All posts by John

Christian saved by grace through faith.

Finding Christ in Job

 

Having looked at some keys to interpreting the Book of Job in it’s context, it would be irresponsible to leave our studies without addressing its foundational impact on the New Testament, but more specifically how this book anticipates the coming of Christ and informs our understanding of His person and work.  Often, Luke 24:25-27;44-47 has been cited as a principal for how we should allow the Old Testament to inform our understanding of Christ.   In applying this, we must also allow the New Testament to guide our understanding of the Old Testament.  A simple way to view this relationship is the familiar phrase of Augustine, “The New  is in the Old concealed.  The Old is in the New revealed.”  Another way to consider this is that while the Old is foundational to the New, the New is the fulfillment of the Old.  Divorcing this relationship has historically led to a myriad of interpretive difficulties.

There are a few general ways in which this relationship between Old and New Testaments have traditionally been understood, which we’ll mention below, but most importantly we must understand that all of Scripture, its 66 books, is divinely inspired, meaning that above all it has one central Author, the Almighty God, and that His revelation of Himself is perfectly consistent from book to book, human author to human author (1 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21).

A few of the ways in which the Old and New relate to each other are by way of

  1. Direct quotations of the Old in the New
  2. Echoes, how one may see one book or passage resonating with another
  3. Allusions, a passing references of one passage seen in another that may or may not be fleshed out in its original context
  4. Types, a relationship of lesser to greater between people, places, events or institutions (type–>antitype)

Examples of each abound in Job, as in the rest of the Old Testament, while we could certainly spend time examining each of these ways in which Scripture uses, relates, and interprets itself, our focus here will be on how Job himself is a major typological contributor to understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ.  A clear, implicit example of a type/antitype relationship is found in Romans 5:14 as it describes Adam/Christ,

“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”

Here we see that Adam is called a type of Christ, who appears as the second , albeit greater, Adam.  Returning to Job, in a sense, he lays for us the foundation of how to understand the justice, goodness, and certainly the freedom of God in afflicting the righteous, which culminates in the sin-bearing, wrath-absorbing death of His Son Jesus Christ, by means of a typological relationship with Christ, Job as the type, Christ as the antitype.  He does so in numerous ways, but chief among them is the pattern of a suffering servant, which Christ supersedes as the Suffering Servant.  The type/antitype relationship may be seen in the following summary observations from Job:

  1. The Righteousness of Job
  2. The Priestly character of Job
  3. The Pleasure of God
  4. The Temptation from Satan
  5. The Loss of Possessions
  6. The Physical Suffering of Job
  7. The Derision of Job
  8. The Abandonment of Job Psalm 22:1-2; Matthew 27:46
  9. The Words of Job 1 Peter 2:22; Isaiah 53:9
  10. The Submission of Job
  11. The Vindication Job
  12. The Exaltation of Job

Working through the Book of Job chronologically, the first point of contact between Job and Christ we come to is the righteous character of Job in Job 1:1.  As we’ve discussed before, this righteousness must be taken seriously in order to rightly interpret the book of Job, however, it does not mean that Job was sinless, as per his own admission as well as his final repentant statement in chapter 42.  Nevertheless, the suffering of this righteous man points us to the greater righteousness of another suffering man, the God-man Christ Jesus.  Our Lord was not merely righteous by external standards, but was and is completely holy and sinless (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Next, we are informed of the priestly character of Job in offering frequent sacrifices to God on behalf of his children (Job 1:5).  It would be enough to consider this aspect of Job’s priesthood alone, though as the book concludes we know that Job again performs a role of mediation between God and man, though this time of his “enemies” (Job 42:8-9).  Again working from the lesser to the greater, or from type to antitype, the priestly character of our Lord is far superior than that witnessed in Job, first because as mentioned Christ was sinless and needed no sacrifice for Himself (Hebrews 7:26-27).  Second, his sacrifice was not merely anticipatory as those under the Old Covenant, but His was efficacious, truly satisfying the wrath of God.  Third, our Lord’s priesthood was not merely the sacrifice of an animal, but of Himself (Hebrews 9:11-14; 2:17; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).

Moving on to our third observation, we read of God’s pleasure with Job by boasting of his righteousness and offering him up to Satan (Job 2:3).  In a similar fashion, we read of God’s commendation of His only begotten Son in Matthew 3:17, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  An additional, more comprehensive passage may be found in Isaiah 42:1-9.  Fourth, is that of the Satan’s temptation of Job, through loss of property, family, and health.  Christ too was tempted by Satan, but in a far more direct manner, though Christ Himself had voluntarily experienced far greater losses and was depleted of food, water, shelter, family, and friends in the wilderness, yet He was victorious in every way (Matthew 4:1-11).  Likewise, our Lord was faced with the day to day temptations that this life brings, as well as the added pressures upon Him for being the Son of God ( John 6:15), yet he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Fifth, and related, was the loss of possessions that Job had experienced, including his children and health.  Again, we point that Christ’s losses were far greater, yet He willingly laid them all aside (Philippians 2:7-8).

Next, and most prominently, is the suffering of Job.  Here we want to broadly consider Job’s sufferings, which could include the majority of the list we’re examining.  Though Job’s suffering is well chronicled throughout the book, including the marring of his physical appearance to the point of being unrecognized (Job 2:12), Christ’s sufferings were far greater (Isaiah 52:14).  The principle passage for our consideration is a familiar one, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, detailing the Suffering Servant.  Here we read of the prophecy of Christ’s coming as Sufferer

  1. Marred physical appearance beyond recognition
  2. No form, majesty, or beauty; undesirable
  3. Despised and rejected by men
  4. A man of sorrows
  5. Acquainted with grief
  6. Despised and unesteemed
  7. Bore our griefs, carried our sorrows
  8. Afflicted by God
  9. Pierced for our transgressions; crushed for our iniquities;
  10. Chastised to bring about peace
  11. Wounded to bring healing
  12. Bore the sins of man
  13. Oppressed and afflicted
  14. Led like a lamb to slaughter
  15. Buried among the wicked
  16. Crushed by the Father
  17. Anguished in soul
  18. Poured out His soul to death
  19. Numbered with the transgressors
  20. Bore the sins of many
  21. Made intercession for the transgressors

Seventh and eighth from our list of observations above on the type/antitype from Job, we consider the derision and abandonment that he faced from his friends, family, and even the young men in the town square (Job 12:4;17:6; 29:7-10, 21-25; 30:9-15) .  So too did our Lord face a similar, though greater derision,

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion before him.28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” Matthew 27:27-31

As previously discussed, Job is comprised of monologues and dialogues and speech or words having to do with speech comprise nearly a quarter of the words in Job.  As the conclusion of Job indicates, particularly the speeches of Elihu and Yahweh, Job’s words were bounded with pride and often bordered on blasphemy.  In a very real way, Job was far too free with his words and allowed the circumstances of affliction to stir up indwelling sin and overflow into the words of his mouth.  Conversely when our Lord faced derision and abandonment, suffering and anguish, though He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, He never uttered a word in return.  Note 1 Peter 2:22-23, citing Isaiah 53:9

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

As the Book of Job concludes, we are drawn once again to the words of Job, though much briefer and penitnent this time around, as he repents of his words towards God (Job 42:1-6).  By way of this contrition and recognition of God’s majesty, Job submits to the divine affliction that he has endured.  Keep in mind, to this point he has no indication that the affliction will subside.  As to the greater, Christ submitted to the will of the Father from beginning to end,

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Finally, the vindication and exaltation of Job draw our minds to the greater vindication that Christ received from the Father, namely resurrection from the dead, and His own exaltation to right hand of the throne of God.

19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

The sufferings of Job serve as a two-way lens through which on one side we may see the sufferings of Christ magnified while through the other our own sufferings minimized.  The sufferings of Job, great as they were, pale in comparison to the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Not only did He bear the marks of suffering in His physical body, which is important, but He bore the weight of sin and the wrath of God.  May Job be an encouragement to us in our sufferings and afflictions, but ultimately may he point us to Christ, who suffered for us willingly, bearing the wrath of God for sin for all who believe.  He also is our far greater example for persevering in our suffering.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

Before the Rooster Crows

 

In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) there is a familiar account of Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crows.  This statement from our Lord came on the heels of Peter’s rather bold assertion  that should everyone else leave our Lord in the midst of the upcoming arrest, trial, and eminent death, he alone would be at Christ’s side.  This fact makes the prophecy all the more striking, yet within this tragic denial from Peter there is a universal application and a warning to all the children of God.

In Mark 14:29-31 we read of the prophecy

29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.”

In Mark 14:66-72 we read of the fulfillment of our Lord’s prophecy and the tragic fall of Peter

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway[h] and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.”

To allow our application to percolate directly from the passage, let’s summarize the events surrounding Peter’s denial.  First, Peter’s pride-filled statement, albeit in an attempt to take a righteous, bold stand.  This was followed quickly and sharply by the reproof from Jesus in the form of the prophecy of denial.  Again we hear from Peter as he doubles-down his assertion of faithfulness.  As the events of the chapter unfold, we come to the fulfillment of the prophecy, cited above, wherein we find Peter’s first confrontation with his accuser, a servant girl, followed by his first denial, which was followed by the rooster’s first crow.  Then, the servant girl again confronts him and Peter again denies his relationship with Christ.  In Peter’s third denial, we again find him doubling-down, not in faithfulness, but in his denial of Christ, surely meant to draw attention to his earlier emphatic statement that he alone would never leave the Lord, even if all of the other disciples did.

Here is where we may springboard into our application for the Christian life.  Using Peter as an example, and most often he is a mirror for our own lives, we find that despite his good intentions to take a bold stand for Christ, his words were fueled by pride.  Peter’s confidence had little to nothing to do with the Spirit’s preserving grace that would keep him faithful to the end, but everything to do with his own ability and will-power to stand faithful in the moment of crisis.  How often is self-confidence and self-assurance the spring of undoing in our own lives?  Surely we may look to the wisdom of the Proverb that states,

Pride goes before destruction,
    and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

This unspiritual condition of the heart should be warning enough, but unfortunately it wasn’t for Peter, and rarely is for us.  For us, and for Peter, the Word of God speaks clearly and warns us of the dangers of the prideful heart, however like Peter we too often ignore this rebuke and a subsequent opportunity to sin usually follows nearby.

Here is where the rooster crowed.

When the temptation to sin and deny the Lord was met with the opportunity of confrontation from the servant girl, the rooster crowed .  This was another warning, albeit now clear and present, that Peter was entering into troubled waters.  His mind was so clouded now that he was unable to recall the Word of the Lord and His prophecy against him.  Again, this is too often the case with us.  God may or may not use a “rooster” to call out our sin or the impending danger of it, but He certainly does use other means that are equally effective.  It may be the exhortation of a fellow brother or sister in Christ or it may be something more subtle to call our minds to the Word of God.  However, all too often one of the first warning signs that God gives us, the crowing rooster so to speak, is the absence of prayer.  Few things crow louder in the Christian life to either warn of the presence of sin in the heart or the pending arrival of sin than an absence of prayer.  If this be our condition, we may be assured that an opportunity to sin will soon follow.

For Peter, and as is often the case for us, this crow from the rooster, by whatever means God may use, may not alert us to our clear and present danger.  We too may be foggy minded in a cloud of Christian complacency and neglect of duty such that we are unable to recognize the warning and draw our minds to remember the Word of God. God may sometimes be pleased to alert us yet again to the danger of our condition, but in His wisdom He may see it more fit to allow us a complete fall into sin for the purpose of humbling us, as in the case of Peter.

Peter’s prideful fall stands as a sharp reminder than even those most closest to the Lord are capable of allowing their hearts to deceive them, leading to a fall into some scandalous sin.  We ought to be careful in judging him too strictly, and we ought also be careful not to speak too loudly or critically of those brothers and sisters who we may observe falling into sin, lest we appear like Peter again and declare ourselves above reproach, that even if all others fall away, we will stand firm.  May we weep for those who we see wrapped in the cords of sin, speak words of exhortation to them when necessary, but most of all may we be inclined to pray for them, that God may grant them repentance.

Before the rooster crows, let us be diligent in spiritual duties from a humble heart to seek the Lord daily for the grace that we need.  May we delight in a continual posture of prayer before the Lord, meditation on His word, and communion with fellow believers.  Should the absence of this spiritual mindedness be present in our lives, may we heed the first crow of the rooster before we find ourselves fallen into sin and the second crow of God’s chastising rod be upon us.

Soli Deo Gloria

Consumerism, The Stumbling Block of a Generation

The post below used to be an annual re-post from the original made in 2010.  It’s still relevant and remains largely unchanged, with a few minor edits.

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.  You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” James 5:1-5

 

Today consumers nationwide are partaking in what has affectionately become known as “Black Friday”, a national marketing campaign in which “big business” lowers prices and quantities to increase demand, and subsequently profits, all in the name of “holiday shopping”.  Next week, many of these same buyers will move their shopping frenzy to the internet for the online equivalent known as “Cyber Monday.”  What’s alarming is the captivity which the desires of people’s hearts claim over them during these mass marketing events as buying and spending become as addictive as any drug.  How far we have come from the simple prayer of “Give us this day our daily bread” to give me this, that, and the other and make it two of everything.  As a society we have moved further and further from the purchases of necessity and the reliance upon God to fulfilling the desires of our hearts with wants, demands, abundance and the “Have it your way” mentality.

Even though I don’t participate in “Black Friday”, I can be just as guilty of this attitude.  Now I realize that many purchases during these events, and more specifically this time of year, are made with “gift-giving” in mind, so I’m not attempting to drive you to guilt simply for shopping for loved-ones, but at some point we must stop and ask, does the recipient of the gift really need what we are buying or has the entire gift-buying/giving process become a product of the consumerism mindset?

If you’re unsure, ask yourself what would happen if you purchased no gifts for anyone, but instead made them something or provided your time towards a service for them?  Would you likely be labeled a scrooge or miser perhaps?  The fact is that we buy and give out of compulsion to conform to what society says we are “supposed to do” and worry about how someone might feel if we do not comply.  This time of year is filled  with mass consumption from the gifts to Santa to trees and candy.  Many of today’s retailer’s use this commercialism for major profit, reporting sometimes as much as 1/3 of their annual earnings during the “Christmas Season.”

No doubt some will debate this point with me, likely even labeling me a “grinch”, but before you do consider this, the spirit of consumerism is no more than a cleverly devised plan of Satan through the instrument of deceitful men in order to distract the masses from God.  Think this isn’t the case?

In the 1920’s a man by the name of Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, used the propaganda methods employed during the first World War combined with the knowledge of his uncle’s ideas about human being’s behavior to show American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by linking mass produced goods to their unconscious desires.  Bernays’ strategies laid the groundwork for new political ideas to control the masses and ultimately helped transform America from a nation of producers to a nation of consumers.  This approach led to “The Century of Self” and started the “all-consuming self, which dominates our world today.”

You may be asking how this brief lesson in history on consumerism combined with consumer events such as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” have any relevance on how Christians are to live within a biblical worldview.  Read carefully our subject passage above from James and note the destructive forces that gluttonous desires have on the hearts of men.

James states in verse 5 that those who live in “luxury and in self-indulgence” have “fattened [their] hearts in a day of slaughter” a strong condemnation against modern consumerism.  Note also the warning Jesus provides in describing those who place emphasis on treasures of the heart, 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21.

Jesus is saying that what we value most in life will capture our hearts.  His admonishment is for an eternal perspective and to focus on heavenly treasure, which comes only through a relationship with Him.  Quite simply there is no Biblical basis or “liberty in Christ” that supports the overabundance of material possessions for believers here on earth.  In fact, it is to the contrary.

Puritan Thomas Manton in his excellent commentary on James offers some instructive insights to the passage from above.  Manton refers to the rich people mentioned in James 5:1 as “worldly rich people, drowned in pleasures, puffed up with pride.”  He warns that “it is hard to possess riches without sin” and says “do not covet riches so much or please yourselves in the enjoyment of them; but look at your hearts with all the more care.”  Thomas Manton reminds us of Proverbs 30:8-9, 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches;  feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

To James 5:5 Manton adds

“they were reluctant in giving to the poor but easily and liberally spent their money on pleasures and gratifications of the flesh.  Worldly desires, though they argue every inch with grace, easily give way to corruptions.  To live always at the full is mere wanton luxury.  God gave wealth for another purpose than to spend it on pleasures.”  Finally, he advises that with our material blessings we “1. Prize them less; when you possess them, do not let them possess you. 2. Do more good. 3. Seek God all the more earnestly for grace. When you are full, you need it much.”

Consumerism reigns supreme in this country year round reaching its apex during the Christmas season and as such has become the stumbling block to the Gospel for the majority of people born in the last 100 years.

Christian do not let the world distract you with her flashy lights, her savory ads, low prices, and next “big thing”.  It’s ok to give gifts to one another as long as it’s done so within reason, but ask yourself am I contributing to the vicious man-centered cycle of consumerism? Or am I looking for opportunities to glorify God and show the love of Christ to those whom the Lord has surrounded me with and ultimately share the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, with someone who has not yet received that gift.  The “good news of great joy” of which the angel speaks at the time of Christ’s birth in Luke 2:10 has nothing to do with any material gifts that fade away, but instead the amazing, awesome perfect gift that is Jesus Christ and the eternal life given to all those who repent and put their trust in Him.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17