The Book of Job

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:22, ESV)

The book of Job can be puzzling, especially when trying to compare the commentaries with the actual words being spoken. It helps if we realize that these events probably happened around or just before the time of the patriarchs (Job might’ve been a distant neighbor of Abraham or perhaps just before Abraham’s time). For one thing Job lives 140 years after these events (Job 42:16), and he had to have been upwards of perhaps 60 or 80 years or more to have what he had (10 kids, huge flocks and herds). That kind of life span was evident just before the time of Abraham.

The book seems simple enough on the surface. God thinks Job is doing a good job of following God, but Satan says Job worships God only because he is paid (has a hedge of protection). So God gives the okay to test the theory. Of course, true to his nature, the Satan hits Job with every bad thing he can think of. He never hits with good stuff, does he?

Job has his children and possessions taken away, and eventually his health. The verse above is inserted after he loses family and home, but before his health is taken away. After his health is hammered he still keeps his head though.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9–10, ESV)

As he’s sitting in misery he has four friends come to visit. They are appalled at his condition and spend some time just sitting with him.
Soon enough, however, they begin a discussion of the causes of the misery. Job’s argument boils down (you should know by now how much I like puns) to a protest that he is righteous and should not be treated this way.

You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy, he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.’ (Job 33:9–11, ESV)

The first three friends think he must’ve done something wrong against God. Both groups miss the point: there are reasons for suffering other than our lack of righteousness. The fourth friend (Elihu) is younger and stays quiet until towards the end of the book (chapter 32). Then he pops his cork because the three older friends can’t adequately answer Job’s protests of innocence. Elihu’s arguments center around the wisdom of God, and the fact that Job’s wisdom doesn’t even come close.

“Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. (Job 33:12–14, ESV)

This dovetails with God’s response which at it’s root says the same thing. God has reasons for doing things that usually go way past what we know. He formed everything, and many of His plans for it we can only guess at. The main point of the book (and many other exchanges between man and God) is that God doesn’t do anything wrong (as our verse at the start of this article states so eloquently).

Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. (Job 34:12, ESV)

As Elihu speaks, a storm moves in and he uses some of the visuals to make his point. Pretty quickly we see that God is in the storm and speaks to Job from a whirlwind. Job (and the three friends) are rebuked quite strongly, with God telling them that all they know is not all there is. He shuts them all down with a series of questions the answers of which demonstrate His unequaled wisdom, power, and love. Job hastens to repent.

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:3–6, ESV)

As I said, the key to this book is that we don’t charge God with wrong. Sometimes we suffer because we did something wrong. Sometimes we suffer because we did something right. And sometimes we suffer for reasons that go beyond our knowledge to fathom. In all things we do not question the wisdom of God to order things as He sees fit. He is good, there is no shadow of turning in Him, and all things work together for good to them that love Him back. We turned from Him in the Garden and our counsel is darkened without Him to shed light. We might be saved, but we are still under the curse until He makes all things right. In the meantime we do not charge Him with wrongdoing, instead accepting His wisdom in both good and bad events of our lives. We look forward to the revelation of more of His wisdom and love in our final redemption at the establishment of His throne on earth through His Son our Messiah Jesus the Christ.

Shalom,
Bruce

Do What Jesus Did

From the book Whole Bible Christianity chapter 9 Whole Bible Instruction section titled “Do What Jesus Did”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:5–7, ESV)

Guideline four here might be a little more obvious if we realize that the word “put” is the same word as “test.” Literally, “test God with a test.” And testing is exactly what we think it is. We do not make God prove Himself with tests of our own making. This is what the deceiver was trying to get Jesus to do by throwing Himself off of the Temple. Testing like this includes a lack of belief and even outright disobedience. The Satan quoted parts of Scripture (he’s skilled at part-Bible doctrine) and Jesus responds with the missing sections.

16“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah. 17“You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. (Deuteronomy 6:16-17 NASB95)

Israel “tested” God at Massah (a word that means “test”) by moaning and complaining about the lack of water, and faulting God for failing to provide. They were questioning whether God was present, and disobedience followed. Instead, they should’ve had patience and trusted that God would not have led them to that place without providing water.

7He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7 NASB95)

In effect, they were saying that God couldn’t or wouldn’t follow through. That implied either He was too dumb to know they needed water or was deliberately messing with them. They were saying that God did something wrong on purpose. They made up a fault in God and were using that to remove Him from the throne and put themselves in His place. Testing God in this way is nothing more than high-handed disobedience, and shows we do not trust God’s Word. When we test Him with a test of our own making, it is because we are afraid He won’t live up to His Word. Or that we want to use a perceived failure of the test for an excuse to go our own way.

A different kind of test is laid out for us in Malachi. This testing is approved by God.

10“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10 NASB95)

The testing mentioned here is within the bounds of obedience, as in “obey the Lord, and in so doing test Him and see that His Word is true. He will deliver as He promised.” We don’t test God by disobedience; we test Him by trusting His Word and obeying it.

When we decide on our own to switch the Sabbath to another day, this is also testing God with a test. He doesn’t immediately (or apparently) zap us, so we think we’re okay. Then we go on to break other laws. If we eat bacon and don’t drop dead we keep eating. We presume on His grace, making it cheaper. Then we compound our sin by sharing the results of the test with others. We encourage them to test Him in a sinful way also. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Either we stick with the whole of His Word, carefully and exactly, as Jesus did, or we test Him to justify our own knowledge and pride. I think I’ll pick the testing of obedience, myself.

Shalom

Am I a Violent Person?

A few years ago I was a participant in a forum of which I’m no longer part. A lady asked everybody for help in determining how to respond to a professor teaching a church Sunday School who was giving her a hard time about her beliefs. My response encouraged her to be bold and challenge him on the Bible, and I used some western gun-fighting illustrations. I love Louis L’amour westerns. I also love being bold and strong in the Lord. So I encouraged her to stand up and not let the professor mow her over.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10, ESV)

One guy got on my case, telling me that I was an “anti-Semite” and that I was “speaking in crass language” and using “an incredible amount of violent terms.” This is the same thing as calling me violent. He was always getting on my case. He didn’t like the fact that I was against many traditions that I thought led away from the Word both Christian and Jewish. He had spent years learning orthodox Judaism (though he was a Gentile) and bristled every time I pointed out where that kind of stuff wasn’t in the Word or would detract from the Word.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1, ESV)

I’m not sure what constitutes an “incredibly violent” person. Scripture says we will know people by their fruits, so I would think there would have to be fruit in my life that was “incredibly violent.” Like maybe felony convictions for violent crimes. Or testimony from others (like police officers or judges) as to my “violent” nature and actions. This guy had none of that. All he had was some gun fighting analogies I used. I told him I would accept his name calling if he would accept a label of “pompous self-important Jewish wannabe windbag who uses knowledge like a hammer to make himself feel important at the expense of others.” For some reason he didn’t want the even exchange!

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:36–38, ESV)

Jesus told us we would need swords. I’m sure He didn’t mean for beating up on people, but that things were going to get rough and believers would have to be bold and strong.

The guy falsely accusing me had nothing on me. He twisted the Word, when he bothered to use it at all, for his own wicked ends. There was no investigation as the Word requires and sadly the forum leadership went right along with him and punished me. But Jesus warned me about wolves in sheep’s clothing. The truly violent are those such as the hypocrites who arrested Jesus using trumped up empty charges and murdered Him for threatening their power. That’s what I was doing, threatening the name-caller’s power. He demanded adherence to traditions of which he approved. He wanted to be in charge, but I was a biblical thorn in his side. I was bold, I spoke the Word of power with the hand of the Lord strong upon me. Violent men are those who divert attention from themselves by decrying the actions of the teachers of the kingdom of God, calling them names. Jesus knew the nature of their agenda.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12, ESV)

Jesus means that violent men were taking hold of Godly men and throwing them in jail or killing them. John, Jesus, most of the prophets and apostles such as Paul and Peter and more suffered violence from violent people with pious traditions. Darkness is always fearful of the light, and takes steps to quench it. They were killed by people who thought they were doing God a favor. But we will not be cowed; we will be bold in the Lord and continue to teach His Word. I’m not a violent man, but I am a man capable of action. I will defend my people and land against those who would try to take it by the hidden violence of the cowardly. I will not be fearful of wannabe Jews (or wannabe Christians) steeped in plausible arguments captivating people with philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition. I have the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6), and I’m not afraid to use it. That’s not violence. That’s just the power of the Spirit. The minions of darkness are right to be afraid and to fear the violence of the fiery wrath that is coming. All they have for defense is name calling.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10, ESV)

Shalom

Distractions, Part Two, Mark of the Beast

Continuing the thought started with Distractions Part One, this time I’m looking at the mark of the beast.

 

A large chunk of Christianity is getting all fired up over things like ID chips under the skin and credit cards with bio metric data on them or similar stuff. They are getting other people all fired up and even suing to stop the makers. Sorry to inform you (and at least a little inform would be a good thing for you to have) but you aren’t even close to the mark. Pun intended.

 

According to the Bible, there are at least two kinds of marks – outside and inside. The outside mark can be a brand or tattoo or even a badge. The inside mark, however, is much more telling. This mark is on the heart, and comes out in attitudes and behavior. And believe me, this mark is far more obvious to the spiritual forces of wickedness, God and heavenly angels than some superficial paint or a chip that tracks your money movement.

 

Eight times in Revelation (13:4, 12, 15, 14:9, 11, 19:20 and 20:4) the emphasis is on those who worship the beast. The mark is simply evidence of this worship. A key part of worship is obedience. Those who receive the mark of the beast are those that obey him, those that do what he says. The outside mark is just evidence of the inward condition of the heart. These people seek the mark and wear it proudly, and worship the beast and his image. They don’t just accidentally get a chip from their banks. It’s not a mark from tripping and falling down on the sidewalk. It is deliberate and with malice for God right up front.

 

The mark of God is on the hearts of those who follow His commands. Don’t get distracted by stupid red herrings thrown out by hysterical people ungrounded in the Word. It’s a waste of time to chase these things. Follow God, obey His commands, eat and drink His body and blood, abide in the living oracles, and you won’t be distracted by shiny baubles like chips. Let His mark be on your heart and there won’t be room for the mark of the beast.

 

For more see Christian Faith and Practice through the Mark on the whole Bible website.

 

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12, ESV)

The Wrath of God

I feel somewhat out-of-place in addressing this topic. Most messages from Christians are centered on a sappy Jesus who, to them, is like a refugee from the ’60’s hippie movement spouting one liners about human ideas of peace and love. They don’t read the Bible very much or we would hear a lot more about God’s wrath (hundreds of verses) and how it is surely building over the current state of the world’s culture. In my opinion it is also building over the church’s involvement in leading the way, too.

 

But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:16, ESV)

 

The reason for talking about God’s wrath is number one because it ain’t pretty yet it will surely fall; two maybe it will spur people to repent; and three that it might inspire those who are already elect to do good. Speaking of the wrath (or fierce anger) of the Lord is an act of love because we want people to stop despising His Words and scoffing at the prophets or messengers of God. If we keep on like we are there will be no remedy.

 

Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:1–3, ESV)

 

The preachers of the false Jesus hippie dude whose teachings resemble those of Bill and Ted in their Excellent Adventure (“Be excellent to one another, and, Party on, dude!”) are presuming on the riches of His kindness. Obedience is not an option or a feeling. It is commanded by God that anyone who does not obey the gospel will be cast into outer darkness (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30).

 

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:4–8, ESV)

 

Jesus is coming back soon, and many will be shocked and stunned to the roots of their soul at the sword in His hand and the fury with which He treads out the wine press of God’s wrath (Revelation 19:15). Don’t you be included in that number.

 

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:5–8, ESV)

 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV)

Fear of God part 2

If you’re going to worship a god, make sure He’s the God who can destroy all other gods. Don’t choose those wimpy gods who cannot see or hear and don’t even have the power to blow their own noses. If more people feared God, we might see more gentle treatment of each other. We might also see a greater interest in what He says.

 

“The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.” (Deuteronomy 19:20 NASB95)

 

My son tells me that there were a number of things he didn’t do when he was younger. He avoided them because he was genuinely afraid of what I’d do to him if he misbehaved. “My dad would kill me” was not such a bad motivation for avoiding certain behavior. Especially when there is a lack of understanding in the child, and the big issue is just to avoid harmful behavior. Of course I wasn’t ever going to actually kill (or even injure) him (shhhh!) but it didn’t hurt to be afraid of me at least a little. Enough for him to avoid straying into destructive actions.

 

I love my kids and do not want them to learn the hard way. I want them to avoid natural consequences. So I develop other, perhaps more immediate and painful, artificial consequences to help them learn how to make good choices. A swat on the butt as a reminder to obey Dad is much better than getting run over by a car. The getting run over thing tends to be a one-time only learning experience. God does the same for us.

 

7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7 KJV)

 

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? (Lamentations 3:37–39, ESV)

 

God creates evil in the sense that there are bad things that happen if we don’t listen to Him. He does it because He loves us, and wants us to see the cost of moving away from Him before it’s too late. If a little bit of true terror will help me choose correctly, it is much better than learning too late that my choice was wrong. He wants us to fear Him above any person, teaching, or situation that might tempt us to abandon trust and obedience. It is not a blind fear that He wants, but it is still a fear that is tinged partly with terror as well as respect and reverence.

 

14I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14 KJV)

 

12“You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13“It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread. (Isaiah 8:12-13 NASB95)

 

Fear of Him should override fear of anything else. If we are His kids, we do not fear destruction or rejection. But it’s good to be afraid of what He can and will do if we are not on His good side. If you are not His kid, you have every right to be terrified when He comes for you in judgment. One way or the other, sooner or later, fear of Him will impress itself on everyone. Better to feel it now and move closer to Him than to feel it when it’s too late.

 

From Whole Bible Christianity chapter 2 Fear

Take A Stand

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9–11, ESV)

 

So not only were the religious leaders of the Jews plotting to kill Jesus, they also wanted to remove the evidence that Jesus was really who He said He was. There might be just a teeny bit of a reason for killing Jesus in the fact that He claimed to be equal with God and maybe some blindness on the part of the leaders is expected. And Jesus asks the Father from the cross to forgive them because they “know not what they do.”

 

However, this is not the case with plotting to include Lazarus in the festivities. The only thing Lazarus did wrong was coming out of the grave when Jesus told him to. Nothing in the Law could be used to persecute him; they just decided to do it anyway. Probably because they thought of themselves as doing a favor for God. This shows how the Law was typically used and abused by people without love. The hearts of the leaders were filled with hate and jealousy, so the use of the Law was false. They used it in a false way to condemn Jesus, and just ditched it when it didn’t suit their purposes. Either way, the Law was not in their hearts. We get a pretty complete picture of this in these three references close together in John 12.

 

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (John 12:19, ESV)

 

If love for God’s Word was in their hearts, they would’ve rejoiced that the world was going after Him. Instead, they were upset that no one wanted to listen to them. They were tweezed that they were losing “their place” (John 11:48). This explains why John the Baptist, though a priest, worked outside of the system in the desert.

 

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42–43, ESV)

 

The leaders used the fear of being put out of the synagogue (life revolved around it more then) to keep people in line with their perverted version of God’s Word. Some of the leaders had a chance at something different. At this point they chickened out, but hopefully later they realized the error of their ways. Sooner or later we have to take a stand. We can’t let the bullies who threaten us with cutting off fellowship in whatever form keep us from saying and doing what is right. People with hate in their hearts, who twist the Word for their own purposes, even if they are in leadership positions in the church, have to be opposed. Take your stand on the Word at all times no matter what the risk.

 

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. (John 16:1–4, ESV)

The End of the Matter

The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:11–14, ESV)

Likes on Facebook

Now that we’ve got more than 30 likes, Facebook shows us something they call ‘insights’ meaning we can see how many people view a post and other statistics.

It’s interesting to note that a post starting with the phrase “Sin is turning from His Word” gets 11 views while a shorter post starting with “I wonder if seven days without leaven has a side benefit for the body?” gets 59 views. Or how a post starting with the Bible verse “But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God.” gets 16 views while a post that starts with the Bible verse “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me” gets 109 views.

Do you suppose that posts which confront people with a holy God, a need for repentance, and the requirement to abide in the whole of His Word including the Law are less popular than posts that tell us about freebies from Him? That perhaps we don’t want to be reminded of our sin but can’t wait to tell people about blessings? That we like the comfortable truths, but the uncomfortable truths we wish would go away? Do we think that somehow we can gain the fun stuff without going through the cross?

If true, then I tell you without confronting and taking care of our sin there will be no blessings. What is exciting to contemplate now will vanish like a mirage in the waterless desert of our pride. He will not be a light in the darkness to those who sit in hell. There will be no benefits to a week without leaven if sin reigns in our mortal bodies. We serve a holy God, and blessings pressed down and overflowing come from Him as we adjust ourselves to all of His Word and His ways. Some blessings from Him touch everyone, like sunshine for a day at the beach. Many blessings are denied however because He uses the same measure to give them as we use when giving ourselves to Him. If we can’t see the love in discomfort from Him then we don’t know love at all. We cheapen His grace when we accept only the warm fuzzies and deny needed correction.

Dietrich Bonheoffer, a Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis till he was hanged by them, said it this way:

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

God’s blessings and promises are indeed quite exciting. But we don’t get more than a pebble on a mountaintop unless we embrace uncomfortable truth now and work through it with humility and reliance on His mercy.

God is One, His Word is One

‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 2 summary.

Sin is turning from His Word. Disobedience. Not abiding. It separates us from Him because it is opposite of His holiness and love. Every time we choose self-will over His will we cheat on God, whether we have a statue in the living room or pick the fruit of our own knowledge tree. We may make the cheating more palatable by mixing it with some of His truth, but lukewarm action is rejected by God. His grace is meant to lead us to repentance, not give space for us to cheapen it with more disobedience. His unconditional love does not allow sin.

At this point in history the whole truth is we ought to fear and submit to Him who has shown His absolute power, and who can destroy body and soul in hell. Believers worship Him by obedience to all of His commands, in spirit and in truth, humbly thankful for the riches of His grace and mercy in providing for our salvation. We can split hairs all we want about His nature and position or names and titles, but the plain meaning of the Word is clear, if we choose to read it and heed it.