Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as "getting a grip on oneself" or "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross," says Mason. "Sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake."
Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one's deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that "mercy is the permission to be human." The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.
The Gospel According to Job sensitively brings the reader to this realization, using a devotional commentary format that reminds them that it's all right to doubt, to be confused, to wonder-in short, to be completely human. But what will heal us and help us endure is a direct, transforming encounter with the living God.
Mike Mason is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Blue Umbrella, The Mystery of Marriage, The Gospel According to Job, Champagne for the Soul, Twenty-One Candles, and many others. He has an M.A. in English and has studied theology at Regent College. He lives in Langley, BC, Canada, with his wife.
Reading Mike Mason's book, The Gospel According to Job, along with the biblical book of Job has been quite an experience for me. When the book of Job came up again recently in the devotional calendar that I use, my reaction was, "Not again?! Didn't I read this during Lent?" But something told me that it was important to read it then. Mason's book was already sitting unread on my shelf so I decided to read through Job a chapter a day along with this book. I'm glad I did.
The Gospel According to Job is in a devotional reading format. Each chapter is only 2 pages long and there are about 3 - 5 chapters in the book for each chapter of Job. Mason presents the book of Job as a prototype of the Christian Gospel. He draws many interesting parallels between Job and the Gospel message; ways in which Job seems to anticipate the appearance of Jesus and the Gospel message to fill the gap in his own understanding of God's ways and the inadequacy of the theology of his "comforters."
Mason shows familiarity with good scholarship on Job. He understands the ancient origin of the book, issues with translation and other characteristics of the book that will assure the reader that he not just "shooting from the hip" in his exegesis. At the same time, some of the comparisons he draws between the story of Job and that of Jesus in the Gospels will seem highly speculative. Yet he often acknowledges this and, in the process, makes some compelling points. The book is well written. Mason's writing is clear and concise. I try to be sparing in what I underline in a book so that what I think are the most salient points don't get lost in all the underlining. My copy of this book has underlining on nearly every page. It's not just what he says that is interesting, the way it is said so often makes his points so well.
Job is a book about unjustifiable suffering which comes upon many people in one form or another, to a greater or lesser degree, in their lifetimes. It is a practically universal condition which defies simple explanations in light of God's will, character, and intentions. Mason does not minimize suffering. The problem of suffering is ultimately, vexingly mysterious. Exploring the nature of it seems to only deepen the mystery of it. Yet Mason's exploration of it, in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shows some if its significance and meaning for the Christian life. This book mines the gold in the book of Job for the sincere follower of Jesus. It provides good lessons for the church to consider in its mission and character in view of human suffering both within and outside the congregation. There is some forceful commentary at times that would lead us to examine our true unworthiness in light of God's majesty and our great worth in light of God's love , mercy and grace. Spiritual growth involves learning to accept and embrace both of these conditions.
Mason gives many helpful insights into the book of Job. One of these is the on the nature of the righteousness of Job. We might think of righteousness and sinlessness as being one and the same. Not so. God points to Job as being "blameless" as well as righteous. Job admittedly not sinless (7:20-21) but repentance and a close relationship with God were second nature to him. He seeks the fruit of forgiveness, the assurance that God is with him. This is what sustains Job's insistence on the injustice of his suffering in the face of his friends' insistence to the contrary. He has faith that God will vindicate him, and has the temerity to seek an audience with God himself. Contrary to the aloof and detached character of God described by his friends, Job insists that God is approachable and, ultimately, just in his judgments. In the end, Job is vindicated, though not on his own terms. The humbling revelation that Job sees, especially in the description of Leviathan, seems to convince him that there is more going on in the world than that of which he was aware.
This book is best read slowly and prayerfully. It has the potential strengthen the heart as well as enlighten the mind. I highly recommend it.
Job, likely one of the oldest books in the Bible collection also deals with the oldest problems thinking people have with God. Mason, already a gifted writer (The Gift of Marriage) has tackled a life work with this one. I love the format: short and meaty chapters tracking key issues as Mason covers the epic thought by thought. I marked all through my copy and highly recommend.
This text took me almost a year to read. It is has the format of a devotion, but I often read it like a book. Mason offers incredible wisdom through the gut wrenching journey of Job in the Bible. Worth the read!
Mike Mason’s book The Gospel According to Job came out of his own three year experience of pain that drove him “to his knees, totally defeated, half-crazy at times, and crying out for relief. Month after month the battles raged on, thick, dark, agonizing. I prayed, but somehow prayer did not ”work.”. . .A large part of my anguish was rooted in the fact that there really was nothing I could do to control what was happening to me. I was totally helpless, and it is this, perhaps that is the soul of suffering” (Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, Crossway Books, 1994, p.ix) .Yet God spoke to Mason through his ordeal and so he offers this book to “others who may be tunneling through spiritual crisis”( p.xi),and those who cry out for an audience to their God who is silent (Job, 23:1-10). That description of prolonged suffering is a poignant analogy and the book has value in the number of those fleeting insights he gained over the years He says, “The point is not how big or how little the problem is, the point is. . .whether one’s own particular burden is being borne in the bitterness and pride of the flesh or in the grace of God” (p. 34). However, the book is to-o-o long. Mason admits that the 450 pages are a bit much, but justifies that with the thought that suffering itself can seem interminably long. And, he invites readers to use the book selectively more as a devotion. OK. Real gems of insight are in the book. As he says, “Job should come as an immense comfort to any suffering believer. For the book says, in effect, ‘This is what faith is often like. Do not be surprised if you find yourself confused, doubting, afflicted, all but crushed. It does not mean you have lost favor with God.’ True, but Mike’s help to his readers would have been greatly enhanced if he had cut out whole chapters and focused both his redemptive and confused thoughts more selectively and articulate more clearly, as Job did, with a whole new experience of God’s love and character.
If you have ever suffered at all in this life, you know that it’s hard. And you also know that pasting a false smile on your face is, in the opinions of many, many people, the “Christian” thing to do. But is it? Would God really tell people to just smile through the pain?
If you think the answer is “yes” then you need to sit down with this book and take a good, long look at the book of Job, a man who truly suffered. With chapters small enough for a daily reading, this book takes a hard look at suffering and why Job, in his loud, heartfelt cries to God and his claims of righteousness (NOT sinlessness, RIGHTEOUSNESS) is actually a man who was loved by God and who knew God well enough that he wasn’t afraid to announce his inner turmoil, pain, and confusion.
Along the way, author Mike Mason brings to light why Job’s friends’ theology, which seems, at first glance, to be right, but which is actually wrong in several different ways.
Delving deep into the hearts of Job, his friends, and even God Himself, this book begins the work of digging through this notoriously misunderstood book to unearth the gems that are beneath the muddy surface. This book is a great foundation to help you dig even deeper into Job and discover that suffering can deepen your faith and teach you to hear God speak through the storms of life.
I recommend this book to every Christian, but especially those who are suffering in any way. This intense book will open your eyes to the fact that you are allowed to be human and to experience hardships is a part of life. All the while, God is there, standing with you in the pain and helping you to grow in faith and as a person.
New perspective to look at the book, why, what, how and what. It helps know what happened and how God allowed it happen. Encouraging especially for those who are going through trials. God does not change. How He dealt with Job and others will be something we can pray about as well.
I found this book great in the way it is broken up in the way Mason reads through the massive book of Job. Breaking it into verses and sections at a time, and dedicating 2 pages of writing to each topic made it very easy to set myself a reading goal, as well as to deeply focus on that particular topic for a shorter period of time.
Excellent writing. The Gospel brought to light in Job. Loved it.
Mike Mason is a good writer. I enjoyed this book and some of his others (Champagne for the Soul). Though Job is one of the earliest of the Patriarchs, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is weaved all throughout it. Mike Mason effectively demonstrates this.
I spent some four months reading, taking my time and using it as a kind of devotional. At 440 plus pages, it's a long book on Job, even though Job itself is quite a substantial book of the Bible. During 2004, I made copious notes on what I found in Mason's book, and there were many things that were useful in my spiritual life. I don't think his writing is a commentary to any degree, in the sense of looking at the big picture of the Book of Job. Rather it's like someone reflecting on each section and providing some thoughts on it. This has its value, and re-reading my notes some 17 years later, I'm inclined to go back and check the book out again to see if it still speaks as strongly as it did the first time.
I had come across a new translation of Job, and I started browsing books on Job, which got me in the mood to read the book in the Bible, and I thought it would be nice to have an accompanying book that discusses Job from beginning to end, and this one by Mike Mason fit the bill, and it didn't disappoint. The commentary can be repetitious, but that may not be out of place in spiritual works, as one is not looking for a page-turner, but for food for the soul, and one may want some of the big, sublime thought to be ingested fully and slowly, and I know this book will be worth rereading when I am in the mood to linger and meditate on Christian thought.
Mason has set this book up as a devotional, and it makes a very good one, but it is so much more. I loved his insights into Job and the gospel and life. I found myself wanting to share certain devotionals (each one is two pages and discusses topically a point made in the Book of Job from start to end) with friends and family. I could not limit myself to one section a day, but would usually read about 3 each day, and sometimes go back and mull over ones that really made me think. I would definitely look for other books written by Mike Mason.
If pain is your game and discouragement is your mantra, you need to read this book. Written by somebody who's been there and as well as an evaluation about THE person who's been there, pain is personified, defined and comfortingly covered. Even if you think you know Job, read this and find out what you don't know about yourself in the midst of your suffering.
I've been reading this book slowly for months now as a devotional (I'm about halfway through it - it's worth a longer more intentional pace). I would highly recommend it, especially for anyone going through a particularly difficult time. It has tremendous insight into the book of Job and makes it relevant for your life today.
In a great time of struggle in my life, I read this book. I was encouraged by nearly every page. The book is broken up into short devotionals--some of them reached out and grabbed me and from the Scripture I was comforted. We may tend to think that reading Job is a 'downer', but no, it is God's Word and it is profitable for us in our time of need.
An open and honest look at Christianity and pain, through the life of Job. It takes some time to read, but in doing so it's easier to take in some of the valuable things that are in this book. Mike Mason doesn't skirt around some of the difficult questions and moments in life. The book doesn't have all the answers, but it isn't afraid to ask the questions. I learned a lot from reading it.
This is a very solid and also very extensive commentary on the book of Job. It goes passage by passage, but the passages are often small (often only a verse or two per chapter) and this is a pretty long book (450 pages). But, if you're looking to invest some time in Job, this is a great book.
This book is so relevant when one is wrestling with why bad things happen to good people. Honest, intense, deep... a good companion book when you are feeling battered by questions without easy answers, or answers at all, sometimes!
This book will make you see the Gospel of Christ in a whole new light. It took me about 2 years to get through, but was an awesome devotional and I learned things about Jesus and Job I probably never would have known.