In this series we have seen that there is a connection between the Consolation of God coming in the form of Jesus and His various visitations, and the future comings of Christ to the Church, for the Church, and with the Church at the end. In this series I aim to hear God that we are in a time of Consolation now, expecting a visitation, which transitions into a habitation. The whole issue concerning revivals, and their lack at the moment is due to an error in our thinking, that the visitation of Jesus to us is enough. It is not enough to Him, rather He desires more than anything to have a HABITATION in and amongst His People. I believe it is this one desire that undergirds the motivations behind creation, the formation of man, the whole trajectory between Genesis and Revelation.
As the river in the image winds and flows so does Biblical Truth, as it gets to its destination, consistently sustaining life, so God’s works in bringing His Habitation to His People is the one theme that unites every covenant specified, every prophet that prophesied, every King that decreed in God’s favour for His work with His people, for John’s baptism, for Jesus’ Kingdom message.
Job’s test was not because he lacked, but because he had…
The Book of Job is where we must start because this book set before the time of Abraham but within those Patriarchal generations. In this book we come to understand somewhat the process of testing that God allows here, as it is a response to Satan’s request. What Satan came to protest about was the foundation of Job’s integrity, because of self interest, self preservation. At Satan’s request, which is made 2 times, one being an exterior test on his possessions and his family, and the next being a bodily test. These tests are not because Job lacked, no, the accusations are levelled at God, for which Job is subject to. God’s goodness makes us selfish, for example. Not the case however, in that whilst we were YET sinners, He died for us. So the test is this if God was to take all from us…we would stop loving Him, serving Him. Apply this in the case of Job. So Job being righteous, prosperous, God was to allow Satan to destroy all that which God gave him. That way Job’s heart would be exposed, and God’s self interest in blessing man for his devotion, would also be exposed. The tests of faith are not to have more faith, no, it is because we already have faith. We start from the wrong base when disaster sometimes come, we judge the person on their lack of faith, or their lack in their walk with God. If we come from that base of lack, we already are in bad territory.
Job’s friends offered human consolation instead of knowing the warfare in the heavenly realms.
Job’s friends offer great eloquence in their understanding of Job, the reasons for his trial, his disasters and his losses. Yet it was exactly this, their own human understanding. Maybe Solomon caught this when he said in Proverbs 3: do not lean on your own understanding. They were basing Job’s losses on his lack of character, lack of faith, yet what was going on in the heavenly realms is a two fold test, one being God’s own character, and Job’s own integrity of motivation. And our own theology regarding suffering is faulty today. Our own perspective is just like Job’s friends. We have resumed suffering to the messenger of satan to be rebuked for relief. However, many of God’s people are in this process either in their material sphere or their body, without relief, yet from a grace apportioned to them, others prosper at their message, or get healed at their preaching. We can surmise, but being in constant pain can be a whole different reality, when we know God can heal yet we struggle on the willingness of God to heal. It is a test as much of God’s character as much as of our integrity. We need to discern between the adversity associated to our Call in Him, and affliction because of our resistance to His leading. Suffering therefore is not purposeless, nor are losses the evidence of God’s displeasure, we see in Philippians 3, that Paul processes his losses as a doorway of a superior vocation, an invitation to a higher kind of life, which only opens out when we learn that our losses are doorways to the greatest gains.
In the trial Job relies what he intimately knows of God and comes into true Consolation
“I know that my Redeemer lives” is the declaration from Job. He has nothing but God’s character that he intimately knows, and it is from here, that place that the trial is won over and where both God and he are vindicated. It is when in that place of loss, that place of pain when we make these declarations that something in the heavenly realms breaks. It is in that place he forgives and prays for those who may have misunderstood his trial, but as he knows His God, so his restoration comes forth, like a river. This place of crying out, shouting out even when the house is fallen, when our bodies wracked with pain, is true consolation released. Now for all to see God comes and restores everything of the losses in that place of pain and desolation. The pattern is seen in Philippians 2, in every sphere Jesus was humiliated, brought low, so He is exalted.
“Satan has asked, but I prayed that your faith will not fail”
These are the words of Jesus. Satan comes the same way to try Peter. However where Job succeeded, Peter failed the test. However, this is an opportunity for God to break the power and myth called failure. For God failure is a must doorway to access the divine ability. When we trace down the process from when Jesus predicts where Peter would fail, we see where Peter goes, how far down he goes, and how far Jesus brings him, to Acts 2, a different man, who no longer depended on his ability to achieve success, or achieve influence. So where Satan tried Job on his motivation, he also tried Peter on his ability. What satan did not count on, was that this New Covenant was not based on ability. Hence Jesus intervenes on Peter’s behalf, intercessory prayer before the Father. As Peter reverts back to what he knows, his nets came back empty. However as Jesus enters the scene, so the nets fill again. Peter sees the principle, now he knows he failed the Person, so how does he get to activate the principle if the Person he failed may not accept him. Jesus knows the power of failure, and confronts Peter with a divine call, which is exercised from a place of divine love, which is an anchor. So by the time we get to see a Peter already moving from that place, immersed in the fire of the Holy Spirit, and he knows that his failure faced upon with Jesus qualifies him not disqualifies.
Consolation is not for good times, nor times of victory. They are for dark adversity times, for losses, for pain. It is key we know how to access consolation from a place of desolation. It is being steadfast in knowing intimately God’s character, and as we face our failure with Jesus, knowing its His ability and His love that count we move from desolation to eternal consolation.