Today we start reading about Job. Many see the start of this book, which sets the scene for the remaining forty chapters, as a sort of parable. The question is asked (and answered); ‘do those who are richly blessed appreciate their blessings? How should those around them react? How do you cope when blessings disappear?’

An adversary appears on the scene (the Hebrew word ‘Satan’ means ‘an adversary’, and is sometimes translated that way – e.g., Numbers 22:2; 1 Samuel 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14,23,25). Job dramatically loses his blessings but remains faithful, rebuking his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10).

The dramatic experiences of Jonah, because he tried to avoid doing God’s will, provide us with a different kind of lesson. Note the spirit of his prayer: “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple … But I, with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (2:7,9). In the Psalms we read, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (50:23). This is thanksgiving for both blessings being given or removed!

Our Hebrew chapters contrast the sacrifices under the Law of Moses and the sacrifice of Christ. Paul makes the point, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (9:14).

Do we meditate enough on the wonder of the sacrifice of our Lord? Do we focus far more on understanding the process of salvation by his sacrifice so that we fail to do so effectively? Do we really “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (10:22)? Are we conscientious in doing this?

The simple, yet profound words of John are noteworthy, “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3). In John’s next chapter we realise that to be purified by a true hope is to also have its twin, love. John makes the point, “whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment” (verses 16,17).