Morning Light – March 22nd, 2016: What Benefit to Us the Suffering of Christ?

MLToday: [Job Sixteen] What Benefit to Us the Suffering of Christ? Does it mean anything that Jesus suffered for us? Will God afflict us in any case regardless of what Jesus did on the cross? In this chapter Job continues to conclude that God is plaguing him and persecuting him all (Job contends) without cause. Job is convinced that God has set him put like a target for the sole end of trifling with him in his pain. Is this true? Did Job have an accurate understanding of God being the originator of his suffering? What about now? Can people suffer as Job suffered in spite of Jesus having come to take their suffering upon Himself?
[Job 16:1-22 KJV] 1 Then Job answered and said, 2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters [are] ye all. 3 Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? 4 I also could speak as ye [do]: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. 5 [But] I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage [your grief]. 6 Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and [though] I forbear, what am I eased?
After Eliphaz again answers Job harshly Job then complains about what he calls his miserable comforters. The men with him are Eliphaz (a descendant of Esau), Bildad (a descendant of Keturah, Abraham’s third wife) and Zophar (a descendent of Noah’s son Ham who Noah cursed). Each of these men had a grudge against God and against the descendents of Shem, Job’s ancestor. No doubt they came to comfort Job having sat 7 days in silent mourning for his great loss and suffering. However the magnitude of Job’s trial provoked them to find some explanation for why this has happened. All three men agree that all the pain and afflict Job has endured can only arise from the fact that Job is a terrible sinner. Job denies this, claiming that in spite of being a righteous man – God is yet tormenting him.
In this chapter Job insists that if his friends were suffering as he that he could heap insult and accusation upon them as well – however he says he would not do this. He says that he would comfort them if they were in his place and assuage their grief. All three men are repeated telling Job to be quiet – as they consider his words against God blasphemous. Job replies that it makes no difference: if he speaks his pain increases; if he is quiet and holds his tongue it doesn’t get any better.
7 But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. 8 And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, [which] is a witness [against me]: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. 9 He teareth [me] in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. 10 They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. 11 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. 12 I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken [me] by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. 13 His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. 14 He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant. 15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust.
Job declares that God has made him weary with all the rigors of disease, loss and persecution. His fasting has now caused him to shrivel up and new wrinkles appear on his gaunt face. In spite of his suffering his friends tear at him in hate and accusation, all in the guise of claiming to help and speak truth to Job. He goes on to claim that even in this God is responsible for he believes that God has turned him over to the ungodly. He claims that though he was at ease and at rest God has picked him up and shook him, and set him for a target to aim His arrows at.
Is all this true? Does God make us weary or give us rest. Dan. 7:25 tells us that one of the primary strategies of Satan is to wear out the saints. Yet Job and his friends not for one moment consider that there is an enemy of their souls behind all these attacks on Job.
When you are weary and exhausted in life you need to realize this is more than a random happenstance. You are under attack by a personal devil who is motivated to bring you to destruction. There are many verses throughout the bible that indicate that one of God’s great determinations is to give you rest. In the very beginning of creation God emphasized and set aside the Sabbath for the purpose of giving us rest. Your rest and renewal in spirit is one of the core attributes of God’s character. God doesn’t just want you to work, He wants you to enter into rest.
Psalm 62:1-2 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
[Isa 40:29 KJV] 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength.
Hebrews 4: 9-11 “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
God wants you to rest. It wasn’t God who was wearying Job. Once again Job is mistaken in thinking that it was God originating all his suffering but in fact it was the enemy. When we are in trouble we need to know where it is coming from and know that we can run to the Lord in our time of trouble and find rest.
16 My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids [is] the shadow of death; 17 Not for [any] injustice in mine hands: also my prayer [is] pure. 18 O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place. 19 Also now, behold, my witness [is] in heaven, and my record [is] on high. 20 My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God. 21 O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man [pleadeth] for his neighbour! 22 When a few years are come, then I shall go the way [whence] I shall not return.
Job is ashamed of his tears and feels that only death can be the next thing he experiences. However he maintains his innocence claiming that for God to afflict him in such a way is a cosmic injustice of the throne of heaven against him. He claims his hands are clean and his prayers are pure. At this point this cannot be true. For 16 chapters Job has maintained his innocence all the while accusing God of injustice. In great frustration Job mourns the mistreatment of his companions and looks to God for relief. He feels that he has no way available to him to plead with God his case. In this he is correct because there is no savior to mediate between Job and God because Jesus is not yet come.
Many theologians erroneously conclude in agreement with the figures speaking in Job that it is in fact God bringing all this suffering to Job. Even if this was true we could not use this as an example to conclude God does the same thing today. Job has complained twice now that he realizes there is no mediator. He lived in the time before Jesus and could not come before God in the name of Jesus to ask for relief or respite from his situation.
What about today? If (theoretically) God would be disposed to plague us today as He is (erroneously) believed to have plagued Job, where does Jesus come in? Isaiah speaks eloquently of the substitutionary work of Christ:
[Isa 53:1, 3-5 KJV] 1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? … 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Jesus suffered all these things so we won’t have to. If God was angry with us – all His anger was poured out upon Jesus on the cross. If God was ever interested in causing us to suffer where would He go to find a measure of suffering to put on us that wasn’t first poured out upon Jesus on the cross. Does the suffering of Christ mean anything? Is it only regarding “eternal suffering” or does it include temporal suffering here on earth? In reading the Messianic references about a suffering deliverer it is plain that the work of Christ not only affects eternal salvation but also relieves temporal struggle. Unlike Job you and I have Jesus and all that He did for us on the cross standing between us and any presumption that God would ever want to inflict pain upon us. To do so God Himself would have to despise the blood of His very own Son that was spilled to alleviate and not to inflict suffering upon mankind.

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