FOTS #33 BOOK OF JOB (cont.): THE PATIENCE OF JOB; THE WISDOM OF ELIHU

 

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Job’s undeserved suffering had not been aided by three of his would-be comforters Zophar, Bildad and Eliphaz. Their line was that his suffering must be due to his own sin for God would only permit suffering to those who deserved it. Once Job had convinced them of his integrity they gave up the argument concluding effectively that God must be in the wrong. Elihu on the hand would have none of it. He identifies the fact that God sometime brings suffering to individuals for their own good (33:18), using every means possible to enlighten and show mercy to as many as will receive it (33:29,30). He concludes with a hymn of praise to God – mysterious in His ways yet One whose nature accords with the thoroughly intelligible “divine theology” referred to in my earlier post:
  •   “God is clothed in fearful splendour; El Shaddai is far beyond our reach. Supreme in power, in FAIRNESS, excelling in righteousness, yet never the Oppressor – no wonder that people fear Him: every thoughtful person holds Him in awe” (37:22-24).
  That paved the way for the assessment that really mattered, the Creator’s Himself. He firstly chides Job for effectively impugning His justice. His ways are not man’s ways and Job should bow to His infinitely superior wisdom. There then follows a remarkably  prolonged monologue in which God in reminding Job of His greatness exhibits the greatest delight in His own earthly creation, especially the manifold splendour of the animal kingdom and His  providence towards it (38:36-41:26). Our God who is spirit delights in His majestic but material Earth, and why not indeed? As for Job’s three would-be comforters, there is a satisfying twist in which having called on Job to repent they are rebuked for misrepresenting God’s character as much as Job’s (42:7) and are required to provide a burnt offering for themselves by which they would be forgiven through Job’s prayerful intercession. Elihu however was not so rebuked and his very name (meaning “He is my God”) further suggests that his words were wise and truly inspired, just as he had claimed (32:8,18,19).

 

 

 

FOTS #31 BOOK OF JOB – A HEAVENLY COUNCIL WITH A SURPRISING ATTENDEE

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We are given a rare glimpse into the courts of eternity in the opening chapter of Job, and an occurrence that I could scarcely get my head round in the past; only recently has it begun to make any sense to me. That is a meeting chaired (so to speak) by God Himself with Satan amongst the attendees. Then there’s the seemingly genial dialogue: you can read it for yourself (1:7) it seems almost flippant to relate it here. Yet it speaks of a mystery that is essential to grasp if one is to comprehend some of the concepts covered in my e-book, namely that an arrangement exists between two cosmic enemies in order that its Facilitator may fulfil His extraordinary purposes for His creation, more especially mankind. Of course it is a one-sided affair for these are no equal opponents: the One is the Creator, the other an immensely powerful but corrupted creature entirely at His mercy. That became evident in the Eden incident where Satan in the form of a serpent was placed under the curse of destruction. Nevertheless in the meantime he fulfils a purpose and is allowed, as it were, to be himself for that very end.

In the case of Job, Satan was given authority to inflict misery upon him but within set boundaries. It was primarily to test Job and prove his faith; centuries later he would be employed to test a far greater Man, again to no avail, but he would be instrumental in bringing about His betrayal and death (cf. Luke22:3). Yet although this spirit of evil has no inherent rights whatsoever over God’s property (I.e. everything), his impact goes beyond merely testing man; he has been granted authority to sift him, own him and destroy the very seed of his humanity under certain circumstances. In the Apostle Peter’s language Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  All (apart from One) may have at some time fallen for his wiles, but it is something else to be devoured, owned  and (effectively) employed by the devil as was Cain, the prototype of those who willingly succumb to his mastery (Gen4:7KJV; Jud1:11). Yet even this is for an entirely good end as St Paul for one well understood (Rom8:20-21; 9:22-23). It is one of the more surprising aspects of what the apostle refers to as “the multi-faceted nature of God’s wisdom”; the other being  what in the same passage (Eph3:9-11 Greek) he  described as “the fellowship of the secret  hidden in God through the ages” which I explain in my e-book pertains to the constitution  of the people of God and their role within broader providence.     

FOTS #30 1KINGS – SOLOMON’S WISE PRAYER: THAT ISRAEL’S GOD BE REVERED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 

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Great David’s greater Son would later become the embodiment of wisdom; his lesser son and heir Solomon at least began well, praying above all else for that divine quality from which all virtues flow. His prayer was granted together with immense wealth and prestige that he had not sought and would later regrettably become a stumbling block to him.  His greatest honour was undoubtedly to have overseen the building of God’s Temple. After the Feast of Dedication, Solomon blessed the people, yet his prayer was not restricted to his subjects alone. He recognised that God wished Israel to become a divinely disciplined and holy nation that would act as a salvific bridgehead to the rest of creation. He therefore prayed not just for his own people but the whole world:

EVEN THE FOREIGNER, NOT BELONGING TO YOUR PEOPLE ISRAEL BUT COMING FROM A DISTANT COUNTRY ATTRACTED BY YOUR NAME – FOR THEY TOO WILL HEAR OF YOUR NAME, OF YOUR MIGHTY HAND AND OUTSTRETCHED ARM – IF A FOREIGNER COMES AND PRAYS IN THIS TEMPLE, LISTEN FROM HEAVEN WHERE YOU RESIDE, AND GRANT ALL THAT THE FOREIGNER ASKS OF YOU, SO THAT ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH MAY ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR NAME AND, LIKE YOUR PEOPLE ISRAEL REVERE YOU (1kings8:41-43NJB) 

Note those “foreigners” who would come to revere Yahweh would not become a part of “Your people” (Israel) to do so (v43). It had never been intended under the Old Covenant that the whole world “become Jewish” but neither was it destined for the cosmic waste-paper basket; many in the world would be enlightened by the Jews and come to revere Yahweh once they had understood Him to be not just the God of Israel but Lord of the Heavens and Earth (see also Deut4:5-6).

FOTS #29    1SAMUEL – KING DAVID, A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

 

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“What more shall I say (concerning faith)? There is not time for me to give an account of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, or of David, Samuel and the prophets. These were men who through faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous and earned the promises” (cf. Heb11:32, 33). I will though comment briefly on David, described as a man after God’s own heart. Was that statement in the context of “imputed righteousness” or the preparation of Spirit? No, it was the boy David by nature as God perceived him.  After his repeated episodes of disobedience, King Saul was informed by Prophet Samuel that his sovereignty was to come to an end and that Yahweh had discovered a man after His own heart who would replace him. It was not until his anointing as king that “the Spirit of Yahweh seized upon David from that day onwards” (1Sam16:13). In the context of earlier posts, the fact that David or ANY man or woman may “have the heart of God” (or indeed the mind of Christ) must mean they reflect His nature in terms of for example what qualities and actions God finds pleasing or distasteful. It affirms once again that comprehending God’s NATURE is not beyond the grasp of human reason for it is reflected in measure within man when he is at his best. The extent and indeed the outworking of divine love and holiness may well surpass human imagining, but not its nature or essence. Love is love; Holiness is holiness: it is as Scripture and all true wisdom defines these qualities both FOR GOD AND MAN. I am bound to re-emphasise this as certain theology such as I have depended upon in the past contradicts such a principle. Of course having the heart of God or the mind of Christ is one thing; living a life entirely free from sin is quite another which neither David nor any man but One has achieved.

FOTS #28 – JOSHUA CH.2  A GOOD-HEARTED HARLOT JUSTIFIED BY FAITH EVINCED BY WORKS

 

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Moving on to the conquest of the Promised Land, satanic hybrids in the form of giants are again encountered – King Og (the chap with enormous bed) is directly referred to by Rahab (v10 cf. Deut3:11), a woman described as a harlot, but also by the writer to the Hebrews as an example of “faith” (v31). She had welcomed the Israelite spies into her home recognising them to be servants of Yahweh, God of Heaven and earth (v11), and made a pact with them such that she and her family would be well treated once they had conquered her homeland. By this act of FAITH Rahab was justified. The apostle James declares her to have been justified by works (2:25),  by which it is indicated  her actions were an intrinsic component of her justification, works being the efflux of faith, the latter never being alone or merely a matter of “trust”. Paul, the writer to the Hebrews (and I for that matter) would opt to describe her as being justified by faith, i.e. by the QUALITY of utilising the light she had received concerning the Creator in a positive way (sometimes referred to in the OT as godly fear) as opposed to by perfectly fulfilling a law or acquiring a required standard which would be justification by works in a more substantive sense than the way James utilises the term. Once this distinction is grasped James and Paul are seen to be in perfect agreement and both accord with the teaching of their Master concerning the criteria for final judgement set out in Matthew25, where faith is not so much as mentioned, merely acts of compassion (regardless of their standard or consistency), being the efflux of the “faith” of those “sheep” who are “of God” so have retained the divine image. These principles are explained in more detail in chapter three of my e-book.

FOTS #27 –  DEUTERONOMY CH. 24  THE NON-TRANSFERABILITY OF PERSONAL GUILT OR RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

“Parents may not be put to death for their children nor children for their parents, but each must be put to death for his own crime” (Deut24:16)

The Torah is not man’s law but God’s and certain universal principles may be drawn from it. We have already considered the proportional and humanity-focussed nature of final judgement; here we see that neither guilt nor righteousness can in its essence be transferred from one person (or Person) to another. That is more clearly and contextually affirmed in Christ’s own teaching on final judgement in Matthew 25. Neither Adam’s guilt nor Christ’s righteousness is taken into consideration in that definitive passage, merely the actions of the individuals being judged (vv31-46). Many struggle to reconcile that with their particular understanding of the teaching of Paul, a matter I deal with in detail in chapter three of my e-book. This is not to say that Adam’s guilt and Christ’s perfection do not impact upon humanity; nothing could be further from the truth. The former has resulted in an inherent deprivation of spiritual life and physical mortality whilst the Latter provides the ultimate remedy for both, not as a direct result of the Life itself but through its expenditure. Likewise the former resulted in “original sin” by which each human invariably inherits what Paul refers to as “the body of this death” (somatos tou thanatou TOUTOU) – THIS death being the current experience of the concupiscent “law within the bodily members” (processed through the physical brain) revolting against the law (and light) that God has implanted within the human psyche that we refer to as conscience (Rom2:15; 7:23). That in turn results in “dead works” of the flesh that prevent the natural man from fulfilling the ultimate purpose of human life: to know and serve the living God in spirit and truth (Heb9.14).  Likewise again, the perfect life, selfless death and sacramental body and blood of the Righteous One enables His personal disciples to be forgiven, cleansed and renewed so as to become “free indeed”  to participate in the divine life even whilst in mortal flesh (Jn8:36).

FOTS #26  DEUTERONOMY CH. 4 THE JEWISH NATION – INTENDED LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES

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As far as the Old Testament age was concerned, the race of Israel was intended to have been a light to the Gentile nations, living as a holy nation faithful to Yahweh, whose Name and Law would become honoured amongst other nations:
“Look, as Yahweh my God commanded me (Moses), I have taught you laws and customs for you to observe in the country in which you are to take possession. Keep them and put them into practice and other peoples will admire your wisdom and prudence. Once they know what all these laws are, they will exclaim “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation (Israel)” (Deut4:5,6).
 
Some readers will be aghast at Moses’ statement: the Law (Torah) actually to be PRACTICED so that the world would come to admire Israel AND HER LAW. Yes indeed, that was the intention. The witness of Israel being faithful to the Law provided through Moses was meant to have been the rest of the world’s “preparation for the Gospel” i.e. their future submission to the Lordship of King Jesus when He eventually came to do exactly what John Baptist expected Him to do: destroy the enemies and oppressors of God’s people and judge the whole world, i.e. put it to rights. Then, supported by the Jewish Nation (the sons of the Kingdom – Mt8:12), He would establish God’s Kingdom on Earth, reconciling other nations to God and each other by inculcating a way of peace along the lines of Isaiah2:4. It didn’t pan out that way and St Paul explains why (if only he were understood). It’s not the Old Testament being hyper-allegorical, it’s the fellowship of the secret! (cf. Eph3:8-11).

Unravelling the mystery of divine providence and the resolution of Scripture