Archive for October, 2015

Job 8

Job 8 has friend two coming out swinging.  Bildad rebukes Job and tells him that if he were righteous, God would be blessing and defending him.  Bildad comes to the defense of Eliphaz.  Bildad sees things as black and white and comes across as somewhat harsh and no nonsense.  He accuses Job of being full of wind.  “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind”?  God is never wrong, so Job must be.  Bildad believes in the justice of God, so Job has to be guilty of something.

Or at least connected to some who are guilty.  Bildad throws the death of Job’s kids in his face – not exactly a compassionate and supportive approach.  He basically says they got what they deserved, and now Job is getting the same.  Then after tearing Job down, Bildad encourages him to repent and return to God.  “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation”.  I can just imagine Job getting worked up by the way Bildad is talking with him.

Bildad then tells Job to check out the wisdom of the past.  “For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out”.  If you don’t believe me, see what God has done before.  Typically good wisdom, except in this case, Job’s situation is not like anything that we’ve seen before or after in scripture.  Bildad does give Job a pass on not knowing why things were the way they were.  “For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow”.  After all, we’re humans and don’t know everything, so your foolishness has an excuse.

Bildad then turns to trying to show cause and effect in Job’s case.  Because of what you have done, you are receiving this treatment.  He begins with the papyrus and uses it to illustrate the reality that without water, it won’t grow.  He further explains that it is fragile and its flower withers faster than any other plant.  Bildad applies that illustration to Job’s life.  He’s dead wrong based on what we know is happening, but based on what he and his two buddies knew this seemed to be the case.  Job was a sinning, shallow hypocrite and had no real faith and trust in God.  Totally misplaced words, but it is what seemed right to the trio of friends around Job.

Job 7

Job 7 begins with Job crying out to God.  “Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand”?  Commentaries denote that the words ‘hard service’ are descriptive of military service – the idea that we are in a battle on this earth.  That is exactly where Job found himself without really knowing what was going on.  There was a battle for his soul.  He felt the struggle of life itself and the futility of the work he found life to be.  He doesn’t feel hope or reward, only the weariness of a continual fight.

Time is dragging by.  “The night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn”.  Sleep is hard to come by.  Life is happening but not in a meaningful or enjoyable way, it just goes by in a blur because he is focused on enduring and getting through this season of suffering.  He has lost hope from being healed, and believes death is the only way to overcome the current circumstances.  “He who goes down to Sheol does not come up”.  Job thinks about death and how it ends things.

Job has physical ailments, but his real struggle is internal.  His is a spiritual crisis.  “I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath”.  He feels like he is being shadowed by God, watched at every moment, which is absolutely true for all of us.  God never leaves us.  He always has His eye on us.  Job’s condition is so miserable he wants the release of death. He knows his life won’t last forever, and would prefer that God would just let him go.

Then Job asks the question that Eliphaz had hounded him with – was this because of sin.  “If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?”  Hard questions – direct and to the point – but just honest conversation.  There is nothing wrong with us pouring our heart out to God.  Job is looking for a way out of his circumstances.  He certainly does not yet understand what is happening here at the high level.

Job 6

Job 6 has his reply to his friend Eliphaz.  It is a bit of a complaining rant – so we know Job is human.  Eliphaz has been calling him to repent of his sin, but Job focuses on the depth of his suffering knowing that what Eliphaz has been saying is not true.  Job admits he had come close to cursing God – “my words have been rash” referring to his rant back in chapter 3.  But he explains that it was because of the heaviness of his suffering and grief.  He’s had a rough time.

Job begins his response with the picture of God shooting arrows at him.  “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me”.  The suffering was much like this as it came upon him swiftly and suddenly without warning.  They wounded him deeply.  So deeply that Job longs to escape through death.  He never seems to contemplate suicide but certainly wishes God would end his life.  “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, 9 that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off”!  He pleads that God might simply launch more arrows and end his life

Job teaches us that it is ok to be real with God.  While his situation is difficult, his response can bring us some comfort for the simple reason that we learn it is allowable to feel and express rage in front of God.  We don’t have to hold it all in and pretend life is ‘fine’.  He also teaches us how to relate to those around us when times are tough.  “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty”.  Job accuses Eliphaz of not being kind in the midst of his circumstances, but rather being an unreliable friend that will vanish like the snow when spring comes.

Job comes to tell his friends the reality that they offered no real help.  All he wanted from them were words of comfort and instead he got a week of silence and then a lecture which was based on lies from the enemy.  He makes it clear he never asked for money or deliverance by his friends, just some comfort.  Job challenges the words of Eliphaz and presses hard on his accusations.  He throws some insults at his friends and we certainly see the gravity of his suffering driving their relationships to the edge.

Job 5

Job 5 has Eliphaz continuing on his feedback for Job.  He appeals to the reality of the situation.  “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you”?  Let’s face it, things have been pretty quiet.  Eliphaz did not directly accuse Job but he does suggest that Job do all he can to not be like a foolish man who would be killed by his actions.  He gives a pretty clear list of what happens to the foolish man, and it isn’t pretty.  Some of it was a reference to Job and his sons, not directly, but in a backhanded way.

Then here it comes – the advice of what Eliphaz would do if he were in Job’s shoes.  “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number”.  It is always so easy to tell someone else what we’d do if faced with the same situation.  Eliphaz tells us that God is a great God, great in both His power over creation and in His moral justice.  He is worthy of our pursuit.

And Eliphaz goes on to imply that what Job was experiencing was the justice of God because Job was in sin and refusing to admit it.  If Job would just see his reality and repent of his sin, all this would stop and God would return to being his best friend.  All this is God’s chastening for sin in his life.  In Eliphaz’s mind, Job should not despise God’s work in his life even if it is punishment for sin, but instead humble himself, forsake his sin, and learn from it.  “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty”.

Eliphaz is quite confident of his position.  “Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good”.  It’s obvious Job.  Unfortunately it was wrong.  But Eliphaz wanted to persuade Job, so he claimed to have investigated this carefully and portrayed the friends as knowing what they were talking about.  It is not that what Eliphaz knew that is wrong; it is what he did not know of God’s hidden purpose in this test of Job by Satan.  Job didn’t know what we know, but he could feel that the counsel of Eliphaz was wrong in his situation.  Job knew God, and that trumps everything else!

Job 4

Job 4 has the tables turned as Job’s friends begin to counsel him.  They speak to him in more or less three different rounds of exhortation, followed by his response.  Eliphaz begins and reminds Job that he is usually on the end giving advice and encouragement, not receiving it.  “You have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.”  This is a rather new place for Job to be, and his friends wonder how he’ll take their words.

Eliphaz begins chastising Job for the way he is responding to the circumstances. “But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope”?  Sort of the ‘how come you can dish out advice to others but can’t see it for yourself”?  Eliphaz and the other friends have somewhat gained the right to speak into Job’s life because of sitting with him silently the past week, so he continues.

Eliphaz came to the heart of his argument. “Who that was innocent ever perished”. He boldly said that Job was guilty of some sin because the innocent do not suffer the way he was, and the upright are not apart from God as he felt.  We find out later that while the friend’s motives were good, their advice was completely wrong.  It may have been common sense and based on their previous experience, it was still wrong.  They believe Job’s issues are caused by sin.  “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.”

Eliphaz claims to have been given his insight by God.  And the foundation of it was that all men are sinners and Job’s plight was a direct result of Job’s sin.   “‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker “?  He basically tells Job ‘we all sin.  Just admit it and realize you’re like the rest of us and this punishment should be no surprise to anyone.  It certainly isn’t to me’.  Another logical human response, but definitely not God’s plan here.  Eliphaz has no understanding of the interaction between God and Satan, the enemy.  So he just passes on what seems right to a man.  Scripture tells us often that can lead to a bad outcome!

Job 3

Job 3 begins with the words “After this”.  He’s just gone through all sorts of catastrophe and for the first time, he speaks.  “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth”.  Satan’s goal is to get Job to curse God.  It doesn’t even get close to that.  But Job does begin to express his pain and frustration.  This is the battle for Job’s soul and mind.  Job’s complaint is that it would be better if he were never born than to endure his present catastrophe of affliction.  He not only curses the day of his birth, but also the night of his conception.

He is suffering greatly, yet he does not curse God.  Yet through all of it he never curses God.  Here we find some of his strongest statements against God and especially against the wisdom and plan of God.  Job doesn’t understand why this is happening.  And it seems like more than he can endure.  He wails against his life and what he is going through and without the help of the Spirit within him, surely would have gone over the line and cursed God.  But that is the power of the Holy Spirit when we surrender our life to God.  The Spirit within us guides us through the course of life.

Job just wants to die.  You know it is bad for him.  Scripture does not paint a picture of pure joy and happiness in the midst of trials and pain.  It allows us a picture of the reality of life – that pain and sorrow happen and they matter and impact us greatly.  We aren’t to pretend like there are no issues as we go through life.  We don’t have to put on a stiff upper lip and keep moving like nothing is ever wrong.  That is the truth of being alive.  We have to deal with the tragedies and challenges that come our way, but we do it with the power of God in us.

Job feels lost.  “Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in”?  He can’t see his way, and his purpose seems to have escaped him.  There is no apparent reason for what is happening to Job. But God has a plan.  Guzik lists some reasons why Job is going through all this:

  • God allowed Job to continue on in life to teach a lesson to angelic beings.
  • God allowed Job to continue on in life to teach him special reliance upon God.
  • God allowed Job to continue on in life to teach him to not regard the wisdom of man so much.
  • God allowed Job to continue on in life to vindicate him before other men.
  • God allowed Job to continue on in life to make him a lesson and an example for all ages.
  • God allowed Job to continue on in life to give him more than he ever had before.

At the end of the day, this is all about Job learning to trust completely on God.  All of us have to learn this lesson, and not move to the trap of cursing God and blaming Him for all our troubles.  These things did not happen to Job because he was a sinner or bad person.  But they did allow God to be His Rock and Provider and in the end to bless him far beyond anything he had experienced before.  God has a perfect plan for each of us.  We can’t always see it on the way through life, but that does not change the reality that God has a plan for you and me!

Job 2

Job 2 has Satan coming again to God after his first attempts to defeat Job failed.  He tried four major attacks, yet Job remained faithful to his God.  When asked what Satan was up to he said “going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it”.  That is Satan’s approach.  He prowls around like a lion seeking whom he may devour.  He has a single mind – to kill, steal and destroy those who know God.  He is a very real enemy and has each one of us in his sights.

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”   God is impressed with Job and his faithfulness.  Job has walked with God, and God knows he is going to continue.  But Satan throws down another challenge to “stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face”.  If God will just let Satan attack Job himself, he’ll fold.

So God concurs and allows Satan to attack him with the restriction that he spare his life.  So he is covered with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  His wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”  She can’t stand the sight of his suffering.  But Job rebukes her and tells her that God is still the provider of all good and evil – He is in control.  And amazingly, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips”.  Job was in immense pain but never accused God of his situation.

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite show up to show him sympathy and comfort him. He was in bad shape and ‘when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him”.  His situation is dire, and they could not finds words to express their sympathy.  So “they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great”.

Job 1

Job 1 begins with this description of a man of God – “that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil….greatest of all the people of the east.”  He was a man who walked with God and was very blessed with 10 kids and lots of livestock and servants.  The kids were partiers, and Job had a plan to intercede on their behalf after they sinned and cursed God with their hearts.  Job was a parent who prayed for his kids.  He didn’t necessarily parent them directly, but did lift them up before God for their sin.  What a beautiful example is furnished by Job to Christian parents!

Job was ‘blameless.’ This does not mean Job was sinless, but blameless. There is a huge difference. Sin is vertical, blameless is horizontal. . . . as Job lived before the watchful eye of his peers, no one could justly charge Job with moral failure. His reputation was without any shame.  He lived with integrity with everyone around him.  Satan comes to God with an agenda to destroy.  God brought up Job as a subject for discussion, and God brought up Job in the sense of bragging about Job’s godliness and character.  Satan takes the challenge with the limitation that he can’t kill Job.

Guzik tells us in his commentary that Satan considers the saints of God; yet what does the devil see when he considers the saints?

  • He sees them and is amazed at the difference between himself and God’s people; he sees us and knows that though he has fallen, these earthen creatures stand.
  • He sees them and is amazed at their happiness; he knows too well the misery of his own soul, but he admires and hates the peace in the soul of the believer.
  • He sees them and looks for some fault, so that he may find some small comfort to his own black soul and hypocrisy.
  • He sees them – especially great hearts among the saints – and sees those who block and hinder his foul work.
  • He sees them and looks for opportunity to do them harm.

Satan has a mission to kill, steal and destroy.  And now his sights are on Job.

Satan wastes no time attacking.  In a day, Job lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, servants and all 10 kids.  They are destroyed in four different events, but all are gone.  What does Job do?  “Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped”.  Job was in shock and had to be overwhelmed, but he did the one thing he knew to do – he worshipped God.  Then he put it all in perspective when he said “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  It was a very bad day for Job, but scripture tells us that “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

Esther 10

Esther 10 is three short verses and summarizes the two leading men in this book.  King Ahasuerus wasn’t really plugged in spiritually to God, but he was used by God to allow Esther to become queen and Mordecai to become his number two.  God is able to use anyone and anything to accomplish His plan.  He has not limitations.  He has no resource constraints.  He took a king that was mostly oblivious to what was going on and used him to change the course of history.  The evil course was destroying the Jews.  God’s plan through the king was exactly the opposite.

Mordecai became “second in rank to King Ahasuerus” which is quite a feat considering he was the target of an evil plot to get rid of him.  He remained true to God and refused to bow down to Haman.  He stayed faithful in caring for Esther even when she had achieved the big time.  Mordecai “was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people”.  He was a man of the people and put them at the top of his concern.

God shows His hand strong throughout this story.  A young woman from humble beginnings who grew up an orphan in the care of a cousin rises to a position of power as queen.  What would the outcome have been had Esther not been on the throne when evil raised its head?  What would the outcome have been had she not been willing to risk her own life to go before the king and save her people?  What would Mordecai’s future have been had she not exposed the plot to kill him and all the Jews?  She was put in a place of position for such a time as this.

And she took advantage of that time and saved a nation.  Neither she nor Mordecai worried about their own safety or consideration.  They served God and obeyed His plan.  That is what God calls us to do.  He wants us to line up with His plan – to be on His page – to walk in His ways.  And when we do, we can experience the kind of outcome that Esther and Mordecai did.  They were used by God to do far more than either ever dreamed.  They had no insight on what would happen but had to trust God each step of the journey.   That is what we are called  to do too – to trust and obey!

Esther 9

Esther 9 has Haman gone.  It had come down to the wire as this was the day “when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.”  Can you imagine what would have happened had Mordecai not challenged Esther with his words about being where she was for such a time as this?  Of course it was all happening under God’s plan, but there was little room for procrastination here.

But the turnabout was more than the king’s letter to change the game.  “All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them.”  Mordecai has become a force in the leadership structure under the king.  He now has taken on the number two spot and speaks with great power and authority.  So leaders across the kingdom lined up and were following his direction.  Talk about a change of places.  He went from the one being persecuted to the one in charge.

“The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them.”  They went from the hunted to the hunters and destroyed 500 men in Susa but 75,000 throughout the kingdom.  These were enemies of the Jews who had every intention of destroying them.  Now the tables have been turned and they are destroyed.  They also kill the ten sons of Haman.  No bad apples are left in the barrel. It’s a total cleanup of the enemies.

After that is done, the king wants to know what else Esther wants.  And she asks for a celebration which they called Purim.  They had replaced an evil plan with God’s plan, and now it was time to celebrate.  So a written decree went out from the queen and Mordecai calling for the people to celebrate, not just this year, but each year going forward.  They were to commemorate God’s goodness and blessing and His saving them from their enemies.  We need to learn to celebrate God’s goodness and point glory to Him.

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