Archive for November, 2015

Psalm 1

Psalm 1 begins with a description of what a blessed man looks like.  Blessed translates the Hebrew word “esher,” which has the idea of happiness or contentment.  The writer tells us three things that a blessed man does not do.  There is a way he will not walk, a path he will not stand in, and a seat he will not sit in. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”.  They are:

  • Does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
  • Does not stand in the way of sinners
  • Does not sit in the seat of scoffers

We can say these speak of thinking, behaving, and belonging. The righteous man and the ungodly man are different in how they think, how they behave, and to whom they belong.  A blessed man knows how to discern the wicked, realizes it can come from within himself, and also knows where to seek godly counsel.  A blessed man also is not traveling in the same direction as sinners, thus will not stand on the same road.  Nor will he criticize the people of God and the things of God.  These three things are incompatible with being a blessed man of God.

The writer goes on to say what this blessed man is all about.  “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night”.  The secret of living as a blessed man?  God’s Word and delighting in Him.  If a person delights in something, you don’t have to beg them to do it or to like it. They will do it all by themselves. You can measure your delight for the word of God by how much you hunger for it.  Are you spending time with God and His Word?

What’s the outcome of living this blessed life?  “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers”.  A tree by a river has a continual source of water. The life of the righteous man is marked by strength and stability.  There are no barren trees in God’s orchard – God brings forth something good and wonderful out of everything.  It doesn’t mean you’ll be rich but it does mean you’ll bear fruit and God will bless you indeed.  God knows His blessed people – “the Lord knows the way of the righteous”.  Are you one of them?

Job 42

Job 42 finally has Job speaking to God.  He’s just been instructed by God about his place in creation, and the majesty and glory of God in contrast to his mere mortal life as a human.  Job admits God’s place.  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted”.  Job’s connected the dots and recognizes that God is in control and has a purpose for his life.  And Job also recognizes he spouted off about things without really knowing what he was talking about.  “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know”.

Job moves from challenging God, to respectfully asking to have conversation with Him.  Job is getting his place right with respect to God’s.  And they talk.  But then God addresses the three friends.  “The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has”.  God is not pleased that these guys have been telling Job.  Interestingly, God does not include Elihu in this which may indicate that his words were more correct than the original three friends.  God instructs this trio to go and sacrifice, and to wait for their friend Job to pray for their forgiveness.

It’s interesting that the redemption of the three friends is dependent on Job’s prayer.  “My servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly…. and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer”.  After all the discussion and unkind words these three had said to Job, now their future is in his hands.  Job prays for his friends as God had asked, and an amazing thing happens as a result of that prayer – his blessing is restored as well, even though he doesn’t ask for it.  His willingness to bless his friends through prayer, even though he had to have some second thoughts, immediately caused blessing upon him too.  “The Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends”.

Did you catch that?  When Job prayed, then he was made whole.  But it was way beyond that.  “The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before”.  God didn’t just restore Job’s life, he doubled it.  And “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning”.  In the beginning of the story of Job we find a blessed and godly man; at the end of the Book of Job we find a man more blessed and more godly.  All the attacks of Satan made Job a more blessed man in the end.  It wasn’t an enjoyable ride through it all, but Satan was defeated as Job faithfully lived his life with God.  Job had a difficult period in his life, but God blessed him as “Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days”.  We are not all like Job, but we all have Job’s God.  He is faithful and has a plan and purpose for us too!

Job 41

Job 41 has God describing Leviathan, sometimes defined as a mythical sea creature, and other times as a reference to Satan himself.  God makes it clear that this force of darkness is powerful.  He warns Job that his attempt to deal with the forces of evil won’t end well.  Man cannot deal with evil alone.  “Lay your hands on him; remember the battle – you will not do it again”!  When we try to take on our enemy – we will lose.  And we have a very real enemy in Satan who is very focused on our demise.

Scripture tells us the goal Satan has is to ‘kill, steal and destroy’ us.  When we think we can deal with him and handle the temptations that come our way, we are merely deceiving ourselves.  “Behold, the hope of a man is false; he is laid low even at the sight of him”.  God makes it clear that depending on our power to defeat the enemy is a dream that will not come true.  We need to run from temptation as it often causes us to go further to a point of sin.  Our enemy always takes us to sin.  Temptation is not sin.  Sin happens when we give in and act on temptation.

The reality of sin is this:

  1. Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go
  2. Sin will always keep you longer than you wanted to stay
  3. Sin will always cost you more than you wanted to pay

We can’t play with the fire of temptation and expect not to be burned.  So our only hope is in God.  He alone can defeat the enemy.  He alone can give us the power to resist temptation.  Sin is always a choice.  Our ability to fight evil and cling to righteousness and goodness depends on walking closely with God and relying on His power.

The enemy is strong.  This chapter lists many characteristics that apply to Satan and his desire to destroy us.  Yet God is stronger.  “Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine”.  God is in control.  He owns all.  He created all.  His is over all.  And He alone is able to help us overcome Leviathan/Satan and all the forces of evil.  We’ll never stand against them in our own strength.  Our hope is in Him.  Our power comes from Him.  Our eternity is dependent on Him.  The chapter closes defining the enemy as “king over all the sons of pride”.  When we stand alone on our own power and might, we will fall.  This likely is talking about Job’s vulnerability to Satan and role the enemy played in Job’s crisis.  We have to rely on God to be victorious!

Job 40

Job 40 has God challenging Job.  He says “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it”.  Job has been pretty confident until now, but suddenly felt like he had no place to contend with God, much less to correct Him.  Job has learned the lesson of God’s greatness through the last two chapters.  He knows that God is on the throne.  And Job has learned of God’s place using the entire world as the classroom.  But now, it’s time for Job to remain Job and to make sure God is kept where He belongs as God.

So Job responds.  “I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth”.  Job may hve been a big talker with his friends, but now that he’s dealing directly with God it is a different story.  Job was the only one of the five to speak to God. Yet now Job spoke after God’s great revelation of Himself, and will speak with a quite different tone than he had before.  It was Job’s turn to speak again but there would be no long speeches, no more anger, no more talking down and dirty to his God.

God continues by asking Job “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?”  God comes to Job in a whirlwind again and begins with the same questioning that began their interaction back in chapter 38.  God basically says ‘I’m not done with you yet’.  Job fell into the trap of thinking that because he couldn’t figure God out, that perhaps God wasn’t fair.  The bottom line is that in order for Job to be right, God has to be wrong.

God makes it clear that He alone can save.  “Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you”.  If Job could do the things God did, then maybe he could save.  But he couldn’t and no one ever will, so God alone can save.  No man can save his own soul by works of righteousness which he has already done, is currently doing, or can possibly do in the future.  God alone can save.  He chose to do it through His Son Jesus Christ because there is no man, past – current – future, who can ever be good enough to gain everlasting life without Christ.

Job 39

Job 39 has God continuing to question Job.  “Do you know” is the question God asks over and over as He discusses some of the different animals and birds in his creation.  He begins with questions about the mountain goats as He brings His level of knowledge down to what Job can begin to understand.  Job doesn’t understand all these principles of God’s natural order in creation, but he has to admit that they all work together and work pretty well.  God’s plan for His creation is masterful and amazing, and this chapter drives that home.

God moves on to talk about the donkey and then the wild ox.  Both can be used to serve the needs of man, but are certainly not simple to control.  Wild animals must be captured and trained, and they often don’t do that willingly.  The wild donkey is admired in scripture for its freedom and ability to survive some of the harshest conditions.  The wild ox is a strong and mighty animal, of which man needed to be afraid.  Next to the hippopotamus and elephant, it is one of the largest and most powerful animals in God’s creation.  God uses both to show just how little control man truly has.

God moves on to speak of the ostrich and horse.  A bird that couldn’t fly yet uniquely and intentionally made by God.  There was a challenge to Job to explain why a flightless bird has wings, or why a winged creature is flightless?  It really is a funny thing that God talks about and the commentaries point to this section as the only real humor in the entire book.  It had to bring a smile to Job’s face.  The point is that God alone is the one with wisdom.  Man cannot answer these questions.  But God has a plan, and knows the ‘why’ of all parts of His creation, whether Job does or not.

God ends with His focus being on the hawk and eagle.  God turns to the majestic birds as He ends His description of some of His magnificent creation.  These creatures are part of His dominion created by His wisdom following His plan.  Job has to admit that man has no influence over these animals and can’t command them or direct them at all.  Only God can do that.  God is making it painfully clear that He alone is in control – now and from the days of creation – and man, including Job, merely fit into His world and creation at His pleasure.

Job 38

Job 38 moves from Job and his friends to God getting involved in the discussion.  “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind”.  No more wondering what God’s plan is – we get it straight from His mouth.  God’s chosen to be absent from the discussion to this point, but now gets involved.  He doesn’t address Job’s friends, only Job himself.  Why?  It might be because Job was the center of the controversy and the mis-information that has been tossed about.  Or maybe because Job was the only one who had prayed actively crying out to God for answers.  In any case, God responds to him.

God calls Job to account for his words and actions.  “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge”?  Actually all of the characters in this story are guilty of talking about things they really had no clue about – each one of them – Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu – spoke without accurate knowledge.  So God comes and tells Job that before He’s going to answer Job’s questions, Job needed to answer these questions from God.  The questions God had for Job were simply unanswerable and were meant to show Job that he really had no place to demand answers from God.

God starts his questions regarding the creation.  “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth”?  Obviously Job wasn’t around and God immediately is making it clear that God was ancient in His power, wisdom, and might and Job could never be considered to be on the same level as God.  Sometimes we forget this reality and consider ourselves equal or even above God.  Big mistake, as we have the same answer to this and all God’s questions in this chapter – we were nowhere to be found when God created the world – nor even for the majority of history.  We are a mere tick on the timeline and need to remember that God is God.

God gives a detailed account of His creation through a series of questions that asked how, when, where, what, and why.  Job has no answers, even when God calls on him to respond. “Declare, if you know all this”.  Job of course had not response and just listened as God recalled the majesty of His creation and plan for mankind.  Modern science has worked to attempt and understand many of the questions that God asked Job over the centuries since his days on earth.  They’ve made some progress, but still are far short of truly understanding God’s creation.  We have filled in small details around the edges, but there is still a vast gap between the knowledge and wisdom of man and that of God.

Job 37

Job 37 is about God’s greatness.  It begins reminding us of the thunder of His voice.  “God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend”.  Elihu wants to be sure Job is reminded about the greatness of God.  He also repeats his comments that Job is not on the same level as God.  He lists all sorts of the things that God can speak, just as He did at creation when he spoke the world and mankind into existence.  The voice of God comes in many ways, but the point Elihu is making is that it is all powerful.

Elihu goes on to remind Job that God alone is responsible for all things.  “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, He causes it to happen”.  His motives are not the question here, but God’s power is the message Elihu is making.  God is in control of all things.  He deals with the weather be it snow, rain or ice.  He is the author of all things in life and on this planet.  And Elihu waxes poetically almost making the point to be sure that Job realizes that what happens is about God, not him.

He gives some final advice to Job as the chapter winds down.  “Stop and consider the wondrous works of God….the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge”.  Elihu appeals to Job in a very personal way.  He calls Job out about God’s power in his life and the world around them.  Elihu has many of the right ideas about God here.  He is the author of all wonder and works.  He has perfect knowledge of every situation and is able to see all things from His throne.  But Elihu presents these truths based on the wrong premise of Job’s situation.

Elihu ends his thoughts for Job giving a foundational truth about God and His consistency.  “He is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate”.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His greatness never ends.  His character never changes.  He does not answer to mankind.  We are to fear Him.  God has allowed men around Job to share their thinking for the first 37 chapters of the book.  Now, we’ll get God’s perspective as He enters the discussion and gives us the answer to what His role has been.

Job 36

Job 36 has Elihu with something to say on God’s behalf.  He speaks with directness and authority that Job’s other friends did not.  Elihu claimed to speak on God’s behalf.  “God is mighty, and does not despise any”.  In His perfect justice, God punishes the wicked and works for the oppressed.  It is because God is so great that He despises none.  In Elihu’s mind, the righteous man was marked by many things; things that were conspicuously absent from the life of Job:

  • God’s eyes are upon the righteous
  • The righteous are exalted
  • If the righteous are bound, God convicts them, sets them free, and are restored to prosperity and pleasures

Elihu thought Job was a hypocrite for continuing to deny his guilt.  He believes Job is just creating a bigger and bigger problem for himself with God.  If Job would only have repented then God would have:

  • Brought Job out of his distress.
  • Brought Job into a broad place where there was no cramping
  • Brought Job to a table . . . full of fateness.

Elihu again remembers the greatness of God. “God is exalted in his power….Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung.”   Elihu here again wanted to exalt God in the eyes of Job, thinking that Job’s problem was that he had too low a view of God, and too high a view of himself.  We have to keep God in His rightful place in our lives – on the throne of our heart.  God is not fighting for his place of authority and exaltation – He has earned it and our only response is to give it to Him fully.

Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable”.  This was Elihu’s most truthful and powerful argument, yet it itself was based on the premise that Job had to do this in light of his great transgression against God. It was a powerful, good principle wrongly applied to Job’s situation.  God is great and we cannot ever truly understand Him.  But the truth is that Job’s situation was not related to a misconception of who God was, but rather God’s approach to prove Job’s faithfulness to our great enemy Satan.

Job 35

Job 35 has Elihu continuing his speech.  “Do you think this to be just? Do you say, ‘It is my right before God”?  The question reflects a common attitude that somehow things aren’t fair.  One thing we all need to remember is that life is not fair.  And God does not sit on His throne concerned with what we consider to be fair in our lives.  One thing we know for sure about God though is that He is just.  He never changes.  His justice doesn’t flow with the political tides or societal norms. God’s justice is based on His nature and character and will always be the same.

But sometimes we think God owes us.  It is our right to have God do this or answer that.  We have no standing to insist on Him doing anything for us.  We are not just and righteous.  We are sinners.  “If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him”?  Elihu makes these questions but the reality is that they are statements of fact.  We do sin.  Our transgressions are multiplied.  We have to accept our failure to be just in His sight.

That sin requires an answer.  God’s nature of righteousness and holiness and justice require that something be done to atone for our sin.  In the Old Testament it was a series of sacrifices and actions to take away the sin of the world.  But that changed when God sent His only Son to the Cross to take our place, to bear our sins, to carry them to death and then to rise again in victory over death.  Jesus paid it all.  The price has been paid.  All that is left for us is to receive it in faith – to accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

Sin will separate us from God.  It does it while we live as God seems far from us when we walk in sin.  “There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil men”.  But that pride can extend to preventing us from addressing our sin and cause an eternal separation from God if we fail to get right through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have a choice to make in how we will deal with our sinful pride.  If we don’t get past ourselves and come to Christ, that pride will take us away from God for eternity!

Job 34

Job 34 has Elihu continuing his rant against Job.  He is convinced that Job is off base in his thinking that he is right.  Elihu assures us that God hears what we say and knows what it means.  “For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food”.  That is how we need to listen to the things we take in – to carefully hear and evaluate things to know whether they are true.  Then we can “choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good”.   There is plenty of false teaching and just plain junk flowing in all directions around us.  We must test those words and be sure we listen only to that which is true.

Elihu does get one thing right, even if his assessment of Job is off base.  We will account for what we have done when we stand before God on Judgment Day.  Every one of us will face God someday.  It won’t be optional, and we won’t pick the time.  When we do, He’ll require us to answer a couple questions;

  1. What did you do with Jesus?
  2. What did you do with that which I entrusted you (your time, talent and life)

The day is coming.  Are you ready to answer?  “For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him”.  Our future depends on what we do with our life now.

Life doesn’t happen without God.  Elihu gets that right too.  “If He should set his heart to it and gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust”.  God alone holds it all together.  We need to recognize that reality and live life in accordance.  Life is all about God, not us.  We somehow buy into the world’s view that the world revolves around us as individuals.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This is God’s universe.  We are merely allowed to spend a short time as part of His Story!

But how we live those years is important.  “For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps….they turned aside from following him and had no regard for any of his ways”.  We won’t pull the wool over God’s eyes when we stand before Him.  There are no secrets.  There is no hidden actions or even motives.  He will measure us and sees each and every step and thought.  We’ll give account, and if we have turned away and insisted on running our own life our own way, we’ll pay the price for that.  God is in control.  Our best outcome is to know and live with that as the guideline.

%d bloggers like this: