Monday, November 30, 2009

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus

1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
15 Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Side Notes:

Matthew opens his Gospel with a genealogy to prove that Jesus is the descendant of both King David and Abraham, just as the Old Testament had predicted. Jesus birth didn't go unnoticed, for both shepherds and Magi came to worship him. The Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah to appear. Finally, he was born, but the Jews didn't recognize him because they were looking for a different kind of king.

vs. 1 Presenting this genealogy was one of the most interesting ways that Matthew could begin a book for a Jewish audience. Because a person's family line proved his or her standing as one of God's chosen people, Matthew began by showing that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, the father of all Jews, and a direct descendant of David, fulfilling Old testament prophecies about the Messiah's line. The facts of this ancestry were carefully preserved. This is the first of many proofs recorded by Mathew to show that Jesus is the true Messiah.

More than 400 years had passed since the last Old Testament prophecies, and faithful Jews all over the world were still waiting for the Messiah (Luke 3:15). Matthew wrote this book to Jews to present Jesus as King and Messiah, the promised descendant of David who would reign forever (Isaiah 11:1-5). The Gospel of Matthew links the Old and New Testaments and contains many references that show how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

Jesus entered human history when the land of Palestine was controlled by Rome and considered an insignificant out post of the vast and mighty Roman empire. The presence of Roman soldiers in Israel gave the Jews military peace, but at the price of oppression, slavery, injustice, and immorality. Into this kind of world came the promised Messiah.

vs 1-17 In the first 17 verses we meet 46 people whose lifetimes span 2,000 years. All were ancestors of Jesus, but they varied considerably in personality, spirituality, and experience. Some were heroes of faith - like Abraham, Isaac, Ruth, and David. Some had shady reputations - like Rahab and Tamar. Many were very ordinary - like Hezron, Ram, Nahshon, and Akim. And others were evil - like Mannasseh and Abija. God's work in history is not limited by human failures or sins, and he works through ordinary people. Just as God used all kinds of people to bring his Son into the world, he uses all kinds today to accomplish his will. And God wants to use you.

vs. 11 The exile occurred in 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem, and took thousands of captives to Babylonia.

vs. 16 Because Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant, Matthew list Joseph only as the husband of Mary, not the father of Jesus. Matthew's genealogy gives Jesus' legal (or royal) lineage through Joseph. Mary's ancestral line is recorded in Luke 3:23-38. Both Mary and Joseph were direct descendants of David.
Matthew traced the genealogy back to Abraham, while Luke traced it back to Adam. Matthew wrote to the Jews, so Jesus was shown as a descendant of their father, Abraham. Luke wrote to the Gentiles, so he emphasized Jesus as the Savior of all people.

vs. 17 Matthew breaks Israel's history into three sets of 14 generations, but there were probably more generations than those listed here. Genealogies often compressed history, meaning that not every generation of ancestors was specifically listed. Thus the phrase the father of can also be translated "the ancestor of."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Job 42


1 Then Job replied to the LORD :

2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.

3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'

5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.

6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."


7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.

Side Notes:

In response to God's speech, Job humbles himself. God rebukes the three friends for adding to Job's suffering by their false assumptions and critical attitudes. Job's material possessions and family are restored, and he receives even greater blessings than he had before. Those who persist in trusting God will be rewarded.

Throughout the book, Job's friends had asked him to admit his sin and ask for forgiveness, and eventually Job did indeed repent. Ironically, Job's repentance was not the kind called for by his friends. He did not ask for forgiveness for committing secret sins, but for questioning God's sovereignty and justice. Job repented of his attitude and acknowledged God's great power and perfect justice. We sin when we angrily ask, "if God is in control, how could he let this happen?" Because we are locked into time, unable to see beyond today, we cannot know the reasons for everything that happens. Will you trust God with your unanswered questions?

vs. 2-4 Job was quoting the Lord's earlier questions to him (38:2-3). He openly and honestly faced God and admitted that he was the one who had been foolish. Are you using what you can't understand as an excuse for your lack of trust? Admit to God that you don't even have enough faith to trust him. True faith begins in such humility.

vs. 7-8 God made it clear that Job's friends were wrong. The fact that God did not mention any specific sins shows that God confirmed Job's claim to have led a devout and obedient life. Job's friends had made the error of assuming that Job's suffering was caused by some great sin. They were judging Job without knowing what God was doing. We must be careful to avoid making judgments about a person because God may be working in ways we know nothing about.

vs. 8-10 After receiving much criticism, Job was still able to pray for his three friends. It is difficult to forgive someone who has accused us of wrongdoing, but Job did. Are you praying for those who have hurt you? Can you forgive them? Follow the actions of Job, whom God called a good man, and pray for those who have wronged you.

vs. 10-11 Would the message of the book of Job change if God had not restored to Job his former blessings? No. God is still sovereign. Jesus said that anyone who gives up something for the kingdom of God will be repaid (Luke 18:29-30). Our restoration may or may not be the same kind as Job's, which was both spiritual and material. Our complete restoration may not be in this life - but it will happen. God loves us, and he is just. He not only will restore whatever we have lost unjustly, but he also will give us more than we can imagine as we live with him in eternity. Cling tightly to your faith through all your trials, and you too will be rewarded by God - if not now, in the life to come.

vs. 17 The main question in the book of Job is timely: Why do believers experience troubles and suffering? Through a long debate, Job's supposedly wise friends were unable to answer this question. Job's friends made a serious error for which God rebuked them. They assumed that trouble comes only because people sin. People make the same mistake today when they assert that sickness or lack of material blessing is a sign of unconfessed sin or lack of faith. Though normally (but not always) following God leads to a happier life and rebelling against God normally (but not always) lead to an unhappy life, God is in control. In our world invaded by sin, calamity and suffering may come to good and bad alike.

This does not mean that God is indifferent, uncaring, unjust, or powerless to protect us. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world where both believers and unbelievers are hit with the tragic consequences of sin. God allows evil for a time although he often turns it around for our good (Romans 8:28). We may have no answers as to why God allows evil, but we can be sure he is all-powerful and knows what he is doing. The next time you face trials and dilemmas, see them as opportunities to turn to God for strength. You will find a God who only desires to show his love and compassion to you. If you can trust him in pain, confusion, and loneliness, you will win the victory and eliminate doubt, one of Satan's greatest footholds in your life. Make God your foundation. You can never be separated from his love.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Job 41

1 "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down his tongue with a rope?

2 Can you put a cord through his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?

3 Will he keep begging you for mercy?
Will he speak to you with gentle words?

4 Will he make an agreement with you
for you to take him as your slave for life?

5 Can you make a pet of him like a bird
or put him on a leash for your girls?

6 Will traders barter for him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?

7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears?

8 If you lay a hand on him,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

9 Any hope of subduing him is false;
the mere sight of him is overpowering.

10 No one is fierce enough to rouse him.
Who then is able to stand against me?

11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me.

12 "I will not fail to speak of his limbs,
his strength and his graceful form.

13 Who can strip off his outer coat?
Who would approach him with a bridle?

14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth,
ringed about with his fearsome teeth?

15 His back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;

16 each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.

17 They are joined fast to one another;
they cling together and cannot be parted.

18 His snorting throws out flashes of light;
his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

19 Firebrands stream from his mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.

20 Smoke pours from his nostrils
as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.

21 His breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from his mouth.

22 Strength resides in his neck;
dismay goes before him.

23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm and immovable.

24 His chest is hard as rock,
hard as a lower millstone.

25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before his thrashing.

26 The sword that reaches him has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.

27 Iron he treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.

28 Arrows do not make him flee;
slingstones are like chaff to him.

29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw;
he laughs at the rattling of the lance.

30 His undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.

31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.

32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake;
one would think the deep had white hair.

33 Nothing on earth is his equal—
a creature without fear.

34 He looks down on all that are haughty;
he is king over all that are proud."

Side Notes:

vs. 1 While leviathan usually refers to a seven-headed sea monster in old Canaanite myths, it probably means crocodile here.

vs. 9-11 It is foolish for people to think they can stand up against God when they are afraid to confront even a crocodile. How much more powerful is God! It is better to submit to God's loving authority than to face his wrath.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Job 40

1 The LORD said to Job:

2 "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!"

3 Then Job answered the LORD :

4 "I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.

5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more."

6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:

7 "Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

8 "Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

9 Do you have an arm like God's,
and can your voice thunder like his?

10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.

11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,

12 look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.

13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.

14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.

15 "Look at the behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.

16 What strength he has in his loins,
what power in the muscles of his belly!

17 His tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of his thighs are close-knit.

18 His bones are tubes of bronze,
his limbs like rods of iron.

19 He ranks first among the works of God,
yet his Maker can approach him with his sword.

20 The hills bring him their produce,
and all the wild animals play nearby.

21 Under the lotus plants he lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.

22 The lotuses conceal him in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround him.

23 When the river rages, he is not alarmed;
he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth.

24 Can anyone capture him by the eyes,
or trap him and pierce his nose?

Side Notes:

vs. 2-5 How do you contend with or accuse Almighty God? Do you demand answers when things don't go your way, you lose a job, someone close to you is ill or dies, finances are tight, you fail, or unexpected changes occur? The next time you are tempted to complain to God, consider how much he loves you. And remember Job's reaction when he had his chance to speak. Are you worse off than Job or more righteous than he? Give God a chance to reveal his greater purposes for you, but remember that they may unfold over the course of your life and not at the moment you desire.

vs. 4 Throughout his time of suffering, Job longed to have an opportunity to plead his innocence before God. Here God appeared to Job and gave him that opportunity. But Job decided to remain quiet because it was no longer necessary for him to speak. God had shown Job that, as a limited human being, he had neither the ability to judge the God who created the universe nor the right to ask why. God's actions do not depend on ours. He will do what he knows is best, regardless of what we think is fair. It is important to note, however, that God came to Job, demonstrating his love and care for him.

vs. 15 The behemoth was a large land animal, possibly an elephant or hippopotamus.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Job 39

1 "Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

2 Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?

3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;
their labor pains are ended.

4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
they leave and do not return.

5 "Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who untied his ropes?

6 I gave him the wasteland as his home,
the salt flats as his habitat.

7 He laughs at the commotion in the town;
he does not hear a driver's shout.

8 He ranges the hills for his pasture
and searches for any green thing.

9 "Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will he stay by your manger at night?

10 Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness?
Will he till the valleys behind you?

11 Will you rely on him for his great strength?
Will you leave your heavy work to him?

12 Can you trust him to bring in your grain
and gather it to your threshing floor?

13 "The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork.

14 She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,

15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,
that some wild animal may trample them.

16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
she cares not that her labor was in vain,

17 for God did not endow her with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.

18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
she laughs at horse and rider.

19 "Do you give the horse his strength
or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

20 Do you make him leap like a locust,
striking terror with his proud snorting?

21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength,
and charges into the fray.

22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
he does not shy away from the sword.

23 The quiver rattles against his side,
along with the flashing spear and lance.

24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground;
he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, 'Aha!'
He catches the scent of battle from afar,
the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

26 "Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread his wings toward the south?

27 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build his nest on high?

28 He dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is his stronghold.

29 From there he seeks out his food;
his eyes detect it from afar.

30 His young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there is he."

Side Notes:

God asked Job several questions about the animal kingdom in order to demonstrate how limited Job's knowledge really was. God was not seeking answers from Job. Instead, he was getting Job to recognize and submit to God's power and sovereignty. Only then could he hear what God was really saying to him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Job 38

The LORD Speaks

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?

3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.

5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?

6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone-

7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

8 "Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,

9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,

10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,

11 when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt'?

12 "Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,

13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?

14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.

15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.

16 "Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?

17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?

18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

19 "What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?

20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?

21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!

22 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,

23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?

24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?

25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,

26 to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,

27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?

28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?

29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens

30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?

31 "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?
Can you loose the cords of Orion?

32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?

34 "Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?

35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?

36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom
or gave understanding to the mind?

37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens

38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?

39 "Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions

40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?

41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

Side Notes:

Instead of answering Job's questions directly, God asks Job a series of questions that no human could possible answer. Job responds by recognizing that God's ways are best. During difficult times, we, too, must humbly remember our position before the eternal, holy, incomprehensible God.

Out of a mighty storm, God spoke. Surprisingly, he didn't answer any of Job's questions; Job's questions were not at the heart of the issue. Instead, God used Job's ignorance of the earth's natural order to reveal his ignorance of God's moral order. If Job did not understand the workings of God's physical creation, how could he possibly understand God's mind and character? There is not standard or criterion higher than God himself by which to judge. God himself is the standard. Our only option is to submit to his authority and rest in his care.

vs. 22-23 God said he was reserving the storehouses of the snow and hail for times of trouble. God used hail to help Joshua and the Israelites win a battle (Joshua 10:11). Just as armies keep weapons in the armory, God has all the forces of nature in his control. Sometimes he uses them to confound those opposed to him or his people. Job couldn't even begin to know all of God's resources.

vs. 22-35 God stated that he has all the forces of nature at his command and that he can unleash or restrain them at will. No one completely understands such common occurrences as rain or snow, and no one can command them - only God who created them has that power. God's point was that if Job could not explain such common events in nature, how could he possible explain or question God? And if nature is beyond our grasp, God's moral purposes may not be what we imagine either.

vs. 31-32 These are start constellations, and they are all under God's control.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Job 37

1 "At this my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.

2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.

3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.

4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.

5 God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.

6 He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'

7 So that all men he has made may know his work,
he stops every man from his labor.

8 The animals take cover;
they remain in their dens.

9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
the cold from the driving winds.

10 The breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.

11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.

12 At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.

13 He brings the clouds to punish men,
or to water his earth and show his love.

14 "Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God's wonders.

15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?

16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?

17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,

18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

19 "Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.

20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would any man ask to be swallowed up?

21 Now no one can look at the sun,
bright as it is in the skies
after the wind has swept them clean.

22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
God comes in awesome majesty.

23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.

24 Therefore, men revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?"

Side Notes:

vs. 2 Nothing can compare to God. His power and presence are awesome, and when he speaks, we must listen. Too often we presume to speak for God (as did Job's friends), to put words in his mouth, to take him for granted, or to interpret his silence to mean that he is absent or unconcerned. But God cares. He is in control, and he will speak. Be ready to hear his message - in the Bible, in your life through the Holy Spirit, and through circumstances and relationships.

vs. 21-24 Elihu concluded his speech with the tremendous truth that faith in God is far more important than Job's desire for an explanation for his suffering. He came so close to helping Job but then went down the wrong path. Significantly, it is here that God himself breaks into the discussion to draw the right conclusions from this important truth (in chapter 38).

vs. 23 Elihu stressed God's sovereignty over all of nature as a reminder of his sovereignty over our lives. God is in control - he directs, preserves, and maintains his created order. Although we can't see it, God is divinely governing the moral and political affairs of people as well. By spending time observing the majestic and intricate parts of God's creation, we can be reminded of his power in every aspect of our lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Job 36

1 Elihu continued:

2 "Bear with me a little longer and I will show you
that there is more to be said in God's behalf.

3 I get my knowledge from afar;
I will ascribe justice to my Maker.

4 Be assured that my words are not false;
one perfect in knowledge is with you.

5 "God is mighty, but does not despise men;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.

6 He does not keep the wicked alive
but gives the afflicted their rights.

7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
he enthrones them with kings
and exalts them forever.

8 But if men are bound in chains,
held fast by cords of affliction,

9 he tells them what they have done—
that they have sinned arrogantly.

10 He makes them listen to correction
and commands them to repent of their evil.

11 If they obey and serve him,
they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity
and their years in contentment.

12 But if they do not listen,
they will perish by the sword
and die without knowledge.

13 "The godless in heart harbor resentment;
even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.

14 They die in their youth,
among male prostitutes of the shrines.

15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.

16 "He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
to a spacious place free from restriction,
to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.

17 But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;
judgment and justice have taken hold of you.

18 Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.

19 Would your wealth
or even all your mighty efforts
sustain you so you would not be in distress?

20 Do not long for the night,
to drag people away from their homes.

21 Beware of turning to evil,
which you seem to prefer to affliction.

22 "God is exalted in his power.
Who is a teacher like him?

23 Who has prescribed his ways for him,
or said to him, 'You have done wrong'?

24 Remember to extol his work,
which men have praised in song.

25 All mankind has seen it;
men gaze on it from afar.

26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.

27 "He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;

28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.

29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?

30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.

31 This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.

32 He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.

33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.

Side Notes:

vs. 26 One theme in the poetic literature of the Bible is that God is incomprehensible; we cannot know him completely. We can have some knowledge about him, for the Bible is full of details about who God is, how we can know him, and how we can have an eternal relationship with him. But we can never know enough to answer all of life's questions (Ecclesiastes 3:11), to predict our own future, or to manipulate God for our own ends. Life always creates more questions than we have answers, and we must constantly go to God for fresh insights into life's dilemmas. (see 37:19-24)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Job 35

1 Then Elihu said:

2 "Do you think this is just?
You say, 'I will be cleared by God.'

3 Yet you ask him, 'What profit is it to me,
and what do I gain by not sinning?'

4 "I would like to reply to you
and to your friends with you.

5 Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above you.

6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?

7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
or what does he receive from your hand?

8 Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself,
and your righteousness only the sons of men.

9 "Men cry out under a load of oppression;
they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.

10 But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,

11 who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?'

12 He does not answer when men cry out
because of the arrogance of the wicked.

13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea;
the Almighty pays no attention to it.

14 How much less, then, will he listen
when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him
and you must wait for him,

15 and further, that his anger never punishes
and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.

16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk;
without knowledge he multiplies words."

Side Notes:

Sometimes we wonder if being faithful to our convictions really does any good at all. Elihu spoke to this very point. His conclusion was that God is still concerned even though he doesn't intervene immediately in every situation. In the broad scope of time God executes justice. We have his promise on that. Don't lose hope. Wait upon God. He notices your right living and your faith.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Job 34

1 Then Elihu said:

2 "Hear my words, you wise men;
listen to me, you men of learning.

3 For the ear tests words
as the tongue tastes food.

4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right;
let us learn together what is good.

5 "Job says, 'I am innocent,
but God denies me justice.

6 Although I am right,
I am considered a liar;
although I am guiltless,
his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.'

7 What man is like Job,
who drinks scorn like water?

8 He keeps company with evildoers;
he associates with wicked men.

9 For he says, 'It profits a man nothing
when he tries to please God.'

10 "So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.

11 He repays a man for what he has done;
he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.

12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.

13 Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?

14 If it were his intention
and he withdrew his spirit and breath,

15 all mankind would perish together
and man would return to the dust.

16 "If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.

17 Can he who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn the just and mighty One?

18 Is he not the One who says to kings, 'You are worthless,'
and to nobles, 'You are wicked,'

19 who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?

20 They die in an instant, in the middle of the night;
the people are shaken and they pass away;
the mighty are removed without human hand.

21 "His eyes are on the ways of men;
he sees their every step.

22 There is no dark place, no deep shadow,
where evildoers can hide.

23 God has no need to examine men further,
that they should come before him for judgment.

24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty
and sets up others in their place.

25 Because he takes note of their deeds,
he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.

26 He punishes them for their wickedness
where everyone can see them,

27 because they turned from following him
and had no regard for any of his ways.

28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him,
so that he heard the cry of the needy.

29 But if he remains silent, who can condemn him?
If he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he is over man and nation alike,

30 to keep a godless man from ruling,
from laying snares for the people.

31 "Suppose a man says to God,
'I am guilty but will offend no more.

32 Teach me what I cannot see;
if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.'

33 Should God then reward you on your terms,
when you refuse to repent?
You must decide, not I;
so tell me what you know.

34 "Men of understanding declare,
wise men who hear me say to me,

35 'Job speaks without knowledge;
his words lack insight.'

36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost
for answering like a wicked man!

37 To his sin he adds rebellion;
scornfully he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God."

Side Notes:

vs 10-15 God doesn't sin and is never unjust, Elihu claimed. Throughout this book, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu all have elements of truth in their speeches. Unfortunately, the nuggets of truth are buried under layers of false assumptions and conclusions. Although we might have a wealth of Bible knowledge and life experiences, we must make sure our conclusions are consistent with all of God's Word, not just parts of it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Job 33

1 "But now, Job, listen to my words;
pay attention to everything I say.

2 I am about to open my mouth;
my words are on the tip of my tongue.

3 My words come from an upright heart;
my lips sincerely speak what I know.

4 The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

5 Answer me then, if you can;
prepare yourself and confront me.

6 I am just like you before God;
I too have been taken from clay.

7 No fear of me should alarm you,
nor should my hand be heavy upon you.

8 "But you have said in my hearing—
I heard the very words-

9 'I am pure and without sin;
I am clean and free from guilt.

10 Yet God has found fault with me;
he considers me his enemy.

11 He fastens my feet in shackles;
he keeps close watch on all my paths.'

12 "But I tell you, in this you are not right,
for God is greater than man.

13 Why do you complain to him
that he answers none of man's words?

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men
as they slumber in their beds,

16 he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,

17 to turn man from wrongdoing
and keep him from pride,

18 to preserve his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.

19 Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in his bones,

20 so that his very being finds food repulsive
and his soul loathes the choicest meal.

21 His flesh wastes away to nothing,
and his bones, once hidden, now stick out.

22 His soul draws near to the pit,
and his life to the messengers of death.

23 "Yet if there is an angel on his side
as a mediator, one out of a thousand,
to tell a man what is right for him,

24 to be gracious to him and say,
'Spare him from going down to the pit;
I have found a ransom for him'-

25 then his flesh is renewed like a child's;
it is restored as in the days of his youth.

26 He prays to God and finds favor with him,
he sees God's face and shouts for joy;
he is restored by God to his righteous state.

27 Then he comes to men and says,
'I sinned, and perverted what was right,
but I did not get what I deserved.

28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit,
and I will live to enjoy the light.'

29 "God does all these things to a man—
twice, even three times-

30 to turn back his soul from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on him.

31 "Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.

32 If you have anything to say, answer me;
speak up, for I want you to be cleared.

33 But if not, then listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom."

Side Notes:

vs 13 Being informed brings a sense of security. It's natural to want to know what's happening in our lives. Job wanted to know what was going on, why he was suffering. In previous chapters, we sense his frustration. Elihu claimed to have the answer for Job's biggest question, "why doesn't God tell me what is happening?" Elihu told Job that God was trying to answer him, but he was not listening. Elihu misjudged God on this point. If God were to answer all our questions, we would not be adequately tested. What if God had said, "Job, Satan's going to test you and afflict you, but in the end you'll be healed and get everything back"? Job's greatest test was not the pain, but that he did not know why he was suffering. Our greatest test may be that we must trust God's goodness even though we don't understand why our lives are going a certain way. We must learn to trust in God who is good and not in the goodness of life.

vs. 14-24 Elihu's point was that God had spoken again and again. He spoke in dreams and visions (33:15-18), through suffering (33:19-22), and by mediating angels (33:23-24). Job already knew that. Elihu accused Job of not listening to God, which was not true.