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JOB

I loved Pat's post yesterday.

WHEN DID GOD FORGIVE JOB?

Job repented, and God forgave - right? Maybe not. Let me explain.

Job repents, and God immediately turns to three friends and berates their speeches. They are experiancing God's mercy - for if God was as the friend's said then they should experiance justice (punishment). This must have been humbling to the three. It was done. Job prayed, and ---- what?

"..and the LORD accepted Job's prayer." NIV

This is unfortunate translation. The literal Hebrew is:

"..Jehovah doth accept the face of Job." (Young's Literal Translation)

This is when God forgave Job. Forget that the Hebrew word for "accept" can mean "forgive". The Hebrew idiom - "accept the face" means to forgive the person (Bullinger, The Companion Bible).

But if Job truly repented, and he seemed to, why did God not forgive him at verse 6?

I can only surmise that God knew Job's heart. Yes, he was sorrowful and full of repentance to God, but perhaps he was still feeling some bitterness towards his friends.

"Job is now being asked to love his enemies and pray for those who abused him. He is being asked to bless those who cursed him and not to return evil for evil. And he is still a very sick man! God has not yet reversed his misery. Why? What is the lesson here? Isn't it the same as Matthew 6:14?

"If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper85/pn850023.htm

Or, maybe Job was not bitter, but God was making an object lesson "of the above" for the benefit of hearers or readers of the story. That being "right with God" should maifest itself in our outward behavior - displaying His characteristics. The idea we now have of "walking in the Spirit" or the "fruits" we bear after salvation.
======================================================
GOD REVEALS HIMSELF

In four chapters, 123 verses, and 77 questions - God does not once address Job's suffering. Job's suffering is a tangential part of this Bible Book.

God does reveal himself to mankind in regards to:
-Creation
-Providence (provisions for animals, man, and earth)
-Restraint of Evil

Maybe next year, I can delve into the scientific and structural truths embodied in the first two sets of rhetorical questions.

Some say - that "evil" is really bad now. Others say - You should see evil if God were not restraining it in the world.

The latter could be inferred from Job Ch.40, but maybe there is more there. The "behemoth/hippopotamus" and "leviathan/crocodile" get a lot of play (many verses) in Job. Is it because they are really special creatures? What is so important about them to deserve such space by the writer. What is God saying?

Chuck Missler suggests it is because the two represent something. He thinks the behemoth/hippo represents man's pride (flesh), and the leviathan/croc represents the "world" with Satan at its head.

Try it. Go back to the chapters and insert in those concepts in place of the animals. I was a little skeptical until I saw:

Is27:1
In that day,
the LORD will punish with his sword,
his fierce, great and powerful sword,
Leviathan the gliding serpent,
Leviathan the coiling serpent;
he will slay the monster of the sea.

Maybe the idea of man's pride (flesh) being so powerful, yet the maker can approach it and restrain it (carrying a sword implies with punishment????)

The world (and it seems to slowly dissolve to Satan) is so powerful, so terrifying, and yet God keeps it in check - until the time of its destruction "in that day".

Anyway - just throwing it out there as something to "chew on".
======================================================
SUFFERING

So suffering is not directly mentioned by God. There are reasons given for suffering in the NT.

- to learn obeidance (Heb5:8)
- to complete salvation (sanctification process) Heb2:10
-to develop your faith (1Peter6:7)
-to keep us from sin (1Peter4:1-2)
-to develop patience (James1:2-3)
-to be able to comfort others (2Cor1:3-4)
-to manifest the life of Jesus (2Cor4:10-11)
-to deliver us from pride (2Cor12:7-10)
-so that the works of God are made manifest in us (John 9:1-3)

Any others?


2Cor5:11-21

MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

Since Adam, God's plan has been about restoring His relationship with mankind.

-Foreshadowed in OT.
-Means provided through Christ in Gospels.
-Proclaimed in rest of NT.

What does this mean to us:
:...And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."

This is why we are here on earth, and not spirited away upon salvation. We are to be the carriers of His message - in speech and through behavior.
======================================================
A CHILL PILL VERSE

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Some people will say that Christ did experiance sin - that he was not sinless based on this verse. (a supposed contradiction of the Bible).

I don't argue with these kind of propositions. I do point out that the translation could just as well be that Christ was made a "sin offering" or that He "bore" (carried) sin for us.

Since being 'made sin for us' is contradictory in my mind - I lean to the alternate translations.

Let the reader decide.

Yes, Mike, I read The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoffer many moons ago and it left it's mark on me. A particular quote remains embossed on my heart. "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." These weren't just inspiring words to Dietrich Bonhoffer. He carried them out to the full as one of the chief apologists and motivators in the Resistance Movement against Hitlerin Germany. When he could have found safe refuge in America, he chose to practice what he preached in Germany. He ended up in a prison camp, dying just a few days short of the arrival of the allied forces.

The Cost of Discipleship is a series of expositions on topics such as Costly Grace, Discipleship and the Cross, The Beatitudes, Jesus' Extraordinary Words Concerning Enemies, Hidden Righteousness and Prayer, The Community of Saints, etc. It is NOT light reading. If you're not a reader I recommend the film "Bonhoffer" http://www.netflix.com/MovieDisplay?movieid=60029227&trkid=189530&strkid=706554397_2_0

Looking back through the chapters, I wonder if I actually got through it all. But God used what I read to challenge and change me. It propelled me to lay down my comfortable American lifestyle and live a Spartan life of simplicity in West Africa. There, I experienced the treasures of discipleship in ways I never imagined.

Proverbs 22 (NKJV)
15
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Ecclesiastes 1 (NKJV) – The Vanity of Life
1
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2
“ Vanity [Or Absurdity, Frustration, Futility, Nonsense] of vanities,” says the Preacher; “ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
3
What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 2 (NKJV)
24
Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

26
For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Ecclesiastes 3 (NKJV)
11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

22
So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

2 Corinthians 6 (NKJV)
1
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

Psalm 46 (NKJV)
10
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
11
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

NOTE:
I see the following key thoughts as summary of today’s readings:

a.
“toiling under the sun” – living life only from a human perspective, not from God’s perspective with His eternal wisdom

b.
Vanity, Absurdity, Frustration, Futility, and Nonsense of life lived only “under the sun”
We were not meant to have meaning only in ourselves and in our experiences.

Thus, the philosophy of existentialism is not true and is not helpful. This philosophy states that meaning only comes to a person through their experiences, and there is no objective reality outside of that.

This does not mean that God sees individual meaning as unimportant. Rather, the Holy Spirit of God Himself tells us that “a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage”. But meaning is not simply in the “work”, but in work as an extension of our worship of and service for the Lord Jesus.

Only God can properly interpret our lives for us: “Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

c.
This Foolishness is passed onto children. It is not that a child is born without the foolishness of a sinful nature.

d.
Do not “receive the grace of God in vain”. God is real, and we can know Him. The only sure way to know Him is through prayer, planting ourselves in God’s Word and God’s Word in us,
fasting, etc., and yielding ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Why Jesus instead of any other spiritual leader? Because Jesus made claims about Himself that are unique, and He demonstrated the true reality what He said—the most important demonstration was dying for our sins and raised from death to give His life to us.

Again, I am particularly struck by the example of Johann Christoph Blumhardt, a German pastor who lived from 1805-1880.

A friend had directed his attention to our Lord's words about fasting. Blumhardt resolved to give
himself to fasting, sometimes for more than thirty hours. From reflection and experience he gained the conviction that it is of more important than is generally thought.

The Holy Spirit used Johann Christoph Blumhardt to bring revival to the town where he lived, and many people were brought to personal faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus. Also, Blumhardt really sought the Lord to know how to help people struggling with sickness or trials.

"I tried it [i.e., fasting], without telling anyone, and in truth the later conflict was extrordinarily lightened by it. I could speak with much greater restfulness and decision. I did not require to be so long present with the sick one; and I felt that I could influence without being present."

e.
How do we make sure to not “receive the grace of God in vain”? By insisting with a determined faith that we will obey God’s command and gracious invitation: “Be still, and know that I am God”. Then we can know for ourselves for certain: “the God of Jacob is our refuge”.

f.
Finally, I see another idea, not directly stated, but very much present in today’s readings: ““a man should rejoice in his own relationship with God, for that is his heritage”.

g.
Yet, we are never to simply focus on "our own navel" and ONLY have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

This relationship is very precious!

Since we "can do nothing without Jesus" (John 15), it becomes evident that we cannot serve the Lord effectively without a deep abiding personal relationship with Christ.

A true relationship with Jesus will greatly desire to break out to others with the Love and Life of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus!

This is confirmed in many passages.

The Apostle Paul quote a from a passage in Isaiah as the basis of the urgent and wonderful statement in 2 Corinthians 6: "Now is the day of salvation"

The Holy Spirit speaks to us that a true, vital relationship with Jesus will break out to others.

Isaiah 49 (NKJV)
8
Thus says the LORD: “ In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;
9
That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

THIS IS TRULY AMAZING!--

GOD actually includes us in the work of the Lord Jesus in His work of intercession for people, and saving people from sin, world, flesh, and the devil.

May we be filled with Jesus' prayers, Jesus' Life, and Jesus' activity every day!

Vance

Ecclesiastes 1-3:22


Some brief thoughts on Solomon’s Words:

.1) Balance is the Key to Life

2) We live in a closed system everything is recycled

3) There is a difference from living under the sun and living under the Son.

4) Solomon was a wise man because God gave him wisdom, but even that wisdom was foolishness compared to the Wisdom of God.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Ecclesiastes

"Everything is Meaningless"

This is the thesis statement of the author (who I believe to be Solomon).

Key Phrases:
1) "I thought in my heart" (or some variation) occurs about a dozen times.

Interesting that this dovetails with Paul's concern regarding the Corinthians. Solomon like the Corinthians is trying to reason things out from a self-centered perspective. The Greeks admired man's wisdom and ability to reason things of life and death. Solomon who was the wisest man ever on earth, is doing the same thing (at least in early chapters), by investigating life and death from a "wise" man's perspective. As Ramona says, this was "foolishness compared to the Wisdom of God."

If one examines life and death apart from God, the conclusions in Ecclesiastes are the result. This book is "human philosophy apart from God", and it is no wonder that atheist philosophers such as Voltaire, Russell, Sarte, and Eliot have come to the same conclusion.

2)"under the sun" occurs twenty-nine times.

"Everything is evaluated according to appearances alone -- this is man's point of view of reality and is utterly exclusive of divine revelation. As such, Ecclesiastes very accurately summarizes what man thinks." - Ray Steadman

Love Ramona's comparison of "living under the sun" vs. "living under the Son".

Solomon is looking at life and death from man's perspective in man's domicile (under the sun).

3)"Meaningless" ("Vanity" in KJV;also Hebrew word can mean "purposeless")occurs thirty-seven times.

When you look at things from man's wisdom under the sun - Everything is Meaningless!
======================================================
ECCLESIASTES: THE INSPIRED BOOK OF ERROR

"The book of Ecclesiastes, or "the Preacher," is unique in scripture. There is no other book like it, because it is the only book in the Bible that reflects a human, rather than a divine, point of view. This book is filled with error. And yet it is wholly inspired. This may confuse some people, because many feel that inspiration is a guarantee of truth. This is not necessarily so. Inspiration merely guarantees accuracy from a particular point of view; if it is God's point of view it is true; if it is man's point of view it may be true, and it may not. If it is the Devil's point of view it may or may not be true, as well, but the Devil's ultimate end, of course, is evil. Inspiration guarantees an accurate reflection of these various points of view.

Therefore the Bible does have much error in it. Whenever false views of men are quoted or set forth, the Bible is speaking error. Whenever Satan speaks, most of his statements are in error, and even the truth that he uses is twisted and distorted, and therefore is erroneous.

So it is quite possible to "prove" all kinds of utterly false things by quoting the Bible. because in that sense the Bible is filled with error. But the Bible always points out the error which it presents and makes it clear that it is error, as in the case with this book. Because of its remarkable character Ecclesiastes is the most misused book of the Bible. This is the favorite book of atheists and agnostics. And many cults love to quote this book's erroneous viewpoints and give the impression that these are scriptural, divine words of God concerning life.

But right away in its introduction this book is very careful to point out that what it records is not divine truth. It presents only the human view of life....."
http://www.pbc.org/library/files/html/0221.html
======================================================
Solomon examines his thesis statement in regard to Science, wisdom and Phiosophy - and it holds true.

"..the more knowledge, the more grief." Ask Adam and Eve about this statement.

Solomon next looks at hedonism. Pleasure and materialism are examined. Wisodm is better than folly - but we all die.

"So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me."

yup. That is pretty much what God told Adam that his lot would be in Gen3. As long as you are man-centered it is a tough world.

Finally in our readings Solomon turns to fatalism and existentialism. Life is what it is, and it is what we perceive it.

We want something deeper, but we cannot fathom it. So we do the best we can while here on earth.

"Ecclesiastes views God as men in general view God -- as a not very vital concern of life. sort of a high-calorie dessert which you can take or leave. There is no understanding of God as a vital, living Lord, an authority in life with whom one can have a personal relationship." - Ray Steadman

God is just out there doing His thing. We are left alone to find our satisfaction. If God were around - would there be "wicked" in the places of judgment and justice? This sounds alot like a "deist" theory of God. Even the judgments sound like they are here on earth (much like was espoused in early Job).


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