Sunday, March 15, 2015

3 Life Lessons from the Last Chapter of Job

The last chapter of Job, chapter 42, is the restoration and happy ending for Job. But there are 3 critical life lessons for everyone to learn. They are, firstly, personal experience is better than hearsay; secondly, the right way to apologize and to forgive, and lastly blessings as by-product of true worship.
Personal Encounter with God

A key verse for this last chapter is:
  • Job 42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
Job only know God in the past by hearsay or traditions. He has a partial view of God. A God of justice that rewards the righteous and punishes the evil. Now he has a first hand experience with God and his life was totally changed. Can you do a comparison of before and after experience for Job? What about your own story of a personal encounter with God? 
There is nothing more powerful than a genuine encounter to expose the falsehood. Repentance comes not by citing the Laws but by a touch of grace and love from God. Job's reaction cut deep into his heart:
  • Job 42:6  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Before, Job was demanding God to vindicate him and accusing God of not being fair to him. Now he said that he had spoken like a fool. 

The Right Way to Apologize 
Here a the key points for a right apology:
  1. Name the error committed.
    Job 42:7b for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
  2. To the Person wronged.
    Job 42:8  Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. 
  3. The Offering for Restoration - making good the wrong.
    The sins were against Job and against God. So the offering was for God and for Job.
The Right Way to Forgive:
The forgiver shows his forgiveness by praying for them. The ability to pray for them shows that there is no bitterness in Job against his accusers.
  •  Job 42:9b .... and the LORD accepted Job's prayer
Blessing as By-products of Righteousness - God's Restoration for Job:
Note that God restored Job blessings after he prayed for his friends.
  • Job 42:10  And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 
If Job still hold bitterness against his friends and pray not for them, I do not think God will restore Job's fortunes. Precisely because Job had forgiven and there are no accuses for the devil to exploit, Job fortunes was restored.

The Restoration Process:
It is not clear how God restored Job's fortunes. May be God first healed Job of his sickness and then through the giving of his brothers and sisters(42:11), multiplied their givings many many folds to double the fortunes of Job. 

God also double Job's children. Another 7 sons and 3 daughters. This is doubled because the first 10 are still in heaven. There is the extra blessings of the daughters being the most beautiful and being treated as sons to share in the inheritance. 

Other blessings for Job included the good life of another 140 years and seeing 4 generations of children. Using the doubling formula, perhaps we can make a wild guess that Job suffered when he was 70 and God added another 140 years to his life. So Job lived for about 210 years. This 210 years life span put Job in the era of time around or just before Abraham.

The key lesson for us, the theme of Job, is about seeking and worship God first and all other things will follow. This is emphasized again by Jesus in Mat 6:33 seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you. If however, we get the order wrong, by putting the blessings, though good things, like wealth, health and popularity as first, we will end up putting as idols and replacing God. But those things will never satisfy you but enslave you. Break free from pursuing such idols and come back to worship the true and living God in Jesus Christ. Measure your success in life not as how much you possess or how great you are but how you have live up to and live with God. True wealth and success is having God and enjoying Him only. Enjoying God is also reflected not just in our time with Him but also how He expressed through us to helping and being with others.

Hope you enjoyed and learned much from the study of the book of Job. 

May God bless you richly in the study of His Words.

Lim Liat (c) 15 March 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Meaning of Life from Job 3 Job Cursed His Birthday

Job's suffering was so great that he cursed his day of birth in Job chapter 3. He revealed his deepest fear too. His suffering and desires for death become a good time for reflection for the meaning and purpose of life. Then, we can be better prepared to handle any challenges and even suffering in our own life.
With such great suffering, Job's mind can only focus on his present sufferings and pains. He cursed his day of birth, wishing that he be not born. If not, he wished he could die at birth and needed not to suffer. He then proceeded to tell us what he feared most had come to past. This 'fear', said many Word of Faith preachers, was the excuse that Satan used to attack him. They claimed that fear will bring forth that into reality. In some sense, it is true. But fear is given to us that we may take heed to prevent what we fear to come to pass. Fear is a good trigger for us to wise up and to run to God for guidance and solution.

Here are some questions and some answers for us to reflect on our own life:

1 Why did Job want to die?
  • too painful to live
  • not seeing any hope for the future

2 Why did Job not commit suicide?
  • don't have the permission from God?
  • still have God in mind and God is in charge of one's life and death
  • may not have the guts to do it?
3 What do you think is Job's view or purpose of life?
  • life is meant for joy and not suffering
4 What were the benefits of death according to Job's complains?
  • rest from all troubles
  • equality for all ranks and types
  • no more bullying?
5 What does it tell us about Job's view of life?
  • death is non-existence: no feeling, on knowledge?
  • there is no after-life?
  • there is no judgment after life?
  • There was no mention of heaven after death.
6 Did Job believe in a God? Why?
  • it shows his struggles - the present suffering from a good God
7 What are the important things in your life?
  • I do the right things to be worthy of God
  • I hope my family will be saved
  • Live life without any regret.
  • our life affects others, the legacy we left behind
8 What does a good life mean to you?

9 What is the most important thing in life?

10 What is the meaning and purpose of life?
  • worship & enjoy God
  • god as 1st
  • no idols. Idols are usually good things that become our top priority in place of God, such as:
    • pleasures
    • wealth
    • self-righteousness
    • children
    • reputation
    • legacies
    • health
    • work and living as worship, testimony
11 What is the area of Job's life that was used by Satan to attack him?
  • Fear. More specifically:
    • losing all his blessings
    • his blessings have become his god?
  • But by going through the sufferings, losing all his possessions and children, and yet without cursing God, he actually put God above the blessings. Through his suffering, God reveals to Job what Job had it all the time... Job worshipped God purely because God is Job's God. 

12 What is a good ending in life?

13 How to live life without regrets?

14 How should we handle disappointments and suffering in life?

  • If our sufferings are caused by our own sins, then early repentance will do.
  • But there are many sufferings are beyond our control, and we need to know how to accept and deal with them. If God allows it, there are purposes and lessons that we should learn.
  • Can we die to self and be more of and for God? Will we be able to submit to God's greater plan for the whole that we are willing to be sacrificed for the benefits of others such as the martyred for God?

Lim Liat (c) 13 Mar 2015