Life After This Life

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before…. And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters.
Job 42:10, 12-13

Job had lost it all.

His vast fortune wiped out overnight.

His seven sons and three daughters all killed on the same night.

He had been struck with some affliction that reduced his skin to festering and itching boils.

The only thing Job is left with is his wife and his life. And his wife told him to “curse God and die.”

And yes, I realize this is exactly how I started the last devotion!

We’ve come to the end of the Book of Job and the story it tells.

Job receives back double of all that he lost. Twice as many sheep, twice as many camels, twice as many oxen, and twice as many female donkeys.

Job is restored to the position he had before as “the greatest of all the people of the east.”

I presume his health is also restored.

Remember, this was never really about how wealthy Job was or how blessed by God Job was.

That was Satan’s accusation. That Job only believed in God because God had blessed him with tremendous wealth.

Satan was shown to be wrong when Job continues to believe in God and look to him as his Redeemer who lives even though Job lost everything but his life and his wife!

Job ultimately shows his belief and reverent awe (fear) of God by praying for and sacrificing on behalf of his friends.

God once again blesses Job with incredible wealth.

But wait a minute! Not everything God blesses Job with is doubled.

In Job 1:2 it says, “There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.” In Job 1:19 we’re told that all ten of them were killed at once when a great wind destroyed the house they were in.

In Job 42:10,12 it says that God restored the fortunes of Job two-fold.

Except for his children.

Job 42:13 says that Job and his wife are blessed with ten more children. Not twenty more!

But think of this: Job’s first ten children have been killed in this life. But as believers in God they would still be living! They are living forever in heaven!

When Job and his wife are blessed with ten more children, they have two-fold children! Ten on earth and ten in heaven!

This is a subtle yet powerful way of telling us that there is life after this life!

And that life is ours because our Redeemer lives!

Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and he lives! He had died on the cross, paying the penalty for all our sin. His sacrifice on Calvary was the redemption price that purchased and won us from all sin, from death itself, and from the devil.

You and I – as believers in Christ – will live forever in heaven! Even if we die on this earth, we will live forever!

This is the ultimate lesson of the Book of Job!

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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King’s Ransom

“…my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.”
Job 42:8

Job had lost it all.

His vast fortune wiped out overnight.

His seven sons and three daughters all killed on the same night.

He had been struck with some affliction that reduced his skin to festering and itching boils.

The only thing Job is left with is his wife and his life. And his wife told him to “curse God and die.”

Three friends come along to sit shiva with Job for seven days.

But after Job curses the day he was born, they feel obliged to speak.

They were not very helpful. What they say ranges from “you must have done something very wrong to be treated by God thusly” to “your children must have sinned, that’s why they were killed.”

They went on and on. Job defended himself, telling them that he hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve this! But his three friends insisted that he was wrong!

Finally, a young man named Elihu speaks up and tells Job and his friends that it doesn’t really matter. God is God and can do whatever he wants!

Then God finally answers Job’s pleading.

Job repents of blaming God for unjustly – or, at the very least, covertly – afflicting Job.

We know the whole story because we have been privy to a conversation between Satan and God at the beginning of the story. We know what’s been going on the whole time. That God allowed Satan to attack and afflict Job in order to prove that Job believes in God because he is God and not because God has given him vast amounts of wealth.

In other words, Job passes the test!

Here at the end, God speaks to the three friends and tells them to bring bulls and rams equal to several year’s income for one person. This number of bulls and rams is also noted as what a king would provide for a sacrifice.

God has the three friends bring a king’s ransom to Job. Not as restitution or payment. But as a sacrifice that Job will perform for them.

Even after all the verbal pain these three inflicted on Job, Job will intercede for them to God!

1800 years later, Jesus – with a sign above his head that said he was the king of the Jews – would do the same thing.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:33-34).

And that is exactly what God did! Both in Jesus’ case and in Job’s!

…and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer” (Job 42:9).

God tells us to not seek revenge. God tells us to pray for our enemies. God tells us to love our enemies.

Job and Jesus are our models for this kind of living. And so that is what we are to do.

That is why Job went through what he did, so we could learn this lesson and live the Godly life.

By the power of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace (God’s Word and Sacraments) we are forgiven of all our sins. And by the same power we can intercede for others, even our enemies!

Let us model Job – and Jesus – and love everyone and pray for them.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Hearing AND Seeing

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in the dust and ashes.”
Job 42:5-6

Job had heard of God from Elihu. Before that he had heard of God via “oral tradition.” His father told him of God. His grandfather had told his father. His father told him and his father’s father’s father had told him.

This was how knowledge of God was told, through families and friends telling others about what God had done in the past.

On occasion God intervened and interacted directly with people. Noah, for instance. Abraham is another example. Jacob yet another one.

But less and less, apparently, by the time Job comes along (a couple of generations after Jacob).

Job was a special case, though. If anyone ever needed to hear directly from the Lord, it was Job! And this is exactly what Job had been seeking.

But be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

Fast forward 1800 years. It is just after sunset of a very momentous day.

The women in the group came banging on the door very early in the morning.

“Angels!” they said. “Tomb empty!” they exclaimed. “He’s alive!” they shouted!

Then two other disciples rushed up the stairs and into the room – the dust of the road to Emmaus still clinging to them.

“He spoke to us!” they announced! “He broke bread for us!” they further explained, in awe.

Then Jesus was suddenly there with them. Even though the door was locked, there he stood.

“Peace be to you.”

But Thomas was elsewhere. He came back later and they all told him, mostly all at once!

“Angels!” “Tomb empty!” “He’s alive!” “He spoke to us!” “He broke bread for us!”

He gave us his peace!

“I hear you speak of him with my ears, but I won’t believe until I see with my eyes and hands!”

Once week later, Jesus shows up again.

“Peace be to you.”

This time Thomas is there. He hears. He sees. He touches. He believes.

“My Lord and my God!”

Like Job, Thomas repents of his unbelief. Like Job, Thomas is forgiven and restored.

Like Thomas, Job will also intercede for others. Thomas will take the Gospel of the resurrected Lord to the world.

Job will pray for his three friends.

What will we do with our belief in God?

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Leviathan

“On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.”
Job 41:33

Knight George had been there the entire summer. And he was getting extremely frustrated.

He wanted desperately to return home and get back to work. But he couldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

He tried to spend his days wisely. He studied Greek and Hebrew and set out to translate the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament into the language of his people.

He had made good headway towards the end of the summer and was nearly done translating the New Testament by the time the snow was flying.

His days were occupied with studying, writing, and translating.

But nights were something else entirely.

He would try to sleep. But his foul mood and his deep depression at being away from his home and work weighed on him like an oppressive millstone.

He also felt oppressed and attacked by Satan himself. He knew he was doing the work of God. He knew that he was called by the Holy Spirit to be who he was. He knew that he had been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.

But still Satan attacked! Breathing the flames of doubt and accusation like a fire-breathing dragon!

Night was Satan’s favorite time to attack. Knight George was tired, hungry, cold, bitter, and depressed. And Satan would use this time to press his attacks.

On one such night, Junker Jörg was feeling attacked by Satan. So much so he was provoked to violence. He picked up the nearest thing to him – an inkwell – and hurled it at Satan.

It smashed against the wall, staining it.

Within a few months, Junker Jörg, Knight George, would leave the Castle Wartburg, return to his post at Wittenberg, and resume his true name – Martin Luther.

The story of the inkwell is a legend, most likely based on his own statement about his stay in the Castle Wartburg where he had “driven the devil away with ink” (quoted from Redeemer Lutheran, Huntington Beach’s website here: http://www.redeemer-lutheran.net/Articles/1000039345/Redeemer_Lutheran_Church/Media_Center/Pastors_Articles/Throwing_Ink_at.aspx).

But what is not legend is that Luther fought against Satan, as do we all! Satan is real. He is a fallen angel – and thus a creation of God and under his authority. He hates God and also hates us!

In Job 40, God describes Satan – so it is thought – as Behemoth. This is likening Satan to a wild and ferocious land beast.

In Job 41, God describes Satan – again, so it is thought – as Leviathan. This is a sea monster of some type. A giant sea serpent or squid. But one that has scales like armor and breaths fire.

This brings to mind a dragon. And this fits in with how Satan is described in the Book of Revelation.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Revelation 12:7-9).

At the end of Job 41, God says that there is nothing like Satan on the earth.

Martin Luther – who fought the devil all his life – would describe Satan this way: auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen. This is commonly translated “on Earth is not his equal” (from stanza one of A Mighty Fortress is Our God, composite translation from the Pennsylvania Lutheran CHURCH BOOK of 1868).

God’s point in Job 41 – and Luther’s in stanza 1 of A Mighty Fortress is Our God – is that left to our own resources, we are powerless in fighting Satan.

Only God can defeat Satan.

And he did through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for us!

That one little word – Jesus – defeats Satan every time. And that one little word is ours through our baptism into Christ!

Satan may be able to take away all that we have. He took away Job’s wealth, children, and health. Luther poetic states that Satan could take away “our life, goods, fame, child and wife.”

But because of Christ, we will live forever and Christ’s Kingdom will be ours!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Behemoth

“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you….”
Job 40:15

I started reading science fiction when I was about 11 or 12 years old.

It wasn’t long after that I picked up some fantasy novels and added that genre to my list of growing favorites.

When I was about 14 years old, I made the jump – albeit a small one – to horror novels. I read Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, then went back to the classics of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.

The last horror novel I read was The Amityville Horror. I had been feeling increasingly uneasy about reading such novels and this last one was so much about the occult and demon possession that it really scared me.

It scared me because I knew that the devil and demons are real. They are not something to be dabbled or played with.

And while that kind of stuff still scares me – I still don’t watch horror movies or visit haunted houses in October – I am not really afraid of the devil or demons. I know they cannot hurt me because I am a baptized child of God!

God continues to make it clear to Job that he is God and Job is not. He had been talking about the universe that he created and still sustains. He had been talking about the animal kingdom and its level of complexities that virtually prove that God is the Creator and man is not.

Here in chapter 40, God makes reference to Behemoth (verse 15). This name is based on the common Hebrew word for “animal” or “beast.” Today we use it to reference huge and dangerous animals.

But the way Behemoth is described in the Book of Job indicates that God may be talking about Satan.

Behemoth is a creation of God, therefore he is subjected to God’s authority. He is described as being unusually strong and large – certainly not equal to man. He is said to be “the first of the works of God” but in this case “first” means “greatest” and not first, chronologically.

Ezekiel 28 seems to hint at this. It talks about the greatest of angels becoming prideful and rebelling against God. He is then banished from heaven. Couple this with Revelation 12 and I get the impression that Satan was so beautiful that he turned all he was inward in self-pride and rejected his Creator.

God spells out to Job that even this Behemoth of a creature is still a creation of God and subject to him.

God uses the Behemoth to show that no matter what happens to us – good or bad – God is still in control of all things.

We need to follow Job’s example when confronted with this divine truth.

Be silent!

Be still and know that God is God (see Psalm 46)!

Even the mighty and epic creature Behemoth is still under the control of God!

Remember this the next time you are tempted to think you know better than God concerning your life or when you question whether God is in control of your life or even paying attention to your life!

He is. Both in control and paying attention. He may use his creation to get your attention, but he always is watching over you!

You need look no further than the empty cross and the empty tomb to see God’s love for you and his care for you.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Should We Do It?

“Do you know…? Can you number…? Can you bind…? Do you give…? Do you make…? Is it by your understanding…?”
Job 39:1, 2, 10, 19, 20, 26

I was in the second year of my pastoral ministry when the news broke.

Scientists in Scotland had successful cloned a sheep using a cell from another sheep. While this wasn’t the first time an animal had been cloned, it was the first time one had been cloned from an adult cell.

Being a fan of science fiction books and movies, I knew a little about clones. But now science fiction had become science fact.

At the gathering of pastors that spring we discussed and debated what “Dolly” (the cloned sheep’s name) meant to the Church.

Both those in the scientific community and the religious community raised concerns about the ethics of cloning animals. And, of course, this led to heated debates on whether the cloning of humans would ever happen or ever should happen.

There is no doubt that it can happen. We, as humans, have figured it out. We have the capabilities to use scientific knowledge to do things like this and much more.

The questions that God puts to Job in chapter 39 are not rhetorical in the sense that humans could not know how to influence the animal kingdom. 3800 years after Job it is verifiable that we can.

But maybe they are rhetorical in the sense of God asking Job (and us) not could we but rather should we.

Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do a thing.

God is asking Job these questions not as an interrogation as to what Job knows and doesn’t know but to make the point that there is a God and Job isn’t him!

In this chapter, we meet the God who created mountain goats, wild donkeys, wild oxen, ostriches, horses, and hawks.

They each have their idiosyncrasies and ways that many people do not understand. That doesn’t mean we could never understand them.

But it does mean that we cannot make them to be what they are.

God can and did! He is the Creator of all that exists and has given living things their living breath.

And the ultimate point, again, is that since we cannot do this and only God can, we should trust God that he knows what he is doing.

Even when something bad happens to us.

In Job’s case, it is the loss of his wealth, his family (all except his wife) and his health. Job doesn’t understand why this has happened to him. But God points out that this isn’t all that Job doesn’t understand.

He also doesn’t understand how wild goats, wild donkeys, oxen, ostriches, horses and hawks live and move and have their being. Yet they still do.

God is subtly asking Job to trust him. It is as if God were saying to Job, “I know you don’t understand what’s going on now, but trust me! I love you and I will never leave you nor forsake you!”

Jesus would echo this sentiment to his disciples.

What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7).

We may have the capability to alter or mimic the creation process of God, but we need to understand God as best we can before we start messing around with his creation.

And the best way to understand God is by faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, who forgives our sins and gives us new life through his death and resurrection!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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The Night Sky

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Job 38:21-32

The starts have been up there in the sky my whole life.

I could stare at them for hours!

The constellations became familiar friends.

The Big Dipper.

Orion’s belt.

The Bear.

And the gentle smear of star dust of the visible arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

One of my favorite places in Chicago is the Adler Planetarium. And my favorite place in the planetarium is the Sky Show.

When I first started writing devotions in the late 1990’s, I used my thoughts that came to me while walking in the predawn hours from my house to my church office.

I called those initial devotions “A Walk in the Dark” and they began with devotions based on looking up at the stars. I followed the Big Dipper into the office.

While I lived in Michigan, I saw my first comet. Hale-Bopp made its record-breaking return to earth’s sky early in 1997. I spent a lot of time in my back yard looking up into the northern sky that Spring.

One year, the Northern Lights made a rare visit to Central Wisconsin and my appreciation for the night sky deepened.

When I look up into the night sky, I am constantly convinced that God is an amazingly artistic Creator.

Genesis 1 tells us that God created the stars, the sun and the moon. He’s the Artist and Physicists of our universe.

And in Job 38, this is part of God’s longed-looked-for reply to Job.

For 35 chapters, Job has been complaining, laying out his case of his innocence and listening to his friends’ accusations.

He’s been calling on God to answer him.

Well, finally God does just that.

But perhaps Job doesn’t get the answer he was looking for.

God points out that He’s the creator of the entire universe. The stars, the planet earth and its diverse life and functions.

And his point is that Job cannot handle the truth he’s been looking for!

Our infinite Creator cannot be understood by our finite minds.

We cannot know all there is to know about God nor about his universe.

The best we can do is to know that we cannot know.

But one thing we can know – God’s love for us. Because God doesn’t explain his love for us. We cannot learn it as we learn science or math lessons.

We experience God’s love in the person of his only Son, Jesus Christ!

That is where this reply of God will lead Job and us. To stop trying to figure out the “whys” and to focus on the “what” of God’s love – Jesus Christ!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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