Speaker: Tim Maxwell
What in Heaven Is Going On?
“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!”
It is with great joy that I give God much thanks for my family at Heritage Christian Fellowship. You have been a cause for which much praise to God wells up in my heart. As I think of you and your strong faith and the love you have demonstrated during this time of the coronavirus, what can I do but worship our Lord and God? Surely, Christ dwells in your hearts through faith and you are rooted and grounded in love! (cf. Eph. 3:17). To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Please know that I write this letter to share with you as a father desiring to encourage his family. I’m not trying to present a formal Bible study as much as to simply communicate what is in my heart toward God, and to support you in your faith during this unusual time of the coronavirus.
Concerning the virus, numerous questions have been asked, “What do you think of all this?” “Do you think the socialists will use this to take over our nation?” “Do you think this virus has anything to do with biological warfare?” “What do you think of the President’s handling of this national emergency?” “What do you think of our governor limiting the church’s ability to gather?” “Do you think our economy will rebound?” “How do you think the church will fair through this?”
While I enjoy the conversation as we discuss the various issues, it has been comforting to me to tell others that I don’t really know what to think about it all. I’m not a virologist, nor an economist, nor a politician (praise God from whom all blessings flow!), nor a strategist. I’m just a preacher in the high desert of New Mexico. So when I think on the COVID-19 issues and realize that I can only speculate as to the outcome, my thoughts immediately turn to Him whom I know, and I am confident. We need not speculate concerning God. We need not guess as to the eternal outcome for He has already pronounced it. It is in Him who sits on the throne reigning in heaven that we find true personal comfort and inner peace as we journey through the strange things of this life, looking forward to our true and eternal home.
If we intend to experience the joy and rest God has for us in such a time as this. our question must be less, “What on earth is going to happen?” and more, “What in Heaven is going on?”
Well then, what in heaven is going on? What is going on in heaven is what has been going on in heaven from all eternity and will continue through all eternity. This has never changed and will not change. Before creation God was in heaven glorified. In creation God was in heaven glorified. When man fell into sin God was in heaven glorified. When His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, was crucified God was in heaven glorified. As the events of earth and mankind unfold, and there is health and sickness, and there is financial prosperity and depression, and there are those who sin against God and those who repent of their sin, God is in heaven glorified! And when the sky is rolled back like a scroll and when He creates a New Heaven and a new earth, God will be in heaven glorified!
Though we speculate about what will happen here on earth, there is no need to speculate about what is happening in heaven. Let your peace and rest be established upon this truth: The Lord is having His way, and He is glorified. He has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all. Therefore, dear soul, bless the Lord!
How is it that I can speak about God in heaven so confidently? What is my basis for saying such a thing? Let’s consider God’s servant, Job.
As Job 1:1-5 records, it is an understatement to say Job was very prosperous!
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. 4 And his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.” (1:1-5)
Job had quite the life! He was exceedingly blessed of God, and he lived his life in faithful worship of his Lord and God. Yet, as prosperous as God had made Job, one day things turned quite dramatically. As 1:13-19 records, again it is an understatement to say that Job’s world was turned upside down!
“Now it happened on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 14 that a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." 16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." 17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and
took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you." 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died; and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (1:13-19)
Can you imagine such tragedy falling upon one person in one day in such rapid succession? I wonder how I would respond to such a thing. No matter, verses 20-22 tell us how Job responded.
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
21 And he said,
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. (1:20-22)
Wow! Job’s response was God glorifying, wasn’t it? Selah! And, Job’s response is humbling, isn’t it? Selah!
While Job had no idea what was happening in the heavens concerning the exchange between the Lord and satan there were two things he knew, and a third.
First, Job knew all his blessings were from God for he said, “The Lord gave.” Second, Job knew his loss was from God for he said, “The Lord has taken away.” Third, Job knew that God is to be praised in all things for he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In the second chapter (and I hope you’ll read it!), after Job’s wife tells him to “curse God and die,” he corrects her saying, verse 10, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” And the Scripture says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” To Job the issue was very clear as he so simply stated it: “The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
As you noticed I skipped over verses 6-12 of chapter 1 which record the dialog between God and satan. I did that on account that as I said a moment ago, Job didn’t know about it, as the rest of the book reveals. This is significant! While Job didn’t know anything of the conversation between the Lord and satan still he knew that God was in heaven glorified.
As we read the account we think, “Oh, wow! Look what was happening in the heavens! There’s this thing going on where God and satan are specifically discussing Job.”
God brought Job to the devil’s attention, speaking of him as His faithful servant. Satan then accused Job of serving God insincerely, selfishly. There’s a heavenly conflict going on and God Himself prompted it! God knows the truth of Job and is going to render glory to Himself while also planning to bless Job beyond what he had at first. But Job didn’t know any of this. And again this is substantial, for Job didn’t bless the Lord on account that he had some specific insight as to what was going on between the Lord and satan, but he blessed the Lord simply knowing that God is in heaven glorified.
At this time of the coronavirus, we don’t really know the specific details of all that is going on in heaven. Who knows, we might be like Job and one day learn of some great heavenly conflict that was taking place concerning us as God’s servant. But, our lack of knowledge of specific details must not be allowed to overshadow what we most certainly know, which is, God is in heaven glorified.
It is not ours to glorify the Lord as if we hand Him anything new or more of something He only partially owns, but we glorify our Father in heaven because He is in heaven glorified.
While everything around us is changing, our Father who is in heaven is unchanging. While the things of this life are uncertain, our Heavenly Father is most certain – eternally so. While we fret, He is in heaven glorified. While politicians wrangle, He is in heaven glorified. While we ask questions, God is in heaven glorified. While a virus with all its fallout concerns us, God our Father is in heaven glorified. What is left for us to do during this time, dear family, but to glorify God?
With this in mind, let’s look to the end of the book of Job. Really, I hate to skip over the part where Job’s friends come to console him and he responds to them (chapters 3-37). They didn’t do a very good job of encouraging Job (that’s another understatement!), but time and space does not allow me to expound upon the good, the bad, and the ugly of their counsel. Further, I really, really hate to skip over the part where God questions Job (chapters 38-41). Oh, you’ve got to read that! Please do! It is most profound! Nevertheless, let’s jump to the 42nd chapter.
After all Job has been through - after suffering great loss, after enduring his friends’ counsel, and after facing the terrifying inquiry of the Lord, we read the record of Job’s final response in chapter 42, verses 1-6.
“Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
2 "I know that Thou canst do all things,
And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.
3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."
4 'Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me.'
5 "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees Thee;
6 Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes." (42:1-6)
Amazing! There is so much here! Someday I hope to preach through the book of Job for there is such an abundance of truth to glean concerning God, His glory, and His servant Job! But for now, in his last recorded words we hear Job glorifying God! And why is he glorifying God? Not for something God has given him. In fact Job is still in his state of suffering as he has been for perhaps up to a year. Job is not glorifying God on account that God has healed and restored him. That hasn’t yet happened and Job didn’t even know that it would.
Isn’t this something!? Though the following verses tell of Job’s restoration and with the last two verses reading, “And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his grandsons, four generations. And Job died, an old man and full of days” (42:16-17); still, when Job said what he did in verses 1-6 he had no idea God would restore him.
Nothing in the text indicates that he had any idea God would heal him, bless him with greater riches, and honor him with seven beloved sons and three “fairest in all the land” daughters.
In verses 1-6 Job glorified God because in his trial he had advanced from one having heard of the Lord to one seeing Him with his eye. Previously Job had heard of the God in heaven glorified and on that account glorified Him. But now Job has seen the God of heaven all-glorious and on that account, even in his prolonged misery, glorified Him.
Job did not glorify God for the blessings of His hand, but on account that He was the glorious One he had heard Him to be and now saw Him to be.
And God restored to Job far more than He had taken away. Verse 17 says that Job was “full of days.” That means that God granted Job a long life and that his days were full of life. Job was filled and overflowing with the blessed favor of God.
Dear family, consider at this time that God is all-glorious aside from whatever blessings He pours out and aside from whatever losses He brings our way. No matter the events of our life, God is in heaven glorified and that’s because He’s glorious! It is my sincere prayer that we do not worship Him merely for the blessings that come from His hand (or else satan’s false accusation against Job would be true of us!), but that we glorify Him for who He truly is: all- glorious.
Dear family, during this time of uncertainty the question that will evoke pure praise and worship from our heart as we are truly at rest in God isn’t, “What on earth is going to happen?” but “What in heaven is going on?”
What in heaven is going on? God our Father is in heaven glorified! Let’s not spend our time worrying and speculating about what we do not know. But let us bow low to glorify our Father who is in heaven! His name is as it has always been: holy!
Join with me, will you? Let’s glorify our all-glorious Heavenly Father. Let us glorify God in all things for, no matter our gain or loss, our health or illness, whether we live or die, God is in heaven glorified. That’s what is going on in heaven. And may His will be done in us on earth as it is in heaven!
With much love and thanksgiving for you, pastor tim
P.S. Also, I encourage you to read the 136th Psalm. All of it – don’t skip a line! The 136th contains an important and valuable theme that you will come to appreciate rather quickly! Love you! Lord bless you and keep you.