Recession exposes secret sin

Photo credit marywomantowoman.blogspot.com

John Piper:

He intends for this recession to expose secret sin, and so, bring us to repentance and cleansing.

Biblical exaple:

Job. The first verse of the book of Job says, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blamelessand upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” So, he was a good man. In the last chapter, Job 42 verse 6, it says, Job says, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

So, what does that mean? He was a blameless man. Check him out Satan! Job, “I’m a wicked man. (I) cover myself with dust and ashes and repent before the living God.” What does that mean? It means this: The most pure, blameless, holy saint on the planet has a sediment of sin lying quietly at the bottom of his beaker. While we look at this clean, clear water called holiness, but you bump him, just bump him and it gets cloudy. And Job got bumped big time and out of his mouth came some things he never should have said, cause they were there.

And they’re in you! And you know what brings them out? Recession! That’s what brings them out. That’s the way it works. That’s the way recessions work. That’s what they’re for.

VIDEO by Desiring God

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (5) Job’s Happy Ending

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) -

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. READ Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu
  4. READ Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God 
  5. READ Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (article below)

Here are some excerpts from the last section:

photo www.bibleartists.wordpress.com Job’s Despair by Blake

Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending

These verses may be divided into two parts. The first, which we have already glanced at, reports God’s wrath with Eliphaz and his two friends for not speak- ing of God what was right, as Job did (42:7-8). They are required to offer sacrifice to God, and Job, whom they have despised and abused, must pray for them, for God will accept his prayers for them (and, by implication, not their own!).

In the second part (vv. 10-17), after Job prays for his friends, the Lord makes him prosperous again. His siblings and acquaintances gather around him and provide gifts, presumably to help him start up again. He sires another family, seven more sons and three more daughters, and gains herds twice the size of what he had before. No women were more beautiful than his daughters, and Job left them an inheritance along with their brothers—further evidence of Job’s com- passionate and enlightened treatment of those traditionally squeezed to the periph- ery of life (cf. chap. 31). He lived to a ripe old age, seeing his children and their chil- dren to the fourth generation. Eventually he died, “old and full of years”—an epi- taph reserved for the choicest or most favored of God’s servants (Abraham [Gen 25:8], Isaac [Gen 35:29], David [1 Chron 29:28], and Jehoiada the priest [2 Chron 24:15]).

If some critics are displeased with God’s answer to Job out of the storm, even more are incensed by this “happy ending.” The story, they argue should have ended with Job’s repentance. Whether he was restored is irrelevant; in any case it is untrue to the experience of many, who suffer at length without reprieve. To end the story this way makes the doctrine of retribution basically right after all. The conclusion is therefore anticlimactic at best, contradictory at worst.

This is, I think, a shallow reading of the text. Perhaps the following reflections will help unpack the purpose of this conclusion a little:

(1) We must beware of our own biases. One of the reasons why many people are dissatisfied with this ending is because in the contemporary literary world ambiguity in moral questions is universally revered, while moral certainty is almost as universally despised. The modern mood enjoys novels and plays where the rights and wrongs get confused, where every decision is a mixture of right and wrong, truth and error, where heroes and antiheroes reverse their roles.

Why this infatuation with ambiguity? It is regarded as more mature. Clear-cut answers are written off as immature. The pluralism of our age delights in moral ambiguity—but only as long as it costs nothing. Devotion to contemporary moral ambiguity is extraordinarily self-centered. It demands freedom from God so that it can do whatever it wants. But when the suffering starts the same self-centered focus on my world and my interests, rather ironically, wants God to provide answers of sparkling clarity.

(2) Throughout his excruciating suffering, Job has demonstrated that he serves the Lord out of a pure heart. True, he has said some stupid things and has been rebuked; but at no point does he simply curse God and turn his back on Him. Even his demand that God present himself before Job and give an answer is the cry of the believer seeking to find out what on earth God is doing. Even while sitting in the ashpit, Job trusts God enough to express extraordinary confidence in him, and for no ulterior motive.

In that sense, God has won his wager with the devil. Job may utter words that darken God’s counsel, but he does not lose his integrity or abandon his God. Is it there- fore surprising that there should be full rec- onciliation between God and Job? And if the wager has been won, is there any rea- son for Job’s afflictions to continue?

(3) No matter how happy the ending, nothing can remove the suffering itself. The losses Job faced would always be with him. A happy ending is better than a mis- erable one, but it does not transform the suffering he endured into something less than suffering. A survivor of the Holo- caust has not suffered less because he ultimately settles into a comfortable life in Los Angeles.

(4) The Book of Job has no interest in praising mystery without restraint. All biblical writers insist that to fear the Lord ultimately leads to abundant life. If this were not so, to fear the Lord would be stupid and masochistic. The book does not disown all forms of retribution; rather, it disowns simplistic, mathematically precise, and instant application of the doc- trine of retribution. It categorically rejects any formula that affirms that the righteous always prosper and the wicked are always destroyed. There may be other reasons for suffering; rewards (of blessing or of destruction) may be long delayed; knowledge of God is its own reward.

Job still does not have all the answers; he still knows nothing about the wager between God and Satan. He must simply trust God that something far greater was at stake than his own personal happiness. But he has stopped hinting that God is unjust; he has come to know God better; and he enjoys the Lord’s favor in rich abundance once again.

photo wikipedia Job restored to prosperity by Laurent de La Hyre (1606–1656)

(5) The blessings that Job experiences at the end are not cast as rewards that he has earned by his faithfulness under suf- fering. The epilogue simply describes the blessings as the Lord’s free gift. The Lord is not nasty or capricious. He may for vari- ous reasons withdraw his favor, but his love endures forever.

In that sense, the epilogue is the Old Testament equivalent to the New Testament anticipation of a new heaven and a new earth. God is just, and will be seen to be just. This does not smuggle mathemati- cal retribution in through the back door. Rather, it is to return, in another form, to the conclusion of chapter 8 of this book.

(6) Although I have repeatedly spoken of God entering into a wager with Satan, or winning his wager with Satan, I have done so to try to capture the scene in the first chapter. But there is a danger in such language: it may sound as if God is capri- cious. He plays with the lives of his crea- tures so that he can win a bet.

Clearly that is not true. The challenge to Satan is not a game; nor is the outcome, in God’s mind, obscure. Nothing in the book tells us why God did this. The solemnity and majesty of God’s response to Job not only mask God’s purposes in mystery, but presuppose they are serious and deep, not flighty or frivolous.

Nevertheless, the wager with Satan is in certain ways congruent with other biblical themes. God’s concern for the salvation of men and women is part of a larger, cosmic struggle between God and Satan, in which the outcome is certain while the struggle is horrible. This is one way of placing the human dimensions of redemption and judgment in a much larger framework than what we usually perceive.

(7) We are perhaps better situated now to understand precisely why God says that his servant Job spoke of him “what was right,” while the three miserable com- forters did not. True, Job is rebuked for darkening the Lord’s counsel: he became guilty of an arrogance that dared to demand that God give an account of his actions. But Job has been genuinely grop- ing for the truth, and has not allowed glib answers to deter him. He denies neither God’s sovereignty nor (at least in most of his statements!) God’s justice. Above all, so far as the wager between God and Satan is concerned, Job passes with flying colors; he never turns his back on God.

Contrast the three friends. Although they are trying to defend God, their reductionistic theology ends up offering Job a temptation: to confess sins that weren’t there, in order to try to retrieve his prosperity. If Job had succumbed, it would have meant that Job cared more for prosperity than for his integrity or for the Lord himself; and the Lord would have lost his wager. Their counsel, if followed, would have actually led Job away from the Lord; Job would have been reduced to being yet one more person interested in seeking God for merely personal gain.

This is, at the end of the day, the ulti- mate test of our knowledge of God. Is it robust enough that, when faced with excruciating adversity, it may prompt us to lash out with hard questions, but will never permit us to turn away from God? But perhaps it is better to put the matter the other way round: the God who put Job through this wringer is also the God of whom it is said that, with respect to his own people, “he will not let [them] be tempted beyond what [they] can bear. But when [they] are tempted, he will also pro- vide a way out so that [they] can stand up under it” (1 Cor 10:13). God could not trust me with as much suffering as Job endured; I could not take it. But we must not think that there was any doubt in God’s mind as to whether he would win his wager with Satan over Job!

When we suffer, there will sometimes be mystery. Will there also be faith? 

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (4) Job and God

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) -

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. READ Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu
  4. READ Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God (article below)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 4th section:

Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God

Finally God himself speaks, answering Job out of the storm (chaps. 38-41). “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace your- self like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (38:2-3). There fol- lows question after question, each designed to remind Job of the kinds of thing he cannot do, and that only God can. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (38:4). “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place … ?” (38:12). “Have you entered the store- houses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?” (38:22-23). “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (38:31-32). “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?” (38:39-41). God then goes on to describe some of the more spectacular features of the mountain goat, the wild donkey, the ox, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the eagle. “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (40:2).

photo genesistomalachi.weebly.com

Job had wanted an interview with the Almighty. He had, as it were, sworn an affidavit demanding that the Almighty appear and put his indictment in writing (31:35). But God’s defense wasn’t quite what Job had in mind. At the first pause, Job answers, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (40:4-5).

But God hasn’t finished yet. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (40:7). Then come the most blistering questions: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn your- self with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you” (40:8-14).

It is important to recognize that God does not here charge Job with sins that have brought on his suffering. He does not respond to the “whys” of Job’s suffering, nor does he challenge Job’s defense of his own integrity. The reason he calls Job on the carpet is not because of Job’s justifica- tion of himself, but because of Job’s will- ingness to condemn God in order to justify himself. In other words, God does not here “answer” Job’s questions about the prob- lem of evil and suffering, but he makes it unambiguously clear what answers are not acceptable in God’s universe.

The rest of chapter 40 and all of chap- ter 41 find God asking more rhetorical questions. Can Job capture and subdue the behemoth (40:15ff.) and leviathan (41:1ff.)? These two beasts may be the hip- popotamus and the crocodile, respec- tively, but they probably also represent primordial cosmic powers that sometimes break out against God. The argument, then, is that if Job is to charge God with injustice, he must do so from the secure stance of his own superior justice; and if he cannot subdue these beasts, let alone the cosmic forces they represent, he does not enjoy such a stance, and is therefore displaying extraordinary arrogance to call God’s justice into question.

Job’s response must be quoted in full (42:2-6), along with two or three explana- tory asides: “I know that you can do all things,” Job tells God, “no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowl- edge?’ [38:2]. 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’ [38:3; 40:7]. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you [i.e., Job has come to have a far clearer understanding of God than he had before]. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

What shall we make of this exchange between God and Job? Many doubtful interpretations have been put forward by various writers. Because God refers to so many natural phenomena, one writer argues that a major purpose of God’s speech is to tell Job that the beauty of the world must become for him an anodyne to human suffering, a kind of aesthetic aspirin. When one basks in the world’s beauty, one’s problems become petty, “because they dissolve within the larger plan” of the harmony of the universe.4 But to someone suffering intensely, the beauty of the world can just as easily become a brutal contrast that actually intensifies the suffering. Worse, it does not dissolve pain; rather, it is in danger of “dissolving” the sufferer in some kind of pantheistic sense of the fitness of things. This is surely a massive misunderstanding of God’s response. Not once does God minimize the reality of Job’s suffering.

Others, such as George Bernard Shaw, simply mock God’s answer. Job wants an answer as to why he is suffering, and the best that God can do is brag about mak- ing snowflakes and crocodiles. A contem- porary author like Elie Wiesel, writing in the aftermath of the Holocaust, holds that Job should have pressed God further. Doubtless Job needed to repent of his at- titude, but he still should have pressed God for an answer: Why do the righteous suffer?

Both of these approaches misunder- stand the book rather badly. They have this in common: they assume that every- thing that takes place in God’s universe ought to be explained to us. They assume that God owes us an explanation, that there cannot possibly be any good reason for God not to tell us everything we want to know immediately. They assume that God Almighty should be more interested in giving us explanations than in being worshiped and trusted.

The burden of God’s response to Job is twofold. The first emphasis we have already noted: Job has “darkened God’s counsel” by trying to justify himself at the expense of condemning God; and Job is in no position to do that. “God’s speeches show Job that his lowly station point was not the appropriate place from which to judge whether cosmic orders were suffi- ciently askew to justify the declaration ‘let there be darkness.’”5 The second empha- sis is implicit: if there are so many things that Job does not understand, why should he so petulantly and persistently demand that he understand his own suffering? There are some things you will not under- stand, for you are not God.

That is why Job’s answer is so appro- priate. He does not say, “Ah, at last I understand!” but rather, “I repent.” He does not repent of sins that have allegedly brought on the suffering; he repents of his arrogance in impugning God’s justice, he repents of his attitude whereby he simply demands an answer, as if such were owed him. He repents of not having known God better: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore … I repent” (42:5-6).

To those who do not know God, to those who insist on being God, this out- come will never suffice. Those who do not know God come in time to recognize that it is better to know God and to trust God than to claim the rights of God.

Job teaches us that, at least in this world, there will always remain some mysteries to suffering. He also teaches us to exercise faith—not blind, thoughtless submission to an impersonal status quo, but faith in the God who has graciously revealed himself to us.

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (3) Job and Elihu

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) -

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. READ Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 
  3. covers Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu (article below)
  4. covers Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God  (coming)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 3rd section:

Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu

Chapters 32-37 are among the most interesting, and the most difficult, in the book. They start off by raising our expec- tations. Elihu, not mentioned until this point, has kept his peace throughout the debate, because the other participants are older than he: custom demanded that age take precedence. But now they fall silent, and Elihu, whose wrath has been stoked by the debate, declares himself angry with both Job and his three friends. He is angry with the three friends, “because they had found no way to refute Job “for  justifying himself rather than God” (32:2). And so his lengthy contribution begins.

photo www.myspace.com

We may summarize his argument this way:

(1) Elihu begins with a rather lengthy apology for speaking to his seniors (32:6- 22). Among the factors that compel him to speak is his conviction (as he says to Job’s three friends), that “not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments” (32:12). This does not mean he thinks Job is entirely right, as we shall see; but Elihu has care- fully distanced himself from the theology of the “miserable comforters.”

(2) When Elihu turns to Job, he first rebukes him for impugning God’s justice (33:8ff.). Job may be innocent (Elihu will come to that in due course), but that does not give him the right to charge God with injustice. There is a sense in which Job himself has been snookered by a simplis- tic doctrine of mathematically precise ret- ribution. The major difference between Job and his three friends is not their underlying views of retribution, but their views of Job’s guilt or innocence. Because Job is convinced he is innocent, he is pre- pared to skirt the view that God himself is guilty. Elihu will not have it: “But I tell you, in this you are not right” (33:12).

The first reason why Job is not right is that “God is greater than man” (33:12). By this Elihu does not mean to say that great- ness provides an excuse for wrongdoing, but that God may well have some pur- poses and perspectives in mind of which Job knows nothing. However much Job insists he is innocent, he must therefore put a guard on his tongue and refrain from making God guilty.

(3) The second thing Elihu says to Job is that God speaks more often and in more ways than Job acknowledges. “Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words?” (33:13). The truth of the matter, Elihu insists, is that “God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it” (33:14). He speaks in revelation: in dreams and visions (33:15-18). But God may also speak in the language of pain (33:19ff.). This is an advance on the argument between Job and his friends. Here is a chastening use of suffering that may be independent of some particular sin. Its purpose may be preventative: it can stop a person from slithering down the slope to destruction.

(4) In chapter 34, Elihu is so concerned to defend the justice of God that his rheto- ric becomes a little overheated. On the positive side, Elihu is determined to stop Job from charging God with injustice. The proper response to suffering is to accept it: God cannot possibly do wrong. By speaking the way he has, Job has added rebellion to his sin (34:37); “scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.”

If Elihu is at times dangerously close to siding with the three miserable comfort- ers, it is here. Certainly he has not empathetically entered into Job’s suffering, or tried to fathom the anguish that leads Job to defend his integrity in such extrava- gant terms. But Elihu is right to defend the justice of God, and he has advanced the discussion by suggesting that Job’s great- est sin may not be something he said or did before the suffering started, but the rebellion he is displaying in the suffering. Even so, that does not explain the genesis of the suffering. It may, however, prepare Job to be a little more attentive to listen to God when God finally does speak.

In chapter 35, Elihu expressly disavows that Job is innocent. But unlike Eliphaz (22:5-9), he does not compose a list of sins Job must have committed, but challenges Job’s fundamental presumption. To take but one example: Job assumes that when people are oppressed they cry to God for help, and charges that God does not answer. Not so, insists Elihu: one is far more likely to find people crying out “under a load of oppression” and vaguely pleading “for relief from the arm of the powerful” (35:9), but still not praying. They want relief, but do not turn to God and pray. They cry for freedom, “[but] no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker … ?’” (35:10). God does not listen to such empty pleas (35:13). What makes Job think, then, that God will answer him when the assumption underlying his entire approach to God is that God owes him an answer, and may well be guilty of injustice (35:14-16)?

(5) In the last two chapters devoted to Elihu (chaps. 36-37), several themes come together, and Elihu begins to appear in more compassionate guise. The burden of the passage is this: whatever else may be said about the problem of evil and suffer- ing, the justice of God must be the “given”: “I will ascribe justice to my Maker,” Elihu pledges (36:3). But God is not malicious. He does care for his people. Therefore the proper response to suffering we cannot fathom is faith and perseverance; the response to avoid bitterness (for it is the godless who harbor resentment, 36:13). Job is in danger here: “Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to afflic- tion” (36:21)—that is, Job must not turn to evil as a way of alleviating his suffer- ing. Be patient, Elihu is saying, “those who suffer [God] delivers in [lit. through] their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. 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” (36:15-16). Be patient; it is better to be a chastened saint than a carefree sinner.

D. A. Carson – Job: Mystery and Faith (2) Job’s Miserable Comforters

I am indebted to Adrian for pointing me to this treaty on Job. Any dedicated believer, who has suffered deeply, or has seen a loved one suffer is fascinated with the mechanics of Job’s dialogue with God in the midst of his own deep suffering and the wisdom, peace, and understanding that can be derived from it. You can read this article in it’s entirety, in pdf form here (18 pages) -

http://s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/2000_Job_mystery_and_faith.pdf

d a carsonD. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentar- ies and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his books are Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (John Knox Press, 1981; reprint, Baker, 1994) and How Long, O Lord?: Per- spectives on Suffering and Evil (Baker, 1990).

The topic is divided into
  1. READ Job chapters 1 – 3 Job’s Sufferings and Initial Reaction here
  2. covers Job chapters 4 – 31  Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters (article below)
  3. covers Job chapter 32 – 37 Job and Elihu (coming)
  4. covers Job chapter 38 – 42:6 Job and God (coming)
  5. covers Job chapter 42:7-16 Job’s Happy Ending (coming)

Here are some excerpts from the 2nd section:

II. Job chapters 4 – 31  

Job’s Plaintive Outrage and His Miserable Comforters 

Job’s lament is all the encouragement his three friends need to break their silence. The way the drama is set out, each of them—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar— have a go at Job, trying to correct his theology and lead him to repentance. After each speaks, Job himself replies. Then the entire cycle is repeated, and starts to be repeated yet again. The third cycle sputters out with a short contribution from Bildad (25:1-6); Zophar never does contribute to the third round. By this time, Job is really indignant, and makes a lengthy speech (chaps. 26-31) that silences his interlocutors without convincing them.

Job and his friends represent deeply entrenched and opposed positions on the questions surrounding Job’s sufferings. To simplify a bit, we may summarize their positions.

(1) Job’s friends offer glib answers and a condemning spirit. The heart of their theological position is summed up by Eliphaz’s question: “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (4:7-8).

(2) Job responds with self-justification and hard questions. He is guilty of nothing that can justify such suffering. The readers know this to be true: Job is suffering because God is demonstrating his servant’s spiritual integrity to Satan, not because Job is being punished.

But Job will not be put off so easily. For a start, he resents his friends’ lack of com- passion, their winking condescension. “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow” (6:14-15). Job can see through his friends’ unexpressed fears: if the universe is not as ordered as they would like to think it is, then they themselves cannot count on security: “Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid” (6:21).

His plea is emotional, and pitiable: “But nowbesokindastolookatme.WouldI lie to your face [i.e., by hiding sins]? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake” (6:28-29).

Job reviews his sufferings again. All he wants is to die before he is tempted to deny the words of the Holy One (6:10). Eventually, he turns to God and begs for pity: “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again” (7:7). But he is not willing to concede that what he is suffering is only fair: “I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will com- plain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11). He begs God to back off, to let him die; his days have no meaning. Why pick on me? he asks, in effect. Why pick on any man in this way (7:17-19)?

Job does not claim sinless perfection. He simply argues that any conceivable sin he may have committed does not justify being made a target of the Almighty. “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (7:20).

……..

Job’s problem is not that God is simply too distant, but that Job could not win— even though he is quite certain he is suffering innocently. (And again, his readers know he is right on the latter score!)

photo via GospelCoalition.org

…..The summary of chapters 4 – 31:

(1) Job’s friends have a tight theology with no loose ends. Suffering is understood exclusively in terms of punishment or chastening. There is no category for innocent suffering: in their understanding, such a suggestion besmirches the integrity of the Almighty.

(2) Although they are quick to defend God and say many wonderful things about him, their arguments are cast in tones so condescending to Job that one begins to lose patience with them. There is very little hint of compassion, empathy, honest grief. The defense of God can be unbearably hard.

(3) Job’s arguments must not be confused with the atheism of Bertrand Russell, the challenge of David Hume, the theological doubletalk of Don Cupitt, or the poetic defiance: “I am the master of my fate! I am the captain of my soul!” Job’s speeches are the anguish of a man who knows God, who wants to know him bet- ter, who never once doubts the existence of God, who remains convinced, at bottom, of the justice of God—but who cannot make sense of these entrenched beliefs in the light of his own experience.

That is why, in the midst of his confusion and self-justification, Job utters some remarkably assured statements of faith. He is so sure of his case that he wishes he could find someone to arbitrate between himself and God (9:33-35). Of course, this is God’s universe, so he can’t; but the Christian cannot read these words without thinking of the mediatorial role of Jesus. Nor does Job become apostate: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!” (13:15-16). He is so sure of ultimate vindication that he can say, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (23:10). However difficult the verses in 19:25-27 be translated,3 the least they affirm is that Job is absolutely confident in his final vindication—by God himself.

(4) The final lengthy speech of Job (26:1- 31:40) reiterates many of the themes already developed, but it reaches a new intensity of bitterness. Now Job is not satisfied with hints: he openly charges God with injustice, and he almost savagely defends his integrity: “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty who has made me taste bitter- ness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live” (27:2-6). Chapters 29-31 are a moving recital of all the godly things that made up Job’s life in the days before he was afflicted. They bear the most careful reading: would to God I could claim half so much. Job has been honest, generous, disciplined; he rescued the poor, helped the blind, comforted those who mourned; he made a covenant with his eyes “not to look lustfully at a girl” (31:1); he was host to countless strangers; he made sure he never rejoiced over the misfortune of another; he never trusted in his own wealth. He frankly feared God (31:23). And he is utterly determined to maintain that his own integrity totally precludes the possibility that his sufferings constitute punishment for sin. As far as he is concerned, confession of sin that he has not committed, just to satisfy his friends and perhaps win some sort of reprieve, would itself be sinful. His integrity is too important to him for that.

(5) Job is therefore not looking for a merely intellectual answer, a merely theological argument. He wants personal vindication by God himself. He wants God to appear and give an account of what He is doing. The drama does not concern an agnostic professor of philosophy; it con- cerns a man who knows God, who loves and fears God, and whose utter assurance of his own integrity drives him to long for a personal encounter with God that will not merely provide “answers” but will also vindicate the sufferer.

(6) It is important to glance ahead a little. The “three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). They were at an impasse: they could make sense of his suffering only by insisting on his guilt, and he kept insisting on his innocence. But God, after disclosing himself to Job, says to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7). Indeed, Job must offer sacrifice and pray for them.

This is remarkable. The three miserable comforters thought they were defending God, and he charges them with saying the wrong things about him. Job defends his own integrity so virulently that he steps over the line now and then and actually charges God with injustice, yet God insists that his servant Job has spoken what is right. Of course, this does not mean that Job’s speeches have been entirely without fault. As we shall see, God charges Job with darkening His counsel “with words without knowledge” (38:2). In the last section of this chapter I shall explore more fully in which ways Job is right and his three friends are wrong. But under any reading of God’s vindication of Job’s discourses, room is made for innocent suffering; a simple theory of retributive justice—punishment proportionate to sin—is inadequate to explain some of the hard cases.

Dr. P P Job of India – 33 years with International Christian Assoc founded by Richard Wurmbrand passes away

photo source – http://drjobsmission.org/home/

Links to  articles about Evangelist P P Jobs who among other callings on his life was also the Director of Voice of the Martyrs in India, working closely with Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand for 33 years:

  • Missionaries of the World.org- Peramangalam Porinju Job, an Indian preacher, often referred to as Billy Graham of India, died of heart attack Sunday in Hungary where he had gone on a preaching mission. His age was 76 and he began working as an evangelist in1963, especially among the persecuted Christians in communist and Muslim countries.The UK-based International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, nominated Job as “International Man of the Year” for 2000 – 2001. Job was the president of International Christian Association founded by Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian evangelist who opposed communism. The Indian preacher joined the organization that works for persecuted Christians the world over 33 years ago.
  • The Berean Call – He preached at his son’s funeral Dr. Job often risks his life traveling to encourage Christians in restricted nations.. Dr. Job’s work angered many Hindus. In June of 1999 he was struck in the head with a rock hurled through his car window. A week later as his youngest son, Michael, was walking near the medical school where he was studying, a Fiat driving full speed hit Michael and drove off. Michael fell into a coma and died. Dr Job’s said of Michael’s death, “It’s as if they cut off his right arm’. However, he said, “I will continue to serve God with my left arm”.
  • Persecution.org – Dr Job has worked as an evangelist since 1963, working especially amongst the persecuted church in the Communist and the Muslim world. He was the President of International Christian Association – the worldwide Christian Mission amongst the persecuted believers founded by Rev Richard Wurmbrand. He worked actively in this organisation for 33 years.The very next year after the death (killing) of his son, in 2000, Job began the Michael Job Center to provide a sanctuary for the daughters of martyred persecuted and destitute Christians. Currently there are approximately 500 girls at the Centre who have come from all over India.
  • Indian Christian News Online- Internationally known evangelist and Charismatic preacher Dr PP Job passed away yesterday, August 19, after suffering a massive heart attack. Dr Job (67) was travelling Hungary to preach at a church in Tiszanagyfalu. “A relentless crusader, he was constantly on the move ignoring his own health and he was a true soldier who continued faithful even under adverse conditions,” said Christian columnist MPK Kutty who knew Dr Job since his initial days in Delhi. “With a heavy heart I received the message of Dr Job’s passing away in Hungary. We had known each other since the time I landed in Delhi in 1968 and witnessed his labours in Lord’s vineyard.” “He is a miracle and God’s special creation,” adds Kutty, who eulogises the renowned evangelist as a groundnut vendor and Communist who would “become a modern hero for Jesus Christ in a world that is a still a threat to His disciples”.
  • Dr. PP Job official website – read more about PP Job and his ministries.

Here is video that thanks to BrinksTV, it  is publishing it on the internet:

My life for the girls – Dr. P.P. Job

by  2 days ago

In 2009 we have produced the documentary “The girls of India”. Then in 2012 we have produced another documentary with Dr. P.P. Job. You will get a brief introduction with a flashback to the previous documentary. Bert Dorenbos of Cry for Life Holland is the interviewer. The building in scaffolding was opened in 2009 and now it has his destiny as “Master of Business Administration (MBA)”. What is new added, is a building intended for baby girls aged 0-3 years. Girls are not wanted and instead to kill the girl-child, they will be taken care of. If nobody does it, Dr. Job does.

Unfortunately, seven weeks after the recordings we received sad news. Dr. Job suddenly deceased on August 19th, 2012. At that time, Dr. Job was in a church in Hungary. In the morning he had preached and in the afternoon Dr. Job got a heart failure. We, from the Brink Media Team, know Dr. Job as a humble man of God, a great visionary with grandiose plans, a man expecting miracles of God.
His relation with God and complete trust in God was admirable and an example for many. Not knowing that this was his last tv interviews, we already had given the new documentary the title: “My life for the girls”.

We will miss Dr. Job.

His last words in the interview were:
“All miracles seem exaggerated for people who do not believe, but every miracle is a reality for people who believe in miracles”

Brink Media Team – Foundation Help Persecuted Christians (HVC) – Cry for Life Foundation

My life for the girls – Dr. P.P. Job from BrinkTV on Vimeo.

Funeral information from Mrs. Mary Job:

Thank you all for your messages of condolences, prayerful support and personal visits which enabled me to pass through these days of bereavement following the unexpected demise of my husband.

Dr P.P. Job entered his heavenly abode on Sunday, 19 August 2012 at 18.30hrs (IST) near Budapest, Hungary where he had addressed a Sunday morning gathering at a local church. After lunch while taking rest he had a sudden heart attack. Expert medical help and hospitalization immediately could not revive him.  His mortal remains are being brought to New Delhi tonight, (Saturday 25 August).
The public viewing and funeral of his earthly remains will be conducted as under:

Sunday 26 August 2012

1400 hrs- The Cathedral Church of the Redemption, 1 Church Road North Avenue, New Delhi-11.

Funeral Service led by His Grace Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma, Metropolitan, Mar Thoma Church.

Monday 27 August 2012

1400 hrs- Michael Job Centre, Near Sulur Boat Club, Coimbatore.

Public Viewing and Homage by Michael Job Institutions.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

1600 hrs- York Cemetery, Prithviraj Road, New Delhi.

Mortal remains will be laid to rest.

I request your continued prayers and support for furthering the ministry of Dr. P.P. Job and the Institutions he had nurtured and developed.
Dr Mrs Mary Job

An interview by Petru Amarei of Romanian Television Network (in English):

Dr. Job is the first missionary from India to evangelize different countries spanning the five continents of the world. He has toured 129 nations many times over, spreading the Word of God –preaching often in areas that could have cost him his life.

Dr. Job is the managing director of Sabina Printing Press, the largest Christian printing press in India, which publishes over 3 million pieces of Christian literature every year in 37 languages for distribution worldwide.

Dr. Job has fought many battles in his life but the loss of both of his sons, John and Michael, because they were preachers of Gods word, has been his toughest battle by far. Out of great grief has come extreme joy with the work that has been started in Michael and Johns name. Dr. Job now has approximately  five hundred girls who are from martyred, persecuted or destitute parents.

ONLY GIRLS?

In India, girls are not as desirable as boys because of the dowry system. Parents of girls are expected to pay a sizable amount of money [dowry] to the family of the man she marries, and that causes a lot of girls to be aborted, or abandoned early in life. Girls who are orphaned have no options, and Christian girls especially have limited hope for a successful life. At the Michael Job Center our girls are all taught that they have value in the eyes of God, and that God loves them.

HOW MANY

At this time our family is approximately 500 girls ranging in age from 3 to 23 and more than 50 committed staff who care for, love and teach them.

These Children receive a top notch education, housing and food and most importantly they receive a new lease on life, hope and a future. Many of these children will grow to become the future leaders of India. SOURCE here and here.

While he was most well known for evangelizing the masses in India and the founding of the school for girls, here is a list of other institutions he founded and worked through:

Dr. Job has established the following institutions
1. The Love In Action Society (ESTD. 1972)
Founder & President
2. Tortured For Christ (ESTD. 1973)
Founder & Editor
3. Sabina Printing Press (ESTD. 1976) (Largest printing press in India)
Founder & Managing Director (Named for Sabina Wurmbrand)
4. Christian Medical Centre (ESTD. 1984)
Founder & Director
5. Michael Job Orphanage (ESTD. 2000)
Founder & Director
6. Michael Job Memorial Higher Secondary School for Girls (ESTD. 2003)
Founder & Correspondent
7. Michael Job Memorial College of Education
(B.Ed. & M.Ed.) for Women (ESTD. 2004)
Founder & Chairman
8. Michael Job College of Arts & Science for Women (ESTD. 2005)
Founder & Chairman
9. Dr. Job’s Mission (ESTD. 2003)
Founder & President
10. Dr. Job’s Mission To The Persecuted Church Inc., USA
Founder President
11. Ittianam Enterprises (ESTD. 2008)

Ruth Tomuta: Dr. P.P. Job a luminat frumos

Ruth Tomuta cu Rev. Ilie Tomuta si Dr. PP Job in India http://genesismission.com/

Daca, referindu-ne la Dr. P.P. Job, l-am numi doar un evanghelist, aceasta ar aduce un mare deserviciu numelui acestui om care si-a pus intreaga viata la dispozitia lui Dumnezeu.

Mai mult, chiar daca l-am numi Billy Graham al Indiei, sau “Omul international al anului 2000-2001” (numit de Centrul Biografic International, Cambridge, Marea Britanie), sau Presedintele Asociatiei Internationale Crestine, sau directorul publicatiei Sabina Printing Press, sau un predicator in peste 129 de natiuni, autor si pionier al unsprezece institutii crestine, toate aceste titluri nu ar fi folosite corect in a-l descrie pe acest om.

Imi amintesc ca, prima data cand Dr. P.P. Job a venit sa predice la Biserica Philadelphia, a vorbit despre dreptate. A citit din cartea pe care a numit-o ca fiind “cartea sa” (pentru ca ii purta numele, Cartea lui Iov) si a proclamat cu toata puterea fiintei sale ca Dumnezeu este un Dumnezeu al dreptatii. Spunea, cu lacrimi in ochi, ca, desi si-a pierdut ambii fii pentru credinta in Dumnezeu, tot ceea ce avea mai drag, cu toate acestea el crede ca fiecare decizie pe care Dumnezeu o ia este corecta, dreapta. De aceea el spunea ca nu va inceta niciodata sa se inchine lui Dumnezeu si sa proclame dragostea Lui. Asadar, cred ca Dr. P.P. Job si-a purtat numele, Job-Iov, cu adevarat.

Personal, cred ca Dr.P.P. Job ar trebui sa ramana in memoria noastra ca o “lumina care nu a incetat niciodata sa straluceasca pentru Gloria lui Dumnezeu”.

“Nimeni, dupa ce a aprins o lumina, n-o acopera cu un vas, nici n-o pune sub pat, ci o pune intr-un sfesnic, pentru ca cei ce intra, sa vada lumina” (Luca 8:16). Dr. Job a fost o adevarata lumina a Domnului nostru Isus Hristos, deoarece nu numai ca a luminat incaperi cu zambetul sau si cu dragostea lui Dumnezeu, ci a luminat intreaga Indie. Salvand fete si copii de pe strazile si credintele pervertite ale Indiei, Dr. Job a luminat fetele a peste 500 de fete orfane. Le-a ingrijit si le-a sprijinit cu toata atentia si grija pe care un parinte le poate arata copiilor lui. Ca si un far care nu inceteaza sa straluceasca si ca si Iov, Dr. Job nu s-a clatinat in furtuna.

Cand altii au vazut in India un teren corupt si sterp, Dr. Job a crezut ca Dumnezeu poate sa aduca o primavara a sperantei in aceasta tara. Una dintre istorioarele pe care le spunea cu placere era cea in care o fetita, care azi traieste  si studiaza la Centrul Michael Job, a fost gasita ingropata de vie. Atunci cand a fost descoperita, abia i se vedea capul deasupra pamantului. Dr. Job a stiut ca aceasta fetita era mai mult decat o fetita abandonata, era o radacina de speranta ce crestea printre milioanele de flori nebagate in seama care dadeau sa creasca. Dr. Job a privit la o natiune a saraciei si a mortii, si, ca si un copil inocent al lui Dumnezeu, visa la miracole si la posibilitati nemaiintalnite.

“Si in toata tara nu erau fete asa de frumoase ca fetele lui Iov”… (Iov 42:15).Azi, orfelinatul Dr.-ului P.P. Job infloreste cu noi fete-flori in fiecare zi si nimeni nu poate sa nu admita ca ele sunt cele mai frumoase si mai pretioase fete pe care le-a avut India vreodata. Aceste fete care erau odinioara abandonate, neglijate, uitate si marginalizate, azi nu inceteaza sa zambeasca si sa cante cantari de lauda la adresa Domnului Isus Hristos. Oricine poate spune ca ele sunt cu adevarat fiice ale Dr.-ului Job, care le numea viitoarele Doamne ale Indiei. (De aceea nu va intristati de pierderea tatalui vostru Job, pentru ca pierderea voastra este castigul cerului.)

“Si sa slujeasca de luminatori in intinderea cerului ca sa lumineze pamantul.” Si asa a fost. (Geneza 1:15). Desi acum Dr. Job este in pacea divina a cerului, el continua sa lumineze pamantul cu lumina pe care a lasat-o aici jos. Niciodata nu ii vom uita dragostea si sacrificiul!

Ruth Tomuta

http://genesismission.com/

John Piper – In the Throne Room: The God of Holiness and Hope – Isaiah 6

Photo via Christian Post

At the Gospel Coalition for Women Conference 2012 – Plenary Session #3 – the by  via Vimeo

Isaiah’s vision of the Lord

Text: Isaiah 6:1-5

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, theLord of hosts!”

Notes from the introduction- John Piper: (this) happened to many people, a complete and new understanding of God, though already saved with an inadequate view of God. It happened to Job. Do you remember how the book begins? “He is blameless and upright. One who feared God, turned away from evil”… I mean, what more could you want? He was the best man in the land. And then, because God is merciful, according to James’ interpretation of Job; suffering broke over his life like a tidal wave and he wrestled with God chapter after chapter, until God speaks to him.

Job 40:8-12

Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?

10 “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.11 Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
12 Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
and tread down the wicked where they stand.

And Job had a completely new grasp of God and he said-

Job 42:3 – 6

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

It happened to Job and it happened to Isaiah. It happened to me between the ages of 22 and 25 in Pasadena, Caifornia- a new understanding of God. Saved when I was six, a taste for the majesty of God that has never, ever gone away and did not exist in the same way before and my prayer is that God will do it for you as we look together at this vision.

…..

There are 7 glimpses of God in the first 4 verses of Isaiah 6:

  1. God is alive.
  2. God is authoritative. You don’t give God authority in your life; He has it! You can either pretend He doesn’t and perish, or you can own it with joy. He has, in the universe, absolute authority. Sometimes, our little flaunted fist shakings need some strong words to be put in their place.
  3. God is omnipotent. The throne of His authority is not one among many. It is high: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up”, meaning ‘over every other throne’ and thus, superior in power, superior in authority, superior in rule and control, over every other throne. It is not just authority, it is authority with supremacy of rule, supremacy of power and control. “My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose”, Isaiah 46:10. “He does according to His will in the host of heaven, among the inhabitants of earth. None can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What are you doing?'” Daniel 4:35. This omnipotent God, this sovereign and omnipotent God is a refuge for holy women (this message was given at a women’s conference) who hope in God.
  4. God is resplendent. So He has a robe and it has a train… He is lavish in His beauty, lavish in his creativity and lavish in his splendor.
  5. God is revered.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. No one knows who these beings are. They never show up again in the bible, under this name. We grope for meanings of what it would be for God to have in His presence beings, who, when they speak, shake heaven.But, these magnificent creatures cannot look directly upon God. They take their wings and they cover their face. These are sinless beings; they’ve never fallen and their ashamed of their feet before this God. So, they can’t see Him straight on and they’ve got to cover their feet and they kind of keep moving around Him… God is revered, He is always revered. Though we may look at this world and weep at how many millions give Him no reverence at all, God will see to it that He will always be fittingly revered with these seraphim angels; day and night doing what one ought to do always in life.
  6. God is Holy. What these beings are saying in this vision- one called to another “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. Language is pushing its limits with the word ‘holy’. What does holy mean? In one sense, when you are done trying to define holy, you have said, “God is God”. But, we should try. The language was not used for nothing. Now, many of you have studied this and you know that the root meaning of this word ‘holy’ is to cut or to separate. So, a holy thing is cut off from or separated from something else and usually devoted to something else. So, the holiness of it consists of – it’s not part of the common, it’s not part of the profane, the impure. It’s devoted unto God. So you read about holy ground, holy assemblies, holy sabbaths, holy nations, holy garments, holy city, holy promises, holy men, holy women, holy Scriptures, holy hands, holy kiss, holy faith. Almost anything can be separated unto God, devoted to God, consecrated to God, separated from the common, the profane. But, notice what happens when we try to apply this definition to God. Separated… unto…? The Godness of God means He is separated from all that He made. There is a infinite qualitative difference between God and everything else that is. All of that is made and dependent by His second by second  upholding it and being. He is who He is. “What,” Moses asked, “shall I tell them is your name?” “Tell them I am who I am”. “Tell them ‘I am” sent you. That’s my essential being. I am and I’m not dependent on anything outside of me. All of you are totally dependent on Me. I am not dependent on anything, I am separate. ” Which in the end means we’ve said- His holiness, in this respect, is His Godness, and that’s not wrong. That’s a right thought. God is absolutely unique in this regard. The other side of holiness is holy things are devoted to something, not just cut off from, separated from; they’re devoted to… What are you going to devote God to? There is nothing above God to which He should be devoted. It’s blasphemy to think that God’s holiness consists in His conformity to something other than Himself. Which means that if there’s anything like holiness in the world, it is God. It just starts there. That’s what it is. God isn’t good ’cause He conforms to a law above Him- He wrote the law. He is not holy because He keeps the rules- He made the rules. He’s not holy because He keeps the law- The law is holy because it reveals God. God is absolute. Everything else is derivative and dependent. So what then did they mean: “Holy, Holy, Holy” thrice Holy? I think they meant (doing my best with language) His holiness is His utterly unique, one of a kind, in a class by Himself, pure essence, which therefore has infinite value. The more rare a diamond is, the more value it has. And if there’s only one of this kind, it’s valuable. God is infinitely valuable. Determining the  value and the goodness and the truth of everything else. I can’t think of anything that would have a greater impact in your life than for you to believe that. The most important value in the universe is not you and not your family, and not 7 billion human beings and not billions upon billions of galaxies. They are, we are as nothing, a drop in the bucket compared to the value of God. And, the main problem in the world is the failure to feel that. God is infinitely valuable. He has infinite worth. All other value has value in proportion to its reflection of His value. That changes everything, absolutely everything. John Piper at 23 waking up to a whole new experience of God and a taste for His majesty and experiencing a copernican revolution where the value, the supremacy, the majesty of God goes square to the center of everything. There is no questioning anymore whether He has any rights. We have NONE! And we had none before we fell. Humans and angels don’t have rights before their maker. God is right and has all rights. He defines right, He is right and holy. You will know that you have experienced something extraordinary when that is sweet to you. When we speak of holiness it feels very far away, very distant, very unexperience-able and I am just saying, “You haven’t gotten there yet”. It is sweet.
  7. God is glorious. We said He is holy and the last glimpse is God is glorious. The silence that’s coming, the shaking of the house, the all concealing smoke that is going to descend upon the house… before that happens, these blue angels seraphim say, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory”. Why ? Why didn’t they say, “Holy, Holy, Holy , the whole earth is full of your holiness?” Because, this is my best effort to understand, the glory of God in God’s mind and Isaiah’s mind and most places in Scripture, I believe, is the manifestation of the holiness of God. God’s holiness is His incomparable perfection, his intrinsic infinite worth. When that goes public, when that goes on display, it’s called in the Bible- the glory of God. God is glorious means God’s holiness has gone public. His glory is the open revelation of the secret of his holiness. Here’s Leviticus 10:3  “I will show you myself. I will show myself holy among those who are near me and before all the people I will be glorified”. Interesting. “I will show them my holiness,” and their response, “Glorious!” because in the move from the intrinsic, infinite, eternal worth and perfection and purity and transcendent wonder of God; in the movement out what we see is the radiance of God and that’s called glory in the Bible. The glory of God is the radiance of His holiness. When God shows Himself holy, we see glory. The holiness of God is concealed glory and the glory of God is revealed holiness.
My last question: What does all of that have to do with Jesus Christ, incarnate, Son of Man? Coeternal with the Father, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was this God. This God has a name: Jesus. What does this vision have to do with the Jesus we meet in the Gospels, who goes to the cross and dies for sinners and rises again that we may make this vision the unfathomable delight of our souls. And there is a place in the New Testament that blows my mind away with the way it applies what we have seen and it’s John chapter 12, where John, writing the most exalted story of Jesus, quotes Isaiah 6 once, and he quotes Isaiah 53 in the same context. I’m going to close by trying to explain to you what John is doing so that this vision will not only be majestic, but sweet.
In verse 10 of Isaiah 6, Isaiah realizes he must take this vision and preach it with very bleak effect. “The people will be hardened. Make the heart of this people dull and their ears heavy and blind their eyes”, so Isaiah’s ready now. He’s dedicated himself, acknowledging his sin, receiving the coal of purification, he’s now ready to go preach this vision and God says, “It’s no going to go well. This vision is going to make people very hard. It’s going to have an effect on Israel like that, a hardening will come upon Israel”. But, at the end of the chapter, as the tree is cut down, a stump of faithfulness remain. Do you see that at the end of verse 13?  A stump remaining when the yoke is felled and the holy seed (last phrase) is its stump.
What is that? There’s a remnant and the remnant is going to flower. The stump has been cut, but something is going to happen. When you get to chapter 53, what do you see? I think you see the seed, the suffering servant, despised and rejected by man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. So, the description of the seed in chapter 53 of Isaiah, the picture of Christ’s misery and suffering. He doesn’t have any form or beauty that people would behold Him and that chapter begins also bleak, who has believed our report… So you got bleakness in chapter 6: Nobody’s gonna hear this exalted vision. You’ve got bleakness in chapter 53: people aren’t gonna hear this suffering servant who lays down His life and takes the sins of Israel upon Himself like a slaughtered sheep. They’re not  gonna listen.
And in the Gospel of John, Jesus public ministry ends at the end of chapter 12 and the rest is all about talking to His disciples and dying. And, as that chapter 12 draws the public ministry of Jesus to a close, John has to explain ‘haven’t they believed’? Why has there been such a hardness in Israel? Why is Jesus being rejected for who He is by the very leaders He came to bring the kingdom to? And he uses Isaiah to answer that question and he doesn’t just use the verse 10 of chapter 6, which we would expect him to. He uses verse 1 of chapter 53″ no form or majesty, that we should look at Him, no beauty that we should desire in Him, who has believed what he has heard from us … and they reject. People then reject it and people here reject it.
So what’s John trying to show us? He’s trying to show us that Jesus is fulfillment of this majestic vision in chapter 6  and He’s the fulfillment of the suffering servant in chapter 53 and He has brought them together in His incarnate lowliness, making claims that ‘I and the Father are one and if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father’ and yet presenting Himself as a lowly, suffering servant who gets down on His knees and washes His disciples feet  and both of those are rejected. They don’t want majesty and they don’t want miserable, lowly suffering. They don’t want Isaiah 6 and they don’t want Isaiah 53. Why not? John answers this in chapter 12 verse 43: The people loved the glory that comes from man, more than the glory that comes from God. If I have any prayer for you, is that it would not be said of you. Women love the glory of other women, you can tell by the way they dress. They love the glory of man more than the glory of God. Back in Chapter 5:43 Jesus said, “How can you believe in me who receive glory from man and do not receive the glory that comes from the only God?
Faith in this Jesus is impossible for those who crave the approval of other people more than they crave, knowing and enjoying the glory of God. Can’t do it. If you are so desperately needy that you live second handedly off the glory of other people, women or men, you will look at this vision and it will repulse you. And you will look at the miserable lowly serving Jesus and it will repulse you because both of them take your glory away. Decide whether you will love that glory or yours. That’s the answer John gives as to why in Isaiah’s day and his day, and I would say our day, people don’t love Isaiah 6 or Isaiah 53. They don’t want an authoritative God over them and they don’t want a suffering Savior that might imply they would have to take up their cross and follow Him and get on their knees and wash somebody’s feet. They don’t want either and Jesus was both.
One last observation. What was the reason Jesus was rejected ultimately? The sin of man or was it the plan of God? The Son of man came not to be served, but to give His life a ransom for many. That’s why He came. That’s why the Trinity agreed with one another, “The time is full Son, go do this great work of dying for our people”, which means ‘You will be rejected’. That’s the way it’s going to go. There are no detours between God’s plan and God’s accomplishment. There are no wasted centuries. Every byway has a meaning. No suffering is without meaning and no rebellion is without meaning.
Will Israel be thrown away because they rejected their Messiah? Because this hardening came upon Israel, will they be thrown away? This long covenant people and Paul answers “no”. Romans 11:25 “A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fulness of the gentiles comes in and then in this way all Israel will be saved. The nation will, one day, turn to the Messiah. So Romans 11:31 says “So, Israel too has been disobedient”, rejecting the God of Isaiah 6, rejecting the God of Isaiah 53, rejecting Jesus who embodied both so humbly, so magnificently, so sweetly for us. “So Israel too has been disobedient in order that mercy might be shown to you gentiles. They also now through the mercy shown to you, will be shown mercy”. God isn’t done with Israel or the nations. Things are right on schedule, which led Paul to end like this and so I’m going to end like this. You know how he ended. He came to this chapter 9.10.11 of Romans, looking at the strange and inexplicable ways of God in history and he says, “Oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable are His ways. Who has ever known the mind of the Lord or who has ever been His counselor? Who has ever given Him a gift that he should be repaid? But, from Him and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be glory. Yes, glory forever and ever.

In the Throne Room: The God of Holiness and Hope (Isaiah 6) – John Piper from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Loran Livingston – Why do righteous people experience illness and suffering? And what of —> word of faith?

Thanks to Cornel Ilioi who first noted Pastor Livinston’s sermons and thus recommended him to us. Loran Livingston is Pastor of Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina. Link to Loran Livingston podcast here.

Pastor Loran Livingstone, These are Sermon notes from the April 1,2012 Sunday morning message. You can view it here or listen to audio,  or you can click here if that page no longer displays this sermon.

Text: James 5:10-11

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

“The end intended by the Lord”. You see, in your life right now the Lord has an intended, planned end. As you read the Book of Job, you see that what God had in store for Job at the end was more than a man could express or comprehend. So, here we stand today, blessed by the reading of the oldest book in the Bible, Job and God decided with the very first book to deal with persecution, loss, sickness, discouragement. That’s the first thing God said to us, pen on paper in Scripture: That you will suffer, but, God has an intended end and that end is better than you can imagine.

I would imagine that if you have never read the entire Book of Job you have heard about it. You’ve heard about the patience of Job. You’ve heard about his losses. I guess what I cannot really grasp, this righteous man, and the Bible says he was. He’s even mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah with Noah and Daniel as 3 of God’s choices of righteous, obedient servants. So, here’s a righteous man; there’s none like him in the entire world, the Bible said, God even said that, who is losing everything he had. Amazingly, he survives- without a Bible, without spiritual friends to pray with, without a church to attend, without christian music playing in the background. He had nothing. But, the grace of God brought him through it.

The thoughtfulness, the mercy, the grace of God intended for a man to come out of an indescribable tragedy or series of tragedies with a thankful heart and a stronger faith. Now, of course you know how people are. These 3 companions of Job said, “Job, the bottom line is we think we understand God and we know that God doesn’t punish people for nothing. There must be some sin in your life.

May I say to you that if you ever go through something, there will be those who will say, “They’re getting payback because God is a just God.” You better hope that He is a long suffering and just God. “God would not afflict the sinless,” they said, because they had a limited understanding of God Himself. Now, one of the Scriptures that I use so often is this, “His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.” You cannot figure God out. I don’t care how much of the Word you have memorized, you cannot comprehend, nor will you ever be able to figure God’s ways. And so, it behooves all of us to be careful when we pass a judgement on somebody that is going through something, because our time is coming. Right?

Let me say that in a different way. We would do well to leave the reasons for one’s suffering up to God and not to think that because we are Scripture-holics that we can go to a certain category of suffering and say, “That’s why they’re going through this… payback has come!” Even Jesus said one day, Son of God… raised the dead… and this is what He said in John 5:30 “I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent Me“. He said, “As I hear, I judge”. Hear what? There is a voice from heaven. There’s God’s voice, the Father’s voice. He wasn’t saying, “As I hear people…give their opinion, I make a judgement”. No, no. This voice that He heard, came from above. And He said: When I listen to that voice, my judgement is righteous. You can’t just look at circumstances in a person’s life and conclude why things are happening. That is why we are taught to pray without ceasing and to seek the face of the Lord because the Holy Spirit speaks to us. I believe He impresses us with things.

If God’s people, instead of coming up to someone whose heart is broken, whose life is all to pieces and telling them, “Is there any sin in your life?….” Now, I have to be honest with you. That would truly aggravate me. And you can call it… well we gotta cover all the bases… Well, are you kidding me? “Well, is there any sin in your life?” “Of course there is, you … person!”  “No, no, no Pastor, I mean known sin”.  Well, how can you not know a sin? How can you be doing something that violates God and not know it? The Holy Spirit is the one that tells you what to do and what not to do. “Is there any sin in your life?” “Brother, you better be careful, you’re moving into some territory of authority that you are not capable of handling.” “Is there any sin? God does not judge people who are sinless.”

I have to be very honest with you. I have grown in the Lord over the years and I have changed some of the things that I used to thing were right. You know, we’re still very guilty in the church of not knowing how to handle somebody else’s problems, so we try to make it a spiritual thing and be done with it. Somebody says, “I went to the doctor today and I found out that I have a spot on my lung. Since we don’t know what to do with that, or what to say, we say, “Oh that’s the devil and I rebuke the…, just grab my hand and we go into a tirade and we rebuke the devil and cast him out. And he will not have authority in this situation and you will live and not die!”  And of course, that’s just a way of saying, “Ooh, I don’t know how to handle this, so I’ll throw it over in the spiritual camp and I will divest myself of any personal responsibility and just give it to Jesus”.

God’s sovereignty

And, a lot of times we speak against and tirade against something that God Himself has allowed. Ooh, now I know exactly where to go with this. You know, you need to be very careful (in) how you handle those kinds of things. Please remember, the devil can do nothing without God’s permission. “Well, the devil has attacked my family. You all pray that God will make him stop.” He (the devil) couldn’t have attacked your family if God had not given him permission to do so. Now, I didn’t expect to get a rousing response to all of that because we still want to live in that place of denial where God wouldn’t allow us to suffer. Suffering only comes from the enemy. Well, it doesn’t, ladies and gentlemen.

So all of these super spiritual faith-word, faith filled tirades against a circumstance in someone’s life do not serve for the better at all. What we should be saying is, “Let’s pray about this together. Let me hold you up in prayer. I don’t know the source of this. I  don’t know the end of this, neither do you. But, if we stay before God  and let God bring it to the intended end, you will see that the Lord is very gracious and  merciful in your life.  Instead of trying to erase pain and remove discomfort, we ought to be diving in the middle of it and saying: God is sovereign. God  is doing a work.  This is the work of the Lord. We will not speak against it . We will receive it by faith and we will do  what God has called us to do and that is- worship, praise and pray. I lift up holy hands to a God I cannot understand, but trust and I will say: You are Lord, You are God  and You are sovereign and I will serve You no matter what comes my way! “. Don’t make quick judgements about someone’s suffering, not even yours. 

I think that enough time has passed, that the Lord will allow me to deal with this again. Every time we have a problem come our way, we immediately think of what we did in the past and now it has come to bite us in our life. Every time discomfort or tragedy, or pain or bad reports come our way, our immediate action is to say, “I knew it. Here it comes. It was 39 years ago, but I knew that sooner or later I have to pay for it. And, the Bible teaches us, our Lord taught us: You can’t even judge your own condition or the problem you’re going through, you don’t even comprehend. This is the Lord’s work. So, not only are we warned not to judge why someone else is suffering, but we’re told not to judge our own suffering because God is in control of our lives.

If He’s in control of my life, it means that the point where He forgave me cleansed me. I am no longer held accountable for what I did, when the bloof of Jesus covered it and I was forgiven of it. I don’t care if you had 30 abortions, I don’t care if you killed a dozen people, I just don’t care. If the blood of Jesus has been applied to your life, if you’ve asked for forgiveness, if by faith you’ve received Him, it’s all erased. It’s all forgotten. It’s all thrown into the sea of God’s forgetfulness and don’t let the devil… much more than that, don’t let yourself always be dredging up what God forgave and trying to figure out why you’re suffering now.

You are suffering now because God loves you. You are suffering because God has an intended end for your life. You are suffering because where you are now is just not good enough for where God wants you to be. You are suffering because you are going to see the mercy of the Lord. You will suffer so you will see the faithfulness of God. You are suffering so when everybody else has been shooed into a corner and doesn’t have anything else to say, the Lord will have the last word and He will say: “I bought you and I keep you and I’m taking you all the way to heaven.

Word of faith theological crisis

At some point in your life, you’re gonna have a theological crisis. Oh, my Lord, the roads are strewn with Word of Faith people who said: This won’t happen and we won’t receive that and I will live and that won’t…  Well, there’s just a whole pile of them laying back there and they’re all stunned saying, “What happened? We thought we knew. We used our authority”. But they had a theological crisis. What they thought about the Bible did not measure up with the sovereignty of the Lord.

Abraham’s theological crisis

There was Abraham. God says to Him, not through Scriptures now, there was no Bible. He speaks to him. “Was it audibly pastor?” “I really don’t know. I know He spoke to him. That’s all that needs to be said”. And He told him, “Kill your son”. And, immediately Abraham had a theological crisis because God said to Noah, many, many years before that, when they came off the ark, “Whoever kills, must be killed”. That’s capital punishment. “Whoever takes the life of a man, his life must be taken, also.”  Now, here’s God telling this man of faith, “Kill your son”. I call that a theological crisis. I call that a conflict of what you’ve heard and known with what you are now hearing from God. How would you resolve that? You have to cause it’s in the Bible. What would you do with that? There’s nothing you can do except say,” Abraham trusted what God said and knew that at some point the theological crisis would work itself out and God never contradicts Himself, but He does things in a process that makes Him look like He contradicts Himself. And if you dwell on that you will confuse yourself and get defeated. But, if you will let  God be God and finish what He starts, you will glory in the Lord”.

Joseph’s theological crisis

How about Joseph? Now, you talk about a theological crisis? His great grandfather was Abraham. Now, after Abraham saw the goodness of the Lord and went through his and got it all worked out, he taught his grandson and his great grandson these kinds of things: If you honor and obey God, God will honor and bless you. So, here’s Joseph (thinking): I already know how God works.I’ve been taught well. My ancestors, my forefather, my great granddaddy… if anybody should know, great granddaddy Abraham should know, about great faith and trust in God… If you honor and obey God, God will bless you. And He did, and Joseph went to prison. What are you going to say about that? He honored God, he obeyed God, he ran from sin, he ran from adultery, he ran from everything that was displeasing to God and ended up in prison. Now, brother, when you’re lying in a jail cell after you’ve done the right thing and you’ve done all the good things and you are in a jail cell, separated from your family and nobody knows where you are and you don’t know if you’re gonna live till the sun comes up, I call that a theological crisis.

But, the Lord had an intended end. The Lord was in jail with him. The Lord sat with him, with His arm around him when he was confused, trying to figure it out. The Lord was there listening when Joseph said, “I did the right thing! I did everything I was supposed to do! How did I end up here?!” And the Lord sat there and listened to him and the Lord showed him later that if you’ll just wait patiently, if you’ll have faith in God, you’ll end up in a bigger, better place than you thought you would.

It doesn’t stop there. You talk about a theological crisis? Some of you are going through it right now, cause you had it all fixed, biblically. Didn’t you? You were taught well by very unscriptural people. You were taught well by people who knew the religion, who knew the dogma. You know I hate … Should I say this Lord? You know, it’s just between me and God.

I spoke recently at a place and when I left someone grabbed my hand and said, “Wow! You sound like a Reformed Pastor today!” Well, of course that means that you sound like a calvinist. I wanted to say, “That’s what you heard? You heard something that verifies your dogma and doctrine? You didn’t hear me talking about Jesus? Shame on you if you are that way; if when you hear a Gospel message you think, “Uha, I know that doctrine, that’s Calvin. Oh, I know that doctrine, that’s arminianism.” You need help!  Because the whole point of the Holy Spirit working in us is to get us out of that denominational junk and get us into a walk by faith Jesus.

The theological crisis of the 12 disciples

You talk about a crisis. Here are these 12 disciples. Jesus says to the people, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you don’t belong to me.” The Bible says, many of His disciples went away. Then He turned to His and said, “Are you going too?” Well, now here’s the theological crisis: Drink blood? From the earliest days of the Old Testament, Jews were taught- Don’t drink it. Even in the New Testament they were taught- Don’t drink blood and above everything- Don’t eat human flesh. That’s cannibalism. So, they had this instilled in them that you don’t touch, you don’t drink blood, you don’t eat anything that’s strangled and Jesus turns around and messes everything up and says, “If you’re gonna follow me, you’re gonna have to drink my blood. You gotta eat my flesh.

Theological crisis. Peter says, “Are you kidding us, Lord? People are leaving. The whole ministry’s just died. Jesus said, “What about you? Are you leaving too?” and Peter spoke up and said, “Where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life?” Notice what he didn’t say, ” Where would we go cause You can walk on water? Where would we go, You raise the dead. Where would we go, you’re a miracle worker.  Where would we go, you’re the man.” But he said, “Where would we go, because you are the only one that can give us words. Speak to us! Give us a voice and lead us into eternal life and that’s how we ought to be living today.”

With the knowledge of the Holy Scripture, we ought to be walking by faith and listening to the Holy Spirit even when our faith seems to be coming apart and our lives seem to contradict what we’ve learned. We have to be able to live on the words of eternal life cause God’s not finished yet. The intended end has not arrived, as yet.

Here’s another theological crisis. Job was so conscientious. Do you know that the Bible says he didn’t lust, he didn’t lie, he didn’t steal, he treated his servants right, he did not worship false gods, he didn’t commit adultery, he didn’t do anything wrong and every day he got up and offered a sacrifice unto God on behalf of his children and then one day a tornado came and blew the house down and killed all his children. Theological crisis. I did everything I was supposed to do and then this happens? Yeah, because God’s intended end was not yet. I just wanna tell you that if you are in that dilemma, if you’ll just hang on, it will all work out and you will find out God was telling the truth all the time.

Here’s what I learned in my own life and my theology has changed. If you would have seen me 30 years ago, when I had thicker, darker, longer hair, man I looked like a Pentecostal evangelist of God. And I had preached sermons on joy: The reason you don’t have it is because you don’t claim it. And the reason you don’t have it is because you just decided not to have it. WOW it’s joy, you can live every day with joy! Joy, joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory. I feel joy up in here. Joy, joy, joy. People can have joy if they want it!

Nope, there have been lots of time when I have not had joy. LOTS OF TIMES. I could not find a trace of spirituality or joy in my life. And you gotta live long enough, and thank God He lets us live long enough, cause there’s nothing more dangerous than a young preacher who’s never been through a crisis, who’s never had to bury a family member, who’s never had to go through cancer, who hasn’t seen babies die… But, you get to a point in your life where you say honestly, before God that you don’t have joy. I ain’t having fun. And what about those bold statements like, “God doesn’t want you to be sick?” I now believe, today, that God uses physical infirmity to mature me. I’ve known too many sick saints who won more people to Jesus on a hospital bed. Sick saints, broke saints, discouraged saints, heartbroken saints that won more people to Jesus and encouraged more brothers and sisters than many of us who haven’t been through it. Oh, I believe it now! Because God is sovereign and God will take whatever He desires and sees necessary and do it in your life, not only to work out the self confidence, but the arrogance of your faith, but to be able to build up the brotherhood and edify the church.

Oh, I used to say, “And nothing, shall by any means harm you. You can take up serpents and you can drink any deadly thing and I shall speak with new tongues, but I especially like that one “and nothing shall by any means hurt you”. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been hurt a lot. God’s people hurt. Do you understand me? There’s pain in the body of Christ. There’s pain in the saintliest of homes. There’s pain and agony where every member of the house is filled with the Holy Spirit and living by faith. There’s pain. When Shannon was giving prayer request and that brother from our church who lost 5 family members, do you think he’s having fun? Do you think he has joy? Do you think he’s not hurt?

Ladies and gentlemen, there comes a time when you have to take your theology and drop it the way Moses dropped the tablets of the law and realize that’s not just for you to carry around and give pat answers about everything that happens in life. No, you are to hear form God. The Spirit of the Lord can speak to you and when He does, He will coincide and affirm this written word, and when God finishes, you will see that the intended end He designed was the most marvelous thing. And you had to go through the loss and through the pain to get there. That’s why God taught us to praise Him for everything. In everything give thanks because God is taking us to an intended end.

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

When you get to the end and you thought you couldn’t make it, you find out that it was God’s compassion and God’s mercy that kept you, that will keep you. That’s the intended end of the Lord.

I want to end with this: When you’re in that… well, there sits Tony right there, Hazel had her first chemo treatment on Thursday. Now that’s a praying woman. Kind, compassionate… she’s laying in the house… surgery, chemo, may lose her hair. Tell me: Why?  What’s going on? Why wouldn’t God have done that when she was 28, so she could live a long time and tell about it? Because only God knows His ways and He has an intended end for Hazel and for you and for you sir. I see you, Ron. I pray for you every night before I go to bed. I know you’re fighting this cancer thing, but I want you to know. I want you to hear it today and I want you to hear it in the house of God: God has an intended end. This is not punishment, this is a blessing from the Lord, so you can find out how merciful and compassionate God really is.

I want to close with this because we have instructions about what we should do while we are going through this. 1 Peter 4:19 “Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator“.  Did you hear me? It’s the will of God… meaning, “I don’t care what I’m going through Lord, I am yours and you’re mine. I don’t have an answer, I don’t have any strength, I don’t know what to do next, but I’m yours and you’re mine. I commit my soul to You. You have me, you got me, take all of me. I’m not gonna back up, I’m not gonna quit. I’m not gonna second guess myself. I’m committed to letting you keep me “. And I’m gonna do it by “doing good” (1 Peter 4:19) I may feel bad, but, I’m gonna do good. I’m just gonna do the right thing. I’m gonna do good things. I’m gonna bless people. I’m gonna serve people. I’m gonna serve the Lord.  I’m gonna keep it up. I will not quit. As to a faithful Creator. Creator? Yup, he-s the one that put you together, designed you, numbered your days, gives you life and breath. He created me! I’m the workmanship of His hands. So what He created, He’s not gonna destroy. I’m a new creation in Christ Jesus and He is faithful. Faithful Creator. What does that mean? If He loved me enough to create me, in Christ Jesus, He will be faithful enough to finish what He started. He’ll take me to the intended end.

John Piper – Job: (2) When the Righteous Suffer

click photo for source

you can listen to the sermon audio here at DesiringGod.org.

These are notes from the session, not the manuscript that the message was preached from. They are adapted from the sermons “Job: Rebuked in Suffering,” “Job: The Revelation of God in Suffering,” and “Job: Reversal in Suffering.”)

What we’ve seen now is that Job has triumphed in the conflict that Satan brought against him. His possessions and health were taken from him, but he did not curse God—he worshiped him.

Then he endured months of terrible suffering. In chapters 4 to 31 Job conversed with his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, about the meaning of suffering. The upshot of it all was that the theory of his friends was unsatisfactory. It is not the case that the wicked always suffer and the righteous always prosper.

A Change in Job’s Talk About Dying

Something happens to Job through this long conversation with his three friends. He begins in chapter 3 with utter dismay and he cries out against the wisdom of God in giving him birth. The duration of his disease had almost defeated the initial stand of faith that he took at the first (1:22; 2:10). But little by little you can watch his faith regaining its strength as he fights against the superficial theology of his friends. His faith finally breaks out into victory in chapter 19.

In every speech up till then Job had expressed the conviction that he would certainly die and go to Sheol in misery. He longs for it. But there is a gradual change in the way he talks about dying. At first in 7:9–10 (his response to Eliphaz) he is sure that death is the end of everything, “As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.” In 10:20–22 (his response to Bildad) he is still sunk in despair about death, “Let me alone, that I may find a little comfort before I go whence I shall not return to the land of gloom and deep darkness, the land of gloom and chaos, where light is as darkness.”

Then in 14:7–14 (his response to Zophar) Job again faces the certainty of his death in suffering and cries out to be released to die (v. 13). But this time he asks a question in verse 14: “If a man die, shall he live again?” Also in his second response to Eliphaz (17:13–16) the reference to Sheol is one of question rather than despair.

In 19:25–27 Job reaches an answer. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh (or: apart from) I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

Job is finally sure that beyond the grave he will meet God as a Redeemer and not an angry Judge. He will be redeemed from all his misery—even if it will only be after death. There will be life and light not just death and darkness.

This confidence does not answer all Job’s questions or solve all his theological problems. He still is utterly perplexed as to why he should have to suffer as he does. His suffering goes right on. God seems utterly arbitrary in the way he parcels out suffering and comfort in this life.

Job Silences His Friends

But Job’s confidence of new life after death does enable him to hold fast to three of his cherished convictions, namely, the sovereign power of God, the goodness and justice of God, and the faithfulness of his own heart. With those convictions he holds out against the simplistic doctrine of justice in the mouths of his three friends. He finally puts them to silence.

The Argument Won, the Question Unanswered

He has won the argument. But he has not answered his question. He has shown that suffering cannot be explained by the simple principle of retributive justice, where each person gets what he deserves: suffering for the evil and prosperity for the good. But he has found no other answer.

We are left at the end of chapter 31 with the apparent capriciousness of God. All seems to be arbitrary. God rules the affairs of men. And no doubt he does so wisely (28:12–28). That Job never doubts. But why the righteous suffer—so far he has no answer.

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John Piper – (1)Job rebuked in suffering

you can listen to the audio sermon here at DesiringGod.org

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From chapter 4 to 31 Job conversed with his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, about the meaning of suffering. The upshot of it all was that the theory of his friends was unsatisfactory.

The Unsatisfactory Theory of Job’s Friends

They had argued that suffering is basically punishment for sin and prosperity is reward for righteousness (4:7–8). Eliphaz had admitted (in 5:17) that some suffering was chastisement and could be good for us, but it becomes clear that for him this is the exception, not the rule, and that protracted suffering like Job’s could not be explained this way. So he winds up saying to Job, “Is not your wickedness great!” (22:5). Job’s extraordinary suffering can only be explained as the punishment of God for grievous sin.

Job had defended himself all along by saying, contrary to his three friends’ opinion, that there is good evidence from all over the world that the wicked often prosper and the righteous often suffer (21:29–30). And in his case in particular he was not an enemy of God and had not committed any grievous sin that would set him up for such suffering above others.

So Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were not able to sustain their theory in the face of Job’s realism and integrity. Their speeches became repetitive, hostile, and shorter as the conversation comes to a close. Finally, only Job was left speaking.

The Argument Won, the Question Unanswered

He has won the argument. But he has not answered his question. He has shown that suffering cannot be explained by the simple principle of retributive justice, where each person gets what he deserves: suffering for the evil and prosperity for the good. But he has found no other answer.

We are left at the end of chapter 31 with the apparent capriciousness of God. All seems to be arbitrary. God rules the affairs of men. And no doubt he does so wisely (28:12–28). That Job never doubts. But why the righteous suffer—so far he has no answer.

It would be possible to live the rest of our lives at this level of understanding. Many Christians try. We could simply say, “Yes, I believe God rules over the world and controls what happens. I also believe that he is just and wise. And I believe that, though things look capricious and arbitrary in this life, all wrongs will be righted in the age to come. He has shown me his love in Jesus Christ and I know he is the only hope for meaning in life now and for salvation in the world to come. So I will be still and trust God, though I cannot understand his strange ways.”

That is not a bad way to live. But the writer of the book of Job is not satisfied to live that way. And he wants his readers to know that God has not concealed all of his ways. There is more to see of God’s purpose in suffering than we may think.

Elihu Breaks In

So a young man appears on the scene in chapter 32 named Elihu. His speech goes all the way through chapter 37. And here we learn something that neither Job nor his friends had discovered, namely, that the suffering of the righteous is not a token of God’s enmity but of his love. It is not a punishment of their sins but a refinement of their righteousness. It is not a preparation for destruction, but a protection from destruction.

The three friends have been wrong—suffering is not the proof of wickedness. And Job had been wrong—his suffering was not the proof of God’s arbitrariness. Nor had God become his enemy. Elihu has come to put the argument on a new footing.

Five Reasons We Should Accept Elihu’s Counsel

Let’s begin our survey of Elihu’s theology by asking why we should accept it. Many interpreters understand Elihu as no better than Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar. For example, I gathered from one commentator’s 40 pages on Elihu’s speeches the following labels: Elihu is cruel, cold, detached, crass, trite, perfectionist, vain, etc. (Francis Anderson, TOTC).

I admit that there are some things in Elihu’s speeches very hard to understand. And it is true that when you read his speeches, you hear some of the same things the three friends said (they were not totally wrong!). And it is true he is tough with Job, perhaps too tough sometimes.

But there are at least five reasons why I take the words of Elihu to represent the truth as our inspired writer saw it. In other words, I think Elihu gives the first step in solving Job’s problem, and that God then speaks in chapters 38–41 and gives the final conclusive word. Here are the five reasons I think this.

1. His Speech Is Presented as Something New

The words of Elihu are introduced to us in chapter 32 not as a continuation or repetition of what the three friends had said, but as something new. Verses 1–3:

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became angry. He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; he was angry also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.

In other words Elihu disagrees with both sides of the argument. So he says in verse 14 to the three friends, “He (i.e., Job) has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.” So Elihu has no intention of trying to settle the matter the way the three friends did. The writer wants us to listen to something new that takes us beyond the old argument.

2. Six Chapters Devoted to His Words

The second reason that I think Elihu is more than a continuation of bad theology, is that the writer devotes six chapters to his words (32–37).

The inadequacy of the theology of the three friends was demonstrated by the fact that their speeches got shorter near the end, and then died out completely. Bildad finishes with six verses (chapter 25), and Zophar can’t even manage a closing comment.

It would be very strange, then, if Elihu were given six chapters at this point to say all the inadequate things all over again and make no advance on the inadequate theology of these other three friends. Surely this large space given to his words signals that something crucial is being said here.

3. Job’s Response to Elihu

Job does not try to argue with Elihu.

He had been successful in silencing Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, but he does not say one word against Elihu even though Elihu challenged him in 33:32, “If you have anything to say, answer me.” The easiest explanation for this silence is that Job agreed with him. In fact, in 42:6 Job does repent for some of the things he said, which shows that Elihu’s rebukes are not all wide of the mark.

4. God’s Response to Elihu

In 42:7 God looks back over the period of suffering and rebukes Job’s three friends,

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

But God does not rebuke Elihu. Why not? Probably because Elihu’s words are not in the same class with the words of those three. Elihu’s words are true and prepare the way for the final, decisive words of God. (He claims to be guided by the Spirit of God—32:8.)

5. He Offers Something New and Helpful

Finally, Elihu really does offer a new understanding of the suffering of the righteous that Job and his three friends had not perceived. And his insight does indeed make sense out of the apparently arbitrary suffering that Job and other righteous people go through. Let’s try to learn this morning what this young man has to say.

Elihu’s Rebuke of Job

Elihu thinks that Job has been wrong in some of what he has said—indeed, he sees pride and arrogance in Job’s attitude (see 33:17; 35:12; 36:9). In 33:8–12 he puts his finger on Job’s error:

Surely, you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, “I am clean, without transgression; I am pure, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold [God] finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy; he puts my feet in the stocks, and watches all my paths.” Behold in this you are not right.

Job is wrong to claim innocence at the expense of God’s grace. We know that Elihu is right about this because in 42:6 Job does in fact repent: “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” His suffering had driven him to say things about himself that were overly optimistic and things about God that were disrespectful. Even though Job was a righteous man, he was not a sinlessly perfect man. There was a sediment of pride that began to cloud the purity of his life when it was stirred up by suffering.

Elihu’s Explanation of Suffering

At least part of Elihu’s understanding of why the righteous suffer has to do with this residue of pride in the life of the righteous. We see the first explanation of his view in 33:14–19. He describes two ways God speaks to man: by his word and by suffering. These were the days before Scripture, so the word of God takes the form of visions and dreams. He says,

For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men, and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man; he keeps back his soul from the Pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

Man is also chastened with pain upon his bed, and with continual strife in his bones.

Not to Punish but to Save

So Elihu puts the pain of sickness and visions of the night side by side as two ways that God speaks to man for his good. Verse 17 describes God’s purpose: “That he may turn man aside from his deed, and cut off pride from man, and keep back his soul from the Pit.”

In other words God’s purpose for the righteous in these dreams and in this sickness is not to punish but to save—to save from contemplated evil deeds and from pride and ultimately from death. Elihu does not picture God as an angry judge but as a Redeemer, a Savior, a Rescuer, a Doctor. The pain he causes is like the surgeon’s knife, not like the executioner’s whip.

The “Righteous Sinner”

Elihu explains his view of suffering in one other place, namely, 36:6–15. The helpful thing in these verses is that Elihu makes clear that there is such a thing as a righteous person who still has sin that needs to be revealed and rooted out. To call a person righteous does not mean that the person is sinlessly perfect. There is a “righteous sinner.”

This is helpful because God himself called Job a righteous man in 1:1, and Job won his argument on the basis of his reputation as a righteous man. And yet at the end of the book Job repents and despises himself. So Job is righteous (by the testimony of God!) even though he has sin remaining in him. He is not among the wicked.

Elihu looks at these two groups of people, the wicked and the righteous, and he distinguishes the different roles that suffering has in each. We’ll start reading at verse 6:

He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings upon the throne he sets them for ever, and they are exalted.

Now if he had stopped there, he would have sounded exactly like Eliphaz: the wicked suffer and the righteous prosper. There is a sense in which this is true in the long run. But the question plaguing Job is why the righteous suffer in the short run. So Elihu goes on in verse 8:

And if they [that is, the righteous] are bound in fetters and caught in the cords of affliction [so Elihu admits right away that the righteous are not always with kings on the throne; they do suffer], then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly. He opens their ears to instruction, and commands that they return from iniquity.

In other words the righteous are far from sinlessly perfect. There is much of the old nature left in them, and from time to time this old nature of pride breaks out in actual sinful behavior—as it did with Job when he accused God of being his enemy. This is what Job repents of at the end of the book.

Suffering Refines the Righteous

Elihu’s teaching, then, is that affliction makes a righteous person sensitive to his remaining sinfulness and helps him hate it and renounce it. Suffering opens the ear of the righteous (v. 10). The psalmist said the same thing in Psalm 119:71, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” There are dimensions of godliness that the righteous can only learn through affliction.

So the new slant that Elihu gives is that the suffering of the righteous is not the fire of destruction but the fire that refines the gold of their goodness. For the righteous it is not punitive but curative.

The Purpose of Suffering for the Godless and the Righteous

Verses 13–15 describe the same contrast between the purpose of suffering for the godless and the purpose of suffering for the righteous.

The godless in heart cherish anger; they do not cry for help when he binds them. They die in youth, and their life ends in shame. He delivers the afflicted by their affliction, and opens their ear by adversity.

Verses 13–14 describe one group of people for whom suffering results in nothing but destruction—they are the “godless in heart.” But then (in v. 15) he describes another group whose ears are opened in their affliction and who experience deliverance by their affliction. These are not the godless or the wicked. They are the righteous. They are the people like Job, who are upright, and fear God, and turn away from evil, and have a blameless reputation. They suffer, too. But the divine purpose is not the same.

How Has Elihu Added to Our Understanding?

How then, we may ask, has Elihu advanced our understanding beyond the impasse between Job and his three friends?

His Two Complaints

We go back to the beginning of Elihu’s speech in 32:2–3. He had two complaints.

  1. He was angry because Job justified himself rather than God;
  2. and he was angry at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.

Elihu has now succeeded in showing why his anger was justified in both cases.

1. He Shows Why Job’s Three Friends Are Wrong

He showed Job’s three friends to be wrong. They said that the only way to explain Job’s suffering was to say that God was punishing him for sin. Elihu shows that this is not the way to explain Job’s suffering.

The righteous do suffer. And their suffering is not a punishment for sin but a refinement of their righteousness. Suffering awakens their ear to new dimensions of God’s reality and new depths of their own imperfection and need. Suffering deepens their faith and godliness. So the three friends of Job are wrong.

2. He Shows Why Job Is Wrong

But Job is wrong too. He had no better explanation of his suffering than his three friends did. His conception of God’s justice was basically the same as theirs. Only Job insisted he was righteous, and so he could not make his suffering fit with the justice of God. He became so exasperated at times that he thought of God as his enemy.

How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. Why dost thou hide thy face, and count me as thy enemy? (13:23–24)

Elihu said that Job was wrong to justify himself at God’s expense like this (33:8–12). God was NOT Job’s enemy and Job is not as pure as he claims to be. God is in fact Job’s loving Father. He has allowed this sickness to drag on for months because he loves Job, not because he hates him.

The suffering has brought out the hidden sin of pride in Job. Now Job’s ear has been opened to his remaining imperfection. Now he can repent and be cleansed and depend on God as he never had before. His suffering was not only an occasion for God to get glory over Satan (which we saw in chapters 1 and 2); it was also an occasion for God to deepen Job’s insight and trust and godliness.

The Central Lesson

So the central lesson for us from the book of Job today is that the children of God—those who trust in God and are led by his Spirit and have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus—may indeed suffer. And when they do, it is not a punishment for sin. Christ has borne the punishment for our sin, and there is no double jeopardy!

The suffering of the children of God is not the firm application of a principle of retributive justice. It is the free application of the principle of sovereign grace. Our Father in heaven has chosen us freely from before the foundation of the world, he regenerated us freely by the work of the Holy Spirit, he justified us freely through the gift of saving faith, and he is now sanctifying us freely by his grace through suffering according to his infinite wisdom.

Suffering is not dispensed willy-nilly among the people of God. It is apportioned to us as individually designed, expert therapy by the loving hand of our great Physician. And its aim is that our faith might be refined, our holiness might be enlarged, our soul might be saved, and our God might be glorified.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6–7)

Our Father disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10–11)

We were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)

Therefore, count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4)

from © Desiring God

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

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