Job 23-24 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He desires our trust even in His silence

Xenophobia. Now isn’t that a scary word.  Most often referring to the fear of strangers or foreigners, it is also a term for fear of the unknown.  It’s not a fear based on what is, but rather on what could be.  Fear of the unknown is a natural fear that everyone experiences at one time or another; but when it becomes life-controlling for individuals, they may be labeled as xenophobes. This would not look good on a resume’ to be sure.

In reading the book of Job over the past several weeks, we find an increasing determination in Job to find the reason for his trial. Chapter 13 was significant in his quest to discover the unknown, but in today’s reading, we find him overcome with fear about what he does not know.  However, my heart doesn’t want to label him with a phobia.  No, my heart goes out to him. 

@ Job 23
After defending himself against the accusations of Eliphaz in Chapter 22, Job pleaded his innocence once again, “I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed His ways and not turned aside.  I have not departed from His commands, but have treasured His words more than daily food.” (11-12) Along with his defense came an even stronger need to know what he didn’t know.  Why did all this happen to him?  Then Job admitted his tremendous fear.

“Whatever He wants to do, He does. So He will do to me whatever he has planned.  He controls my destiny. No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me. God has made me sick at heart; the Almighty has terrified me.” (13-16)  I must admit that I wonder, at this point, of what was Job afraid?  Having lost everything he possessed except a crabby wife and his own life which was, by his own admission, at death’s door, what impending loss was left to terrorize him?  What did God have left to do with Job?  What unknown was hanging in the balance?

Perhaps Job’s greatest fear was eternal divine silence.  God had been silent to Job throughout his trial, but what if God never revealed Himself to Job again, what if he was eternally separated from God?  I can understand the very thought of this bringing terror to a heart!  Once we have known the fellowship with God as Job described above, the fear of eternal separation is an unknown we never want to experience.

That thought alone should compel us to reach the lost, our friends and loved ones who do not know Him. “He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)  The world today groans with a terror they do not understand, and this is it!  It is separation from God. This terror, however, is not for those who know and love God.

Job declared, “But [God] knows where I am going.  And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” (10)  Good preaching, Job!  Unfortunately, the fear of the unknown hand of God robbed Job of this message.  We have this known promise to carry us through the trial even when it seems like we are facing divine silence: “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (I Peter 1:6-8) No fear.

Moving Forward: We can cling to His promises today, not focusing on those things that are unknown, but claiming the known promises of God.  When we come through the fire, we will be purer than gold.

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 62-66

Job 21-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through our intimacy with God, we know He can be trusted

It does our hearts good to see a few of the rich and famous use their wealth on occasion to help those around the world who are destitute. Just how many huge homes and estates throughout the world does one individual need anyway?  With lifestyles less than exemplary in some cases, many seem to flaunt their wealth in the faces of those who struggle to survive.  It was just a matter of time before Job questioned the abundance of the wicked in light of his dire situation. 

@ Job 21
“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (7) My response to Job is that I don’t know. “They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren…” (8) Safe homes, productive cattle, happy children, and on and on. “And yet they say to God, ‘Go away.  We want no part of you, and your ways.’” (14)  Job seemed to be describing the beautiful people of our day as well. However, Job’s greatest concern was not the wealth of the ungodly, but rather the poverty and heartache of those who served God. 

@ Job 22
Eliphaz, Job’s friend/tormentor, asked some questions of his own, “Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?  Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?  Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you? No, it’s because of your wickedness! There’s no limit to your sins.” (3-5)  Eliphaz went on to list the many possible sins of Job, but his questions give me pause for thought.

The questions of Eliphaz imply an impersonal God who blesses when we are good and punishes when we are bad.  Certainly, God is not dependent on us, but we know from scripture that He is blessed by our faithfulness to Him and even amazed sometimes by our faith.  God desires an intimate relationship with us.  The thought that Job’s ordeal could be a testing is not in the mix for Eliphaz, but both men missed the point.  Job thought God’s blessing in his life was based solely on his own goodness, and Eliphaz felt the lack of God’s blessing was based on Job’s sin.

When God finally responded to Job, He answered none of his questions, but He directed Job to understand that He was in control of all things.  It wasn’t Job’s concern if evil men appeared to prosper and innocent men suffered.  God would determine man’s destination for eternity, which, by the way, is a very long time.

While Satan thought Job would crumble and curse God through his affliction, God was confident Job would remain faithful. Job’s response that we read last week, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” (19:25) had to have put a smile on the face of the Lord.  Job believed in Him through his trial, but would he trust Him through the process?  Could God’s path for Job be trusted?  It was in this test that Job was on shaky ground.

And this is our test as well in the trials we face from time to time.  We know that our Redeemer lives, but will we trust His path for us and not be tormented by all the questions that come to mind? In yesterday’s Psalm 32, David repented then trusted the Lord to care for him.  Job repented early in his story,  but he was challenged to now put down all his questions and trust God to care for him.  Thankfully, better days were in Job’s future… 

Moving Forward: Who cares about the abundance of those around us, whether they are righteous or not!  The bottom line is I know that my Redeemer lives, and I pray I will trust Him through the challenges I face. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 56-61

Job 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Unthreatened by our questions, He answers those at the heart of our need

The tales I’ve heard about the language mother’s-to-be have used in the throes of delivering their babies could make a grown woman blush, especially in the days before the pain relievers available today.  I think of the dear father coaching his sweet wife along in the process when the pain of an absolute explosion occurring in her abdomen causes her to lash out at the instigator of all this pain.  Obviously, the lack of understanding in his advice was insulting and not welcomed.  Poor guy – he was just trying to help!

Just like these fathers, we may experience something similar when we offer advice after listening to someone’s woes.  That well-intended advice could come back to bite us. Some questions come to mind from our reading today in Job:  In the midst of a struggle and in our telling of it to others, what response are we really expecting from them?  What is our responsibility as a listener? 

@ Job 3
In all the trials that Job faced, he did not take his wife’s advice to curse God, but he did do some cursing.  “At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.” (1)  So miserable was his existence that he asked that the day of his birth be removed from the calendar. (6)  Job just wanted to die.  Jeremiah expressed similar words in Jeremiah 20:14, “Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.  I curse the messenger who told my father, ‘Good news—you have a son!’”  Some struggles in life are so painful that dying just seems easier.

Job began his questioning of why, seven times just in this chapter alone. “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die…Why is life given to those with no future?” etc. (11-23)  God isn’t really threatened by our questions because He made us and understands our desire to know the answer to our why; but in this testing, God had more important truths for Job to learn.

Job’s friends had come to him and sat in silence which was the custom of the day, but also because grief and anguish leave many of us without words.  However, when Job started to ask his many questions, his friends felt compelled to answer, and answer they did.  As in the mother scenario, Job did not care for their answers.  Perhaps we can learn from Job’s experience that when going through a crisis, we can express our sadness and pain to caring listeners, but for the answers to our difficult questions, we are wise to go to those who may have actual answers, and even more so, we should seek the Lord. 

@ Job 4
Put on the spot, Eliphaz, the most seasoned of Job’s friends, felt obliged to answer, “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed?  My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” (7-8)  Because we are privy to the dialogue of Chapter 1, we know that Eliphaz, in all his experience, was just offering his opinion in Job’s case and even had the audacity to say he was speaking on God’s behalf.  His counsel to Job was inaccurate and wasn’t helpful.

In Galatians 6:2, Paul strongly encouraged to “Share each other’s burdens,” and this is one of the many blessings we receive as believers.  Sometimes we feel all we can do is listen to our hurting friend, but so often, that is exactly what is needed.  The most valuable time Job’s friends spent with him was when they sat in silence.  From Eliphaz’s poor counsel, we learn that the best and most helpful advice is based on fact and not on opinion.  Finally, praying with our friend is the one thing we can do that opens the door to God’s supernatural intervention for their need. Whether He uses us or someone else to help our friend, He is the One who knows all the right answers to all the questions and reveals them at just the right moment.

Moving Forward: For those I meet today who may be hurting, I pray that my response is Spirit-led, whether in simply listening or in sharing truths. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 7-11

Job 23-24 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He desires our trust even in His silence

Xenophobia. Now isn’t that a scary word.  Most often referring to the fear of strangers or foreigners, it is also a term for fear of the unknown.  It’s not a fear based on what is, but rather on what could be.  Fear of the unknown is a natural fear that everyone experiences at one time of another; but when it becomes life-controlling for individuals, they may be labeled as xenophobes. This would not look good on a resume to be sure.

In reading the book of Job over the past several weeks, we find an increasing determination in Job to find the reason for his trial. Chapter 13 was significant in his quest to discover the unknown, but in today’s reading we find him overcome with fear about what he does not know.  However, my heart doesn’t want to label him with a phobia.  No, my heart goes out to him. 

@ Job 23
After defending himself against the accusations of Eliphaz in Chapter 22, Job pleaded his innocence once again, “I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed His ways and not turned aside.  I have not departed from His commands, but have treasured His words more than daily food.” (11-12) But along with his defense came an even stronger need to know what he didn’t know .  Why did all this happen to him?  Then Job admitted his tremendous fear.

“Whatever He wants to do, He does. So He will do to me whatever he has planned.  He controls my destiny. No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me. God has made me sick at heart; the Almighty has terrified me.” (13-16)  I must admit that I wonder, at this point, of what was Job afraid?  Having lost everything he possessed except a crabby wife and his own life which was, by his own admission, at death’s door, what impending loss was left to terrorize him?  What did God have left to do with Job?  What unknown was hanging in the balance?

Perhaps Job’s greatest fear was eternal divine silence.  God had been silent to Job throughout his trial, but what if God never revealed Himself to Job again, what if he was eternally separated from God?  I can understand the very thought of this bringing terror to a heart!  Once we have known the fellowship with God as Job described above, the fear of eternal separation is an unknown we never want to experience.

That thought alone should compel us to reach the lost, our friends and loved ones who do not know Him. “He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)  The world today groans with a terror they do not understand, and this is it!  It is separation from God. This terror, however, is not for those who know and love God.

Job declared, “But [God] knows where I am going.  And when He tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” (10)  Good preaching, Job!  Unfortunately the fear of the unknown hand of God robbed Job of its message.  We have this known promise to carry us through the trial even when it seems like we are facing divine silence: “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (I Peter 1:6-8) No fear.

Moving Forward: We can cling to His promises today, not focusing on those things that are unknown, but claiming the known promises of God.  When we come through the fire, we will be purer than gold.

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 62-66

Job 21-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through our intimacy with Him, we know He can be trusted

It does our hearts good to see a few of the rich and famous use their wealth on occasion to help those around the world who are destitute. Just how many great homes and estates throughout the world does one individual need anyway?  With lifestyles less than exemplary in some cases, many seem to flaunt their wealth in the faces of those who struggle to survive.  It was just a matter of time before Job questioned the abundance of the wicked in light of his dire situation. 

@ Job 21
“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (7) My response to Job is that I don’t know. “They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren…” (8) Safe homes, productive cattle, happy children, and on and on. “And yet they say to God, ‘Go away.  We want no part of you and your ways.’” (14)  Job seemed to be describing the beautiful people of our day as well. However, Job’s greatest concern was not the wealth of the ungodly, but rather the poverty and heartache of those who served God. 

@ Job 22
Eliphaz, Job’s friend/tormentor, asked some questions of his own, “Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?  Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?  Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you? No, it’s because of your wickedness! There’s no limit to your sins.” (3-5)  Eliphaz went on to list the many possible sins of Job, but his questions give me pause for thought.

The questions of Eliphaz imply an impersonal God who blesses when we are good and punishes when we are bad.  Certainly God is not dependent on us, but we know from scripture that He is blessed by our faithfulness to Him and even amazed sometimes by our faith.  God desires an intimate relationship with us.  The thought that Job’s ordeal could be a testing is not in the mix for Eliphaz, but both men missed the point.  Job thought God’s blessing in his life was based solely on his own goodness, and Eliphaz thought the lack of God’s blessing was based on Job’s sin.

When God finally responded to Job, He answered none of his questions, but He directed Job to understand that He was in control of all things.  It wasn’t Job’s concern if evil men appeared to prosper and innocent men suffered.  God would determine man’s destination for eternity, which, by the way, is a very long time.

While Satan thought Job would crumble and curse God through his affliction, God was confident Job would remain faithful. Job’s response that we read last week, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” (19:25) had to have put a smile on the face of the Lord.  Job believed in Him through his trial, but would he trust Him through the process?  Could God’s path for Job be trusted?  It was in this test that Job was on shaky ground.

And this is our test as well in the trials we face from time to time.  We know that our Redeemer lives, but will we trust His path for us and not be tormented by all the questions that come to mind? In yesterday’s Psalm 32, David repented then trusted the Lord to care for him.  Job repented early in his story,  but he was challenged to now put down all his questions and trust God to care for him.  Thankfully, better days were in Job’s future… 

Moving Forward: Who cares about the abundance of those around us, whether they are righteous or not!  The bottom line is I know that my Redeemer lives, and I pray I will trust Him through the challenges I face. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 56-61

Job 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Unthreatened by our questions, He answers those at the heart of our need

The tales I’ve heard about the language mother’s-to-be have used in the throes of delivering their babies could make a grown woman blush, especially in the days before the pain relievers available today.  I think of the dear father coaching his sweet wife along in the process when the pain of an absolute explosion occurring in her abdomen causes her to lash out at the instigator of all this pain.  Obviously, the lack of understanding in his advice was insulting and not welcomed.  Poor guy – he was just trying to help!

Just like these fathers, we may experience something similar when we offer advice after listening to someone’s woes.  That well-intended advice could come back to bite us. Some questions come to mind from our reading today in Job:  In the midst of a struggle and in our telling of it to others, what response are we really expecting from them?  What is our responsibility as a listener? 

@ Job 3
In all the trials that Job faced, he did not take his wife’s advice to curse God, but he did do some cursing.  “At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.” (1)  So miserable was his existence that he asked that the day of his birth be removed from the calendar. (6)  Job just wanted to die.  Jeremiah expressed similar words in Jeremiah 20:14, “Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.  I curse the messenger who told my father, ‘Good news—you have a son!’”  Some struggles in life are so painful that dying just seems easier.

Job began his questioning of why, seven times just in this chapter alone. “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die…Why is life given to those with no future?” etc. (11-23)  God isn’t really threatened by our questions because He made us and understands our desire to know the answer to our why; but in this testing, God had more important truths for Job to learn.

Job’s friends had come to him and sat in silence which was the custom of the day, but also because grief and anguish leave many of us without words.  However, when Job started to ask his many questions, his friends felt compelled to answer, and answer they did.  As in the mother scenario, Job did not care for their answers.  Perhaps we can learn from Job’s experience that when going through a crisis, we can express our sadness and pain to caring listeners, but for the answers to our difficult questions, we are wise to go to those who may have actual answers, and even more so, we should seek the Lord. 

@ Job 4
Put on the spot, Eliphaz, the most seasoned of Job’s friends, felt obliged to answer, “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed?  My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” (7-8)  Because we are privy to the dialogue of Chapter 1, we know that Eliphaz, in all his experience, was just offering his opinion in Job’s case and even had the audacity to say he was speaking on God’s behalf.  His counsel to Job was inaccurate and wasn’t helpful.

In Galatians 6:2, Paul strongly encouraged to “Share each other’s burdens,” and this is one of the many blessings we receive as believers.  Sometimes we feel all we can do is listen to our hurting friend, but so often, that is exactly what is needed.  The most valuable time Job’s friends spent with him was when they sat in silence.  From Eliphaz’s poor counsel, we learn that the best and most helpful advice is based on fact and not on opinion.  Finally, praying with our friend is the one thing we can do that opens the door to God’s supernatural intervention for their need. Whether He uses us or someone else to help our friend, He is the One who knows all the right answers to all the questions and reveals them at just the right moment.

Moving Forward: For those I meet today who may be hurting, I pray that my response is Spirit-led, whether in simply listening or in sharing truths. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 7-11