Day 347 (Dec. 13): Jealousy prevents close relationship with God, God has power to judge not humans, boasting is a sin, luxury is gained through suffering of others, patience in suffering, earnest prayer of a righteous person has power, believers should save wandering believers by bringing them back to the cross, Paul writes Timothy, Law of Moses teachers are good for teaching the lawless, Paul is thankful for God’s mercy after he blasphemed Jesus, Paul tells Timothy to cling to his faith, pray for everyone, Jesus is only one who can reconcile God and man

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.

James 4-5:20

1 Timothy 1-2:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (James 4:2b-3): I must be guilty of this passage.  I do pray for God to bless us with more work.  He has but we could use more.  I want that so we don’t struggle to pay the bills and buy groceries.  I want it so I can buy a new computer and start another phase of this BibleBum journey which I am so looking forward to.  I want to not have to dip into our savings.  OK, that’s enough of that, you get the picture.  But, I also want to have some money to make repairs to the house and afford a nice, reasonable vacation.  Although spending quality time together with my family would give me “pleasure,” I think it’s also nice to strengthen our bond.  Families are so important!  Does pleasure here mean a mansion, a nice sports car, lavish trips, etc.?

A. I believe that James is talking about people who are not truly seeking God in the midst of their desire for riches and pleasure.  The standard is 10% to the church, be generous with what you have beyond the 10%, and you should be in good shape.  God is aware of obligations and the difficulty of certain seasons — we’ve been going through one at my house as well — but if you withhold from generosity for the purpose of gathering money above what you need, then that is when I feel we have slipped into greed, which is what James is speaking of.  We should always be listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to let us know when we have slipped away from what God desires — and remember that God WANTS us to repent and come back to Him, not to feel guilt for our failures.

Q. (4:9b): Can you explain, “Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy”?

A. He’s talking about repentance in this passage, not just in this verse.  Having a spirit of repentance for one’s sin makes one humble before God, and that is a spirit that God can use ­— or as James puts it, to “lift up in due time.”

Q. (4:11-12): What law are they talking about here?  I’m confused if it’s the NT or the OT.

A. James is referring to the OT law, but saying that Christians should not scorn it by slandering each other and violating what it instructs about loving each other.

Q. (4:17): This is so eye-opening.  Whenever I doubt what I believe God is directing me to, I get a bad feeling — one of self-doubt, weakness, etc.  But, when I talk about it with confidence, I get fulfilled like God is saying “yes!” and “you go, girl!”  I told my husband that our pastor, Zack, had said that it was a sin to worry too.  Is that right?  To me, that goes along the lines with me worrying about my salvation.  It certainly doesn’t do any good to worry about it and takes up brain time that could be used to serve God.

A. James is talking here about one category of sins — that of omission — knowing the right thing to do and NOT doing it is just as sinful as doing the wrong thing you know you shouldn’t.  Worry is one of those things, as we have discussed: it shows a lack of faith in a God who has proclaimed loud and clear that He will provide for our needs.  Just remember that removing sin of that sort is a process, and won’t happen overnight.

Q. (5:12): What does James mean by “never take an oath?”  Is it the same thing that we talked about way back when the Scripture said to not make promises?

A. It is very similar to what James’ half brother, Jesus, said in Matthew 5:33-37 about oaths: don’t flippantly use God’s name to get what you want.  Just speak the truth, and don’t swear by anything to do so.

Q. (1 Timothy 1:3-11): So these teachers are spending time preaching the Law of Moses when, although that’s good for the lawless to help set them straight, it does no good for those believers who should be hearing that Jesus will save them, not obeying laws.

A. My notes indicate that these false teachers were going well beyond the Law of Moses into endless speculation around things like obscure genealogies of the OT.  That’s what he means by endless speculation and talk, which was taking them away from being active servants of God.  They were missing the “boat,” so to speak.

Q. (1:20): I just wondered how the guy downstairs got two different names — the devil and Satan.  And, then there’s his given name of Lucifer, right?

A. Part of the issue is the difference of language between the OT and NT.  The words “Satan” (accuser) and “Lucifer” (light bringer, which occurs ONLY in Isaiah 14:12) are both OT/Hebrew words.  The word “devil” (slanderer) is a NT word, first used in Matthew 4 to refer to Jesus’ tempter, but it means the same thing as “Satan,” simply in Greek instead of Hebrew.

Q. (2:9-10): This Scripture has it’s roots in a situation Paul dealt with where women were distracting a worship service by having revealing clothes, right?  But, I would think this would apply today also.  I would say it would apply to men, but I never see them dressed inappropriately at church.  And, I have seen plenty of Christian women today who are not modest.

A. I agree: modesty and humility are often forsaken Christian values that it would do us a great deal of good to rediscover.

Q. (2:11-15): Here we go with the women’s rights questions.  Does this still apply today that women should not teach men?  And, would this be for anything, including business matters, or just matters of the Bible?  Also, Adam allowed himself was deceived by Eve.  What does “women will be saved through childbearing” mean?

A. Your answer to “does this apply today?” question is in the eye of the beholder: some modern denominations — Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Southern Baptist are among them — see this verse as still being applicable today, but ONLY when in reference to preaching from the Word and specifically leading a congregation: this is why these groups do not ordain women.  Other denominations — United Methodists, Episcopalians, and the more frankly liberal denominations, argue that this is a relic verse that can be ignored.  I’ve heard good arguments for both, with the limits on women’s role in the church being traced back to different, God-given roles, but some of the best ministers I have personally heard preach were women, so I don’t have a strong opinion either way.  As to the “saved by childbearing” verse, I don’t really know what Paul is after here, but there is a lot of speculation that is not worth going into.  I wouldn’t sweat that verse too much.

Day 31 (Jan. 31): God challenges Job, Job repents, God blesses Job

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.

I added a video Rob found to yesterday’s post.  If you missed it, you should really check it out.  It’s the book of Job in a nutshell.  http://vimeo.com/14254004

Job 40:6-42:17

Questions & Observations

Q. (Job 40:6-41:34): God details and describes a beast that is unstoppable, impenetrable.  God gives this beast as an example that, no matter what Job says and accuses Him of, he cannot hurt God.  God is invincible.

A. God is invincible, but I think what He’s saying is that Job knows nothing of power.  Only God is powerful enough to see these incredible beings (whatever they are, there’s a number of theories about that) and just consider them “part of Creation.”

O. (42:1-6): Job has finally had his day in court, as he wished.  Now, he has his answer and is humbled.  He repents!  So, after all of this back-and-forth between Job and his friends, we realize that we are not all-knowing like God and thus, have no authority to question Him.  After reading all of this, I finally understand that, although it is still extremely hard not to question God!!!!

Q. (42:7-9): Here, God addresses Job’s three friends saying that they misspoke of Him.  Job spoke correctly.  They spoke for God, as if they knew what God wanted them to say.

This does bring up something that we have not spoken of.  If you see a friend sinning, is it our responsibility to correct them?  Or, do we just pray?  I used to think that I didn’t have the courage to speak up.  Now, sometimes I do have the courage and speak up.  Sometimes it goes OK or there is not a comeback, other times I wish I had kept my mouth shut.  As disciples of God, what is our duty when it comes to wanting to steer someone right?  Clearly, from Job, we would have to know the whole story.

A.  We will never know another person’s whole story or walk with God, so we must be very careful about stepping into their lives to try and convict them of sin.  We must be discerning on when is the time to speak, and the time to be silent.  Having said that, I believe that God desires for us to be our “brother’s keeper” as it were (something old Cain was terrible at), and if we truly care about them, we should be in prayer for what is best for them and asking the Spirit for the right time to ask or speak up about what we see or think we see.

Q. (42:13-15): Here is one of the things I struggle with.  Churches vary on if men are dominant over women.  The Bible seems to hint that men were more important than women in those days by showing most of the ancestry lines of men.  This bothers me because I don’t want to think that God made me any less important than a man.  I am trying to change my way of thinking — thanks to Rob — that it’s not always the Bible’s words, it’s the message.  And, 43:14 gives me peace.  Here, God says that he made Job’s daughters lovely.  And that Job put them in his will along with his sons.  Now that Job is truly a man of God, he treats all of his “flock” with love.  In Genesis, when Sarah waited in the tent while Abraham greeted his guests, which was customary of the times.  Even though she was not visible, God addressed Sarah about having the baby.  God even asked Abraham where she was.  So, God is telling Abraham that He is addressing Sarah too.  She is a part of God’s plan.  This shows that God does not give importance to male or female, firstborn or youngest — all of His people have important roles.  I should not be concerned with the argument regarding men being more important than women, rather than what work does God have for me?  Just like Job was asking God, why are you not punishing the wicked?  Why are you persecuting me?  Job should have said, “What can I do for You?” Rob, any comment?

A. Regardless of its inspiration, I believe that the Bible does seem to focus in on men rather than women as a general rule (the rule of life then when women generally had no rights).  But, this does not mean that God desires any less for women than He desires for men: Woman was created in the image of God just as much as man was, even if she didn’t have all the benefits or status in ancient society.  I am glad to hear that you feel there is a place for women in the tale of scripture, and believe that we will see this trend continue in the first two chapter of Exodus.  Watch the way that women (including Moses’ mother) will defy Pharaoh in order to follow God.

And that’s all for Job!  All that repetition and trudging paid off.  Job answered a lot of my “life’s questions.”  How about you?

Day 30 (Jan. 30): The Lord asks Job Who he is, God’s power and knowledge are endless

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.

Be sure to check out the link to the video at the end of the Q&As!

Job 38-40:5

Questions & Observations

Q. (Job 38:1-40:2): God puts Job in his place.  What do you say about God’s use of sarcasm in (38:21)?

A. God is certainly putting Job in his place.  Apparently, God felt that Job needed some convincing about who was who in their relationship, and it appears He considered sarcasm a useful rhetorical tool in His epic beat down.

O. I am always looking around in amazement at everything God weaved.  These verses open your eyes to the vast amount of control and care God has for all of His creation.  I think God is addressing Job’s pride here.  How can Job boast that He is so righteous, so undeserving of his devastation?  God says that Job has not begun to match Him in his power, so Job has no right to question God’s ways.  He should know that God is all powerful and has His reasons … and will take care of him like He does everything else.

O. (39:9-12): At first read, I read this just as another “power” testimony.  After reading it a second time, I saw God as the owner and the ox as humans.  Basically, can God trust us that we will abide in Him, work for Him, trust in Him, bring Him glory and others?  Can He trust us, even though we have a will or our own?  Anybody else get that interpretation or another one?

Q. (39:13-18): Rob, can you comment on this one.  It has me a little at a loss other than in 39:18, He may be talking of everyone has their own gifts and should use them accordingly.

A. I think God is telling Job that even in an animal so dumb it doesn’t protect its own young, He has poured His creative energy: even the dumb ostrich is incredibly powerful.  I don’t think you should be looking for human applications in these verses: God is showing off.  It gets better in the next section!

Q. (39:19-25): To me, this is saying that we need to be ready and able for God.  We have to know that the road ahead may be bumpy and have some major battles.  Although the battles may make us uneasy, our loyalty and love will make us excited to do God’s work.  Rob?

A. As with the previous question, I would be careful about trying to gain human insight into God’s monologue.  I think God is really talking about horses: wild creatures (even when tamed) that He created.  He appears to be saying that He delights in the raw power and untamed heart of these animals.  God is saying, “Look at My majesty on display in nature.  You didn’t create this.  I did.”

O. (40:3-5): I picture Job in the Naughty Seat right now.  I joke of this, but I shouldn’t.  I am in the Naughty Seat a lot!  My latest is wanting something to change and getting angry inside because of the way it is.  Instead, I should hand it over to God.  If He wants it to change, He’ll make it change.  I can pray about it, but that doesn’t mean God will make it change immediately or at all.  What I do know that He’s in control and I look forward to what He reveals to me.  It may be me that has a change instead of the thing I think needs to be changed.

O. (40:3-5): ‘Nuf said!

Rob found this super cool video that tells Job in a nutshell.  Check it out!  http://vimeo.com/14254004

Day 29 (Jan. 29): Elihu reminds Job of God’s justice, power

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 35-37

Questions & Observations

Q. (Job 35:1-8): If Elihu is right, that sinning only hurts ourselves not God.  Hurting ourselves and others is a definite result of sinning.  But, I always thought that sinning hurt God’s feelings.  The Bible says several times that God is jealous and seeks our devotion and love, so I would think that when we sin, it directly hurts God emotionally.

A.  Honestly this is a bit tough to reconcile.  My honest response is that Elihu is not saying that God is unswayed by our concerns, but rather that our concerns do not change who God IS.  Though scripture is quite clear that God is greatly affected by the actions of human beings, the eternal nature of God is unaffected by our decisions.  God does not NEED us, but desires to be in relationship, and is certainly brokenhearted when those He gives life to reject Him.

Q. (35:9-12): Elihu is saying that people cry out for God for their own selfish reasons?  We should take what God gives us, be thankful — because He truly gives us a lot, including salvation through His son — follow Him and praise Him.  Personally, I praise God for everything that He has given us, and all the big and little surprises he gives us along the way.  However, as our father, I think He would want us to cry out to Him for help when we need it.  He is our father and wants to take care of us, right?

A.  The commentary materials I looked at said that verse 12 is extremely difficult to properly translate, especially in regard to punctuation (i.e. it’s hard to tell if it should have a comma).  It appears to me to say that we are (and should be) encouraged to trust in and cry out to God, but that those who do so out of arrogance are just wasting their breath.  I think Elihu is lumping Job in with the arrogant, who have no reason to expect an answer from God.

Q. (35:13-16): Elihu is responding to Job’s pity party about God not punishing the wicked?

A. If we are correctly assessing what Elihu is saying in verse 12 (that Job is arrogant and God ignores arrogant people), then this carries into 13-16.  He’s basically saying, why should God be obligated to respond to Job’s concerns about justice if Job himself is not showing proper respect for God.

Q. (36:4): Elihu says he is a man of great knowledge, but we don’t really know anything about him except he is the son of Barakel the Buzite.  And, we don’t know anything about his father?

A. In the end of Genesis 22, Abraham has a relative (nephew) named Buz, which might be a possible link, but we don’t have anything else to go on.  The story of Job is fairly self-contained as it relates to the rest of the Bible.  It honestly is part of the reason some people consider it to be a parable or discussion of suffering, rather than the recording of actual events.

Q. (36:5-16): Why should we give Elihu’s testimony any respect?  The words come from Elihu, not God.  He is speaking of God, but we don’t hear that God has told Elihu to say these things.

A. Watch the way that God responds to Job in the next few chapters (Elihu isn’t mentioned again after his four speeches), and I think you will see that God might have common ground with the things Elihu is saying.

O. (36:17): This verse speaks to me.  So many times I concern myself with the way others do things and if they are successful or not.  It’s like I tell my kids, don’t tell me what your sister is doing wrong, just concern yourself with your own actions so you can stay on the right course — I’m speaking of when I tell them to brush their teeth or put their toys away (grrrr).  But, I am trying to listen to my own words.  When I told friends and family about this blog, I don’t think they really knew what to think or say about it.  Then, I realized that this is what God was telling me to do, so I need to do it regardless of other’s opinions.  And, I’m so glad I listened to God because exploring the Bible has been an exciting adventure, making me happy to do something for myself, others and for God’s glory.

Q. (36:22-37:18): Elihu is telling of God’s power and control.  By bearing witness to all of his creation and what he can do with it — rain, snow — we should understand that we can’t understand the how, why, when, where and how much of God.  Accept it, revel in it, and be in awe of it.  Anything else?

A. One of the themes of Job that God will reveal at the end is to show that Job was right all along (i.e. God will vindicate Job against his friends).  Basically, the conclusion we should draw is that while we cannot (by definition) fully understand that how and why etc. of God, we should be seeking to have God help us understand.  We should cry out to Him if that is how we feel, rather than just “sucking it up” as Job’s friends are recommending.  In the end, Job’s bellyaching will be answered and vindicated, but Job will pay a high price for it.

Q. (37:23-24): I think Elihu is speaking for himself when he says that “He does not destroy.”  Only God can know that.  He is capable of anything.  Although He said He would never flood the earth again, he didn’t say he can’t destroy some things.  In some sense, you could say that Job was destroyed of who he was.  He was not physically destroyed, but all his belongings, family and his notoriety were destroyed.  Then he goes on to say that everyone fears him and the wise give him reverence.

A. I like the NIV translation of that particular verse better: it uses the word oppress rather than destroy, which I think gives a better fit for our story.  While I would agree God IS capable of whatever He desires, in practice we know that the character of God is consistent, even if it is hard for us to comprehend.

Q.  I don’t know about you all, but the Spirit does make me think about my actions and thoughts.  I am trying more and more to keep God at the forefront of everything I say and do, but it doesn’t always happen.  I do fear him in that way.  But, I think a more powerful feeling is his grace and how much He will take care of me no matter what.  I often pray that nothing will happen to my family, that my kids will live way past me and that they will have me and my husband for a very long time.  I am comforted in that I have asked Him for that and he gives me a sense of peace.  According to the book of Job, I should not think that nothing bad will ever happen, but I do have a sense that nothing bad will happen to my family.  Rob, does the Bible speak of such a feeling of comfort?

A. The key to understanding God’s comfort is this: the Bible tells us that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, quoted in Hebrews 13:5).  To me, that means that nothing that happens in this life will be outside of God’s power and His ultimate will.  We may face tragic situations in life (not having children outlive us, losing close friends “too early” etc.) but that those who belong to God, even in death we are not lost to Him.  This actually ties quite nicely to Jim’s sermon this weekend about the end of Romans 8.

Think about the scenario you mentioned: you desire to not have your children or your husband die (I certainly feel the same about my wife and daughters).  But from God’s perspective, death is just a step — one that we all must take.  And even in death, we are not separated from God’s love: death is the ultimate culmination of Jesus’ work for us and in us.  The resurrection of Christ says that death is not the end, but only the beginning.  And I think if we consider that if death (especially tragic death) is THE worst thing that can happen to us in this life, and then consider that God has already defeated death, then I personally think we can find amazing comfort in God’s victory.  God acts in the person of Christ to tell us, “I understand the reality of sin and the inevitability of death for you.  But know that sin and death will not have the last word with Me.  My last word is comfort, mercy, and grace.”

Day 28 (Jan. 28): Elihu, a fourth counselor, chimes in

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 32-34

Questions & Observations

Q. I really don’t see that Elihu has anything different to say than Zophar, Eliphaz and Bildad.  He continues the three friends attitudes that he — Elihu — knows God better than anyone and that Job is ignorant or delusional if he thinks he has not sinned.  Am I missing anything worth noting?

A. I can’t tell if its completely original, but one thing I noticed in the reading is that Elihu’s arguments seem to operate from the notion that God is not obligated to answer Job (though He will anyway, very soon!), and that there is no reason God should bend His own justice to God’s will.  This, actually, is pretty close to what God will tell Job (and the counselors) when He appears in the whirlwind.  So maybe the young man is on to something…

O.  (34:3): I don’t remember Job saying this, but I think it is awesome. “The ear tests the words it hears just as the mouth distinguishes between foods.”

O. (From Rob, 32:1-4): Just so readers know that I’m getting some great stuff out of these readings as well, though I’ve read Job before (it’s been a while), I confess that I never noticed that Job actually has four counselors!  I suspect the reason that Elihu is not mentioned among the others is that he is not really a “friend” of Job, just a person who has been observing the situation and felt compelled to speak, but if you had asked me before today, “how many people counsel Job?”  I would have told you three.

This is part of the reason I’m so strongly in favor of the daily reading of scripture (whether you’re using a plan or not!), you can read something a hundred times, and on time 101, God helps you notice something that you have never noticed before.  So keep at it, even with passages or stories that you “think” you know.  You never know what God might be waiting to show you!

Day 27 (Jan. 27): Job’s last protest

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 30-31

Questions & Observations

O. So, Job will speak no more.  Will you miss him?  I feel sorry for the guy.  I think his anguish should end.  He has proven he is faithful!

Q. I don’t know if this repetition is supposed to elicit humor, but it does for me.  I guess two methods of helping the reader commit the story to memory are repetition and humor.  If Job is in such bad shape, how can he come up with these long speeches?  Do you see humor, Rob, or am I just being heartless?

A. It appears all that Job has are his words, so he’s going to use every one of them.

O. (Job 30:20): I do see a very similar story here that foreshadows Jesus’ crucifixion.  Christ cried out to God to ask if there was another way to forgive sinners, but he did not get a reply from God.

Q. (31): Whom is Job talking to in this passage?  If scavengers are not listening, surely no one is.  Is there anything else in today’s reading that I’m missing.  Just more of the same ranting we have been reading?

A. The story appears to be recorded for the benefit of an audience, but we don’t exactly know who it is, other than readers.  When I said that this was an extended story on the question of suffering, you might have thought I was exaggerating, but…

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.

Day 22 (Jan. 22): Job defends his character to his friends, Job argues and questions God

Job 12-14

Questions & Observations

At first I thought I wouldn’t have many questions with this reading other than to highlight a couple points about Job’s ranting to God.  But, I found that in his anger, he makes such good points that we can easily relate and pose great subjects for our discussion.  He gets down to the rift between being human and struggling to obey God.  Please feel free to add any of your thoughts and enrich this study!

Q. (Job 12:5-6): I think I understand what Job is trying to say in verse 5:  Those who are living without despair think they have all the answers and advice for those living in despair.  But, I don’t understand verse 6.

A. Job is attacking God for what he perceives as a lack of justice.  He is arguing that though he, a righteous man, is unjustly punished, the real evildoers are “getting away with it.”  I think we understand this verse very well, it is one of the most common refrains when we are going through suffering: we tell God that we feel that we don’t deserve it, and that since we’re better than (say) hardened criminals or those Wall Street fat cats, shouldn’t they be the ones getting punished?  It’s the flip side of the theodicy argument: too often we feel that bad things are NOT happening to bad people, at least as we see it.

Q. (12:7-9): Job is saying those that do not judge — animals — can testify that his devastation is not a punishment for anything he has done wrong.  Right?

A. I think Job is pointing to nature to make his case that God does as he pleases.

Q. (12:13): At first I just quickly read over this verse.  Then, I read it again and soaked it in letting the following verses support it.  I see two things in this verse: He is all-powerful, no question; and we cannot understand his reasoning.  Should we elaborate about this now or will it be expanded on later?

A. Let’s hold onto this thought, since it will really come into play around chapter 38.

Q. (13:1-12): To me, Job is saying here, if you have a gripe with God, you should go directly to Him and not rely on others for clarification because they cannot speak for God.  I feel that Job is questioning his friends’ relationships with God.  Job is putting the question to His friends that if they were so close to God, they would not be accusing Job of hiding this alleged sin from God.  Do I have this right?

A. Seems right to me.  He is certainly saying that they presume to speak for God, but Job doesn’t want to hear from them (especially since he doesn’t really like what they are saying), rather, he wants God to speak to him directly.  Classic example of a person not being careful what they wish for, which I think you’ll see.

O. (13:16): Job is saying that because he has a relationship with God that he is able to confront God.  To me, this is the way God wants us to be: acknowledge Him, grow close to Him through understanding Him, and glorify Him.

O. (13:20-25): Job can speak so candidly here 1) because of his loyalty to God, he probably feels like he deserves to be heard and 2) because of his anger.  When I am angry or hurt, the tough questions roll out.  I can’t hold them back.

Q. (13:26-14:6): Job seems to say “God you have us trapped.  You have put us here with your rules.  So can you just leave us alone while we live out our prescribed lives?” (14:1): Being a human, sinning is imminent, so why is God picking out all of our faults when we can’t help but sin?

A. Why does any parent insist on disciplining a rebellious teenager, even when the teenager says, “just leave me alone”?  It’s because the parent knows the danger in the behavior of the child, even when the child doesn’t see it or want to acknowledge it.  Ultimately, God’s anger at our sin is out of love for us; He desires that we would make wise choices and follow after the way that He wants to guide us in living (we will see this concept develop over the remainder of the Bible).

Another way to look at it is to think of the concept of what kind of God our Lord would be if He let sin slide; that God adopted what we might call a “boys will be boys” attitude.  Such a god would not be worthy of worship (and is not the God described in scripture).  To ignore or even cause injustice (especially as it relates to our personal lives and our families) would mean that God was not ultimately good.  If, God forbid, we had a family member murdered, we would not think much of a human criminal justice system that said, “but you only did it once” to the person responsible and let them go free.  If you were part of the family that lost a family member, you would rightly say, “Once is more than enough!”  It would be a miscarriage of justice (even by human standards) for sin like that to be ignored or marginalized.  Is it any wonder that a God that is not only just, but actually DEFINES just, cannot turn a blind eye to sin?  Though it may be in our nature, that does not make us any less responsible for our sinful decisions.  Thus, we see the paramount reason for our need for Jesus Christ: because God’s justice will not ignore our sin, and God’s love cannot ignore His children.  The cross where Jesus died can be seen as the union where God’s desire to be just AND to love His children come together to set all things right.

That last sentence was an awesome explanation!

Q. (14:13): Job’s cup is definitely not half full here.  He has nothing good to say to God.  He seems to have lost hope.  I can’t imagine being in his shoes and the anger he must feel.  How can you love and praise God when you are so angry with Him?

A. Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer that question because (thank God) my life has been greatly blessed, and I’ve never been that angry with God.  I guess the answer, which may sound flippant, is to choose to.  I believe that our love for God is, by God’s very design, a choice, and one that God goes to incredible lengths to respect.  I believe that God understands our anger, and the difficulty of expressing our love to Him when we are angry.  He will wait patiently, as the father character in the story of the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15.  But in the end, we must hope that the anger fades, and we can make our peace and return to right relationship with God.  Let’s see how Job does this as the story continues.

Q. (14:20-22): This sounds like the ultimate accusation from Job to God.  This is one that I hadn’t thought of: How do You create us, just to let us whither and die, not even giving us the satisfaction of seeing or children grow.  When we are gone, we are gone.  In this day, there was no promise of eternal life, right?

A. That’s a matter of some debate, but my understanding of Jewish theology moves more towards concepts of resurrection and eternal life as we move closer to the present day (so, say in the Prophets or Nehemiah, which were written much more recently than Job).  Yet here again, we are created beings, and not the Creator.  We must be very careful about making any sort of demand to the one who created us.  Ultimately, God alone has the final say in the span our of life, but the decisions He makes about life and death are just one more area where we as Christians must trust that He is working out things for the best, even if His reasons for doing so are clouded behind the veil of our own death.  We may not be able to see any reason for God’s decisions until we have crossed to the other side.