Tuesday, November 22, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #9 November 26, 2016


NOVEMBER 26, 2016
In this week's lesson, Job's response to his 3 friends continues, and in Job 13:15 we see that despite everything that has occurred, Job's hope in his God and his Redeemer remains unshakeable: "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him".  Though Job may question his own existence he does not question God's justice or His character.  He does not understand the cosmic conflict that is taking place which the whole universe is watching with great interest because Satan is indeed questioning God's character, His righteousness and His unconditional agape love for the whole human race including Job.
So in the face of Job's suffering, where does Job's hope come from and why does he still have it when his friends and even his wife are not only not supporting him but even condemning him?  We might well learn from Job since his source of hope is our source of hope as we face trials and tribulations in our lives, particularly in these final days of Earth's history as we face "great distress, unequalled since the beginning of the world until now" Matt. 24:21.
A.T. Jones' article on Christ and the Resurrection (ATJ,BEST.1892), gives us insight on Job's hope as we realize that it is the same hope that Daniel, Moses, and all the prophets and apostles had in the resurrection and the coming of the Lord:
"Therefore it is plainly proved that the hope which God has set before us in Christ and His blessed gospel, is the hope of the resurrection from the dead unto everlasting life and eternal glory. And as this resurrection all depends upon the glorious appearing of our Saviour, therefore the second coming of our Saviour is inseparably connected with this, the Christian's "blessed hope." Thus saith the Lord, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:11-13. {December 1, 1892 ATJ, BEST 356.2}
This is that for which Job looked. He says, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." Job 14:14. This change is at the resurrection; for Paul says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." 1 Cor. 15:51, 52. Again says Job, "If I wait, the grave is mine house; I have made my bed in the darkness. . . . And where is now my hope?" Chap. 17:13-15. Here it is: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not a stranger. My reins within me are consumed with earnest desire for that day." Chap. 19:25-27, margin. {December 1, 1892 ATJ, BEST 356.3}
Time and space would fail us to quote the words of this hope, expressed by David, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and Hosea, and Micah, and all the prophets and apostles. We can only cite again the words that this is the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise we instantly serving God day and night hope to come. Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead? The righteous dead shall live again at the coming of the Lord, and therefore we look at anxiously wait for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus. Like faithful Job, our reins within us are consumed with earnest desire for that glorious day. And as He assures us, "Surely I come quickly," our hearts reply, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." {December 1, 1892 ATJ, BEST 356.4}
Similarly, E.J. Waggoner wrote on The Hope of the Promise (PTUK, 1890), where we see that Paul's hope was the same as that of Abraham and Job who found comfort in the fact that his Redeemer lived and should stand in the latter day upon the earth and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed:
"Now put these facts with Paul's statement that he stood and was judged for the hope of the promise made of God to the fathers, and it is as plain as language can make it that the promise to the fathers that through Christ they should have a resurrection from the dead, and should by that means enter upon their inheritance. Paul looked forward to the fulfillment of the promise with as ardent hope and as steadfast faith as did Abraham, and it was this that he had in mind when he said that, "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:12, 13. {February 27, 1890 EJW, PTUK 74.2}
This has been the hope of the church in all ages. But in the midst of his deep affliction, the patriarch Job found comfort in the knowledge that his Redeemer lived and should stand in the latter day upon the earth, and that although worms might devour his body, nevertheless in his flesh he should see God. Job 19:23-27. Again, after speaking of the certainty of death and decay, he asked, "If a man die, shall he live again?" and at once answered his own question, saying, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands." Job 14:14, 15. What this change will be, and when it will take place, we are told by the apostle Paul in the following language: "Behold, I show 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 trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. . . . Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Cor. 15:51-55. {February 27, 1890 EJW, PTUK 74.3}
Job's hope and that of the Old Testament patriarchs was based on an unshakeable faith in their Redeemer.  Through the sanctuary services, the ten commandments and the old testament scriptures, they knew in whom they believed and could look forward to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for them as Savior of the world.  Christ used these same scriptures as well to show the apostles the depth of His (and the Father's) infinite agape love and sacrifice for them and for the world. Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world!
As we dwell on and appreciate this sacrifice providing a free gift of salvation for all, our belief changes hearts and through Christ and in Christ we have a righteousness by faith - with both His righteousness and His faith being part of and a result of that free gift.  Thus, it is neither our righteousness nor our faith that we can depend on but, in Christ, we can be covered with His robe of righteousness and rely on the faith of Jesus. 
The most precious message brought to us by Waggoner and Jones was needed to refocus God's last day people on these fundamental truths from scripture representing as EGW says (TM92-98) the everlasting gospel and the third angel's message in verity which is to be proclaimed to the world with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.
With our hearts and minds on Christ and Him crucified along with the new light this message has for God's last day people, we will at last be unified in truth and the Groom will be able to take His bride home.
~John and Monica Campbell


Friday, November 18, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #8 November 19, 2016

NOVEMBER 19, 2016

Our lesson for this week does not provide an answer to the question of suffering, but begins to look beyond it. Job, in chapter 9, felt there was no mediator between himself and God (9:33). In his prayer to God recorded in chapter 10, Job begins to formulate his complaint to God. Thinking that God brought on his severe suffering, Job wondered why He treated him so terribly? (10:1-7). Job began to think that God created him only to condemn him (10:8–17). Job asks if God's plan was to destroy him even as his body was being formed in his mother's womb. He thought it would have been better to never have been born (10:18–22). If Job was created only to be condemned, in his opinion, it would be better to have died at birth.

Job did not realize the devil was bringing all the troubles. Nor did Job realize that God had put His trust in him. He did not realize that to him had "been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29); and that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).
The innocent do suffer. The "Innocent Blood" – the title of our lesson this week is about the "innocent life" of the believer, for the life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4). Examples of this include the trials and sufferings of the innocent Waldenses. Men, woman and children were hunted down, persecuted, and murdered in the Piedmont valleys of Northern Italy during the 12th to the 16thcenturies, a.d. Those persecutions were planned in the councils of hell by the devil in cooperation with his persecuting henchmen. This was done to counter and to eliminate the Waldensian's faith in God. Their stories of faith and perseverance provide an inspiration for those times when you and I feel persecuted as they and Job were hounded and oppressed. The martyrdom of the Waldensians was their victory. They are forever delivered from suffering. And they will be resurrected to eternal peace and comfort very soon.

Job's life was innocent. He was a righteous man. God Himself announced Job's righteous life to Satan when he pushed himself into the council of God. (see Job 1:8). There was, and is, only one kind of true righteousness on earth and that is a faith righteousness. That faith is the faith of Jesus which believes not only in the absence of feelings but against them. This is the faith Job had. He did not understand why he was going through those severe trials. The trials wore him down. And in his afflictions he asked God why? And so did Jesus.

Jesus "suffered shame for us that we might not suffer everlasting shame and contempt. He suffered on the cross, that mercy might be granted to fallen man. God's justice is preserved, and guilty man is pardoned. Jesus dies that the sinner might live. Shame is borne by the Son of the Highest for the sake of poor sinners, that they might be ransomed and crowned with eternal glory" (RH August 2, 1881).

As Jesus hung by Roman nails on a Roman tree of execution, He felt totally excluded and banned from the fellowship and presence of God. He screamed "Why?"! In this cry from the depths of His being, Jesus sounded more like a wounded wild beast than as a man. On that fearful Passover day at 3:00 in the afternoon – the time of the corporate evening sacrifice – Jesus asked God, "Why have you forsaken Me?" In this utterance His agonizing feelings are expressed. But we need to remember that His faith spoke first and it spoke twice as He said, "My God, My God." (Mark 15:34). Then His feelings spoke once, "Why have you forsaken me?" The faith of Jesus was eternally triumphant. He believed not only in the absence of his feelings, but against them. This is the faith that He gives to us. This is the faith His people will be known for in the days just before Jesus comes to deliver them. (See Revelation 14:12, 14).

This is the faith God gave to Job. Like Jesus, Job didn't deserve what was happening to him and he asked why? His complaints were bitter. We realize Job didn't deserve what he was going through. He didn't know that he was being afflicted by the devil. And he didn't know God trusted him with one of His greatest of gifts. This gift is the gift of suffering for Christ's sake. Notice this thought from the pen of inspiration: "Of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor" (Desire of Ages, 224). This and the following thought is encouragement for you and for me as we go through severe trials as did Job:
"To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. 'The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly,' 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience" (Desire of Ages, 528).

Peter, in writing to the churches in Asia Minor, reminded them (and us) that when tried by "the fiery trial" to not think it strange for this to happen. He wrote, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 4:12). This counsel is for us today as we go through trials and temptations and as we learn of extremely wicked and cruel acts against innocent persons occurring in the world today. It will not be long until this is over. The last battle soon will be fought and won by Jesus when He comes back to claim His own.

Earlier in his letter Peter wrote,"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7, KJV).

In closing, we have read the end and the beginning of the story of Job. His faith in God remained intact. And God's trust in Job was vindicated before the universe in this battle of the ongoing cosmic conflict. Job came through the battle bruised and wounded, but victorious. You too, like Job, may be assaulted and battered. But you will come from the battle victorious through the faith of Jesus given to you through God's promises. This is the victory that overcomes the world, the devil and our fallen nature, even "our faith" (1John 5:4; see also 1 John 2:13; 4:4; John 16:33). When Jesus returns we will sing the never ending doxology: "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow."

~Jerry Finneman


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Friday, November 11, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #7 November 12, 2016


NOVEMBER 12, 2016

Poor Job. His friends were not much of an encouragement to him. They thought that his suffering was a punishment from God for his sins. Perhaps their "counsel" to Job could be considered as not much more than a "kick in the guts when he was already down". Job's three friends did not have a true comprehension of the charcter of God, as evidenced in what He said to them twice, as if to emphasize the point to us today, "Ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right" (Job 42:7-8).
"The same error for which God had reproved the friends of Job was repeated by the Jews... It was generally believed by the Jews that sin is punished in this life. Every affliction was regarded as the penalty of some wrongdoing, either of the sufferer himself or of his parents. It is true that all suffering results from the transgression of God's law, but this truth had become perverted. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God,—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin. Hence one upon whom some great affliction or calamity had fallen had the additional burden of being regarded as a great sinner... God had given a lesson designed to prevent this. The history of Job had shown that suffering is inflicted by Satan, and is overruled by God for purposes of mercy. But Israel did not understand the lesson" (The Desire of Ages, page 471).
And many people today have not understood the lesson either. When something bad happens to them, they think that God is punishing them for their disobedience. But God is not a harsh, vengeful judge, waiting to punish us for our sins. Our Father in heaven is "ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness" (Nehemiah 9:17). He says, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" (Ezekiel 33:11). His thoughts toward us are "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jeremiah 29:11).
This week's lesson deals specifically with the subject of "Divine Retribution". Apart from seeking to understand the mystery of the cause of the sufferings we experience in general, this is the one subject that is probably considered the most confusing.
The judgments of God are rarely understood for what they really are. There is a Scripture that defines them for us: "The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (Psalm 9:16). Paul declares: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). David says the wicked "made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate" (Psalms 7:15-16). When God "executes judgment", He simply steps back and permits the natural consequences of our actions to take their course.
Ellen White further clarifies this: "God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan" (The Great Controversy, page 36).
It is true that the Scriptures speak of the "wrath of God". But His wrath is not like ours. It is "grief". For when Jesus would have healed the man with the shriveled hand on the Sabbath, He "looked round about Him with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mark 3:5). When the vials of God's wrath are poured out, and the seven last plagues will afflict this world, the temple in heaven will be "filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power" and no man is able to enter it until the plagues have ceased (Revelation 15:8). This scene is reminiscent of the dedication of the temple of Solomon when "the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God" (2 Chronicles 5:14).
The "glory of the Lord" is described in Exodus chapter 34. It is His character. God proclaimed His name before Moses: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..." (Exodus 34:6-7). And God's character of mercy and graciousness and love is known by the manner in which He executes the judgment. In these judgments, the pain of God's heart is revealed, for "He doth not afflict willingly" (Lamentations 3:33), but He has to step back and let man reap the consequences of his own actions. This will be a time of intense heart anguish to Him. He will look upon this world and weep, just as Jesus wept as He looked upon Jersualem: "O Jersualem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under wings, and ye would not!"
But God can by "no means clear the guilty" and must visit "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:7). This is extremely painful to Him, for it is a life that has been purchased by the infinite sacrifice of His only begotten Son. He loves them with an "everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Therefore, the temple of God is filled with smoke that the terrible and intensely painful grief of our loving, heavenly Father may be hidden.
We worship a God of fair justice, and true love, yet there is a mystery that many would wish to have solved. If God "does not stand towards the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression" then why do we see the angel of God flying over Egypt, slaying all the firstborn? And why do we read that "the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and eighty five thousand men? And many other examples? How do we understand or explain this?
First, we must acknowledge, that even to God Himself, it is a "strange" thing. "For the Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do his work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act" (Isaiah 28:21).
"To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act… While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some, He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin." (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 628.)
Note the word: "forced". He is pushed into a corner to do something that He would very much rather not do. In order to "preserve the inhabitants of the earth" from total ruin, He has no choice but to intervene.
When writing about the punishment inflicted against the idolaters who danced around the golden calf at Sinai, Ellen White provides us with an insight into the "strange act" of divine retribution. She says, "Though God had granted the prayer of Moses in sparing Israel from destruction, their apostasy was to be signally punished. The lawlessness and insubordination into which Aaron had permitted them to fall, if not speedily crushed, would run riot in wickedness, and would involve the nation in irretrievable ruin" (Ibid, page 324). 
But not just the nation. She continues: "Only those were cut off who persisted in rebellion.... It was necessary that this sin should be punished, as a testimony to surrounding nations of God's displeasure against idolatry... Unless punishment had been speedily visited upon transgression... the earth would have become as corrupt as in the days of Noah. Had these transgressors been spared, evils would have followed, greater than resulted from sparing the life of Cain. It was the mercy of God that thousands should suffer, to prevent the necessity of visiting judgments upon millions. In order to save the many, He must punish the few... And it was no less a mercy to the sinners themselves that they should be cut short in their evil course." (Ibid, page 325.)
Here we see that God understands the power of example. "None of us liveth to himself" (Romans 14:7). "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man" (Proverbs 27:19). Not only justice demanded the destruction of the idolaters, but also love. Love for the rest of the nation. Love for those who were not yet hardened in sin and had not yet closed their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit of God. Love for the world, for had He not executed judgment then and there, through their example and influence "the earth would have become as corrupt as in the days of Noah."
God is merciful and compassionate to those who are ignorant or weak in regard to sin. By executing judgment upon those who had already hardened their hearts, he was giving the rest of the nation an opportunity to see the wickedness of their actions, and that they might make an intelligent choice in their own lives and be more firmly resolved to overcome sin.
But more than just executing judgment as an example of the consequences of sin, where God sees it is necessary, He will intervene in judgment to prevent an individual stealing from another individual the opportunity to make an intelligent decision. This judgment will generally be executed by God permitting them to meet the consequences of their actions. Very rarely will He intervene and execute judgment by His own hand. And He will only do this if the sinner has become hardened and established in their rebellion, and grieved away His Spirit.
God has no pleasure in suffering and death. Because He loves us so much, and wants each one of us to have every advantage possible to choose Him and His ways, He will do something that He doesn't want to do, and this is why it is called a "strange act" – because He considers it strange Himself. He will take a life, so that we might have a better opportunity for eternal life. But the life that He takes has already made its decision. He is simply taking back that which was His, and that had been rejected.
God is love, albeit we will never fully understand the ways of His love while we are on this earth, or even in all eternity. As Zophar correctly said to Job, "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea (Job 11:7-9). When it comes to the particular subject of divine retribution, perhaps it would be best if we just trust that God knows what He is doing, and say with Job, "Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42:3).
~Camron and Heladia Schofield


Wednesday, November 02, 2016

1888 Glad Tidings : Insight #6 November 5, 2016


NOVEMBER 5, 2016

"As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come" Proverbs 26:2. We may not understand why, but this text tells us bad things don't just happen without a reason. In this week's lesson, Job's friend Eliphaz struggles to make sense of Job's experience based on what he knows.
Job suffered incredible losses, not only of his possessions and his children, but of his health. He didn't understand what was happening nor why, and neither did his friends.
Have you ever experienced significant loss? Have you ever felt forsaken by God? Have you ever wished you had never been born? Have your friends ever suggested that perhaps it was because of some sin or poor choice on your part that bad things happened? Job experienced all these things. He didn't have the benefit of reading the book that now bears his name. He, "the greatest of all the men of the East," (Job 1:3) was reduced to almost nothing.
If you were Job's comforter, what would you have said? What do you say to people who experience profound loss? What have people said to you in times of trial and crisis?
Eliphaz came to comfort Job, but he himself struggled to reconcile what he knew to be true: "Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same," Job 4:8, 9, with what he assumed, that: "by the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His anger they are consumed."

He also struggled with who he knew Job to be: "Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees" Job 4:4, in seeming contrast to what was happening to him: "But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; It touches you, and you are troubled" Job 4:5.
What neither of them knew was that this unfolding drama was "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men" 1 Corinthians 4:9.
Momentous were the issues at stake. As Satan dared to challenge Job's motivation of faithfulness before God and the assembled representatives of distant worlds, his questions might well have caused others to wonder, too. Why did Job serve God? Was it because God had favored him? The assertion, once raised, could not be answered by a mere verbal explanation. For the security of His government and the universe, God must permit Job to be tested.
Have you ever wondered why so much of the book of Job contains the thoughts and questions of Job's friends? I think part of the reason for this may be because these friends, Eliphaz included, put into words the thoughts and questions held in abeyance by the onlooking universe. The great controversy was still in relative infancy. Following closely behind the entrance of sin into our world was the painful experience of suffering -- physical, emotional, relational, spiritual. The same angels who "sang together" when "all the sons of God shouted for joy" at the creation of our world were now filled with grief as they witnessed sin's degradation of the human race, the animals, and the earth. There was much still to understand.
Written by Moses during his 40-year sojourn in the Arabian desert of Midian, the book of Job is more than the story of human loss and suffering. It opens a window into the heart of God and "the suffering that sin has caused our Creator."
"Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ's agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God" Education, 263.

Jesus loves us each individually, as though we were His only child. There is no heartache we experience, no tear that is shed, but that Jesus feels the pain. He knows us better than anyone, and when we hurt, He hurts. Job wasn't the only one suffering through all those losses. "In all their affliction, he was afflicted" (Is. 63:9). As the second Adam and Father of the human race, Jesus  fully experienced the sufferings of Job as his own. And these were but the foreshadowing of the cross. Watch closely for the parallels:
Eliphaz: "Call out now; Is there anyone who will answer you? And to which of the holy ones will you turn?" Job 5:1.
The chief priests: "He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God' " Matt. 27:43.

Eliphaz: "For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground" Job 5:6.

Isaiah: "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old" Isaiah 63:9.

Eliphaz: "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but he binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole" Job 5:17, 18.
Isaiah: "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. 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" Isaiah 53:4, 5.
Job's confidence in God proved unshakable under the severest stress, even though he couldn't explain why he had been struck with tragedy: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong" Job 1:21, 22.
When an unlooked for crisis challenges our faith and human friends fail us, there is One who is faithful. He understands, and we can trust that He will see us through. For "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.
Not until the judgment will the purposes of God be made plain. Our unanswered questions in this life will be resolved. Someday in heaven we will have the opportunity to sit down with Job and talk to him personally. Perhaps Eliphaz will be there, too. We can ask them more about their experience and how this tragedy deepened their confidence in God.
More than that, as the years of eternity roll, we will more fully come to understand just how closely Jesus has identified with us -- not only in our sufferings in this life -- but in His humanity. Forever joined to the human race, He will ever bear the marks of His suffering in His hands and forehead, mute reminders of the price He paid to save us -- at any cost to Himself and to the Father.
~Patti Guthrie