August 28, 2012

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XIII (Job II): A Crucible of Pain and A Ransom

Witness of the Struggle

As any learned reader of the Book of Job can see, God has a deeper purpose in the suffering of His children than even their personal perfection. If we miss this point we miss the point of Job completely. Paul's words clue us into this also.

Ephesians 3:10-13 ~"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory."

This passages show us that God is unfolding to the angels of light and to the hosts of darkness for His "eternal purposes" because of His grace in His dealings with His redeemed humanity. In Job, Satan challenged the integrity of Job in the council of heaven thereby putting God's honor is in question. This is absolutely over the top in terms of questioning God. But it is Jobs very reaction of steadfast faithfulness to God that actually vindicates and brings the justice to fruition in this story. What does Job say? "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord."

What does this say to us today? What do our actions mean and how do they reflect on God's character as we are parts of His Body, the Church. What issues or plans of a divine and sovereign God depend on out proper Christian responses. How momentous of a pivot point in history will or would one of our decisions be? What would've happen had we been Martin Luther or Dietrich Bonheoffer?

The Book of Job not just theory of suffering, it is the application of if in space and time. Like Job we are often allowed to be placed directly in the crucible or pain before being saved from it. We saw the same with Daniel and the Lion's Den and Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace. God does not save them from the dilemma, He first lets them enter it before acting. We see this in Christ's Crucifixion too. Christ is not saved from the Resurrection but glory is clearly gained by it in the aftermath. Bottom-line: God must be trusted. Sometimes our ministry is suffering and pain and it is that ministry of pain that is given to us because God loves us, not hates us.

Every refiner of valuable metals realizes that it is the heat of the flame that purifies. The heat of the flame can be suffering, trials...and even death on a Cross.
A Redeemer

Job's future had been incomprehensible at first, but with his affliction his faith grows, and he goes on to say:

Job 19:25-27 "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes —I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"

However dimly Job himself may have understood these words as I suspect they were not inspired from within himself. Job sees God as the a Redeemer—not a stranger. We see Jesus in Job's question, " How shall man be just before God ? " A question answered only in Jesus who was the only man that could stand before God just and has also justified us "by His blood " (Romans 5:9).

A Ransom

Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for more time we see Christ again in the
words of Elihu.

Job 33:24 ~ "to be gracious to him and say, 'Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him'-- then his flesh is renewed like a child's; it is restored as in the days of his youth.

This is a prophecy from Elihu and the ransom prophesied by and declare by Paul are one. "Job had seen his Redeemer as the living One who would vindicate him in the day of His coming, but at the time of Elihu's vision or prophecy he sees Him as the ransom.  The "Ransom" who would be gracious to him, and deliver him from going down into the pit. The next verse gives the result of this ransom. "...his flesh is renewed like a child's; it is restored as in the days of his youth." Purification and communion rest firmly in this premise and they both rest solidly on the ground of full atonement fulfilled in Jesus. The foreshadow of the Cross rest over all in the story of Job's sufferings. Even though Job's suffering were because of Satan's antagonism. The suffering upright man points a rigid straight arrow to the suffering sinless Man." Although Job was wounded first by the world system and Satan and secondarily by his friends we must see Jesus all over this. In the suffering we see strengthening of faith. We also must ask: How close is all this suffering in Jobs life to the description of the suffering of Christ. Meanwhile, Job complained and justified himself, Christ on the other hand remained silent before His captors. The lamb did not bleat when He went before the shearer and the slaughterhouse. Therein lies a main difference between Job ad Christ. Job's suffering taught people lessons but saved no one, Jesus' taught people lessons and saved all would come to Him and believe.

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