Parallels With Jesus: Job

What is clear with both the temptation story facing Job and that facing Jesus is that Satan, the tempter, was striking at their faith in God. He tried to rattle them and force them to recant their belief that God exists, that He created us, and that He is present in our lives. God clearly states in His Word that our temptations are designed to improve our character. Also clear is this important truth: Satan always loses, and God always wins.

 

In Part 2 of a 3-part series, “Parallels With Jesus,” we examine the life of Job, a man who, like Jesus, suffered, and, like Jesus, maintained his faith in God’s mercy and goodness. Previously, we looked at Jesus and Joseph. Next, we’ll look at Jesus and Daniel.

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. (Job 19:25 NIV)

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24 NASB)

TWO MEN. TWO BATTLES WITH SATAN. ONE OUTCOME — SATAN LOSES.

40. GodSatanTalkHow did Satan lose? Was it because of the superior attributes of the two men doing battle with him? Or was it something else? Was another force involved that tipped the scales away from Satan?

Here are the two men: Job in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Let’s set the stage: In Job, Chapter 1, Satan is holding a conversation with God and claims that Job’s faith in the Creator is based solely on the health and material blessings God has bestowed on him. Strip Job of his blessings, Satan argued, and his faith will disappear.

Okay, we can understand the point that it’s easier to sing Praises and Hallelujah when you’ve got a good marriage, a big house, a wonderful job, obedient children, two cars, and a vacation home, but if you lose all the “stuff,” there goes the faith.

Now, let’s swing over to Jesus. In Matthew, Chapter 4, just after Jesus has emerged from His baptism in the Jordan River, He was led by the Holy  Spirit into the wilderness “to be tempted by the devil.”

Satan was then given the opportunity to challenge Jesus on whether He really was the 40. JesusTemptedbySatanSon of God. Now, Jesus believed He was. In fact, in the preceding chapter, Matthew tells us the voice of God said, “This is my Son,” which should settle the matter.

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WHAT IS CLEAR WITH BOTH the temptation story facing Job and that facing Jesus is that Satan, the tempter, was striking at their faith in God. He tried to rattle them and force them to recant their belief that God exists, that He created us, and that He is present in our lives.

We all face temptations in our lives, and Scripture is clear that how we handle those moments helps shape our character and our witness for our belief in Jesus Christ.

But look at what Jesus and Job went through. For Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, we read that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, purposefully led Him into the wilderness for the express purpose of being tempted.

Not only that, but the temptations did not begin until Jesus had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. At that point, He would have been weak with hunger and more easily susceptible to wrongdoing.

40. JobHasBoilsIn our own lives, we know we are more likely to give into temptations, whether of actions or words, when we are tired or hungry or upset about work.

Imagine how we might react if we had been fasting for five weeks.

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Job’s temptations were a complete surprise to him, as far as we can tell from Scripture. We read that “one day” everything is going along pretty much for him the way every day went, when a succession of messengers ran up to him to announce that his farm animals were taken and his servants slaughtered.

After three such messages, he receives a fourth message that tops the first three: His sons and daughters were partying, and the house in which they were gathered was felled by a mighty wind, killing them all instantly.

As we read through the succession of calamities that befell Job, we see him rent with despair but calling out to God for salvation: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: … ‘may the name of the Lord be praised’” (Job 1:20-22 NIV).

Jesus did much the same thing. As He was faced with temptations, from turning stones into bread to jumping off the top of the temple to worshipping the devil with the offer of his earthly kingdom, Jesus quoted Scripture.

The verses were all from Deuteronomy: “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes40.Jesus_Always_With_Us from the mouth of God,” “Do not put the  Lord your God to the test,” and “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matthew 4:1-11 NIV).

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GOD IS CLEAR IN HIS REVEALED WORD that our temptations are designed to improve our character. Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-4 NIV that “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

This is the point where it becomes clear that Satan may win some battles in the short run, but in the long run, God wins the war.

God also reassures us through Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV that “No temptation has seized you except what is common to mankind.” That means, whatever you are dealing with, others are, have, and will face, as well.

But Paul goes on to tell us that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you stand up under it.”

Job certainly knew that he could count on God’s goodness and faithfulness. In Job 19:25 NIV, Job proclaims his undying faith in God: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end, he will stand on the earth.”

40. Cross_And_BibleJesus also knew that He could count on the Father’s love and presence.  Immediately after He faced His trials, He began His public ministry, preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” which meant himself. Then, he called His first disciples, so He could begin to build His church (Matthew 4:12-22).

“Come, follow me,” He said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Those two models show us that even in the most trying of situations, God is faithful, and He is always there to help us.

Take that, Satan. Now, be gone …

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PRAYER: Our gracious and loving Heavenly Father. We are so grateful that You are sovereign, that You are watching over us and helping us, as You promised You would, through the valleys of life, just as You are with us when we’re experiencing the blessings. Forgive us, Lord, when we doubt or wander away from Your presence. Bring us back every time into Your loving arms. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen

 

 

Parallels With Jesus: Joseph

We often remark that “life is unfair,” and much of it is. But there is a beauty to what God does with “unfairness.” What mankind does for evil, whether intentionally or just because it’s part of our sinful nature, God can, does, and will redeem for His glory and for His purpose. That’s not fair, either, really — because it’s a far better deal than what we deserve. That unfairness is called “Grace.”

You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done. (Genesis 50:20 NCV)

 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36 NIV)

In Part 1 of a 3-part series, “Parallels With Jesus,” we examine the life of Joseph, an Old Testament precursor to Jesus Christ, and note some key similarities in their lives. Next, we’ll look at Jesus and Job, and then Jesus and Daniel.

THERE’S SOMETHING FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAIR WITH UNFAIRNESS.

There, I said it. It had to be said, right? We all agree with the idea that when something strikes us as being unfair, not right, that the universe is amiss.

We don’t like it, and we start to wonder if we can ever trust solid ground again … or any institution, or any value system, or any group.

jm_100_OT_-P10.tiffSo, with that settled, what does the “unfairness of unfairness” have to do with us? How is that relevant to our lives?

Joseph, we may recall, was the favored son of Jacob, whose sons became the patriarchs of Israel’s 12 tribes. He was the next-to-last of Jacob’s sons and the first of two born to Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife, and the love of the old man’s heart.

His older brothers hated him. They were jealous, really, of the love and attention bestowed on him. His fancy multi-colored coat, his clean hands, his conceit, his fanciful dreams — made their blood boil.

So, they sold him to a band of Ishmaelite traders headed for Egypt.

That was the end of Joseph! Or so his brothers thought.

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FAST FORWARD TO JESUS CHRIST.

This was the Son of God come into the world in human form to redeem fallen mankind from its sins, its depravity, and its sentence of death. Jesus said He came to proclaim truth, restore mankind to the Father, and liberate us from slavery … slavery to sin.

His brothers hated him. In this case, His brothers were the religious leaders of the day.

They hated His miracles, they hated His parables, they hated 38.Peter.Speaks.PentecostHis disciples and followers, and they hated His condemnation of their legalistic teaching. Why, Jesus even healed the blind and crippled on the Sabbath — and they hated that!

So, they turned Him over to the Roman authorities to be scourged, beaten, and crucified.

That was the end of Jesus! Or so the religious authorities thought.

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BOTH JOSEPH AND JESUS were unfairly treated by those who should have loved them, respected them, and enjoyed their company.

Both were turned over to authorities who, in turn, turned them over to  superior authorities with the power to harm them.

Jesus was whipped and crucified; Joseph was thrown into prison. Those were just some 41.Bible_Words_Spoken_by_God.of the high marks — or low marks — of their remarkably parallel lives.

Here are some others, along with supporting Bible verses for further reference: Hated by brothers (Genesis 37:13-14, Hebrews  2:11); others plotted to harm them (Genesis 37:20, John 11:53); robes taken from them (Genesis 37:23, John 19:23); sold for the price of a slave (Genesis 37:28, Matthew 26:15); bound in chains (Genesis 39:20, Matthew 27:2); and falsely accused (Genesis 39:16-18, Matthew 26:59-60).

That was just the beginning stuff; here’s the really good stuff: Exalted after suffering (Genesis 41:41, Philippians 2:9-11); forgave those who wronged him (Genesis 45:1-15, Luke 23:34); and saved their nation (Genesis 45:7, Matt. 1:21).

Don’t be surprised if I tell you the best one was saved for last.

God’s wisdom … is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory!
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8 MEV)

God redeemed the evil done to them, first to Joseph and then to Jesus, for the good of those who harmed them! See Genesis 50:20 and 1 Corinthians  2:7-8. Both verses will be very easy to find, not just in the Bible but also in this meditation. The Genesis verse is at the top of this column; the verse from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is in the highlighted text.

With Joseph, God was able to use his imprisonment in Egypt to prepare him for the humility required to lead his adoptive country — and his father’s family — out of famine. With Jesus, God was able to use His crucifixion to satisfy the debt we cannot pay for our sins and so open the path to our salvation.

Take a moment to meditate over the awesome-ness of those verses and then pray this one-sentence prayer: “Thank you, Loving God, for redeeming good from evil. Amen.”

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FOR ANY BIBLICAL LESSON to make an impact in our lives, we have to see its relevance. Just a wild guess, but I don’t image most of us can relate to the evil perpetrated — unfairly and unjustly — on either Joseph or Jesus.

Sure, we know that “bad things can happen to good people,” but that’s not what the parallel stories are about.

They’re about how God redeems the evil in this world — the evil we do to others and the evil others do to us — for His purpose and His glory.38. God's.Mercy

That’s an amazing concept! We are the children and heirs of a God so loving and gracious — and so powerful — that He takes the sin of the  world and redeems it for His glory!

Every sin — every malignant thought — every unkind word — every cruel deed He can use to further His kingdom.

Remember what Jesus said about His defeating Satan on Satan’s home turf? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

Job, whose faith was tested by Satan, put it this way: “I know that my Savior lives, and at the end he will stand on this earth” (John 19:25 CEV).

What mankind does for evil, whether intentionally or just because it’s part of our sinful nature, God can, does, and will redeem for His glory and for His purpose.

That’s not fair, either, but it’s a far better deal than what we deserve.

This unfairness is called “Grace.”

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PRAYERDear Lord, Your mercy amazes us. It exceeds what we can understand. We know we don’t deserve grace. We know it’s a gift of incredible love. It’s amazingly unfair the way You take our sins, our willful disobedience, and turn it around to serve Your glory and our redemption. Thank you for that love. In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen

Jesus and the Good and Bad Neighbors

If we want to understand Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, we have to refer to His command first to love God with our whole being. Loving our neighbor, He says, is like the first commandment, that is, we are to love our neighbor the same way we love God. Once Jesus shows us we do not truly love our neighbor, He then can show us we really don’t truly love God. Fortunately, God’s love for us is based not on our love for Him but is freely given, unwavering, and eternal.

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men.” (Luke 18:10-11a NIV) 

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.” (Luke 10:33 NIV)

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20 NIV)

JESUS TAUGHT US TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS, BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Oh, sure, we can hear the words and cobble together a respectable answer, something like, “help our neighbor when he or she is in need,” or “watch their house and take in the mail,” or even “transport their child to baseball practice and bring them back.”

36.Love.NeighborsThere might be more items we can offer, especially if God has placed on our hearts a love for His creation. In that case, we can bake a casserole or help someone take down storm windows, or even pick up a few items while we’re in the grocery store.

Is that what He meant?

Doesn’t anyone who’s halfway decent reach out an occasional helping hand to a neighbor, especially a nice one, who’s friendly and helps us out? Isn’t that what we call “being neighborly”?

If Jesus repeated His command for us to love our neighbors, isn’t there a high probability He meant something else, something more meaningful and deeper, something beyond our reach?

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IN OUR TWO PARABLES, Jesus showed us that loving our neighbor means going out of our way to lend a hand, even to someone we might want to avoid.

That might not be pleasant, but Jesus often urged us out of our comfort zones.

Aren’t there commands to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NIV), “do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27 NIV), and even this incredible gem, as Jesus, having been flogged and nailed to a Cross, says, “Father,  forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). 36. Love.Others
To wrap up His two parables about good and bad neighbors, Jesus said of the Samaritan’s actions: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37 NIV); but in the parable of the bad neighbor, illustrated by the Pharisee’s prayer, Jesus said: “I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other [the Pharisee], went home justified before God” (Luke 18:14a NIV).

In other words, Jesus praised the selfless actions of the despised Samaritan but condemned the self-centered egoism of the highly respected Pharisee.

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LET’S UNPACK THOSE PARABLES briefly so that we see clearly just what Jesus meant by His two incredible punch lines.

In the story about the Good Neighbor, or Good Samaritan, Jesus said a traveler was beaten and robbed and left for dead along the road and that two Jewish religious leaders found him, but neither stopped to help. It was a despised foreigner who picked the man up, dressed his wounds, carried him to a nearby inn, and paid for his care.

In the story about the Bad Neighbor, or Pharisee and tax collector, Jesus said the two men were gathered in the Temple to pray. Whereas the religious leader looked to the heavens and self-righteously told God all of his good qualities, the humble tax collector  lowered his head and mumbled a few words confessing his sin and asking for God’s mercy.

Matt. 7:28-30 NIV — “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.”love_thy_neighbor-billboard

Jesus turned to His listeners, which included Pharisees but also tax collectors, prostitutes, shepherds, farmers, and other common folk, to be like the Samaritan, the Good Neighbor — “Go and do likewise” — but not like the Pharisee, the Bad Neighbor — “I tell you that this man [the tax collector], rather than the other [the Pharisee] went home justified before God.”

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IF WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND JESUS’ COMMAND on loving our neighbor, we have to refer to a related account in Matthew (chapter 22:34-40), where Jesus tells a Jewish religious leader that the most important commandment is to love God with our whole being, and that the second commandment, to love our neighbor, “is like the first” (emphasis added).

Swing back to Luke’s account. If Jesus can show the crowd that loving your neighbor — our neighbor — is difficult and often goes well beyond our comfort zone, then it’s no stretch for Him to show us that, like the first commandment, we don’t love God all that much, either.

31-jesusteachingreligiousleadersKeep in mind that the religious leader was a scholar extremely well versed in the Jewish canon — what Christians call the Old Testament — and probably could quote most, if not all, of the Torah, the books compiled and written by Moses.

That means the scholar was well versed with the Book of Leviticus. In Chapter 19, the Lord laid out a clear list of actions the Jews should do and should not do to show love and concern for their neighbor. Leviticus was written some 1,300 years before the scholar’s encounter with Jesus.

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THE SCHOLAR KNEW LEVITICUS 19. His question may have been intended to trap Jesus, or it might have been a real question touched by something Jesus said, or maybe the scholar was, for just a moment, responding to Who Jesus Is.

In any case, the Lord used the occasion to expose man’s sinful weakness. What Jesus told us is this: We don’t love our neighbors as ourselves — nor do we love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

Fortunately, Jesus does love us unconditionally, even though we fail to love Him as He commands.

For that, we can be ETERNALLY grateful!

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PRAYER: O Holy and Merciful Father, God Almighty, we thank You that You are not like us. You are everlasting; we are finite. You are truthful; we are deceitful. You embody light; we prefer darkness. You are love; we are a jangle of lies, hatred, and evil. Thank You for loving us, for saving us from the punishment we deserve, for lifting us up to glory in Jesus’ Name! Lord, we honor and adore You. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen