Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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When Job’s life and health were torn apart, three of his friends came to him to do what they could to help him in his miserable state. They were not fools. On the contrary, they were wise and godly men. Job would have had no other kind of friends. The fact that they were eventually proved to be wrong in their opinion of Job is usually seen as an indication of their foolishness and vanity. In addition, the name Job called them in the midst of his trial, “miserable comforters”, is frequently used to prove that they were foolish, if not downright evil. But such was not the case. Many of their observations about God and life were right and good. Those observations show that these men had pursued the knowledge of God and had attained to a high degree of it, for their time.
In the book of Job, God was doing a new thing. He was giving Job a glimpse of His righteousness — something which no one in heaven or earth understood at that time. Job’s three friends were among the wisest men on earth, but in the trial of Job, God showed that He is beyond wisdom. According to God Himself, Job was “a perfect and upright man”, but near the end of Job’s trial, when Job finally caught a glimpse of the righteousness which God was showing him, that same “perfect and upright” Job collapsed to the earth and cried out, “I am vile and unclean! I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes!”
But repent of what? God had already said that Job was “perfect and upright”. God’s point was to teach Job, and us, that He is beyond perfect. Otherwise, we may become proud of how good we are. When the prophet Isaiah, a clean and godly man, was brought into the presence of God’s glory, he, too, cried out a confession of his uncleanness (Isa. 6). It is not surprising that Isaiah is the one who proclaimed to Israel that, compared to God’s righteousness, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags!” (Isa. 64:6).
The kind of righteousness that Jesus brought to light and made available to those who trust in him was unknown to mankind before he paid the price for us not only to have it in us, but to become the righteousness of God in this world. One of the most astonishing verses in all the Bible has to be that which Paul wrote to the saints in ancient Corinth (2Cor. 5:21): “Him who knew no sin, God made sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Are we living life so that we are the righteousness of God to those who know us?