Finding Jesus in the Book of Job

Recently, I completed a personal study of the Old Testament book of Job. I have read it many times, and studied it at least once, but this study, perhaps because of recent life experiences, was deeply meaningful.

In the final chapter, particularly Job 42:7-9, I see a picture of Jesus in Job. Like Jesus, Job, a righteous man suffered greatly. Like Jesus, Job’s suffering was God’s will. (That point may be controversial to some. After all, Satan was the direct cause of Job’s suffering. Still, God granted permission for it to happen. Throughout, Job saw God as sovereign over the circumstances, and in the end, God said nothing to deny Job’s view.) Like Jesus, those around Job saw him as being cursed by God. And like Jesus, in the end, the Father both vindicates and exalts Job.

God confronted the “friends” of Job and said it was they who had spoken wrong about Him. In fact, God said that he was angry with them. It was not Job who had a broken relationship with God, which had been their assumption. Rather, they were the ones with the sin. In order to be restored to their relationship with God, they needed an intermediary. In order to be right with God, had to offer sacrifice through Job, and he had to pray for them. In this priestly role, Job is a picture of Jesus.

Just as Job’s friends needed and intermediary, so do we. We must go to Jesus, the sacrifice in our place, and be converted, repenting of our sins and putting our faith in Him.

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When Cliches Help

A habit that I wish I could do away with in writing is the one of using cliches. Cliches are a sign of lazy thinking. However, they communicate, and often very well, because most people know and understand their meaning.

For the past couple of years, along with my family, I have passed through a time of uncertainty. Many times it has seemed that God has been silent. Often, people want to encourage us and sometimes with cliches. Recently, as I was studying some Bible passages, a cliche came to mind that is a reminder of a Bible truth. “Count your blessings.”

Blessings are a reminder that God has not abandoned us. We may not have the answers to the big questions that we face but still can know that He is with us if we look at the good things that He gives. James 1:17 reminds us that every good gift comes from God. So the food on our table, the kind words of others, a wonderful church family, and the love we share as a family are all gifts from God’s hands. Most of all, we must remember the gift of Christ. He took our sins on the cross, died in our place, and now His righteousness has been given to us. If you have not received that gift, you can do so. Click on the page entitled, “How to Have a Relationship With God.”

Yes, Hate The Sin

A few months back, several wrote about the Christian cliché, “Love the sinner: hate the sin.” Many argued that it was impossible since people rarely succeed in separating the sinner from their sin in their thinking. To an extent, they have a point.

However, sin is something to hate. In fact, the Psalms use the word “hate” to describe God’s feeling about sinners.

The boastful cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all evildoers.” (Psalm 5:5, HCSB)

The Lord examines the righteous and the wicked. He hates the lover of violence.” (Psalm 11:5, HCSB)

Further, several Psalms describe in positive terms a hatred of sin and those who commit sin.

I hate a crowd of evildoers, and I do not sit with the wicked.” (Psalm 26:5, HCSB)

I hate those who are devoted to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:6, HCSB)

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy more than your companions.” (Psalm 45:7, HCSB)

Lord, don’t I hate those who hate You, and detest those who rebel against You? I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies.” (Psalm 139:21–22, HCSB)

Even taking the Psalms’ language figuratively, we must not have a casual view of sin. We are to despise sin. The New Testament points those who follow Christ their Savior toward hating sin in themselves. The New Testament uses the language of putting sin, often referred to as the flesh, to death.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24, HCSB)

For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:6–13, HCSB)

So John Owen’s warning to, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” is stated well. Sin is something that I should hate, and I should begin with the sin in me.

What Jesus Expects of Disciples 2

Matthew 18:7–9 (ESV)

7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

These verses qualify as a tough saying. In these three verses Jesus makes a profound warning against being lax in how we deal with temptations to sin.

First of all, He reminds us that we live in a world that is fallen where temptation will come. We live in a world where there is poverty and hunger, and with those, temptations to rob and to steal. We live a world with fallen people who do not share our values, and through them, temptations may come.

But one thing a disciple should never be is the source of temptation. It would be easy to talk about modesty in dress here, but it would be wrong to limit the idea to sexual sins. A person can tempt another with juicy tidbits of gossip. At a Bible study (or on a blog), a believer can tempt others to anger by pressing a controversial point just to see the reaction or make things more interesting. We can tempt one another to gluttony or to lust or to any number of things.

Yet, Jesus does not relieve the one being tempted from responsibility. Verses 8-9 are intensely personal as Jesus speaks in the second person singular.[i] Some believe that Jesus had Judas Iscariot especially in mind as He said these words of warning.[ii] Jesus uses hyperbole, which is intentional exaggeration, to convey the danger of sin and the radical discipleship it takes to avoid temptation. If we know what our weaknesses are, we should avoid those things that tempt us in those areas. Sin is a danger to our walk with Christ.

We, therefore, should do what is necessary to avoid it. Ask the hotel to take the TV out of the room if tempted to watch inappropriate shows that poison your thinking while you travel alone. Use the Internet filters. Avoid certain radio stations. Avoid certain aisles in the store. Do whatever is necessary to keep from falling into sin. Jesus states things so strongly to show the radical discipline needed in our battle with sin. It is what Jesus expects from His disciples.

[i] Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005, 738.

[ii] Blomberg, Craig. Vol. 22, Matthew. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992, 275.

God is a Hater: What He Hates Reveals How Much He Loves Us

If you read the comments on a YouTube video, a news or opinion piece on CNN’s website, or the blog of any hipster, in the heat of “conversation”, you will read the retort, “You’re just a hater.” I am revealing my age in writing the following: I do not know what that means exactly. If anyone would like to enlighten me in the comments, feel free to do so.

Anyhow, reading and hearing the term “hater” caused me to consider if “hater” is such an insulting team after all. Are there not certain things worthy of hate? I am not speaking of hating people. I am asking, “Are there ideas and actions that should be hated?”

God is a Hater

After all, there are things that God hates. Two passages that represent what God hates are Deuteronomy 18:9-13 and Proverbs 6:12-19.

In Deuteronomy, God through Moses warns the Israelites about the sins that they should avoid in Canaan. Deuteronomy 18:9-13 lists idolatrous and occult practices and it says that God hates all of them. His hatred of such things and His jealousy to be alone the object of worship do not flow from a flawed moral character. Rather, they flow from His desire to see humans fulfilled. He created us to worship Him, to glorify Him, and to enjoy Him forever. Anything that distracts us from that task and that becomes an object of our affection or trust is an idol. He wants us to worship Him alone and to depend upon Him alone. He hates what destroys our relationship with Him. He hates those things because He loves us.

Likewise God hates what destroys relationships between humans. Proverbs 6:12-19 list interpersonal actions and attitudes that alienate people from one another. God hates these actions because they divide those He created in His image from one another. He hates those attitudes and actions because He loves us.

The Bible calls all the actions listed in these two passages “sin”. Sin is any action that God hates. Sin is open rebellion to God’s will and His desire to see us fulfilled by living out the purpose for which He created us. The Bible teaches us that sin is the cause of death and that sin merits God’s wrath.

God Hates the Death of the Wicked

Ezekiel 33:10-11 says, “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (ESV)

God does not take pleasure in sinners dying. He does not take pleasure in people experiencing His wrath. He desires something better for us. Holy Week, which we celebrate next week, is the week in which He demonstrated the better way. Through Jesus Christ, He has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him and to fulfill the purpose for which He created us.

God Is Love

God is a hater, but He is also love. The depth of His hatred of sin, that which separates us from Him and from one another, reveals the depth of His love for us. The Gospel, or Good News, is that He sent Jesus to make right all our sin destroyed.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16, 17; ESV)