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Sermon Quotes: "James' Take on Job"

“About 95 percent of the book of Job is poetry. Chapters 1,2 and part of chapter 42 are prose. Almost all the rest is poetry. But so what? Well, poetry does not speak to us in the same way as prose. Poems ‘are always a personal take on something, communicating not just from the head to head but from heart to heart’ (J.I. Packer). A poet can often touch us, move us, and unsettle us in ways that prose cannot. Job is a blend of the affective (touching our feelings) and the cognitive (addressing our minds). And poetry is particularly suited to this balanced address to the whole person. But poetry does not lend itself to summing up in tidy propositions, bullet points, neat systems, and well-swept answers. Poetry grapples with our emotions, our wills, our sensitivities. We cannot just sum up a poem in a bald statement, we need to let a poem get to work on us-we must immerse ourselves in it. It is just so with Job. As we enter it we must not expect tidy systematic points to jot down and then think we’ve ‘done’ Job, as a one-day tourist might ‘do’ Florence. Job is to be lived and not just studied. So during this study let us read the book of Job itself, read it out loud, mull it over, absorb it, wonder, be unsettled, and meditate. And may we let God work on us through this great Bible book. We shall find our faith deepened and our emotional pallets enriched.” Christopher Ash

‘Afflictions ought ever to be estimated by their end.” John Calvin

“It is the mark of the love of God that he brings Job low, for this is where a creature ought to be. That is true for us as well. The most deeply compassionate and merciful thing God can do is to humble us and bring us so low that we bow before him and lean on him and trust him. This is the first mark of the compassion of God; he loves enough to humble us, as he humbled Job, under his mighty hand. Perhaps for some of us there has been, or there will be, a time in life when everything goes wrong. A time perhaps of pain and failure, even of disaster and misery. And it may be that God in his compassion is bringing us so low that we will lean on him alone. This was for Job a hard truth, but it was nonetheless a mark of the mercy of God that he would bring Job very low.” Christopher Ash

“These gifts at the end are gestures of grace, not rewards for virtue.” Francis Anderson

“However deep our suffering, it is unlikely that our experience can ever do more than very approximately mirror Job’s. We have neither been so great as Job, nor so fallen, neither so happy, nor so lonely, neither so rich, nor so poor, neither so pious, nor so cursed. All of which points to a fulfillment greater and deeper than your life or mine. Job in his extremity is actually but a shadow of a reality more extreme still, of a man who was not just blameless but sinless, who was not just the greatest man in a region, but the greatest human being in history, greater even than merely human, who emptied himself of all his glory, became incarnate, and went all the way down to a degrading, naked, shameful death on the cross, whose journey took him from eternal fellowship with the Father to utter aloneness on the cross. The story of Job is a shadow of the greater story of Jesus Christ.” Christopher Ash