. Just as we do today. However, one of the things Job could not control was also one of the best. That being the Grace that was to be given to him by the One whom he worshiped, and the reward of Wine and Bread that was to be given in God’s faithfulness as a gift.
God prunes the souls of all whom he loves (and I do mean all mankind), and he disciplines the characters of his saints.
Proverbs 3:12, NLV
For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
In God’s Will to give goodness and life, he also desires to raise us up to be the best we can be. In whatever difficulties we face, God can, and will, work in the midst of them to help us grow and mature. Just as wine has a pleasant nature, and on the other hand it has an astringent one, so too is the character of God’s actions towards us and his interactions with us. He is called Father for a reason. For a good father is genuinely pleasant, sincerely devotional, and good-natured in his corrections. Just as can be seen in Christ’s Abba.
Explore your heart. If you ask, God will give you the Wine of His Will, along with all the pleasures, astringent aspects, and deep flavors of it. As one accepts the character of a trusted friend; likewise, why should one not accept the full nature of His good character as well, whether it be found in life, or in the scriptures inspired by Him? I can say from experience that it is purely, and only good.
Taste, and drink the good Wine of His Will to the fullest degree. Job did and was blessed beyond measure. I pray that you find even greater blessing from God’s hands as you walk in His mercy, drink the wine of His cup, and delight in the Bread of Life — His one and only son, Christ Jesus.