Christianity According to Christ

A Harmony and Consolidation of the Gospel of Jesus from Old and New Testaments - WordsInRed.com

Prophecy

Covenants' End

The separated kingdoms of Israel and Judah, reduced in purpose and power, became increasingly vulnerable to internal subversion and outside attack. Israel was ruled by a succession of corrupt and dissolute kings, each worse than the one before. And even though the Lord sent two great prophets - Elijah and Elisha - to show them the error of their ways, that nation was conquered by Assyria two hundred years after Solomon's death. There were a few Godly rulers in Judah during these times but it too succumbed - to Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian empire - 150 years later.

Jerusalem was pillaged and Solomon's great temple destroyed. God's proud chosen people were carried off from their promised land into exile and slavery. And as these terrible events began to unfold, and the peace and prosperity that the people had known under Solomon to evaporate, they turned away from the Lord in increasing numbers to the false gods that seemed to provide their neighbors with those material blessings.

Throughout this entire ordeal, however, a faithful remnant continued to worship and pray to the one true God. And they cried out to him, saying: "O Lord, you have done with us as you pleased, but now hear our petition before it's too late! For as you see, though we were once many, only a few of us are left. O Lord, please don't hold us accountable for our brothers' offenses against you. Don't let us die along with them for the sins they alone have committed. We are innocent of these things! Hear our prayer, Lord, and tell us where we should go and what we should do that we might be saved!"

And God answered the people through a succession of prophets, saying: "I hear all you clans of the house of Jacob, and remember the devotion of your youth: How your forefathers loved me as they would a bride when I brought them up out of Egypt through the melting furnace of the desert. You were holy to me then; the firstfruits of the harvest for which I had yearned from the time of Abraham and Isaac. And I renewed the oath I swore to them, saying: 'Obey me, and do as I command, and you will be my people and I will be your God. And I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey which shall be yours forever.' And so I did. I brought you into a fertile land not yet sown with my Spirit, the very land you possess today, to eat freely of its rich fruit and produce.

"But you came and defiled the land, and made the inheritance I had given you detestable in my sight. You turned your backs to me, saying: 'I will not serve you!' And on every high hill and under every spreading tree, you built idols of wood and stone, saying to them: 'You are my father! You gave me birth!' Indeed, you made yourselves as many 'gods' as you have towns in Judah and Israel. But even though your people offended me in this way, I held those who tried to devour you guilty and caused the punishment you deserved to fall on them.

"Again and again, until this very day, I warned you that your failure to obey the terms of our covenant would bring down curses on the land. But you refused to listen or pay attention to my words and, instead, followed the inclinations of your stubborn, evil hearts. I sent you prophets and, like ravening lions, you devoured them with your sword. I punished you! I withheld rain from you until the ground cracked and the crops dried up; until there were empty stomachs in every city, and people staggered from town to town looking for water but couldn't find enough to satisfy their thirst. I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword along with your captured horses, and filled your nostrils with the stench of death. But it was all in vain. You wouldn't return to me, and the few of you who did respond to correction for a time quickly backslid into the sinful ways of their forefathers.

"Like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me; following other gods and serving them. Yet now, when you finally realize that you are in trouble, you say to me: 'Come and save us!' Where are all those 'gods' you made for yourselves? Let them come and save you, if they can. And a few of you presume to say, 'Don't be angry with me, Lord! I haven't sinned against you by running after these other gods. I'm innocent!' But how can you say this? Where were you when your brothers did these things? I'll tell you: You lay down as a prostitute and let them happen! You're all guilty! Every last one of you!

"Therefore, hear my Word!" the Lord declared. "I bring charges against you all, and pronounce judgment on you and your children's children. Because your hands are stained with the blood of my prophets, and because of your wickedness in forsaking me and worshiping other gods - idols your own hands have made - I will make you an object of scorn and a laughingstock to all the nations. I am about to summon peoples from the north to pour out disaster on everyone who lives in this land. They will overcome the surrounding walls and enter the gates of all your towns, and their kings will set up their thrones in Jerusalem.

"When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will not listen to you. And even if you offer up multitudes of bulls, rams, lambs and goats, I will hide my eyes from you. I've had more than enough of your sacrifices and burnt offerings, anyway. What are they to me? I've never taken any pleasure in the blood and fat of animals. What I have truly desired is that you keep the covenants I have made with you since the beginning of time.

"Instead, you have broken the yoke and severed the bonds between us. The end of your years is upon you: your days have come to a close. And you have brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the Way."

1 Ki 12-22
2 Ki 1-25
2Ch 10-36
Is 1:11 and 14-16
Jer 1:14-16
2:2-4, 7, 9, 17-23, 27-28, 30 and 35
3:20
11:2-5 and 7-10
14:4
42:2-3
Eze 22:4
Am 4:6-8 and 10
Jnh 1:14
He 1:1

Job

In another time and place, there lived a man named Job. Like Solomon, he was regarded as the greatest man in his part of the world. Job had numerous servants to wait upon him and he owned more than ten thousand head of livestock: the principle measures of wealth among his people. And he had seven sons and three daughters, prosperous in their own right, who maintained loving relationships with their father and with one another.

Unlike Solomon, however, Job was a man who feared God and shunned evil. It was his custom, for example, to immediately sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children and have them ritually purified after a period of feasting together. He would think: "Perhaps my children unknowingly offended God in some way during their celebration."

Now it happened one day that the angels came to present themselves before the Lord. And, lurking amongst them, came Satan as well. Spying him there, the Lord exclaimed, "Where did you come from?" Satan replied, "As you well know, from roaming back and forth through the dust of the earth." "Then you've encountered my devoted servant Job," the Lord said. "There is no one else on earth like him."

"Job has good reason to be devoted to you," Satan replied. "Haven't you blessed and protected him and everything he has, so that he lacks for nothing? But stretch out your hand and snatch away all he possesses, as you did to me, and he will surely curse you to your face as I do."

"You had no possessions that I did not give you," said the Lord. "And it was not I who took them away from you, but you who gave them up. The desire for such things is despicable to me, which is why I placed them all in your charge. Only upon the man himself may you not lay a finger." And with that, Satan was again cast out from the presence of the Lord.

One day not long after that, a messenger came gasping and sobbing to Job and cried: "Alas, master! The oxen were plowing, and the donkeys and camels were grazing nearby, when the Sabeans and Chaldeans swept down on us and carried them off! Then they put your servants to the sword, and I'm the only one who escaped!" While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said: "Alas, master! Lightning struck your barns and folds, and burned up all of your sheep and the servants who were tending them! I'm the only one who escaped!" And while he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said: "Woe of woes, master! Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house when, suddenly, a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house at once! The roof collapsed on them and they are all dead! I'm the only one who escaped."

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head: Symbols of mourning in his land. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked came I from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised!" Thus, despite all the calamities that had befallen him, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Satan again came to present himself before God, and the Lord said to him: "Now what do you think of my servant Job? Even though you incited me against him and ruined him without reason, he still maintains his integrity." "These creatures will give up all they have as long as their own skin is safe," Satan retorted. "But make his life miserable! Stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he'll curse you to your face just as I said he would!" The Lord said to Satan: "Very well, then. Everything Job has, including his health, is in your hands. But you must spare his life."

So Satan again went out from the presence of the Lord and immediately afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Job was so disfigured that even his closest friends could hardly recognize him. And as he sat among the ashes of his possessions, scraping at his encrusted abcesses with a piece of broken pottery, Job indeed opened his mouth and cursed as Satan had said he would: Not against God, however, but at the day of his birth.

"May that day - and the night it was said, 'A boy is born' - perish!" he cried. "May thick darkness seize it, and no light shine upon it! May God above not include it among the days or enter it in any of the months of the year! Why was I brought out of the womb? Why were there knees to receive me, or breasts that I might be nursed? Why was I not stillborn; an infant who never saw the light of day? I wish I had died before any eye saw me, for now I would be lying down in peace, hidden in the ground, asleep and at rest.

"I despise my very life, for I have been allotted nothing but days of futility and nights of misery. My days have no meaning: sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. And when I lie down at night I think only that I must soon get up and face more of the same. The hours drag by and I toss till dawn. I have no peace, no quietnes, no rest, but only turmoil. Oh, that God would be willing to grant me the one request for which I still hope: that he would crush me into powder, let loose his hand, cast me off into oblivion forever and forget that I had ever lived.

"But I know this is not to be. The life of every creature and the breath of all mankind is in God's hand. And it is his will that - to those who long for death; who search for it more than for hidden treasure; who are filled with gladness, and rejoice when they reach the grave - death does not come. It is man's lot to have hard service. His days on earth are like those of a slave or a hired man; looking forward only to the evening shadows and waiting eagerly for his wages. Thus has it been assigned to me."

After Job said this, his wife came to him and said: "You have been blameless and upright your whole life. Why do you still hold on to your integrity toward a God who has rewarded you in this way? Curse him, and die!" And Job replied, "You're talking like a fool, woman! How can any mortal be righteous before God? And how can we accept only good from him and not trouble?" So even after Satan's latest affliction, Job still would not sin against God in what he said.

Job 1:1-22
2:1-12
3:1-6, 11-13, 16, 21-22, 24 and 26
6:8-9
7:1-4 and 16
9:1-2

Job's Complaint

But then Job began to ponder his fate aloud, saying: "What prospects do I have, though, that I should still hope? Success has been driven from me. My eyes will never see happiness again, and I have no power to help myself regain it. What strength do I have that I might remain patient? I'm not made of stone or bronze. And, as a cloud vanishes and is gone, so will I soon go down to the grave and not return.

"And the worst part is that, even though I know I'm not blameless, I don't know what I've done that God seems to have singled me out as a target for his wrath. I wish I could speak to him and argue my case, but he isn't a man like me that I might confront him in court. I can't even see him when he passes by me. And even if I could, how can I find words to argue with him. Even if I were innocent, I couldn't answer him one time out of a thousand, but only plead with him for mercy. And, as it now stands, I can't even do that. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, I could speak up without fear of him.

But then, why do I still fear him? I loathe my life. Everything I could possibly dread has happened to me. And soon, I will lie down in the dust and never again be roused from my sleep. Then God himself will search me out in vain, for I will be no more. What more can he do to me that he has not already done?

"Therefore, I will not keep silent! I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the anguish of my spirit; in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God: You gave me life and in your providence - or so I believed - showed me kindness and watched over my spirit. But now I know this was what you kept concealed from me in your heart and in the back of your mind: That your true purpose in watching me every moment of my life was to examine me. And when I sinned, that you would not let my slightest offense go unpunished.

"What does man born of woman mean to you anyway, O God, that you make so much of him? That you give him so much attention? Your days are not like those of a mortal; few, and full of trouble. A man springs up and withers away like a flower: Like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. You are everlasting, and mold the universe according to your will. You don't see as a mortal sees, through deceitful eyes of flesh, but with a view that encompasses all time and space.

"How then can it please you to torment something that is of no greater importance to you than a windblown leaf? To chase after a thing that is of less significance to you than dry chaff? Remember, O Lord, that my life is but a breath. What could it cost you to overlook my offenses and forgive my sins? Have I nonetheless become a burden to you? At least, don't condemn me out of hand like this but tell me what charges you have against me. Show me the many sins I have committed. Teach me how I have wronged you, and I will be forever after silent."

Job 3:25
6:1, 11-13 and 24
7:7, 9, 11, 17 and 20-21
9:3, 11, 14-15, 21, 32-33 and 35
10:1-2, 4-5 and 12-14
13:3, 23 and 25
14:1-2 and 12

God's Rebuke

No sooner had these words issued from Job's lips than a towering tornado rose up from the desert. And the Lord answered Job out of the storm, saying: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Whose mind has been endowed with such wisdom and whose heart given such understanding that he contends with God? Who dares to speak to me of matters I must correct? Who makes a claim against me that I must pay? Brace yourself like a man and listen, for now I will speak and you shall answer me!

"You speak as though you comprehend the vast expanses of the universe. Tell me, then! On what were its footings set? Who stretched a measuring line across it and marked off its dimensions? Who laid its foundation and its cornerstone? Were you already born then? Have you lived so many years that you know all this from having witnessed it?

"Then you must have been there when everything was wrapped in darkness and a mighty voice caused the light to appear. When the earth took shape like clay under a seal; its features made to stand out like those of an embroidered garment. When it was shrouded in clouds and the sea made to burst forth from the womb. When its proud waves were told, 'This far you may come and no farther; this is where you halt,' and its doors and bars set in place.

"Then you would know that it was I who said and did these things; that everything under heaven belongs to me. But why then would you discredit my justice and condemn me? To justify yourself? Let the one who accuses the Almighty answer him!"

Then Job prostrated himself in the dust and ashes, and he cried out to the Lord: "O God, I have no answer to what you have said. My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you, and I know that I am unworthy to reply to you. You can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. Surely, I spoke in despair of matters only you can understand; things too wonderful for me to know. I despise myself and repent. From this time on, I put my hand over my mouth and say no more."

After this, God accepted Job's prayer saying: "My servant Job has spoken of me what is right." And the Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first, restoring his prosperity and giving him twice the wealth he had before. Job lived another hundred and forty years and had another seven sons and three daughters. And before he died, old and full of years, he saw his children's children down to the fourth generation.

Job 38:1-6, 18, 21 and 36
40:1-8
41:11
42:1-6, 8-10, 12-13 and 16-17

A New Covenant

Even though God had chosen to restore Job's personal material possessions, the dissolution of his spiritual covenants with mankind hung over the world like a dark cloud. But rays of hope began to appear in the Word that the Lord contined to make known through his chosen prophets. Job himself testified: "I know that even as my eyes poured out tears to God, my Friend and Witness was in heaven; my Advocate and Intercessor was on high, pleading with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend. My Redeemer lives and, in the end, he will stand upon the earth. And after my flesh has been destroyed, yet will I myself - with my own eyes and not through those of another - see him. How my heart yearns within me for that day!"

(Unifinished by the editor - See Notes on Prophecy for more info.)

 

All original text © 2003 by The Wayne Chaffer Estate
The Holy Bible, New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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