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Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word) Hardcover – May 31, 2014
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Life can be hard, and sometimes it seems like God doesn’t even care. When faced with difficult trials, many people have resonated with the book of Job―the story of a man who lost nearly everything, seemingly abandoned by God.
In this thorough and accessible commentary, Christopher Ash helps us glean encouragement from God’s Word by directing our attention to the final explanation and ultimate resolution of Job’s story: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Intended to equip pastors to preach Job’s important message, this commentary highlights God’s grace and wisdom in the midst of redemptive suffering.
Taking a staggeringly honest look at our broken world and the trials that we often face, Ash helps us see God’s sovereign purposes for adversity and the wonderful hope that Christians have in Christ.
Luke’s carefully researched and orderly account of the life of Christ is one of the finest pieces of historical writing from the ancient world. More importantly, it boldly proclaims the story and significance of Jesus, emphasizing his “gospel” as good news for the whole world.
In this illuminating commentary, respected pastor R. Kent Hughes explores Luke’s historical claims about the life of Christ and his overarching message, offering helpful insights into the biblical text and pastoral reflections on how it applies to everyday life.
Written to help preachers and Bible teachers communicate God’s Word more effectively, this commentary explores how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus constitute the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and guarantee salvation to all who believe on his name.
Part of the Preaching the Word series.
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From the Publisher
More Books in the Preaching the Word Series from Crossway
This award-winning commentary series was written by pastors for pastors and their churches. With R. Kent Hughes, former professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, as the series editor, these volumes feature experienced pastors and teachers who model expository preaching and practical application. This series is noted for its steadfast commitment to biblical authority, clear exposition of Scripture, and readability—making it widely accessible for both new and seasoned pastors, as well as for men and women who are eager to read the Bible in a fresh way.
“Christopher Ash writes beautifully―this book is a delight to read! But that isn’t its greatest strength. Nor is the fact that these pages are filled with nuanced and fresh exegetical insights. Christopher has succeeded in producing the richest, most moving, most deeply cross-centered and God-glorifying treatment of Job I have ever read. This book marries brilliant explanation with powerful gospel-driven application. It is simply a ‘must-have’ resource for anyone intending to preach through Job.”
―J. Gary Millar, Principal, Queensland Theological College, Australia; author, Calling on the Name of the Lord and Now Choose Life; coauthor, Saving Eutychus
“This is one of the finest Biblical commentaries I have had the privilege to read, and certainly the best I know on the wonderful but perplexing book of Job. Christopher Ash takes us into the depths of this book, taking no shortcuts. He guides us through the details, helping us to see the brilliance of the poetry and the profundity of the questions raised. More than this he helps us to see how the sufferings of Jesus shed brilliant light into the darkest corners of Job’s experience. In turn the book of Job deepens our understanding of Jesus’ blameless suffering, and the suffering and darkness experienced by those who share in the sufferings of Christ. This is a powerfully edifying exposition.”
―John Woodhouse, Former Principal, Moore Theological College
“If like me, you have shied away from the book of Job, daunted by its structure and length, do not despair, help has arrived! Christopher Ash has performed a noble service by ‘bashing his head’ against the text and providing us with such a lucid, wonderfully helpful commentary. It is both mind-stretching and heart-warming as it reminds us that like the rest of the Bible, Job is ultimately a book about Jesus.”
―Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
“This is the book for any who, like me, have been both fascinated and frightened by Job. Christopher Ash brilliantly engages with the interpretive challenge of understanding the text and the emotional challenge of being confronted by the awful reality of suffering and evil in the world. His exposition combines sober realism about what we can expect in the life of faith and great encouragement as we are pointed to the sufferings and glory of Christ.”
―Vaughan Roberts, Rector, St Ebbe’s, Oxford, England; Director, The Proclamation Trust; author, God's Big Picture
“A magnificent study of one of the least read and understood books of the Bible. Here is meticulous, detailed exploration of the text, its vocabulary and poetic structure, which opens up its richness and complexity with interpretive sensitivity. This in turn produces a narrative reading that illuminates the revelatory argument of the book as a whole, with its conflict between redemptive grace and religious systems. ‘Honest grappling’ is its characteristic as the imponderable questions of the human condition are played out through the drama of Job’s individual agony. But this is also a preacher’s book, full of human empathy and applicatory wisdom providing nourishment for the deepest recesses of the soul. Supremely, it is a book not about Job’s suffering, but about Job’s God, which leads us to the ultimate answers to all our human enigmas in the reality of Jesus Christ and him crucified. This is a book to return to again and again as a valuable tool to unpack the message of Job in a generation to whom it is strikingly relevant.”
―David Jackman, Former President, The Proclamation Trust
“This book has reinforced my general rule, ‘If Christopher Ash has written it, I should definitely read it.’ It is an outstanding exposition of this dramatic but difficult book, at the same time eminently accessible, yet profoundly stretching and thought-provoking. As the book’s chapters are opened up masterfully, characteristic attention to textual detail is enriched by a theological trajectory that, like a reverse prism, draws every obscure but colorfully illuminating ray from this ancient story and traces them forward to the pure brightness and clear light revealed in the cross of Christ. The pastoral warmth and power of its message comes from this recognition, that for every believer, ancient or modern, it is the reality of our union with Christ, the Christ who was glorified only through suffering, that offers the deepest explanation of all evil that we may encounter on our road to glory. I commend it most warmly to anyone who wants to dig into the riches of this extraordinary book of the bible.”
―William Philip, Senior Minister, The Tron Church, Glasgow
“This commentary is invaluable for personal or group Bible study, and also for preachers. It includes careful study of the text of Job, and the fruits of deep theological and pastoral reflection. It avoids the sadly common question, ‘What is the minimum I need to know to understand the book of Job?’ and instead asks the godly and productive question, ‘What are the full riches that God has provided for us in the book of Job?’ Furthermore, Christopher answers this question in the light of Christ and the gospel. And of course, there is much to learn here about suffering, the pastoral Achilles heel of the Church both in the West and in the two-thirds world. It is a persuasive and powerful tool to help us edify God’s people by expounding the Scriptures.”
―Peter Adam, Vicar Emeritus, St. Jude’s Carlton; Former Principal, Ridley College, Melbourne
“This expository commentary provides everything a preacher is looking for. The ‘big picture’ is kept clear even as technical detail is explained. The text is set in its Biblical context even as the text is unpacked on its own terms. Application is faithful to the book’s Biblical purpose, acutely insightful and contemporary. It is readable, profoundly pastorally helpful, and above all Christ-centered. I could not commend it more highly.”
―William Taylor, Rector, St. Helen's Bishopsgate, London; author, Understanding the Times and Partnership
“Christopher has produced something on a much misunderstood (and abused) book that draws us to the anguished questions of a sufferer, deals carefully with all the data, and brings us to Christ. A great help for anyone wishing to preach on Job, and for anyone wishing to hear this word from God.”
―Nat Schluter, Principal, Johannesburg Bible College
“A marvelous commentary on an important book.”
―Josh Moody, Senior Pastor, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois; President, God Centered Life Ministries
About the Author
Christopher Ash is writer in residence at Tyndale House in Cambridge and a full-time preacher, speaker, and writer. He previously served as the director of the Proclamation Trust’s Cornhill Training Course and as a minister and church planter. He and his wife, Carolyn, are members of St. Andrew the Great Church in Cambridge, and have four children and eight grandchildren.
R. Kent Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and former professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. He serves as the series editor for the Preaching the Word commentary series and is the author or coauthor of many books. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Spokane, Washington, and have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.
- Publisher : Crossway (May 31, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1433513129
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433513121
- Item Weight : 1.91 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.25 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #179,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
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For example, on page 146 Ash refers to the so-called “stages of grieving” calling that process “reasonable, indeed healthy movement for human grief.” These stages are not found in Scripture and have even been rejected by some secularists. On page 430, when writing about Job’s confession despising himself and repenting in dust and ashes, Ash says that is a good thing—and we can agree with him. But then Ash goes on to talk about how if we embraced that same thinking in regard to our fellowman it would be an “inferiority complex, pathological low self-esteem” and that it would be better to say, “ ‘ I’m OK; you’re OK’ as the pop psychology book had it.” While we might agree with the basic point, Ash’s explanation of its troubling aspects and his prescription for dealing with the issue are unhelpful. These remarks and others like them are in stark contrast to Ash’s otherwise brilliant commentary.
As always, no matter the author, read with discernment. Despite these shortcomings, this commentary is excellent and I gained an understanding of the book of Job for which I am very grateful.
Ash’s commentary on Job is a comforting and helpful reminder of the absolute sovereignty of God. There is much to learn about the normal Christian life, much to learn about helpful, “religious” friends who think unbiblically, and much to learn about evil.
There was some discomfort for me where Ash was somewhat secularist in his observations of human behavior, but that mindset did not make itself overly apparent so did not detract significantly from his writing.
Ash’s superbly powerful writing style reflects the ponderous times (i.e.: the friends’ rebukes of Job), as well as the AHA! moments (i.e.: where God uses behemoth and leviathan to open Job’s eyes) so that my emotions were fully engaged, and I was often breathless/spellbound at the end of a chapter.
The book of Job seems to be the key to unlock all of Scripture. I deeply appreciate Ash’s helping me to “see” what Job saw.
If you’re a pastor looking for a deep, yet sermonic, commentary on Job, get this one!
Top reviews from other countries
Ash makes the central point right at the start that we can only ultimately make sense of Job if we look at it in the light of the cross of Jesus Christ. Otherwise the ending is in a way we may say only a partial answer to the question "what kind of world do we live in?". For Job, as a good friend of mine said "ends happily". Job is fully restored to his health and his prosperity. But for many people in this life, people who trust in God, suffering humanly speaking doesn't have a happy ending. What then? Only when we see the pointers in Job - the desire for a mediator, a person to stand for us with God as our ambassador, more than that someone who went through suffering far beyond anything we can imagine - does Job finally make sense. For Job (thank God) is not Everyman. He is Mr Extreme. Ash points out "he foreshadows one man whose greatness exceeded even Job, whose sufferings took him deeper than Job and whose perfect obedience...was anticipated in faint outline by Job". Job is not at its heart about suffering in general, rather it is about how God treats his children. And to understand that we have to understand how and why God treated his Son. For the comforters have no place for the cross, no room at all in their system for innocent suffering. Nor is there room for an arbiter, an intermediary who opens up a way to God. Heaven is inaccessible for mere mortals.
But obviously the book is also very much about Job. Ash reminds us that Job was not a Hebrew, Gods chosen people, he lives outside the covenant God established with Abraham and his descendants. Yet though he knew little about God, yet he trusted in God. And somewhat surprisingly he is fully vindicated by God, in fact God tells his "comforters" that Job must pray for them to be forgiven.
The book is also timely in that as Ash points out the Christian church is infested with two closely related heresies - the prosperity gospel ( believe in God and you will be rich) and the therapeutic gospel ( believe in God and you will feel good). And the book opens with the Satan - the devil, the accuser of Gods children - accusing Job of bing an early devotee of these errors. After all, Satan says, Job fears God because he has it made. Who wouldn't believe in God if that's what you get out of it? And the rest of the book is Gods answer to that. Because argues Ash, in some deep way it is necessary for it it to be publicly seen by the whole universe that God is worthy of the worship of a human being not because of his gifts but for himself.
So God allows terrible suffering to come on Job, the loss of his entire family (apart from his wife who seems of little help), the loss of all his possessions and the loss of his health. Then, he has a long dialogue with three "comforters". If ever there as a misnamed group, these three men are it. Ash argues that they have a number of serious errors - a closed "theological system", no place for the devil and no compassion or empathy. This tone is highly self confident. Everything is tidy and in its place. By a closed system Ash means that the comforters believe that being good means you will be prosperous and happy. As Job is neither he must be bad. What he must do is confess this evil and perhaps God will forgive him. Job interestingly to some extent is locked into the same thought pattern. Starting from the same premise that being good means being prosperous and happy, he argues that since he has been a man of integrity (not blameless but not a hypocrite) then since God is treating him this way, that God is unfair.
Ash is very perceptive on Job himself. It's easy to say "we should have faith like Job: he suffered: he trusted: so should we." But Job like us is far from one dimensional. He curses the day of his birth. He goes on lamenting chapter after chapter. As pointed out, he accuses God of being unfair. Job is restless and senses something is wrong, but as Ash points out this is a sign of hope. He doesn't give up. He addresses God, so logically, he believes that someone is there and that he will answer. And of course in the end God does answer Job, he speaks to him out of the storm. Job cannot reply to Gods message which is essentially that I am God and you are mortal. Again Ash points out helpfully that a full comprehension of why God lets his children suffer has to go beyond this truth. "Christian sufferings are in part a taking up of the cross, a sharing in unjust suffering, a participation in the sufferings of Christ in order that glory and honour may be brought to God." Only the cross makes sense of suffering, allows it to be redemptive. Only the cross, argues Ash leaves room for what Christians call "grace ". Grace means God precisely doesn't dispense slot machine justice but gives us what we don't deserve. This Ash points out is vital in pastoral work. We absolutely cannot deduce the spiritual state of anyone from their current happiness or suffering.
I hope the above captures the essence of the book. i have tried to capture the main points. If the length is a bit daunting (480 pages) then by all means start with Ash's excellent "Out of the storm" which is to some extent an earlier much reduced version of this. But every pastor or evangelist should have this, the full version. It makes such good sense of an immensely puzzling book, one which is "sui generis" in the biblical canon. On top of that it is a very useful resource as a classic commentary, with interesting insights into some of the complex textual and literary questions in Job. If you want to find out, for example, what these strange animals "behemoth" and "leviathan" represent (are they the hippopotamus and crocodile?) you can find some very carefully considered analysis. But its great strength is that it takes Gods revelation of how he treats his friends and lays it out warmly and faithfully in a way that anyone can benefit greatly from reading it. Especially anyone going through suffering. And it leads us through Job to Gods final answer to suffering and evil - that God himself willingly subjected himself to suffer and even to die to rescue his children, through faith, from suffering and evil. Why? Because he loved us