August 17, 2012

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XII (Job I): Have You Considered My Servant?


Christ In The Suffering

Job is the oldest book in the Bible in terms of the scene it illustrates. It is set in the time of the patriarchs. We see in Ezekiel 14:14,20 that he was indeed a real person.

Ezekiel 14:14 ~"even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD."

Ezekiel 14:20 ~"as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness."

It teaches us both the scope and the boundary of the power of Satan. It is revealing in the fact of the resurrection, and in shadowing the mystery of redemption. Although it is not the purpose of the Bible to teach science, its language is accurate to describe scientific facts or recent discoveries.

Job 26:7-8 ~"He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weigh"

The book of Job though is most known of how it speaks to the mystery of suffering especially the suffering of the righteous. Job's friends made the fraudulent assumption that his sin against God must be exceptionally great to account for such exceptional suffering. Job's attitude towards God through all of this barely registered a blip on an EKG meter. Job still paid Him the honor and respect God deserved. This is not to say that he wasn't troubled. He at still had enough sense to rebuke his wife who added insult to injury.

Job 2: 9-10 ~"Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips."

Most of his reflection ended up being on himself. Here we see one of the images of Christ. God's own testimony of Job was, "Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job was a pattern of what was to come. Job like Jesus knew that his heart was true to God, and he could not accept the accusations of his friends. Job himself first shows his "friends" that their conclusion is false, and that the wicked often prosper in the world at least temporarily. We will see this again in Jesus. At first even the disciples on the Road to Emmaus do not understand or see the permanent divine turning of tables over the system of the world. It seems to them as if the authorities or powers of the world have defeated Jesus when just the opposite has occurred. Worldly victory is actually a defeat for the world and what the world perceives as a defeat is actually divine victory.

Luke 24:13-21 ~"Now that same day two of them [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles e from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place."

Suffering for a Christian refines the Christian. The very thing that makes unbelievers run even farther from the faith is the very thing that tempers and steels the faith of believers: Suffering. What does Jesus say right in the narrative on the Road to Emmaus?

Luke 24:26 ~"  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

 If the Messiah had to suffer, how do we as his followers expected to do any less or evade the model laid out for us?

Christ In The Reprimand

Elihu, who had been listening to the argument of Job and his friends, sums up their discussion in two abrupt sentences : " Against Job was his wrath aroused, because Job justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath ignited, because they had found no answer and persisted to condemn Job". Although Elihu was anything but easy on the ears and delicate, he appears closest to the truth of the message by bringing out God's grace in the purpose of the discipline of His children. The book of Job should not be seen so much as a book of suffering but that of chastisement on the grand scale of things. We must never forget that the Bible and all the books it contains is a book about getting back to a proper position of holiness in front of a holy God. If mankind does not attain the righteous necessary in front of The Judge of the Universe He must judge them and/or punish them. This is why man often times needs to suffer. One, as chastisement and two, as a process of character building that will aid us in our quest of sanctification (made more holy). The Salvation aspect of this was conquered and settled by Christ at the Cross but the sanctifying effort still sees us stumble and fail in our we are reprimanded. there is no such thing as a person who is sinless and does not deserve a reprimand or punishment.

Hebrews 12:7-11 "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it"

Suffering in the story of Job paves the way for the approach to God or His approach to us. It is in the  aftermath of Job's suffering that he encounters God head-on in the latter portions of the Book of Job. It is in our greatest suffering, even that of death that we as believers will encounter presence of God in glory. If we are non-believers we will encounter it wrath eternal. The dividing line? Jesus Christ.

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