Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 14 2019 - Job 42 – Job restored and blessed

We have read the final chapter of the Book of Job, no doubt pleased that it is a story with a happy ending. But that is not the most important lesson of this chapter.

Job had been granted an audience with God, but the result was not as he had expected. In the presence of God's glory, might and power, Job has been humbled and silenced. He recognised that when it came to his complaint against God's providence, he spoke of things he did not understand (v.3). His understanding of God, the universe and everything has proved pitifully infantile.

In particular, Job confesses that he thought he knew what God was like – perhaps he felt he could have gained a doctorate in Theology; but now he confesses that he knew nothing (42:5-6):

My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.

Many philosophers have sought to prove the existence of God and to argue concerning the attributes of God. Many others have wrestled with the "problem of evil" that lies behind this wonderful book of Scripture. They may have come to their conclusions and written up their results for others to argue over in their turn. But there is no substitute for knowing God, for being able to say that we have "seen God." Knowing God turns all human speculation and philosophy into dust and ashes (v. 6). God was angry with the empty speculations and accusations of Job's "friends".

The most important question for us is, do we know God? We may have listened to many other people talking about God, we may have read the Bible and tried to understand what it says about God, but none of this is enough. Do we know God?

God has revealed himself most clearly in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God… For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4,6).

The Christian is one whose eyes have been opened to see the glory of God displayed in Jesus Christ. We have seen God, not as we shall see him, but we have come to know God in Christ as the one who loves us, has redeemed us and calls us his children. Our faith is not based on philosophical arguments, nor does it depend upon knowing how the universe works and why what happens has happened. Our faith is based on the person, work and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ. We own him as our Lord and Saviour and we are glad to trust him and follow him.

Having come face to face with the living God, Job's concerns are no longer for himself, but for his friends. Job prayed for his friends that their arrogance would be forgiven and that God would not deal with them according to their folly. We are told that, "the Lord accepted Job's prayer" (v.9).

God then, "blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part" (v.12). This does not answer to the question of why bad things sometimes happen to good people; we know that many godly people see no end or answer to their suffering in this life. But it is a pointer to the hope that we have in Christ. We know that because he suffered death for us and is risen from the dead, the day will come when we shall share in his glorious resurrection. In the end, "All shall be well."

Father God, thank you that we have seen your glory in Christ and that we will one day share in that glory. Ours is a story with a happy ending. Help us to pray for our friends, that they too may know you.

Jun 14 2013 - Acts 9:26-43 – The value of quiet service

And then there is Barnabas. He plays a larger part than Ananias, but again, it’s a minor role compared with that of Paul. Paul had been under threat for his life and only escaped Damascus by being lowered from the city wall in a basket. When he arrived back in Jerusalem he tried to join the Christian community there. They, however, were reluctant to accept him, fearing perhaps that he was merely pretending to be a disciple in order to infiltrate their ranks and destroy them from the inside.

We have come across Barnabas before. He had sold a field and given the money to the apostles to meet the needs of the poor (Acts 4:34-37). His real name was Joseph, but the apostles had renamed him Barnabas, Son of Encouragement or Encourager, because of this preeminent aspect of his character. And it was Barnabas the encourager who spent time with Paul, listening to his story and then introducing him to the apostles. It is through the friendship and care of Barnabas that Paul was welcomed into the Christian fellowship in Jerusalem.

But before long, Paul had to flee also from Jerusalem. Again it was the Greek speaking Jews who drove him out – those who once had embraced him as an ally against Steven. Luke tells us that it was only after Paul had left Jerusalem that the church enjoyed a time of peace and growth. Paul may have begun to doubt the calling he had received from the risen Lord Jesus. Was he more of a curse to the church than a blessing? It will take Barnabas again to thrust him into the work for which he is being prepared – but that’s a later story.

Don’t underestimate the contribution made to the kingdom by simple acts such as that of welcoming and encouraging the newcomer. Who knows, such acts may be instrumental in nurturing a ministry that will be used of God to transform the lives of thousands.

For the moment Paul is out of sight and the focus returns to the ministry of Peter. We read that while Peter was visiting Lydda, he was told of a Christian lady named Tabitha (or Dorcas in Greek) who had died in the neighbouring town of Joppa. Peter was summoned to come at once. Dorcas was well known for her acts of kindness and Peter was greeted by widows standing around the bedside of the dead woman, crying and showing him the clothes she had made for them. Through the power of the risen Saviour, Peter was able to raise Dorcas to life again and restore her to her friends. No doubt she continued to devote herself to meeting the needs of others.

We know nothing else about this dear lady, except that her remarkable restoration to life brought many others to faith. There was nothing extraordinary about her except that she devoted herself to meeting the needs of other out of love for Christ. Here is a lady who provides us with a model of Christian discipleship. Are we “always doing good and helping the poor”? What will people say about us when we are gone?

Lord Jesus, help me always to be an encourager that I may enable and promote the ministry of others in the work of your kingdom. May my love for you be expressed in a genuine love for others and a concern to meet their needs as far as it lies in my power. May I be known for doing good, not that I might gain a reputation for myself but that your name may be glorified and many others brought to faith in you.

Peter Misselbrook