Monthly Archives: October 2013
I have an incredible surprise. Job’s friend Zophar is still convinced that Job must have done something wrong to bring all of this punishment onto himself. Job 20 essentially describes a lot of what we have heard before. He outlines what a wicked man is and very strongly implies that Job is among that company.
Here is the conclusion that he came to at the end of the chapter.
Job 20:27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.
Job 20:28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
Job 20:29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.
I hope that this sounds somewhat familiar to you. Zophar was trying to use the evidence that Job lost everything he possessed to conclude that God must be mad at him because of his wickedness.
On the surface, you would think that this type of attitude would make sense. If we do well, you would think that we would receive blessings. It seems like cause and effect. You do good, and good happens to you.
However, that is an incredibly earthly attitude. First of all, “good” needs to be defined as the will of God. If we do what is in the will of God, then we will be blessed according to the will of God. It may not be materially as we are never promised that in the Bible, but we are told that if we do follow God, we will be rewarded eternally.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Eternal life is an incredible reward. Following God provides that. Material condition on earth is in no way indicative of our sins. It is not as if poor people have been extra bad and rich people have been especially good. We all have an obligation to follow God wherever He leads us regardless of circumstances. Zophar did not understand that, but I hope that we all do.
In Job 19, as we have come to expect, Job is not thrilled with his friends. Last chapter, he was basically called a wicked man, and his friends were acting as if they understood everything about his current situation.
Here’s one particular verse out of his response that I think it Christians we really need to make sure that we take to heart.
Job 19:22 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
In the greater context, he has been saying how God has given him all of this punishment, so when we come to this verse, he is asking why they need to basically continue passing judgment on him. God had seen fit to allow this to happen to him, so he didn’t want the additional and really kind of useless criticism of his friends piled on top.
I know that we’ve all been in situations like this. For example, we have all done something wrong. When we do that and have been punished in some way, we don’t want people to keep reminding us of it.
We need to remember all of that. Whether we are dealing with Christians or non-Christians, we need to remember that condemnation is not ours to pile on to other people. We certainly can show people where they have gone wrong and help them find the right direction, but that needs to be tempered with forgiveness.
It does not do anyone any good to simply dwell on failures of the past. We need to help people get beyond that. After all, if we are talking that a certain sin in the past, wouldn’t it be better to address the problem initially, but then build off that towards a better future?
Again, I know that I have mentioned this several times but I will one more time, everyone in this chapter misunderstands. No one realizes the reason that God has allowed this to happen, so even Job himself is making the assumption that he must have sinned in this particular situation. We know that he had sinned in his life because he was human, but we are told that he did not sin in this situation.
As a result, Job did not understand that God was not really persecuting him but rather was allowing Satan to have his way with Job. However, I think that this verse does have application for all of us, and that is why I pointed it out today.
If God has corrected someone and allowed some challenging circumstance into his or her life, I think that we don’t need to be God and cast our own judgment as a constant reminder.
We need to help the person build on that experience to avoid that same mistake next time. It doesn’t excuse the sin, but it makes positive movement.
Job 18 talks a lot about what is wrong with being a wicked man. Job’s friend Bildad is obviously doing this because he believes that Job is exactly the kind of man is describing. However, in my opinion, this is a pretty good description for any of us if we are apart from God.
Job 18:5 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.
Job 18:6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.
Job 18:7 The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.
I obviously picked this set of verses because as Christians, we are called to be the light of the world. However, if we are not living the way we should, our light will not be shining.
Again, I think this is a pretty convincing evidence that we do have a sin nature. I know that philosophers like John Locke have argued that we are born as a clean slate, tabula rasa. Generally, as far as I understand it, they are talking about knowledge and the fact that we are not born with natural knowledge. They would argue that nurture is a lot more important than nature. However, if anybody ever tries to extend that philosophy to being born without sin, we need to make sure we know what the Bible says.
All humanity has inherited a sin nature.
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Therefore, we are all the wicked people without a light that Bildad describes apart from Jesus Christ. When we begin to follow Him, we come through a kind of transformation.
Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
When Jesus comes in, we receive light that we can then show to the world. For a really overused cliché, we basically do catch on fire for God.
That is the application for today. We need to make sure that we have that light in our lives. Job probably did not appreciate the words of his friend in this particular context, and I do not think that I would either. However, they do provide a nice image of how not to be. While it may not be optimistic, self-examination never hurts.
Job was a good man who wanted to follow God. In Job 17, we see him basically telling his friends to go away and ends the chapter with this image.
Job 17:11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.
Job 17:12 They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.
Job 17:13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
Job 17:14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.
Job 17:15 And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?
Job 17:16 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.
Keep in mind that all of the things referring to “they” throughout this passage are back in verse 11. We are talking about his purposes and the thoughts of his heart. In other words, we are talking about any plan that he had on earth.
Quite frankly, that stuff dies with you. They always say that you can’t take it with you when referring to possessions, and I would argue that you can’t do it after you are dead. Once you have left the earth, you don’t have the opportunity to follow through on some of those plans you have made. You do not have your hope based on things of earth.
Job’s friends have been very concerned about his material life. For example, back in chapter 15 we heard a lot about why he would never prosper because of his alleged wickedness. However, in this chapter Job is pretty much saying that all of that stuff is only temporal.
Anything physical is going to end up in the dust. Anything that we plan for on earth will only survive on earth.
The obvious implication of this is that we need to look into the things that will survive forever. We need to worry about our spiritual lives. As Christians, our relationship with God will not go away, but it will actually be enhanced when we get to heaven because it will be eternal. That is important.
What happens on earth is certainly important. We are supposed to be busy being the light of the world. We are supposed to be spreading the gospel around the world. Those things are all important. However, always remember that the most important thing is that relationship with God in the first place. It has eternal implications.
I love the second verse of Job 16. It is so blunt and honest that it made me smile a little bit.
Job 16:2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.
So much for comfort! Job is pretty much saying that they failed miserably at their job. If they came to comfort him, they had no idea what comforting was.
Here is how Job said he would have acted if the tables had been turned.
Job 16:4 I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.
Job 16:5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.
He could do everything that they did, but he said that he would try to strengthen them rather than try to find faults and pick them apart.
This is much more of a Christlike model that would be good for us to follow as well.
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
We want to encourage each other, and we want to love each other. Imagine how much easier this would have been for Job if his friends had come alongside him and reminded him that God still had a plan, and God was still in control even though we might not understand.
Imagine if he had heard that rather than constant attacks on his character and assumptions that he must have done something really bad to deserve all of this punishment.
First, he would have heard the truth. God was still there, and God was still in control. Second, he would not have heard falsities. As we know from the beginning of this book, these trials were not a consequence of any particular problem, but they were the result of God allowing Satan to get at Job. He would not have heard all these false statements from his friends if they had taken the approach from Hebrews.
There is a time where we do need to set people on the right path. There is a time when we need to tell them that they are doing something wrong. However, even at these times, we need to act with a spirit of encouragement. We can tell people what they are doing is wrong, but we can do it in such a way that we promote a better way.
In Job 15, it sounds like we are beginning round two. We are back to a response from Eliphaz the Temanite, and it seems as if his criticism had gotten even harsher.
Job 15:7 Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?
Job 15:8 Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?
Job 15:9 What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?
As we have been hearing Job talk for the past few chapters, he has made some claims that were different from his companions. However, I don’t believe that he ever claimed to have some type of extra knowledge. He never appeared to claim that he had some type of secret channel to God.
We find out a little bit more about what Eliphaz was upset about.
Job 15:13 That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?
Job 15:14 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
We now find what was probably the most controversial thing that Job said. He argued that he did not know what he did wrong. It makes sense that that would irritate Eliphaz since he was the first one to say that God brings trials on people who had done evil things.
However, it is obvious that he did not listen to everything that Job said. Job still maintained that he did not know what he did wrong, but he said that he must have done something wrong that God was not willing to forgive. Perhaps he did do something that was so evil that he brought this on himself.
Job 10:14 If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.
I still think that this entire book is built around misunderstanding. His friends made assumptions that were not accurate. They were misrepresenting what was going on. Now we see that growing. They were becoming more and more angry about a situation that didn’t really know anything about. Their charges then grew stronger and stronger.
Again, even though this seems to be my application for most of these chapters, I have to think that we need to understand situations before we go charging into them and bring heavy criticism. Sometimes that is necessary, but it should be done after we have an understanding of the situation rather than before.
Job 14 made me think of the generally-assumed concept of sin nature. Basically, this doctrine teaches that we are all born with sin and are separated from God as a result of that sin. The only way for us to bridge that gap is to accept salvation and forgiveness which is the direct consequence of Jesus sacrificing Himself as a propitiation for all sins.
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
I bring this up because it makes me think about how amazing salvation really is. If we all born into this circumstance where we ultimately cannot help ourselves as Job points out, then we are talking about billions of people who have the opportunity to receive this gift. Obviously, not everyone makes that decision, but it is not as if there was some kind of limit to the amount of people that could be forgiven through this act.
If everyone was to all of a sudden come to God today, then Jesus’ sacrifice would be enough. That is one thing that is so remarkable. In my mind, I tend to think of things that have definition. They have some kind of limit, and there is always some kind of boundary.
There are no restrictions on the number of people who can fit in heaven. I think that that should put us in a rather mission-oriented mindset.
If we know what I pointed out earlier that no human is capable of making the unclean clean, then wouldn’t it make sense that we want to tell people about where they can find that forgiveness? Shouldn’t we want people to know what we know?
I think that the answer is self-evident. If we face the fact that all of us need forgiveness, we need to also be committed to helping people find their way towards its source. It won’t come from humanity.
In Job 13, I like the way that Job was ready and able to see beyond his current circumstances. Obviously, he was not thrilled with everything that was going on, but he still recognized God’s authority.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Job 13:16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
Basically, he is arguing that even if God was to kill him, he would still trust in Him. He would still live his life as a follower of God, and he would still believe that God would be his salvation.
It is amazing that he was willing to put God over his entire life. I mean life as opposed to death in this context. We always say that we are willing to give up whatever it takes to follow God, but Job is essentially saying that he would follow until death. We all should be that way, but we also need to realize that that is a major commitment.
This is a guy who has lost everything and is an immense physical pain thanks to all of the torment that Satan was putting him through. His faith must have been incredibly strong. These circumstances would rattle many people, and I do think that Job was rattled on some level. It was not that he ever doubted that God existed, but he had no idea why God did what He did.
Nevertheless, Job was willing to persevere and after all of this say that he would continue following God no matter what.
I hope that we can take a lesson from this. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, it is important to make sure that we have that strong base of faith. We might wonder, and we might question, but, as Christians, we need to make sure that our faith is grounded. We need to be grounded in the truth of God rather than in how happy we feel about our current situations.
It is pretty evident in Job 12 that he is pretty much sick of being ridiculed by all of his friends.
Job 12:4 I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.
This verse tells us something important about the nature of prayer that I sometimes think the unbelieving have a very hard time comprehending. Sometimes God does answer with silence.
Job has been trying to live his life the right way, and he has no idea what exactly is going wrong. He doesn’t know why God is allowing all of this to happen to him, and we have not heard God talk to him directly. So far, this book has been a conversation between Job and his friends except for the part in heaven where God and Satan are interacting.
However, it is interesting that Job feels as if he has been answered. There is some reason that he believes that the lack of an answer is an answer in and of itself.
Why does God answer in silence? What could that possibly mean?
I honestly cannot say without a shadow of a doubt because I am not God, but I can give you a few reasons why I might answer in silence if you asked me a question. I am not at all trying to equate myself with God, but here are a few possible reasons I have thought of that apply to me, and I guess possibly could extend to God.
First, it might be possible that it is not time for you to know something. For a kind of laughable example, if you asked me what I bought you for Christmas, I will choose not to answer that question. It is not the right time for you to know what I bought you. Similarly, I could ask God what is going to happen in the future, but there might be a reason I should not know about it.
Second, it might be possible that I want to build your trust. If I tell you to follow me and don’t explain why, I am hoping that your trust in my leadership will be enough for you to want to come with me. Perhaps God is the same way. If it is unknown, we simply need to follow him because we had no idea where we are going on our own. That develops our relationship.
Finally, it might be possible that we may have received an answer that we did not understand. This makes me think about when we simplify stories for young children. They might not have the intellectual capacity to understand a complex story, and if we gave them that story, they would have received an answer but would not understand that as an acceptable response. God works in ways that are above our ways. It is impossible for our finite minds and sense of reality to comprehend the workings of an infinite God. Perhaps we could receive an answer but perceive it as silence because it went right over our heads.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list. However, if you feel that you are not receiving an answer from God, I would encourage you to think about Job and these three examples. A non-answer definitely does not automatically imply that God does not exist.
In Job chapter 11, we meet a third friend named Zophar the Naamathite. Let me give you the first words that he spoke, and then we will talk a little bit about them.
Job 11:2 Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?
Job 11:3 Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?
He is basically calling Job a fraud and a liar. You talk about all this stuff, but you can’t justify it. You tell blatant lies, but no one calls you on it.
We need to look at what Job has just said. What would have made his friend bring such a strong charge against him?
If you recall, in chapter 10, Job was basically expressing his confusion over everything that was going on. He wanted God to tell him what he was doing wrong. He thought that he was doing the right thing, but he tells God that if something was wrong to please forgive him. If God would not forgive him, he said that he would rather be dead.
It seems as if Zophar is particularly attacking him for saying that he was without blame.
Job 11:4 For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’
Job 11:5 But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you,
Job 11:6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.
I don’t know how many times I have said this about this book, but we are told that Job did not sin in response to this particular situation. The questioning and the pleading with God were apparently not sins because of what we find in Job 1:22.
However, I don’t think that he ever claimed to be perfect for his entire life. Remember, in all the places in this book where perfect is used as an adjective to describe him, the word does not imply absolute perfection. According to my Strong’s Numbers, most commonly this word implies someone who is morally pious. Job was certainly that. He did all of the sacrifices so that he would be forgiven. In the Old Testament system, his sins should have been covered over. It wasn’t the entire work of Jesus, but that was why the sacrificial system was in place until Jesus did His part.
He just wanted to know what he had done that was so bad to deserve all of this. It is not a sin to question God. Regardless, he did not think that he had sinned, but he even acknowledged that it was possible.
Job 10:14 If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.
The most important thing that I have found running through the book of Job is that we need to be careful what we say to other people. All of Job’s friends assumed that he must have done something terrible to get all of this punishment. They did not understand what we now know by reading the first few chapters of this book. Job himself did not understand either.
At this point, Job is being personally attacked as a liar simply because his friends did not understand. They were misrepresenting everything that he was saying. We don’t want to falsely attack. It hurts our Christian testimony, and it unnecessarily harms other people.