Saturday, November 29, 2014

Job Chapter 1 The Purpose of Righteous Suffering

While the book of Job is about the suffering of righteous Job, the main theme is to reveal the purpose of man, which is the worship of God. The suffering of Job reveals the true meaning of Worship which is our all, including our wealth, family and even our life, and of our suffering for glorifying God. Chapter 1 covers the test of the righteous Job and reveal to us the two worlds that are at work.
Here are the takeaways from my study of Job chapter 1.
  1. Job is a righteous man (v1) acknowledged even by God (v8).
  2. Job's righteousness is seen in a passive way - He is blameless, feared God and stay away from evil v1. This is one key aspect of the worship of God. Do nothing that is against the righteous character of God.
  3. Job was the richest man then. v2-3.
  4. Job's children view of life purpose seems to be only enjoying themselves. They have parties, likely wild parties over several days, and the brothers took turns to host them. v4
  5. Job was concerned about the wild parties. But instead of attending and confronting his children, he took the passive way of making offerings for their sins! Can someone make an offering on behalf of others? While Jesus Christ died as the free offering for all, only those who repent and see their needs for Jesus can be saved. Sins offering for those who do not realize their sins will not be effective, at least for those above the age of accountability. But this does not stop us from praying for our loved ones, who remain unknowing, or unrepentantly in their sins. The following verses reveal the secrets of the forces at work in our natural world. 
  6. The Spiritual world affecting the natural world is seen in v6-12.
  7. God is the highest authority and command worship from all His creations, including the angels and Satan.  Even Satan needs God's permission to execute his evil plans on earth. While Satan means it for our evil, we can trust God that if He allows it, it will be for our good. Romans 8:28. God is in charge and in control of all things including our life and even of our suffering.
  8. Satan, the accuser, accuse Job that Job only worships God for the benefits that God has given him, namely, protection and wealth. This implies that Job put health and wealth above God. God is nothing but a means for Job to gain health and wealth. The true god of Job is health and wealth and not God. Satan wanted God to prove it. God does not have to prove it because God already knows the true heart of Job. But Job did not know this for sure himself and Satan has his evil intention of destroying Job. 
  9. The purpose of Job's test. This is like the case of the test of Abraham's sacrificing of his son Isaac. The willingness of Abraham show his trust in God and Abraham's placing God above all else even his beloved and only Isaac. This corresponds to God giving of His only Son, Jesus Christ for us to save us from our sins. In a similar way, the test of Job, who is a man, a creation of God lower than an angel, reveal to all that the evil in Satan comes not from God but from Satan himself. If Job can worship God above all else, then Satan, created with higher order and better in all aspects, should be able to easily worship God as well. Job's successful test gives God the rights to punish Satan for his evil. 
  10. The destruction of Job's children and possessions came in the following ways:
    1. Oxen & Servants by Sabeans
    2. Sheep & Shepherds by Fire
    3. Job's children by a Storm that brought the house down
    4. Camels & Servants by Chaldean
  11. We can see that the means of destruction used by Satan include natural disasters and people. People are used by Satan to persecute us! Remember to pray against the evil working behind the lives of people. The gossips and the accusations are meant to stir up the misunderstanding and destroy relationships. Are you watching out for them?
  12. Job's response to his loss was most amazing. The very first thing he did was to tear up his robe, shaved his head and fell down to worship God! Who has ever heard of worshiping God first in their loss? Most of us will blame or get angry with God first. Hopefully, we can eventually go back to worship God. Job did the unthinkable, even to Satan, of worshiping God first, showing his trust and priority in God. 
  13. Since Job passed his level 1 test, more severe level 2 and level 3 are coming in subsequent chapters.
Questions for Reflection
  1. What is the meaning of worshiping God?
  2. What is the purpose of man?
    • Hint: I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11
  3. Is God is truly our only God and not a means to our ends of health, wealth, and glory? How can you be sure? How do you spend your money and time, who are your friends, what do you seek in decision making, will give us some clues.
  4. How do we pray for our loved ones? How do we confront and correct our loved ones?
  5. What can we learn from Job?
  6. What should we do in the time of our loss or difficulty? What should our attitudes be?
Lim Liat (c) 28 Nov 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wisdom for Living a Succesful Live - Ecclesiastes 9

We must use the unchanging principles of God's ways to handle the changing situations. We must read the seasons and see the trend and choose the right combinations of factors to handle the situation in order to gain success. Though such wisdom is powerful to save a city, it could also destroy one and hence wisdom must comes under the control of righteousness.
The second group that I led had a study on Ecclesiastes 9 (see Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future for the chapter study)  and we have some new discoveries. Here are the main lessons learned:
  1. While the future is uncertain except for death, we must know that God is in control of all. We must put our trust in His promises and His ways (Rom 8:28). We use the unchanging righteous ways of God to handle the uncertain and changing situations.
  2. Even though the good and evil people all die eventually as if there is no benefits to do good, it is important to live a life accountable to God (Ecc 11:9, 12:14) and take heed of the warning that a sinner can use wisdom to destroy much.
  3. When the dead cannot see and feel any more in this world, it is not true that his influence dies with him. The living now are influenced much by the philosophies and values of the great people of the past e.g. Confucius, Aristotle especially Jesus Christ, our Savior.
  4. What we do in this life affects our lives after death(how we invest in heaven) and impact the lives of others now and in future generations.
  5. We are to fully live out this life on earth by enjoying and giving our best in our work, food, spouse, and others. Yet we must know that we are spiritual beings with physical bodies. We don't go to one extreme of denoucing our bodies nor the other extreme of living just for our physical bodies. We live out our lives meaningfully with both aspects of spiritual and physicall mutually supporting each other.
  6. The wisdom of how to live out this life successfully is to recognise that
    1. There are multiple factors at play - 1 speed, 2 strength, 3 knowledge, 4 smartness(entrepreneuship) and 5 craftmanship.
    2. Know the Kairos Opportune Time and Trends - the seasons and stages. As in Ecc 3, the right action must fit the right time. Different seasons and stages need different kind of approaches.
    3. There must be the right balance of the five factors for the different stages of life.
  7. Wisdom is most powerful but may not bring forth money or honor. Your contribution may be forgotten like the poor man who saved the city. Nevertheness, know that wisdom is powerful and hence must be guided by righteous character and values or else it will create great destruction.
For better decision making, see also Business Strategies and Decision Making According to the Bible

Lim Liat  (c) 29 June 2014