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THE VAST SCOPE OF THE DOCTRINE
IN THE BOOK OF JOB
Case of Job
has Much Wisdom to Impart
What is to be found in the teaching of the book of Job ? It is not too hard to find!
There is one God. He is good. There is an adversary of malign and proud mien, Satan. There is a test on earth, a display unit of spiritual depth and meaning. Sincerity is a crucial issue. Faith in God is a subject of attack. God Himself is most willing to evidence the truth, and to test to the uttermost.
In addition, there is a vast zeal and delight on His part, in true righteousness, patent rather than latent faith, in operational reality in the spirit of man. Before God, superficiality counts for nothing.
More important to Him by far, is spirit and truth in man, than form and appearance. Loss is of small concern COMPARED with attestation and the true presence of grace, that loving receptiveness, that imbuing of what is true in its inalienable strength and beauty. So much of suffering is felt to be incomprehensible PRECISELY because this is not realised.
Man, under test, may slip and strain, but the Lord is patient. He is neither deaf to pleas nor disposed merely to please, as if man were God and He a creation of man, which is actually the way many seem to act. For them, it appears, God is the service unit for them, there to help them do whatever THEY think is good, and to get on with being useful to them, as the ultimate slave device. Indeed, they can even throw theological tantrums if He is not sufficiently prone to their pushing. In view of this, it is small wonder that many are confused and bewildered, where pride does not prompt them to such arrogant conceptions, then led by false shepherds, false prophets, the puny pundits of emptiness of heart.
Such concepts are of course blasphemy. In fact, man is now exceedingly well equipped with the written word of God and the divine action which He has taken to cover man's case. He is there to love God, to trust Him, to have reverence for his Creator, to find, ascertain, discover His will both in what He has caused to be written and in what He has done. More minutely for each Christian's own life in accord with this word, God causes them to understand, within that. As to the latter, God acts in terms of His intimate and individual direction for each Christian, as He guides them with His eye. This is how one does in fact prefer to guide a horse, rather than by having it pulled about with bit and bridle (Psalm 32), as if the creature, the mount lacked all empathy, love or intuitive understanding of the rider.
God is like that and love can act like that, when it is combined with truth. Thus, to take but one example, Philip in Acts 8 had no directive of some legal kind to to into the desert; though he DID have a general directive to win souls. The specific intimation about going from an abundantly 'successful' or fruitful evangelical crusade in Samaria, into the desert could have been argued against on many suggestive grounds. It was however precisely in this way that Philip was sent. It was in following this direction that he found a highly-placed Egyptian traversing that very desert on his way home, and desperate to know the meaning of Isaiah 53.
Of whom, he asked Philip, who arrived in perfect timing at the side of the official's chariot, is the prophet speaking ? of himself or of another ? Philip explained and soon the man found Christ! Back to Egypt this official went with spiritual goods far more constructive, in kind, than any bomb, whether of the disastrously confused al Qaeda or any other false prophet's disciples. Yes it had more to construct than any explosion atomic or other, can find to destroy!
So Philip went as divinely directed, and this was the result.
NOW, it could have been said, Is this not the time for all to come to the help of evangelisation! Time enough for desert service when the current marvellous rate of winning souls declines. We need all the talents we can get ... and so on and on! It could have been urged that if EVER there was a good time NOT to go into the desert, it was just at that moment when Philip was sent! Thus does human wisdom propose itself; but it is God who disposes, and those who know Him, follow Him..
Thus Philip was guided specifically. What then ? Are we then to tell the Rider to listen to our cogitations and to learn from our wisdom ? OR IS HE to tell us precisely the same thing! Is God to be God is or man to masquerade in that guise, like a little child in mummy's big shoes, thinking it is great!
That childish parade is funny, although not good for walking. To be sure, man as in Acts 13 does well to seek God together, as well Paul was chosen as a missionary; but it well that he act individually also, as sent, as seen equally in Acts 16:9, when Paul was summoned in a vision, to go to Macedonia. Has God then to be crimped and cramped, stuffed into our ways, and limited, just as it is forbidden that one should do, in Psalm 78:41. God guides and promises wisdom: is He to tell us how, or are we to tell Him ? Is there no limit to the traditions of men which would substitute themselves airily for the examples of the revelation of God (cf. II Timothy 3:16)!
This is peculiar, this tendency to over-emphasise principles, on the part of some, as if they were a substitute for the will of God, rather than a written expression in the Bible of operational procedure, truth and reality. ONE PART of which is to seek God and in accord with these principles, and another is this: in accord with the promised wisdom (James 1) to act for the living God in a living way, not as if some kind of library worm never let out. God lives and man who is directed by Him, like a horse in intimate relationship with the rider, lives with Him and by Him. It is no use trying to imitate God with the reins. His word is the limit, and this is HIS limit; beyond that, do not go if wisdom is to be yours. When working with God, remember this, let God be God! Otherwise, the partnership in service will not work spiritual things, but rather descend step by step, into carnal contention and human invention.
Let us then, return from our application of some of the teaching of Job, for our day, to the book itself.
Thus in Job, we find that God is NOT a service unit for man, and IS alive and DOES have special and intimate plans of His own, as He did for Philip, and indeed for the disciples when He told them to go to Galilee after the resurrection, and for Paul, as when He told him to go to Macedonia but NOT to Bithynia (as in Acts 16:6ff.). The need for mutual humility among the disciples of Christ, this is NOT the same as the need to be disposed by the Lord all for all, and each for each.
The JOINT seeking of the Lord as in Acts 13, where the brethren waited on Him collectively, is good. It is good for the WHOLE body to bathe as one in the good cleansing and warming presence of God.
The individual waiting on the Lord is also good - it is good to take ONE PART of the body aside, such as a sore finger, and to give it major and intimate attention with liniment!
It is good for each member to seek the Head individually, so that the social does not engulf, but rather ennobles the personal, and it is good for all to be disposed, so that the whole body has direction. So, in social and individual ways, each and all are served, the Lord able to act in the one manner and the other at His will. Of course, nothing like this can work without that combination of love and humility, divinely donated discretion with holiness and its beauty, which is a part of the inheritance of Christians (I John 5, Psalm 96, Ephesians 5).
At times, as in the story of The Small Woman, by Gladys Aylward. It was her own story, as if to demonstrate to the world once again, that if He so desires, God can shame societies in using one individual with divine protection and help, to show that the power is of HIM, not of organisation or the carnal exaltations of man. This is as in I Corinthians 1:28ff., and in a national sense, when man was in danger of trusting his nation (or nothing!), in II Chronicles 20:15: "the battle is not yours but God's!"
To revert to the
individual case in particular,
In this way, we can apply some of the teachings of the book of Job.
The social caste of Job's friends seemed to feel, for their part, that their social spirituality was the beginning and the end of the matter; yet they were, as groups can be and often are, quite wrong. Their flaming words burnt Job, their verbal flings accused him, their mutinous minds lost in the changes of mere human thought, inveighed against the stricken saint.
They were almost deliriously wrong in this case. Job was not experiencing this set of calamities (Job 1-2) because of sin, but to illustrate the reality of righteousness, even under extreme duress, the integrity of faith and the non-self-seeking character of godliness. The cash computer man cannot understand, but this alters nothing but the folly he displays, which continues! (cf. I Corinthians 2:14ff.).
GOD was doing
something through and to Job in particular, He was working a subject of vast importance in His kingdom,
and it centred on the question: IS JOB REALLY UPRIGHT AND SINCERE IN HIS FAITH
IN AND REVERENCE FOR THE LORD, OR IS HE A HYPOCRITE, INTERESTED IN RESULTS FOR
HIMSELF, NOT FOR THE KINGDOM, IN HIS PERSONAL PROFIT, NOT THAT OF THE LORD'S
WHICH ? The matter had been raised, and it was to be resolved! (Job 1:9ff.).
It was simple enough, and it is a testimony to the power of tradition, that some seem almost as with a knee jerk reaction, to act with a sort of inscrutable mysteriousness when they come to the sufferings of Job, as if it were something one could not understand. In fact, the point of it all is spelt out in Chapter 1 so clearly that one would think a child of 10 would find not trouble, provided he had the vocabulary, which some at that age might. How forcible are the words of God through Isaiah in Ch. 29:11, where learned and unlearned alike make excuse, that they cannot really open the word of God, relay its message. They are too concerned with avoiding what really matters, making the word of God null through their traditions as Christ specifically exposed in Mark 7:7ff.!
In Isaiah 29, in response to this dogged dull-heartedness, the Lord indicates the mighty work He is going to do (has now done, but in the 8th century BC, was going to do). It was to be a mighty work such that the wisdom of the wise would be despised, this wonder letting their vain pretensions which circumvented the word of God, to perish. It was in fact to be that of the Messiah as shown in Isaiah 4, 7, 9, 11, 22, 28, 32, 40, 42, 49, 50-55 and so on (cf. Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Chs. 4ff.). It was to come, this promised divine wonder in response to man's chronic unbelief, in the incarnation and salvation to be wrought by God the sent, the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 40:10, 48:16, Psalm 40, and see Joyful Jottings 22-25)
One is reminded of the unfortunate position of Judaism, with such wonderful knowledgeability, but missing the point entirely, and continuing in the barren illusions which ignore the simple fact that the Messiah's death for sin is long past as Daniel's prophecy makes so abundantly clear (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). Their unbelief at this national level is even forecast with almost incredible clarity (Isaiah 49:7), and the result shown with graphic realism (Isaiah 53). Their return to their land is forecast likewise (cf. SMR Ch. 9, Appendix A), and the wars in detail, such as they have won so well, this too is forecast (cf. SMR Ch. 9), but still they do not believe.
How one sympathises and empathises with the word of Christ, that they would not believe though one should rise from the dead, in His parable of Lazarus (Luke 16:19ff.)!
Islam is no better, inventing things never in the Bible, trying to have a 6th century AD prophet gain a heritage not apparent historically, and to butt into the realm of divine revelation with absurd pretensions, using force where faith resides, and inventing an entirely new religion, while pretending to abide with the prophets that went before (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff., More Marvels... Ch. 4, Highway to Hell, and references therein).
Communism is no better (cf. SMR pp. 925ff., News 37, 98), trying to have a law which is based on chance, to make events happen, which do not in any case historically happen that way, and in name making of the common people, the dictators, to whom in fact the leaders in fact dictate, inventing miasmic mysteries about laws and things that must happen, while all that happens to the point is that their promised heaven is not heaven but nearer hell. It is a haven which the proletariat in any case do not manage to create, since they are oppressed by a very unmysterious dictatorship of people engaged in all but mindless manipulation of the masses with an atheism which is self-contradictory, magically provided from chance with laws to cover all, the whole nicely predicable in principle. Just as it emanated from nowhere in particular, so it does very well in directing things like a traffic cop, in theory, and in word; though not at all in practice, since myths never work!
Man has deserved communism for his rampant irrationality and incurable myth-making, devious descent to the limits of life itself, in false and foolish papier mâché gods, that save nothing, no, not even themselves (cf. Jeremiah 10:11). The gods, says Jeremiah, who have not made heaven and earth shall perish from under the heavens and on the earth. This is just a matter of fact. Only alive is the tested word of God, which needs no al Qaeda to whip it up to make it look like working. Even these inveterate repositories of violence and hatred cannot make the Koran work, any more than you can get cheese from white-wash. It is not the case that this produces that.
The world shudders with vain traditions, with avoidance of the testable and tried word of God, as if the ONE THING it cannot stand is the truth. That, of course, is why they murdered Him in the most excruciating way they could think of*1 , not merely giving Him trial, for He won every trial and triumphed in power and grace at all times, but giving Him, to use the colloquial, hell.
That, with their inane charge of blasphemy for the One who uniquely and at the proper date, showed precisely the features for the Saviour, the Messiah, which David, Isaiah and the rest had advertised centuries in advance, was about the destiny they envisaged for GOD on earth! Happy to use His provisions, even His word if need be, they were MOST unhappy to find Him as Master, and themselves as servants. In their rebellion, they gave short shrift to the ways of friendship with God (John 15:14), such as Abraham had found, and Peter for example knew so well (cf. John 21). How reliable a friend is He, we there see, not as those who use you for their happiness, and abruptly leave at the first offence.
It is then small wonder that
the earth, with such views now spreading rapidly in their own devious ways, amidst
the Gentiles*2, is becoming ever closer to the judgment which Christ
predicted for it (Matthew 24:22). This godless glorying, whether using His
name for it, or not, is the inveterate work of human sin,
paid for continually by those recalcitrant in rebellion, nationally and internationally, as if man cannot learn, and that in perfect parallel now, with the Jewish case that went earlier, and continues nationally to this hour!
With the empty-headed jibing at Job of his ostensible 'friends', there was an early end. They were rebuked, and Job, for that matter, was himself corrected, though his sufferings had become a triumph in and for faith, despite his very human imperfections on the way, especially as seen in Job 19 where the root of the matter came out, and budded and blossomed in a moment, to be picture for all time! At his fireworks of faith epitomised in Job 19, we shall look in a moment.
In the case of the scenario, Job plus friends, the Lord intervened after a good, long time, and put things straight.
With the Jews, however, He has for so long and so often corrected them in so many unspiritual escapades,
from their refusal to enter the
Promised Land (as in Numbers 14), with the Lord giving them then a 40 years
desert program, before their eventual entry;
to the Babylonian captivity, where
after centuries of wandering into falsity in religion and false gods, the Lord
gave them a 70 year exile;
till the time of Christ Himself, when much more came as they killed their King:
that it seems that history shouts to the deaf.
Yet, being deaf, they still do not hear! Does not God in truculent tenderness, so speak to them in His very word, in Isaiah 42:
"Hear you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see! Who is blind but My servant, or deaf as My messenger whom I send ?" In heavy irony, the Lord proceeds with this indictment:
"Who is blind as he who is perfect, and blind as the LORD's servant ?
Seeing many things, but you do not observe; opening the ears, but he does not hear."
At times, the LORD refers to the closing of the eyes of those who desire not at all to see, as in Matthew 13:15; but on this occasion, they open them, but their minds refuse to gather what is being presented.
Mercifully, in Isaiah 49, we find as in Ezekiel 36ff., the Lord taking them back home, despite their failure, a prediction fulfilled in this author's life-time, for which he thanks the Lord profusely, this being one of the mightiest predictive sensations of all time, a triumph after tragedy which rushes to meet almost any in history, under the Hitler regime. Isaiah 49:19-25 dwells on this, noting that the time would come when these, distressed and dispossessed, would be taken as prey from the mighty, even the captives restored; and the land would be so filled, that there would even be a measure of cramping (Isaiah 49:20). The "land of your destruction" would be repopulated (49:19). This would be their lot instead of their saying, "My LORD has forsaken me," which is what fits Israel only, since no other people were the Lord's and then were in this condition. With them, however, it was to be, and has come to be, and was predicted, both the acceptance and the rejection for a long time in desolatory and contemptuous exile, from Leviticus 26 and on.
So often, people seem to love to imagine that the Lord does not really mean what He says, and to designate as interpretation what simply does not fit the facts of the text. It is better with the Lord of all precision, to take it that He means precisely what He says, whether He uses metaphor or not. The issue in such cases is not literal or not; it is interpretation with integrity, not patronising slummockiness, as if the Lord spoke in vain, and the ear could not hear.
Yes, they suffered in a far vaster scale than did Job, who for his part was being tested for exemplary purposes, while they, also tested, have been purged for purification purposes, and have become an example, yet not one without hope. It is in the same Messiah they nationally murdered, however, that they shall find their peace (cf. Isaiah 49:6, 9:7, Zechariah 12:10), when for many of them, adding to the comparative dribs and drabs through the ages, this becomes the life eternal they were invited to possess, and instead have left.
In the case of the Gentiles, many do indeed suffer, and not at all in vain, for Christ. Many are faithful, and they do have a faith which is neither hypocritical nor vain, so that their sufferings continue to speak, while the devil continues to try to dress it up, to pretend, to be devious, to make it look like foolishness or confusion and so forth, as an advocate for evil itself, might be expected to do. In the case of the Jews, the same is true.
Were not the apostles Jews ? Was not the infant Church of Jesus Christ ENTIRELY JEWISH at the outset ? Were not men of wisdom and courage seen in the book of ACTS in wonderful works for the Lord! But of course! Are there not now to this day Messianic Jewish Christian Congregations ? Assuredly. It is not the race but the nation which refuses to come clean! Yet it will be changed in substantial measure, as we see in Zechariah 12 (cf. It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls ... Ch. 1), and that before too long, as the time before His return is not so long now! (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
The sufferings of Job issued in that glorious statement of faith in Job 19:19-20, which has grabbed history and shown the way so clearly since, from a time very likely before Moses to the present! Then, in that ancient time, amid suffering, one man had his life SPEAK, just as modern missionaries must be prepared to do, with the exalted, apostolic example of Paul before them, who stooped so low, that the heights might be seen! (cf. I Corinthians 4:9-15, II Corinthians 6:4ff.), and many should return to the Lord.
Let us then look at faith without dissemblance, faith unfeigned, realistic faith, such as Habakkuk sought and found, in the midst of suffering, and understand that rubbing burnishes, and duress can intimate in the soft tissues of the heart, when it is suffered by another. Then reality can strike the ornery, and sight may begin in the blind.
It is not as if redemption by Christ alone were not the core, for it is (Galatians 6:14); but other sufferings, what Paul calls filling up what remains of the suffering of Christ (Colossians 1:24), these can sensitise those hard of heart, to what counts. It can stir them to seek, and as the Lord works with all the implements of a love that pays, to look to Him to find the One who saves, even Christ crucified, yes rather risen in body, prepared in His time at the general resurrection, to bring home the far-flung body of Christ in its day (cf. Isaiah 26:19, I Cor. 15:20ff., Romans 12).
Christ, then, pays
and He alone;
but Christians for Him are willing to suffer
as they display the love of God, mistreated for the word of God, and the Gospel of His grace.
In this, some may object that while suffering for sin is understandable, suffering for righteousness' sake is not. Really ?A mother may be scarred for life, while rescuing her child from a burning house, and you cannot understand! But this is the most natural thing in the world ... Christians, seeing the plight of those in worse fires than these, whose souls are seared either into complacency that is blind, or into torment that is blistering, perceiving those without God, turning from His word without hope, opening the eyes to those often wildly empty, ruthlessly resistant, may indeed be willing to suffer. The point of Job is not least just this: that it is GOD who elects what form this best shall take.
Does a student dictate to the formers of his course ? Is an athlete to tell the coach ? If the desire to serve is present for the Lord, because he is your Lord, what is so surprising in this, that He elects the manner of things, both the joys, the harvests and the patience, the trials, the tribulations and the best account each can make, whether in a church or individually!
Is it surprising that they should be willing to seek, even in death's pricing, to bring relief ? Is victory in life and salvation from God so small that suffering is undesired ? It may be to the natural man, who knows nothing of God, or mere hearsay; but it is not where love is concerned, and God being personal, He may indeed be loved more than any, or all combined!
As to Job, in this regard, he was willing to serve God in all righteousness, and became amazed to learn what it could entail! In the end, his faith in God held, and his friends received a glorious awakening, even if it had to come from a divine rebuke, and in large measure, justification of Job, though his errors were not overlooked. Indeed, since that time, countless thousands have been inspired by his words and importunity, and the Lord's answer, whether through reading, or listening to the musical version of some of it, in Handel's Messiah.
Let us then consider these very words so richly inlaid in Job 19, and see the amazing scope of this ancient teaching, in a harmony not merely perfect, but inspiringly integrated with all we now know, since the Redeemer has come and provided a salvation now paid for on the Cross of Calvary.
It is time, then, to see some of the compacted doctrines, the crystal clear teachings in Job 19:21-29 itself.
Words of Job 19
are a Spiritual Scene of Splendour
"Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you persecute me as God does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?
"Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
"If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
That you may know there is a judgment."
These words in the overall context of Job teach the following doctrines, or if you prefer, reveal the following facets of the faith which saves, the mercy of the God who gives it and the way of it.
1) There is the teaching of the physical resurrection, or the resurrection of the body.
2) It is specific, eyes to behold God for himself, being part of the rescue operation which transcends the wormy operation of rotting and dissolution of flesh left without life, in the grave.
3) It is individual, the eyes being related to the individual whose they are.
4) It is without other Saviour than God Himself, the Redeemer who pays for life to protect and eternalise it.
Does anyone object to that word ? why ? because it is perhaps new ? because it seems processive rather than glorious ? but some processes ARE glorious and the rescue of life from dying flesh, to enable its continuation in a living and incorruptible membrane, immune to dissolution, since redeemed in this very dimension is glorious! It is glorious in hope, in love, in mercy, in power, in grace and in ... result for you and me, if you be a believer in the God of mercy and Father of all faith.
His Redeemer, His eternal word (Hebrews 1:3, John 1:1, Philippians 2, Isaiah 53), has indeed stood upon this earth and done all as prescribed, that we who seek the truth, seeing its manifestation in power and precision, with both purity and grace, should believe in Him. It is to CHRIST HIMSELF that one is to look and be saved (John 6:40, fulfilling the Lord's announcement that it is to HIM, not another, that one must so look in faith, and be saved, in Isaiah 45:22-23, fulfilled as in Philippians 2:10, Romans 14:10ff.).
5) It therefore implies an incarnation, since for the Redeemer Himself, not only not prone to death, but the One who paying for it, removes its applicability to man who returns by Him to life, there has to be a body. How will He stand upon this earth, to be beheld by Job if He is not there!
6) Gone is death as a terror, a tragedy, the lasso of life to bring it to the butcher! Life even for the sinner, once he or she is saved, has a new dignity, interest, fascination and plateau of joy! It is as in Hebrews 2:14-17, precisely, in this.
7) Defeated is death; for although it is but a sentence by God on sin, it is yet a real thing that is inherited from the sin of the race and of the individual, and its overthrow in mercy, by the just God who pays for the difference between this justice and continuing life, is a triumph of grace (cf. I Corinthians 15:54-55).
8) It leads to the unspeakable glory of seeing God face to face - this is SPECIFIC to these verses of Job. It is just as in Revelation 22. You may ask: Is that doctrine ? But of course: it is teaching concerning things divine which were not otherwise known, than in revelation, and here it is, in Job already.
9) We see here the same Gospel as now, and it is thus a further attestation, implicit, in the teaching of the fact that there IS an EVERLASTING GOSPEL as noted in Revelation 14:6 (cf. TMR Ch. 3, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, News 87). Here near the first of the revelation's 66 books, comes the attestation of what is to be "at last".
It is not to change; it has not changed: it is the truth.
10) There is no Mediator but God Himself, for the REDEEMER as God covers costs, and is there to be received DIRECT as such.
WHOM, says Job, I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold. Indeed, it is not another. This is true in context is both senses: JOB will see God FOR HIMSELF, with HIS OWN EYES. It is direct without mediation, this viewing of the Redeemer. It is NOT ANOTHER whom he will see, not some secretary or secretariat, some bossy Commissar or dragooning dictator. It is the Redeemer Himself, the One who pays for the cover of sin, which no man can pay, as man, since man is the sinner to BE redeemed! (Psalm 49).
It is God whom He shall see direct, but as incarnate in the format of man.
11) FAITH in its expectation, intimation and assurance is likewise here seen. The flamboyant fervour, the soul-direct conviction, the grasping as of the unseen with both ardour and vigour, the ring of truth and the zest of yearning already girded by its quest, found in heart, these qualities mark the beauty of Job's utterance concerning his Redeemer.
Here is a conviction of things unseen, a substantiating to the very vision of assurance, of redemption and pardon, here is divinely given strength and the knowledge of God, not some evanescent and temporary thing, but what would endure to the end. It is a faith which is tried as in the furnace, that here has reality displayed: just as I Peter 1:5 declares the case.
It is a faith, elsewhere in Job, we hear, will trust God though He should "slay me"! (Job 13:15).
12) Here again, is an ANSWER to the accuser of the brethren, who day and night seeks to destabilise and reduce them, lest they, abounding in faith, glorify God and many should be saved (cf. Revelation 12:10).
Vain are his efforts, vain the hope that the suffering which the Lord, in the interests of truth and purity, permitted in the case of Job, would crush his spirit and expose him untrue, a time-server.
To be sure, this test was only for a period, and within bounds set: yet its severity was immense. Past all process, the trial of Job's faith comes forth like gold indeed. He sees beyond the suffering, and past this life indeed, to the Redeemer, not in some philosophic manner, but ON THE EARTH, and when ? at last. It is the last run which wins the race, and this is the last!
13) Not only is this so, but there is a warning to those who, rejecting Job with his faith, in the stresses of their own often philosophic approach to God, continued to condemn him. Their words, though in some things containing good, yet were fundamentally astray in a highly simplistic manner, as if suffering equals sin as cause in the specific case, and requires divulgement of sin by the guilty hypocrite who, suffering, yet does not repent of his secret life: and so forth! The so forth was in this case as bad as the content! They were unyielding, almost reminding one of the Pharisees' detestation of Jesus, though in this case, they were averse to imaginary projections which did not happen to be the truth.
In Job 19:29 you see, accordingly, Job's warning to them, which reminds one acutely of the doctrine in John 3:36, about the wrath of God abiding on those who do not believe in the Redeemer, Jesus Christ!
14) This Chapter 19 of Job also teaches that the resurrection of believers is at the LAST, at the end time, and not somewhere else; and that the One to whom they come is already the Redeemer, operative and imparting His gift. Now through faith, yet by this same means it is to come even to the point of the redemption of the body, the demise of which had been seen as that which this One would overcome, qua Redeemer in point. The negative ? Dissolution of the body. The overcoming ? By the Redeemer, who presents another body, because of the redemption which HE pays. He stands at the last, in this capacity.
It therefore implies that the action of redemption, at that time, is past, the cost paid. As we would put it, it is contemplating a period post-Calvary. Although of the course the method of redemption is not displayed in Job, yet the FACT of its being past is implied in Job 19, for the resurrection period. This is ALL TEACHING!
15) This latter part of Job 19, like indeed the beginning of the chapter, illustrates the inveterate tendency of flesh, of people astray, to persecute, to misunderstand, misread the people of God, and assign to them foolishly what is neither true nor in the very spirit of truth. Blessed, said Christ, are you when men shall persecute you ... for Him, and great is the reward. ALL MANNER OF EVIL, He indicated in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) would they speak, but this so far from tarring you, gives rather a feather to your tail, a blessing. It is one attestation of godly sincerity, that the world's ways are so consigned from the sight of it that, as in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, at Vanity Fair, it resents it, and viciously misconstrues it.
That, you may recall, in Bunyan's allegory, is basically why Faithful, that delicious personality, died, was murdered, burnt indeed.
16) It shows, the book of Job as a whole and with an intense emphasis on Job 19, the sole sufficiency of God to make the entire difference between death in sin and resurrection in mercy and grace, by the payment on the part of the Lord, of what it takes to do this in all justice.
REDEMPTION does not imply ignoring or simply overlooking sin, but PAYMENT of all to the last cent or error, payment of all: for whom ? It is offered to all, and for all who come to receive it, since God does not throw things away which are precious, or commit pearls to swine, to use the word of God Himself. As often pointed out on this site, in Isaiah 53, those who are HEALED are the ones whose sins He bears, in terms of 'we' in both cases. Sufficient for all, the redemption is applicable and credited ONLY to those who in fact take it. So here, in Job 19, you see the pattern: If necessary, then intense suffering comes to man, showing his weakness and hopelessness before judgment; but the redemption accomplishes all, and wholly transforms the case, just as in Romans 5:1-11! It is ALL something that God does.
17) In this way, you see the SOLE SUFFICIENCY of God's righteousness as protection and ground for hope, as in Romans 5:1. This is the essence of justification by faith.
18) It shows, Job 19 especially, this teaching: that if God tests, inspects, chastens, yet NOTHING shall separate from the love of God those who are His! (Romans 8:35ff.).
No suffering, no situation, no future, no power or combination of powers can do it. The case in the first place is CIRCUMSCRIBED and LIMITED as in Job 1 where God imposes on Satan the limit, Himself. It is, in the second case, a trial of one whom God already KNEW to be righteous, for He said so to the devil at the first!
The test therefore did not instruct God, but man, and viewers from heaven or earth or anywhere else! It is timeless and timely, both at once.
This is as in Romans 8:29ff.. NOTHING shall separate the believer from the love of God. WHO God is, and WHAT He has done, these are sufficient. His word is sufficient; His work is sufficient; and this work, it is HIS! not that of another.
In addition to these 18 features of the everlasting Gospel and the faith, Job contains some fascinating and edifying methods of display. These next two points, in this area, tend to essentialise in Job 19, though they are perhaps more far flung in their beginnings than the rest; and they require stress on the method of divulgement as well.
JOB AND ACCOMPANYING METHODS OF DISPLAY OF FAITH
19) Thus the yearning of Job for a barrister, whether himself (if he got a chance - Job 9:33, 22:3-4), or better with some intermediary someone to put his hand on God, and on Job, and resolve the case, though all but blasphemous in one side of the matter, as if Justice Himself needed a judge, has nevertheless an instructive side. In the actual case, this seeking came from this intense desire for the ACTUAL righteousness of God (not in doubt in the heart of Job, despite occasional exasperations in his frustrations! - Job 12:13ff., 13:15).
It MUST be so, and in one sense, Job is determined to show that it IS so. His heart is grieved since it almost begins to look not so; but he is resolute to bring out the facts and the facets so that righteousness prevails, and God as just judge, is seen to be so, the apparent anomaly overcome.
In this formulation of the desire by Job, however, there is that tendency in man to seek for the autonomous resolution. Man will MAKE it happen. In fact GOD makes it happen! This He did by a divine initiative in providing the payment which answers and atones for sin once and for all (Hebrews 9), not processively but peremptorarily in Christ the Saviour; and man has to learn to appreciate this, and act on it.
There is NOTHING else to act on, and Job indicates this. You can talk, reason and argue, but until you come to the Gospel, there IS no answer, for reality has provided the answer, as in a mathematics text book where the answer is in the back of the volume. If you choose to ignore it, it is nothing to do with there being no answer, but with absent trust on your own part! It is there, but you pass it by, and continue in useless estimations and computations.
This human yearning becomes then in the sublime wisdom and majesty of God, a teaching tool, to show to the discursive that in the end, God alone answers God, and if you want to assess Him, you had better look at ALL His works and words; for otherwise, though His power and glory are surely seen, you are posing as a sort of human psychiatrist of the divine heart, a useless, feckless and improvident work of pride, which falling, finds its own level! Yet even at that, assess God ? Do you surpass your Creator, or are you the source and origin of righteousness, or else some creation to which the One whose it is, has resolved to grant some perception of His ways! (cf. SMR pp. 99 -100, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 3).
Though, therefore, readily presenting approaches with autonomous follies, masqueradings of self-importance, and more or less oblivion of the status quo, in which a being has been constructed with the wisdom, vision and means of attaining the same that seem good to the all-comprehending Maker, beyond all system and the author of all, including human freedom, and judge of its misuse: man in his seekings can be purified. Rebuffed here, restored there, corrected rationally, given sight supernaturally, man may indeed find, after seeking, through the grace of that God who so made him, and so treats him. There is One to find; there is a word of God to find; there is a reckoning by God to find, and when it is found, then has seeking its delight and then has grace its epitome.
Job yearned, for a kinsman redeemer, someone who, sufficiently like himself to act with a sense of empathy and comprehensibility, would yet be able to attain to the very place and majesty of God, and speaking freely without any inhibition at all, present the case of the suffering Job and make a way and a rest for him, who meant well, and had long sought to live in and by and for the Lord.
This desire from far off, in ancient days, is then seen fulfilled in an historical act, in the Redeemer actually coming to this earth and BEING AVAILABLE in a highly and indeed intimately personal and individual manner as such! That was the gift through faith, to Job. How would Job see this Redeemer then ? It would not be by protocol, by distance or by course work. It would be by sight. This reminds us of John 6:40, where he who SEES the Son has eternal life, that is, the one to whom He is revealed (cf. Matthew 16:17).
Jesus did not do just as Job hoped; but did something far better. He did not place His hand on His Father on the one hand, and on Job on the other, and judge things as Job's imagination, fertile more than pure at this point, imagined in hope!
No, but in fact, Christ bore for the Father's justice, the sin which had separated man from Him and had brought suffering, thus satisfying one side of the matter. Then again, He is seen bearing the sin which in being RELAYED to Him by man, thus satisfies the offence, striking the origin and covering the result.
Thus He deals with the arousing cause, and so covers the case for man. It is not as a barrister with words to justify our stricken condition, that He acts; but as a barrister whose hand is filled with generous gifts, His own life to cover the defects of our own, that He comes. He does not charge for the service, which cost Him life itself, but makes it free; nor does He charge for the gift which He gives, in presenting our 'case', for who could pay Him! Life by sin is forfeit already; and so its products fare ever worse!
Thus on the FATHER'S BEHALF, since God is love, He acts, and arrests sin; and being ONE GOD, He acts as God the sent (Isaiah 48:16), and bearing in love FOR HIS PEOPLE, what justice requires, He receives from man the ground of action, sin itself. Thus acting as Mediator, He indeed bears what divinity desires, and at the same time breaks in power what weakness brings. So does He cause the intimate association which Job sought, but in a way far better than Job imagined.
This teaches us something even further still. God has a heart, is loving and has lovingkindness. It is good to expect the best from Him, but better to find it the way HE GIVES IT!
Do you blame water, if it comes only through a spring, or from a pipe, as though your sovereign majesty is to be offended by such limitation ? Not at all. You humbly rejoice as you walk through the desert, that water IS TO BE FOUND. You do not feel any need at all to legislate how it is to be done. It comes; and this is sufficient. That it comes from a pure source, and is freely available, why this is even better than might be thought (as in Isaiah 55!).
This is the first implicit and additional teaching, that Christ satisfies the human yearning for a barrister to put his case, but does it by putting Himself in the case, not as functionary who charges, but as Redeemer who discharges. Such is the area and arena to which the whole sweep of the discourse in Job, in principal brings us.
20) Let us now complete this survey of the IMPORTUNITY of Job, and the OPPORTUNITY for divine teaching to mankind, which it occasioned, which God took as the heart of Job was purified. Indeed, Job was corrected, even though in one sense a star performer. Yet he showed in all simplicity a sincerity, an importunity, and trust and a reception of reality despite manifest infirmities; and his enduring energy in pursuing righteousness with expectation shows the aptness of this, that he who seeks, finds, and he who knocks, he has it opened to him. God is not onerous in imposition, but gracious in disposition. He is not trying to offend, but to amend; and His own patient trials attest as does His word in all things always, that what He tries to do, He triumphs in doing. There is no deception of God by any! He knows who are His own (cf. II Timothy 2:19).
Precious is faith, and precious is its working, its function, its objective placement on the objectively true God (cf. TMR Ch. 5). Nothing you suffer is worthy to be compared with actually knowing God, not in ceremony or ostentation, but in sincerity and in truth (cf. Romans 8:18ff.).
So does Job teach us, and how blessed are those who learn!
21) Job ALSO teaches us something of the nature of Christ's redemption and His own suffering in achieving this redemption, by contrast on the one side, and with a similarity to a measure, on the other. Thus Job to NO degree accomplishes his redemption, for that is the work of the Redeemer, who confronting a rotted remnant of Job's body, brings it back to health as we read at the end, and undertakes to grant, even after it leaves this earthly moving, to bring it back permanently, so there will be eyes that will SEE Him on this earth, and see Him as Redeemer from death, suffering and all evil.
This is as in Psalm 49:7,15, where precisely this is taught. You cannot, being sinful man, hope to accomplish anything of your redemption: you cease in sin, and only mercy brings continuity at all.
On the other side entirely, he teaches through this episode, that suffering in showing the reality of love to God, can be desolatory to the point where it shows something of that same love of God which sent the Redeemer to crucifixion, as we now know and realise ;and that is as Christ taught in Matthew 20:28.ONLY HE can redeem; but all may serve with the spirit of sacrifice and unselfishness, grace and goodness which is His!
Thus in Job 17 you find, and not there alone, language which suggests just such things. Job's desolation is in some ways reminiscent here of that of the Messiah, though different in degree and purpose (cf. Psalm 69, 22). He suffers to perform a test; Christ suffered to perform a redemption, to secure a resurrection of His people, to overflow evil with good, to establish the vitality of life in the very dungeons of death, simply meeting justice in judgment, that the whole magnificence of God could flow unimpeded to those so covered. It was simple in conception but simply limitless horrible in performance. The Gospel is not hard to comprehend (cf. Matthew 19, Psalm 8). The basic teaching, says Paul, may be compared to milk (I Corinthians 3:2); though of course there is meat as you grow.
However, whatever man in love to God is willing to endure that others may find Him, and that His holy purposes might be relished and fulfilled, realised and exhibited in triumph to this earth, though this can bring in some measure an undeserved aspect, something borne in love for a good purpose and not in itself a satisfaction or recompense for sin's committed: yet it differs even then from Christ. Even there, there is categorical triumph in what He achieved. There is not an illustration but a performance that perfects.
Thus though there may be some sense of desolation when the righteous, the Christians redeemed, suffer for Him, and this has something in common with Him who in vicarious triumph bore sin for man, and in substitutionary rigour, took and paid absolutely the debt due for those who receive Him, that they might thus be cleared: yet the divergence is great. Both the extent of the suffering and the application of it, the way and and the working of it, are quite different.
In this case, Christ bears as IMPACT VICTIM what is due to others; in the sufferings of Christians which make up what remains, however and by contrast, we who are His bear merely the RESULT accruing from our labours of love in the midst of an evil world. This is what may have to be borne when, as John indicates, the world, our site, lies in the wicked one, or as Christ put it, is in the domain of the coming leader, the devil's own.
We may also bear what is the result of God's testimony to man in various ways; but it is testimonial, not at all purgative; a matter of realisation, not redemption. Indeed, it is finite whereas Christ bore in infinitude, as purity itself and deity Himself, the suffusing horror of a sin He abhorred from a creation He loved. Here majesty in infinitude suffers, in absolute divergence from sin; there man in finitude suffers, being a sinner himself, and not absolute. Yet he does it in endurance for Christ, a reflector shining in the dark, in the very presence of the light of Christ who is with Him, which he reflects.
Such then are some of the amazingly broad teachings in Job, of staggering scope, attesting the unchanging testimony of truth, by Truth, through the Spirit of Truth, through God's own Spirit, who has given us His word from times long ago, ancient, and brought it to the present with ineffable ease, since God never changes, man's sin has not changed, his need has not changed, and the Gospel does not change.
This is as taught in Galatians 1:6-9, and shows in advance, since what PAUL had already then taught is the Gospel, the amazing presumption of those who seek to take the divine initiative, and replace it with man's. From Job came this attestation of the LAST TIME; and it is as fresh as tomorrow, as annealed with all biblical truth, as if a compressed flower within its pages.
Thus Job, for all his stresses and trials, did not do what his Redeemer did. He was absent from the case, and required an absolute defender, deliverance and vanquisher of the death which crept like flames to the house of his life. What he did was display the Redeemer in the fire, like another set of Daniel's friends; and show that faith in the very midst of the furnace, can attest Him who saves, will save, has salvation and will stand on this earth in that capacity, able to be seen, seen with eyes, lustrous in devotion, delighted in deliverance.
It shows the wonder of the Eternal God, who is reliable from the first to the last. It shows how importunity can take its opportunity, as Job did, and seek with all the heart. It shows the resulting revelation as priceless treasure, and stirs man to seek God with ALL the heart (as in Jeremiah 29:13-14).
Likewise, we here learn from Job, this teaching of Jeremiah to come so very much later, but here present in this precious book: that the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). There is scarcely any limit to the vain imaginations, the misplaced initiatives to this day, the pretences and pretensions all wrought in the name of explicit or implicit religion, whether sects, communism, liberal defilements and intrusions, New Age inventions which ignore the Ageless God, in their inventions or this or that confusion.
THE GLORY OF GOD
Yes, we see even in Job as his friends rage and he on occasion errs, that there is only one way, redemption, and there is one profound necessity, the initiative of God for our redemption; and this we now know, being come in due course as all the prophets progressively and in sequence attested till Christ came precisely on time (as in Galatians 4:4).
The wisdom of man alas, becomes pernicious in his own effrontery. What was given to attest, is misused to invest man with his own salvation, which being the mere presumption of sin, but damns the more completely (cf. Jude and II Peter 2-3). Man loves in his rebellion to seek to wreak havoc on the word of God, as he did when He came in the flesh. Job's friends remind us how intimately this may happen, even from those ostensibly trying to 'help'!
The wonder is this, that God was willing to pipe the water of life to us, as it were, to make it pure, and to change our very hearts and minds, so that we would relish it when we received it, and cry with all His saints in all ages, "
"You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth."
Thus does history unfold as in the predictive scroll, till heaven and earth should flee away (Revelation 20, Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 23:35).
Yes again, they cry in effect, as in Revelation 5:
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"
"Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
See John 8:40 cf. 8:21ff., and Isaiah 53:9, and note that Christ died BECAUSE He had done no violence, nor was there violence to truth in His mouth! Truth is what the world cannot stand, unless it is in some manipulable sub-category, so that if you do this, you get that. When it comes to demand repentance and faith, the world is sometimes recalcitrant, at other times frivolous, then softened to the point of lip-service, or else its lovers are found rushing in a mad-seeming tirade and truculence to stride through the earth with the tongue on fire, against God.
This world is a stage reaching its last stages. In all its follies, in the end, it pays. It always pays, though sometimes for demonstration purposes, it is allowed to be sundered over some little time!
Man without love is like a car without a service-agent for it. Man without faith is like a child parentless, at one year of age. Man with false faith is like a robot armed with atomic weapons. Man without God is a babe in arms, a grown up babe, and the arms are lethal to himself.
Cf. News 121, 122, 82, 100, 152, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5, It Bubbles .... Ch. 11, Worn-Out World and Coming King Ch. 5.