Saturday, June 12, 2010

Justification in Job 33

19Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed
and with continual strife in his bones,
20so that his life loathes bread,
and his appetite the choicest food.
21His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen,
and his bones that were not seen stick out.
22His soul draws near the pit,
and his life to those who bring death.
23If there be for him an angel,
a mediator, one of the thousand,
to declare to man what is right for him,
24and he is merciful to him, and says,
'Deliver him from going down into the pit;
I have found a ransom;
25let his flesh become fresh with youth;
let him return to the days of his youthful vigor';
26then man prays to God, and he accepts him;
he sees his face with a shout of joy,
and he restores to man his righteousness.
27He sings before men and says:
'I sinned and perverted what was right,
and it was not repaid to me.
28He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit,
and my life shall look upon the light.'

29"Behold, God does all these things,
twice, three times, with a man,
30to bring back his soul from the pit,
that he may be lighted with the light of life.

- Job 33:19-30

I came across this passage in Job 33 and was amazed at the points on justification found in these verses.
If you arent familiar with the situation of Job, then I encourage you to read the book. It contains wonderful truth concerning the Sovereignty of God over Satan, the world, and suffering. Job is a man who has found favor in the sight of the Lord, being upright and very prosperous in his life. Satan, the accuser, approaches God and believes that ,with God's Sovereign permission, he can cause Job to turn against Him by taking away Job's possessions, destroying his family, and afflicting his body. Job is both consoled and condemned by his five friends who offer him a variety of answers as to why his sufferings are taking place. Job is left with unanswered questions after the last sentence of the fourth, but Elihu, the fifth friend responds to Job in a long rebuke, that causes Job to look his Maker in the face and bow down before The King of Kings.
Verses 19 - 22 I believe describe every man's sinful state. While Ephesians 2:1 says that we are dead in trespases and sins, this description of a man in Job is one that is very close to death. Pain, strife, vanity in food, and temporary pleasures: this is life for every person on this planet because of the universiality of sin and its effects - and yet men glory in this life, thinking its worth something apart from God. Every man experiences pain, sickness (from a head cold to cancer) strife , stress, and the temporary unfulfilling pleasures of this world: to eat and never be filled, to enjoy the most wonderful pleasures and to never be satisfied. These are the effects of spiritual death on this earth and all men in this state are helpless and hopeless. Our bodies age, our flesh wastes away, gravity kicks in, our bones stick out. Although all of our death experiences may not be as this one, physically, we all deserve this slow kind of suffering, and we all experience this aging and wasting away.
His soul draws near to the pit is a refrence to death and possibly Hell. This word 'pit' is mentioned five times in Job 33 and I dont think that it just means "grave" by itself, because if a man were to die in the condition mentioned previously, apart from God, there wouldnt just be physical death for him, but also spiritual death, namely, eternal corruption and destruction in Hell - something all sinners deserve. Death is a magnet and no ones life can escape its pull. The question is not will death strike? The question is when will death strike? Everyday the sinner lives without the redeeming blood of Christ is another day that his soul is uncontrollably pulled one step closer to death and destruction.
In short, this man is hopeless, wasted, and dead. His only solution, or hope is outside of himself . There must be a messenger, a mediator, an ambassador to save him. Jesus Christ is that mediator between the spiritually dead man and the Just God (1 Tim 2:5).By declaring what is "right for him", Christ declares Himself. He is the only Way that a man can be righteous before God. Christ mercifully shows the hopeless sinner that the only road to righteousness is Himself. This is grace at its apex. Through the perfect life of Jesus Christ and through His substitutionary death on the cross, God has declared to the sinner that there is deliverance from His wrath and there is life and righteousness in Jesus Christ. Through Christ, the Judge of all the earth does right. He sees the imputed righteousness of His Son on those who were unworthy. He declares to those who were once His enemies that they have been purchased with His blood and their sins have not been counted against them. He gives His own a new heart and a new spirit. He gives them faith to believe, and repentance that leads to life. The blood of Christ is the ransom for the many who believe on Him and it is for them that He gives His life (Mark 10:45; Isa 53:12)
Furthermore, now that the Root of Justification has been shown....what is the fruit of Justification?
Verses 25-28 speak about the results and the effects of what has happened to this man who was once on his deathbed.
1) His "flesh becomes fresh with youth." Isa 40:31 says " but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary;they shall walk and not faint." Romans 8:11 "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." 1 Cor 15:40 "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep,but we shall all be changed,in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality...."
2)"Then man prays to God, and He accepts him." Contrary to what many think, "He accepts him" does not mean man accepts Jesus into his heart as his personal Lord and Savior because of a one time prayer....rather, "He accepts him" means that God has accepted and recieved this sinner into His Kingdom on the meritorious work of Christ alone, and that is why this man prays. This is repentance, an ongoing, progressive repentance that goes deeper and deeper at each and every greater revelation of sin and greater revelation of God. This prayer says "Save me! Keep me! I will perish without saving grace! I am hopeless!" This prayer is the prayer of the tax collector in Luke 18:13 "But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'. Jesus said that it was THIS man that went away justified. Likewise, this man in Job 33 has also experienced the wonderful grace of justification.
Upon praying and being broken over his sin, the penitent sinner, at the end of himself beholds the beauty of saving grace in the face of Jesus Christ. "He sees HIS face with a shout of joy". This same man who was once sickly unto death, bones sticking out, flesh withering, destined for hell, is now filled with life, rejoicing at the joy of his salvation! The solution to this man's problem was not a "best life now", or a even a "purpose" to live for; this man was changed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, that didnt come from himself, but came from the Mediator. The beauty of the Savior and His grace was enough: it revives, restores, and renews the one who is dead in trespasses and sins.
3)"He restores to man his righteousness". In one word: Imputation. Matthew Henry puts it this way "Righteousness shall be imputed to him, and peace thereupon spoken, the joy and gladness of which he shall then be made to hear though he could not hear them in the day of his affliction. God will now deal with him as a righteous man, with whom it shall be well. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, even righteousness, Ps. 24:5. God shall give him grace to go and sin no more." This man has recieved the imputation of Christ's perfect righteousness, and he has also revieved a new heart that has the laws of God written upon it so that he may be guided by the Spirit, and he has also recieved a new mind, transformed by the Spirit's work so that he may do that good and perfect will of God. Christs righteousness earns this man eternal life, this mans righteousness in Christ is proof that the former is true.
4)"He sings before men and says..." Observe the outward manifestations of what has happened inwardly to this man. He should in no way rely solely on his outward expressions to confirm the inward work. To trust in what he sees, or feels, or does, or expresses is to not trust in Christ and Christ alone. This man is singing of this work done by God, he is joyful about it! Confession of sin, repentance, thanks to God are all things that he is mentioning and that are ever before his eyes. He realizes that this was not a man-generated work, but a God-generated work, HE didnt give me what I deserved. HE delivered my soul from the pit. This man was not the captain of his own fate, God was. Yet, God had mercy on him - through Christ. This man's testimony is not about works, its about grace. He looks upon the light because he has been made to look upon the light. Because he has been saved, he now looks upon the light and lives. He sees his sin and loathes it, he realizes that he has perverted and wasted his life. He feels the reality of his justification in that he owed an infinite debt to an Almighty Sovereign and he no longer has to pay it. He had committed crimes against the maker of the universe and deserved an eternal sentencing of capital punishment. He would be incarcerated in the lowest parts of hell for ages beyond ages, and then into his courtroom walks an Advocate, a punishment absorbing, gracious and merciful man who bears his sentence and transfers all that He is to him.

Conclusion, Behold! Who does these things? Is it man? Is it part man-part God? Is it good works? Is it free will? No, it is God! "God does all these things, twice, three times with a man". Ephesians 2:4-9 "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works,so that no one may boast." Why does He do these things? One reason leads to another. 1) to bring back his soul from the pit. God saves so that sinners will not perish under His wrath, and so that He might save a people for Himself. (Eze 36:31) 2) "that he may be lighted with the light of life." Its amazing to me that Christ is also referred to in John 1:4 as the light of life. I think that in addition to physical life, as referred to in the context of this passage, i think this refers to spiritual life as well. Christ gives physical life to all, because He is the source of life, but to as many as recieve Him , to them He gives the right to become children of God. The grace in salvation isn't limited in that Christ just pays for sins and thats it. He doesn't just resurrect a dead man and leave him standing in grave clothes. He gives him new life and then gives to him a life he would never have been able to live on his own. Christ gives His righteousness. The infinite debt isn't just paid and the balance is zero, but the account is filled with all things that pertain to life and godliness because "if He spared not His own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"(Romans 8:32) . God is sovereign in salvation, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. It is wonderful to see the points of justification seen so clearly in this passage, namely in a book outside of Paul's writings. To me this re-affirms scripture's doctrinal chain that runs all throughout the Bible and cannot be broken.

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