It is only within the words of Scripture that we as human beings have any concept of the status and position that a Holy and righteous God commands. For no other book details this!
He abhors evil, and yet if we believe Scripture to be God breathed through the medium of His holy spirit, He created it along with good! (Isaiah 45:7). As believers, our studies and meditations on His word reveal many seemingly paradoxical events that have occurred over thousands of years, that appear to have no clear answer, other than they are scriptural, and therefore are for our learning and appreciation.
One such person, to whom the book written after him appears to have a multitude of misunderstandings with regard to the purpose of it, is the book of Job. Some state that this book was written during the time of the minor prophets, but my studies lead me to observe that it is indeed a very early book, perhaps even the first book of Scripture that was ever penned. (Genesis 36, in the Concordant Version, has Esau's birth as 3600 years from Adam's creation, which refutes the 6000 year theory!)
If Eliphaz, one of the three friends of Job, is correctly identified, then he was the firstborn son of Esau, who was the twin of Jacob. The book has no recollection of the servitude in Egypt, nor the wilderness period of 40 years by the children of Israel. It mentions Adam, and it is accustomed with offerings for sin. These offerings were obviously word of mouth ritual that had been passed down from the time of Cain and Abel.
Paul knew this book. "Wisdom of this world is stupidity with God!" (1 Corinthians 3:20 is a direct quote from Job 5:13 "He is clutching the wise in their craftiness"!)
The book of Job gives us:
- The longest recorded speech by Yhvh (The Lord) in Scripture!
- The most profound debate between a human and The Lord.
- The first mention in the Bible of the Adversary, (apart from Genesis) who asks permission to test Job's faith.
It also gives us the beginning of the Adversary in human affairs, whereas Isaiah and Revelation, his removal from human and celestial influence!
Some commentators mention that Job was a Jew, but it is clear that this definition of a specific race of people was not defined until the book of Kings. Even though Abraham was alive at this time becoming the father of many nations and given the seal of the sign of circumcision.
It is then more than likely that Job had no other written source of scriptural material to refer to. Why then does Job not find it strange that Elohim (The Lord) had conversation with him? It has to be a recognised fact that Job had been singled out for appreciation of, and teaching from, Elohim Himself!
We read that Job feared The Lord and kept away from evil. He was so astute in his reverence for Elohim, that even when his seven sons and three daughters feasted regularly, he offered ascent offerings up in case any of them had offended or scorned The Lord.
This leads to the Adversary observing Job, confronting Elohim, and asserting that although The Lord had stated he was as no other man on earth, flawless and upright, he would capitulate if the Adversary were allowed to afflict his belongings and family. This was permitted, and all, including ten children, were lost by fire and wind or tornado.
The expected result from the Adversary was that Job would curse God. He did not, and even blessed the Lord and stated that "He gives and He takes, neither sinning or ascribing anything improper on The Lord." A point that believers of all ages might well remember!
The Adversary approaches The Lord again and this time receives permission to touch Job's bone and flesh, but not to take his life. Job, as you may recall, is smitten from head to toe with festering boils that needed a potsherd or scraper to take the pus away, which must have smelt dreadful. His wife appears to be of little consolation to him, and implores him to forego his integrity and scorn Elohim and die. Job's reply is, "You are speaking as a decadent woman speaks, we receive good from the one Lord and should we not receive evil?" Job did not sin with his lips!
He sat in ashes and obviously ostracised from the community, his three friends approach and do not recognize him, for his body must have been very disfigured. They sprinkled soil on their heads and tore their robes, sitting with him for the next seven days in silence. Then commences three discourses by Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, that are further discussed in greater detail on why Job was in the situation he was in here.
After the first round of discourses, Job realises that their analysis is incorrect, that he had not sinned and neither had he cursed or doubted the Lord. In fact, Job is so seemingly incensed that in the 12th chapter after they have spoken, he says "Truly you are the people, and with you wisdom shall die"! (Was Job being slightly sarcastic?)
Job continues his reply, and in the 14 chapter says,
"If a master dies, shall he live again? All the days of my enlistment, (or 'life' as in the KJV) I shall wait until my relief comes, You shall call, and I shall answer You; You shall long for the works of your hands"!
This discourse continues on for another 20 chapters, within which much is stated, but precious little that was actual in regard to Job's afflictions.
Then a man called Elihu appears on the scene and because he was younger, decided that he would wait and listen. He is angry because Job appears to have justified himself rather than The Lord. This continues for several chapters until finally The Lord intervenes within the proceedings. Chapter 38 is one where Job begins to see what his life of obedience was compared to the One who created him. In verse 4 The Lord enquires,
"Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell if you know with understanding..... Can you tie up the windings of the Pleiades? Or can you unloose the draw-cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations of the zodiac in their season, and the Great Bear and her cubs, can you guide them?"
Four chapters of this and Job is flabbergasted and dumbfounded. He states in Chapter 42 that marvellous thoughts he had, that he did not comprehend. He states,
"I shall ask of you, and you inform me. With the hearing of the ear I had heard of you, but now my eye sees you. Therefore I recant and repent, on soil and ashes"!
Job had just come to fully realise that as humanly righteous and as morally perfect his life had been, compared to the One who had just spoken, he was nothing.
His three friends are reproved by The Lord, and Job has the task of offering ascent offerings on behalf of them, and to pray for relief of their disgrace, which The Lord would overlook.
The Lord's castigation of Job's three friends was:
"You have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has!"
The blessing on Job after this was exceptional. His brothers and sisters, and presumably his chastened wife, have what must have been some celebration feast. He was blessed with double the number of animals that he had before, with three lovely daughters and seven more sons, to which he saw his sons' sons to the fourth generation. He lived a further 140 years and died satisfied with days!
I relate the case of Job for a particular reason. Job's friends had indicted him with moral evil. Job knew full well that from all revealed knowledge that he had, he had not committed such. This may well have given him a feeling of empirical self esteem and self righteousness, to which others considered he was guilty of.
How marvellous it must have been to Job that The Lord Himself had verified that he was indeed flawless and upright.
God does inflict evil where no blame exists, and Job experienced this fully!
We hear no more of the Adversary, for he had failed in his attempt to convince Job of rejecting The Lord.
Suffering comes to believer and unbeliever alike, but in the case of the believer it is not a penalty from a stern and authoritative Lord, but the chastening, as is revealed in later Scripture, as the tutelage of a loving God.
Job could have believed that it was the Adversary alone that had attacked him. It is clear that permission had to be granted to the Adversary, the Adversary being the object used of God to inflict evil, and therefore he is not the root of man's immorality. It sometimes can be the believer's error to blame the Adversary for everything, when in fact he was the entity used to convey evil, so as to attempt to discredit God. The Adversary is the Adversary toward God, and it is his role to deny God and His Christ's existence.
The Adversary filled Job's flesh with total misery so that he should curse God. After all that Job went through, he finally realised that it was permitted and arranged by God for Job's learning and spiritual benefit.
It was the realisation of this that brought home to Job why a seemingly righteous man is tested, not to prove his greatness or social distinction on this earth, but to demonstrate man's impotence and inability to ever seek anything beyond life on this earth by his own efforts! Job's three accomplices had no belief in, or understanding of, a future retribution for wrong!!
Now, if all this took place some four and a half thousand years ago, (and remember, without the aid of Scripture to refer to) do we not see how God has used these periods of evil on this earth during this wicked eon, to enlighten and give humanity all the evidence it could ever need or require as to the plan and purpose that He has gradually revealed.
We are acquainted with Israel and their trials and tests. Moses brought the law and covenants, to which Israel agreed to obey. Before Moses had come down from Sinai they had broken it and induced Aaron to make a calf and voided the covenant.
Before entering the land they wanted judges and then kings, when The Lord declared He was all they needed, and not to follow other nations. David was a man after God's own heart, but failed in following God's paths, even though he will yet be Regent on this earth.
The Scriptures are full of man's wickedness and God's forgiveness, until we see that there had to be an antidote that could correct all that man's heart, fuelled with wickedness, had deceived him into with separation from God.
Some of the prophets had no knowledge of two appearances of The Lord on this earth. Even though it is clear in Isaiah, Israel stumbled on the stumbling stone that was Christ, and failed to accept or recognise Him. They are still looking for His first appearance today. How distraught they will be when they accept the false christ, and realise that Scripture foretold all of this in advance. Only when the veil is lifted, and their blindness is corrected, as Paul states in Romans, will their heart be replaced with a new one!!
Dear friends, even though our Lord was on this earth and preached the coming kingdom, He pointed everything toward God as the Father of us all, who yet will redeem Israel. But He never mentions that God's righteousness was to be imparted to humanity.
I have given an account of Job's life, not because in any way we should liken it to ourselves, for it is the error of "transferred theology" of repentance and works that has so muddled and confused believers today. By reading Scriptures that have no actual meaning to us, unless we are spiritually mature enough to rightly divide truth, then we take on a gospel that at this time is inactive and gives the appearance of being inert and lifeless by its incorrect timing.
We should never forget that Heaven is a place that exists all around us, but contact with The Lord as was done in the time of Job, Abraham and others has now ceased. There is no contact verbally with this earth from above, for we have the fulness of Scripture and our access to God and His Christ is by worshipping in spirit and in truth. That can be done by no specific body position or movement of the arms or lips, for we worship God who is spirit and hears us in spirit. (Read 1 Samuel 1:12-14 and the case of Hannah).
Colossians 1:25 clearly states that Paul has completed the word of God, not the Scriptures, for there were more yet to come by kingdom apostles, but he has given to us all that we need to know prior to the return of The Lord, and on to the consummation. That is why to me, the belief in entrance to paradise, or life immediately upon death, now given by others in the 7th century AD and that may well be believed by countless millions, are not a part of revealed truth from God for believers in Christ today!
This exclusive truth was to be revealed when he confronted Saul on the road to Damascus, and although at first it appeared to be an extension of the kingdom evangel, it was ultimately rejected by the Jews, led Paul away from them being the receivers of such blessings, and into a joint body of Jew and Gentile, which was to proceed from glory to glory as he, a former Pharisee and calumniator of all that the Lord had testified to, and was about to reveal. A new humanity, not revealed in previous generations!!
We are first made aware of the presence of God's righteousness in the very first chapter of Romans. Paul, in verse 16 is not ashamed of the evangel, for it is God's power for salvation to everyone who is believing - to the Jew first and to the Greek as well. For in it, (that is within the confines of this evangel, not that of Peter's), God's righteousness is being revealed, out of faith for faith.
We should remember that up until now all those committing acts deserving of death are judged by the supreme standard of all justice, that is God's righteousness.
We have already seen, that even such men as Job may have been flawless and upright, but they were to be categorised as "not one is righteous, no not even one", in Romans 3:11.
Paul then establishes that by this righteousness of God, it declares the just verdict of God that, because by works of law, that which Job had probably never had revealed to him, he is still within the scope of no flesh at all shall be justified in His sight, for through law is the recognition of sin. (Romans 3:19-20).
What Paul is coming to, and what the whole of creation will yet appreciate is, that in order for God to reverse the penalty on the whole of humanity, a sacrifice has to be made that is acceptable to God and is beyond reproach to cover the whole of creation. All previous standards of good within humanity are laid bare as being unacceptable in relation to God and His perfect righteousness. Let us not forget, that when this era of God's grace comes to an end, there will be one thousand years of works acceptable to God, and personal faith allied with that.
The evangel that Paul is about to preach, which is the evangel of God never before mentioned, avoids and never acknowledges any faithful acts of humanity, but instead now centres on the exclusive and absolute faithfulness and obedience of Christ Jesus to His God and Father. This was now total recognition of Christ's act in dying for sinners, in order that God's indictment in the future and now would be lifted from them.
I cannot express it better than what Paul wrote in Romans 5:6-7,
"For Christ, while we are still infirm, still in accord with the era, for the sake of the irreverent, died ... "
Verse 8 continues,
"... yet God is commending this love of His to us, seeing that, while we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes!"
So we see that the very foundation of this evangel is that Someone has been accepted as the one perfect sacrifice that, as we shall discover, is not only for humanity only, but includes the subterranean and celestial creation as well. All that our Lord did on this earth whilst with the other apostles is apart from what Paul is preaching. He wishes to stress above anything else, that, as he states in Romans 5:18:
"Consequently then, as it was through one offence for all mankind for condemnation, [notice not some, but all], thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life's justifying."
You see that Adam deprived us of continued life, he brought mortality to each of us, so that however good or clean a life we lead, we are going to the grave with no exceptions. Christ has totally nullified that condemnation, and by His obedience and sacrifice, His one act of kindness recovers all that had been forfeited in Adam.
Orthodoxy half believes this, but denies the ALL, and states that because of its doctrinal creeds, only believers now will receive this justification of life, and the rest will perish. I can only quote the apostle Paul again in 1 Corinthians 15:22,
"For even as in Adam all are dying, thus also in Christ, shall all be vivified."
Dear friends, if we believe what the Scriptures state, then this vivification will not be the same earthly body that Adam had, but eventually when God is all in us, bodies that are beyond the power of death!
I grant you that we believers accept these facts by having faith in Christ's faithfulness toward His Father. We accept that faith is an assumption of things not seen, a conviction of matters which cannot be observed. We understand these future glories as if they were present reality, but we have to accept them as not being literal, but by prolepsis. That is, speaking of future events and anticipating them as if they were in actual fact reality, but are yet future. Paul uses this a lot, and is also defining our meager faith in Christ's faith, for His, Christ's, is perfect!
When Christ went to the cross, He undertook the most intense and excruciating suffering that one with human flesh could envisage. In His case, not only was it the death of the cross, but by it was such intense suffering undeserved, and the greatest humiliation that has ever been accepted by one of creation. The highest from God became the lowest of humanity.
Some believe that Christ went and preached to spirits in prison after He had died, but unless Christ was completely dead and totally in the hands of His Father to raise Him, you and I have no Saviour. But indeed we know we have!!
We believe Paul when he declares, that Christ has been roused, and that as other apostles state, He was seen by over 500 witnesses!
We accept this by a conviction, and enter into the new and astounding revelation that,
"He was roused because of our justifying"
Justification is ours now, and by prolepsis we learn that God uses this to turn our offences into righteousness! Paul now reveals that through this, not only did He die, but in order that we would become dead to our sins and offences, we died with Him, we were entombed together with Him, and then roused together with Him. (Ephesians 2:1-6.)
Paul now reveals that,
"one who dies has been justified from Sin"
And this is fully corroborated in 2 Corinthians 5:14, where Paul states,
"Judging this, that if One (Christ) died for the sake of all, consequently all died!"
We should now see that in the death of Christ, the whole of the human sinning race has been put to death. Only believers at this time appreciate it! I would like you to look up 2 Corinthians 5:21. In the Concordant Version it has:
"For the One not knowing sin, He makes to be a sin offering for our sakes that we may be becoming God's righteousness in Him".
When the 16 revisers of the Scriptures, about to create the King James version, sat down at Hampton Court Palace to revise the new translation, they must have looked at this verse, and much deliberation transpired. They had not very much textual critique at this time, for textual criticism was not yet fully established.
But the overwhelming decision was that this verse should read
"For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!"
It is not very often that I have a leaning toward the KJV, but in this case I do, for when we regard offerings for sin that were made, they were always made in daylight, whereas there were three hours of darkness, when God The Father forsook Him! Offerings were also carried out by an intermediary, and could often be repeated.
In the 4th chapter of Leviticus in the KJV it has a heading at the top stating the "sin offering". When we arrive at the 14th verse it correctly states the "sin," which it is, for in Hebrew there is no such word to cover sin offering, but just the sin.
It was the sin of putting a totally perfect specimen of an unblemished animal to death, totally undeserved that was the sin, not the sin of the congregation!
(This can be studied further in Mr Knoch's "The Problem of Evil and the Judgments of God" page 26, published by www.concordant.org)
Christ's sacrifice will never need to be repeated, and the Scriptures are quite clear that Christ, upon entering into death, having been without sin, became sin for our sakes. I consider that this only exemplifies the enormity of the sacrifice of Christ for all.
"The ration of Sin is death, Sin reigns in death, but Death is lording it over Him no longer"
(Romans 5 and 6)
God wisely uses sin in order to expiate sin! He is the one offering that makes all substitutes unnecessary!!! Whether before the bema, as we shall stand, or in judgment outside of the blood of Christ, offences will have been committed by all of us, and they require an appreciation of, or a penalty to be paid. It is through the sacrifice of Christ, that all of these failures or offences that we incur are forgiven, being justified in Christ's blood.
The conciliation of the verses just mentioned are sadly misunderstood, not realising that reconciliation, a word often misquoted, can only take place by fully appreciating God's stance in conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offences to them, - verse 19 of the same chapter.
Is it any wonder that so many today doubt their standing in Christ due to doctrinal error, and the fact that only God makes sinners righteous before Him through the blood of Christ! What a glorious evangel we have to declare! Being fast tracked to sainthood by means of miracles or works means nothing in Christ!!
The fact that God reveals His own righteousness to us on believing, through Jesus Christ's faith, as mentioned in Romans 3:21-23, leads us into the wonderful prayers that Paul elucidates in an outpouring of praise in Ephesians.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, every spiritual blessing is ours, holy and flawless in His sight, designating us beforehand ... having the deliverance through His blood, forgiveness of offences, in accord with the riches of His grace, which He lavishes on us ..."
Please read Ephesians 2 and 3 in detail where he adds...
He vivifies us and seats us together among the celestials, to head up all in the Christ, (not only on this earth, as He will commence on His return, but in the heavens as well,) which is the exclusive objective of all those chosen by decree of God Himself, which we are understanding was the counsel of His will made long before this earth was ever created. All this we believe which is faith in action, and by prolepsis as if we were there right now!
" .. that we should be for the laud of His glory, who are the pre-expectant in the Christ!"
All personal works of righteousness is excluded in this prayer of Paul!
Can there be any greater future mapped out for a body of weak and mortal human beings?
What does God ask of us? To earn this status, to grovel in ritual and precepts that make the flesh feel important? No! He asks us that on hearing the word of truth, the evangel of your salvation, in whom on believing also ...
But believing what? Are we a modern day offshoot of Job, blinkered into our own righteousness apart from God's, for even Job eventually saw the narrowness of his understanding. He did not have Paul's writings. Christ had not then become a sacrifice for all, but even Job will attain to a human earthly life of service to the Lord, on further truth in the kingdom on this earth. No, we are believing the evangel. That is what God asks and requires of us, within which He seals us with the holy Spirit of promise, attaining an earnest or down payment of the spirit and a seal that can never be broken!
I love the third chapter of Philippians. Reading from verse 20:
"For our realm is inherent in the heavens, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, to conform it to the body of His glory."
I like the Oxford English dictionary explanation of transfigure, "to transform into something more beautiful and spiritual"!
Conformed, in the likeness of Christ's body, never again subject to death, and for us, discarding the mortality that we acquired through Adam, an operation which enables Him even to subject all to Himself. What a beautiful piece of Scripture showing the destiny of all of God's creation, subterranean, terrestrial and celestial!
All of this because of Christ, and His total obedience to the plan and purpose of God!
In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul implores us to put on the cuirass of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation. Years later, he expands this in Ephesians 6:13 to be a full panoply of God in order to withstand in the wicked day, which for us is right now. Girded about our loins with truth, with the curaiss of righteousness now put on. (This covered the thorax or throat, went down to the hips and covered the back as well, being a type of corset.) Our feet sandaled with the readiness of the evangel of peace, not war, taking up the large shield of faith to fend off error and false doctrine, and the helmet of salvation with the sword of the spirit which is a declaration of God, the truth of His word for today.
In 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul warns him and us to be ready to suffer evil as an ideal soldier of Christ. That for us is defence of truth, very often being ostracised by others, who unwittingly are the dupes of the very spirit world that wish to attack us, and they influence those who are undoubtedly nominal believers, to which we are forced to suffer in silence! This wall and barrier of orthodoxy and theology misplaced, is the ever increasing sign of the end time apostasy!! Apostasy is committed by believers, not unbelievers!
Finally, in 1 Corinthians 9:24 Paul explains a race by an athlete for a corruptible wreath, solely for the first at a stadium, for within Greek and Roman games there were no second or thirds as there are today, but only a winner! We race for an incorruptible one, never to be forfeited!
For Paul, back in 2 Timothy 4:8, he had kept the faith, and the wreath of righteousness, (that is a testament to the very righteousness that God imbues on all of those who are believers today, through the sacrifice and offering by Christ that is above all other types of offerings), and to which is reserved for him, and not only to him, he states, but now collectively to all who love His advent! Amen.
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© David Osgood 2011