Friday, July 11, 2014

The Gospel in the Book of Job

Several months ago, my good friend, Dave Fergus, shared the following meditation at our church in preparation for taking communion. It blessed me so much to see the good news of Jesus Christ in what might be the oldest book of the Bible, and I hope it blesses you as well. 

Dave's Words: 
Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible. It is most usually dated to the era of the patriarchs, around the time of Abraham. The Hebrew language did not exist in written form at the time of the patriarchs, but the poetic nature of Job would have facilitated memorization and would most likely have been available in recited form to Moses, the author of the Pentateuch, who is also the most likely recorder of Job as it is now written in Hebrew.  

Ezekiel identifies Job's righteousness as on par with Noah and Daniel. James commends Job's perseverance to us. This book is also one of the few accounts of God interacting with Satan in that place that is not earth (heaven). 

Chapter One is a remarkable text in that it shows Satan having an actual conversation/debate with God.  Several side questions come to mind that do not have an answer: Who observed this interaction? Who and how was it conveyed it to the person who eventually wrote out the book in the Hebrew language? For that matter, what language do God and Satan use? Who observed/recorded the rest of the book with the dialogues of Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu, and finally the discourses of God? We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we can glean much from this book, including a very clear rendering of God's redemptive plan.

My Creator exists:
9:8  God alone stretches out the heavens
10:8  Your hands shaped me and made me.
12:10  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

My Creator possesses limitless power and wisdom:
9:4 His wisdom is profound, and his power is vast.
9:10  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.
37:23  The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power.

My Creator is active in the world and uses nature for multiple purposes including teaching us about himself:
36:22-26  God is exalted in his power.  Who is a teacher like him?  Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?  Remember to extol his work, which men have praised in song.  All mankind has seen it; men gaze on it from afar.  How great is God—beyond our understanding!  The number of his years is past finding out.
37:6-7  He says to the snow ‘Fall on the earth’, and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour’.  So that all men may know his work, he stops every man from his labor.
37:10-13  The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.  He loads the clouds with moisture, he scatters his lightning through them.  At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them.  He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water the earth and show his love.

My Creator cares for me:
10:12  You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.
7:17-19  What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone for an instant?
36:16  He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.

My Creator is good, and perfection is his standard:
10:14  If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished.
34:12  It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.

My Creator sees and knows everything I do and say:
23:10  He knows the way that I take.
34:21  His eyes are on the ways of men, he sees their every step.  There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide.

We all fall hopelessly short of the Creator’s goodness, and deserve annihilation:
9:2 How can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
9:14  How then can I dispute with him?
14:4  Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
15:14  Who are mortals, that they could be pure?
34:33  Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent?

Because the Creator is powerful, wise and loving, he has a plan to redeem me:
14:14-15  I will wait for my renewal to come.  You will call and I will answer you:  you will long for the creature your hands have made.
16:19-21  Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high.  My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.
33:14  For God does speak—now one way, now another—though no one perceives it.
33:29-30  God does all these things to a person—twice, even three times—to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them.

Without this intervention by the Creator, we would be annihilated:
34:14-15  If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.

My Redeemer rescues me from my sin:
9:15  I can only plead with my Judge for mercy.
13:15  Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him.
14:17  My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.
17:3  Give me O God, the pledge you demand.  Who else will put up security for me?
33:26-28  He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.  Then he comes to men and says, ‘I sinned, and perverted what was right, and I did not get what I deserved.’

My rescue is assured, and after my death, I will rise to physically be with him:
19:25-27  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed (worms eat me, KJV), 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!
23:10  When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

If I reject the Creator’s offer, my condemnation is assured:
19:28-29  if you say, ‘How we will hound him, since the root of trouble lies in him’, you should fear the sword yourselves; for the wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.

Job’s response to the truth of this plan of redemption and a clear understanding of God’s sovereignty is as follows:
42:2-6  I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  You said ‘Listen now, and I will speak, I will question you and you shall answer me.’  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

Let us now do this too in remembrance of our Redeemer, Jesus the Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment