Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
O. (26:1-14): Job is saying how immensely powerful God is. Bildad speaks of God’s power, but Job says that Bildad cannot possibly begin to understand God’s power and how he uses it because it is limitless.
O. (27:4-5): By saying “my lips will speak no evil,” Job is confident that he has not disrespected God with his complaining. He says he will not always agree with God, but he will be faithful. To me, he is admitting he’s human and his mind will tell him that God is not being fair, yet he will not let that line of thinking waver his trust in God.
Q. (27:16-23): Job includes the rich with the wicked. Can you tell us what the Bible says about being rich? As we talked in my BSF class today, can’t wealth be a sign of righteous — if you follow God’s path he will reward you? To me, if we put the talents God has given us to use for his glory and we happen to prosper, then he is rewarding us. But, how can you take a reward when there are so many who could use the money and need your help? Seems like a fine line. Just know your heart?
A. While I am sure there are individual exceptions, many who are rich get to be so either through dishonest gain or through the exploitation of those that work under them. William Jennings Bryan famously said, “no one can make a million dollars honestly,” and I certainly think recent stories of Wall Street and Washington scandal bear out that idea. Shoot, in Genesis we see Jacob become wealthy through dishonest means!
While you can certainly argue that acquired wealth is a blessing from God (and hope that it really was just that — blessing rather than exploitation, something the Bible NEVER approves of), I think that the record of scripture points to riches as a burden, something that must be handled very carefully. The reason is that those who are rich tend to not see the need for God. Among many scriptural examples, we might consider Deuteronomy 6:10-12, in which Moses warns the people that they will reach a point of inheriting great wealth from the Promised Land and their ancestors, and that they must fight the urge to forget to whom it is ultimately from: God. I think the problem of wealth revolves around self-reliance, which is so much easier when a person is wealthy. Those who are poor are forced to depend on God; those who are rich must choose to. I think self-reliance is part of what Jesus talks about when he says that it is harder for a camel to enter the eye of a needle then for a rich person to inherit the Kingdom of God (forget what you’ve heard about alternative explanations of this verse, Matthew 19:24 [among others], that verse SHOULD be taken at face value — since Jesus adds that it is not impossible and all things are possible with God). One other example is from 1 Timothy 6:17-19, in which Paul commands Timothy to teach the wealthy in his congregation that they should put their faith in God and not their own wealth and power, and to be generous with God’s blessings. That certainly seems like a good summary of the Biblical position on wealth.
Q. (27:19-23): Here, Job is talking about how the unrighteous will be mocked and jeered when they fall into despair. Who here is doing the mocking and the jeering? Shouldn’t righteous people always try to help those in despair, even if they brought their plight on themselves?
A. Yes, those who have a relationship with God and walk in His ways should be very careful about gloating or mocking those who lose their wealth (those ‘I told you so’ moments are hard to resist). I think what Job is talking about here is the reversal of fortune that will ultimately be the endpoint for the unrighteous: they that mocked and jeered others unjustly will themselves be mocked and jeered by others (including other unrighteous people) when they fall.
O. (28:12-19): Beautiful! My daughter attended Calvary Classical School in Hampton, VA for two years. We moved last year. But, the school grasped onto a kids’ album — actually I like it just as much as they do — called “Walking with the Wise.” I really recommend it! It is awesome! Some of the titles are: “Nuggets of Gold,” “Make Me Wise,” “W-I-S-D-O-M,” and one that speaks to me is “Lazy Bones.” This album works off of Solomon’s story — of all the wishes God could grant him, he asks for wisdom. It is available at www.SovereignGraceMusic.org.
Q. (28:22): Is Job referring to Satan as Destruction and Death? Do God’s chosen people know about Satan?
A. I don’t think Job is speaking of Satan specifically, but rather he is personifying some of the most powerful forces on earth: that of destruction and death (powerful indeed in our world) and having them speak as though they were people. Even these powerful forces of nature (the reality of life is death and destruction) do not understand the wisdom of God.
Regarding the knowledge of Satan about the chosen, I think that the Bible lays out clearly enough about the reality of Satan and devils (though I admit some of the passages are ambiguous) so that if we believe the record of what the Bible teaches us, we will be aware of the work of Satan in our world as an enemy of God.
Q. (28:25-26): Just a present-day question. We know that God sacrificed His Son so our sins could be forgiven and we could still enter into Heaven. However, does this mean that God’s wrath is no longer. Here it says that He decides how hard the winds should blow and how much the rain should fall. So, what about tsunamis, hurricanes, the Great Depression — is that wrath or do we not know?
A. We must be very careful about applying the reality of God’s wrath to general situations (it gets Pat Robertson in trouble all the time). And while Robertson may not always be wrong (though we can’t know for sure), what we can say for sure is that our proclaiming God’s wrath in the aftermath of natural disasters makes the unbelieving world tune us out: we become static and noise when we proclaim a wrathful God has acted in natural disaster. It is much better for us to proclaim healing, love, and mercy (and actually DO what we can to help).
Now, having said all of that, the reality the Bible teaches is that, apart from relationship with God, we are all subject to God’s wrath for our sins (Ephesians 2:3). But what is at the heart of the Gospel message is that God has every right to punish us for our wrongdoing, but that He chooses not to out of love for us (2 Peter 3:9). Why? Because He wants us to come to repentance and be restored to right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. To me, this is as far as we can take a human understanding of God’s wrath, and anything further than that is speculation that does great harm to our message.
Q. (29:1-25): I respected Job in 1-6, but then he seemed conceited in 7-25, like he was receiving glory, glory that belonged to God. He needs to work on humility?
A. You certainly could make that argument. I think part of what he’s saying is that he used what God had given him (wealth, the ability to council others, to cheer people up) the right way, not to exploit, but rather to bless. So, sure, Job could use some humility lessons, but as it comes to earthly wealth, many of us would do well to follow his example.