Job 1:21, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
I started reading Job this morning and was freshly struck by the words of Job 1:21…scripture is often like a mold, forged by God, into which He invites us to pour the molten anguish of our hearts so that the would be formed into the image of His own glory…and that is what I think we are given with this text. By God’s grace, we can empty the bitterest of anguish into these words and find ourselves upheld…..they are like a steadying, mercifully given anchor in the storm..
Notice the threefold emphasis on the covenant name of God, “YHWH.” This name is not found very frequently in Job, you get it in the prologue, once in chapter 12, and then appearing again in the epilogue. The scarcity (and therefore intentionality) of the name’s use caused me to consider 1:21 a bit more closely this morning….what is Job saying? Why repeat “YHWH” rather than “God”? Here’s my musing on those questions and these are the thoughts from which the above picture spung:
God’s name–“YHWH”–as we know, is not just His title, it is an expression of His identity, of His character, of His glory (we see this when, in response to Moses’ request to see YHWH’s glory in Exodus 33:18, YHWH declares to Moses His Name, Ex.33:19, 34:6-7). So, by his threefold repetition of the divine Name, Job is, in effect, recalling the Identity of the One True God….he is reminding himself WHO God is, and–therefore–WHO has ordained the horrors that he’s just experienced. The Name (identity / character / beauty) of YHWH is a strong tower ( Prov.18:10), and Job runs to it for his refuge in this storm.
In the picture I placed Jesus on the cross (with the assumption of His resurrection present in the silhouette of the risen Christ) within the “face” of YHWH because it is in the love of Calvary that we most definitively know the Name (etc.) of the One True God…..and it is out of this Name that ALL of His providence–sweet and bitter–flows. When the Lord GIVES, it’s easy to see how He is acting out of the dying and rising love of Calvary…..but when He takes away (and all the griefs of the world are bound up in that word), He is no less acting out of that same love, out of that same Name……if we would know the heart who ordains our days AND our nights, we look to the slain and risen Lord of love Who has Himself borne the fullness of God’s wrath in himself….the Church’s sorrows have been baptized in the blood of her Lord, so that they too will serve her joy in Him.
I know this post is getting a bit long, but the concept of looking to the Name of God as expressed in the risen Son reminds me of a passage from “The Magician’s Nephew.” In this scene, a young boy named Digory is crying because his mother is near death and he wants Aslan—a lion who is the Christ figure of the story—to help.
“…[Digory] thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out:
“But please, please—won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great…”
In that passage the “Lion’s great feet” could represent the painful providences the Lord ordains for us, but Aslan’s face and the “great shining tears” of his love point to Calvary where the Name of the Lord is made known to us…
So when hardships come, may we–with Job–lift our eyes to the “face” of God, may we remember His Name, may we look to the crucified and risen and reigning Son and know with grace-given confidence that out of THIS NAME He has given, and out of THISNAME He has taken, and may we bless His Name.