Have you seen it? The context of the above statement we read today in the Epistle of James is most interesting – and challenging! We can say that we have seen the purpose of the Lord in many things, in particular in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but note the particular context in which James makes this statement..
“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remain steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” [Ch.5 v.10,11]
The Lord does nothing without a purpose, but do we always recognize that purpose? Our reading of Job illustrates God’s purpose with him in developing his character. The prophets all went through a similar development of character, although only in the larger books is this fully apparent. Studies of the lives of Jeremiah and Isaiah are most revealing about this!
Now James was writing when the nation of Israel was soon to be destroyed. In v. 3 today he calls them “the last days” and he has many thoughts very suitable for these last days of the Gentile era. Patience and steadfastness were vital qualities. The Greek words could also be translated as endurance.
It is God’s will and purpose that we go through trial, look at Ch.1 v.2-4. James’ life was a huge learning curve. If we accept that, in all probability his mother was Mary (the mother of Jesus) and that Jesus made a special appearance to him after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15 v.7) we see that James is writing this as he reaches the climax of his life. Historical records indicate fairly clearly that he was martyred in A D 62.
So James marvelled at the purpose of the Lord in his life and he is exhorting others to see the same in their lives – and so remain steadfast under trial: “establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” [v.8] What an appropriate message and example for us as we near the end of 2013 and the events in and, especially around God’s Holy Land show seemingly endless conflict, the latter day “purpose of the Lord” is unfolding – and God’s purpose will become increasingly clear to those who really know his word..