Job


Job 41-42 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: With wisdom and mercy He directs our lives.  He can be trusted. 

The Job Finale!  The final two chapters of the season will have you glued to your…Bible.  Stay tuned as the drama unfolds. 

Previously in Job. In his accusation to God, Satan charged Job with believing in God only because of God’s goodness to him.  He wanted to test Job.  God responded, “All right, you may test him.” (1:12)  Job lost all his wealth, his children and his health.  As Job battles for his life, he is left with four accusers, a wife who wants him to die, his belief in God and the gnawing question of why this has happened to him.  On trial for crimes against his humanity Job defended himself against his accusers, refused to die despite his wife’s wishes and presented the case of his innocence.  Believing he was falsely accused, Job demanded to speak to the Judge, but the Judge had not entered the courtroom.  Job believed the Judge had ruled incorrectly in this case because he was innocent.  The Judge must answer questions as to why he has ruled in this way.  Where is the Judge? 

The following takes place today in Job.  The Judge entered the courtroom…
Forgive the dramatic pretense, but the story does read somewhat like a courtroom drama.  In some mysteries, the viewer is discovering who the culprit is right along with the detectives; in others, the viewer is privy to the crime and watches as the detectives discover the culprit.  In Job, we already know the scenario from Chapter 1, but other than God and Satan, none of the other characters are aware of the set up – ever.

Hitchcockesque in nature, the ending of the story never revealed to Job why all this trouble happened to him, but then that really isn’t the point of the Book of Job.

Job revolves around two major principles:  Our belief in God cannot be based on His goodness to us, but must be founded on Who He is.  This was the premise of Satan’s test, and Job passed the test and did not curse God when troubles came.  After losing everything, Job declared, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” (19:25)

The second principles is that our trust or confidence in Him cannot be based on our goodness to Him.  This is where Job faltered.  In long soliloquies throughout the story, Job defended his innocence – he was very, very good and his goodness did not deserve this response from God.  He demanded answers, “Look, I will sign my name to my defense.  Let the Almighty answer me.” (31:35)  I get chill bumps every time I read this. Job revealed that he had lost confidence in God when he questioned God’s wisdom, God must have made a mistake.  Not good.

Finally, the Judge entered the courtroom.  God did not answer any of Job’s questions nor did He commend Job’s goodness.  Through a series of questions to Job, He revealed Who He is, and Job was humbled.  “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.  I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (42:5-6)  Job had nothing more to say.  Mission accomplished, case closed, the series ends! 

Epilogue. God rebuked the bumbling detectives/friends who tried to discover the reason for Job’s trial, and Job forgave them.  Then, God restored Job’s fortunes and “blessed him in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.” (42:12)  Everyone loves a happy ending.

The lessons of Job are invaluable.  We learn that God is Sovereign.  He loves and cares for us regardless of how good we are.  His ways are higher and more perfect than we could ever imagine, and in humility, we bow to His wisdom.  In Chapter 1, we learn that our enemy, Satan, is not all that!  He is not sovereign and must ask permission to do anything.  He is not omnipresent and must patrol the earth to find out what is going on.  He cannot read our minds nor foretell the future or he would have already known the outcome.  Someday, when we see him cast into his eternity, we will wonder how this sniveling nothing was able to make us think he was anything more than that.

As Job learned, life is not so much about what happens to us or why as much as it is about Who, Who our God is, and the relationship we have with Him along the way to eternity. 

Moving Forward: Whether or not this day finds the answers I seek, you are the living God!  I bow to your wisdom today, Lord. You know what is best. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 42-46

Job 39-40 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He will humble us when necessary to produce complete trust in Him

For anyone who is questioning negative circumstances in your life today, read on.  You are in good company!  Many leaders in the Bible questioned God about what was happening in their lives – David, Moses, Gideon to name a few.  I believe that God understands our questioning, and He wasn’t threatened or angered by their questions. However, it appears that Job had crossed a line in his own defense.  When we consider ourselves so righteous that nothing negative should ever happen to us, we imply that God has made a mistake and He was wrong in allowing troubles to visit our lives.  At one point Job had the audacity to declare, “Look, I will sign my name to my defense.  Let the Almighty answer me.” (31:35)  And answer He did!

After a series of direct questions to Job regarding some of His incredible creation, the Lord asked him, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?  You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” (40:1-2)  Ouch.  Job had been waiting for this moment for quite some time, the moment when he could defend himself directly to God against this terrible injustice brought on him.  However, all he could say was, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers?  I will cover my mouth with my hand.  I have said too much already.  I have nothing more to say.”(40:4-5)  Good answer, Job.  It was best to cover his mouth.

Yet, God’s rebuke continued. I imagine with each of God’s pointed questions, Job sank a little closer to the ground.  In the end, I envision him a little puddle on the ground with a turban resting on it.  Sad to say, I can imagine this because I’ve been there.

God’s questions cause me to think about His creation in a different way.  Have we ever thought about the horse the way God describes it?  In days past, its bravery carried men to battle, with its snort and pounding hooves.  Other animals would have run from the terror of battle, but not the horse.  The silly ostrich with wings yet no ability to fly does not possess enough wisdom to protect its young, yet can run faster than the brave horse.  And the Behemoth, whose identity seems to range from an enormous elephant to the Loch Ness Monster, is the strongest of creatures, yet eats grass.

God has given us the ability to choose any or all of His other creation’s attributes.  We can be brave or fearful, strong or weak, silly or wise, cunning or foolish…vegan or carnivore, the list is endless.  How can we fail to trust the One who has placed so much trust in us?

God’s questions to Job could have gone on for all eternity, literally, but all of His questions beg of me a greater question or two.  Will I trust the One who made me and all of creation?  Is there a chance that His wisdom in any given situation is greater than my own?  I cover my mouth… 

Moving Forward:  In awe of Who you are, I cover my mouth and trust your divine design for my life.  You do not make mistakes.

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 37-41

Job 37-38 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He uses the challenges we face to perfect us, to make us more like Him 

@ Job 38
“Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:  Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?  Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’” (1-3) This is not the way I want the Lord to begin a conversation with me.  Job had asked his whys? But God answered with Who?

The trial against Job had continued for quite some time.  The four accusers had laid out their case against him and each time Job had risen to his own defense, disputing their accusations.  At Chapter 38, God entered the courtroom.  He was not a witness to be cross examined.  He was not the prosecuting attorney for the four accusers.  He was not the defense attorney that Job was hoping for.  He was the judge.  “Brace yourself like a man!”  Help. 

Who laid out the universe, formed the seas with their tides and created darkness and light?  Were you there from the beginning, Job? Who made snow and rain, ice and frost and the laws of the universe that regulate all temperatures?  Who placed the constellations in the sky and directs the sequence of the seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall?  Because Job felt so free to question God’s dealings with him, it seems God was giving him an opportunity to evaluate whether or not he thought himself on the same level as Him.  Who? Indeed.

David often questioned God about things that were happening and defended his actions on occasion, but his heart was always one of repentance.  Job seemed to be a little too proud of his goodness to accept what had happened to him, implying that he knew better than God.  Perhaps this pride was the catalyst for Job’s great test as much as Satan’s request in Chapter l.

In all his goodness, was Job beginning to reflect the arrogance of Lucifer before the fall?  Where would it lead?  These questions are without answers, but they cause me to examine my own life.  Each day I ask God to purify my heart of pride and little roots that can take hold and imply that any goodness in me could come from anywhere but Him.  I want to avoid those brace yourself moments with God.

Job proved Satan’s accusation in Chapter l wrong.   He did not curse God when his world was attacked as Satan had predicted, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” (19:25) Job had passed this test.  However, God often uses difficult times in our lives to bring about something better in us.  God was perfecting Job, and Job soon learned the what in his experience, what would make him a better man. God’s response to Job was not one of a casual acquaintance, where attitudes and weaknesses are just ignored. His response was based on relationship, personal and intimate.

The old saying comes to mind, “God loves you just the way you are. But he loves you too much to let you stay that way.”  I love Him for this, that He loves me enough, that He is mindful enough of little me, to change me and make me more like Him. 

Moving Forward:  I will focus today on Who He is.  I may or may not learn the why of the challenges I face, but in knowing Who, I will soon learn what He is perfecting in me. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 32-36

Job 35-36 (NLT)

Discover His heart:   He uses our challenges to teach us and help us grow

Shortly after surviving the terrible twos when raising our children, we enter the world of Why?  Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why do I have to eat my broccoli? Why do I have to go to bed?  Why do stars shine? Why, why, why?  When my grandson, Kai, entered his twos (not terrible in the least bit) his inquisitive mind jump-started right into the world of why.  Is it ever okay to say that I just don’t know why? It was a long year, but we loved every minute of it.

This ritual seems to be the way we accumulate knowledge in our early years, and sometimes that nagging why continues to plague us even into adulthood. We just can’t seem to get past why things are happening to us.  Most of the great leaders in the Bible asked God why at one time or another, but Job seemed to be stuck there. At some point along the way we all learn that the real question is not why, but what. 

@Job 35
When we’re making every effort to live right, resisting things that we would like to do in order to remain pure yet pain and suffering come our way, we’re attempted to share Job’s dismal outlook.  What’s the use of it?  If we continue to wallow in this opinion, we give the impression that we are more correct about our circumstance, more righteous than God in how it should be handled. Not good. Just like Job, we may not have the full picture of our situation, but God most certainly does.

Elihu raised an interesting point, “If you sin, how does that affect God?  Even if you sin again and again what effect will it have on Him?  If you are good, is this some great gift to Him?  What could you possibly give Him?” (6-7) Elihu was right in saying God is neither damaged nor improved by our behavior, but He failed to say that God is blessed by our praise and grieved by our disobedience. 

@ Job 36
“God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress.  He is setting your table with the best food.  But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged.” (16-17) In his dissertation, Elihu was attempting to stop Job from focusing on why he was suffering and why other, more evil people, were not.  Self pity never serves us well.  He wanted Job to learn what God was trying to teach him through his suffering.

When it’s all said and done, I’ve found it’s always better to ask the Lord what rather than why when I am going through a challenging situation because it usually shortens the length of my discomfort.  What can I learn through this suffering?  What lesson will help me move forward to the other side?  Job’s what was right around the corner in Chapter 38.

Look, God is all-powerful. Who is a teacher like Him?  No one can tell Him what to do, or say to Him, ‘You have done wrong.’  Instead, glorify His mighty works, singing songs of praise…Look, God is greater than we can understand.” (22-26)  Some good advice from Elihu at this point.  When I am in that holding pattern, with few answers and little direction, one thing I can do is glorify His mighty work in my life, thanking Him for all His blessings in days past.  I can sing songs of praise to Him, expressing my love for Who He is and for His power to deliver. 

Moving Forward: I will praise Him today through my circumstances, opening my heart to what He is longing to share with me.. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 27-31

 

Job 33-34 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Whether instructing or disciplining, He always does what’s best for us

The early earth dwellers believed the world was flat. They made this statement based on their limited knowledge of their surroundings, but then the adventurous Italian, Columbus, proved them wrong when he didn’t turn a corner and fall into oblivion.

Actually the debate in Columbus’ day was more about the size of the world and whether or not he could ever reach his goal.  I have to admit when I’ve looked out the window over the terrain in Central Florida, it looked pretty flat, but I understand that things are not always as they seem.  If only Job’s comforters could have understood this concept. 

@ Job 33
The young Elihu introduced a new reason for Job’s suffering.  Job’s three friends insisted he was being punished for his sins, and no other explanation was acceptable.  Job repeatedly defended himself to them to the point of arrogance as he explained his righteousness.  Elihu contended that God not only uses suffering to punish but he also will use suffering to instruct.  Through suffering, “God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it…He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings.  He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride.  He protects them from the grave…OR God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds…” (14-18). This left the door open in Elihu’s thinking for Job to be the righteous man he claimed to be but possibly suffering so that God could disciple him, OR, He could be punishing him.  Either way, he was suffering. 

@ Job 34
Elihu continued his speech under the impression that Job was suffering because God wanted to bring instruction.  However, he felt the suffering continued on and on because Job was sinning by arrogantly questioning God, “Job, you deserve the maximum penalty for the wicked way you have talked. For you have added rebellion to your sin; you show no respect and you speak many angry words against God.” (36-37)  Later, when God spoke to Job, we learn there was an element of truth to what Elihu was saying, but like his friends, his conclusion was based on the wrong premise.

Elihu’s conclusion reminds me of the early earth dwellers. Elihu based his conclusion on his limited knowledge of Job’s situation and only on how he viewed it.  The earth is flat.  Again, no one in the scenario was privy to the reason for Job’s suffering other than God, Satan….and us.

I’ve certainly made mistakes in my life by forming conclusions based on limited knowledge.  Fortunately, none have hugely altered my life in a negative way.  I read recently about the reason for Oprah’s acceptance of many gods rather than the true and living God alone.  She heard a minister once say that God was a jealous God.  In her limited thinking, she decided that a jealous God was not for her, and she left church and has never returned.  I question that she knew God in a personal way. She knew of Him, but she didn’t really know Him or understand the scripture quoted in her church.  Her conclusion based on limited knowledge dramatically altered her life, and it is altering many of the lives she influences each day. That said, jumping to a false conclusion may not only affect my own life, but may affect the lives of all those I influence as well.  Noted and taken to heart. 

Moving Forward: God’s plans and purposes are often hidden from my understanding. With this in mind, I’ll not be so quick to form conclusions and risk negative results. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 22-26

Job 31-32 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His wisdom is for young and old alike – ours for the asking

Our eyes certainly are inundated with stimulating and suggestive sights just about everywhere we go, whether in public places, on the television or on our computers. We may be minding our own business, not seeking out anything questionable yet be assaulted dead on. We need to understand that we control how we respond to these visual encounters. I appreciate the wisdom of author Steve Arterburn who cautions men in his book, “Every Man’s Battle,” on this subject and encouraged the bounce response.

Arterburn suggests when the eyes encounter those things that are stimulating and suggestive, quickly bounce the eyes to something else rather than linger. In his day, Job wasn’t privileged nor was he challenged by the media we have at our disposal, but evidently he still was tested in this area and had his own method of dealing with it.

In Chapter 31, Job made his last appeal to the jury of friends about his innocence.  Although his defense had sounded arrogant at times, Job was a good man who loved God. “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (31:1) Sin first entered the garden when Eve saw the fruit, lingered on it, and then considered it. With all that is thrown in our view today, oh that we will make a covenant with our eyes like Job did.

Job pleaded innocent to sins against God, to sins against other people and to sins against himself – but no one believed him. Job’s friends believed that all suffering was the punishment for sin. They deducted either God was wrong or Job was lying, and God is never wrong. The three tormentors gave up and finally shut their mouths…ahhhh.

Enter the smart young voyeur into this conversation, Elihu, the moderator in this trial.  While trying to find a solution to this ongoing dispute, Elihu had plenty of insults to pass around, first to the three friends that he thought unwise. Many things Elihu spoke were true, for example, “There is a spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent.”(32:8) All wisdom comes from God and is available to all, but it’s usually our experiences in life that cause us to draw from that wisdom.

Obviously, older people have more experiences than do young people, and wisdom hopefully follows those experiences. However, I’ve known many young ones with wisdom beyond their years because they have sought the Source of all wisdom. We can also receive the gift of wisdom, supernatural wisdom that has no age boundary, and the wisdom given freely by God to those who ask for it. (James 1:5) We really have no valid excuse for the foolish things we do at times.

Elihu concluded his speech explaining that he was like a cork ready to pop with all the wisdom he possessed. I would say that only the young could be so confident, and as we read over the next few chapters, we learn that he, too, was incorrect in his counsel to Job. Imagine.

It was wisdom that led Job to make a covenant with his eyes – an agreement, a treaty, a promise, a commitment – not to look with lust on any woman. Wisdom will always lead us to make right choices in life. I remember a little song we sang in Children’s Church when I was young that helped me to understand at a very early age that we control our steps and actions each day. “Be careful little feet where you go…be careful little hands what you do…be careful little eyes what you see…For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see.” Well, we never outgrow that need to be careful, and that is wise.

Moving Forward: I make a covenant with my eyes not to look at any person, place or thing with greedy desire. I seek His wisdom that He offers so freely in all that I think, do and say.

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 17-21

Job 29-30 (NLT)

Discover His Heart: He is the source of all blessings and watches over our lives

I clearly remember the first time I was bumped up to First Class on an airline flight. As I sat down on the roomy comfortable seat, I thought I was one of the most blessed people on the planet. With the personal attention, upscale meals and china, I repeat china, coffee cups, I felt that it was definitely where I belonged. It was a long flight, and I felt especially blessed that day to sit so comfortably on my journey.

On my next flight I found myself back in Coach with the regular folk, and unfortunately, now I knew what I was missing. That Coach seat was smaller than ever, the peanuts were…just peanuts. Flying would never be quite the same. (Sigh) In our reading today, a great part of Job’s misery was remembering what he had enjoyed at one time and realizing that it was now gone.

No doubt Job’s enemy, Satan, was thrilled to hear Job’s account of his past glories in Chapter 29. I would imagine his test of Job included proving that all creation was full of pride just as he was. Job’s recount of his past sounds almost prideful. Better he had reviewed all the blessings God has given him, rather than detailing all he had accomplished himself. In his defense, I am reminded of something a friend said to me when I was struggling with something early in my ministry. She explained that when we live our lives for Him, as time goes on we tend to remember only the beautiful. On this occasion, Job was remembering only the beautiful moments in his life, and painful events had been forgotten.

Usually our memories of blessing bring hope for the future, but they did not bring hope to Job. To fall from how he lived and was regarded in Chapter 29 to the degradation and scorn of Chapter 30 explains the depths of his present anguish. Often throughout the book, Job rightfully stated that all goodness comes from God, but occasionally he implied that his former blessings came from his piety and this was why he felt he didn’t deserve his trial.

In Chapter 29:9-10, Job recounted how others viewed him, “The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect.” “I assisted… I helped… I caused… righteousness covered me like a robe… I served.” (vs.12-15) Even in our humblest of circumstances, pride can rear its ugly head, threatening our future dependence on Him. Yes, God blesses our right living with His goodness, but we do well to remember that He is the source of all blessing, and through His mercy and grace He blesses us.

For me, Job’s greatest anguish came when he said, “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look.” (30:20) Of course, we know from Chapter 1 that God was looking at him intently, but to think that God was unconcerned about him was Job’s greatest anguish of all!

Sometimes we may be tempted to feel this same way, but from Job’s story, we know that God is looking at us intently regardless of our circumstances. It is out of our lack that He is able to bring great blessing, and it is out of our lack that we will appreciate and cherish His blessings, never taking credit for them and never taking them for granted. Flying First Class no matter where we’re seated!

Moving Forward: From an old hymn, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below…” (The Doxology) This truth is my heart’s song as I move forward today. I will praise Him! Regardless of my circumstances, I know He is looking at me intently and His blessings will flow.

Tomorrow@Jeremiah 12-16

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