Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lesson 13. The Character of Job

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Job

Lesson 13. The Character of Job


There are many ways to misunderstand the story of Job. One of them is to think that God looked around for someone on earth with an almost perfect character (He told Satan "there is no one like him") so He could make Job an example in order to win a bet with the devil. God doesn't use people as pawns. The point of the book of Job is that because He promises to finish the work He starts in us, He allows things to happen to us to mature and strengthen our faith.

In the conversation with the "sons of God" (Job 1:6-9), God said some very nice things about Job's character: he's "blameless," "upright," "fear[s] God," and "turn[s] away from evil." Because of these character traits, it is easy to understand that Job was respected by those who knew him. He had a seat in the "open square." Most ancient towns were built around an open area so that the walls formed protection against enemies. This protected area also served as the commercial market place for the citizens of both the town and surrounding area. To have earned the right to a seat would be an indication that the townspeople respected Job and respected his opinions in important decisions affecting the citizens. We might equate it with being a member of the city council. He was wise, honest, and fair.

To see bad things happening to such a good person didn't make sense to Job's friends, so they argued that he must not be as good as he looked. In chapter 31 Job describes all the good things about him as proof that his friends are wrong. We are told in "all this" Job didn't sin, but it isn't sin to misunderstand. The refining process is to mature our character, and God allows it because He loves us. Whether we do good things or have good character traits does not make us exempt.

In the cosmic Day of Atonement cleansing concept that Seventh-day Adventists call the "Investigative Judgment," the process is for us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in showing us who we are, and the sins we may or may not know of so that we can let Him cleanse us and mature our faith. The 1888 message teaches that there will be a group of people at the very end of time who allow God to complete this process in their hearts and minds, but they will not be aware of it. Like Job, they won't be able to think of anything they still need to give to God.

On page 109, the "Quarterly" directs us to an Ellen G. White quotation from The Desire of Ages: "The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people" (p. 671). On the same page, she says that [the Holy Spirit] "first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth ... It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains his power over the mind."

Sin came into the world in a disguised, mysterious way. It became the carrier of death when Lucifer, a created being, surrendered to the love of self and unconsciously proposed to take the place of the Creator. Adam surrendered to this same love of self in the garden, and became burdened with a terrible sense of guilt.

The human race has been searching for the right things to do in order to become free from this guilt. It has become the driving force behind the idea of righteousness by works. This is where the gospel becomes the cure. Because the gospel is the power of God, it confronts our guilt, showing us that we are guilty of the ultimate sin of wanting to take the place of the Creator. When we understand we are helpless to free ourselves of this guilt, the gospel frees us to rest in God's ability and willingness to recreate us. This is the power of God, and the power of God forgives, cleanses, and sustains the human soul.

The experience of the 1844 believers ushered in the beginning of a new covenant appreciation of the end time judgment hour. The believers were to see and understand the rebellion of the human heart against God and truth. Their enmity had remained unconscious, awaiting revelation in the final atonement.

"From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. ... But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple." [1] Heaven is far more than just a material place--it constitutes an understanding, a living experience that begins here and now for God's people in this world.

The mystery of iniquity with its burden of guilt will be replaced with the mystery of godliness. Paul tells us that this mystery has been "kept secret for long ages past, but is now manifested and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading the obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:26, 26).

"What a magnificent conclusion!--It reaches from eternity to eternity. The gospel of God is the thing of the ages. ... Patriarchs, prophets and apostles have worked in unison in making it manifest; and 'in the ages to come' it will be both the science and the song of the redeemed 'of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,' who shall gather with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, and will say, 'Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." [2]

--Arlene Hill

[1] Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 161.
[2] Ellet J. Waggoner, Waggoner on Romans, p. 214.

Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.

Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at: