In the final post in this series, I will wrap up the study with exploring the practical applications of Job, the takeaway from Job, the mystery of Job, and lastly, what I promised at the beginning of the series, the wonderful goodness of God.
HOW TO APPLY THE BOOK OF JOB TO OUR LIVES TODAY
Whether you take the events recorded in the Book of Job literally or figuratively, the book has a long-standing tradition of being an authoritative work in both the Jewish and Christian canon of scripture. Job’s story is briefly found in the Koran as well. Job is not going to be removed from the sacred texts anytime soon, and it will continue to be regarded as either the figurative or literal inspired “word of God” among many people of faith.
But we also must admit that the testimony of Jesus, as shared in this blog post series, undeniably challenges the traditional view of the relationship between God and Satan that a stand-alone reading of the Book of Job puts forward. And if the relationship between Satan and God did indeed change with Jesus’s work on the cross, and however tangled that relationship was in Job’s day, is in fact now different in light of Jesus, then we must ask the question: Has the book of Job lost it value? Should we just avoid it? Should we write it off? Or are there still some practical applications left in it for us today?
I don’t think Job has lost its value. However, I believe that applying it correctly takes some contextual understanding.
JOB IN ITS ORIGINAL HISTORICAL CONTEXT
What some people may not consider when they read the Bible is that the story of Job is actually just an opening chapter of a long book. But someone might say, “How can you say it’s an opening chapter? The book of Job doesn’t even appear until the middle of Old Testament?”
True. Long ago when men ordered the 39 books Old Testament of the Christian Bible, they stuck Job right in the middle as the 18th book. On one hand this placement seems to make sense due to the poetic nature Job.
Job stands by itself as a one-off story that is heavily loaded with imagery, personal reflection, and poetry. However, the books that precede it, Genesis through II Chronicles, are clearly written to be taken as a collection of Jewish history. These books document the play-by-play of events that took place from the very beginning of the world through the creation and building of the nation of Israel. There is no poetry or rhetorical style of writing implored in these history books. They instead give detailed facts about stories happening as they sequentially unfolded along time.
Job looks more similar to the other books that make up the middle of the Old Testament. Job finds itself among other, non-historical/timeline works such as:
- Psalms – a collection of early Israelite hymns
- Proverbs – a collection of wisdom
- Ecclesiastes – a lament
- Song of Solomon – a vivid and sometimes erotic collection of poetry professed from one lover to another
So yes, since Job falls more closely in line with these types of books, it initially seems logical to group them all together in one area regardless of where they fall on the historical timeline. With that then, Job doesn’t surface in the cannon until book 18th along with its poetic counterparts.
However, most Biblical scholars make the case that Job should chronologically be placed much earlier in the Old Testament – as early as in between Genesis chapters 11 and 12. That would place the time period of the story of Job roughly during the time of Abraham, or maybe earlier.
Yes, Job may have been authored far later than that, but the setting by which the events of Job take place are more relative to the time of Abraham rather than reflecting the same time of Job’s authorship.
And so, if we were to reorder the Bible in sequence for how the events unfolded over time, and reinsert the Book of Job on a chronological timeline, it could very possibly be placed somewhere in the book of Genesis shortly after chapter 11. If one does an online search of chronological Bible reading programs Job is almost always found placed near the beginning of the course nearer to or inserted into the book of Genesis.
With that placement, we see that Job quite literally becomes an opening chapter to a very long collection of books that we call the Christian Bible.
JOB IN ITS POST-RESURRECTION CONTEXT
Just as we saw through the prophesied, veiled, and long-awaited coming of the promised messiah as found in the Old Testament, we see that the Bible is similar to most any book or movie we would read today: We are not given the full picture of the story until the final chapters of the narrative gives understanding to the rest of the work. Which for we as Christians, the climax of the story doesn’t fully culminate until God walked among us in the flesh as Jesus Christ.
And just as in the case of any book, one has to read and understand the end of the book to understand the rest of the content that precedes it.
Trying to draw conclusions from the Book of Job without considering the effects that the revelation of the life of Jesus and His work on the cross brought into being would be similar to trying to understand the full plot and inner-workings of a movie when you’ve only watched the first few minutes of it.
So, while I agree that the Book of Job still has value for today, it can only be understood after one views it in a post-crucifixion and resurrection context. Simply put, the book of Job is an ancient narrative placed in a time long before Jesus brought a fuller revelation and work concerning Satan’s spiritual realm.
Certain conditions applied to the spiritual world at the time of Job and the Old Testament that do not apply to us. For us to take verbatim some of the same principals and thought processes as found in the Old Testament, and then apply them to our lives today, one would have to completely invalidate both Jesus’s words and act of redemption on the cross.
Let me provide two examples in where we have done this exact thing:
- Psalms 51 is a beautiful prayer of repentance by King David. In his prayer, David asks God to not take the Holy Spirit from him as a consequence of his sins. And, yes, I’ve heard modern day believers in Jesus pray this same prayer as well.
The problem with reciting this prayer in a post-resurrection reality is that the prayer doesn’t factor in the truths of the New Testament concerning the eternal gift of the Holy Spirit as provided through Jesus’s death and resurrection. It may be true that this prayer reflects and expresses a genuine, repentant heart, but the theology is not sound for those of us who now live in a post-cross reality.
The covenant that God had with the nation of Israel during the Old Testament did not include the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was not something that everyone in Israel received in their relationship with God. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God would come and go as it pleased, and only rested on those who God chose to use. It only remained on them for particular times, seasons, and purposes. There was no promise of a sealing or eternal presence of the Holy Spirit as there is for us living now in the era of the New Testament.
So yes, King David was not in error offering up this prayer to God. David’s relationship to the Holy Spirit was perhaps conditional upon his performance during this particular time in history. But, for those who have now come to believe in God’s messiah Jesus, the sign of Jesus’s new covenant, which is the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, has been abundantly poured out to us forever and for good. And the indwelling of the Spirit is not just for those who are special, hyper-religious people, pastors, or priests, but to everyone who believes:
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent [change your old way of thinking, turn from your sinful ways, accept and follow Jesus as the Messiah] and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ because of the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is for you and your children and for all who are far away [including the Gentiles], as many as the Lord our God calls to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39 AMP).
Also, the promise and presence of the Spirit that Jesus made to us is not something contingent upon our performance or measure of sins. The Holy Spirit is a seal (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30) of our new covenant with God in Christ whose presence is to be with us FOREVER:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, ESV emphasis mine).
The promise of the Spirit of the New Testament does not come and go, it remains in us. God’s presence in us through His Spirit is not dependent upon our performance or on the degree of our sins. It is an eternal promise, not based upon our personal works, or efforts to be good people, but a free gift offered through repentance to God, receiving the forgiveness of our sins, and putting faith in Jesus. The promise of the Spirit is a gift of grace, not a reward for self-arrived or self-maintained righteousness. It is an amazing promise–God is forever with us, unconditionally, through the indwelling of His Spirit–holy cow!
But for us to pray King David’s prayer in Psalm 51, and plead with God not to take His Spirit from us due to our sins, does not reflect the New Testament reality of Emmanuel, God with us, and the resulting promise of the seal of the Spirit for those who have come to believe and have had their sins forgiven.
Yes, David’s prayer is a biblical prayer. It’s found in the bible. But its context was only applicable/conditional for those who were living during the same time of David and before the new era that Jesus’s work on the cross ushered in.
Now, rather, we can, with a repentant heart, pray to God thanking Him that despite our flaws and gross failures that He doesn’t leave us, will never forsake us, nor withdraw from His covenant with us that has been manifested through the eternal sealing of His indwelling Holy Spirit in us.
2. Asking God in prayer is also wholly different in light of Jesus as well.
In the Old Testament we see many people petitioning God based upon their own standing with God. People lobbed up prayers to God and hoped for answers based upon their own works. They pleaded with God in an attempt to persuade Him to act upon their behalf.
But notice what Jesus says about how prayer will change after His resurrection:
“…So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” – John 16:22-24, NRSV.
Jesus says that up until now no one has asked anything in His name. This would include those people mentioned in the book Job of course. Clearly, Jesus’s words indicate that the very dynamics behind prayer were going to be changed: Changed on such a fundamental level, that He specifically admonishes us to pray not as before, but to now pray in His name and authority. The nature of prayer would be different.
We no longer have to beg and plead with God and wonder if He has heard us, or accepted our prayers based on how well be have performed. Because of the right standing we now have through repentance and faith toward Jesus, we can ask and petition God in Jesus’s name. And if we ask in His name according to His will and purposes, we can have full assurance that He has heard us and we will in turn receive the things we have asked of Him (I John 5:14-15).
So just as we saw with the presence of the Holy Spirit, we also see that the very nature of prayer has also been changed. Neither one of these New Testament realities were true during the time of the book of Job, or any other Old Testament period for that matter, because Jesus had not effected those changes in the spiritual realm until His death and resurrection brought them about.
Everything changed with the coming and work of Jesus.
Those were only two examples of how the work of Jesus Christ fundamentally changed the nature of how both we and God operate in the world. There are others that time limitations don’t allow us to pursue.
CONCLUSION: Many of us continue to live our lives through outdated Biblical interpretations. These interpretations directly negate New Testament reality. We may confidently say that “we found these concepts in the Bible!“, or “from the book of Job! ” because we believe that whatever the Old Testament books say must be true, since it comes straight from the “Bible”. But at the same time, we don’t sift the text through the person and work of Jesus Christ. We ignore the corresponding paradigm shifts that occurred (both in the physical and spiritual realm) through His obedience to the cross. This leads us to incorrect conclusions and false interpretations about God and the world around us. We place ourselves into a pre-cross way of thinking, and the work of cross becomes of no effect to us. And rather than embrace the new realities that Jesus brought about on the cross, we bind ourselves to the very understandings that Jesus came to dissolve.
And so, the book of Job must be understood in a post-resurrection context. Failing to do so prevents us from exiting the incomplete pre-resurrection interpretation that Jesus’s work delivered us from.
DRINKING FROM THE NEW WINE
In light of the transformative work of the cross then, we can confidently assert that the book of Job is not a book that we should blindly extract doctrines from without first filtering it through the New Testament light in Christ. As Jesus said, we need new wine-skins for new wine —meaning that something so new was happening with Jesus’s incarnation that we now will need new thought processes, new understandings, and new frameworks to place His work into in order for us to walk in the full truth that Jesus was revealing.
Job and the Old Testament certainly served a purpose for the time they were written in, mainly to keep us in a holding pattern until Jesus’s arrival (Galatians 3:19); but now we are experiencing a new era in a post-resurrection reality in which certain aspects of the Kingdom of God work differently and have changed. The holding pattern is no longer necessary. We as passengers can break out of the holding pattern and the plane can be landed because Jesus cleared the runway for us.
Drinking from the New Wine and seeing Job from the perspective of the cross doesn’t come naturally for us. This is because as far back as Sunday school we have been incorrectly taught to embrace Job’s worldview regarding Satan and God’s relationship as a current reality for us today.
To put it frankly, we haven’t properly understood the paradigm change that Jesus’s life testimony and work on the cross yielded concerning Satan and suffering. And failing to understand the extent to which Jesus’s work had upon the Devil’s relationship with God makes it even harder for us to see the book of Job in any different sort of light. We often try to mix both Old and New Testament theology into one, rather than pouring Jesus’s new wine into a new understanding:
He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” (Luke 5:36-39 emphasis mine)
THE OLD IS BETTER
Jesus’s final sentence from the Luke 5:36-39 passage seems to resonate within many Christian circles surrounding our life situations today:
“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better”
We embrace outdated theology from Job (the old wineskin), ignore the work of the cross (the new wineskin), and then live our lives according to way of thinking that Jesus destroyed two thousand years ago on the cross. We, like Job and most other Israelites during Old Testament times, still like to put all of the responsibility of life’s evils and troubles of this world squarely on God’s providence.
We believe that God is the only one responsible for all events, including allowing any act of Satan’s. This mindset then in turn paralyzes the power that Jesus gave us through our faith to overcome the evils of this world (I John 5:4) and instead locks us into a passive, inactive, abdicating, and non-aggressive stance to the troubles that become us. We, as Job and his friends did, continue to blame God for our troubles and pass them off as if He is sovereignly ordaining them for a mysterious, heavenly purpose. And in the process, we neglect to take the same attitude toward Satan and his evil works that Jesus and his disciples instructed us to take–which wasn’t to regard Satan as a messenger boy carrying out God’s dirty work, but was rather to fight him, to rebuke him, to resist him, and by all means to thwart his attempts to destroy our lives:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV, emphasis mine)
Why do we like the old wineskin? Perhaps the reason is that it is always easier just to blame God for what happens to us than to take personal responsibility or to consider other alternatives.
If we pray for someone to recover from an illness and they don’t get well and end up dying it is much easier for us to say, “Well, I guess God took them into heaven…I guess God wanted them to die because He had a reason for it and knows better than us.“
But, it is much harder to say, “We don’t know why this happened exactly, but we DO know that God is a life giver and He isn’t responsible. Maybe I, or we, or the medical field somehow failed in the recovery process. Or maybe something else that we don’t know about was going on. But let’s not blame God.”
It’s always easier to credit our unanswered prayers to a deity who we believe is able to do anything He wants to do sovereignly at any time.
But, if we’ve seen anything from the life and work of Jesus, we should see that God’s desire is to bring life to His beloved children, not to take it. He gave His own life to save us, not to hurt us. He came to bring life to His beloved children, not punish them, by destroying a rogue enemy kingdom. In light of this, are we going to think that after offering up Jesus for us all that God is going to just turn His back on us and cause us to suffer at His will? I think not. Not after the testimony of Jesus’s love has been demonstrated to us so strongly.
So, just as we saw through Jesus that there was more going on behind the scenes than Job’s singular portrayal of how God and Satan work together, we should also know that when we suffer there is more going on, and not just blame it on God.
Although it may be more familiar to us, and easier, let us break away from the old wineskin that Jesus set us free from. Although our cultural conditioning has lead us falsely to believe that the Judeo-Islamic-Christian God is able to do anything He wants at any time with any resulting negative consequences, I encourage you to take a new wineskin and pour Jesus’s work into it rather than interpreting His life and cross from the old wineskin that was intended to pass away.
We still may not know the exact reason we suffer at times; but through the new wineskin and love of Jesus, we can be assured that it is not coming from the hand of God.
As I mentioned in part one, the book of Job primarily deals with the question of, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. But, after our examination of the book, what can we now say about how Job specifically addresses this exact question?
In reading the text, this take-away is certain: neither Job’s nor his friends’ responses were right in God’s eyes.
After chapters of dialogue where Job and his friends ponder why this evil was happening, God finally speaks out in chapters 38-42. The first thing God does in His response is to spend four chapters absolutely blasting Job’s arrogance, telling him that he is speaking about things that he has no knowledge of. In hearing this, Job agrees, owns up to his vast ignorance, and repents. Thereafter, God catches up with Job’s three friends as well and rebukes them for making incorrect statements just as Job did. God tells them that they haven’t spoken right about Him either.
Secondly, and something that we often miss about the whole story of Job, is that God never gives an obvious answer to the question either. He leaves the question unanswered and leaves it as somewhat of a mystery.
The truth is that if we read God’s responses in chapters 38-42 and the rest of the story, we see that despite all of God’s rebukes, God never offers up a conclusive reason for Job’s sufferings. God only emphasizes that Job’s and his friends’ understanding is feeble in light of God’s wisdom and power. God’s rebuke is that Job’s and his friends’ understanding of the circumstances are incomplete due to a lack of knowledge. Job and his friends are not coming to the correct conclusions about why bad things happen to good people.
With these two points in mind there is only one conclusion that can be made: The Book of Job just simply does not provide an answer to our age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?“.
Any attempt made to try to extract an answer to this question from this text alone defeats the entire rebuke that God lobbed at Job and his friends.
NOTWITHSTANDING, some have been determined to look to the text of Job to find an answer. It has been suggested that the reason behind God allowing Satan to attack Job was to just resolve an accusation that Satan made toward God. Job 1: 9-11 says:
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
If this is the answer to Job’s suffering, then are we to deduce that God’s justification for afflicting Job was just because a jealous bully showed up in God’s divine counsel one day and made a challenge?
Are we going to reduce the nature of our so-called “all-loving”, and “all-good” supreme deity down to someone who subjects righteous people to suffering in order that He can just prove Himself to a powerless naysayer?
Are we going to reduce evil in the world to just a pissing contest between God and the Devil?
Those interpretations of God sound more like the gods found in Greek or Roman mythology rather than the true nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Unless we are going to start reducing the nature of an all-loving God to something as petty as ancient Greek or Roman mythology, I think we should avoid our desire to try to pull something out of the text of Job when it doesn’t support the selfless Christ who displayed God perfectly as an exact representation (Hebrews 1:3).
The take-aways are these: Finding an answer to why God allows suffering is not the purpose behind the narrative of this book. A definitive answer to unjust suffering within the pages of Job itself just simply isn’t there. I also don’t believe that Job is supposed to be a book whose intent was to provide us with an exacting description of how God and the Devil related to one another, as they are depicted as doing in chapters one and two. In my opinion, the reason that Job was inspired, written, and given to a people thousands of years before Jesus came is closer to this:
Continue to believe in God despite your circumstances just as Job did. Don’t believe that I am treating you unjustly despite your good behavior, or that you are being punished because you have unknown sins in your life. Keep your faith in me. There are secret and mysterious things going on in the heavenly universe that you are unaware of.
A MYSTERY REVEALED
For many people who hold unto the unseen, mysterious, heavenly purpose doctrine, they use the Book of Job as a proof text for that doctrinal position. Why? Because the doctrine bases itself in one thing: a mystery.
With that doctrine, we can take any part of the Bible, any world disaster, any type of suffering, and then simply insert a Job-like understanding of how the Devil and God work with one another. Then, we can declare that whatever is happening in the world is happening because God authorizes it to come to pass, whether it be God or Satan who actually carries out the act. We can assert that God’s heavenly purpose behind our suffering must be good, holy, and righteous due to His claim of having an all-loving character/nature. Yet we deeply struggle with how this can be true given that the suffering we experience is so painful and often seems to bring about no redemptive work.
So, while we wrestle to find purpose in suffering, we feel justified in accepting this doctrine because it seems to be witnessed in Job. All we are left to do when we suffer is to just throw up our hands and say, “It’s all a mystery to us. I don’t know why God is doing it. Yet, God is good behind allowing/causing this suffering“.
Why do bad things happen with no seemingly redemptive purpose behind them? Why did Job suffer terribly? Why didn’t God even tell him why He was doing it? The answer is only a mystery. Sometimes God acts in ways that seem unloving to us, but if we saw them from God’s perspective we wouldn’t disagree with God’s decision to allow evil.
There is one point in this doctrine that I agree with. I agree that there is an age-old mystery. However, what myself and those who embrace the unseen, mysterious, heavenly purpose doctrine would disagree on is this: the mystery behind God’s purposes and plans toward us, including suffering and evil, were fully revealed in the person and work of the Christ Jesus and His cross.
“..the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ” (Colossians 1:26-27)
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:7-10)
“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3)
The mystery, along with all other wisdom and treasures, has been, past tense, revealed in Jesus. And this mystery isn’t something that has been withheld from us, it is something that can be known (I Corinthians 2:11-12):
- How should we treat our neighbors? The same way Jesus did – love them and give your life for them without exception.
- How to view Satan? The same way Jesus did: as an enemy force that is against God in every way that should be aggressively opposed, not embraced as if it was God ordained.
- How should we respond to suffering and evil? The same way Jesus did: heal it, fight it, rebuke it, and stand against it, knowing that suffering is not authored by God.
In times past, as with Job, things were cloudy concerning the purposes of God. The Old Testament writers didn’t see God’s will perfectly. For example, they knew that God was going to send them a savior to free them. They thought He would be mighty with the sword and violently free them from the oppressive nations–but Jesus didn’t. He was non-violent and didn’t address the ruling Roman empire. The writers thought that the savior would defeat a physical enemy power that ruled the Jewish people –but Jesus didn’t. He freed them from a spiritual enemy that ruled over the Jewish people through sin. The writers thought that the messiah would bring wrathful judgement upon the rest of the nations of the earth—Jesus didn’t. Instead, Jesus brought wrathful judgement on Satan and in turn extended forgiveness to all the nations of the earth and offered them to be united through faith.
God’s perfect and clear will was only to be fully revealed in Jesus. When Jesus came, He made known to us the full knowledge, will, and love of the Father:
“You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you. ” (John 15:14)
Friends, the mystery of God has been revealed! In Jesus’s death and resurrection, He brought a new light into the world and forever revealed the intent and goodness of God. And because of this we no longer need to cling onto a doctrine that regards all suffering as authored by God to bring about a secret, heavenly purpose at our expense. Sure, the book of Job served a purpose in encouraging people of the Old Testament to not give up their hope/faith in God and to persevere in the midst of suffering. But that purpose has now become obsolete in the same ways that the presence of the Holy Spirit and the methods of prayer (as we saw in part 3 of this series) have also become obsolete with the revelation of Christ.
We need to embrace the truth concerning Satan and God that Jesus brought. We need to replace the Old Testament veiled and mysterious understanding of the relationship between Satan and God and replace it with the full revelation of this relationship as displayed through Jesus.
Jesus is the mystery of God.
He is the unseen, mysterious purpose of God. God’s nature, good will toward us, and true attitude toward evil and suffering have been revealed through Him. Let us walk in this revelation and rejoice that we are now God’s friends and that He has shared His good purposes with us!
WHY NO ANSWER GOD?
Lastly, one might ask, ‘Why didn’t God give an answer as to why He allowed Satan to destroy Job’s life? Why didn’t God tell Job the reason for the suffering? Why didn’t He tell Job about the wondrous plan of Christ?
We can only speculate. But, if we follow the idea the Devil was an actual adversary of God, not a pawn, then our First Corinthians 2:7-10 passage that I referenced from part 2 begins to have real meaning behind it:
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:
‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
What does the Apostle Paul say about the mystery of God that He preaches and speaks of? He says that if the rulers of the world would have known about this mystery in its fullness, they never would have crucified the Lord in the first place. And with no crucifixion, there would be no redemption of humankind. Keeping it a mystery was the only way to bring salvation it to pass.
So my answer is twofold:
- The people of the Old Testament had no authority over Satan and his devices. They could not rebuke demons or speak to spiritual principalities and rulers as Jesus did, until His coming and promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit that was to follow. The people of the Old Testament had no weapons to actively resist Satan. Apparently, as shown with Job, it didn’t even matter if you were sinless or righteous before God. You were still subject to being attacked with no way of escape.
Rather than God revealing this near hopeless state of existence, He instead encouraged people to not to give up hope in Him and continue to trust in God in the midst of suffering–to press on in faith even though there wasn’t an immediate remedy to give at the time. God also took an extreme measure by even allowing people to sometimes credit Him with being responsible for suffering. Apparently, if it meant being able to redeem mankind in doing so, God was willing to take upon Himself and carry a horrible sin for us–being credited for being responsible for evil–even when He had been doing nothing evil all along (which sounds exactly how Jesus went to the cross doesn’t it??). By doing this, then God was able to preserve a physical family linage of faith that would eventually bring about the very messiah who would be their redeemer. It was all done to bring about the Messiah.
The unclear understanding of suffering that we find in Job then stood in as a place holder for the Old Testament people until the time of Jesus arrived. Much in the same way that the apostle Paul says that the Old Testament Law/Ordinances were only put into place as only a temporary stop gap until Jesus appeared (Galatians 3:19).
2. The I Corinthians 2:7-10 passage, along with the other verses covered in part 2, does lead me to believe that God’s objective in going to the cross was to rid us of Satan, who held us in bondage from relationship from the Lord through sin. While I continue to hold to the idea that the Lord is infinitely resourceful, the Enemy still needed to be defeated in order for God’s purposes through Jesus to be accomplished.
But how would God defeat the Devil if those same demonic forces would not influence the rulers of this world to crucify Him?
I Corinthians 2:7-10 then perhaps suggests that the reason as to why God’s eternal mystery in Christ was kept secret throughout the ages. Purpose being? To keep Satan and His minions in the dark concerning the redemptive work that would be accomplished on the cross. The reasoning behind the mystery of suffering was to ensure our deliverance from Satan, to protect the ones who God valued most, so that salvation could be brought to God’s beloved people. And salvation not just to those who genetically identify as Jews, but also to the whole world.
If the cat was let out of the bag, then perhaps the rules of this world never would have crucified the Lord of glory. So, the mystery of the true root of suffering, Satan and his kingdom, was locked up and hid until Christ could be crucified.
COULD GOD BE THIS GOOD?
When I started this post series, I set out to present a different way to understand the book of Job. And what I have laid out in this series fits very well into what I previously stated at the beginning of the first post: God doesn’t author our disasters or sufferings.
I also said that we needed to be prepared for an absolutely earth-shattering look into the goodness of God and His great love for us. This is because when we see Job in the context of Jesus, we see very clearly that Satan and God are not buddies, but enemies. And that the evil works in the world are not from God, but from and as a result of the kingdom of darkness.
God is always good to us, never afflicts us with evil, always wants our best, and is not the initiator/authorizer/sustainer of our troubles.
My question to you is, are you ready to completely embrace the idea that God is this good? Are you ready to believe that God wants nothing less for you than to be free from illness, free from bondage, and free from affliction as all times? Are you ready to release God from all the blame that you’ve put on him for your troubles? Are you ready to see God for who is truly is, as a loving Father, as revealed to us through his Son Jesus?
It can be a difficult transition. Having to look at the person whom you once thought was responsible for everything, including suffering, and try to see Him in a new light can be challenging. Yes, Satan has done a GREAT job through his disinformation campaign about God. Satan has been spreading fake news all around the world for millennia in an attempt to convince us that God is the one to blame. Satan has tried to convince us that God doesn’t have our best interests in mind but is only out to serve His own interests. Satan has tried to convince us that we have only been created to please God in whatever way He wants so He can glorify Himself –including having us experience suffering for His mysterious benefit.
It’s the same old trick that Satan is depicted as using in the garden of Eden: disinformation and lies about the all-loving goodness that God actually has toward us.
Despite Satan’s attempts, the love of God toward us as witnessed through Jesus Christ is still breaking down misconceptions and lies concerning God’s good nature toward us. We have the AWESOME news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God as Lord. And the Son has blasted open the mystery of the ages and revealed it to us in Jesus’s life and work. We can now REJOICE at the revelation that Jesus brought concerning the works of darkness and the evil powers of this age, and have full confidence and persuasion toward God, knowing that He is immensely loving, caring, and wonderfully good to us in the same way that we would be to our own children. And the prince of this world, Satan, has been judged. He is to be cast out. His dirty deeds will be tolerated no more.
Yes, God is this good folks! My challenge to you is to abandon any resentment you’ve had toward Him, abandon any inkling of hostility for things that you once thought He has done to you due of your sins, judgement, for spite, or for no reason, and release yourself into His loving compassionate arms. Run to Him. Take shelter in the comfort of His wings just as you would run into the loving safety of your mother or father.
I challenge you to look beyond the contemporary view of the Book of Job that religion and culture has handed down, and accept the view that Jesus Christ alone laid down 2000 years ago.
God really is this good! But it takes our full confidence and faith to embrace it and walk with Him in that revelation. The enemy would have us believe that God’s nature is otherwise. However, I appeal to you both by the love to us demonstrated by Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross and by the truths revealed to us about God’s true relationship with Satan, as manifested through Jesus’s life, to be reconciled to God concerning the reality of God’s comprehensible good-willed nature toward us.
He is not the author of our problems; He is the solution.
Understanding the Book of Job, Satan, and God’s sovereignty from the perspective of Jesus and the cross not only releases us from the powerful lies of the enemy, but enables us to go to God with arms wide open, without reservation, knowing that He is just as good and loving as we have always dreamed and imagined that a good and loving God would be.
Yes, we are going to have many problems in the life. Continuing to live in a fallen world among the evil works of Satan’s kingdom further attests to that. But, we need not blame God for them. We can take comfort, have peace of mind, and take action concerning Satan’s evil works, knowing that God is 100% for us.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:31-39 NIV
*As always, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind so please drop your thoughts in the comment section below!