Friday, October 30, 2009

Job 32


1 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.

6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
"I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.

7 I thought, 'Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.'

8 But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

9 It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.

10 "Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.

11 I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,

12 I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.

13 Do not say, 'We have found wisdom;
let God refute him, not man.'

14 But Job has not marshaled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.

15 "They are dismayed and have no more to say;
words have failed them.

16 Must I wait, now that they are silent,
now that they stand there with no reply?

17 I too will have my say;
I too will tell what I know.

18 For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;

19 inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.

20 I must speak and find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.

21 I will show partiality to no one,
nor will I flatter any man;

22 for if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon take me away.

Side Notes:

vs. 1 If Job was really a good man, his three friends would have to drop their theory that suffering is always God's punishment for evil actions. Instead of considering another viewpoint, however, they cut off the discussion. They were convinced that Job had some hidden fault or sin, so there was no point in talking if Job would not confess it. But Job knew he had lived uprightly before God and others (chapter 29) and had avoided wrong thoughts and actions (chapter 31). He wasn't about to invent a sin to satisfy his friends!

vs. 2ff When Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had nothing more to say, Elihu became the fourth person to speak to Job. This was the first and only time he spoke. Apparently he was a bystander and much younger than the others (vs. 6-7), but he introduced a new viewpoint. While Job's three friends said he was suffering from some past sins, Elihu said Job's suffering would not go away until he realized his present sin. He maintained that Job wasn't suffering because of sin, he was sinning because of suffering. Elihu pointed out that Job's attitude had become arrogant as he tried to defend his innocence. Elihu also said that suffering is not meant to punish us as much as it is meant to correct and restore us, to keep us on the right path.

There is much truth in Elihu's speech. He was urging Job to look at his suffering from a different perspective and with a greater purpose in mind. While his speech is on a higher spiritual plateau than the others, Elihu still wrongly assumed that a correct response to suffering always brings healing and restoration (33:23-30) and that suffering is always in some way connected to sin (34:11).

vs. 7-9 "The breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding." It is not enough to recognize a great truth; it must be lived out each day. Elihu recognized the truth that God was the only source of real wisdom, but he did not use God's wisdom to help Job. While he recognized where wisdom came from, he did not seek to acquire it. Becoming wise is an ongoing, lifelong pursuit. Don't be content just to know about wisdom; make it part of your life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Job 31

1 "I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a girl.

2 For what is man's lot from God above,
his heritage from the Almighty on high?

3 Is it not ruin for the wicked,
disaster for those who do wrong?

4 Does he not see my ways
and count my every step?

5 "If I have walked in falsehood
or my foot has hurried after deceit-

6 let God weigh me in honest scales
and he will know that I am blameless-

7 if my steps have turned from the path,
if my heart has been led by my eyes,
or if my hands have been defiled,

8 then may others eat what I have sown,
and may my crops be uprooted.

9 "If my heart has been enticed by a woman,
or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door,

10 then may my wife grind another man's grain,
and may other men sleep with her.

11 For that would have been shameful,
a sin to be judged.

12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction;
it would have uprooted my harvest.

13 "If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants
when they had a grievance against me,

14 what will I do when God confronts me?
What will I answer when called to account?

15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them?
Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

16 "If I have denied the desires of the poor
or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,

17 if I have kept my bread to myself,
not sharing it with the fatherless-

18 but from my youth I reared him as would a father,
and from my birth I guided the widow-

19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing,
or a needy man without a garment,

20 and his heart did not bless me
for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,

21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
knowing that I had influence in court,

22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder,
let it be broken off at the joint.

23 For I dreaded destruction from God,
and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

24 "If I have put my trust in gold
or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,'

25 if I have rejoiced over my great wealth,
the fortune my hands had gained,

26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance
or the moon moving in splendor,

27 so that my heart was secretly enticed
and my hand offered them a kiss of homage,

28 then these also would be sins to be judged,
for I would have been unfaithful to God on

29 "If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune
or gloated over the trouble that came to him-

30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin
by invoking a curse against his life-

31 if the men of my household have never said,
'Who has not had his fill of Job's meat?'-

32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street,
for my door was always open to the traveler-

33 if I have concealed my sin as men do,
by hiding my guilt in my heart

34 because I so feared the crowd
and so dreaded the contempt of the clans
that I kept silent and would not go outside

35 ("Oh, that I had someone to hear me!
I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me;
let my accuser put his indictment in writing.

36 Surely I would wear it on my shoulder,
I would put it on like a crown.

37 I would give him an account of my every step;
like a prince I would approach him.)-

38 "if my land cries out against me
and all its furrows are wet with tears,

39 if I have devoured its yield without payment
or broken the spirit of its tenants,

40 then let briers come up instead of wheat
and weeds instead of barley."

The words of Job are ended.

Side Notes:

vs. 1-4 Job had not only avoided committing the great sin of adultery; he had not even taken the first step toward that sin by looking at a woman with lust. Job said he was innocent of both outward and inward sins. In chapter 29, Job reviewed his good deeds. Here in chapter 31 he listed sins he had not committed - in his heart (1-12), against his neighbors (13-23), or against God (24-34).

vs 24-28 Job affirmed that depending on wealth for happiness is idolatry and denies the God of heaven. We excuse our society's obsession with money and possessions as a necessary evil or "the way it works" in the modern world. But every society in every age has valued the power and prestige that money brings. True believers must purge themselves of the deep-seated desire for more power, prestige, and possessions. They must also not withhold their resources from neighbors near and far who have separate physical needs.

vs 33-34 Job declared that he did not try to hid his sin as men often do. The fear that our sins will be discovered leads us to patterns of deception. We cover up with lies so that we will appear good to others. But we cannot hid from God. Do you try to keep people from seeing the real you? When you acknowledge your sins, you free yourself to receive forgiveness and a new life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Job 30

1 "But now they mock me,
men younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to put with my sheep dogs.

2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,
since their vigor had gone from them?

3 Haggard from want and hunger,
they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night.

4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom tree.

5 They were banished from their fellow men,
shouted at as if they were thieves.

6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,
among the rocks and in holes in the ground.

7 They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the undergrowth.

8 A base and nameless brood,
they were driven out of the land.

9 "And now their sons mock me in song;
I have become a byword among them.

10 They detest me and keep their distance;
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.

11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
they throw off restraint in my presence.

12 On my right the tribe attacks;
they lay snares for my feet,
they build their siege ramps against me.

13 They break up my road;
they succeed in destroying me—
without anyone's helping them.

14 They advance as through a gaping breach;
amid the ruins they come rolling in.

15 Terrors overwhelm me;
my dignity is driven away as by the wind,
my safety vanishes like a cloud.

16 "And now my life ebbs away;
days of suffering grip me.

17 Night pierces my bones;
my gnawing pains never rest.

18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;
he binds me like the neck of my garment.

19 He throws me into the mud,
and I am reduced to dust and ashes.

20 "I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.

21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.

22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.

23 I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.

24 "Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
when he cries for help in his distress.

25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?

26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.

27 The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.

28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.

29 I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.

30 My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.

31 My harp is tuned to mourning,
and my flute to the sound of wailing.

Side Notes:

To suffer extreme loss, as Job did, was humiliating. But to face abuse at the hands of young upstarts added insult to injury. Job had lost his family, possessions, health, position, and good name. He was not even respected for suffering bravely. Unfortunately, young people sometimes mock and take advantage of older people and those who are limited in some way. Instead, they should realize that their own physical abilities and attributes are short-lived and that God loves all people equally.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Job 29

1 Job continued his discourse:

2 "How I long for the months gone by,
for the days when God watched over me,

3 when his lamp shone upon my head
and by his light I walked through darkness!

4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,
when God's intimate friendship blessed my house,

5 when the Almighty was still with me
and my children were around me,

6 when my path was drenched with cream
and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.

7 "When I went to the gate of the city
and took my seat in the public square,

8 the young men saw me and stepped aside
and the old men rose to their feet;

9 the chief men refrained from speaking
and covered their mouths with their hands;

10 the voices of the nobles were hushed,
and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.

11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,

12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist him.

13 The man who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow's heart sing.

14 I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.

15 I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.

16 I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.

17 I broke the fangs of the wicked
and snatched the victims from their teeth.

18 "I thought, 'I will die in my own house,
my days as numerous as the grains of sand.

19 My roots will reach to the water,
and the dew will lie all night on my branches.

20 My glory will remain fresh in me,
the bow ever new in my hand.'

21 "Men listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.

22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.

23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.

24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.

25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.

Side Notes:

vs. 6 Cream and olive oil were symbols of material prosperity in an agricultural society. Job's flocks and olive trees were so plentiful that everything seemed to overflow.

vs. 7ff In order to answer the charges against him, Job was walking a fine line between bragging about past accomplishments and recalling good deeds. Job's one weakness throughout his conversations is that he came dangerously close to pride. Pride is especially deceptive when we are doing right. But it separates us from God by making us think we're better than we really are. Then comes the tendency to trust our own opinions, which leads to other kinds of sin. While it is not wrong to recount past deeds, it is far better to recount God's blessings to us. This will help keep us from inadvertently falling into pride.

vs. 7-17 Because of this description of Job's work, many commentators believe that Job was a judge. In Job's day, a judge served as both a city councilman and a magistrate, helping to manage the community and settle disputes. In most cases, this was not a full-time position but a part-time post held on the basis of one's respect and standing in the area.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Job 28

1 "There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.

2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.

3 Man puts an end to the darkness;
he searches the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.

4 Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft,
in places forgotten by the foot of man;
far from men he dangles and sways.

5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;

6 sapphires come from its rocks,
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.

7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon's eye has seen it.

8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.

9 Man's hand assaults the flinty rock
and lays bare the roots of the mountains.

10 He tunnels through the rock;
his eyes see all its treasures.

11 He searches the sources of the rivers
and brings hidden things to light.

12 "But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?

13 Man does not comprehend its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.

14 The deep says, 'It is not in me';
the sea says, 'It is not with me.'

15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed in silver.

16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
with precious onyx or sapphires.

17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
nor can it be had for jewels of gold.

18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.

19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
it cannot be bought with pure gold.

20 "Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?

21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds of the air.

22 Destruction and Death say,
'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'

23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,

24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.

25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,

26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,

27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.

28 And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.' "

Side Notes:

vs.13 Job stated that wisdom cannot be found among the living. It is natural for people who do not understand the importance of God's Word to seek wisdom here on earth. They look to philosophers and other leaders to give them direction for living. Yet Job said that wisdom is not found there. No leader or group of leaders can produce enough knowledge or insight to explain the totality of human experience. The ultimate interpretation of life, of who we are and where we are going, must come from outside and above our mortal life. When looking for guidance, see God's wisdom as revealed in the Bible. To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life, we must know and trust the Lord of life.

vs. 16 Gold of Ophir was considered the finest gold available. Ophir may have been located in Africa, along the Arabian coast, of India. Wherever it was, it was a good distance from Israel, for it took Solomon's ships three years to make the voyage (1 Kings 9:28; 10:22).

vs. 28 "The fear of the Lord" is a key theme in the wisdom literature of the Bible (Job through Song of Songs). It means to have respect and reverence for God and to be in awe of his majesty and power. This is the staring point to finding real wisdom (see Provers 1:7-9).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Job 27

1 And Job continued his discourse:

2 "As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice,
the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul,

3 as long as I have life within me,
the breath of God in my nostrils,

4 my lips will not speak wickedness,
and my tongue will utter no deceit.

5 I will never admit you are in the right;
till I die, I will not deny my integrity.

6 I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it;
my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.

7 "May my enemies be like the wicked,
my adversaries like the unjust!

8 For what hope has the godless when he is cut off,
when God takes away his life?

9 Does God listen to his cry
when distress comes upon him?

10 Will he find delight in the Almighty?
Will he call upon God at all times?

11 "I will teach you about the power of God;
the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal.

12 You have all seen this yourselves.
Why then this meaningless talk?

13 "Here is the fate God allots to the wicked,
the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty:

14 However many his children, their fate is the sword;
his offspring will never have enough to eat.

15 The plague will bury those who survive him,
and their widows will not weep for them.

16 Though he heaps up silver like dust
and clothes like piles of clay,

17 what he lays up the righteous will wear,
and the innocent will divide his silver.

18 The house he builds is like a moth's cocoon,
like a hut made by a watchman.

19 He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more;
when he opens his eyes, all is gone.

20 Terrors overtake him like a flood;
a tempest snatches him away in the night.

21 The east wind carries him off, and he is gone;
it sweeps him out of his place.

22 It hurls itself against him without mercy
as he flees headlong from its power.

23 It claps its hands in derision
and hisses him out of his place.

Side Notes:

vs. 6 In the midst of all the accusations, Job was able to declare that his conscience was clear. Only God's forgiveness and the determination to live rightly before God can bring a clear conscience. How important Job's record became as he was being accused. Like Job, we can't claim sinless lives, but we can claim forgiven lives. When we confess our sins to God, he forgives us. Then we can live with clear consciences (1 John 1:9).

vs. 13-23 Job agreed with his friends that the end of the wicked will be disaster, but he did not agree that he was wicked and deserving of punishment. Most of the punishments Job listed never happened to him. So he wasn't including himself as one of the wicked. On the contrary, he continually pleaded for God to vindicate him.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Job 26


1 Then Job replied:

2 "How you have helped the powerless!
How you have saved the arm that is feeble!

3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom!
And what great insight you have displayed!

4 Who has helped you utter these words?
And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?

5 "The dead are in deep anguish,
those beneath the waters and all that live in them.

6 Death is naked before God;
Destruction lies uncovered.

7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth over nothing.

8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

9 He covers the face of the full moon,
spreading his clouds over it.

10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
for a boundary between light and darkness.

11 The pillars of the heavens quake,
aghast at his rebuke.

12 By his power he churned up the sea;
by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.

13 By his breath the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the gliding serpent.

14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?"

Side Notes:

Job has the distinction of giving the longest speech in the book -six chapters- weaving together pictures of God's mystery and power in a beautiful poem of trust. Beginning by brushing off Bildad's latest reply as irrelevant (ch. 25), Job then told Bildad and his friends that they could not possibly know everything about God. Wisdom does not originate from this life or from the human mind - it comes from God (28:27-28). Job then defended his upright and honest life. He had effectively sought to follow God's way of living. While admitting that he was not perfect, Job maintained that his motives were right.

vs. 2-4 With Great sarcasm, Job attacked Bildad's comments. Their theological explanations failed to bring any relief because they were unable to turn their knowledge into helpful counsel. When dealing with people, it is more important to love and understand them than to analyze them or give advice. Compassion produces greater results than criticism or blame.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Job 25


1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

2 "Dominion and awe belong to God;
he establishes order in the heights of heaven.

3 Can his forces be numbered?
Upon whom does his light not rise?

4 How then can a man be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?

5 If even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not pure in his eyes,

6 how much less man, who is but a maggot—
a son of man, who is only a worm!"

Side Notes:

Bildad's final reply was weak. It ignored Job's examples of the prosperity of the wicked. Instead of attempting to refute Job, Bildad accused Job of pride because he was claiming that his suffering was not the result of sin. Job never claimed to be without sin, but only that his sin could not have caused his present trouble.

vs. 6 It is important to understand that Bildad, not God, was calling man a worm. Human beings are created in God's image (Gen. 1:26, 27). Psalm 8:5 says that man is "a little lower than the heavenly beings." Bildad may have simply been using a poetic description to contrast our worth to the worth and power of God. To come to God, we need not crawl like worms. We can approach him boldly in faith (Hebrews 4:16).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Job 24

1 "Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?
Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

2 Men move boundary stones;
they pasture flocks they have stolen.

3 They drive away the orphan's donkey
and take the widow's ox in pledge.

4 They thrust the needy from the path
and force all the poor of the land into hiding.

5 Like wild donkeys in the desert,
the poor go about their labor of foraging food;
the wasteland provides food for their children.

6 They gather fodder in the fields
and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.

7 Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked;
they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.

8 They are drenched by mountain rains
and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.

9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;
the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.

10 Lacking clothes, they go about naked;
they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.

11 They crush olives among the terraces;
they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.

12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,
and the souls of the wounded cry out for help.
But God charges no one with wrongdoing.

13 "There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways
or stay in its paths.

14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up
and kills the poor and needy;
in the night he steals forth like a thief.

15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
he thinks, 'No eye will see me,'
and he keeps his face concealed.

16 In the dark, men break into houses,
but by day they shut themselves in;
they want nothing to do with the light.

17 For all of them, deep darkness is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

18 "Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;
their portion of the land is cursed,
so that no one goes to the vineyards.

19 As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow,
so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.

20 The womb forgets them,
the worm feasts on them;
evil men are no longer remembered
but are broken like a tree.

21 They prey on the barren and childless woman,
and to the widow show no kindness.

22 But God drags away the mighty by his power;
though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

23 He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.

24 For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.

25 "If this is not so, who can prove me false
and reduce my words to nothing?"

Side Notes:

Vs 18-21 Job suddenly seemed to be arguing on his friends side. For this reason, some commentators think one of Job’s friends said these words. But we shouldn’t expect Job to present a unified argument. He was confused. He was not arguing that, in every case, God rewards the wicked and punishes the righteous; he was simply asserting that in his case, a righteous man was suffering.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Job 23


1 Then Job replied:

2 "Even today my complaint is bitter;
his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.

3 If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!

4 I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.

5 I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say.

6 Would he oppose me with great power?
No, he would not press charges against me.

7 There an upright man could present his case before him,
and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

8 "But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.

9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.

12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

13 "But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?
He does whatever he pleases.

14 He carries out his decree against me,
and many such plans he still has in store.

15 That is why I am terrified before him;
when I think of all this, I fear him.

16 God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me.

17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,
by the thick darkness that covers my face.

Side Notes:

Vs. 23:1 – 24:25 Job continued his questioning, saying that his suffering would be more bearable if only he knew why it was happening. If there was sin for which he could repent, he would! He knew about the wicked and the fact that they would be punished; he knew God could vindicate him if he so chose. In all his examples of the wicked in the world, his overriding desire was for God to clear his name, prove his righteousness, and explain why he was chosen to receive all this calamity. Job tried to make his friends see that questions about God, life, and justice are not as simple as they assumed.

Vs. 10 In chapter 22, Eliphaz had tried to condemn Job by identifying some secret sin which he may have committed. Here Job declares his confidence in his integrity and God’s justice. We are always likely to have hidden sin in our lives, sin we don’t even know about because God’s standards are so high and our performance is so imperfect. If we are true believers, however, all our sins are forgiven because of what Christ did on the cross in our behalf (Romans 5:1; 8:1). The Bible also teaches that even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). His forgiveness and cleansing are sufficient; they overrule our nagging doubts. The Holy Spirit in us is our proof that we are forgiven in God’s eyes even though we may feel guilty. If we, like Job, are truly seeking God, we can stand up to others’ accusations as well as our own nagging doubts. If God has forgiven and accepted us, we are forgiven indeed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Job 22


1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 "Can a man be of benefit to God?
Can even a wise man benefit him?

3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?
What would he gain if your ways were blameless?

4 "Is it for your piety that he rebukes you
and brings charges against you?

5 Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?

6 You demanded security from your brothers for no reason;
you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.

7 You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,

8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.

9 And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.

10 That is why snares are all around you,
why sudden peril terrifies you,

11 why it is so dark you cannot see,
and why a flood of water covers you.

12 "Is not God in the heights of heaven?
And see how lofty are the highest stars!

13 Yet you say, 'What does God know?
Does he judge through such darkness?

14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.'

15 Will you keep to the old path
that evil men have trod?

16 They were carried off before their time,
their foundations washed away by a flood.

17 They said to God, 'Leave us alone!
What can the Almighty do to us?'

18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

19 "The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;
the innocent mock them, saying,

20 'Surely our foes are destroyed,
and fire devours their wealth.'

21 "Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.

22 Accept instruction from his mouth
and lay up his words in your heart.

23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent

24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,

25 then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.

26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.

27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.

28 What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.

29 When men are brought low and you say, 'Lift them up!'
then he will save the downcast.

30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands."

Side Notes:

Here we have Eliphaz’s third and final speech to Job. When he first spoke to Job (chapters 4 & 5), he commended Job for his good deeds and only suggested that there may be some sin Job needed to repent. While nothing new was said in this speech, he did get a little more specific. He could not shake his belief that suffering is God’s way to punish evil deeds, so he suggested several possible sins that Job might have committed. Eliphaz wasn’t trying to destroy Job; at the end of his speech he promised that Job would receive peace and restoration if he would only admit his sins and repent.

Vs 12-14 Eliphaz declared that Job’s view of God was too small, and he criticized Job for thinking that God was too far removed from earth to care about him. If Job knew of God’s intense, personal interest in him, Eliphaz said, he wouldn’t dare take his sins to lightly. Eliphaz had a point – some people do take sin lightly because they think God is far away and doesn’t notice all we do. But his point did not apply to Job.

Vs. 21-30 Several times Job’s friends showed a partial knowledge of God’s truth and character, but they had trouble accurately applying this truth to life. Such was the case with Eliphaz, who gave a beautiful summary of repentance. He was correct in saying that we must ask for God’s forgiveness when we sin, but his statement did not apply to Job, who had already sought God’s forgiveness (7:20, 21; 9:20; 12:23) and had lived closely in touch with God all along.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Job 21


1 Then Job replied:

2 "Listen carefully to my words;
let this be the consolation you give me.

3 Bear with me while I speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.

4 "Is my complaint directed to man?
Why should I not be impatient?

5 Look at me and be astonished;
clap your hand over your mouth.

6 When I think about this, I am terrified;
trembling seizes my body.

7 Why do the wicked live on,
growing old and increasing in power?

8 They see their children established around them,
their offspring before their eyes.

9 Their homes are safe and free from fear;
the rod of God is not upon them.

10 Their bulls never fail to breed;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.

11 They send forth their children as a flock;
their little ones dance about.

12 They sing to the music of tambourine and harp;
they make merry to the sound of the flute.

13 They spend their years in prosperity
and go down to the grave in peace.

14 Yet they say to God, 'Leave us alone!
We have no desire to know your ways.

15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
What would we gain by praying to him?'

16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands,
so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

17 "Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?
How often does calamity come upon them,
the fate God allots in his anger?

18 How often are they like straw before the wind,
like chaff swept away by a gale?

19 It is said, 'God stores up a man's punishment for his sons.'
Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it!

20 Let his own eyes see his destruction;
let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what does he care about the family he leaves behind
when his allotted months come to an end?

22 "Can anyone teach knowledge to God,
since he judges even the highest?

23 One man dies in full vigor,
completely secure and at ease,

24 his body well nourished,
his bones rich with marrow.

25 Another man dies in bitterness of soul,
never having enjoyed anything good.

26 Side by side they lie in the dust,
and worms cover them both.

27 "I know full well what you are thinking,
the schemes by which you would wrong me.

28 You say, 'Where now is the great man's house,
the tents where wicked men lived?'

29 Have you never questioned those who travel?
Have you paid no regard to their accounts-

30 that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity,
that he is delivered from the day of wrath?

31 Who denounces his conduct to his face?
Who repays him for what he has done?

32 He is carried to the grave,
and watch is kept over his tomb.

33 The soil in the valley is sweet to him;
all men follow after him,
and a countless throng goes before him.

34 "So how can you console me with your nonsense?
Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!"

Side Notes:
Job refuted Zophar’s ideas that evil people never experience wealth and happiness, pointing out to him that in the real world the wicked to indeed prosper. God does as he wills to individuals (21:22-25), and people cannot use their circumstances to measure their own goodness or God’s – they are sometimes (but not always) related. Success to Job’s three friends was based on outward performance; success to God, however, is based on a person’s heart.

Vs. 22 Job affirmed God’s superior understanding by asking, “can anyone teach knowledge to God?” He did this even though he was baffled by the reason that he was suffering. The way you respond to your personal struggles shows your attitude toward God. Rather than becoming angry with God, continue to trust in Him, no matter what your circumstance may be. God is in control, although sometimes it is difficult to see that. We must commit ourselves to him so we will not resent his timing.

Vs. 29-33 If wicked people become wealthy depite their sin, why should we try to be good? The wicked may seem to get away with sin, but there is a higher Judge and a future judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Everyone’s final settlement of justice will not come in this life but in the next. What is most important is how people view God in prosperity or poverty, not the prosperity or poverty itself.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Job 20

1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 "My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
because I am greatly disturbed.

3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,
and my understanding inspires me to reply.

4 "Surely you know how it has been from of old,
ever since man was placed on the earth,

5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief,
the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

6 Though his pride reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds,

7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, 'Where is he?'

8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,
banished like a vision of the night.

9 The eye that saw him will not see him again;
his place will look on him no more.

10 His children must make amends to the poor;
his own hands must give back his wealth.

11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones
will lie with him in the dust.

12 "Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,

13 though he cannot bear to let it go
and keeps it in his mouth,

14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.

15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;
God will make his stomach vomit them up.

16 He will suck the poison of serpents;
the fangs of an adder will kill him.

17 He will not enjoy the streams,
the rivers flowing with honey and cream.

18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;
he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.

19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.

20 "Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure.

21 Nothing is left for him to devour;
his prosperity will not endure.

22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;
the full force of misery will come upon him.

23 When he has filled his belly,
God will vent his burning anger against him
and rain down his blows upon him.

24 Though he flees from an iron weapon,
a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.

25 He pulls it out of his back,
the gleaming point out of his liver.
Terrors will come over him;

26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.
A fire unfanned will consume him
and devour what is left in his tent.

27 The heavens will expose his guilt;
the earth will rise up against him.

28 A flood will carry off his house,
rushing waters on the day of God's wrath.

29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
the heritage appointed for them by God."

Side Notes:

Zophar speech again revealed his false assumption because he based his arguments purely on the idea that Job was an evil hypocrite. Zophar claimed that while Job did have it good for a while, he didn't live righteously, and therefore God took his wealth from him. According to Zophar, Job's calamities proved his wickedness.

vs 6-7 Although Zophar was wrong in directing this tirade against Job, he was correct in taking about the final end of evil people. At first, sin does seem very attractive. Lying, stealing, or oppressing others often brings temporary gain to those who practice these sins. Some live a long time with ill-gotten gain. But in the end, God's justice will prevail. What Zophar missed is that judgement for these sins may not come in the lifetime or the sinner. Punishment may be deferred until the last judgement, when sinners will be eternally cut off from God. We should not be impressed with the success and power of evil people. God's judgement on them is certain.