Teaching

Who Are We?

This is the first big question that we encounter in Job. If you didn’t read our introduction to Job yesterday, you can do so here

And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1.8-12

The first big question is about our identity – who are we?

God gives a pretty good character reference for Job, doesn’t He? Job is described as a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil. However, the Accuser, Satan, basically says ‘OK, well, Job is only like that because you have prospered him. I bet if you take all of that away, his real character will come out and he is not so great.’

So, our identity. Are we willing to take God at His Word and see ourselves as His children, redeemed, ransomed, forgiven, loved unconditionally, blameless in His eyes, justified in His eyes through our faith in Jesus?

The alternative is that we try to forge our own identity on the shifting sands of the culture we live in, how we feel about this or that, or what other people say about us. In Job’s case, that was the Accuser saying that he was not all that, that he was loyal to his blessings, and that he was in this walk with the Lord for what he could get out of it, not because of his firm faith that God is good. 

Where we look for identity, for belonging, for security, for acceptance, for love will impact hugely how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about the world around us, and how we interact with it. I would encourage you to look to the truths of God’s Word to see who He says you are.

Today, consider these truths from the Word about who you are.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1.3-10

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1.9-13

Job – Why?

The book of Job is the first book of poetry in the Bible, and so I read, is a masterpiece of Hebrew poetry and literature. Hebrew poetry is a little different in that ideas, not sounds, are woven together to tell a story. To learn more about Hebrew poetry, read this.

Job tackles life’s deepest questions and that is how we are going to work through it – looking at the questions and what they mean for us.

A few quick-fire facts about Job;

  • Both Ezekiel 14.14 and James 5.11 testify to Job, although the authorship, date of writing, and place of writing are unknown.
  • Most scholars, so I read, would hold that Job is the oldest book of the Bible due to the style of language used (some terms are simply unknown, thank goodness for context!).
    • This puts it as being written somewhere around the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with a faith influenced by events as far back as the time of Noah.
  • The central problem is theological, not human. Less about Job’s problems and more about how God is acting in the midst of them.

Despite this being old, old Hebrew poetry, there will still shine through the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. The central problem is theological; how can God allow, permit, even promote these circumstances…The Good News of Jesus will still shine through with contrast, comparison, foreshadowing, and types.

Job was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil, yet still encountered problems that would send most of us packing. If this blameless and upright man can still encounter trials and tribulations, maybe our relationship to God is not based on who we are, what we have, or what we have done?

God is so far above and beyond our ways and thoughts that everything we think is humanly ‘normal’ in relating to others is blown out of the water when we read Job. I read recently that,

The book of Job helps free us from believing in a “score-keeping” God. We are brought to see the God who is, who is all, and who is love.

On that alone, this is sure to be a great journey!

In The Name Of…

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Often people forget the Bible wasn’t written in modern English, and that the Bible wasn’t written with verse numbers. Chapters were added in the thirteen century, and verses in the sixteenth century!

So, when Paul wrote this he didn’t put nice, neat, and handy dandy paragraphs and subheadings in. So if your Bible reads ‘Rules for Christian householdsʼ, or something similar, thatʼs not Paul! Do you know, you can buy a ‘Readerʼs Bibleʼ, where there are no verses, no paragraphs, no chapters, just the text?!

Anyway, if you read this in the KJV, for example, it just rolls on through so this exhortation about marriage and home life comes directly after Paul instructs us that whatever we do, we are to do it in the name of Jesus, like this,

…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

These two exhortations then become, in the name of Jesus and giving thanks to God, wives submit to your husbandsin the name of Jesus and being thankful to God, husbands love your wives.

That is so much more powerful, right?

Love your wife in the name of Jesus.

Submit to your husband in the name of Jesus.

If we keep Jesus as number 1 then our marriage, home life, relationships, and everything about us will be as God intended it to be, and is there a better life to live than the life that God intended us to live? 

Greatness – Esther 10

Esther 10 is by far the shortest chapter of the book, and if you haven’t read it recently you can do so here

On the surface, it seems to be about how great Mordecai is. We see that the King is pretty powerful and mighty (v.2), and that Mordecai was honoured pretty substantially (v.2). Mordecai seems to occupy the role of Prime Minister (v.3), and was well thought of by all he encountered.

The last few words of the book, again, foreshadow and preview Jesus, did you notice?

“…he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.”

As we wrap up Esther, consider these things today;

  1. There are no miracles recorded in the book, yet we still have the sense that God is great.
  2. God’s sovereign plans and purposes all come to pass, yet through the actions and decisions of people with free will.
  3. Esther intervened for her people from a position of influence, from being next to the throne, as does Jesus for you right now (cf. Hebrews 7.25).

We don’t need to get lost in the search for the miraculous, the out-of-the-ordinary, because God is at work in the day-to-day interactions of your life. Where you are, who you are with, when you are there is all part of His good and perfect plan. Partner with Him, join with Him, exercise your God-given free will in a way that glorifies Him and builds up those put in your path. 

Overall through Esther we’ve seen someone taken from relative obscurity (John 1.46), put in a position of honour and influence (Philippians 2.9-11), who intercedes for God’s people in a situation that seems bleak and destined for ruin (John 12.44-50). 

Therein lies the beauty of the Word of God;

are we talking about Esther or are we talking about Jesus?

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to His travelling companions what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. No doubt this story of despair, redemption, victory, seeking God, and providence was part of that. 

Recording and Remembering – Esther 9

How often we forget the good things in our life, the good done to us, how often we forget the good done for us when things get tough.

If you haven’t read Esther 9 recently, you can do so here

Expecting and fearing defeat, God’s people find that with the help of the King, the reverse occurred (v.1). Their victory is complete and we see the principle of Romans 8.31 shining through, 

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Interestingly, one line of thinking says that the total victory requested by Esther (v.13) is an outworking of God’s decree in 1 Samuel 15 where the ancestors of Haman (3.1, Haman the Agagite) are destined for destruction. 

God’s people are delivered from death and told to remember their deliverance (vv.20-22).

How quickly we forget the good done to us, for us, with us, the good done on our behalf. Recording the good done for us and remembering it with feasting and gladness, with gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor is never a bad thing, is it?

If God’s people here are told to record and remember their deliverance from earthly circumstances that were leading to death, how much more should we, eternally redeemed through the blood of Jesus record and remember this? 

The recording has already been taken care of, bigger picture, hasn’t it? Read your New Testament and you will see the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. How this recording looks in your own life is down to you though; Scripture in the home, time spend reading the Word with family, prayer with and for others, daily time with the Lord…your recording will be what you make of it. 

The remembrance is again very personal. There are things we are commanded to do as believers – make disciples, baptism, and communion to name but three. Again, your daily hour-to-hour remembrance is down to you.

Do all your thoughts, words, and deeds go through the filter of ‘God loved me so much as to deliver me from impending death, therefore I should/shouldn’t…‘?

Today – and every day – work this recording and remembering into your life, and see how it changes you from the inside out, and see how it changes you for the better!

Belonging

As a Christian, as a believer in Jesus, where do I belong?

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we looked at Hebrews 13.1-6, and said that as believers in Jesus we belong to each other (vv.1-4), and ultimately this is possible because we belong to Him (vv.5-6). 

We belong to each other, to the Christian family, to those who have the same key interest and insight as you. That is possible because, by faith in His faithfulness, we belong to Jesus.

He has said that there is never any chance that He will leave or forsake us (v.5). In the original language of the New Testament, this is written in the most emphatic way possible. Our belonging is sure, our belonging is permanent as it rests in Him and not on us. It looks like this…

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Simply, we belong to Him and because of that, to each other.

Replace // Revoke – Esther 8

We would be forgiven for thinking that now Haman is out of the way (7.10) that everything is going to be ok, but the decree to kill all of the Jews in the Empire is still valid (cf. 1.19) as we get into Esther 8. If you haven’t read the chapter recently, you can do so here

The honour given to Haman is bestowed on Mordecai, and the shame that was intended for Mordecai and his people found its way to Haman (vv.1-2). Esther is intense in her emotions as she approaches the King again (v.3), and the King states that the old letter and proclamation be replaced by a new (v.8). We see that the old directive cannot be revoked, but it can be replaced. There is an urgency with this new message (v.14), and the good news produces in God’s people light and gladness and joy and honour. These feelings came from the good news that God’s people would be able to take vengeance on their enemies, to triumph over their enemies, to gather and defend their lives.

Again when reading the book of Esther, even though not specifically mentioned by name or in Christian-ese terminology, we see a wonderful preview and picture of Jesus and the New Covenant that He came, lived, died, and rose to secure. The old letter from the King cannot be revoked, nor should it be really.

Once a Sovereign declares something, do we really want them to revoke and go back on their word? Would we take seriously a leader who says one thing, waits a while, then changes their mind? If this leader is wise, the first declaration will have been long thought-over and saturated with wisdom. When people in their fallen sinful humanity behave as such, is it right for that leader simply to revoke what they said? I think of that old phrase about the tail wagging the dog…

Rather, here we see that Xerxes stuck to his word, but also gave provision for the deliverance of the innocent (v.8). This is a wonderful preview of the Old and New Covenants. The Old was initiated in good faith, with good conscience, and with the intention of furthering the kingdom (3.8-11). Now, it is important to say that, obviously, Xerxes was deceived into making this agreement and did so not knowing the full picture, but, in principle, he thought he was acting in the best interests of his kingdom.

Likewise, the Old Covenant was given for the best interests of God’s Kingdom and His people. But, people being people, the sinful and fallen humanity twisted and broke this covenant to the point where a New Covenant was needed, one that sought to reestablish the original intention of the first, one that rested on a much more trustworthy person, and one that truly did seek what was best for God’s people.

How grateful we are that we live now under this New Covenant, that this New Covenant doesn’t rest on us to uphold it (for it would surely have been broken by now), and that this New Covenant truly does provide what is best for God’s people.