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When Bible teaching is compared with Church teaching, it can be seen that Christendom at large is astray from the Bible. For further information regarding the saving truths of Scripture, read the articles opposite.

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God’s Word/Logos

 
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

 

Misunderstanding of this verse has caused one of the biggest problems in Christendom. We need to take time to carefully deconstruct and analyse this verse before we can reconstruct it, and then everything makes sense.

Firstly, we have to consider what ‘the beginning’ is referring to in John 1:1. Is it, for example, God’s beginning, or the beginning of something else? Well we know that God has always been there, not ever having had a beginning (hard for finite humans to understand). So God Himself has come from ‘everlasting’ which many Bible references point out, e.g. Psalm 90:2 among many more. So the ‘beginning’ in John 1 has to be something else. Our answer can be found in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the very same ‘beginning’ - the beginning of the current creation. Who knows how many creations have happened before the present one - maybe countless creations through eternity from which the angels came? We are not told. Nevertheless God, after all, is defined as a ‘Creator’. And so we need look no further than the first verse of the first book of the Bible to find out what beginning John is referring to. It is worth noting that in the beginning referred to in Genesis 1, God was not creating alone. The Hebrew word for God is ’אֱלֹהִים‘ - transliterated intoelohiym, which is in fact a plural word meaning the Mighty Ones - the angelic beings. We can ascertain this by doing a separate study on the use of this word elsewhere in the Old Testament, but it is outside of the scope of this short study. However it is worth noting here because people often mistake the plurality of ‘elohiym’ as defining a three-part godhead as having been involved with the creation, including Jesus himself, who they claim to have eternally and co-equally existed prior to his birth.

 
Secondly, there would be no point in having something as magnificent as the creation we exist within, without there being a plan. Such a beautiful and complex creation would not be produced with so much effort and minute attention to detail without there being an equally detailed plan. Such a plan must not only determine the destiny of the planet Earth and the universe in which it functions, but would also determine the purpose and fate of the sentient (human) beings created to exist in it. Furthermore, if the Creator has any interest in interacting with His created human beings, which of course we know He does, then He would undoubtedly use an appropriate method of declaring His plan to humankind. This is where we come across the word simply translated into English as ‘the word’: “In the beginning was the word…” (John 1.)

 
Yahweh’s ‘word’ (Greek ‘
λόγος’ transliterated as ‘logos’) is this declaration of God’s plan (or His ‘manifesto’ if you prefer). It is a breathed-out expression of God Himself as this word is a direct revelation of His mind to humanity, which includes a presentation of His unfolding plan and purpose as fulfilled in and through Christ. What God says as revealed in this ‘word’ is who He is and what He does. Just as our thoughts lead to physical actions (but in our case are within finite human limitations), the same applies to God, but in contrast to our feeble thoughts and actions, He is not constrained by space, time or dimension. Therefore the active fulfilment of His thoughts is unlimited, with infinite reach and all powerful. We read in Psalm 33:6, “By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Therefore everything that exists, including the universe in which the planet we call ‘home’ has been situated, along with the lives we are currently blessed with, have all been created through the power of God’s thoughts which when uttered are simply called His ‘word’. It is a useful exercise to have a look at Genesis 1 and to count how many times ‘and God said’ becomes fulfilled as a creative act, with God’s spoken word, which was uttered as an expression of His plan, becoming a physical reality. The immeasurably powerful word of Yahweh the Almighty Creator issues commands which ensures that His will is always done, whether directly by Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit, or by those who do His bidding, such as the angelic Mighty Ones, or even by human beings. So when we read God’s word in written form in the Scriptures, we are given a glimpse of the mind and power of the Creator. This includes His nature, how He relates to humanity and with His Creation in general. It includes His declaration to humankind of how He planned from the very beginning to have a Son to ultimately bring salvation to members of the human race who seek Him through Jesus, when glory to His Name will be expressed by everybody on the Earth, just as it is by the angels in Heaven. So the Scriptures present a word like no other, as Almighty God has declared His powerful, secure and definite plan to anybody truly seeking answers and desiring something beyond the temporary here-and-now - something entirely possible for us to reach to take us away from our wretched state of corruption and mortality to incorruption and life without end.

 
Thirdly, the Greek word ‘
οὗτος’ transliterated as ‘houtos’ (Strongs ref. G3778) has flexibility of translation according to the context, e.g. ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘this’, etc. We see this in verse 2 of John 1 translated as ‘the same’ in the King James Version, “The same was in the beginning with God.” That actually works well, as it does not represent the ‘word’ (Logos) as a person, but retains its integrity of meaning exactly what it says. However, some translators have instead chosen to assume that ‘the word’ is part of a godhead in the person of the Lord Jesus, prompting them to unfortunately colour the translation by their theology which claims that Jesus pre-existed before his birth, so they have chosen to translate this as ‘he’ (for example the E.S.V., N.I.V., etc.).

 
By verse 3, most translations fall apart and let us down totally, as they force-through a teaching which the Scriptures never intended, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The problem occurs with the insistence of using ‘him’ in this verse. This is where the Greek word ‘
αὐτός’ (Strongs ref. G846 - transliterated as ‘autos’) is mistranslated. For example, in other contexts the very same word is translated as ‘herself’, ‘itself’, ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘the same’, etc., so while it can be a person in the right contexts, it can also be a thing. We therefore need to see the word in its appropriate setting. When we look at the context in the preceding verses, the subject under discussion is the ‘word’ of God and most certainly not a separate individual. Nevertheless, the translators, wishing to force their teaching agenda that Christ had pre-existed, have totally transformed the meaning of this verse and most people in Christendom have unfortunately fallen for their deceptive trick which has been passed down generations with very little question.

 
So how should this read?

 
The translation should simply have settled upon rendering the word ‘it’ in this context, as the verse is continuing to talk about the very same ‘word’ which verse one introduced us to. And so, substituting the word ‘it’ back where it belongs into the third verse to ensure that the context is not lost, it should read, “All things were made by it; and without it was not any thing made that was made.” Now this ties-in beautifully with the Psalm quoted earlier, “By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” So the God-breathed ‘word’ is what made everything, just as God had declared in the Old Testament many years before the Gospel of John was written. However this creation would not be complete without the word being made flesh which we will look at in a moment. Before we do this, let us revisit the first few verses of John’s Gospel, bearing in mind what the word ‘word’ truly means and therefore undo the damage the English translators have caused. I will insert square brackets reminding us of the meaning which the English translators have stripped-out: -

 
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it [God’s word]; and without it was not any thing made that was made. In it [God’s word] was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1.)

It is worth noting that English translations which predated the 1611 King James rendered these verses much more accurately, prior to the agenda-driven changes made in later translations, as you will see below: -

 
1534 Tyndale Translation:

 
“In the beginnynge was the worde and the worde was with God: and the worde was God. The same was in the beginnynge with God. All thinges were made by it and with out it was made nothinge that was made. In it was lyfe and the lyfe was ye lyght of men and the lyght shyneth in the darcknes but the darcknes comprehended it not.”

 
1599 Geneva Bible:

 
“In the beginning was that Word, and that Word was with God, and that Word was God. This same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it was made nothing that was made. In it was life, and that life was the light of men. And that light shineth in the wilderness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”

 
So there we are - God’s declared plan to humanity, delivered to us as the word - the word which was an expression of God Himself and by which He created, along with the reason behind God creating everything. This word in the first few verses which is described as being ‘God’, is His own expression of Himself to humanity - carrying the power and authority to fulfil His plan, so it does not at this point in the text specifically refer to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ at all. This aspect is reserved for later in the chapter.

 
But what about the word made flesh?

Curiously, this concept of the word being made flesh does not directly enter into John’s Gospel until verse 14, “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” So here is the very first time in this Gospel that the Lord Jesus is directly mentioned in connection with being an actual embodiment of the word. This is not just any connection here - we have the word (God’s declaration) in human flesh. Until verse 14, the reference to Jesus is restricted to the proclamation made by John (the Baptist) who talked about the Light which was about to come (see verses 6-14). Jesus being the Light was later backed-up by the words of Jesus himself (i.e. John 8:12 which references back to the prophecy in Isaiah 9:2).

So if the word was a declaration of God and His plan, how could this be made flesh?

Now that everything else has been cleared-up, the answer is very simple. Firstly, Jesus was always part of God’s plan declared in His word. He was a vital aspect of God’s purpose. We can find this in Genesis 3:15, for example. Here the birth of Jesus and his role was foretold when the word declares ‘I will’: “and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” So by God’s word it had already been foretold and foreordained that the primary fulfilment of God’s uttered word was for Jesus was to be created through the seed of the woman, born into Adam’s race, whereby the foundation of faith was established from the onset in Genesis 3. This provided a way for fallen humanity be atoned through the sacrifice of Jesus. Therefore the first aspect of Jesus being the word made flesh is the actual realisation of God’s declaration foretelling the birth of His Son through the seed of a woman. This most ancient prophecy was fulfilled with complete accuracy through Mary, who was a virgin at the time and a willing participant in God’s purpose, conceiving and giving birth a son, who was by nature both God’s Son and the son of Mary, in the lineage of David, traceable right back to Adam - the very first man.

The second aspect of God’s word being manifest in the flesh was down to the life followed by the sacrifice of Jesus. He, as a fully-obedient and sinless Son of God who preached God’s word accurately to humanity to bring them to the Light of God’s Truth, which John the Baptist had paved his way to do. As Jesus was a man who never once gave in to the lusts of human flesh common to all humanity and who was always totally obedient to his Father’s will, this demonstrated that he was indeed the ‘word made flesh’: a perfect manifestation of his Father’s character, will and purpose in everything he said and did. So his character and teaching was in perfect alignment with his Father at all times.

This leads to the third aspect of Jesus being the word made flesh. God’s declaration in His word included the provision of a perfect sacrifice which could only have been foreshadowed by the sacrifices under the Law. As Jesus was sinless, having overcome all temptations (which us lesser humans have fallen for), he was able to fully represent the humans he was foreordained to save, bearing the same condemned nature which was subject to temptation as they. Therefore, as he overcame the flesh, his sacrifice provided atonement for all who would seek God through him, paving the way for their salvation.

Fourthly, the resurrection of Jesus, the manifestation of the word in Jesus’ flesh would not have been complete as there was an essential eternal element to God’s plan (His word). Even this was achieved as a result of Jesus’ obedience and atoning sacrifice, paving the way for all who will be saved when Jesus returns to raise the dead and welcome the faithful into the Kingdom, which was also a fundamental aspect of God’s Declaration (word) to humanity.

Therefore, the word - God’s declaration to humanity - was fulfilled perfectly within the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ without any detail being lost. This fulfilled the types before him, including those embedded within the Law of Moses and right back to the sacrifices of ancient times when Adam and Eve were driven from Eden. God’s word included the proclamation of the Light of the Truth (the Gospel) through Jesus. It included his atoning sacrifice and his resurrection, bringing sinful human beings into a position where they are able to repent, be baptised into his saving name - cleansed of their sin and freed from an otherwise certain eternal death. The fulfilment of the word in Christ Jesus has enabled people to enter into covenant relationship with the Almighty and ultimately have an opportunity to find salvation. That is the powerful word made flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What a hope God offers us through His word, if only we individually make the best decision we could ever make: to take time out of our short, mundane lives during the temporary here-and-now, and reach for the eternal, seeking the Light of God’s Truth and ultimately be blessed the wonderful offer of the gift of salvation in Christ, with the joy of immortality ahead!


James Meadows

oth Job Fear God For Nought?


“I have uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me,

which I knew not ... Wherefore I abhor myse!f, and repent

in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3-6).

 

We are once again reading together the marvellous book of Job. It is the only non-Jewish book of the Bible, and it is in all probability the oldest book of the Bible. Many eminent men -- both religious and non-religious -- have called it the supreme literary production in all the world’s history. It is, from any point of view, a most remarkable piece of writing.

THE PLACE AND TIME

 
From the names of the characters and their ancestors, and the place names, the location of the story lies in the area between the Dead Sea and the desert, or somewhat to the north or south of that: the area of the descendants of Abraham other than through Jacob -- generally speaking, the Arabs. Job was one of the “Men of the East,” a term applied to the Arabs: Ishmaelites, Edomites, etc. And the time seems most likely to be during the two hundred or so years Israel was in Egypt. All the background and customs and genealogy point to this place and time.

 As to how the book of Job got into an otherwise wholly Jewish Bible, there is a strong and ancient Jewish tradition that Moses wrote it, or at least made it part of the Scriptures -- by the guidance of the Spirit of course. Moses would have been the logical one to do so. He may well have known Job himself, or Job’s early descendants, during the forty years he was in Midian. Job was the greatest (and therefore best known) of the “Men of the East” (Job 1:3), and Midian would be included in that area. The history of Job would be well-known there.

It is remarkable that the great typical and exemplary patient sufferer of the Old Testament is not a Jew, but rather is of a race which -- though closely related -- was always, and still is, in deep antagonism to the Jews. He was a Gentile -- a non-Jew, that is -- of the seed of Abraham, adding to the beauty and fitness of the typical picture

A NON-JEWISH MODEL OF EXCELLENCE

Here, in the midst of an otherwise Jewish book, is a perfect model of excellence for all time: a man who is not a Jew, not under the Law, who had nothing to do with the Law, nothing to do with Israel. He is referred to by Ezekiel (14:14), with Noah and Daniel, as three outstanding examples of righteousness. He is referred to by James (5:11) as the ultimate example of patient, faithful suffering.

The story opens with the simple picture of worshipers of God coming together before Him, and among them a bitter, jealous adversary making a travesty and mockery of it. Orthodoxy represents its Devil as having free access to God’s heaven, and being God’s agent and accomplice. One respectable modern commentary, the “New Bible Commentary,” says concerning this scene that the Devil is a “divine agent,” and is the supreme cynic of the heavenly court.” What a debased, pagan conception of God’s holy dwelling-place! -- in perfect harmony with the crude gods and heavens of Greece and Rome, but certainly not with the Scriptures of Truth.

 
“Doth Job fear God for nought?” He DID: and so must we. Our motive must be love alone, and not self-benefit, though self benefit will inevitably follow, for goodness can lead only at last to goodness, in a world ruled by the goodness of God. But our motivation must be pure love of God and of goodness.

 
WHY DO THE RIGHTEOUS SUFFER?

 
The great question of the book of Job is: Why do the righteous suffer? And the great lesson is: We must totally and unquestioningly trust God, and have implicit faith in His love, mercy and justice, regardless of any appearances or circumstances. He has a reason and a purpose in the suffering of His people: different reasons at different times, but all working toward their ultimate glorification -- often a reason (as here) that would be impossible for man ever to guess without knowing what was in God’s mind.

The sufferings of Christ point to the same problem: Why? We can dimly perceive how he was “made perfect through suffering,” and how his perfect submission to that suffering laid the eternal foundation for the world’s redemption from all suffering.

But, above all, we must unhesitatingly accept the ways of God because He is God; because He manifestly has made all things, and knows the reason for all. He has manifested His infinite power and wisdom in all the beauties and glories of Creation. He proclaims His love and justice in His Word. He overwhelmingly manifests His divinity in that Word.

We must accept the whole picture, or reject the whole picture. To reject it in the light of its overpowering evidence is stupidity. To question God’s ways in the light of His overpowering greatness is obviously equal stupidity. This is the lesson of Job. The final outcome manifested God’s wisdom and love and compassion. We must have implicit trust that it always will if we do our part faithfully.

It was a high honor and privilege for Job to be used by God to demonstrate for all ages what true righteousness and faith really is, and to give an example of patient integrity in the face of what appeared to everyone, including Job himself, a deliberate divine effort to afflict and torment him to the uttermost.

JOB AND CHRIST: STRIKING PARALLELS

We see throughout, a very striking, broad parallel between Job and Christ, although there are necessarily differences and contrasts.

Both were the outstandingly righteous men of their age.

Both suffered more intensely and grievously than is recorded of any other man. Christ suffered more greatly, and more extendedly, for he lived his whole life in the shadow of the inevitable cross, under the constant burden of required perfection, or all Creation would have been betrayed. And in his deep and superhuman empathy, he suffered all the sufferings of his people of all ages. Infinitely more even than Paul he could say: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?"

He was pre-eminently a Man of Sorrows (Isa. 53:3), though at the same time a Man of incomparable Joy (Jn. 15:11; 17:13).

 With both, God knew from the beginning that they would hold fast to the end, regardless of the intensity of the trial: and God built His purpose upon that assurance. What a glorious role for men to play! If Job had failed, the adversary would have been triumphant, and God would have been put to shame: His whole dispensation of love exposed as mere self-serving.

Both were reduced in shame from the highest position to the lowest, though in different ways. Christ, as the only begotten Son of God, was the potential heir of the universe. As Paul explains to the Philippians (2:6-8), though finding himself the one special man above all men, even the “Fellow” of God (Zech. 13:7), entitled to the homage of the angels (Heb. 1), yet he humbled himself, and accepted the form of a slave, even to the most ignominious of deaths.

Both were utterly despised and rejected. Both were assumed by their own people and generation to be under the special curse of God, at the very time they were suffering for the sake of others. For we must recognize that Job’s sufferings went far beyond himself, and were for universal instruction and comfort and guidance. It was not an aimless wager, when God staked all on Job’s integrity, but an essential manifestation of the noble, vital, spiritual principle of faithful integrity for its own sake alone, under the extremist of testings: the key to salvation. We must do good simply because we love the good and hate the evil.

 MADE PERFECT BY SUFFERING

Both were “made perfect by suffering.” This is a deep and important aspect in both cases. Christ, though of unblemished righteousness, was not “perfect” until he had, in loving and all-trusting obedience, passed through the required suffering and sacrificial death.

Job was the most righteous man of his day: a giant of faith and endurance -- “perfect and upright,” “none like him in all the earth,” according to the testimony of God Himself (Job 1:8). Still, Job has something to learn, something in which to be developed and brought to beautiful fruition, as he at last freely and humbly confesses (40:4; 42:6).

Unquestionably, Job was a better, wiser, greater, more understanding man, much closer to God, after his terrible trial than before. And he had attained to a far higher position in the Divine Purpose and Manifestation. As a prosperous and honored sheik, he never would have fully known God. He never would have become an inspiration and example for all ages. He never would have been granted the unique and inestimable privilege of the direct Divine revelation he received.

 

GOD’S UNIQUE SELF-MANIFESTATION TO JOB

 
Was ever a man the subject of so full and personal and searching a Divine address to himself? God did not deign to explain, for that would have been utterly inappropriate, and would not have accomplished the desired result. We must first accept God and all His ways fully and unquestioningly, before we can hope for any explanation of their mysteries.

But God condescended to take the time and trouble to fully and in detail manifest Himself and His majesty to Job, as He did to none other we know of but Christ himself. God’s address to Job is unique in all Scripture.

Job at last received that which he had so passionately pleaded for: a direct divine manifestation. It would be well worth all the scorn and abuse and terrible suffering he had endured. Indeed, its value and power would be greatly heightened by that dark background. What a joyful, glorious, inspiring, comforting memory for the last one hundred and forty years of his life! -- a life which he thought was already over. How much closer he would now be to God for that long period of recompense for his trials! How much more at peace -- for there are hints that for all his religious efforts and prosperity, he was not before truly at peace. In the anguish of his suffering, he makes such revelations as this:

“That which I GREATLY FEARED is come upon me” (3:25).

 
But never again would he fear anything. Now his peace was deep and strong. The ordeal was dreadful, but we see its wholesome benefits.

 
JOB’S CRUSHING AVALANCHE OF AFFLICTION

 
Job’s afflictions were many and cumulative. They would quickly have destroyed a lesser man. In evaluating Job and what he at times says, we must strive to comprehend the almost incomprehensible extent to which he was tortured and tried in so many ways at once.

First, he lost all his possessions and livelihood. In swift succession, calamity upon calamity fell crushingly upon him. And with it, he lost his whole family of ten beloved children in what was obviously a direct divine blow, unexplained and unprovoked: his cherished family for which he had constantly prayed and offered sacrifice.

His reaction was perfect, unhesitating, total acceptance and worship--

 
“The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

 
Then, in seeming heartless response by God to this loving and godly reaction, he was smitten from head to foot -- again obviously by the hand of God -- with the most painful, loathsome and abhorred disease known to man, inevitably fatal in terrible suffering in the natural course of events: a particularly repulsive form of consuming, deforming leprosy, universally regarded as a manifestation of God’s especial wrath.

Then his wife turned against him -- and all his friends and acquaintances. And he found himself a universally abandoned pariah, cast out of the city, consigned to the refuse heap to die a lingering death: the butt of ridicule and abuse by the vilest class of the people, who tormented him for their depraved amusement.

Job was totally rejected, and driven “without the gate” by those who considered themselves the “Holy City.”

In the raw meanness of ordinary human nature, everyone was gratified to see this mighty man, this presumed paragon of righteousness, crushed and humbled in the mire, and eager to add their own miserable quota to his overflowing misery. They spit in his face, he says. Exactly the same thing is said of Christ (Matt. 26:67): the deepest degradation and insult. “Crucify him! Crucify him! He pretended to be so good!” It was his very God-attested goodness that so enraged the blind evil fury of the flesh against him.

THE FRIENDS COME

 
And so time dragged on wearily, with Job lying in misery in the ashes (2:8) (the Septuagint says “dung-heap,” which is probably the meaning), until his three especial friends heard of his calamities, and assembled to comfort him. They were so struck with his misery and dreadful appearance that they sat around him in silence for seven days. Then, when he repeatedly implored their comfort and sympathy, they more and more heatedly condemned him and accused him of the vilest crimes and hypocrisies.

 This is the background against which we must consider him. Truly, like Moses, under tremendous stress he “spake unadvisedly with his lips.”

 Job is throughout wrestling tremendously with this problem. Upon the shame and misery of his condition is heaped the smug and self-righteous condemnation of his closest friends. His friends’ rejection aroused an over-reaction in what he said, but threw him more and more on God. He had sought their support and sympathy against the hand of God. They railed on him, thinking they were thereby earning God’s favor. This added to his bitterness, but it showed him there was nowhere to turn for comfort and understanding but to God Himself.

 The friends’ condemnation was an essential part of the trial, and of the final result. Though it added immeasurably to his grief, it was probably more helpful to him (in a way opposite what they intended) than their sympathy would have been.

 
JOB’S GREATEST AGONY: GOD’S SEEMING REJECTION

 
All forsook him in his extremity. But his greatest agony was not in his sufferings, nor in his rejection by all mankind, but God’s apparent rejection and forsaking and enmity. Again and again he implores God for but one word of hope or comfort or recognition, but is met with total silence, and increased oppression. Even when he seeks brief, exhausted surcease in sleep, he is terrified with awful dreams (7:14).

To judge what he says, we must consider all he said, and the order in which he said it; just as we must consider the whole of Psalm 22, and not just the first few words from it that Christ quoted on the cross. It is all too easy to get his cries of anguish out of proportion, as if they were the studied and final conclusions reached coolly and theoretically in ease and comfort.

The fundamental fact is that Job held fast his trust in God, and would not deviate from his dedication to righteousness (which has no meaning outside of faith in God); and he was confident throughout of final resurrection, and of God’s open manifestation to him at last.

There is no more triumphant victory of faith than is expressed in his memorable words, wrung from him In the depth of present despair--

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust him ... He also shall be my salvation!”

 ‘“If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee. Thou wilt have a desire (kasaph: longing) to the work of Thine hands.”

 “I KNOW that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day UPON THE EARTH ... Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold” (13:15-16; 14:14-15; 19:25-27).

 

WHY SUCH DREADFUL AFFLICTION?

His complaints are not against God’s overall justice, but against His seeming injustice in the affairs of this life -- especially that one who tried so hard to obey should be picked out for the most terrible of afflictions, while all men gloated, and the wicked were at ease. Job knew that at last all would be righted, but why this special, dreadful, unprovoked affliction of a righteous and faithful man?

 The friends fall silent. Job restates his case at length (chapters 26-31) with great power and beauty: conceding that the wicked are finally punished; conceding God’s infinite might and understanding; conceding that man’s whole wisdom is to fear God and depart from evil -- but again long and stoutly declaring his own righteousness, and crying for the opportunity of debating his case with God, confident of victory.

 Then a new figure enters, the young Elihu, who prepares Job for the final revelation from God. He introduces the idea that suffering is not only for punishment, as the friends contended, but has many uses in the love and wisdom of God: constructive loving discipline, directional chastisement of a Father, strengthening by training and rigor, manifestation and deepening of faith, purification -- especially purification, making perfect. Suffering can and must lead to fuller understanding, and thus be a blessing. Job makes no attempt to answer Elihu.

 GOD SPEAKS

 Then God speaks. It is notable that Job was given just what he asked: an opportunity to stand up to God and argue with Him, to show Him how He must be mistaken. But how swiftly Job’s bold self-assurance fled before the mighty manifestation of God’s infinite wisdom and power!

That God should deign to speak to man at all -- especially to one calling His ways in question -- is a tremendous condescension in itself, a tremendous and unique honor, and manifestation of love for Job.

As God spoke of the endless marvels of His Creation, Job shrank to nothing. Crushed in shame, he learned to rest totally and unreservedly in God, devastated by the sudden realization of the stupidity and presumption of daring to challenge God and question His ways.

When God brought Job to the comfort and peace of unquestioning love and trust, He thereby solved all Job’s problems, even before He removed Job’s afflictions. Their removal came later, after Job had waived all his complaints, and prostrated himself in loving worship.

God banished Job’s questions, not by answering them, but by totally removing them from his concern. Job was wholly satisfied that whatever God did must be right, and must be rooted in love and wisdom.

God’s answer was to give no answer, but to manifest a God so great that no answer was needed. To need an explanation and justification of anything God does is to have a degraded and unacceptable conception of God. He is infinitely above all question and accountability.

MAN DARE NOT QUESTION GOD

Job was faithful and righteous above all his contemporaries, and completely, actively dedicated to good works, and to service to God and man. He demonstrated his firm and unshakable endurance, and that he unselfishly loved goodness for goodness’ sake alone. But he did not have the necessary total self-abasing humility and recognition of self-nothingness until he was crushed by the divine revelation. The learning of this was the supreme blessing of his entire experience.

The whole lesson of God’s self-manifestation to Job is the limitless greatness of God, and the utter littleness of man. If God had stooped to explain Himself to Job before totally humbling him in the recognition of his nothingness, then God would have been conceding man’s right to judge God and demand an answer for His ways. And this right, man must be made to fully realize, that he just does not have. It is absurd and unthinkable that puny little ignorant created man should for one moment question God, Who effortlessly maintains the numberless stars and galaxies in their myriad courses throughout the universe. What is weak, brief-lived, earth crawling man to question his Creator?

But when Job humbled himself, and cast away all self-importance, God graciously went much further to set Job’s mind at perfect rest, and doubly compensated him for all his faithfully-borne suffering and shame. He totally vindicated and honored him before his self-righteous friends, and gave Job the joyful, forgiving privilege of being their mediator.

 
RESTORATION

 
And then He justified Job before his whole community, and made him twice as rich as he had been before. After what Job had bitterly learned of the fickle respect and fellowship of men (who fled when he needed them, and came back shamelessly seeking his favor when he was restored), and had gloriously learned of the companionship of God, the riches and honor would mean little to him, except as an even greater opportunity to resume his former course of goodness and guidance and charity to others, succoring the needy and defending the oppressed.

Some have felt that the restoration of the temporal riches and honor detracts from the spiritual force of the story, which is otherwise played out on a wholly spiritual plane. Such think incorrectly, again unwisely judging God’s ways. It was fitting and necessary -- for the instruction of all Job’s associates, and all since -- to complete the picture by the double restoration of all he had lost.

And it brings the closing picture fully into harmony with the antitype. Job, in well-deserved riches and honor -- after passing triumphantly through all his trials for the inspirational and instructional benefit of the race -- rejoiced to see his sons and his sons’ sons, in peace and prosperity.

 So Christ, in eternal riches and honor, shall see his redeemed Seed: a holy, perfected “generation of the race” --

 “HE SHALL SEE OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL, AND BE SATISFIED.”

 “How unsearchable are God’s judgments and His ways past finding out!”

G.V. Growcott

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