by Ed Blonski. The posts on this site are my own personal opinions. They are not read or approved by St. Matthew Lutheran Church and School, Hawthorn Woods, IL before posting and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of St. Matthew Lutheran Church & School.
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!
“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!
Good Friday is the day we remember that God who became man died by crucifixion. Jesus of Nazareth was not just some prophet or preacher in first century Palestine. He was born of a woman – Mary – but was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity. He is “God Incarnate” – True and Fully God while at the same time True and Fully Man.
I cannot prove this “empirically” or “scientifically.” I can only point to what I believe to be overwhelming evidence: The Bible; the history of first, second and third century followers of Jesus who staked their very lives on the fact that Jesus Christ was both God and Man who died on the cross; and the billions of followers who live lives of faith in Jesus Christ today and have been for nearly 2000 years.
Good Friday was the day that Jesus – the God-Man – died by crucifixion. On the face of it, it would appear to be a mistake added to a political vendetta by religious leaders of the day added to the cowardice or ineffectiveness of the Roman governor.
But it was not. This day that changed the world forever was something else entirely.
As Jesus hung on the cross – at the end of six hours of agony – we are told this, from John’s Gospel:
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.– John 19:30
What, exactly, was “finished”? “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19). All that was needed to forgive our sins was finished by Jesus on Good Friday.
St. Paul put it this way, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
On Good Friday, on this day that changed the world, your sins were forgiven.
All of them.
Do you believe it?
Many people have a hard time believing this. They want to believe that their sins are forgiven, but they just can’t get past the seemingly lack of any evidence that their sins actually are forgiven. The seemingly lack of evidence that Jesus Christ actually died for their sins and rose from the dead.
It fact, it seems to make more sense to not believe it.
Certainly there is more evidence that Good Friday and all that Jesus did on that day, didn’t happen, right?
May I remind you that there was more evidence that the world was flat – until Leif Ericson, Christopher Columbus and many others did not sail off the end of the world.
There was also more evidence that the sun moved in the sky – from east to west – than there was that the earth actually orbited the sun – that is until Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo proved otherwise.
Yet, in the 2000 years since the first Good Friday, there has never been any credible evidence to suggest that Jesus Christ did not die for the sins of the world. If fact, the evidence still powerfully suggests that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God who died and rose again to reconcile the world to God.
The most powerful evidence, to me, is the fact that this day that changed the world still changes people – billions of people today.
The death of Jesus changes us. Remember, Jesus’ death was not an accident or an act of vengeance or cowardice. It was an act of love. God’s love for you and for me.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.– John 3:16
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
This instrument of execution was forever changed on the day that changed the world into a symbol of the greatest love there has ever been or will ever be.
This day that changed the world is the day to remember:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.– 2 Corinthians 5:17
But why? And what is the big deal with changing the world, anyway? I think you will all agree with me that something in this world needs to change.
The truth is that the world is changing every day. Most of the time, not for the better either. In fact, the only unchanging constant is that there is change!
This world was once perfect. But sin changed all that, as you well know. Death got a death-grip on us and will not let us go unless something changes.
But that change will not come from within ourselves. That change will not come from a world leader. That change will not come from a court-ruling.
No, the only thing that will change death’s grip on us is the death of death itself. When Jesus died on the cross, our very lives were changed. The death of Jesus has freed us from the bondage of sin, death, and the power of the devil.
The death of Jesus on the cross made the most powerful change this world has ever seen. His death bought your heart back from death. His death gives you new life.
Now, what are you going to do with that life? Look to the cross to see how far God went to give you a new heart, a new life!
Jesus Christ died for you. Jesus Christ gave up His life to give you your life.
Don’t waste His death! Live the life Jesus died to give you!
Love others as God loves! Serve others as Jesus serves!
Reach out to the person who is hurting. Lift up the person who is downtrodden. Guide the person who is lost.
At the end of the very powerful movie “Saving Private Ryan” Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Miller, tells Private Ryan – after so many men died in order to return him home safely to his family, “Earn this.”
Robert Rodat – the writer of the screenplay – meant, I think, “Ryan, don’t waste these men’s efforts and lives in order to save you. Live a life worthy of being saved. Make it your life’s goal and purpose to make a difference in the lives of everyone you meet.” But, of course, that’s too wordy! “Earn this!” sounds so much better!
Of course you can’t earn what happened on the cross. You can’t earn salvation. Like Captain Miller and all the other men who died to save Private Ryan, Jesus died before you could do anything to earn it.
St. Paul says it best, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
This is the day – Good Friday – to remember to live a life with the goal and purpose of making a difference in the lives of everyone you meet!
Jesus said, in the Gospel reading from last night (Maundy Thursday), “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13: 34).
That’s what Good Friday is for. That’s what we remember of this day that changed the world.
May God’s love for you in Christ Jesus, who died for you on Good Friday, change you forever to love and live for Him. Amen.