What’s The Point of Job?

What is the book supposed to help us understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have seen some discussions going on lately in a group I’m in on Facebook on the book of Job. What is going on in it? Sometimes, we go to the book of Job expecting to find the answer to the question of why God allows evil. It’s understandable. That’s what we’ve been told all our lives about it, isn’t it? If you’re going through suffering, try going through Job. It will help.

The question is how. Job never really addresses suffering. Even when God shows up towards the end of the book, God never addresses the suffering of Job. He never tells Job why what happened, happened. Job never saw what happened in the prologue of the book.

Yet the prologue of the book does contain the answer. It’s amazing we look at the book and try to find out what it’s about without maybe looking at the questions asked in the prologue to see what it’s about. It can be summed up easily in the question of the accuser.

Does Job serve God for nothing?

It’s an understandable question to ask. Look at Job. He’s the Bill Gates of his day with money. He’s loaded. He has everything he could ever want. He also has several kids who can carry on his legacy. Job lacks nothing. Why wouldn’t he serve God? Life is good. Job will keep serving God because God has blessed him.

Why does God agree to the challenge of the accuser? To show that there are other reasons for serving God besides blessing and to show that Job is a better man than the accuser thinks he is. Even when Job has lost everything and that includes his health, Job is still righteous in what he does.

In the end when God shows up, Job repents. He realizes that he did speak some things out of turn, but that God is still God and God is to be honored. Job doesn’t have perfect theology, but his theology is good enough. He doesn’t understand the ways of God, but he does understand God is to be honored. Job honors God. Job himself is honored.

God shows this publicly by blessing Job even more. This would be a divine vindication that would take place before everyone’s eyes. Everyone would know that Job had been honored by God as a result of this. Come to think of it, I think another righteous sufferer was honored about 2,000 years ago by a public display before the world….

So what does this book have to say to us today?

Imagine being a Christian and realizing that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead, but that we will not rise. What if you were told that there is no heaven to gain and no hell to shun? This life is all there is.

Will you still serve God?

If not, then do you serve God only for the benefits? Do you not serve God because of who He is and is He not worthy to be served even if He does nothing like that for you? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying blessings, but what if they aren’t there? Will you still serve?

You’re a man who speaks regularly of his love for his wife. Then, an accident occurs. From now on, sex will be out of the picture. Will you still love? Will you still serve? Will you still love?

Why do you serve? Do you serve for the benefits or because it’s the right thing to do?

That is what Job is asking.

Only you can answer that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is Your Pastor’s Job?

What is your pastor supposed to do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about how our churches are not equipping us. Someone replied at a place where I posted it saying an hour a week on Sunday is not enough. This is absolutely true. Even if we added in Sunday school and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services, it still can’t compare to the media onslaught most of us get every day.

As I reflected on this, I thought of something else that is often not mentioned. Evangelism is not the pastor’s job per se. Now all of us are meant to be evangelists to an extent, but what I mean is that we often have an odd view of how to get people to come to Christ.

We go out and we meet a neighbor who is an unbeliever. What do we think the plan is? Oh! Well, you invite them to church and then when in church the pastor gives a message and the person is convicted and they repent and come to Jesus. This can happen, but this is not the way it really is supposed to happen.

It sounds like a stretch to some, but really, the person who is supposed to bring that person to Jesus is you. A pastor should certainly when giving a message keep in mind there could be unbelievers in the audience and be willing to offer them the chance to come to Christ, but that is not his main role. His main role is indeed to equip the saints further.

Our methodology today often absolves us of any responsibility. We get them to church and then the pastor takes over. Your pastor, no matter how good he is, cannot be Superman. He cannot do everything. He has his limitations on him as well.

Consider it as a coach. A coach wants players to be able to make the decisions as if he wasn’t even there. Sure, a player can go to a coach for a strategy if he needs one, but a coach will not be supportive of a player who goes to him for everything that he is thinking about. The player needs to learn how to play as much as possible without the coach.

This means that when you do evangelism, you might actually have to learn how to answer questions yourself. You might have to learn how to dialogue yourself. You might actually have to do some bizarre things. This could include such things as reading the Bible on your own, praying on your own, reading devotional literature or studying theology, apologetics, church history, or anything else on your own.

In other words, your Christianity might require some work on your part.

“But I don’t have time!” I hear as you sit down to watch the rerun of that show you’ve seen 27 times so far. I hear it as you sit down to follow your favorite sports franchise that you can’t seem to live without. I hear it as you do whatever is that you’re doing during the day.

The problem is that if something is truly important to you, you will make the time for it somehow. If your Christianity is important to you, you will make the time for it. If it isn’t, you won’t. You will find some excuse and go back to what is really important to you.

Your pastor should help you along the way, but that’s not what he’s there. He’s there to equip and encourage, but like a teacher, he’s also there to help you so that you won’t need help eventually. Hopefully, at that point, he will be like a wise mentor that you come to only periodically.

When the church is producing people who are ultimately teachers of the Gospel themselves and evangelists themselves, then the work is being done. When it is just producing people who think their only job is to bring unbelievers to the pastor, it is not, at least on that front. It is my hopes we will see more and more equipped churches where the huge majority is truly growing in Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Evil And Entitlement

Is the problem of evil a more Western problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, my wife and I were with our church small group discussing the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. The thesis is that it’s often simple to know to obey God and even to do it, but to trust Him is something else. Of course, if we don’t trust Him, we’re not really obeying Him.

Something that keeps us from trusting often is the problem of evil. I did recently interview Clay Jones on this and he did back something that I have heard, that evil is often more of a problem being talked about in the West than it is in the places where the real evil is going on. I can think of the fundamentalist atheist teenager talking in a chat room years ago who would go on and on about how much evil there was in the world and then say he’d brb, someone was calling his cell phone.

I suspect that part of the reason is because we often have an entitlement mindset over here. I have heard some people saying, and I understand it, that they don’t like the concept of us having rights. Perhaps we should think of them as more responsibilities we have toward our fellow man. We often think that we are owed something.

When it comes to evil in our lives then, we look at it and think that God is not doing His job. After all, He’s supposed to be making sure we’re happy, and normally we have in mind a very American view of happiness. Even with our therapy today, we often focus on dealing with our emotions instead of dealing with our behavior. We do need to deal with our emotions to be sure, but our behavior is by far more important.

If we look biblically, this idea of God holding out on us and not doing His part is what led to the fall in the Garden. Why take the fruit? Because God is holding out on you. God is not looking out entirely for you. He’s looking out more for Himself. The strange thing is we keep acting the same way.

In our society, we think more about what God is to do for us than on what we are to do for Him. Many of us will rightfully condemn the word of faith people who treat God like a servant and say if you have enough faith, then you will get all the miracles and wealth you want, but we act the same way on a lower scale. If we are doing everything right in our lives, everything should work out for us. If we do the right thing, we should have good happen in our lives.

It’s interesting that this is the very thinking in the book of Job. Job is thought to be the oldest book in the Bible by many scholars. In this book, God Himself challenges this way of thinking and says it is wrong. What do we do? We still hold to this exact way of thinking. (Also, it’s worth pointing out the book of Job is not about the problem of evil. It’s asking the question of if you will still serve God even if things don’t work out for you. If you gained nothing, would you still serve?)

I suspect a large part of this is that we are not thankful enough. Consider Romans 1. This passage is all about how God is judging the world and the wrath of God. What does verse 1 say about it?

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Imagine giving a presentation somewhere and you get reviews back from the audience. There are twenty of them. Nineteen of them are positive. One is negative. It is our tendency to focus on that one negative. The same thing is what we do here.

God has given us all so much and we don’t appreciate it. In other countries where good things are not taken for granted, they are seen as gifts. We sleep in warm beds, have refrigerators with food, drive where we want to go, watch what we want on TV, access what we want on the internet, can worship in freedom, and yet we still say that there isn’t enough good in this life to be thankful for.

Years ago, someone gave me a tip that I try to do at times. If you have one night where it’s hard to get to sleep, go through the alphabet. Think of things that you’re thankful for that start with each letter. If you can’t think of something, then you do indeed have a problem. You are not thankful enough.

Keep in mind, this is no light matter. This is something that is included in the wrath of God. If you are not thanking God, you are likely taking Him for granted. Sure, God gives you food to eat and a place to sleep, but He’s supposed to do that isn’t He?

No. He has no obligation to you beyond what He promised you. You were never promised a pain-free life. You were never promised a rose garden this side of eternity. That means then that everything that you have is a gift. If you have something good come into your life, rejoice. If you lose something, God never owed it to you and you have to trust Him.

My wife and I have been reading James 1 at night the past couple of days and James really has a lot to say about this. Just look at the first chapter.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faithproduces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The early church was facing trials of many kinds. Sometimes it was physical persecution. Sometimes it was ostracism from society. They would be outcasts and suffer economic hardship as well. Never mind that they didn’t have all the blessings that we have today.

Despite this, they were to have joy. They had far less than we have and quite likely far more suffering, and they were told to have joy. Not only this, this joy came with a promise. We will then be mature and complete and not lacking anything. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

So James is telling us that persevering under trial is a sign of your love for God. It demonstrates to the world you love God and God promises a crown of life to you. Earlier, I said God owes nothing to you beyond what He promises you. If you treat Scripture as His promises, then this is His promise. If you persevere, He will give you a crown of life.

My wife is part of Celebrate Recovery. Tonight, she’s excited because she gets a chip to show that she’s gone two months without cutting. If she is excited to get a little chip, how much more excited should I be that I will get a crown of life? Unless, of course, I don’t think it’s that big a deal or I don’t think God will keep His word.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

And James tells us that God does give us good gifts. God does not change. His gifts are because of His gracious nature. Often, we have a deserving mentality. If we do good, we deserve to get good things and if we do bad, we deserve to get evil things. If we get a gift, we need to deserve it. Not at all. Paul even said this to the pagans in Lystra in Acts 14.

17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

Plenty of food? These people had to work for their food much more than we do. I can just drive down to a supermarket and find plenty of food that I can get. Water would also be a valuable commodity for them, and yet I can go to a water fountain and get all that I want for free. God gave these gifts to people that Romans says did not honor Him or give thanks to Him.

When we treat God in a way that He doesn’t give us good things in our minds and isn’t looking out for us, what kind of Father are we saying that He is? Could we not be like the prodigal son and saying that we wish He was dead and we could go on with our lives? The elder son didn’t fare much better. He saw his dad as someone stingy he was slaving for and he never got a thing for it.

By the way, I’m saying all of this to myself. I also have a problem with a lack of thankfulness. Many times when you do a blog like this, you write not only for your audience but for yourself. Lately, I have been having to learn about this a great deal.

So what are we going to do? Be more thankful. Realize you are not owed anything. Everything that you have is a gift. If God takes something away, He’s not being cruel to you. He’s looking out for you in a way you don’t understand. Trust Him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Hidden Treasures In The Book of Job

What do I think of Hugh Ross’s book on Job? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

hiddentreasures

In Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, Hugh Ross, astronomer as well as president and founder of Christian science and faith ministry Reasons To Believe, takes on a journey through the book of Job looking at it through the eyes of a scientist.

As I started going through the book, I think Ross could say the first lesson to learn is “Don’t write a book about Job.” Why? Because shortly after he started, he tells about great tragedies that came in his life, such as the loss of his father and of his wife’s father. Now of course, I don’t think the writing on Job causes that, but I do think that writing about Job can make you more in tune to the suffering in the world.

Ross starts off with talking about the history of the book and much of this I found interesting. For instance, I had not considered how far Job’s friends traveled to see him. The image showing this was quite revealing. I also do agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible and so I started wondering about how it would be that if Moses had a copy of Job that it influenced his writing. I cannot say for certain if I think it did or not, but I do think that this is something that is worth research by leading scholars of the OT if it has not been done already.

Also a fascinating question if this is the case would be to ask how Moses got this information. Could it be that it came from Abraham since Abraham came from near the area of Job? Could it be then that Abraham might have had some knowledge through knowing Job or his story? These are questions worth considering.

Unfortunately, on the science aspect of the book, I really can’t comment. I make it a point to not comment on science as science. If something is a good argument against evolutionary theory, I could not show it and therefore make it a point to not comment.

I also found the chapters on animals to be fascinating. I cannot say that I think there is a message specifically in the animals named or if they’re general examples used for various purposes. That would have been good to see. We are told in the book about how these animals could be used for our good, but I do not recall seeing the lessons that we were to learn from them that would have been more readily apparent to the people back then.

I also found the section on what the great animals were described in Job that many people think are dinosaurs. In these areas, I did find that Ross’s explanations were convincing.

Naturally, when it came to some ideas, I was more skeptical. When it came to places where eschatology is commented on, I did not find those persuasive seeing as Ross interprets such passages in a much more literalistic sense than I do. (Something that he has said in one of his books surprises many people)

The last chapters are about the problem of suffering and evil and here I think Ross definitely writes with a pastor’s heart. There is not much in these chapters that was really scientific, but it is more written I think with the purpose of helping people who are undergoing suffering.

Some other reviews I have found elsewhere by skeptics note that they do not find much convincing them there is a God. I think Ross writes some books for that purpose, but I do not think this is one of them. I think instead this was written more to inform Christians on the book of Job from Ross’s perspective. There are some arguments that deal with scientific matters and I’m sure they’re worth investigating if they haven’t been already.

I cannot say at this point I agree with all of Ross’s readings, but I will say there is still material in here to spark conversation. I made sure to share many of the statements about animals with my wife who happens to be an animal lover. It gave us a delightful conversation together.

Still, if someone is interested in the book of Job, there is a unique view here you probably will not find elsewhere so by all means, see what you think.

In Christ,
Nick Peters