Recently my son Noah commented that I hadn’t posted anything on my blog for awhile. Frankly, I was flattered. I didn’t know my kids read my blog.
I told him that I had, in fact, been writing, but my thoughts were still in process.
He responded, “Then you mean you are journaling.”
“Not exactly,” I replied.
“Well, then what are you doing?”
The answer is that I have been readinga lot of scripture and pondering – mystery, redemption, mercy, suffering and the “manifold wisdom of God.” And in this pondering, two saints have become dear to me - Peter and Job.
I am fascinated by the opening scene of Job.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them…. The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”
As Christians, we know there are more things on heaven and earth than we can see with our mortal eyes. We know there is a spiritual realm filled with creatures different from us.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col 1)
But we don’t know much about these spiritual beings. In the Father’s great wisdom, much is still veiled to our eyes. We do know these beings are strong and glorious, numerous and diverse. And they are not all friendly to men.
And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev. 12)
It is unsettling to think that powerful spiritual beings hate us simply because the Father loves us. Because they, perhaps more than we, have an inkling of the gloryset before us, they are at war against the God’s design, wanting us to fall just as they did. But the Father has a plan, a mystery to reveal, something the angels have never seen or imagined, and so He replies to Satan concerning Job….
“Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”
Job suffered, and he questioned, and he complained, but did not curse God. Instead, through, the Holy Spirit, he prophesied of the mystery to come – a Savior, who was both God and man.
“For God is not merely human like me;
there is no answer that I could give him
if we were to come together in court.
There is no arbitrator between us
who could lay his hand on us both…
“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
“That with an iron stylus and lead
They were engraved in the rock forever!
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
“Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
And when Job spoke these words, the Father rejoiced for this was the hidden mystery -the great risk that God took with men. Unlike the fallen angels, men could be won back. They could be redeemed! The love of a Savior, in flesh like theirs, could fill them with the love of God. And they could come to love like God - even in weakness, even in suffering, even in failure. Though the glory of God was hidden from their eyes, they would love Him. Though they knew only a fraction of what the angels knew – they would bear His image. This love which sees only in part, this love which suffers and endures, this love which brings sinners to repentance, this love which embraces the mercy Lucifer rejected – this love brings God joy and glory in the heavenlies. It reveals His manifold wisdom.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (I Cor 2)
Jesus was also tempted by Satan – with physical suffering and mental trials.
Satan demanded to “sift Peter like wheat,” and the Father permitted it. I believe the devil gloated in victory because the battle with Peter seemed easy. Peter denied Jesus. He betrayed God in flesh, as Lucifer had betrayed God in glory. But the story was not over.
God’s manifold wisdom was still hidden in the cross, waiting to be revealed in the resurrection
For men, mercy could triumph over judgment. So the resurrected Jesus went looking for Peter.
“Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asked.
“Lord, you know that I love you,” Peter replied.
“Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asked again.
“Lord, you know that I love you,” Peter replied.
One last time Jesus asked. The question grieved Peter, but he responded. “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you!”
And the Father, Son and Spirit rejoiced ! Peter testified three times in the court of heaven, in the ears of the Accuser – love stronger than sin, stronger than despair. Mercy embraced and man saved from the dominion of Satan. The redemption of a Bride! A Bride who could return the love of her Bridegroom. A bride who, for the joy set before her, could suffer like her Savior.
Heaven’s economy is truly not like our own. The Father and Son receive as much glory through faithful suffering as through great exploits. It is never man who works a miracle, always God through the faith of a man. But is always the choice of man to love or to despair.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (I Peter 1)
When a man leaves his home to wander in the desert because of faith – this glorifies God in the heavenlies. When people believe the promises of God, despite all worldly wisdom – this proves God wise. When sinners repent and embrace mercy – Satan and his minions are put to shame. When Christians love their Savior in spite of loss, illness, depression or grief, this love is treasured in heaven.
And God will by no means let these sufferings go unrewarded.
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor 2)