Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I keep thinking about Job, you know the one, the (by all appearances tragic) hero of the book of the same name in the Old Testament of the Bible wherein Satan received permission from God to pummel Job with bad news and events of biblical proportions to prove that if God ceased to bless his righteousness, Job would deny God.
I wrote about this in a previous post.
In an “eye for an eye,” legalistic sense, Satan was right about Job, i.e., if his perfect little life weren’t so blessed by God, he ought to fall away. At least in a logical view, a view focused only on causes and effects. A view many people might share, especially in “behavior-based” kinds of sermons and churches.
However, because Satan is not all-knowing, what he DIDN’T know was that, what he (Satan) meant for harm in Job’s life, God meant–and used–for good not only for Job and his family, but for all of mankind up to and including you and me.
Because Satan didn’t know about grace and faith (and I suspect it still baffles him) and that God’s smarts are a whole lot better than the Malignant Narcissist of the Nether Region’s brilliance–the Devil, himself–Satan also did not realize he got played.
He got royally shellacked –also in biblical proportions.
In part, Satan was defeated just when he likely thought up another of his lies to himself, “Aha, GOTCHA!” (in devil-ese), when it looked like Job might crack.
However, because by God allowing that devil to nearly destroy Job and all that was his (with a little help from Job’s “friends”), Job spoke two Very Important Prophecies in the earth, as a “witness,” aka “prophet” (as it is written: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established”).
One of Job’s witnesses, or prophecies, was speaking the need for a “daysman,” “intermediary between God and man,” (know to us in the A.D. age as Jesus) which was the focus of my first post, reviewed, briefly, below, and the second was by living out the need for the Savior God had in mind all along (His Son, Jesus Christ) by the illustration of his, Job’s, whole experience.
This little book of horrors, as it is tempting to name it at first read, is not listed as one of either the major or minor prophetic works, of course. However, I believe this might be reconsidered, at least for a couple of reasons.
See what you think.
Job–A Prophetic Book, Part 1 (Review)
The first–and most important “witness” in my view, and treated in my previous Job post–is found in chapter 9, verses 33:35:
“If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot” (9: 33-35, NIV).
JOB PROPHESIED THE “NEED” FOR JESUS, THE INTERMEDIARY! FOR HIM–AND FOR US!
As I put it, “In the narrative of Job’s story, then, in the midst of all the horror and betrayal, we glean a prophecy of our “Umpire”-to-Come, Jesus, Who, by His sacrifice on the cross made it possible for believers, in His Name, to enter God’s realm and plead our case before God.”
And now for the second big reason I consider the Book of Job–and the man,’s whole sordid experience (but with a very good ending)–to be prophetic.
Job–A Prophetic Book, Part 2
The Book of Job is considered by some scholars to be the oldest book of the Bible for reasons tied to linguistics, location, and it’s relation to other, early biblical works. Here is an interesting summary of that view.
But whether or not it was really “first,” its primary position in the anthology called the cannon of the Bible reveals this, in my view, second key prophetic reality–which was important to get out there asap: through the story of Job’s “fall” in the Old Testament, law-based spiritual era, this thoroughly moral, godly man, realizes it wasn’t just all about doing the right things!
His experience and subsequent conversations with his “friends” (who blamed him, and in that legalistic era, why wouldn’t they?) and with God, produced the “witness/prophecy” of not only God’s sovereignty–not to be mean, as some might think, but to open up an entirely new train of thought for Job, i.e., there is more to the salvation code, as it were.
As noted in Part 1, we need an intermediary to help us. That intermediary is Jesus Christ, we now know. He not only fulfilled the “legal parameters” of godliness as specified in Old Testament Laws, He did it for us–for Job, you, me, and everyone else who chooses Jesus as the perfect atonement, the Spotless Lamb of God, for our sins.
Not only that–here is the hard part to read and to apply–it took (Job) some pain for this (mental) gain, so to speak, about the plan of redemption.
In short, prophecy number 2 illustrates that even by living such a perfect life as Job lived, bad stuff still happens. Satan muffing up the works, for one bad thing, which is his primary goal, the more mayhem and destruction the better. He hates not only God but also God’s people.
And secondly–this has taken me a long time to slooooooowly come to grips with, so bear with me–sometimes it takes a little loss, a little persecution, a little “flesh failure”–not to mention some devil stuff–to “come to Jesus”. Literally.**
Oh, no! Why? Why do bad things happen to good people (even “good” as defined by the “righteousness” of Jesus Christ, not our own efforts)?
Well, here’s my take–and some encouragement.
On Brainless Robots versus Agents of Free Will and Beloved of God
If we were just brainless, choice-less, spiritual robots simply making sure all the “zeroes and ones” were lined up just so in some spiritual code, how could this be called anything near “free will”? Or, love, for that matter? Thus, by logic, God, of Whom it is said IS love, and GAVE us free will, would be the liar (not Satan and his ilk).
But how can you read the Old Testament and not deduce God is mean? Demanding an eye for an eye and so on? But consider:
Even in the Old Testament epoch where the Law Code ruled, so to speak, its list of “thou shalts and thou shalt nots” revealing clear cause/effect guidance, the “New Testament (Grace) Code” still threads through in prophecy and in prose, for eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to yield to. For one of the best examples and one that changed my heart:
…7Would the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He has shown you, O mankind, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love devotion, and to walk humbly with your God?
I left verse 7 attached to 8 because, do you see?, tucked in there is a kind of precious, poignant, but clearly rhetorical question, because, we now understand, post-crucifixion, that God did just that. He sacrificed his own firstborn for our transgressions!
Whereas the Law with its earthly sacrifices could only foreshadow the grace of salvation offered for our choices of sin against God, God, indeed, “presented” His own “firstborn” for our sins through the “perfect Lamb,” Jesus, the Son, His Son (put best here in John 3:16).*
In short: Jesus Christ not only fulfilled the “legal parameters” of “righteousness” as specified in Old Testament Laws, He did it for us–for Job, you, me, and everyone else who chooses Jesus as the perfect atonement for their bad choices, mistakes, willful meanness–sins.
In even shorter: He paid a debt He did not owe, (we) owed a debt (we) could not pay (Ellis J. Crum)…
See what I mean?
About the Book of Job being prophetic?
About the difference between law and grace?
About real righteousness?
About the unbelievable, poignant, precious gift of salvation wrapped up in God’s own Son?
About Job–who figured it out through his unmerited suffering?
Most importantly–about Jesus Christ?
Today would be good.
*For many verses explaining the meaning of the law and its relationship to grace, here is a good starting place.
**(Such pain and suffering of the “righteous” being one of the big reasons most of us tend to pass on reading Job, ya think? The second reason being that most often we’ve heard it featured in sermons laced with condemnation for bad behavior.)