Day 26 (Jan. 26): Job vows to stay true to God, Job tells of the wicked’s fate, Job talks about wisdom, Job boasts of his past blessed life

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.

Job 26-29

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.

Day 25 (Jan. 25): Eliphaz accuses Job of sin, Job seeks a meeting with God, Job describes walking in darkness, Bildad compares humans to God

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.

Job 22-25

Questions & Observations

O. (Job 22:1-30): Just more accusations.  Eliphaz assumes he knows all of God’s thinking.

Q. (23:1-17): Eighth speech?  I thought the no. 7 was a symbol of completeness.  OK, we’ll carry on.  Job seems to be OK with everything in this speech until 23:15-17.  It seems that the dark side — giving in to thinking he has done wrong and being punished for it and/or giving up on God — is knocking hard on Job’s door.  Am I interpreting this correctly?

A. It does appear that Job is getting warn down.

O. (24:22-25): Job poses the questions of why are the wicked not punished in the first half of his speech, but he answers them in the second.  Job talks a lot of dark and light.  He’s trying to say walk in the path of the light (God) because evil lurks in the dark (Satan)? Since Satan is a player in Job’s despair, I see him listening closely.  I imagine Satan rising and falling with the tone of speeches between Job and his friends.

Q. (25:1-6): Bildad’s speech is interesting.  It sounds like he is saying that Job can’t possibly be undeserving of punishment because he is human, and thus not perfect.  No one can shine like God.  I am unclear about verses 4-6.  What is Bildad saying about being born of a woman?  Is he just referring to all humans?  There is no jab against women here, right?  And, 5-6 confuses me because God loves His people.  Why would He refer to them as worms, even in a comparison.  I don’t think that is how He thinks of us, His creation.  Putting this in perspective, this is NOT God’s words, it’s Bildad’s.

A. I think all of the words spoken here are that of Bildad and not God.  I think there is no particular jab at women here; Bildad is using a fancy way of saying “every human ever born”.  I think that scripture is clear that God cares greatly for us (though this does not make us free to do as we please) and does not think of us as worms.  Bildad, like his friends, is speaking for himself here, and not for God.

Day 23 (Jan. 23): Eliphaz and Bildad continue to accuse Job, Job defends himself to friends and God

Job 15-18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Job 15:1): If you were in these friends’ shoes — Eliphaz in this instance — can you blame them for making such accusations as these.  They do not know for a shadow of a doubt that Job’s kids didn’t sin.  They don’t know the relationship that Job had with God.  We are supposed to be God’s disciples, but how can we tell when it’s a proper time to give an opinion.  Is it ever proper?  Is it just like that saying (please pardon), but to assume makes an ___ out of you and me?  Meaning that you assume you know everything about someone’s relationship with God, but you don’t, so your opinion makes you look foolish.  Eliphaz still relies on his knowledge that if you are good, you are blessed and if you sin, you will suffer.  He does not acknowledge that God can conjure good and bad.

A. Honestly these passages are a lot of Job and his friends talking past each other.  They are trying to be helpful to each other (Job is trying to make the situation clear, and his friends are trying to offer good advice to Job), but each side is failing.  As to Eliphaz’s statement, I’m not sure I would say that God conjures up both good and evil, but rather that bad things happen (to both “good” and “bad” people as we see them) which God allows, and that God is greatly generous in this life even to those who do not seek him (see Matthew 5:43-48 to read Jesus describing how this works).  So, on some level, God causes good to all (He allows our lives to continue, and provides for the needs of even the gravest offender), and bad things happen to everyone as well.  As Jim Keller talked about in his sermon this past Sunday, suffering is universal, and that at any given moment each of us is undergoing some sort of suffering however minor.  Ultimately, we are called to leave the hard decisions about who is “good” or “evil” to God, and to be good comforters, unlike Job’s friends.

Q. (16:1): I think if I were Job right here, I would exit the conversation.  Is this a message to us, that the accusations may keep coming, but we have to remain steadfast and answer them time after time.

A. There’s an interesting bit of wisdom from Proverbs 26 that I’m going to share here that can help us sort this out (I think).  In verse 4, the writer tells us to not bother answering a fool in his error (folly), because its not worth the trouble.  Then, in the very next verse, the writer tells us that we SHOULD address a fool, in order to prevent him from being wise in his own eyes.  What is going on?  Is this a contradiction?  Is the writer really being that stupid?  Of course not!  What he is saying is that as a wise person (Proverbs is all about becoming wise), you must discern when is the time to argue, and when is the time to say “it’s not worth it.”  Basically, we would be hard pressed to say that we should always argue, or always retreat, but rather that we should consider the wise path in our given circumstance.

O. (16:7-17): Wow!  Although I feel for Job here, I also see another story line.  I see how furious and hurt Job is toward God, yet he remains true to God.  He says in 16:17, “… my prayer is pure.”  This must really irritate Satan by now.  Job is reduced to skin, bones and boils and he still acknowledges God.

Q.  I just noticed a verse I missed in a prior reading.  Job 1:22.  It says, “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.”  To me, this is God saying, “Seek me, study me, question me, learn me, know me.”  What do you get from this verse?

A. Throughout the narrative, it is clear that Job desires to be heard by God, and though he is incredibly bitter about his lot at the moment, he does not falsely accuse God.

Q. (16:21-22): Either Job is giving God an idea here or he is foretelling.  Just curious, do we know that God knew he was going to send a Savior from Day 1 or is it a plan that came to be from man’s hopeless struggle with sin?  I don’t know what Job is saying in 16:22.

A. I think your question presumes to know the mind of God, but my best guess is that the Trinitarian Son of the Godhead volunteered to be the needed savior long before humanity was even created, but it’s just a guess.  It certainly did have its origins in the hopelessness of man’s sin, as we discussed yesterday — the need for both love and justice required a great sacrifice on God’s part.

I think verse 22 is saying that since Job knows he’s going to die (or maybe that he wishes that he was dead), he wants to be “squared” with God before he goes, since there is no coming back.

Q. (17:6-7): The devastation that became of Job was a result of God showing Satan Job’s obedience to Him.  On the flip side, this is showing others bad fortune that has become of one of God’s followers.  This would be counter-productive to showing others that living a Godly life produces good fortune.  Your insight?

A. Certainly it is harder to be a good witness for God if you feel that God is using you as a punching bag, as Job is convinced of here.  But oftentimes it is the people who have been through the blackest periods of life (and survived) that have the most powerful witness of all.  As we’ve been talking about, it can be very hard to praise God in the midst of trials (though I think this is our call).  But if we are able to trust God to bring us through difficult times, when they are complete, we can give powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Q. (18:1-21): I didn’t get anything new from this passage.  Just making sure I didn’t fail to point out something.

A. Keep in mind that repetition is the key to emphasis in ancient storytelling.