The Serpent-Crusher – Job 40-41. RBT Notes, 30th January

Does God need to justify His ways to humanity? Does the Lord of all creation need to explain Himself to the atoms of dust which make up His creation? Does He need to defend what He’s doing to you and me? God appears to Job, and any desire Job has to know the ways of God disappears as suddenly as Job’s suffering came to him. God is God. That is enough (vv.1-5).

God is fierce. There is love, here, be sure of that; God is not peeved, He’s not nursing a bruised ego that His ways have been questioned. He is revealing more of His Lordship to Job for the very purpose of deepening Job’s confidence in Him (vv.8-14). When God works in our lives, He shows us all that we cannot do – and do not deserve. This makes His grace all the sweeter, and our desire to trust Him all the more intense.

Who is like our God? Who can defeat our God? For the remainder of ch. 40 and for all of ch. 41 we have this exciting and dramatic description of the creatures no man of Job’s day could tame, first the behemoth (the hippo or elephant), and then the leviathan. The terrors of these beasts are nothing to God, who effortlessly controls them. And the leviathan? This lengthy description of the scaly, snorting beast makes us wonder just what animal it is. In fact, is it actually an animal? The best reflection on this chapter over the centuries has offered a very credible theory, that this is no animal: it is the ultimate Beast. It is Satan.

Satan reared his head in chapters 1 and 2, only then (apparently) to sink beneath the surface of the book. We know, however, that Satan may disappear from our sight and awareness, but he never actually goes away. Not yet, at least. If this is the great Deceiver in our chapter, then this brings the events of Job’s life full circle: the Satan who was given permission to torment him is the Satan who, though powerful, is shown to be under God’s effortless control. That is true for Job, as it is true for us. Though defeated by Christ at the cross, our Enemy is wounded, but still very dangerous. Dangerous for now, of course; our promise is that “in a little while the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet” (Ro. 16.20). He will – and because of this we have hope.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, one day, and only because of the Coming of Christ,  all my troubles will be over. He will come, and He will crush all wickedness and all opposition to God. And He will bring all His children safely home. Give me a great and joyful confidence in what You have declared. Until that day, keep me humbly trusting Your promises, and never demanding Your answers. Amen.

Hard Times – Nehemiah 6. RBT Notes, 6th December

Success brings opposition. When you achieve something, don’t be surprised that your achievement rouses hostility from others. The wall’s gaps are filled in, but the hatred of the enemies of God’s people gets more intense. Sanballat and his cronies start to circle, like the wolves they are. And their strategies?

#1 Violence

They want to meet Nehemiah, but he knows that they have dark schemes, and so wisely stays at his task (vv.1-4). Even when they ask him four times, he still refuses (v.5).

#2  Insinuation

Sanballat sends a threatening letter, suggesting that Nehemiah is in the process of rebelling against his Persian governor (vv.6-7). Nehemiah’s response is two-fold: he dismisses this nonsense, and he prays for strength (vv.8-9).

#3 Religious game-playing

A prophet is paid off by Nehemiah’s enemies, and hey presto, has a word from the Lord offering safety, when he’s actually leading Nehemiah into great danger. Luckily, the leader isn’t so foolish as to believe a man just because he writes Reverend before his name (vv.10-13). Nor should we.

All of Satan’s strategies against the church today are pretty much still the same. Which do we especially need to guard against in our situation?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Loving Father, thankyou that You hold me when discipleship s stressful and complicated. Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see and know the dimensions of Your love in Christ, and may I know that, whatever trials and temptations I face, Your love is deep, wide, long and high. Amen.

 

Dragon Slayer – Revelation 12. RBT Notes, 16th February

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Where there’s authority, there’s almost always opposition. Where Jesus rules, there is resistance. John’s vision in ch.12 reminds us of this. The woman in v.1 is the mother of the promised rescuer. Her son is that rescuer, the One who will inherit all authority, as Psalm 2 teaches (v.5, cf Ps.2.7-9). Satan, though, rages against the Christ and His Church. Here he is dressed as the beast of Rome – the symbols of the seven heads and horns and ten crowns would be instantly recognisable to John’s first readers. John’s message to them is a warning: the Devil stalks in the power of Rome, and will not tolerate the Christ and His followers who challenge his power.

How bad will that hatred get? Bad enough for some believers to die for their love for Jesus (v.11). Notice that, even though they appear to have lost, the martyrs have actually “overcome” the evil one. They had a love which is deeper than love for their own lives. Now they live forever with their Lord in heaven.

For now, the fight goes on. Vv.7-9 take us back to the battle of Satan and his angels before creation. The condemnation he received then is one he refuses to accept. He fights on, using whatever powers and empires he can as he opposes God and His Christ (vv.12). God will protect His own, though. The God who bore His own on eagle’s wings through the desert long ago is still caring for His own (v.14). The Devil will fight against the church right until Christ comes to save and judge (v.17), but God will protect His own. And, as the Scrupture days, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”‭‭ (Ro.16.20).

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, thankyou that I am so safe in Your hands. Please make me aware of the Devil’s schemes, and teach me to wear my spiritual armour against his attacks. May I see the victory of Your grace day by day as I fight at Your side. Amen.