Archive for the ‘Job’ Category

Job cover

I’ve absolutely loved Christopher Ash’s Preaching the Word series commentary on Job. So many things I’d never seen. Deep, paradigm-shaking stuff on God’s governance of His universe. A real preacher’s commentary. Great on the detail. Great on the big picture and the flow. Great pastoral sensitivity and compassionate insight. Here’s a taster:

God gives us a forty-two-chapter book… Not an SMS… A journey… Why? Because there is no instant working through grief, no quick fix to pain, no message of Job in a nutshell.

About 95% of the book of Job is poetry… We cannot sum up a poem in a bald statement; we need to let a poem get to work on us.

Job has integrity; he is not so sure about his children.

There is something dark in human hearts, and Job knows it.

A whole burnt offering… pictures the hot anger of God burning up the animal in the place of the worshipper… We can imagine Job doing this for [his children] one at a time: “This one is for you,” and he lights the fire, and the animal is consumed… And so on until all the children were covered by sacrifice.

The Bible portrays for us a world that lies under the absolute supremacy and sovereignty of the Creator, who has no rivals… And yet he does not govern the world as the sole supernatural power. He governs the world by means of and through the agency of a multiplicity of supernatural powers, some of whom are evil.

The book of Job is not about suffering in general… Rather it is about how God treats his friends.

The Satan, for all his malice, is doing something necessary for the glory of God. In some deep way it is necessary for it to be publically seen by the whole universe that God is worthy of the worship of a man and that God’s worth is in no way dependent on God’s gifts.

Empathy may be inarticulate… But comfort must be articulate and active. Empathy may be silent, but comfort must include speech.

[Job] has been taken away into a different realm, a realm of suffering so deep [his friends] cannot reach him… To them Job is no longer a living person.

A true Christian believer may be taken by God through times of deep and dark despair… We need to recognise that there may be times in the life of a believer when the future appears utterly blank and all we can do is look back with regret.

How do you and I respond when the wild world breaks into the farm, when the disorder and chaos of a dark world invades our ordered world and makes mincemeat of our plans and hopes? Come outside the farm, says the Lord to Job, and have a thoughtful tour of the wild world outside.

We are forced to consider the strange but wonderful possibility that evil is created to serve the purposes and glory of God.

Satan, the Leviathan, is a horrible monster. But he cannot go one millimetre beyond the leash on which the Lord keeps him.

The normal Christian life is warfare and waiting and being loved and humbled by God and being justified by God… The blessings we get now are just a tiny foretaste of the blessings to be poured out at the end.



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“When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him” (Job 2:12)

“Just as there were many who were appalled at him
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14)



“The more I have bashed my head against the text of Job year after year, the more deeply convinced I have become that the book ultimately makes no sense without the obedience of Jesus Christ, his obedience to death on a cross. Job is not everyman; he is not every believer. There is something desperately extreme about Job. He foreshadows one man whose greatness exceeded ever Job’s, whose sufferings took him deeper than Job, and whose perfect obedience to his Father was only anticipated in faint outline by Job.” (Christopher Ash, Job: The Wisdom of the Cross, Crossway, 2014, p. 21)

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lego movie

A great post from a good friend, Nived Lobo:

Niv's Reflections

(or, how to see complexity that might not be there in children’s films)

I finally got around to watching ‘The LEGO Movie’, so you know what time it is! Indulgent-thoughts-from-another-film-translated-into-a-rambling-blog-post time!

This film had oodles going for it. Will Arnett and Liam Neeson are two voices I will gladly listen to for hours. The jokes were charming. And there was unexpected depth here, too. Which got me thinking about creativity. (Spoilers are going to follow, so if that’s a big thing for you, stop reading…now.)

I think the biggest questions this film raised were that of creativity and the creator. Essentially, there were two creative forces in the film: a child, whose imagination drives his playing with the pieces, and then his adult father (for whom the whole pursuit is rooted in nostalgia), ‘the Man upstairs’, who is all about boundaries. Each set belongs together, and the toys are more…

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Last day of the ministry training week for the iServe apprentices and great last few chapters of the book of Job:

  • Can you execute justice and judgement and bring world peace (40:9-14)? Can you overcome the great powers of sin  (40:14-24)? Can you put the King of Darkness, the Evil One himself on a leash (41:1-34)? But the LORD can and he does. You no longer need to live in fear.
  • Job does not leap from chapter 2 to the double-double of chapter 42. He goes through the torment of hell and out the other side to resurrection life.
  • For Job’s friends, in the face of God’s burning anger there is hope in a burnt offering (42:7-8).

As we finished with the Lord’s supper Pst. Silas took us to the historic gospel facts, resurrection life through Christ’s death and assurance in the risen Jesus (Mt. 27:45-56).

And in terms of preaching this death and resurrection: Evangelistic Preaching.

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From Job 32-37, the long speech of Elihu, we started to see how suffering is a far more complex issue than the ‘comforters’ had made it, with many possible purposes beyond punishment and linking to God’s concerns to speak to us, perfect us, call us to himself and above all his glory.

Discussing marriage and parenting (Ephesians 5:22-6:4) we saw many striking differences between the gospel-shaped family and the more common models in our cultures. We agreed that the husband’s role, laying down his life for his wife like Christ for the church, is the more challenging one; we thought about what it meant for practice for Jesus to serve the church including suffering and shame (and going into the kitchen!); and questioned the common assumption that submission in marriage is mutual (does Christ submit to the church?).

With Sammy we looked at how to stay mission-minded, servant-hearted and Steadfast in the workplace. Including questions like ‘Can a Christian work for a brewery or tobacco company?’

As the second year apprentices discussed the challenge of liberalism the two big issues that came up were women in pastoral ministry and divorce/re-marriage – the latter seeming to be increasingly common even among pastors.

In all these things the big challenge was – do we go with our personal experiences, our culture, our feelings or ‘logic’ or do we honestly look at the Word and stick with that.


Also today:


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From Job 2:11-25:6:

  • Job is sitting in gehenna/hell, unrecognisable (Isa. 52:14), a man of sorrows, acquainted with every kind of grief (Isa. 53:3).
  • Job’s ‘comforters’ throw at him verses like “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
  • Job’s great hope is beyond death, beyond the destruction of his flesh, in resurrection life and seeing his Redeemer face to face (Job 19:25-27).
  • Fidel movingly concluded with a powerful personal testimony – things may not be better in this life but in the end there is a new body and seeing Christ – that is our hope.

Later in the day it was a privilege to have with us a missionary family serving among largely unreached people in the north of Kenya. They shared:

  1. Mission is God focussed; mission is God’s heart from Genesis to Revelation; mission is to gather people from all ‘ethne’ (meaning all people groups); “Mission exists because worship doesn’t.” (Piper, Let the Nations be Glad).
  2. The great Abrahamic blessing is fulfilled in the NT in terms of justification in Christ (Gal. 3) and turning us from our wickedness to God (Acts 3).
  3. There are real challenges in their mission context – insecurity, language, transport (waiting all day for a bus that never turns up then finally travelling with a small baby in the back of a lorry), communication (no reception), heat (up to 40 degrees C), lack of good drinking water, having to sacrifice ambitions (the Kenyan dream) and the misunderstanding of family and friends – but all these can be overcome in God’s grace.
  4. Most striking of all, the brother shared about tensions with family as a firstborn with nine siblings, educated and expected (and wanting) to help. He talked about Mt. 10:37-39 and how he had at the same time done his best to keep communication channels open and then about how it was actually the best thing for his family for him to go because they had started to look at him as a god-provider and they needed to break from that and seek the real God. He was a clear that there was no promise that they would not go hungry some days or sometimes suffer for his decision to go but it was for their spiritual good and he had already seen some fruit in a brother now interested in becoming a missionary himself and other siblings growing in their relationships with the Lord. Amazing testimony.

Also today:

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