If someone spent too much time in the Old Testament, it is easy to get the impression that God is a merciless taskmaster, one looking to punish for any infraction of the rules. Throughout scripture, there are many references to God's command to destroy, like the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah and others, which makes it hard to understand the compassionate heart of God as revealed to us in the New Testament.
If you know the story of Job, you’ll remember that everything he had was taken in one afternoon, all his livestock, servants, including his sons and daughters. The only survivors of that fateful day were his wife and a couple of servants that broke the news to him. With all this devastation, he maintained his joy. But, later as the trial intensified, when his health was affected and his good friends gave him bad council, his faith wavered. Job had lost sight of the loving-kindness of God when he said:
“Yet your real motive-I know this by your intent-was to watch me, and if I sinned, you would not forgive my iniquity. If I am guilty, too bad for me, And even if I am innocent, I am filled with shame and misery so that I can’t hold my head high. And if I hold my head high, you hunt me down like a lion and display your awesome power against me” (Job 10: 13-16 NLT).
Those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior or have a limited knowledge of him, believe Job’s statement to be the truth of how God feels about all humanity. I think that is why so many stay away from the Lord, believing he is just waiting for them to stumble under some heavy ritualistic demands. I love this statement of Jesus, exposing the lie that God is waiting for us to fail.
“Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30 NLT)
This reminds me of a loving Father calling to his children. It's like a breath of hope for those seeking safety, security and peace that the Lord offers and another proclamation of God’s original plan and design.
We were not designed to carry the heavy burden of sin on our shoulders. Our purpose was to be in relationship with God and he would supply all our needs. If we let him, he will carry all our fears, correct all our misunderstandings about him, and in turn give us rest. At the end of Job’s story, the Lord restored twice as much than what Job had before.
True joy comes from a right relationship with our Heavenly Father through our Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus explained it this way, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:9-11).
Where is your joy? Are you remaining in the love of Jesus? Can you sing with David, “May all who search for you, be filled with joy and gladness. May those who love your salvation, repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!” (Psalms 40: 16 NLT)