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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First day of the Ministry Training Course with the 2013/2014 apprentices. Great to hear stories from their different placements and see how God has really been growing them over the last seven months. A highlight for me was the first of a series of expositions of Job from Fidel:


Job 1:1-2:10:

  • Big question is, ‘Does God have real worshippers?’ (1:9). I’d never thought of it like this before but when Satan says, “Natoka kuzunguka pote duniani, nikitembea huku na huko humo” (1:7) he is basically saying that he hasn’t seen anything worth mentioning, nothing to worry him, no-one breaking the pattern of self-interest, no-one worshipping God for who he is. Then verse 8 is God giving the exception that Satan has missed. Then verse 9 is Satan’s rationalisation – this isn’t a genuine exception to his observation – Job is just a religious form of self-interest. Then come the tests that prove who is right – is there a real worshipper who genuinely seeks God?
  • The reality of the spiritual realm, reality of Satan, his limited knowledge, the LORD’s restraining, but also the extreme permissions granted.
  • We love this verse: “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” Well in Job’s case there is something prepared for him (1:12; 2:6) but this plan for his life isn’t revealed to him and he probably wouldn’t want to know it anyway.
  • Every time you read it it is utterly amazing that Job loses everything and worships (1:20). He really is the true worshipper. He wasn’t worshipping God for the stuff. He wasn’t worshipping the stuff itself. He was, and continues to, worship God himself.
  • Three times in 25 verses we are told Job was blameless and upright. What comes next has absolutely zero to do with some personal sin.
  • What are the 2 things emphasised in prosperity preaching? Health and Wealth. What does Job have taken away? His Wealth and then his Health.
  • His life is spared (2:6) because it’d very important for us that we listen to the next 40 chapters, see the innocent sufferer, wrestle with the theological arguments.
  • The big question for us: Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?

Also today:

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Whistler-Blackcomb by Jordan Manley

Sammy spoke to us about eternity from the book of Job at our last MTC.

Then early yesterday morning one of the pastors from our church passed on suddenly.

Here are some quotes and words from an eternal perspective…

I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)

…but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories… But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning  Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. (C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle)

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

(Ro­bert M. Mc­Cheyne, died at the age of 29)

Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.
Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:4-7)

…teach us who survive, in this and other like daily spectacles of mortality, to see how frail and uncertain our own condition is; and so to number our days, that we may seriously apply our hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom, whilst we live here, which may in the end bring us to life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ thine only Son our Lord. (From The Order for the Visitation of the Sick from the 1662 BCP – the whole order is so radically different to most modern Christianity it’s worth reading in full)

I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men. (Richard Baxter)

I stand vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I say there. (John Piper)

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” (Revelation 14:13)

So truly our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ; and our door to enter into eternal life is gladly to die with Christ; that we may rise again from death, and dwell with him in everlasting life. (Order for the Visitation of the Sick)

…labour always to learn to die. Defy the world, deny the devil, and despite the flesh, and delight yourself only in the Lord… desire, with St Paul, to be dissolved and to be with Christ, with whom even in death there is life. (From the letter of Lady Jane Grey, 9-day Queen of England, to her sister Katherine, written in the back of her Greek New Testament the night before her execution)

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

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Praise God for a good final day.

As we looked at Ephesians 5 on marriage we found something very counter-cultural, very different to pragmatic marriage, the husband as unconditionally loving, sacrificial servant leader, Oneness, a parable of the gospel.

In the workshop on evangelistic preaching (notes here) we had quite a discussion about the content of the gospel – is it “Jesus transforms” or “Jesus died”?

The highlight for me was Sammy concluding the Book of Job for us:

  • Patience is not passive – crying out to the Lord, desperately desiring to meet with him (James 5:7-11 cf. Job 23:2)
  • Satan is God’s dragon on a tight leash (Job 41 cf. Rev. 12)
  • Job sees the Lord high and lifted up and he is humbled and justified in his presence (Job 42 cf. Isaiah 6)
  • The solution for sinners is a suffering substitute (Job 1:5; 42:8)
  • The end comes at the end (Job 42:10-17)

Please give thanks for a good five days. Kweli Yesu amekuwa mwalimu wetu wiki hii.


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