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Archive for May, 2011

There is a certain mystery about the Book of Job. Job is not named in the lineage of Adam, nor is he a descendent of Abraham, so we don’t know exactly where he fits into historical chronology, although we can speculate that he lived some time after the flood but before Abraham. James makes mention of Job,” Behold, we count them happy who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy. “ (Jas 5:11) Which enables us to dispel the erroneous thought that the Book of Job was just poetry. James confirms that Job is a man who actually lived and we know that all the things that are recorded did actually occur and the Book is therefore his biography.

It is however this very mystery that should lead us to understand the greater implications of this Book. We are given a wonderfully unique peek into the eternal realm, where the writer of Job, records a discussion between the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth and the Devil. Although this dialogue is recorded in very few words, its impact and implications should not escape us.

The dialogue is introduced with the words: “Now there was a day…” God is eternal and exists outside of time, but there was a certain point in time upon the earth, where this conversation took place. “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” By this statement we are given insight into the unseen dimension, where angels operate and interact. We are also given the impression that meetings take place, where God addresses the angels, or at least we know that this meeting took place. Satan, who is an angel, was part of the gathering. At this stage we know that Satan had been cast out of God’s domain in the heavens, so I don’t see this meeting as taking place in heaven, but rather upon earth, in the unseen spiritual dimension, where angels and principalities operate.

God calls upon Satan to give an account of his activities. “From where do you come?” Satan gives a vague answer, but indicating that he was aimless; “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” And to our utter amazement as readers, God gives Satan a project as He asks this question; “Have you considered My servant Job?” This is one of the pivotal pieces of information in the whole Bible! In this simple question, God discloses to us the purpose of Satan, he is called upon by God to consider Job; for what reason? Then a further astounding insight is given by God in this conversation; “For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” God was not using Satan to punish Job for any evil doing, but asked Satan to focus on Job, because he was righteous! Satan’s reply presents us with a very clear picture of his relationship to God; no matter how powerful he may be as a fallen angel, he is still subservient to God. Satan complains that he is not able to do anything to Job because of God’s protection; he also acknowledges that all of Job’s wealth was as a result of God’s hand of blessing upon him.

Satan then requests God’s permission to attack and destroy Job, “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” In the way that Satan makes this request, it is evident that he is acknowledging that unless the Lord “puts forth His hand” he would be powerless to do anything to Job.

Then God gives Satan conditional permission, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.”

The window into the unseen is then closed and through the greater part of the Book of Job we see the results of this ‘behind the scenes’ meeting played out in the life of Job.

We must conclude from the vital information gleaned from being privy to this exclusive meeting between God and angels, that God has granted Satan permission to tempt and do a certain amount of damage to those that are important to Him.

Further angelic planning meetings through time could well have tackled the following topics:

“Have you considered My nation Israel?”

“Have you considered My church?”

And on a more individual basis, “Have you considered My son or daughter ………. ?”

“Can you produce a ‘Christ’ to deceive the whole world?”

Paul confirms the limits of Satan’s operation in this statement:  “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1Co 10:13)

God does not remove temptation, but requires it and makes use of Satan to this end. Volumes could be written as to why God requires us to be tried and tested through temptation, but let me conclude with the reason given in the Book of Job.

Job confesses that he had an academic or theoretical knowledge of God. We all have a lot of head-knowledge about God, which we can endlessly debate in clever sounding theological terms.

But, Job said these beautiful words at the end of all his suffering,  “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.  (Theoretical knowledge) ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’  (Job rebukes himself) “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”  ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract,
and I repent in dust and ashes.”

Its only through trials, temptations, testings and suffering that we are brought into the right frame of mind to ‘see Him’ and receive a first-hand revelation of the glorious living Christ, who is the fullness of the Godhead and the express image and brightness of God’s glory.

James had Job in mind when he wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

And Paul near the end of his life prayed, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

There is great purpose in this life, which is under the direction of our loving God, particularly in the suffering and trials that the Lord has permitted the devil to inflict upon us, that we might really know Him in our innermost being, whom to know is life eternal – the Lord Jesus Christ!

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Mission to Zimbabwe

Our mission to Zimbabwe held some personal blessings and encouragement  for Anton Bosch and myself, as we saw and experienced the Lord’s sovereign plan unfolding before our eyes, in a majestic tapestry that only the Lord can weave. After the dust of the last 30 – 40 year history of the AOG SA, church politics, the rise and fall of men, error, ambitions and human weakness had settled, we arrived in Zimbabwe to see the faithfulness of God, and that His purposes are never derailed.

To appreciate the thread of God’s direction, a brief history is necessary. Jewel and her late husband, Travers van der Merwe, were the Assemblies of God ministers in Gweru (originally Gwelo) back in the 70’s and they were well acquainted with Geoffrey  Mkwanazi, (who is currently the Chairman of the AOG in Zim), Tham Dube (Current Principal of the Bible School) and many other men who have either gone to be with the Lord or who are current leaders in the AOG in Zimbabwe.

Jewel and Travers had a burden to equip young men for the work of the ministry and John Stegman started a ‘Bible School’ in Harare (then called Salisbury), which was later moved to Nigel and then Alberton in South Africa and became known as the Theological College of South Africa. Anton and Tham attended this College, as did many other Assemblies of God ministers. In the 90’s the AOG SA decided, for whatever reason, to abandon the College and Tham had the foresight and vision, as a Board Member of the College to ask for it to be given to the AOG in Zimbabwe, which was agreed to.

At the beginning of 2011, Jewel and David Grewe (Jewel’s  husband), arrived in Bulawayo on a USA grant to lecture in the University for a time. Jewel was quick to renew fellowship with Geoffrey and Tham and identified the need for input in the Bible School. Knowing the burden that Anton and I have to ‘commit to faithful brethren the things that we have been taught’ and the urgent and vital need for sound Biblical teaching in Africa, she made contact with Anton and in due course we arrived in Bulawayo to assess the situation.

Tham was overjoyed to hear from Jewel and Anton that the Bible School had in fact originated in Zimbabwe and that it had done a full circle and was now back in Bulawayo, with a branch in Harare.

We sat with the full Executive of the Assemblies of God, who were all attending a Conference in Gweru;  they unanimously agreed that our coming was of the Lord and gave us the liberty to meet with all the ministers that had come to the Conference, a fair representation of all the assemblies throughout Zimbabwe. Our burden is to equip brothers and sisters for the work of the ministry, not only with an academic knowledge of the Scriptures, but also with real practical experience in the local assemblies, hence the importance of the support of all local ministers and assemblies, which burden we shared with them. Their support was also warm and positive. We were then given an opportunity to address the approximately 1400 people attending the Conference, we also spent a day lecturing to students in Bulawayo and had various meetings with the College Leaders to assess their requirements.

Our findings and the Road ahead ….

Much of the original material from the Theological College of SA has been lost, so our task is to urgently revise the Curriculum and produce suitable material, lecture notes, Mp3 recorded lectures and arrange visits by suitable ministries, on a regular basis, to make the College as effective as possible, as a tool in the Lord’s hands to equip men and woman to ‘Study to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ‘ that they also are able to ‘earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’

Although this will entail an enormous amount of work, the exciting prospect of the project is that this material will be invaluable as a means of equipping others in many different countries throughout Africa. Also, with the Lord’s hand and blessing upon it, would provide a standard against the flood of error that has infiltrated the majority of churches throughout the continent.

May the Lord Jesus Christ give us wisdom, grace and strength to present Him as the central and supreme theme of Scripture, that He may be acknowledged and worshipped as the Head of the church in Africa.

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