LOOKING AT JOB THROUGH JESUS
WARNING: The following book is radical. It will force the reader to take a long, hard look at what he genuinely KNOWS about God, as compared to what long-held traditional doctrines and translations have TOLD him about God. Be prepared to think and pray — and to be set free to move up to a new level of relationship with the Creator and Lord of the universe. (If you’d rather not have to think and pray right now, you should read something else.)
Years ago, a seasoned Bible scholar stood before a class of eager young men and women who were training for ministry in the Kingdom of God. He asked a simple question, which shocked some, challenged others, but held the attention of all. The question: “How Christlike is your God?”
I never knew this man personally, and I learned of his challenge to this group of budding ministers only a few years ago. But it touched a very deep chord inside of me, because during my 40 years of ministry, the one over-riding desire in my heart has been to teach in such a way that I could help people see the truth about who God is and what He feels, thinks, and desires. I learned at the beginning of my ministry that there is only one way to understand God as He really is, and that is to understand Him through Jesus Christ — not through my own thoughts and experiences — not through the doctrines of various denominations or cultures — only through Jesus Himself.
St. Paul, in writing to the church, expressed his deep concern — to the point of fear — that the young Christians were being drawn away from looking to Jesus Christ as the only clear and true representation of God and His will in their lives. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3).
I experience the same fear for people today. There are so many teachings, translations, traditions, and doctrines (inspired by that same serpent) that have taken scriptures out of their context as part of the entire Word of God and twisted them in order to explain God according to man’s limited understanding and experience. Man has tried to make God like man — rather than looking at Jesus Christ and staying focused on Him until man becomes like God.
The Lord has had me teaching these truths for decades now, and with respect to the book of Job, I have seen these truths set hundreds of people free from their false ideas of God as some ogre who can’t be understood, and who is just waiting to slap them down with some horrible problem or torment. The Lord dealt with me for years to get these truths into book form, and I lagged in my obedience. Finally, He managed to convince me that I was overdue in that obedience and that He was sorely disappointed. Needless to say, I got this book together in record time. I’m grateful it has helped so many people, and I offer it on this site in an effort to help even more.
Now back to the question I mentioned at the beginning of this introduction: “How Christlike is your God?” It is my prayer that this simple question will serve as the standard of measure for every sincere Bible teacher when evaluating any and all subject matter relating to God and His Word. And to that end, I have dedicated this book.
CHAPTER ONE: REALITY OR MYTHOLOGY?
It’s a well-known, well-worn story. In fact, it’s safe to say that most people in the world have heard it at least once, and often repeatedly:
In the early days of human history, there lived a man by the name of Job, who was “perfect” and “upright,” and who served the great Superbeing of the universe faithfully. The devil went before this Superbeing one day, and Superbeing decided He’d like to prove to the devil just how much greater He was than His adversary, so He picked on Job and decided to use him to prove His point. He taunted the devil with these words, “Have you considered my servant Job — how good he is and how faithfully he serves me?”
The devil knew Job was faithful, and he could see how much Superbeing loved Job, so he did a little taunting of his own. He challenged the Superbeing with the accusation that Job served Him only because he was blessed. The devil dared the Superbeing to take away Job’s blessings and inflict him with pain and grave loss – just to see if he would still be faithful.
Superbeing took up the challenge and, insisting that he would be proven the winner in this contest, he gave the devil free rein to do anything he wanted to do that would hurt Job — except to take his life. In effect, He said, “No matter what you do to him, he will still serve me. You’re free to do anything you want except kill him, and I’ll prove to you that he will still be faithful to me.”And in the end of the story, Job is proven faithful and receives multiplied blessings for proving the Superbeing right and the devil wrong.
Wow! What a story! The superpowers of the spirit realm seeking to glorify themselves – taunting each other over which one had the most faithful followers. And subjecting those followers to severe, heart-rending trials in order to prove their boasting true.
Yes, it’s an amazing story, but it’s not a unique story at all. It is exactly like the ribald stories told of gods and goddesses throughout Greek and Roman mythology: You know Zeus, Jupiter, Poseidon, etc. — the powers of the heavens vying with each other for glory and using their subjects like pawns on a game board to prove one deity more powerful or more glorious than the others.
These religions are replete with tales of how their “gods” treated their subjects in exactly this demeaning way. They made sport of them in order to manipulate each other and feed their own pride.
Wait a minute: Was Job dealing with a god just like those of the Greeks and Romans?
If Bible readers believe the story of Job as it has been incorrectly translated and handed down traditionally through several generations, they would have to answer “Yes.” They would have to believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Jehovah – Jesus Christ – is just as selfish and capricious as the deities of the Greeks and Romans.
That being the case, students of the Bible are then faced with a very unwelcome question: Is this traditional story of Job and the kind of God it portrays a true story, historically accurate and trustworthy — or is it just another myth?
The answer is simple, yet complicated. The “true” story of Job is indeed a “true story.”
But this story that has been incorrectly translated from the original language and then handed down for generations is another entity altogether. Made up of one part fact, one part mythology, and one part man’s endless effort to make his God out to be just like himself, it is nothing but a myth.
Are you afraid to read further? Don’t be. You’ll be glad you kept going.
At this point, many readers will close this book and never look back. Those readers will relegate the author to the long historical list of heretics and continue to walk in the fantasy of the Job story they have always been taught. It’s the story they are comfortable with. As long as they hold to that story, they don’t have to study the Word of God more closely or think deeply and seriously for themselves about what kind of God they have.
But, more importantly, those readers who fail to give themselves a chance to learn the truth will continue to suffer the loss and destruction that are inevitable when people believe lies about God. Because in their failure to understand the truth about this story, they fail to understand their God.
He is a God who has victory for them over the evil in this world. But they also fail to understand that the same devil whose lies were accepted by man at creation is also the one who has added the lies to this story. He is the same devil who inflicts evils on human kind; and it is of paramount importance to him to keep men believing that these evils come at the will of their own God.
And herein lies the crux of the matter. The majority of people who consider themselves Christians on the earth today don’t actually know their own God very well. They know what other Christians have told them. And many of them believe what their own imagination tells them. So they frame God with their own understanding rather than with the revelation of the Spirit of God Himself or with the mind of Christ.
But somewhere deep down inside many of those Christians is a nagging little question that keeps coming back to ask of the traditional Job story, “What’s wrong with this picture?” Or if the spirit is really brave, it will sometimes even ask, “Is this really the kind of God I want?” Or braver yet: “Why is my God an inflicter of pain and suffering when I would never do that to the people I love?”
HERESY! The cry goes up immediately when such questions are given their rightful place. It’s the cry of so many who consider themselves “watchmen” of God’s reputation. As soon as anyone asks a question – or offers some answers – that might cause them to have to reevaluate what they have been accepting for generations, these “watchmen” cry out against it, instead of giving the Lord a chance to renew their minds.
So only the spiritually brave Christian will continue into the deeper channels of this book. Only those who want to know in their own hearts that they have asked those necessary questions and found the answers for themselves. But for those few who are brave enough to continue past this point, the rewards will be worth it.
As much as the church likes to sweep such questions under the rug, the truth is that they do exist. Many Christians manage to beat these questions down until they convince themselves that they really do accept this kind of God. They convince themselves that a Father who deliberately inflicts hurt and pain on them can actually coexist with the loving, merciful, healing Jesus they met in the New Testament. But the naked truth is that those questions still exist — and rightly so.
Because rather than those questions being the result of heretical thinking and rebellion against God and His Word, they are actually the promptings of His own Holy Spirit inside of us, trying to get us to put forth the effort to find out for ourselves what kind of God we have.
And it doesn’t really take all that much effort. It requires no superior intellect to see that there’s nothing holy about the kind of behavior attributed to God in this story. The very word holy carries in its meaning the essence of being “perfect in goodness and righteousness.” Such capricious, self-centered behavior as that portrayed by the traditional teaching of God in the story of Job cannot fit that definition. Furthermore, there is no faithfulness in that kind of behavior. And the Word of God makes it quite clear that, second to holiness, God’s primary nature is best described in the attribute of faithfulness.
Even those people in the world who desire no relationship with Jesus Christ generally accept the fact that a god of any religion is expected to be better in character than his subjects. And, particularly where Christianity is concerned, a poll of thousands of people who do not even attend church regularly, will show that the vast majority of those people, when they hear about God or think about what He might be like, expect Him to be extraordinarily good and trustworthy.
They hear Christians talk about their God as a loving father, so they expect that He would act in accordance with that identity. They expect that He would never be guilty of any acts of molestation or abuse. And, in truth, those people, who have no God of their own, when they consider whether they need a personal God, are positive they would want one who is kind, compassionate, honorable and dependable.
But then they hear the church tell the story of Job — in the old traditional version — and they recognize that the God in this story is not what they thought God was at all. Sometimes, they even decide that they already have enough problems in this life, and they certainly don’t need a God who will inflict more pain and suffering upon them.
More than one Christian who has tried to witness to an unbeliever has been challenged with this problem. Those Christians are asked why an unbeliever should consider that his life will be any better if he comes into relationship with a God like the one commonly depicted in the story of Job.
Reverend Kenneth Copeland, of Fort Worth, Texas, has shared the story more than once of a Japanese minister who came to the United States many years ago to attend Rhema Bible Training Institute in Broken Arrow, OK, under the ministry of Copeland’s mentor, Kenneth Hagin. Copeland says this minister told Reverend Kenneth Hagin that, after WWII, the Japanese people were open to accepting the Christian God of the United States because He was the God of the nation that had defeated them. They believed their own gods had failed, so they wanted to learn about the God of the Christians.
The Japanese minster said, “But when we studied it out and researched it a little bit, we couldn’t figure it out. All we could find out was that your God would make you sick and take everything you had away from you – and every time you tried to serve Him, He’d knock you back down on your face. So we didn’t want him. So we just kept on serving our old dead gods, knowing it wasn’t any good, but we were in the habit of it.
“But when I heard someone preach what you folks are preaching, I got over in the New Testament and read it for myself, and I found out that all that junk we had heard wasn’t in there. When I found out that God is love and that Jesus of Nazareth loved me without any reservations, even when I was a sinner, now that’s the God I was hunting for all the time.”
At that point, the man and his wife accepted the Lord, came to the United States to be trained for ministry, and went back to Japan to win the people of their own nation to the Lord.
One of the most troubling facts about erroneous stories from the Bible being told repeatedly for generations is that the world then picks up those stories and repeats them. They may not believe the Bible per se, but they believe that Christians believe the stories are true – which means that they believe their God is like the God in the erroneous stories.
The odd thing about that situation is that unbelievers seem to be able to recognize immediately that there is something seriously wrong with the picture portrayed by those stories. One excellent example of what often transpires in the minds of unbelievers was depicted quite accurately in an episode of a very worldly television cartoon series entitled South Park, produced by Comedy Central Productions.
Now, the author of this study of Job is not suggesting that the South Park cartoons are acceptable fare for recreational TV viewing. However, viewers of the series have noted and commented specifically on the fact that one particular episode accurately described their personal reaction to the traditional story of Job. And that reaction is worth noting.
In this episode, one of the young characters, a Jewish boy named Kyle, has renounced his faith because he feels he has suffered so much pain and injustice that there cannot really be a God. While he is lying in a hospital bed because of an injury he has sustained, his parents come into the room and talk with him. When he learns they want to tell him a story from the Bible, his reply is that he has had enough of the Bible. It hasn’t gotten him anywhere, and he doesn’t want to hear anymore.
His parents insist that he will feel differently when he hears the story of Job. They relate the story this way:
“Job was a great man. He was blessed with ten lovely children, a wonderful wife, and many friends.
“He was a godly and a good man and fed the poor. He was the most upright and honorable of men and every day he praised God.
“But one day Satan went up to heaven and talked to God. … And God said to Satan, Have you seen Job? He is a great man, and he praises Me every day.
“But Satan said, ‘Oh yeah, he only praises you because you gave him so much. If you didn’t give him those things, he would curse your name.’ To which God said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll show you, Satan. I’ll take those things away from Job and he will still praise my name.’
“And so God had a bunch of barbarians come in and slaughter Job’s ox and donkeys and murder all his workers. Then God sent his fireballs from the sky and killed his sheep and the rest of his employees.
“And then, as Job’s sons and daughter were eating, God sent a mighty wind to collapse the house and crushed and killed them all.
“Job was terribly upset, but he fell to his knees and said, ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,’ and he praised God’s name.
“So then Job got painful sores all over his body. He was in terrible, miserable pain all day every day, but he still kept his faith. God said to Satan, ‘See, I told you. Job still praises me. ‘”
Kyle’s reply is, “That’s the most horrible story I’ve ever heard! Why would God do horrible things to a good person just to prove a point to Satan?”
His father answers, “Oh … uuh … I don’t know.”
To which Kyle responds, “Then I was right …. There isn’t a God.”
Now, some people’s response to this conversation will be to say that the cartoon version says that God Himself did all those things to Job, but what the Bible really says is that Satan did all of them — at God’s invitation. Which means???
If God invited Satan to attack Job so unmercifully, when He could have kept him from doing so, that makes Him just as guilty as if He had executed the blows Himself. And where the Christian mind is sometimes so set in tradition to the extent that it is willing to accept this picture of God, the unbeliever’s mind is still open and free to recognize clearly that it is God who is the real perpetrator of harm here. And why would that unbeliever ever want to submit and subject his life to such a God?
If the body of Christ is ever going to win the world to Jesus Christ, they must find a way to help that world understand that the God they see in Jesus is the one and only God, the God to whom they can turn for salvation. Which means that the church is going to have to learn the truth about the God of Job.
So, if this story as it’s traditionally told is a myth, what is the real story? In the remainder of this book the true story of Job and his God will become clear. And as it does, the reader will find that Jesus meant exactly what He said, when He promised: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Watch for Chapter Two tomorrow.