STUDYING THE BIBLE
WITH PASTOR STEVE
THE BOOK OF JOB - Part 1
The book of Job asks all these questions and more without ever giving any easy answers. In fact, it disdains easy answers and those who offer them. Maybe that's why it's one of my favorite books of the Bible.
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Verse 1 - No one knows where the land of Uz was, nor what the name of Job means. I don't think God ever intended the story of Job to be tied to a particular time and place in history, nor even to a particular individual.
It is the universal story of humankind. In many ways it's my story. In many ways, it's yours.
It's a "once upon a time" story in the best sense - a tale whose archetypes illustrate the human condition and tell us much about ourselves.
Notice that Job was "blameless and upright." Over and over again the book will make the point that Job didn't deserve the horrible things that happened to him. The Lord even commends him in verse 8.
Verses 2 & 3 - Job enjoyed great prosperity, we might even say perfect prosperity, because the numbers in these verses were "perfect numbers" in the minds of the book's original readers, the Hebrews.
Verses 4 & 5 - Job was not only concerned about his own spiritual state, but the states of others as well, even trying to make atonement for sins he didn't know about.
Once again Job is shown to be meticulous in his pursuit of righteousness. Incidentally, how concerned are we about the spiritual condition of our children and what do we do about it?
Verse 6 - "The Sons Of God," in other words, beings that owe their existence to God and are in relationship with him (angels), come before the Lord. "Satan," or "The Satan" in Hebrew, means "Adversary," or "The Adversary." In the book of Job, he is "The Adversary" of both God and Job.
Even today, Satan not only opposes God, but also mankind. He hates what God has created and those who are beloved of God.
Why does God allow Satan to attend the gathering?
Why does the passage seem to imply that Satan regularly attended God's gatherings?
Why does God draw Satan out and allow Satan to speak, seemingly goading God into taking a bet?
Why does God need to prove Himself and the truth of what He says to Satan and the angels? (I don't know, but I'm glad He condescends to proving Himself to me when he doesn't have to.)
Biblical scholars have been struck by how Satan seems to play the role of Court Jester in Job Chapters 1 & 2. He's the one who questions and/or mocks everything the king says, not to provide entertainment (the ancient world had no political humorists or Saturday Night Live), but to get the king to think about his actions, to clarify his positions, to help the monarch stretch and grow.
How can the extremely perfect God stretch, grow, and learn?
Is God using Satan to help His cause?
Does Satan have a part to play in God's grand scheme of things?
The book of Job offers no answers, but shows us that, what on the surface seems like a straight-forward little story of God and Satan arguing in heaven, has a lot more to it.
This is one of the messages of Job - there is always more going on than is readily apparent to human eyes. There is more going on in your life than you can see or be aware of.
Job's fate is being decided up in the heavens. He is not consulted at all.
Verses 9-11 - Satan asks a question that the rest of the book will attempt to answer - can a person love God simply for who God is, apart from any blessings?
Or do people love God just because they want to get something out of Him?
Because He gives them presents?
Does Job love God only because He is acting as Job's "Sugar Daddy?"
The bottom line is that Satan is saying, in effect, to God, "You are not lovable. People actually only love the things you give them, not you."
Verse 12 - The Lord essentially says, "Okay, then, I'll let you take away everything I've given Job and we'll see what happens."
Notice that Satan doesn't have the authority to strike out at Job on his own. Satan can't do anything unless God permits it. This is a comforting thought and many passages of the Bible use this truth to offer comfort to us.
The book of Job does not, however. It uses this truth to place the blame for what happens to Job squarely on God's shoulders.
Indeed, after Chapter 2, Satan doesn't appear in the book at all. The focus in the book becomes Job's struggle to understand why GOD is doing these things to him (See verse 20).
Which makes me wonder. I say that I want the purpose of my life to be that God would be glorified. Even if I have to suffer somehow so that He may be proved right in the eyes of Satan and the angels?
Verses 20-21 - Job's reaction strikes many people as odd. He seems rather callous, unmoved, and matter-of-fact about the demise of his children and his fortune.
Yet tearing one's robe and shaving one's head were ways of expressing grief in the ancient world. Also, many who are grieving today find comfort in worship.
Job here realizes an essential truth that rubs we Americans the wrong way - I have no "right" to anything. Everything I have is basically a gift from God.
I don't believe that Job is "in denial" here. Instead, throughout the course of the book, he will exhibit the full range of emotions and thoughts that grieving people experience. He will swing back and forth between faith and doubt, hope and despair. He's normal. And if you find yourself doing that in your grief, you are normal, too.
Verse 22 - So far, it looks as if God has "won." But the rest of the book lies ahead of us and the outcome of the "bet" becomes very much in doubt. This is so true to life.
been times when you have felt the outcome of your life was in doubt - that
God's plan for you would fail or that he would lose His quest to save your
Verse 3 - Job holds fast to both his faith and his practice of that faith even in a time of severe adversity. Unfortunately, we don't always follow his example. I've known people who were "too bummed out to go to church" because of trials they were going through.
There have been periods in my life when I, in some manner or other "stayed away from God" because I was angry or saddened over the way things were turning out for me.
The book of Job is going to show us that it's okay to run to God with even our anger and frustrations rather than feeling we must run away from Him.
Many readers are disturbed by the fact that the LORD (the covenant name of the Hebrew's God and our God) says that Satan "incited" him to ruin Job "without any reason." This seems to be implying that God can be tricked or provoked into doing things he knows aren't right or things he later thinks better of. This sounds more like Zeus or Atum-Re than it does the LORD!
While I think that the answer is that the LORD is only saying here that Job had done nothing which merited him being punished, not that the LORD didn't have any reasons for allowing Satan to do what he did, the verse still brings up an interesting point.
The God of the Bible has much more of a personality, is much more REAL, and is much more a being we can relate to than the God of our cut-and-dried systematic theologies ("immutable, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent", etc.) The God of the Bible has strong emotions and isn't afraid to show them or act on them. The God of the Bible is very much affected by what his created beings do. The God of the Bible is a God who can understand and relate to me and to you, too.
Verse 4 - "Skin for skin." Satan could mean, "Just touch Job's skin, LORD, and he will be out for your hide!"
Verse 5 - Nothing tests us more than serious or chronic health problems.
Verse 7 - Job may have come down with leprosy. We don't know for sure. But it was some kind of painful and disfiguring skin ailment. There were other symptoms Job experienced as well that we'll learn about as we go through the book.
Verse 8 - Job probably sat in the ash heap (or dump) outside the town, signifying that he thought he was as good as dead and as useless and worthless as the trash people throw out. Have you ever felt that way?
Verse 9 - Satan can speak to us in the words of a loved one, someone we trust, a friend. Be careful!
Verse 10 - Job believes that God knows what He's doing. It's God's show. We just have to accept what happens to us and trust him. So far so good, Job.
But in the book, we'll see what happens as Job's suffering is prolonged. Chronic suffering can wear down even the firmest resolve and the best character.
Verses 11-13 - The friend's initial purpose was to comfort Job and for awhile, at least, they did a good job. They empathized and sympathized and were with Job in his hurt without trying to moralize, or "make sense of it all," or without telling their friend what to do, what to think, or how to feel.
egos make us talk when we really ought to stay silent. Sometimes we
speak because our faith is threatened more than the faith of the person we're
ministering to. Silence is rare in our society and it makes us
uncomfortable. But sometimes it's needed.
Verse 1 - Job doesn't curse God, but he does curse the day of his birth. Job is no stoic. To deny one's emotions is to cease to be human and to be dishonest before God. The Bible encourages us to express our emotions - even strong emotions, even "negative" ones.
Verses 3-10 - This is an extended curse filled with raw emotion. Job isn't giving a theology lesson here, just giving vent to his pain, grief, and frustration.
The original language that Job used, Hebrew, is almost incoherent at times in these verses, which is appropriate considering that Job is nearly "out of his head" at the time.
Haven't you ever "lost it"? Does God understand when this happens? Job's curse is really useless as a curse. How can one curse the day of one's birth? But Job is basically asking, "If this is the way my life ends up, why then was I even born?"
Verse 4 - An interesting idea expressed here - if God does not care about a day, or think about it, or "seek it" (as some translations put it) the day wouldn't exist. God wills each day into being.
Verse 8 - Job wants the day cursed with as strong a curse as possible, so he's looking for strong magicians who would have the skill to control Leviathan (a violent sea monster in ancient mythology, representing the cosmic chaos that God or the gods had to battle in primeval times in order to bring an ordered universe into being).
Job isn't really forsaking God and turning to magic here. He's just expressing intense emotion.
Verses 11-12 - "If my birth couldn't have been prevented, why couldn't I have been abandoned as an infant and died?" In other words, Job is starting to question, "Why am I here? What's the purpose behind all that's happened to me?"
Verses 13-19 - At this point in history, orthodox belief didn't include the ideas of heaven and hell. You were thought to exist after death, but you were in a sleeping state, no longer conscious of much of anything.
Therefore there would be no class distinctions. Everyone would be the same. Job is painfully aware that now he is not the same as everyone else, and, in fact, most consider him an inferior, as we shall see.
Verses 20-23 - "Why won't God let me die?" "Why does God give life to those who no longer want it?" I've asked myself that question kneeling beside the bed of someone suffering in the final throes of cancer.
Notice, though, that Job doesn't contemplate suicide. It's up to God to end a life. But he wonders why God had hedged him in, not allowing him to go to Sheol (the realm of the dead).
Verses 24-26 - See Chapter 1, verse 5. What Job feared, that one day he or those he loved would do something that would cause God to be angry at them or cut them off, he believes has happened.
Along with losing his health and prosperity, he believes he has lost God's favor. Isn't a religion of works instead of a religion of grace a scary religion to have?
too hard on Job, though, how often do we automatically assume when things go
wrong that God's out to get us or that He doesn't love us any more?
Verse 1 - The first of Job's friends, Eliphaz speaks. Actually, the New International Version of the Bible, and the Hebrew say that he "replied."
Eliphaz felt that Job's emotional outburst deserved some sort of response, some sort of answer. Job wants to know why his life is so messed up? Very well, then, Eliphaz will tell him.
Verse 2 - In other words, Eliphaz is saying, "I know that you may not be in the mood to hear this, but I've just got to say it."
Verses 3 - 5 - Eliphaz is telling Job, "Physician, heal thyself!" Often the counsel and comfort we try to give others sounds very hollow when we try to apply it to ourselves and our problems.
For example, it's one thing to tell someone, "Just trust the Lord and stop worrying." It's another thing to follow our own advice.
Verse 6 - Eliphaz believes that if Job has done nothing to deserve his tragedies, then God will take action and quickly reverse his situation.
He's also, though, at least implying that if Job has done wrong then all that has happened to him makes sense and he needs to repent.
Verse 7 - Eliphaz is spouting the traditional simplistic philosophy/theology, which asserts that if you are "good" in life, you'll be rewarded.
Verse 8 - Notice that Eliphaz loves to feel important and to call attention to himself. See also verses 12 and following.
We need to be careful that as we share with others and counsel them we're not just using it as an ego boost.
Verses 10 & 11 - Even wild beasts cannot harm the righteous in Eliphaz's opinion. He must not get out much, huh?
Verses 12-16 - Eliphaz claims to be the recipient of direct, divine revelation. And let's not jump to the conclusion that Eliphaz is making this up. He may have had a dream and thought it really happened. He may have been visited by a demon. He may even have received a genuine message from God and then just misapplied it to Job.
PLEASE NOTE: Not everyone who claims to have a message from God, or claims that the Lord told them what you or the church should do, or that the Lord is making things clear to him or her has really heard or understood God!
Verses 17-21 - The message this spirit gives Eliphaz is essentially that if God has decided to punish a man it must be for a good reason, because we all know that men are weaker and less wise than God. The implication here is, "Job, accept God's punishment for your sins, repent, and move on."
There's much wisdom in Eliphaz's words when applied to some people in this world - but not to Job.
world, and God's dealings with us are infinitely more complex than simple,
theological, "proof text" statements and philosophies will allow.
Verse 1 - "If God is punishing you, Job, who can you turn to for help?"
Verses 2-5 - Again the notion is that God always punishes "fools" (meaning, in Hebrew thought, morally deficient people, not mentally impaired ones) in this life.
And remember, religious faith as it had been revealed and developed at the time of Job had no place for an afterlife of rewards and punishments.
Incidentally, isn't verse 4 a very insensitive thing to say to a person who had lost his children, i.e. "It's because of your sin your children died!"
When one is puffing oneself up and pontificating about theological truth it's easy to run roughshod over other people. Be careful!
Verse 6 - In Eliphaz's view, trouble never just happens. There's always a reason behind it.
Verse 7 - Everybody inevitably experiences trouble. For Eliphaz the question will be, how does one respond when it comes.
Verses 8-27 - Eliphaz tells us how we ought to respond to trouble. We should pray to God and ask Him to intervene. If we are truly innocent, our fortunes will be quickly reversed. If we are guilty, we accept God's discipline and repent and then God blesses us once more.
Again, there's nothing really wrong with what Eliphaz is saying, it's just that in Job's case it's irrelevant and it doesn't give the whole biblical picture of God's dealings with humans and the reasons behind suffering.
Sometimes Eliphaz's words may be applicable to you or someone you love. Sometimes they won't be.
I have heard modern-day speeches reflect the spirit of Eliphaz when they make claims like, "If you only had faith and were right with God, you would be healed!" or "Come to Jesus and he will mend your broken marriage!" or "Trust God and you'll get out of debt!" None of these things, however, are necessarily so.
verse 27 that Eliphaz uses the last resort of someone who can't come up with
a decent argument, "If you were as smart (or as spiritual) as I am,
you'd know I'm right!"
Verses 1-5 - Job asserts that he has good reason to speak as he does. Notice that in verse 4, he says that God is the one torturing and scaring him. Job maintains that if things were swell, he wouldn't have reason to complain. But they are not (as any fool can see, he implies) so he bellows.
Verses 6-7 - Eliphaz's words are compared with tasteless food. Job wants no part of his counsel. Have you ever received advice that was like bland food? Have you ever given any?
Verses 8 - 10 - Job wishes that God would kill him quickly, lest his suffering get so bad that he turn away from God. If you have ever felt at your wit's and rope's end, then you can relate to Job.
Verses 11-13 - He hasn't the strength left to wait for the time of renewal and healing that Eliphaz spoke of. He doesn't believe he will last that long. He doesn't even feel as though he has enough energy in him to repent, if he had anything to repent of.
And Eliphaz's promises were conditional upon Job's repentance. So Job is basically saying, "Go away. I can't do what you ask."
Thank God we have the Holy Spirit to pray for us when we reach the point where we can't pray for ourselves. I've been there!
Verses 14-20 - When Job really needs his friends, he feels as though they aren't there for him. Just as desert travelers couldn't depend on flooded areas to always provide water, so Job can't depend on them.
Verse 21 - There are difficulties in determining exactly what this verse said in the original text, but the New International Version has Job saying that his friends speak as they do because their faith is threatened.
They see something that they are sure cannot be - a righteous man suffering, so they seek to explain it away somehow.
They don't question their assumptions about suffering, so they must instead distort facts.
God never asks us to twist reality in order to "defend" him. Instead, our assumptions may need to change.
Remember, the Jewish people had their basic religious assumptions challenged by a Messiah who turned out to be a carpenter who shunned earthly glory for service.
Verses 22-23 - Basically, "I don't owe you anything, so I don't have to go easy on you. I can speak freely."
Verses 24-30 - "Put up or shut up! Tell me what sin I must repent of outright! But you can't, although you won't listen to me that I've done nothing wrong. You treat my words as though they were meaningless sounds like the wind blowing."
Notice Job's concern is for his integrity.
What a change from our leaders today who say that what they do in their personal lives doesn't matter.
they were jerks at one point, but let's just move on. Job says, "I
was never a jerk and I resent your unprovable accusations!"
Verses 1- 3 - Job fears that humankind is fated to work hard with not much return from its efforts. Certainly in his case, he believes that he has been "good for nothing."
In other words, that he worked hard to do what was right and to serve God only to be paid with futility and misery.
If you've ever invested a lot in a relationship only to have it turn sour, or given your life over to a company only to be laid off, or raised your children the best way you knew how only to have them turn against you, then you can understand how Job feels.
And with Job, as perhaps with you, it's a crisis of faith. God should have seen to it that you received a just reward for all your efforts, but instead He sent heartbreak and disappointment your way.
Is God then not righteous? Is He unfair? The New Testament assures us that God notices what we do for Him and will commend and reward us - but not always in this life.
That's sometimes hard to live with and certainly tries our faith. Do we believe that rewards await us when all that we are experiencing now seems to say that we've wasted our efforts?
Verse 4 - A good description of insomnia. On top of everything else, Job is sleep-deprived. And we all know what that will do to your mind!
Verses 6 - 10 - Job believes that he is dying and calls God's attention (and that of his friends) to the fact that there isn't much time left for things to turn around for him. God had better do something quickly, or else it will be too late, if it's not already.
Verse 11 - Job has nothing to lose because he's already dying (or at least thinks he is) so he feels free to speak his mind. What more can God do to him? In fact, since his time is short, he had better speak out now before he'll be silenced forever.
Verse 12 - The ancients believed that the first enemy that God overcame in asserting control over the universe was Chaos, often portrayed as being the sea or a huge monster from the sea.
Job asks, "Am I as threatening to you and your plans and rule as Chaos itself? Do you have to subdue me as you subdue it?"
Verses 13 - 15 - Even when Job can manage to drift off to sleep, he gets no real rest because nightmares plague him.
Physical pain (as well as confusion over, and frustration with, our lives), and fear can certainly find their way into our dreams.
And there's the possibility that Satan was directly controlling Job's dreams.
Pastors, including me, know the troubling things that can invade our subconscious minds, particularly on Saturday nights before we have to preach the next day.
Verse 16 - Job wants to die because he has worked hard at being righteous and yet nothing good has come of it. His whole belief system of rewards and punishments has been turned upside-down.
Therefore, he joins with the author of Ecclesiastes in saying, "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"
It's horrible to live a life devoid of purpose, sense, and meaning. Humans need significance and need to feel that their actions have significance. Otherwise, why bother to get out of bed in the morning? Religions offer us significance and that is part of their appeal.
Verses 17 - 19 - A twisting of Psalm 8. There the author wonders why God views humankind as being important and why He blesses and honors us.
Here, Job wonders why God has to pick on humans. Why should God have to scrutinize and judge our every thought and action?
Verse 20 - This verse can mean, "Why won't you tell me what I've done that's so bad?"
Or it can mean, "Even if I have sinned, what is that really to you? How could I have done anything to hurt or thwart or weaken the Lord Of The Universe?"
One of the great mysteries in the Bible is the mystery of God's great love for, and involvement with, creatures like us.
Verse 21 - "Can't you bring yourself, God, to forgive
the sins of a weak, dying man? I'm a pitiful creature. Have
Verse 2 - Bildad believes Job is a big windbag! If so, I wonder why Bildad is so intent on correcting Job and why he's getting angry with him. Why not just ignore or dismiss him?
Maybe Job's words are getting to him and he's afraid his cherished theological beliefs are in jeopardy. So he wants Job to shut up.
I once had a woman yell, "You're making me lose my faith!" when I told her there was more than one view in Christendom of The End Times.
If your faith can't stand up to challenges and scrutiny, it must not be a very strong or valid faith to begin with.
Verses 3 - 7 - Bildad doesn't recognize the possibility of forgiveness at all. To him, life is a series of rewards and punishments. Period. There's no room for grace.
So, he tells Job that the reason his children died was that they had sinned. (He has quite a bedside manner, doesn't he? But defending our precious doctrines can lead us to be callous at times.)
And if Job is really righteous, all he has to do is pray and call God's attention to what's happening to him, and God will bring about restoration.
However, what Bildad doesn't know (or chooses to ignore) is that Job's children weren't punished for their sins, Job is righteous, and is already talking to God plenty!
Be very careful about advising a hurting person with, "Maybe you need to pray harder or pray with more faith." We can't put God in a box and attempt to always explain what he is, or isn't doing in a particular circumstance, and why.
Verses 8 - 10 - "Our elders believed that God rewards the just and punishes the wicked. Listen to their wisdom. They are right!"
However, in this case, the elders were totally wrong!
Age, history, and tradition are no guarantees of truthfulness. And "We've never done it this way before," is no reason why God won't bless it.
Verses 11 - 19 - A beautifully poetic description of the fate of ungodly humans. It's only problem is that it's TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to Job!
Verse 19 is very difficult to translate, so different versions of the Bible may translate it differently.
Verses 20 - 22 - Bildad sees all of life in very simplistic "black and white" terms. You are either a "good guy" or a "bad guy" and we can tell which you are by seeing what happens to you in life.
"Good guys" get rewarded. "Bad guys" get judged.
Those today who teach "If you're really a Christian you won't be sick, or depressed, or poor," would feel right at home with Bildad.
irony in verse 22 because at the end of the book, it is Bildad and Job's
other healthy, bright, religious friends who will be shamed.
Verse 2 - Job's question "How can a mortal be righteous before God?" is also a question of "If God is out to get you, what can you possibly do about it?" as becomes evident when you read these chapters.
Both questions are answered in Jesus Christ. His righteousness makes us acceptable to God and his death on the cross shows us that God loves us and is not out to do us in.
Verse 3 - Job uses legal language here. What Job is asking in verses 2 and 3 is "How can anyone win a lawsuit or court case against God?"
Job feels he has no hope. He is innocent, but God has pronounced him, "Guilty!" And how can Job get a fair day in court against God? How can he appeal God's decision?
Verses 4 - 10 - Ironically, here Job makes the point to himself and his friends that God will give him later as an answer - God is too big for us.
But here, Job finds that fact leading him to despair because he knows he can't possibly win an argument against God.
At the end of the book, he will realize that he can trust a God who is so big and that, indeed, it makes sense for a tiny creature like himself to do so.
There are questions in Christian theology that I can't answer and some concepts, like The Trinity, that I can't understand. But that's as it should be if God really is who the Bible says he is.
After all, He is a being that created the universe! Me? I have trouble figuring out my computer.
Verse 11 - How can Job summon God to the courtroom when Job can't even perceive God unless God first allows it?
Verses 14 - 20 - Job is realizing that he is angry with God. What's more, he is accusing God of being evil. What he's saying here is, "God wouldn't give me a fair shake in court. He holds all the aces and controls all the power. He would use it to crush me, befuddle me, and frustrate me."
In other words, "God is a bully and though my cause is just and I'm actually right, He will strong-arm me into submission."
Verse 21 - Can be interpreted, "I just don't care anymore."
Verse 22 - Another accusation that God is evil.
Verses 23-24 - Job seems to have no knowledge of Satan. Perhaps that is one reason that the book of Job was written - to inform us that there is another presence at work in our world. However, in the context of the book of Job, the easy answer of "Everything that happened to Job was really Satan's fault," doesn't stand up under scrutiny.
Because God is the one who permitted Satan to do all that he did. Why? To win an argument!
But looking at the larger picture in the Bible (including the books of Daniel and Revelation), we can see that the deeper message of Job is that there are reasons in the heavenly realms for what is happening to us here on earth though we are often unaware of them and can't understand them.
The Bible asks us if what we do know about God is enough to let us trust Him as we wrestle with what we don't, or in some cases, can't, know about Him and what He's doing in our lives.
Verses 27 - 28 - Not every problem can be solved by "putting on a happy face."
Verses 28 - 31 - God and Job's friends have already labeled him "guilty." And they won't change their minds no matter what Job does.
Verses 32 - 35 - Jesus Christ is the answer to Job's
longing! 1 Timothy 2: 5 & 6; Hebrews 4: 14-16; 1 John 2: 1 & 2.
Verse 2 - "Even if God will destroy me for saying what I'm saying, so what? I want to be destroyed anyway."
Verse 3 - I have asked God this question, particularly when the rich and famous in our nation are, for the most part, ungodly, immoral, and promoting relativism. But see Psalm 73.
Verse 4 - 7 - Is God like a mortal who must work fast and hard to accomplish anything before his days are numbered? Here God's task is to find some fault in Jonah.
Verses 8 - 12 - Why would God create, only to take pleasure in destroying that creation? The New Testament's answer is that He doesn't. John 3:16.
Verses 13 - 17 - Job believes that God intended to do him harm all along whether he was a sinner or whether he was righteous. "God is out to get me."
Verses 18 - 19 - It makes no sense to Job for God to have given him life only to torture him. Job wishes he were dead. Even the faithful can have times when they feel this way. Jeremiah did. See Jeremiah 20:14-18.
Verses 20 - 22 - "Can't you stop picking on me just once
before I die, Lord? So that I can have at least a moment of happiness
before I go to the place where happiness is unknown?"
Verse 1 - Zophar seems to be more blunt than the other friends.
Verse 2 - Isn't it interesting how the friends have gone from comforting and empathizing with Job to debating with him and viewing him as a blasphemer who must be stopped.
Verse 3 - Zophar feels that Job is mocking God's righteousness by asserting that God is afflicting him without any reason.
Verses 5 & 6 - If God were to speak, Zophar knows exactly what He would say. God would point out all of Job's sins. In fact, to be in the state that Job is, Job must have committed many sins. If God hadn't forgotten some of Job's sins, he'd be even worse off than he is now.
BEWARE OF PEOPLE LIKE ZOPHAR!! Watch out for people who have God and His ways all figured out and are quick to tell you exactly what God is or isn't doing in your life.
One of the lessons in the book of Job is that we really don't and can't know everything in the mind of God.
Verses 7 - 9 - If Zophar really believed what he was saying, he wouldn't be so quick to claim to know what God would tell Job!
Verses 10 - 11 - "God took notice of your evil, Job."
Verse 12 - "But you are too dumb to realize it." When one's argument can't carry the day, some people resort to name calling.
Verses 13 - 20 - Zophar commits a common Evangelical (and evangelistic) error here in promising that if you get right with God, everything will be great!
Try telling that to believers in countries that persecute Christians!
I picked up a "Christian fiction" novel from an Evangelical publishing house recently in which the main character, when he became a Christian, suddenly was able to give up alcohol cold turkey, was reunited with his estranged family, quit swearing, and could face down powerful demons.
I wonder then why sincere Christians that I know have to go through Twelve Step Programs or check themselves into detox centers?
It's like the joke, "What happens when you play a Country Western record backwards? You quit drinking, you get your job back, and your pickup truck is fixed."
Well, Zophar, what happens when you give your heart to God? "Your diseases are cured, your debts will be paid, your kids will be well-adjusted, you'll have lots of friends, you'll finally be able to lose those unwanted pounds, you'll..."
Verse 2 - Sarcasm is not just a modern invention.
Verse 3 - Why should Job's points have less value than those of his friends?
Verse 4 - Job reminds his friends who the one who is really suffering here is. They want to say that they are in turmoil listening to Job's alleged blasphemies and can stand it no longer.
But, come on! What is that compared to what Job is going through?
Verse 5 - What Job says here is sad but true. I have heard healthy people wonder aloud why those with chronic illnesses can't just get over them and rich people wondering why the poor can't just be as contented with life as the rich are or why people living in poverty don't have the gumption to lift themselves up by their bootstraps.
Verse 6 - As opposed to what Zopher has said, idolaters often prosper. This is certainly the case in our day! Think of the rich and famous and powerful who worship...well, riches, fame, and power.
America hangs on their every word, imitates them, buys their new products, sees their new films, etc., even as their lifestyles and opinions mock God and His Word.
Verse 7 - 25 - Job seems to be agreeing with his friends here that God is the All-Powerful One and the One who must be behind what's happened to him, but Job goes further than they do and seems to be saying that God does whatever He wants to do without any regard for human reasoning or how things look to humans.
Job talks about great, influential people brought low, but unlike his friends, he doesn't say that this is because those people have sinned.
Indeed, what God does say often seems to make absolutely no sense at all (verses 15, 16, 23).
Verses 11 and 12 - Maybe this is a parenthetical plea to Job's friends to consider what Job is saying.
Verse 13 - This sounds to us like Job is praising God, but it can also be interpreted to mean that God's ways are far beyond our own and that, if God has a plan behind His actions, we can't know it. And Job is right.
Unless God reveals His ways to us, we can't figure them out just by observing the world, or even our own lives.
For instance, when hardship comes our way can we infer by it that God is punishing us, or teaching us, or trying our faith, or giving us the great privilege of suffering for Him, or using the persecution that we endure though we are innocent to bring judgment on our persecutors, or is it that what we're going through is just part of life in a fallen world?
Which is it? Who can really say with
Verses 14 - end - Job seems to be saying that God reveals the "dark side" of His character and plans through what He does on Earth.
Job's friend's faith is very simplistic.
They believe in a God that they have totally figured out and who always does things they can understand and approve of.
Job holds onto a God with the power to
confuse, confound, and upset Him, a God who is really a God, much bigger and
more complex than we are.
Verse 3 - Job is tired of wasting his time arguing with his friends. He desires to have it out with God Himself, not with them.
Verses 4 & 5 - Some people can help matters the most simply by shutting up!
As the old saying goes, "Better to have everyone think you're a fool than to open your mouth and prove everyone right."
Psalm 17:28 reads, "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue."
Verses 7-11 - From "good" motives (defending God's honor and the concept of justice, upholding the orthodox theology of the day, etc.), Job's friends have actually sinned by lying about God.
Job knows that God wants fairness and is concerned about the truth when it comes to arguments and trials. God doesn't want partiality shown, even when the parties would slant the presentation in His favor!
God doesn't need Man's help. His case can stand on its own merits. So Job's God is actually more ethical and has a higher moral standard than his friends' simplistic, "everything is either black or white" god!
I have known people who have been unwilling to face facts because they are trying to "defend God." Therefore, they can't ever acknowledge that there are verses in the Bible which call their doctrines into question.
If prayer isn't answered, it can't be that God said, "No." Instead, it must be that they didn't pray hard enough, or didn't have enough faith, or haven't waited long enough for God's "Yes" answer to come through.
The god they have in a box would never refuse to grant the desires of his people.
Verses 13 - 19 - Job trusts that when God hears his case, he will be vindicated. The very act of presenting his case to God and not being slain proves that he is an innocent man.
Job says here that if it can be shown that there are sins against him then he is willing to accept the consequences.
Verses 20 - 23 - Job wants God to met him on a level playing field. He knows he has no chance if God uses His power to terrify and oppress Job.
Instead, Job wants the pressure to be off so that he and God can discuss what's going on, each getting a chance to make a case.
Verse 24 - God's seeming absence when we're hurting is every bit as terrifying and heart rendering as having God reveal His full presence, cowing us with His Glory.
One of the great mysteries of the faith is that often, when we need our loving God the most, He seems the furthest away.
Job has called out to God, but received nothing but silence for an answer.
Verse 26 - Job is not claiming to be totally sinless, but he wonders why God seemingly chooses to punish him for sins committed long ago, when he was young and foolish, and for which, presumably, he has atoned.
The Psalmist, too, asked God not to remember the sins of his youth.
And the good
news of the Bible is that God doesn't. I'm thankful for it, when I
remember my younger days! How about you?
Verse 1 - A sad fact of living in a fallen world, though Job isn't blaming fallen humanity, but God!
Verses 2 - 6 - Another plea for God to leave Job alone. Here Job says that a human's days on earth are short and limited by God.
Why then should God pay so much attention to an individual, scrutinizing him or her, and trying to do the impossible, namely, making a sinner clean in such a short period of time.
Job pictures God as being an employer and Mankind as the employees.
"Just let us put in our hours, Boss, and stop interfering with the day-to-day operations."
Verses 7 - 12 - Obviously Job has no real conception of the resurrection.
In wonderful poetry, Job says that there is hope for trees to live again after they have been harmed, but not for humans. When humans die, that's all there is.
The implication once again, is that if God is going to answer Job, He'd better do it quickly, and Job wonders why God wants to fill up his too short life with suffering.
Verse 13 - Job would rather be in the grave now, waiting for a mythical time in the future when God would come to His senses than be the apparent object of His wrath now.
Job can't take it anymore. This verse isn't expressing a solid belief in resurrection. It's just explaining how Job feels.
Verse 14 - 17 - These verses sound as if Job is becoming hopeful again. God will finally want to meet with Job and will forgive whatever sins he has committed.
As Christians, we know this to be true and, indeed, verse 15's "...you will long for the creature your hands have made," reminds me of "For God so loved the world..."
But Job isn't finished yet.
Verses 18 - 22 - God's seeming indifference to Job's pleas has taken away all hope and, to Job, proved verses 14 - 17 to be a fantasy.
Man is not like a tree, which springs up again, but like the earth which can be eroded away or permanently moved.
God has the power to wipe out a person completely or to make a person so miserable that he or she can only concentrate on their own agony, oblivious to anything good that may be happening around them.
And Job certainly believes this is what God has done to him.
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