Whatever You Ask in My Name, I Will Do

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 28-33

“To you, O Lord, I call…Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” – Psalm 28:1, 6

“O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” – Psalm 30:2

“Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!…But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.” Psalm 31:2, 22

In these three psalms, and many others, the psalmist makes a direct plea to God and later acknowledges that God indeed heard his cry and answered.

I believe it is helpful to remember that Jesus constantly got alone to pray. And, I believe that psalms were given to us to show us what his prayer life was like.

Therefore, in these three psalms, and many others, we can see that Jesus was regularly crying out to God for help. Jesus was not about trying to do things on his own apart from his Father.

It’s out of the example of his own prayer life that Jesus said to the disciples:

  • “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do.” – John 14:12
  • If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:13
  • “If you abide in me, and my words abide in your, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7
  • “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” – John 15:16
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” – John 16:23
  • “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:24

At least six times in his dissertation with the disciples at the Lord’s supper, Jesus told the disciples to ask – whatever, anything – in his name, that is according to his character, and he and the Father would do it for them.

If Jesus had said this once, then we might be excused for overlooking it. We might get away with saying that’s not what he really meant. Perhaps if Jesus said it one time we could put qualifiers on his statement.

But, Jesus made the basic statement “ask whatever in my name and I will do it” six times.

We cannot overlook this. We cannot say, “He didn’t really mean that.” We cannot say, “Well, maybe in the days of the apostles.” We cannot say, “But, in reality, Jesus really meant…”

To pray and get answers like we see recorded in the psalms, to pray and get answers like Jesus, we have pray the way he instructed us.

Ask anything according to his character and he will do it!

So, why aren’t more prayers answered?

I believe there are two primary reasons.

First, we haven’t taken the time to find out if what we are asking for is according to his name and character.

Second, we doubt these six statements that Jesus made. We tell ourselves it can’t possibly be true. And, so we pray in unbelief. But, it is unbelief that prevented Jesus from working in his earthly life and it is unbelief that continues to prevent Jesus from answering prayer today.

The church needs to start taking Jesus at his word when it comes to prayer. Then we will the Father’s will done on earth as it is in heaven.

What Would You Have Been Thinking the Night of the Crucifixion?

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 22-27

You’re a Jew in Jerusalem for the Passover. Or, perhaps you are one of the priests, scribes, or Pharisees that live in the city. Perhaps your name is John. Maybe, even, you are Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, “the teacher of Israel.”

On Thursday evening, the 14th of Nisan around 3 to 5 p.m., you slayed your lamb in preparation for the Passover meal. Then, early Friday evening, the 15th of Nisan, you sit down in your house with your family to eat the sacred meal.

But, you can’t get something out of your mind. There was a man crucified the day before. He was a famous, many would say notorious, man. This man had claimed to be the son of God.

You probably don’t realize it yet, but He was crucified the 14th of Nisan at 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34), which is the same time that you killed your passover lamb.

Perhaps you do remember the time because it was at that very hour, the ninth hour, the hour the Passover lamb was to be killed, that he cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Just moments later that famous, many would say notorious man, “cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.” (Matthew 27:50)

Ever since, those words – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – have been ringing in your mind.

Why can’t you shake those words?

You could the temple, or wherever you could, to find the scroll of the Psalms. You find those words – “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

And you keep reading.

“O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find not rest.”

You say to yourself that this man who claimed to be the son of God did not get an answer from God while he was on that cross.

And you keep reading.

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”

You think to yourself that surely this man wasn’t calling the God that forsook him holy. Yes, our fathers were rescued this night out of Egypt. But, this man? He’s dead and in the grave. God didn’t rescue him from the Roman cross.

And you keep reading.

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me.”

You remember the day before when the Roman soldiers mocked this man who claimed to be the son of God. They put a crown of thorns on his head and gave him a reed for a scepter. What a pitiful sight. Truly, this man was a worm, not even man.

And you keep reading.

“They make mouths at me; they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

You remember people yelling at this man to take himself down from the cross and prove that he was the son of God. But, this man said nothing in response. He just took their insults.

And you keep reading.

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.”

You remember the soldier pierced this man in the side and water and blood gushed out, almost like his heart melted. And, you remember that just before the man died he said, “I thirst.”

How is this man’s death so similar to this psalm?

And you keep reading.

“They have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Now you are thinking this is really strange. The soldiers had to pierce his hands and feet to nail that man to the cross. Yet, when you took him down and prepared him to be buried, you could tell none of his bones had been broken.

And, didn’t those soldiers really divide his garments by casting lots?

And you keep reading.

And you keep thinking how this man’s death paralleled this psalm.

And you wonder how it all worked out by the end of this psalm, but this man that was crucified, whose death mirrored this psalm, is just dead in the grave.

What would you have been thinking?

Trust in the Name of the Lord

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 18-21

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” – Psalm 20:7-8

Egypt chased Israel towards the Red Sea with chariots and horses (Exodus 14:9). Moses wrote that when Israel would desire a king over themselves that the king should not have many horses (Deuteronomy 17:16). Throughout the Old Testament, chariots and horses are a picture of the military strength of a nation. As Psalm 20 says, this is what some people trust in – the military strength of a nation.

But, those following the king of Israel – who is, of course, Jesus Christ – trust in the name of the Lord. To trust in the name of the Lord means to trust in his character, in his nature.

Jesus revealed exactly what the character of God is. Jesus was the image of God (Colossians 1:15). And, he is exact imprint of God’s nature, the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3).

What exactly is the nature of God that Jesus revealed?

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is not darkness at all.”

1 John 4:16, 18 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love…There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

1 John 5:11-12 says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

So, the name of God, the character of God, that Jesus revealed is:

  • God is light and not darkness
  • God is love and not fear
  • God is life and not death.

Light is truth. Darkness is lies.

Fear leads to hate. Jesus said those who hate have already committed murder in their heart.

Isaiah 53:9 says that the servant of God, Jesus, did no violence and no deceit was on his lips. Here we see Jesus reveal light and love.

Jesus laid down his life only to take it up again. Death had nothing in him, no part of him at all, and so he was able to rise to life from death.

Therefore, instead of trusting in the military strength of any nation, Christians are to trust in the name, the character and nature, of God, which is light, love, and life.

Those who trust in chariots and horses, military strength, will collapse and fall.

Those who trust in the name of God – light, love, and life – will rise and stand upright.

As the church, the bride of Christ, those who are servants of the king, we must put away any appearance, – any appearance at all – of trusting in the military might of any nation.

Jesus Did No Violence and Spoke No Lies

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 9-17

In Psalm 17, David is proclaiming his innocence. It’s more than ironic that David bases his claim of innocence on lips free from deceit and his avoidance of the ways of the violent. Recall the whole incident with Bathsheba and Uriah.

But, the psalm isn’t really about David anyway. It’s about Jesus.

Prophesying of Jesus, Isaiah 53:9 says, “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

No violence.

No deceit.

Jesus never, ever did either anything violent or deceitful.

But, this is not the only time violence and lies are mentioned together in the Bible. In fact, if you read closely, then you will see that two concepts are mentioned together more often than they are mentioned separately.

I believe every psalm can be read in some way as a prayer of Jesus. So, let’s look at Psalm 17 in that light.

Verse 1 says, “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!” Here we see Jesus making the claim that he has never spoken lies or deceit.

Verse 4 says, “With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the way of the violent.” Here we see Jesus making the claim that he never did anything violent.

While the ideas of no violence and no lies are repeatedly linked in the Bible, it is especially true in the psalms. That the psalms are prayers of Jesus makes the link between no violence and no lies even more important.

That Jesus did no lies and no violence hits a fever pitch in the gospel of John.

In John 8, Jesus accuses the Jews of being of their father the devil.  In John 8:44, Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Then, in John 18, Jesus has a conversation with Pilate just before he is executed. In verses 36 and 38, violence and lies come up together. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting…For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Do some word studies on violence, murder, mischief, snares, and pits and lies, deceit, deceitfulness, and flattery. Scripture could not be more clear that Jesus, and therefore God, did no violence and spoke no lies. This needs to be firmly fixed in our minds if we want to truly know God.

Is Jesus Angry at the Wicked Every Day?

TODAY’S READING: PSALM 1-8

According to the King James Version, Psalm 7:11 says, “God judgeth the righteous, And God is angry with the wicked every day.”

Is this true? Is this right? Is this what the verse really says?

The short answer is no.

But, let’s go through the longer answer.

First, we should note that “with the wicked” is not in the original Hebrew. Any times you see words in italics that means the translators inserted them even though they weren’t in the original language. So, according to the KJV translators, the verse says, “And God is angry every day.”

Second, even removing the added words doesn’t get the translation correct. Let’s look at some other translations, focusing on the second part of the verse.

  • “and God who feels indignation every day.” – ESV
  • “And a God who has indignation every day.” – NASB
  • “a God who displays his wrath every day.” – NIV
  • “He is angry with the wicked every day.” – NLT
  • “he is angry throughout the day.” – NET Bible
  • “and always condemns the wicked.” – Good News Translation (that’s some good news by the way)
  • “And He is not angry at all times.” – Young’s Literal Translation
  • “is he angry every day?” – Douay-Rheims Bible
  • not bringing wrath every single day.” – Lexham English Septuagint

That’s quite a contrast within these translations. And, two of them – Young’s and LES – say exactly the opposite of what the KJV says.

So, what’s going on here?

The problem is the word generally translated angry or indignation in this verse. The Hebrew word is za’am, which literally means to curse or to scold. It can also mean to be angry or indignant or to express wrath.

So, how should za’am be translated?

Well, let’s look at the context of the psalm. On the surface, the psalm is about David taking refuge in God because he is being accused unjustly by his enemies. David says that if the accusations are true – that he has repaid his friend with evil  among other things – then he should be trampled. But, he knows the accusations aren’t true and asks the Lord to judge him according to his righteousness. David says that if his enemies do not repent then the violence they have planned for them will come back on their own skull.

That’s what’s happening on the surface. But, what’s happening in the Spirit?

I believe this is a picture of Jesus on the cross. Verse 1 says, “O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge.”

Where did Jesus take refuge in God?

On the cross. Listen to what Jesus says from the cross in Luke 23:46. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” That sounds like Jesus taking refuge in God.

Then Jesus asks that he be saved from his pursuers “lest like a lion they tear my soul apart.” Where would Jesus be under threat of being torn apart as if by a lion? I would suggest on the cross.

Finally, the psalm has Jesus say that the mischief of the man who will not repent “on his own skull his violence descends.” (verse 16)

Where was Jesus crucified?

Golgotha, which means the place of the skull. When Jesus was killed on the cross at Golgotha it was as if the cross was being driven into our own skulls.

So, the whole psalm pictures Jesus on the cross.

So, how should we read verse 11, which says, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day?”

Well, the word za’am is a participle in this sentence. That just means that it is a verb acting as an adjective. And, remember one of the meanings of za’am is to curse.

Was Jesus not made a curse for us on the cross?

Galatians 3:13-14 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

So, given the context of the psalm, that Jesus was made a curse for us, and that za’am means to curse and should be translated as an adjective – cursed – describing God, I believe that verse 11 should be translated something like:

“God is a righteous judge, a cursed God every day.”

Remember, Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He has always been hanged on the tree – cursed – for us. But, this is precisely what makes Jesus and the Father righteous judges. They know what it is to be cursed, and by their own creation. Jesus knows how the poor, the blind, the sick, the lame, etc. are cursed in this world. Therefore, can put things right, or judge righteously.

Jesus knows because he became like us. Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Further evidence of this is that Jesus tells us to bless our enemies and not curse them. Therefore, the verse cannot possibly be saying that God is angry or cursing or expressing wrath every day.

Job’s Three Daughters: From Death to Life

TODAY’S READING: JOB 39-42

Job has heard God and seen the error of his ways. He sees that God is far more wonderful than he ever imagined. Job now knows that God is working good, and not evil, for him.

What was the result of Job’s understanding God’s goodness?

Job’s end was better than his beginning. God doubled Job’s possessions. And, God gave Job 10 children to replace the 10 children that Satan had killed.

Just like before, Job had seven sons and three daughters. But, it is interesting that of the 20 children Job had that we are only given the names of the second set of three daughters. Not only are we given their names but we are told there were no women so beautiful as them and that Job gave them an inheritance with their brothers.

Given that many believe Job is the oldest book of the Bible and the patriarchal culture it would come from, it is quite amazing that we are only given names for the daughters and they received an inheritance with their brothers. Therefore, I believe this shows we should pay special attention to these daughters.

JEMIMAH

According to several sources, the name Jemimah means dove. But, another source says that it sort of looks like the Hebrew word for seas (mayim). Therefore, in addition to dove, Jemimah could mean “she who acts like the sea.”

What does the sea act like?

It is turbulent and chaotic. It is always churning and roaring. This seems to be an apt description of Job through most of this book. And, it is an apt description for all of us at some point in our lives.

But, in the creation of Genesis, God gathers the seas so that the dry land could appear. This is a picture of the resurrection of Jesus. And, in that account of creation, we read the Holy Spirit, often pictured as a dove in scripture, was hovering above the seas.

In Mark4 :35-41, Jesus and the disciples were in a boat crossing the sea when a stormed picked up. The sea was crashing into the boat and the disciples feared they were going to die. Jesus spoke to the wind and the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the disciples said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Jemimah then represents Jesus calming the stormy thoughts, thoughts that are chaotic and turbulent, we have about God.

KEZIAH

The name Keziah derives from the Hebrew word qasa. Virtually all the forms of qasa have to do with an abrupt or severe ending. Qasa means to remove by cutting off. Therefore, the name Keziah may mean “it is done” or “it is finished.”

What is finished?

For Job, his view of God as good and evil, someone he could argue and content with, was cut off when he heard the words of Elihu, a picture of Jesus, and then both heard the words of God and saw God as he truly is.

In John 19:30, “It is finished” were the last words of Jesus on the cross before he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Jesus had finished his work to destroy the works of Satan, the one troubles our thoughts, and the power of sin in our lives.

Jesus finished that work on the cross. His work becomes true in us when we die with him in baptism, reckoning ourselves dead to sin and the old way of life.

KEREN-HAPPUCH

The name Keren-happuch is made up of two words. Keren is the Hebrew word for horn. Happuch carries the meaning of antimony in the Bible. Therefore, one meaning of the name is the horn of antimony.

What is antimony?

Antimony was a mineral that could be crushed or pulverized for use in medicines and cosmetics. Therefore, antimony was an agent of healing and beautifying. And, that the name means the horn of antimony means the power of healing and beautifying.

Job’s pride and self-righteousness had been crushed and pulverized after he heard and saw God. Then, despite the treatment from his friends, Job was able to pray for them that God would not deal with them according to their folly. Job’s prayer brought healing and beautification to the lives of his friends.

This reminds me of what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

The stormy thoughts have been calmed. The cross has performed its perfect work, crucifying the old man of sin. And, now there is the filling of the body with the Spirit of healing and beautifying.

So, we see Job’s three daughters as a picture of the work done in Job and the work that Jesus does in us so that we can be the light of the world, participating in Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation.

And, why three daughters?

Well, three is the period of time between death and life. The three daughters symbolize what happens to us as we go from death to life.

To Whom Does God Appear?

TODAY’S READING: JOB 35-38

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that Elihu pictures Jesus in his appearing. Elihu seemingly comes out of nowhere into the story of Job. Similarly, Jesus, the son of God, seemingly comes out of nowhere into the history of men.

One of the reasons Jesus appeared, or was manifested, to reveal the true nature and character of God to us.

So, to whom does God appear? Who is able to see the kingdom of God?

From yesterday’s reading, Job 32:1 says that Job’s three friends stopped arguing with him because Job was righteous in his own eyes. And, in verse 2, Elihu was angry with Job he justified himself rather than God.

This was the prelude to Elihu appearing. And, it’s prophetic to when Jesus appears. All men had become fully righteous in their own eyes. All men justified themselves instead of God.

The last thing Elihu says before he leaves the story is quite interesting. In Job 37:24, he said, “He [God] does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

But, I believe what Elihu really said was, “God does not appear to any who are wise in heart.”

First, the words “their own conceit” are not in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word there is leb, which simply means heart. In the Hebrew, the two nouns for wise and heart are placed together. Therefore, the two nouns together mean “wise in heart” or wise of heart.”

Second, does God not regard anyone? Does God ignore people?

1 Timothy 2:4 says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Later in 1 Timothy 4:10, Paul said that God “is the Savior of all people.” God regards every person because all people are made in his image (James 3:9)

When Paul preached to the Greeks at the Areopagus, he quoted one of their own writers. In Acts 17:27-28, Paul said, “They [every nation] should seek God, and perhaps feel their toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.'”

God does not ignore anyone made in his image and likeness who is his offspring.

So, if Job 37:24 is not saying that “he does not regard any” wise of heart, then what is it saying?

The Hebrew word translated regard is the word jireh. It basically means to see or to understand.

Therefore, I believe what Elihu really said was God is not seen by any who are wise of heart. “God does not appear to any who are wise of heart.”

This fits exactly with what Jesus says to us.

First, Jesus says the kingdom is near or at hand. Second, Jesus says the kingdom is in the midst of us. The kingdom of heaven, God himself, is very close and all around us?

But, who can see the kingdom? Who does God appear to?

Well, Elihu says it does not appear to the wise of heart. The wise of heart are those living by their own wisdom. The wise of heart are people living by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is exactly what we see from Job and his friends throughout the book. They are trying to determine what is good and evil and how God is responsible for both. But, because they have become like God in this way, wise in their own heart, righteous in their own eyes, they are unable to see God, to know God.

God does not appear to Job and his friends. God appears to those who know him as good, not to those who know him as good and evil. Why is this so? Because God is a father.

So, who does the kingdom of God, God himself appear to?

In Matthew 18:3-4 (and elsewhere), Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

A child does not think of himself as wise of heart. A child is trusting of his father for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. A child thinks of their father as good and good only.

When we see God as good and good only, like a child, not with wisdom of our heart, then we see God for who he truly is. It is then that God appears to us.

God is always present, always near us. But, for him to appear, for us to see him, we must stop being wise in our own heart. We must stop thinking we know what is good and what is evil, especially in regards to God. We must simply trust, believe, and have faith, that he is good and good only.

Elihu: A Picture of Jesus

TODAY’S READING: JOB 31-34

Job finished pleading his case. His three friends had no more answers for him. But, out of nowhere, comes Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite of the family of Ram.

Who is Elihu?

Elihu is a picture of Jesus.

ELIHU’S NAME

Let’s start with Elihu’s name and lineage to see how he pictures Jesus.

The name Elihu means “he is my God” or “God the Lord.”

The name Barachel means “God has blessed” or “blessed of the Lord.”

Elihu is the son of Barachel. “He is my God” is the son of “God has blessed.” I see this as Jesus and the Father.

Matthew 3:16-17 says, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'”

The Father blessed Jesus with the indwelling presence of the Spirit. Also, the Father said he was well pleased with his son. The Greek word for well pleased also means to take delight in, to consent, to enjoy, to find pleasure in. If you are well pleased with someone or something, then you are blessed by him or it. So, we can Jesus as blessed of the Lord.

Elihu was a Buzite. The name Buz means contempt. That Elihu was a Buzite means that he was of contempt just like an American is of America. One meaning of contempt is the state of being despised.

In Mark 9:12, Jesus said, “And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?”

Luke 23:11 says, “And Herod with his soldiers treated him [Jesus] with contempt and mocked him.”

Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

In Mark 9:12, when Jesus said that it was written that the son of man would suffer many things and be treated with contempt, he was referencing the song of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52 and 53. Specifically, Jesus was referencing Isaiah 53:3, which says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Jesus truly was “God the Lord” the son “blessed of the Lord” who was a man of contempt.

The name Ram means high or exalted. Jesus was high or lifted up on the cross. And, it was because of his obedience to death, even death on the cross, that resulted in the Father exalting Jesus to the throne in heaven (Philippians 2:5-11).

Therefore, Elihu’s name and lineage reveal him as a picture of Jesus.

ELIHU’S APPEARING

As I mentioned above, Job and his three friends had come to the end of their words. They were unable to convince each other that the he was right and the others wrong. In a sense, they had reached the depths of their darkness.

And, suddenly Elihu appeared. He appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Yet, Elihu knew everything that the Job and his three friends said. It was as if Elihu had been there all along.

Then, after Elihu’s words were made known, he just as quickly disappeared from the story. Elihu’s time was very brief.

This reminds us of Jesus. He appeared at the peak of darkness. John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

1 Peter 1:20 says, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times.” Even though Jesus was foreknown and present before the foundation of the Lord, he was manifested, or appeared, at the appointed time.

Why did Elihu appear?

To set Job and his friends straight on who God is. And, this is one of the reasons why Jesus appeared – to reveal to us the true character and nature of the Father.

ELIHU’S WORDS

Many of Elihu’s words are very similar to the things that Jesus would say hundreds, if not thousands, of years later. And, if Elihu’s words are not similar to something Jesus himself said, then they are similar to what the writers of the New Testament said about Jesus.

Let’s look at just one example.

In Job 32:9, Elihu said, “But is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.”

In John 16:12-13, Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

Just like Elihu, Jesus said it is the Spirit that brings understanding, truth, revelation, and light to man.

So, Elihu’s name, appearing, and words are a wonderful picture of Jesus.

Is Your Motivation to Love God?

TODAY’S READING: JOB 25-30

Why do I do the things that I do? What is my motivation?

Is my motivation the praise and approval of man?

Or, is my motivation the love of God?

If I am honest, then I would have to admit that far more often than I would like it to be that my motivation is the praise and approval of man.

In Job 29, Job longs for the days “when God watched over me.” Job gives a long list of the things that he misses. Yes, Job does mention God’s light leading him through darkness and God’s friendship with him. But, he spending a lot more time recounting the way that men used to reach to him “when God watched over” him, providing him a large family and riches and power and a place among men.

The list of of what Job misses provides a view into his motivation. His motivation was the way young men perceived him in the gate of the city and the square, which were places of authority and judgment. Job’s motivation was the way old men respected him and princes became quiet in his presence to hear what he had to say.

Job helped the poor and the fatherless. But, part of his motivation for doing so was that when the ears of others heard they called him blessed and when the eyes of others saw they approved of his actions.

Then Job took credit for being eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a father to the needy, and the breaker of the fangs of the unrighteous (the defender of the powerless).

What was his motivation?

“Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them.” (Job 29:21-22)

Then, in Job 30:1, he lamented, “But now they laugh at me.”

In John 5:41-44, Jesus said, “I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

Jesus lived his whole life to glorify God because the love of God was within him. Everything Jesus did had one motivation – the love of God. This is why in Matthew 22:37 Jesus said the greatest commandment was “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

In Job 30:24-26, Job said, “Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, and in his disaster cry for help? Did not I weep for him whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy? But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came?”

Basically, Job is saying I the right things – wept with those who were suffering and grieving with those in need – yet I got nothing out of it. I hoped for good and got evil, light and got darkness.

In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, your workers of lawlessness.'”

Jesus said it was not about the works we do among men. The kingdom of heaven is about your motivation behind the works. Like Job, we say, “Look what I did Jesus.” But, if our motivation was the glory from men, then Jesus says, “I never knew you.” Or, “You didn’t love me.”

Paul knew that, just as Jesus said, the motivation for everything needed to be the love of God. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Whatever you do, if the motivation was not the love of God, then it was worthless. Therefore, Paul said in Colossians 3:22-24, “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

So, we need to honestly search our hearts. What is my motivation for everything I do – from the smallest to the greatest action, from the routine to the extraordinary? If we truly seek to know our motivations, then Jesus will be faithful to perfect us so that our only motivation is the love of God.

Compassion vs. Empty Nothings

TODAY’S READING: JOB 21-24

By this point in the book, Job has heard quite a bit from his friends. His friends have repeatedly told Job in different ways that his situation is somehow a result of some hidden or unconfessed sin. Job is reaching his limit on these accusations. Therefore, in Job 21:34, he said, “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”

What is Job saying here?

First, the words of his friends are vanity. The words are a bunch of hot air and empty breath. In addition to these ideas, the word for empty nothings can also mean an idol. Perhaps, the words of Job’s friends are simply a parroting of their religion, which has become an idol for them.

Second, Job has taken the answers of his friends as falsehood. But, the Hebrew word used here isn’t so much about truth or lie as it is about fraud, disloyalty, infidelity, and unfaithfulness. Job feels that his friends breached the fidelity of their relationship by their empty words and constant accusations.

But, unlike the friends of Job, we have a friend that sticks closer than brother. Jesus.

What is different about Jesus? Why are his words received differently than the words of Job’s friends?

Compassion.

Six times the gospels record Jesus having compassion for someone. The Greek word means compassion, pity, or deep empathy. But, the word has to do with the motion coming from the bowels or deep in the gut.

Unlike Job’s friends, when Jesus came upon someone who was oppressed, diseased, or suffering, Jesus sided with them. He got into their shoes in a very real way.

Hebrews 2:14, 17-18 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he [Jesus] himself partook of the same things…Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Jesus experienced everything that any of us experience. And, it was those experiences that made it possible for Jesus to come along side us and show compassion instead of attacking and accusing us like Job’s friends.

Compassion was required for Jesus to be a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. And, as we are called to priests, participating in the ministry of reconciliation, we need to walk in compassion the way Jesus did. Our first response needs to be compassion, to come along side the oppressed and suffering, instead of searching to find ways that they are wrong and the cause of their own dreadful situation.