My church is inviting everyone to read through the Bible chronologically this year. And to make it more exciting, they’ve recommended a website, YouVersion, to help.
(And, seriously, it makes it more exciting! I love the change of pace of reading the Bible on my computer, and I really love the ability to make notes on verses as I go along. It helps me remember what I want to develop into blog posts.)
I started my reading plan a couple of weeks early, knowing full well that there’ll be days this year I don’t get my daily reading completed.
So I am on Day 12 of the plan, which means I am nearing the end of Job. I’ve read Job several times, and, to be honest, it’s not my favorite book. There is a lot of repetition – Job claims he is righteous; his friends say he’s a sinner; repeat. And I’ve never known what to make of Job. He’s often touted in Christian circles as a great example of how the godly can/should endure suffering, but I really don’t see that in the pages of scripture.
Instead, I see a mouthy, disrespectful guy, high on his own pride (Job 27), blaming God for his suffering. And, I guess God is responsible for Job’s suffering, but the way Job accuses God in such a harsh tone (Job 30:20-22, for example) has never sat well with me. Surely, God cannot be pleased with such blatant disrespect…
But that’s not the point of this post. I have much more to learn on the subject before I go against the Church’s (and James’) popular representation of Job as a hero…
I only bring all this up to paint for you the picture of what I was thinking about as I pushed on through the chapters of the book of Job – I was annoyed, confused, and bored.
And then I found a gem of a passage I did not remember from my previous perusals of the book!
(And that, my friends, is precisely why continual reading of the Bible, even though you know all the stories, is so important and rewarding and necessary).
In chapter 33, after three of Job’s friends fail to convince him to change his tune, a younger man pipes up to offer his opinion of the situation.
Elihu repeats back to Job what Job has said – that he believes he is without sin but that God has turned on him (Job 33:8-11). Then Elihu confronts Job, saying, “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man,” (Job 33:12).
Elihu continues, “Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words? For God does speak – now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it,” (Job 33:13-14).
And Elihu goes on to point out that God uses means like dreams to warn men to “turn from wrongdoing and keep him from pride,” (Job 33:17). Why does God do that? Because if men don’t turn away from sin, they may experience painful physical and spiritual ramifications (Job 33:19-22).
Yet, Elihu says, if a man finds himself reaping the horrific consequences of pursuing sin, there is still hope. Elihu says if there is an angel on the man’s side, that angel can act as a mediator between the man and God – telling the man what he ought to do, and asking God to save the man from his sin-induced circumstances (Job 33:23-24). The angel offers God a ransom of some sort in exchange for the man’s life, satisfying God’s requirement of justice. In return, God restores the man to a life of health and righteousness (Job 33:15).
This is all very interesting, but we are just now reaching the verses in this chapter that really excite me.
Elihu says that once God has restored the man, the man responds this way, “He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state,” (Job 33:26).
Pure joy over and intimacy with God! When God restores this man from his broken state, bringing him back from the edge of the pit, this man is overjoyed and enjoys the Lord face to face.
And I can only imagine how giddy God is getting to enjoy His creation the way it was always meant to be – guilt-free, joyous, and face to face.
But the story doesn’t end there.
After the man enjoys his face-time with God, “he comes to men and says, ‘I sinned, and perverted what was right,'” (Job 33:27).
Why in the world would this guy go broadcasting his sins to others?! Especially given that God had already dealt with him and restored him? If I were this guy, I do believe I would go on rejoicing in the Lord and just keep those sins to myself…
But this man, fully understanding the love that motivated God to save him from his sins, can’t keep silent. He is compelled to share his discovery of God’s love with others that they, too, might enjoy that same amazing love.
He explains, “‘I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light,'” (Job 33:27-28).
Does anyone else see what just happened here?! In one of the oldest books of the Bible, just after Noah but before the Tower of Babel, THE GOSPEL WAS RECORDED.
Go ahead and reread those last two verses, I’ll wait.
It’s the Gospel, right?!
Before the concept of grace through faith was penned by Paul, it was spoken to Job through a whipper-snapper named Elihu.
Wow, the God of the Old Testament really is the same God of the New Testament. He does not change.
So it was the Gospel hidden in Job 33 that really floored me today. But it’s worth mentioning that the man in this story also shows us a pretty simple way to evangelize.
1. Tell others about your sins.
2. Tell others about the grace you received despite your sins.
3. Tell others about the hope you have as a result of receiving that grace.
Good stuff today.