22 WAYS TO FIND JESUS IN THE BOOK OF JOB

Jesus in JobSome people struggle with the book of Job because, when they look at the life of Jesus, they can’t find anything in the ministry of Jesus that corresponds to Job’s story. They decide, therefore, that they can’t find Jesus in the book of Job. But I think they’ve stopped just short. They should have gone a bit further and looked at His cross. Because when you look at the cross, you find all kinds of similarities to Job’s experience.

If Job’s early success corresponds to Christ’s earthly ministry, his trial corresponds to Christ’s death, and his restoration corresponds to Christ’s resurrection.

I decided to start collecting similitudes between Job’s ordeal and the cross of Christ. My collection continues to grow, but here are some ways to see Jesus in the book of Job.

1. In the book of Job, the most upright man on earth (Job 1:8) suffers the most of anyone on earth. That definitely reminds me of Christ’s cross.

2. Trembling with pain, Job cried, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). That statement describes Jesus perfectly, who died naked on a cross.

3. Job was so disfigured by his sufferings that his friends didn’t recognize him (Job 2:12). Similarly, Jesus’ “visage was marred more than any man” at His execution (Isa 52:14).

4. Eliphaz taunted Job to call out to God for help (Job 5:1). And they said of Christ at His death, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him” (Matt 27:43).

5. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm about Christ’s sufferings. Some of the things said by the Messiah in that psalm remind us of Job’s speeches. For example, consider this comparison.
“They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion” (Ps 22:13).
“They gape at me with their mouth, they strike me reproachfully on the cheek, they gather together against me (Job 16:10).

6. Job cried out, “O earth, do not cover my blood” (Job 16:18). We are grateful today that the earth didn’t cover Jesus’ blood, but that it speaks before God on our behalf.

7. Job bemoaned, “Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy?” (13:24). This reminds us of Jesus cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Both Job and Jesus asked the why question.

8. In the hour when Job needed his friends most, they failed him. Same for Jesus. At His arrest, His friends forsook Him.

9. When you look at the source of Job’s trial, you realize Job was attacked by people, by Satan, and by God. And when you look at the cross, you realize that Jesus was killed by the same trilogy. He was crucified by people (the Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders), by Satan (who entered Judas Iscariot, and who filled the Jewish leaders with envy), and by God (who gave His Son for us all).

10. Job’s best friend, Eliphaz, became so frustrated at Job that he leveled concocted charges at his friend (Job 22:6-9). Similarly, Jesus was falsely accused by false witnesses at His trial before the high priest.

11. Job was raised up from his sufferings when He interceded for his friends. (Job 42:7-10). And Jesus was raised up as our great Intercessor, Heb. 7:25.

12. When God accepted Job (42:9) He raised him up; when God accepted Christ’s sacrifice (Rom 4:25) He raised Him up.

13. In the bitterness of his soul, Job cried, “He destroys the blameless and the wicked” (Job 9:22). And when you look at the three crosses on Golgotha’s hill, you’re looking at the death of both the blameless and the wicked.

14. Job and Jesus are both cornerstones. As the first book of the Bible put on paper, the book of Job is the cornerstone of the edifice we call Holy Scripture. And Jesus was called the cornerstone of the church (Ps 118:22; Isa 28:16).

15. In placing the book on Job’s story as the cornerstone of Scripture, the Holy Spirit put in place a foundation stone that was pointing ahead to the cross of Christ. Job was the first signpost of Scripture to the cross.

16. Job had to endure horrific suffering in order to qualify as the cornerstone of Scripture; and Jesus had to endure an agonizing death in order to qualify as the High Priest of our confession and as the cornerstone of the church. Suffering qualified both of them for a greater rank.

17. God said this to Satan about Job: “You incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:30). Job did nothing wrong to deserve his suffering. Nor did Christ. He was a blameless sacrifice.

18. Job spoke of his sufferings as labor, Job 9:29. And Christ was said to labor for our salvation on the cross, Isa. 53:11.

19. In order for men of all ages to gain consolation from Job’s example, Job had to suffer in every major area of life (family, relationships, finances, livelihood, and physical health). And in order to save sufferers of every generation, Christ had to suffer in every area of life.

20. Both Job and Jesus suffered in the will of God (1 Pet 4:19).

21. Job said, “He did not hide deep darkness from my face” (Job 23:17). And Scripture said of the Father that He “did not spare His own Son” (Rom 8:32).

22. Furthermore, I see Jesus in the book of Job when Job said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). Referring to the Father, John said that “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18; 1 Jo 4:12). Therefore, it seems evident that when Job saw God, he saw Christ. It was Jesus Christ Himself who interrogated and exonerated Job in Job 38-42. With the words of Jesus Himself quoted in the last five chapters of Job’s book, His presence in the book seems clear and undeniable.

Some have supposed that the cross rendered the book of Job obsolete and no longer relevant for our lives. To the contrary, the cross confirmed the glory of Job’s story and emphasized its relevance for New Covenant believers. Every time you read the book of Job, I hope you are now able to see more and more of Jesus in that marvelous book.

To go deeper in the book of Job, see Bob’s book on Job here, click here.

NEW FILM: SONS AND BASTARDS

This book this film is based on celebrates God’s goodness to chasten. It will help you make sense of inexplicable trials, strengthen your resolve to endure, and reveal how chastening can qualify us for a higher entrustment in the kingdom. By the time the story’s written, you’ll be healed and trained for greater service.

Bob’s book on this important topic is available here: http://tinyurl.com/hj2zhl5

Director, Editor, Sound Designer – Joel Sorge
Teaching – Bob Sorge
Original Music – Caleb Culver
Director of Photography – Chris Commons
Assistant Camera Operator – Lydia Anderson
Vocal Mixing – Zane Callister

THE RIGHTEOUS ARE LIKE A TREE

TREE

The righteous are likened to trees in several Scriptures, and specifically to a palm tree in Psalm 92:12, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

Palm trees grow in tropical climates, under conditions that would be deadly to some types of trees. But that which is deadly to another is life-giving to a palm.  In fact, the hotter it is the more the palm seems to flourish. The righteous flourish in heat—that is, in times of distress, trial, and persecution.

One of my favorite passages that likens believers to trees is Psalm 1. Look at verse one.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”  The progression of walk, stand, sit points to the manner in which sin can progressively snare the soul.

We are not to walk “in the counsel of the ungodly”—which reflects ungodly values.  You talk about your marriage to somebody at work, and he says, “I wouldn’t put up with that, if I were you!”  The counsel of people in the world will always reflect their ungodly values.

We are not to stand “in the path of sinners”—which is a reference to ungodly morals.  It may be seem relatively harmless, on the surface, to join the men at work for a “guy’s night out,” but it’s dangerous to stand with others who are sinning, even if you are not sinning directly yourself.

And thirdly, we are not to sit “in the seat of the scornful”—this speaks of ungodly attitudes.  If we hang out with people of the world, we’ll begin to talk like them, and even think like them.

The psalmist proceeded to describe the godly man who avoids all that other stuff:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (verses 2-3).

The godly man, the verse says, is like a tree.  When I think of a tree, I think of the following qualities:

1. Fruitful in season.  

The man of God goes through seasons.  Just like in the created order, we experience spring, summer, harvest, and winter.  Not all of life is characterized by harvest.  There are also dry seasons, cold seasons, damp seasons.  But the godly man progresses normally through all the seasons of life, and has a consistent history of fruitfulness at the right times.

2. Strong in dry times.

The man of God doesn’t always look good.  In winter, he may lose his leaves.  But mark this:  in the drought of summer his leaves never wither.  Grass nearby is parched and yellow, but the godly man is green and verdant—because his roots go down into the riverbed.  He has tapped into the lifesource of the Holy Spirit, and when others are withering, he is refreshed from a hidden water source.

3. Stands out as a landmark.

Trees are often used as landmarks because they stand tall against their surroundings.  Similarly, the godly man rises in stature and stands tall above the others who surround him.  Among the employees, he is exemplary.  He is an example to his family.  His life is noticeable, compelling, and noteworthy.

4. Unmoved by storms.

Like a tree, the man of God is shaken at times by the winds of life.  Difficulty might leave him really rocking.  But he’s never uprooted and moved.  He has longevity because he’s deeply rooted in the grace of God. Long after others have been moved off by this or that, he continues to stand, strong and stable.  He’s a pillar in his community because he has not succumbed to the popular temptation to pick up and move to another state at the first whiff of adversity.

5. Provides shade for others.

Because of the qualities of Jesus that radiate from the godly, he or she is a source of refreshing and relief to others.  A tree doesn’t have to try to provide shade, it just happens.  In the same way, the godly refresh the hearts of others continually and effortlessly.

6. “Whatever he does shall prosper.”

That is both a promise for the tough times, and a reality that will inevitably manifest.  He is blessed because he has found a place of special affection in the heart of God.  And in the final analysis, that is the ultimate reward of the godly:  the smile of Jesus.

YOUR MISSION IS NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PEOPLE

mission

God never calls you to a mission that is more important than the people on your team. Because no such mission exists. A leader might be tempted to think, “Good riddance, they never did have complete buy-in with our vision.” “They just couldn’t keep up.” “We outgrew them.” “They always resisted everything we ever did.” “They got offended over nothing.” You are not viewing rightly this matter.

To qualify my meaning, I am not speaking of people God sends you for a limited period of time, and whom He calls after a season to the next leg in their assignment. When God calls people in your ranks to move on, release them freely and celebrate them. Allow no control or witchcraft to taint anything in your leadership style.

I am speaking here of people God calls to labor with you in the mission but who end up leaving for unnecessary reasons. It’s not possible to have a mission that is more important than the eternal souls God grants you to help with the mission. As Jesus said of the Twelve, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). While Jesus was busy changing the entire world, He did not lose any of the team members God had given Him (except the son of perdition).

Always be mindful that the people on your team are the very embodiment of the mission to which you’ve been called. Love them to the end.

THE EYES OF THE LORD

eyes of the lord

In this post I want to show how gloriously God responds to those who maintain their loyalty to Him. Here’s our text:

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chron. 16:9).

The verse’s context is very important. Asa was king in Jerusalem, and early in his reign he was invaded by a million-man army from Ethiopia. Asa was young, inexperienced, and resource-barren. In desperation, he cried out to God for help and deliverance: “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” (2 Chron. 14:11).

And God responded! The Ethiopians were completely overthrown, and Asa returned to Jerusalem with vast amounts of war bounty. God granted a mighty victory! Asa didn’t have another war until his thirty-sixth year as king. He wisely used the decades of peace to strengthen the nation spiritually, economically, and militarily.

Unfortunately, as the nation grew in strength, Asa’s sense of dependence upon God waned. He had become rich.

His heart was tested when war again came to his doorstep. This time, it was the northern kingdom of Israel that invaded. (At the time, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, and Asa was king of the southern kingdom based in Jerusalem.) Baasha, king of Israel, came against Asa with intimidating strength. What was Asa to do?

He decided to dip into his national treasury (which was substantial by now) and hire Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, to break his treaty with Baasha. Ben-Hadad accepted the money, attacked Israel with a mighty blow, and forced Baasha to abandon his military campaign against Asa.

On the surface, Asa’s strategy seemed amazingly successful. Baasha retreated and Jerusalem was relieved. Asa’s national popularity soared. Many in the land were doubtless applauding the king for his brilliant leadership. But God wasn’t.

Hanani the seer expressed to Asa how God felt about his tactics. Hanani rebuked him for relying on the king of Syria for deliverance. He reminded him of God’s previous deliverance. When the Ethiopians invaded, Asa had relied on God and conquered the enemy. Had he already forgotten? Even though he had a history of experiencing God’s delivering power, Asa had fallen (through prosperity) to self-sufficiency and unbelief.

And then Hanani spoke these arresting words:

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Because his heart was not fully loyal to God, Asa would now face ongoing wars during his reign.

The word “loyal” comes from a vivid Hebrew word that has various renderings by English translations: perfect, true, whole, completely His, fully committed, blameless. The meaning is that those who look to God alone for deliverance, in the hour of enemy invasion, are demonstrating a loyal, perfect, true heart toward Him.

God is actively looking for this kind of loyalty. When it says His eyes “run,” it means they are on an aggressive, high-speed search. God has seven eyes (Zech 3:9; Rev 5:6), and all seven scour the earth, looking for those whose gaze is lifted to Him for help. When God finds this kind of heart loyalty, He shows Himself strong on their behalf. He fights for them.

The context of our Scripture is all about deliverance from enemy invasion. When the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, God wants to answer by demonstrating His military strength and awesome delivering power. But He’s looking for singular focus.

The same assurance is repeated in Psalm 33:18-19:

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”

It seems that Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat, learned from his father’s mistakes, because when Jehoshaphat was invaded by a formidable army from Edom and Moab during his own reign, he spoke up and said to the people of Jerusalem, “Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chron 20:20). You should read 2 Chronicles 20 again to see how mightily God delivered Jehoshaphat from the Edomites. It’s an amazing story!

Have you been invaded by a foreign force that is trying to steal, kill, and destroy in your life? Give your heart in perfect loyalty to God, wait on Him, and He will show Himself strong on your behalf—He will fight for you. His eyes are eagerly searching for this kind of devotion!

 

EXPLOITS EVEN IN THE WILDERNESS

Wilderness

When God brought the nation of Israel from Egypt to the border of Canaan, they didn’t believe that they could overcome the giants in the land. Because of their unbelief, God sent them into the wilderness to wander for forty years.

God’s purpose in the wilderness was to starve out their unbelief and bring them to the place where they would have faith to enter Canaan and conquer the giants of the land.

Although the wilderness was designed to grow the corporate faith of the nation, it also served to expose their unbelief. We can see this in the following passage:

     How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel (Psa. 78:40-41).

The wilderness brings you face to face with your unbelief.

One reason they struggled with unbelief in the wilderness was because their surroundings were so bleak. Everywhere they turned, the terrain screamed at them, “This place is hopeless! You cannot live here. If you stay in this wilderness, it’ll be your end. It is impossible for you to do anything productive in this barren land. This place is too hard—even for God.”

Your wilderness probably screams similar things at you. “This is impossible! Your life is over.”

When times are good, we feel good about our faith levels. When our faith isn’t being challenged, it’s easy to think that it’s stronger than it actually is. When God leads us into the wilderness, those illusions are stripped away and we are confronted with our unbelief. Will we heed the voices of unbelief that suddenly accost us in this barren wilderness?

Some of the things you see about yourself in the wilderness will shock you. “This wilderness is stronger, in my eyes, than my God!”

When confronted with your unbelief in the wilderness, launch on a pilgrimage—a quest for authentic faith in the Holy Spirit. View your wilderness as a “school of the Spirit,” designed by God to mentor you in mountain-moving faith. If you’ll pursue it, God will lead you into great exploits even while you’re still in this wilderness.

A prayer: “Lord, I purpose in my heart, by Your grace, to refuse to allow this wilderness to limit how You can use me in this season. I choose to believe that even now, in these wilderness years, You can gain great glory through my obedience.”

Your current limitations do not limit God. O desert dweller, refuse to “limit the Holy One of Israel!”

JOB THE PIONEER

pioneer

The following is an excerpt from Pain, Perplexity and Promotion.

As the first book of the Bible written, Job becomes a precedent-setting book.  When the Holy Spirit prepared to inspire Holy Scripture, He calculated very purposefully how He would direct its formation.  It’s not an accident or mere happenstance that the Holy Spirit started the whole thing off with Job.

Cornerstone Of Scripture

Job is an incredibly strategic book.  As the first building block of all Scripture, it serves as the initial cornerstone of all inspired revelation.  If the cornerstone is in place correctly, the rest of the building can rise in perfect alignment and symmetry.  If the cornerstone is awry, the entire building will be planted on a skewed foundation and will eventually crumble.

Under “the law of first mention” (discussed in Chapter Three) the entire book of Job takes on a special significance as the first Bible book written.  Thus, Job is a ground-breaking, foundation-laying, pioneering, apostolic book that becomes the cornerstone of all theology.  It is the beginning basis for our understanding of God and His ways.

If your foundation is wrong, the whole building is weak.  When the Lord visited me personally with calamity, I felt like He took the foundation of all my theological understandings, swept them out from under my feet, tenderly watched me crash, and then He slowly began to remove the rubble and start the rebuilding process.  And He said, “We’re going to rebuild this whole thing on the book of Job.”

A Primer On Spiritual Warfare

As the first Bible book written, the book of Job constitutes a primer on spiritual warfare, charting the perplexing territory between God’s sovereign purposes, Satan’s harassments, and people’s opinions.

Job had the hand of God on him, the hand of Satan on him, and the hand of man on him—and he couldn’t distinguish between them.  He became dizzy with trying to sort through the whole tangled mess, because he couldn’t really identify clearly from which direction things were hitting him.

The Job crucible is a place of great perplexity.  When you’re in the fire, you don’t know where the heat is coming from, or why.  Your head begins to swim as you’re caught in the swirl of trying discern cause and effect.

Job is apostolic in that he pioneered the whole arena of spiritual warfare.  He was the first one to ever document in Scripture his woundings on the perplexing battleground of spiritual warfare.  Job is in the battle of his life, warring with God’s sovereign purposes, Satan’s evil incitements, people’s carnal reproaches, and the imperfect realities of a fallen world—all elements involved in spiritual warfare.  Thus, even though Job is rarely mentioned at spiritual warfare conferences, the book of Job is a primer on spiritual warfare.

Job is sailing in uncharted waters.  He is going where no man has gone before.  He’s drawing the first map we have of spiritual warfare’s battleground.  Map-makers always pay a great personal price for bearing the distinguishing honor of being the first to traverse virgin territory.  The early explorers laid down maps of America literally at the price of human lives (disease, shipwreck, starvation, deprivation, hardship, etc.).  As the Scriptures unfold, the map of spiritual warfare will gain greater clarity, but Job is to be honored for the toll he took in giving us the first primitive map of spiritual warfare’s hazards.  Forerunners always pay a price.

Job is stepping on landmines, and they’re exploding in his face because no one else had ever stepped there before!  To explain, I’ll use the example of what he says in 19:11, “‘He has also kindled His wrath against me, and He counts me as one of His enemies.’”  Job thought God was treating him like an enemy, but in fact God was counting Job as one of His friends!  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6).  Job didn’t realize God had wounded him in His kindness, and so Job accuses God of treating him like an enemy.  This is one reason God later says to Job, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (38:2).  Job will learn this lesson (and many others) by the time the battle is over, but he’ll have triggered many landmines in the process.

So here’s Job, all bloody from the latest bomb that has exploded in his face, and he hoarsely whispers to us, “Don’t step there, that thing will blow your leg off.”  And then contemporary readers will stand back in the safety of their comfortable perch and criticize him.  “Job shouldn’t have spoken like that,” they say.  “He had a lot of bad attitudes!”  In one sense that’s true, but I just want to say this about Job:  Give the guy a break!  He had no Scriptures, no map, no prophetic word, no witness from someone else who had walked this way before.  He was the first one!  So rather than being critical of him, I think we should be extremely grateful for a godly man who was faithful to God through the greatest maze of perplexity that any man had ever encountered up to that point in human history.

The Most Misunderstood Book

The book of Job is one of the most misunderstood books in the Bible.  Until you’ve lived a little bit of it, it’s virtually impossible to understand it properly.  I realize this book is unique from many other commentaries on Job.  I would read commentaries on Job, look at their analysis, and say to myself, “This author has never lived this thing.”  It wasn’t until I began to live through some hard things that the book of Job began to open to me.

I know some people wish Job wasn’t in the Bible.  Because I was once one of them.  I had the experience in my early years of ministry of preparing a sermon, and being very impressed with it.  “This thing slices; it dices; it pops; it sizzles.”  I could see it: this sermon will have Satan’s hordes cowering at the gates of hell, and it will have the saints on their feet, cheering.  The sermon was perfect, a well-fashioned arrow, except for one little “fly in the ointment”:  the book of Job.  Everything else in the Bible seemed to support my beautifully crafted sermon, but the book of Job was the one book that seemed to contradict it.  What about Job?  Can I just preach my sermon and forget about the fact that the book of Job exists?

No I can’t, not any longer.  Now I see it.  If it doesn’t line up with the book of Job, it’s got to go, because the book of Job establishes the theological framework against which all other theological understandings must be measured.  If you get Job wrong, then nothing else can be fully right.

As the endtime storms hit this planet, everything that can be shaken will be shaken (Hebrews 12:27-28).  The only theological framework that will not be totally shaken in the last hour will be one that is firmly fixed in a true knowledge of the God of Job.

So now the question becomes one of paramount importance:  what is the book of Job all about?

The Book’s Theme

I want to express in one broad, general sentence what I believe is happening in the book.  To uncover this understanding was a very long and painful journey personally, and it carries great implications that I will articulate in the rest of this book.  So here it is:  In broad strokes, the life of Job is a pattern for all believers of how God takes a blameless, godly man, with a life of personal purity and a yes in his spirit, and brings him through the fire to a higher inheritance.

Job came out of the crucible with a life message that has spoken to God’s people ever since.  Here are some of the poignant truths Job’s life declares:

•     Sometimes God is totally perplexing.

•     There are things going on in the spirit dimension that you don’t see.

•     If you’ve been walking blamelessly and faithfully before God, and something incredibly mystifying and even traumatic happens to you which seems to have no reasonable cause, then heighten your spiritual alertnessGod might be in the process of bringing you into spiritual promotion.

•     If you will guard your purity, increase your pursuit of God, and commit yourself to unquestioning obedience, He will eventually unfold His purposes to you.

•     Realize that God loves to glorify Himself by salvaging the calamities of his saints, producing the superlative out of the impossible.

A Pattern To Get Your Bearings

Job’s life message serves as a model or a pattern against which others can measure God’s disciplines in their lives.  When you have a grid for measuring what is happening in your life, you’re able to cooperate with God’s purposes.  But without that grid or pattern you’re very likely to partner with the accuser, cop an attitude toward God, and end up aborting the process.  Without any prototype for understanding God’s dealings, it’s very difficult to say, “You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word” (Psalm 119:65).  Instead, it’s easy to echo the accusation of the Israelites, “‘It is useless to serve God’” (Malachi 3:14).  God wants us to steer clear of that pitfall so He has given us the pattern of Job.

Job, then, was a pioneer, a pathfinder, a forerunner whom God baptized into “the School of the Spirit,” in order that he might serve as a living parable to all generations after him.  His life serves as a compass, enabling us to get our bearings when we’re under the disciplines of God.

Sometimes we think we know who God is.  God says, “None of you know who I am!  Unless I show you.”  So God devastated every understanding Job thought he had of God and began to rebuild Job’s theology on the truth of Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.”  So Paul cried, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

God operates in a dimension that totally surpasses our human analysis.  And here’s a signature of God’s ways:  He loves to redeem impossible messes.  He loves entangled imbroglios that have no human solution, that are hopeless catastrophes apart from divine intervention.

Sometimes God allows the saint to be reduced to seeming defeat, filled with anguish and reproach, with Satan gleefully savoring his upper hand.  Or sometimes the saint is trapped by crushing circumstances beyond his control.  When it appears that God has abandoned you, Job would cry out:  “Don’t quit!  Trust God!  It’s never too late!  This is the kind of situation God loves!”

In some situations, God steps back and says, “Too easy.  If I step in now, they won’t glorify My name for the answer.”  Thus He waits things out a bit, and lets the situation become even more critical so that there will be no question about the source when He intervenes with His sovereign deliverance.  He loves to do the impossible!

Job Helped Abraham

Earlier, I emphasized the fact that Job pre-dated Abraham.  Here’s why:  It’s very likely that Job served as a forerunner for Abraham, helping Abraham interpret God’s hand in his life.

God had said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).  Basically God said, “Kill your son.”

But Abraham also knew what God had said to Noah, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:6).  So Abraham faced a crossroads:  “Do I follow my theology, or do I follow the voice?”  In that moment of critical decision, it’s very possible that Abraham thought to himself, “Job!  I’m in a Job situation!  God is vaporizing my theology.  If I’m faithful like Job was, God will lead me to a higher place.”  Part of the reason Abraham was able to cooperate with God’s purposes was because he had Job.

Redemption’s Greatest Crossroads

In fact, I want to suggest that Job became a forerunner for the most eminent of saints, helping them navigate the greatest crisis points of redemptive history.  At the crucial crossroads of God’s redemptive plan, when everything  was at stake, Job’s life served as a pattern enabling them to make the right choice.

Joseph didn’t realize that he stood at a vital juncture of God’s purposes.  Everything was in the balance.  Would Joseph respond properly to his enslavement and imprisonment?  If he would blow it, there would be no sovereign provision for Jacob’s family during the seven years of terrible famine.  Thankfully, Joseph had Job!  Job provided Joseph with a grid for understanding the pain of his prison, empowering him to persevere successfully to the completion of God’s purposes.

Moses also stood at a critical crossroads of God’s redemptive plan.  Would Moses respond properly to the shattered dreams, to the unfulfilled promises, to the seeming abandonment by God?  If he would pass the test, God would have a man to lead His people forth from Egypt.  Thankfully, Moses had Job!  Job’s journey became a model that enabled Moses to walk forward into God’s highest and best.

David was another man at a critical crossroads.  He was anointed as king, but was running for his life from Saul.  Every promise of God seemed to be violated.  If David would respond properly in this crucible, he would emerge with the promise of an eternal throne.  If he would give up, how could we call Jesus the Son of David?  Thankfully, David had Job!  Job’s example gave David the courage to persevere unto God’s highest and best.

We are now facing another critical moment in God’s plan:  the return of Christ.  In preparation for Christ’s coming, God is taking many of His servants through the Job crucible.  A fire has been kindled in the earth to awaken the bride with passion for her Bridegroom.  Will she persevere to the end, or will she abort God’s purposes?  Thankfully, she has Job!

Everybody  had Job for an example, except for one man: Job!  This is why Job is so admirable.  He persevered through the crucible with no predecessor, no forerunner, no pattern from which to gain comfort.  Job had nobody.  He was charting virgin territory, going where no man had gone before.  He was making an unprecedented foray onto the swirling battleground of spiritual warfare, where God’s purposes and Satan’s incitements and people’s opinions combine to season the soul.

As a result of Job’s faithfulness, God decided to use his example to comfort every generation, providing them with a compass to help them interpret their pathway.  We enjoy the same benefit today.  Instead of aborting His purposes in our lives, we are now able to cooperate with His grace and enter into our highest inheritance.

This post is an excerpt from the book Pain, Perplexity and Promotion.  You can click here to learn more about the book and order a copy.

NEW FILM – I AM WITH YOU

I am with you blog pic

Two years after my debilitating vocal injury, I found myself in the darkest place of my life, groping for answers and reaching desperately to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. It was there, in my darkest hour, that the Lord gave me a sign of His nearness and favor that I will never forget.

Click here to watch the film.

Film by Joel Sorge
Music by JoJo Riddering

LESSONS FROM JACOB – THE HARD WAY

the hard way

We learn from Jacob’s life that sometimes God wants things to transpire the hard way. God could have made everything so much easier on Jacob by just saying to him, “Jacob, go down to Egypt.” God led Abraham down to Egypt, and He could have just as easily done the same with Jacob.

But instead, God put the squeeze on Jacob. First, he lost Joseph; then he lost Simeon; and the man in Egypt was wanting Benjamin next. Add to that, the intense distress from the famine. His entire household was hungry! The combination of stress factors put incredible pressure on God’s beloved servant. He went through all kinds of emotional gyrations before he was finally presented with the solution of going to Egypt to meet Joseph.

After Jacob was finally settled in Egypt, I can imagine him wondering, “Lord, why did You make it so hard on me? I would have happily followed Your voice. All You had to do was say to me, ‘Move to Egypt.’ Why did You make it come down the hard way?”

The truth is that often God leads His favorites in the hard way. (The leading example, of course, is the cross of Christ.) Why? Because God accomplishes so many things at multiple levels by letting the thing happen the hard way. He uses the difficulty to excavate hearts and produce greater eternal fruit than if an easier path had been taken.

Takeaway: Do not be thrown off balance if God allows a portion of your journey to come down the hard way.

 

LESSONS FROM JACOB – WAITING ON GOD

waiting on god

Jacob was the only person in Genesis to talk about waiting on God. While prophesying over his sons, he stopped to exclaim, “I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!” (Gen. 49:18). The statement appears out of place in its context, but when you realize how waiting was so central to Jacob’s story, it makes sense. Even though it took many years, eventually he saw the day when God sent from heaven and saved him.

After Jacob, the Scriptures are virtually silent on the discipline of waiting on God until the advent of David. The whole thing burst to life in David’s writings. David’s psalmist anointing, which was fueled from a place of long and loving meditation in the word, necessitated an awakening to waiting on God in His presence. Perhaps it is not accidental that as the first scriptural writer to place considerable focus on the grace of waiting, David was also very taken with Jacob. David mentions Jacob in his writings more than any other patriarch.

After David, the next Bible author to pick up the banner of waiting on God was Isaiah. Isaiah is “the king of wait.” Is it accidental that he mentions the name of Jacob forty-two times? Both David and Isaiah placed profound significance upon Jacob as an example for us to follow.

“Waiting” is an excellent word to summarize Jacob’s life. It’s true that over his span of 147 years he had some bell-ringing, catalytic moments. But the vast majority of his story was marked by extended periods of waiting on God. Brief bursts of divine activity were separated by vast expanses of virtual inactivity.

Actually, this is one of God’s signature ways. He separates His most outstanding works by protracted periods of seeming silence. Then, when He finally manifests His glory, it shines all the more brilliantly. Consider the lengthy span between each of God’s most outstanding wonders: from creation to the flood, to the exodus, to the return from exile, to the resurrection of Christ, and then to the future coming of Christ. There’s a long time between each of those six mighty events! It’s those prolonged lapses between His major activities that put the flair into the way God invades and redirects human history. The deafening silence of the thousands of years between each mighty intervention has rumbled throughout history in timpanic drumrolls of suspenseful anticipation.

The waiting seasons actually give God the room He needs to write the story. Those who demand resolution too hastily can forfeit the grandeur of what God was intending to write. By taking things into your own hands prematurely, you can undermine the basis upon which God was planning to write your last, great chapter.

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him (Isa. 64:4).

Takeaway: Wait on God. Give Him some material to work with.