Today’s readings are from Exodus 24, John 3, Job 42 and 2 Corinthians 12.
In Exodus 24 the covenant between God and Israel is ratified (24:1-11). Moses told the people all God had commanded, they agreed to it (v. 3) and he wrote them down. They ratified the covenant with sacrifices (vv. 4-7) and the people again pledged their obedience (v. 7).
In vv. 9-11 Moses, Aaaron and his sons and 70 elders were ate and drank with God, enabled to see Him without dying. While it is possible that they only saw his feet, or a part of Him, God was definitely merciful to them.
24:12-31:18 give directions for God’s continued dwelling with the Israelites.
Now that Israel had entered into a blood covenant with God, God purposed to dwell among His people (cf. John 1:14). Correspondingly, God now dwells among Christians by His Holy Spirit, since Jesus Christ has ratified the New Covenant by shedding His blood.
The spectacular vision of “the glory of the LORD” on the mountain, “like a consuming fire” (v. 17), should have caused the Israelites to have greater respect for God’s revelation than they demonstrated later (cf. 32:1-8).
John 3 records Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus (3:1-21), followed by John the Baptist’s reaction to Jesus (3:22-30) and an explanation of Jesus’ preeminence (3:31-36).
The soteriological concept of “new birth” or regeneration, is introduced to Nicodemus (a religious Jew) as the way in which a person takes part in the kingdom of God (3:3) and as something Nicodemus should have known about (3:10).
In His description of new birth, Jesus recalled a familiar theme from Old Testament promises of the New Covenant (Deut. 30:1-6; Jeremiah 23:1-8; 31:31-34; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 36:16-28; 37:11-14; 37:21-28).
“All over the New Testament this idea of rebirth, re-creation occurs.” (Barclay)
- 1 Peter speaks of being born anew by God’s great mercy (1 Peter 1:3).
- 1 Peter speaks of being born anew from an imperishable seed (1 Peter 1:22-23).
- James speaks of God bringing us forth by the word of truth (James 1:18).
- Titus speaks to us of the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5).
- Romans speaks of dying with Jesus and rising anew (Romans 6:1-11).
- 1 Corinthians speaks of new believers as new-born babes (1 Cor. 3:1-2).
- 2 Corinthians speaks of us being a new creation in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).
- Galatians says that in Jesus we are a new creation (Galatians 6:15).
- Ephesians says the new man is created after God in righteousness (Eph. 4:22-24).
- Hebrews says that at the beginning of our Christian life we are like children (Heb. 5:12-14).
There is fleshly birth and spiritual birth, Jesus is saying. We all experience physical birth through no effort of our own, but experiencing spiritual birth is dependent upon the movement of the Holy Spirit.
“A man may cast away many vices, forsake many lusts in which he indulged, and conquer evil habits, but no man in the world can make himself to be born of God; though he should struggle never so much, he could never accomplish what is beyond his power. And, mark you, if he could make himself to be born again, still he would not enter heaven, because there is another point in the condition which he would have violated — ‘unless a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” (Spurgeon)
A picture of Jesus’ crucifixion was Moses’ lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness. The serpent in Numbers 21 was made of bronze, indicating judged sin. Jesus, who knew no personal sin, was condemned as a sinner because He bore our sins.
People were saved not by doing something, but simply in looking. Likewise, salvation comes to us not by doing, but simply looking. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!”
Alexander Maclaren said:
“He must die because He would save, and He would save because He did love.”
We are condemned, ultimately, not because we sin, but because we don’t believe in the provision God has made for our salvation (3:18). The reason we are not saved, is because we love darkness and hate the light.
There are four prominent “musts” in John 3.
- The Sinner’s must: you must be born again (John 3:7).
- The Savior’s must: so must the Son of Man be lifted up(John 3:14).
- The Sovereign’s must: He must increase (John 3:30).
- The Servant’s must: I must decrease (John 3:30).
Like John 3:16 earlier, John 3:36 makes it clear…
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Job’s response to God in 42:1-6 shows that he has learned more about God and His ways.
He was aware as never before that God had all power and all wisdom. This resulted in an attitude of awe and submission (v. 2). He saw that it was foolish for him to question God’s actions. God knew what He was doing even though Job did not.
By quoting God’s first question back to Him (v. 3a; 38:2), Job meant: “You were exactly right in asking, ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ That is just what I have been doing.” He admitted having spoken presumptuously (v. 3b-c).
Job also repeated what God had said when He began each of His speeches (v. 4; 38:3; 40:7). God had asked for Job’s reply. Now Job gave it. However, it was not the courtroom accusation he had said he wanted to deliver to God. It was instead a confession of his own folly.
Job had had limited, secondhand knowledge of God (“my ears had heard of you”), but now he has “seen” and has more spiritual insight. This greater understanding of God helped him to understand himself better. He saw both God and himself more realistically.
Job evidently not only withdrew his charges against God but also despised and rejected his attitude of pride. Job had previously expressed remorse over his losses, but now he grieved over his sins. Job’s repentance seems to have been more than turning from his sorrowful condition. He changed his mind and abandoned his rebellious pride and arrogance toward God.
Our best answer to suffering is to know God as He is.
The book closes as it opened, with a prose explanation by the inspired human writer. He gave us important information about Job’s friends (vv. 7-9) and then Job’s fortunes (vv. 10-17).
See the three main features of the epilogue—transformation [of Job as regards his character], vindication [of Job before his friends], restoration [to Job of his former prosperity, and far more].
In the epilogue God first addresses Job’s friends. He evidently excludes Elihu because he had more faithfully represented God than the others had.
The error of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar was limiting God’s sovereignty. By asserting that God always punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous in this life, they were limiting God and committing a sin that required a sacrifice for atonement (covering). Modern prosperity theology advocates should take note!
God is sovereign in his exercise of grace.
Job evidently forgave his friends as God had forgiven him (cf. Matt. 6:12), and prayed for them as a priest (cf. 1:5; Matt. 5:44). Job stood as a mediator between his friends and God. He had previously felt the need of a mediator himself.
Rather than judging Job, God accepted him because he was indeed His “servant,” not the rebel that his friends accused him of being. The writer used the word “servant” four times in these verses. Job had served God, among other ways, by being the vehicle through whom God brought the revelation of this book to its readers. Job not only obtained God’s favor himself, but he became the instrument of God’s grace to sinners.
Then, in vv. 10-17, God restores Job’s fortunes.
|Yoke of Oxen||500||500||1,000|
|Age in Years||70||140||210|
Notice that God began to prosper Job again after he interceded for his friends (v. 10), not just after he repented. His willingness to pray for his enemies showed the genuineness of the transformation that had taken place in his heart. He no longer felt antagonistic toward God but accepting of his enemies (cf. Matt. 6:15).
The Lord increased all that Job possessed twofold (v. 10).
Does the fact that God eventually blessed Job materially in life for his godliness prove Job’s three friends were right after all? Is the basis of man’s relationship with God really retribution?
No, God did not reward Job in life primarily because he was good but because God is gracious. The basis of people’s relationship with God is grace.
The Book of Job does not deny the fact that God blesses the righteous. However, it shows that this principle has exceptions if we look at life only this side of the grave. Because God is sovereign He can deal with anyone as He chooses for reasons only He knows. Nevertheless He always deals justly (cf. Rom. 9:14).
Warren Wiersbe concludes…
“This chapter assures us that, no matter what happens to us, God always writes the last chapter. Therefore, we don’t have to be afraid. We can trust God to do what is right, no matter how painful our situation might be. . . .
“His [Job’s] greatest blessing was knowing God better and understanding His working in a deeper way.”
2 Corinthians 12 begins with Paul’s “boast” of going up to the third heaven. David Platt pointed out a few years ago, when one of the books about out-of-body trips to heaven was popular, that Paul “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (12:3).
What Paul really boasted in was his own weakness, because it was through his weakness that God’s strength could be manifest, so that He would receive the glory.
Some things to note about Paul’s experience:
- We do not know what the “thorn…in the flesh” was.
- That thorn was “given” to Paul to keep him from conceit. God will ruthlessly deal with our pride.
- Even Paul did not get all his prayers answered. At least not in the way he initially wanted.
- Paul adjusted his praying, desiring grace in weakness rather than strength.
The true heart of a pastor is found in verse 15:
15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.
Paul was having to prove to them that, unlike the other “super apostles,” he was not taking advantage of them.