Monthly Archives: October 2013
As you might remember from yesterday, Job was wishing that he could return to when his life was better and easier. Today, in Job 30, we get a little bit more description of his current physical state. In particular, he is talking about how he is treated by other people.
Job 30:10 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.
Job 30:11 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me.
I don’t know if the people were literally running far away from him or spitting in his face, but even if this is simply a metaphor or some other poetic device, it is obvious that he was not a popular guy in the neighborhood.
Why do people all of a sudden feel free to openly hate him in public?
Verse 11 provides the answer. Because God has allowed all of this to happen to him, he feels like other people also feel free to let loose.
I feel like regardless of what Job had hide or had not done, there is something wrong with the activity of these other people.
Particularly, I am worried about the idea that they suddenly feel enabled to harass him. I assume that they felt enabled because they figured that he must have sinned kind of like his other friends had.
In my mind, we have a very important command that runs throughout the entire Bible.
Mar 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Mar 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
As you might remember, Jesus said this in response to a question as to what the most important commandment was. Obviously, loving other people is high on that list.
That is what worries me about the people that Job refers to. Imagine that this entire scenario had been a punishment from God (we know that it was not). It still was not have been right for people to stop loving him.
Jesus did not put any conditions on caring about the people around us.
We definitely do not need to agree with everything they do, and we certainly can help people realize that they are making mistakes. However, we see people in Job who have entirely trampled on him. They have given up caring about and are simply letting loose.
That is what we need to avoid. Caring about people is our job.
Job was able to continue his parable in chapter 29 of the book named after him. At this point, he is wishing that he could go back to the days when God was visibly protecting him.
Job 29:2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
Interestingly, as far as I have noticed, this is the first time that Job actually diagnoses the problem accurately. God did drop most of his protection over Job while allowing Satan to have his way in this situation. There was certainly still some protection over his life, but in this chapter, he is talking about his reputation. It doesn’t feel like he was trying to diagnosis the problem, but that did stand out to me.
He had been highly respected. In fact, here is how he described his own role in the community.
Job 29:14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
Job 29:15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
Job 29:16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
Job 29:17 And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
He had done a lot of good things. He helped out the poor, and he brought justice to those who did wrong. He was truly a leader in the community and a man who tried to do what was right. I think we would all agree that these are good things to be doing.
He wishes that he could go back to all of those activities as I showed above. He wanted to have that feeling that God was close to him again.
Job 29:5 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
I think that we all can relate to this. We have all had times in our lives when it felt like God was really close. Those are great times. You feel confident and ready to do whatever God wants. It is easy to feel it in the good times.
It might be harder to recognize this in the dark times. Job had pretty dark times, and I agree that it can be hard to persevere through difficult times. However, God himself is there even in those times, so we really do not need to despair.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
I don’t really want to be in the valley of the shadow of death, but we don’t need to worry. God is there. God is everywhere.
We all would probably agree with Job and desire those times when God was particularly present and doing great things through us. However, even when we hit the dark times, God doesn’t leave. He is still there.
In Job 28, Job himself is wondering about the idea of wisdom. He basically wants to know what it even is and how to get it. The chapter begins by saying that we know how to find silver or gold, but we really have no idea how to find wisdom in our natural world. Beyond that, he continues and says that even if you can find it, you can’t put a price on it. It is not as if you can exchange it for money.
Ultimately, here is the conclusion that he comes to.
Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
Now we at least have a definition. The fear of the Lord is wisdom. Now, there certainly is some kind of real fear involved in this because God is so much greater than we are, and that is overwhelming and terrifying. However, I think that another aspect of this is that there is a respect and reverence as well.
I think that when we follow God and respect His authority, we will make wise decisions.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
We get wisdom from the understanding that the Scripture is provided by God and deserves the utmost of respect from all of us. The Word of God helps to illuminate the world around us, and it helps us understand why the world is the way it is.
I think that the second half of the verse above is the application that if we understand what the Bible is saying, we will depart from evil. We are actually doing what we are told to do and are following the instruction of God. The wisdom that we have gained is now informing our decisions which causes us to depart from evil.
If we want to have wisdom, we need to fear God. We need to recognize His greatness and give Him all the reverence that He ultimately deserves. By viewing the world in this perspective, we will have the greater picture. We can’t find wisdom anywhere else.
I want to clarify a very important issue that I think could arise in Job 27. I know that I have said this multiple times, but I have a feeling it is the kind of thing that people would like to cherry pick and consequently shout out about discrepancies in the Bible.
Here is the verse.
Job 27:6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
I can already hear the objections. Job is claiming that he is righteous, and we all know that the New Testament says that the only man who was righteous was Jesus. Was Job like Jesus? Isn’t the Bible perfect in everything that it says? Isn’t this a contradiction?
No. Yes. No.
First, it is true that no man is entirely righteous outside of Jesus Christ. That is why we needed Him to be the Perfect Sacrifice.
Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
This is a reference to a passage in Isaiah, and Paul was explaining how we do not receive righteousness simply by following the law and that there is no longer an advantage to being Jewish. Salvation is free for all.
Now, no one is righteous, but Job is saying that he is righteous. What is the deal with that?
We need to think about the context here. During this entire book, Job has been continually attacked by his friends who assumed that he must have committed some major sin. They assumed that because they thought that all of the bad things in his life were obviously punishment from God.
Job is responding to that argument. He is not saying that he was righteous for his entire life, but it seems as if his claim is more that he is innocent of the massive evil that he is being accused of.
As it turns out, he was right. No one is ever saying that he was perfect for his entire life, but the Bible does say that in response to this situation, he was indeed righteous.
Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
As I think you can tell, this is quite simply not a contradiction. He is not arguing that he had never sinned. He is responding to the charge that his sin brought this on, and it is almost like he is announcing his innocence.
From the beginning of the book, we also know that he did not bring this upon himself. We know that it was the result of God allowing Satan to have his way with Job.
I know that I bring this up a lot, but I know that things can be taken out of context. That is why it is so important to view the Bible as more than just one individual verse. I try to do that as much as I can, and I hope that you do as well.
Basically, even though I think that Bildad made some good points in the previous chapter, in Job 26, Job himself criticizes Bildad for essentially stating the obvious.
Job 26:2 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?
Job 26:3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?
Job 26:4 To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?
It kind of seems as if his friends were more interested in winning the debate than in helping out their friend who was suffering.
This is something I think that we need to take seriously when we are dealing with non-Christians. Yes, they certainly might need convincing at times, and we should be willing to talk about these types of spiritual issues, but we need to show people that we care about them.
That is really the key to being a successful missionary I think. We need to let people know that we actually want something better for them. It isn’t that we simply want to convince. We have a message that, if we take Christianity seriously, these other people need to hear. It has eternal significant. Naturally, that is pretty important stuff, and we should care about sharing that.
However, while we certainly care about our message and believe it is incredibly important, that will not necessarily give us the opportunity to share that with other people. People want to hear what we have to say when they know that we actually want what is best for them. At that point, we will have the opportunity to tell them all that we know about why Christianity is so important and why it matters in their lives.
I think that we can sometimes skip over that part. Getting to know people certainly takes work, but we don’t want to get a reaction like the one that Job gave to Bildad. That doesn’t help us or them.
Well, Job 25 is a pretty short chapter, but what is very interesting about it is that Job’s friend Bildad, even in this time that was long before Jesus, recognized that humanity needed someone to take away sin.
Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?
In a way, that is the question that all major world religions ask. How can we be justified before God? Some people would even ask if we need justification in the first place. However, for all of us who say that we need justification, how do we go about doing that?
First of all, it might be useful to define justification so that we are all on the same page. In a very basic form, justification in the theological sense talks about our forgiveness. It talks about how God forgives us, accepts as and ultimately declares us to be just.
Of course, this takes a little bit outside intervention.
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
This is exactly why people are so concerned with faith. We are justified by our faith. What faith is that? We are talking about faith in Jesus Christ as the one that made justification possible.
Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
I hope you see how this all fits together. We need justification. Even though we might say that we don’t, it is not hard to see that there is quite a bit of sin in the world. There is a lot of sin in the world.
However, we don’t have to provide our own justification. In fact, we could not do it. The only way it is possible is through our faith in Jesus. Since we are justified by Him, we will be saved by Him.
This is the good news of the Gospel.
In Job 24, we are still trying to deal with this problem of why wicked people prosper in the world. For example, why did Adolf Hitler have so much success? Why did he have so much power? Wouldn’t you think that once he started having these bad ideas that God would have stopped him from getting into a position where he could have acted on his thoughts?
Here is what Job ultimately concluded about this problem.
Job 24:22 He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.
Job 24:23 Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways.
Job 24:24 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.
Basically, God does not simply ignore the problem. He is watching what they are actually doing. Because we believe that God is just, even if they are successful for a while, there will ultimately be problems for them because of the sins that they have committed.
I have been reading through Mere Christianity lately (I hopefully will finish it today), and CS Lewis likes to emphasize the fact that humans are really eternal beings. We don’t simply stop existing when we die on earth. That is an important fact for this ultimate sense of justice.
If we are eternal beings, and if God is ultimately in control of eternity, then it certainly makes sense that even if we do not believe that there is justice in a certain situation on earth, there is the potential for eternal justice because we know that God is ultimately just.
It can be hard to keep this in perspective simply because we only see what is on earth and we also only have a human perspective. We only see the current circumstances, and it is not hard to come to the conclusion that life on Earth is not always fair. However, don’t forget that as Christians, we do believe in life after death, and as a result, our ultimate concept of the fairness of God should not be based on simply what we see here on earth. We need to think about more than that.
For these wicked people, eternity will probably not work out so great. They will have to face the consequences of their unbelief and all of the evil that they committed. We should not be cheering for this outcome because we all deserve judgment and only through Jesus can we avoid that, but it does reinforce the concept that God is indeed just.
I think that we probably have all said something like Job did in chapter 23. All he really wanted to do was talk to God because that would give him some insight into what was actually happening.
Job 23:3 Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!
Job 23:4 I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
Job 23:5 I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.
Notice that his final request is to have understanding about what God would tell him. He would certainly present his case as to why you shouldn’t need to go through all of this, but in the end, the result that he really wanted was to know what God was doing.
I think that we all have this. We all have this desire to want to know more about what God is doing. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we want God’s will to be done, but we would rather be in on the conversation. We want to know what God is going to do, and, on some level, we want to approve of that plan.
It doesn’t work that way though. We often times need to go through this world on faith. We need to trust that God is who He says He is and that He will also keep His promises. In hindsight, we can look back and understand a little bit more of what we went through since hindsight is always 20-20, but even at that point, we might not totally understand what happened.
There is a reason for that though.
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
While we certainly can have a relationship with God and can endeavor to learn more about Him, we are always going to be limited. It is kind of like how you never entirely know another person. Even when you think you know someone, they might do something that you would never expect. We might not understand it, but that is the way of the other person.
Now, take that up a notch. We have roughly the same size mind as any other person. Nevertheless, we cannot always comprehend each other’s thoughts. How much more difficult is it to understand an infinite mind when we cannot even comprehend infinity?
I appreciate Job, and I totally understand what he was saying. I’m sure that all of us have thought the same thing. However, there is a reason why we have a hard time comprehending God’s plan. Even if Job got his request and was told why things happen, that request for understanding would be a little bit more difficult to handle.
Here we are in Job 22, and Job is under fire again from his friend Eliphaz. Even though in the past Job had admitted that he had sinned and might be being punished for some reason he was not aware of, Eliphaz apparently thought that it was his duty to remind Job of a variety of sins that he had committed.
Job 22:5 Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
Job 22:6 For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
Job 22:7 Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.
Job 22:8 But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.
Job 22:9 Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.
This is a very similar feel to something that Jesus had said a little bit later.
Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
I do not believe in works-based salvation. I just wanted to get that out there. That being said, I do think that if we are truly saved, we will see great works as a result of that commitment rather than as the cause of it. As we mature and develop the fruits of the spirit, these good effects will be the natural outgrowth of our new perspective.
It seems that as Christians, we do have an obligation to help those around us, so if we don’t help people, I guess it could possibly be a sin. I haven’t quite played out the entire set of theological implications from that concept, but it does seem like if we don’t help people we would be breaking a commitment that we had made to follow God.
Again, I do believe that salvation comes through faith. However, as most of these passages indicate, there are certain things that we should be doing as followers of God. We should be caring for those who need assistance, and we should be looking out to help our fellow people. If we don’t do it, we are not following something that Jesus himself said that we ought to do. It is hard to follow Him if you don’t do what He says.
We made it to the halfway point of Job, and in chapter 21, Job makes an important point that his friends have been overlooking.
Job 21:7 Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?
He points out that even though all of his friends are continually saying how bad he must’ve been to bring down this kind of punishment on himself, there are many wicked people who are still doing well in the world. They have positions of power, and their children are fine. Their houses did not get demolished, and they still have their income.
If punishment came because of wickedness, then why were they still doing well?
He keeps going with this idea.
Job 21:14 Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
Job 21:15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
You can see this a lot today. People don’t think that they need God because they are pretty happy with what is going on down here on earth. They have money and a rather comfortable life. It seems that everything is going well, and in their opinions, God will not make anything better. They do not believe that there is any profit there, and as we have talked about before, Christianity does take some sacrifices.
At this point in the chapter, you have to hope that Job will find some kind of resolution. The questions that he is asking are still being asked around the world every day.
This is basically what it comes down to for him. This is his resolution.
Job 21:22 Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.
We might not understand why God operates in a certain way. Job did not understand what was going on throughout this entire book. However, he had a baseline truth that he knew and drew his conclusions from that.
He knew that God was omniscient, and he knew that God was above all of the earth. Even if you don’t understand the circumstances, from those two truths, it is certainly reasonable to conclude that God does have a plan, and He does know what He is doing. If you add the additional truth that God is the actual definition of good (Psalms 100:5), then you know that the plans must be good on some level even though it might not appear that way from Earth.
Job did not deny God through all of this. He used what he did understand to inform what he did not understand and make a little bit of sense of what was going on.