Job 22-24

job22.jpgGreetings!  I have to admit that at this stage of Job I struggle with the repetition.  Even study Bibles offer very few comments.  At the same time I trust that every verse is important and belongs here.  So why is that?  Is the repetition to drive the point home?  Perhaps I’m just not reading closely enough.

Eliphaz

22     Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 “Can a man be of benefit to God?

Can even a wise man benefit him?

3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?

What would he gain if your ways were blameless?

4 “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you

and brings charges against you?

5 Is not your wickedness great?

Are not your sins endless?

6 You demanded security from your brothers for no reason;

you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.

7 You gave no water to the weary

and you withheld food from the hungry,

8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—

an honored man, living on it.

9 And you sent widows away empty-handed

and broke the strength of the fatherless.

10 That is why snares are all around you,

why sudden peril terrifies you,

11 why it is so dark you cannot see,

and why a flood of water covers you.

12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?

And see how lofty are the highest stars!

13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?

Does he judge through such darkness?

14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us

as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’

15 Will you keep to the old path

that evil men have trod?

16 They were carried off before their time,

their foundations washed away by a flood.

17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!

What can the Almighty do to us?’

18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,

so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

19 “The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;

the innocent mock them, saying,

20 ‘Surely our foes are destroyed,

and fire devours their wealth.’

21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him;

in this way prosperity will come to you.

22 Accept instruction from his mouth

and lay up his words in your heart.

23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:

If you remove wickedness far from your tent

24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,

your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,

25 then the Almighty will be your gold,

the choicest silver for you.

26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty

and will lift up your face to God.

27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,

and you will fulfill your vows.

28 What you decide on will be done,

and light will shine on your ways.

29 When men are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’

then he will save the downcast.

30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,

who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Those were some very strong claims against Job.  They appear to be speculation and not fact-based, though.

 

Job

23     Then Job replied:

2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.

3 If only I knew where to find him;

if only I could go to his dwelling!

4 I would state my case before him

and fill my mouth with arguments.

5 I would find out what he would answer me,

and consider what he would say.

6 Would he oppose me with great power?

No, he would not press charges against me.

7 There an upright man could present his case before him,

and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;

if I go to the west, I do not find him.

9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;

when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

10 But he knows the way that I take;

when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

11 My feet have closely followed his steps;

I have kept to his way without turning aside.

12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;

I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?

He does whatever he pleases.

14 He carries out his decree against me,

and many such plans he still has in store.

15 That is why I am terrified before him;

when I think of all this, I fear him.

16 God has made my heart faint;

the Almighty has terrified me.

17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,

by the thick darkness that covers my face.

24     “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?

Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

2 Men move boundary stones;

they pasture flocks they have stolen.

3 They drive away the orphan’s donkey

and take the widow’s ox in pledge.

4 They thrust the needy from the path

and force all the poor of the land into hiding.

5 Like wild donkeys in the desert,

the poor go about their labor of foraging food;

the wasteland provides food for their children.

6 They gather fodder in the fields

and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.

7 Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked;

they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.

8 They are drenched by mountain rains

and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.

9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;

the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.

10 Lacking clothes, they go about naked;

they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.

11 They crush olives among the terraces;

they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.

12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,

and the souls of the wounded cry out for help.

But God charges no one with wrongdoing.

13 “There are those who rebel against the light,

who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.

14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up

and kills the poor and needy;

in the night he steals forth like a thief.

15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;

he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’

and he keeps his face concealed.

16 In the dark, men break into houses,

but by day they shut themselves in;

they want nothing to do with the light.

17 For all of them, deep darkness is their morning;

they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

18 “Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;

their portion of the land is cursed,

so that no one goes to the vineyards.

19 As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow,

so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.

20 The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them;

evil men are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree.

21 They prey on the barren and childless woman,

and to the widow show no kindness.

22 But God drags away the mighty by his power;

though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

23 He may let them rest in a feeling of security,

but his eyes are on their ways.

24 For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;

they are brought low and gathered up like all others;

they are cut off like heads of grain.

25 “If this is not so, who can prove me false

and reduce my words to nothing?”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job rightly points out that sometimes the wicked prosper.  We often want justice now for evildoers, but we want grace now and forever for ourselves.  Yes, God lets some evil go unpunished for a time.  But as the saying goes, if He eliminated every element of evil from the planet at noon today, where would you be at 12:01?

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Job 19-21

job19.jpgGreetings!  The back-and-forth with Job and his not-so-supportive friends continues. 

Job

19     Then Job replied:

2 “How long will you torment me

and crush me with words?

3 Ten times now you have reproached me;

shamelessly you attack me.

4 If it is true that I have gone astray,

my error remains my concern alone.

5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me

and use my humiliation against me,

6 then know that God has wronged me

and drawn his net around me.

Job seems to drift off course here.  His is correct in rebuking his friends, but not in saying that God has wronged him. 

May we all be quick to credit God for all good things and the countless blessings we have and to remember that for those who love him He will take the bad things in life and use them for good (Romans 8:28).

7 “Though I cry, ‘I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response;

though I call for help, there is no justice.

8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;

he has shrouded my paths in darkness.

9 He has stripped me of my honor

and removed the crown from my head.

10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;

he uproots my hope like a tree.

11 His anger burns against me;

he counts me among his enemies.

12 His troops advance in force;

they build a siege ramp against me

and encamp around my tent.

13 “He has alienated my brothers from me;

my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.

14 My kinsmen have gone away;

my friends have forgotten me.

15 My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger;

they look upon me as an alien.

16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,

though I beg him with my own mouth.

17 My breath is offensive to my wife;

I am loathsome to my own brothers.

18 Even the little boys scorn me;

when I appear, they ridicule me.

19 All my intimate friends detest me;

those I love have turned against me.

20 I am nothing but skin and bones;

I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.

21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,

for the hand of God has struck me.

22 Why do you pursue me as God does?

Will you never get enough of my flesh?

23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,

that they were written on a scroll,

24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,

or engraved in rock forever!

That is ironic, considering that we are still discussing his words thousands of years later!

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

What a great verse in the midst of his lament!  Yes, Jesus lives and He stood on the earth and will stand on it again.  That is such an interesting thing for Job to say, especially considering that this may be the oldest book in the Bible.

May all Christians remind ourselves that our redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him

with my own eyes—I, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!

28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him,

since the root of the trouble lies in him,’

29 you should fear the sword yourselves;

for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,

and then you will know that there is judgment.”

Job seems to know that there is more than just this earthly life.  We are eternal beings.

Zophar

20     Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer

because I am greatly disturbed.

3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,

and my understanding inspires me to reply.

4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old,

ever since man was placed on the earth,

5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief,

the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

Again, Job’s friends speak some truths and some overly broad generalizations.  Yes, true and lasting joy will only be yours if you are tied in to the author of all joy.

6 Though his pride reaches to the heavens

and his head touches the clouds,

7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;

those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’

8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,

banished like a vision of the night.

9 The eye that saw him will not see him again;

his place will look on him no more.

10 His children must make amends to the poor;

his own hands must give back his wealth.

11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones

will lie with him in the dust.

12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth

and he hides it under his tongue,

13 though he cannot bear to let it go

and keeps it in his mouth,

14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;

it will become the venom of serpents within him.

15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;

God will make his stomach vomit them up.

16 He will suck the poison of serpents;

the fangs of an adder will kill him.

17 He will not enjoy the streams,

the rivers flowing with honey and cream.

18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;

he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.

19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;

he has seized houses he did not build.

20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving;

he cannot save himself by his treasure.

21 Nothing is left for him to devour;

his prosperity will not endure.

22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;

the full force of misery will come upon him.

23 When he has filled his belly,

God will vent his burning anger against him

and rain down his blows upon him.

24 Though he flees from an iron weapon,

a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.

25 He pulls it out of his back,

the gleaming point out of his liver.

Terrors will come over him;

26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.

A fire unfanned will consume him

and devour what is left in his tent.

27 The heavens will expose his guilt;

the earth will rise up against him.

28 A flood will carry off his house,

rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.

29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,

the heritage appointed for them by God.”

Job

21     Then Job replied:

2 “Listen carefully to my words;

let this be the consolation you give me.

3 Bear with me while I speak,

and after I have spoken, mock on.

4 “Is my complaint directed to man?

Why should I not be impatient?

5 Look at me and be astonished;

clap your hand over your mouth.

6 When I think about this, I am terrified;

trembling seizes my body.

7 Why do the wicked live on,

growing old and increasing in power?

8 They see their children established around them,

their offspring before their eyes.

9 Their homes are safe and free from fear;

the rod of God is not upon them.

10 Their bulls never fail to breed;

their cows calve and do not miscarry.

11 They send forth their children as a flock;

their little ones dance about.

12 They sing to the music of tambourine and harp;

they make merry to the sound of the flute.

13 They spend their years in prosperity

and go down to the grave in peace.

14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!

We have no desire to know your ways.

15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

What would we gain by praying to him?’

Job correctly notes that sometimes the wicked prosper in this life.  They have been mocking God and his existence for thousands of years.

16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands,

so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?

How often does calamity come upon them,

the fate God allots in his anger?

18 How often are they like straw before the wind,

like chaff swept away by a gale?

19 It is said, ‘God stores up a man’s punishment for his

sons.’

Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it!

20 Let his own eyes see his destruction;

let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what does he care about the family he leaves behind

when his allotted months come to an end?

22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God,

since he judges even the highest?

23 One man dies in full vigor,

completely secure and at ease,

24 his body well nourished,

his bones rich with marrow.

25 Another man dies in bitterness of soul,

never having enjoyed anything good.

26 Side by side they lie in the dust,

and worms cover them both.

27 “I know full well what you are thinking,

the schemes by which you would wrong me.

28 You say, ‘Where now is the great man’s house,

the tents where wicked men lived?’

29 Have you never questioned those who travel?

Have you paid no regard to their accounts—

30 that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity,

that he is delivered from the day of wrath?

31 Who denounces his conduct to his face?

Who repays him for what he has done?

32 He is carried to the grave,

and watch is kept over his tomb.

33 The soil in the valley is sweet to him;

all men follow after him,

and a countless throng goes before him.

34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense?

Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 16-18

job16.jpgGreetings! 

Job

16     Then Job replied:

2 “I have heard many things like these;

miserable comforters are you all!

3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?

What ails you that you keep on arguing?

Job is angry at his friends for jumping to conclusions that his sin caused his misery.  Sometimes being silent with someone who is suffering is the best thing. 

4 I also could speak like you,

if you were in my place;

I could make fine speeches against you

and shake my head at you.

5 But my mouth would encourage you;

comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

6 “Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;

and if I refrain, it does not go away.

7 Surely, O God, you have worn me out;

you have devastated my entire household.

8 You have bound me—and it has become a witness;

my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.

9 God assails me and tears me in his anger

and gnashes his teeth at me;

my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.

10 Men open their mouths to jeer at me;

they strike my cheek in scorn

and unite together against me.

11 God has turned me over to evil men

and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.

12 All was well with me, but he shattered me;

he seized me by the neck and crushed me.

He has made me his target;

13 his archers surround me.

Without pity, he pierces my kidneys

and spills my gall on the ground.

14 Again and again he bursts upon me;

he rushes at me like a warrior.

15 “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin

and buried my brow in the dust.

16 My face is red with weeping,

deep shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence

and my prayer is pure.

18 “O earth, do not cover my blood;

may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;

my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend

as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God

as a man pleads for his friend.

22 “Only a few years will pass

before I go on the journey of no return.

17     My spirit is broken,

my days are cut short,

the grave awaits me.

2 Surely mockers surround me;

my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.

Who else will put up security for me?

4 You have closed their minds to understanding;

therefore you will not let them triumph.

5 If a man denounces his friends for reward,

the eyes of his children will fail.

6 “God has made me a byword to everyone,

a man in whose face people spit.

7 My eyes have grown dim with grief;

my whole frame is but a shadow.

8 Upright men are appalled at this;

the innocent are aroused against the ungodly.

9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,

and those with clean hands will grow stronger.

10 “But come on, all of you, try again!

I will not find a wise man among you.

11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered,

and so are the desires of my heart.

12 These men turn night into day;

in the face of darkness they say, ‘Light is near.’

13 If the only home I hope for is the grave,

if I spread out my bed in darkness,

14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’

and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’

15 where then is my hope?

Who can see any hope for me?

16 Will it go down to the gates of death?

Will we descend together into the dust?”

Bildad

18     Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

2 “When will you end these speeches?

Be sensible, and then we can talk.

3 Why are we regarded as cattle

and considered stupid in your sight?

4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,

is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?

Or must the rocks be moved from their place?

5 “The lamp of the wicked is snuffed out;

the flame of his fire stops burning.

6 The light in his tent becomes dark;

the lamp beside him goes out.

7 The vigor of his step is weakened;

his own schemes throw him down.

8 His feet thrust him into a net

and he wanders into its mesh.

9 A trap seizes him by the heel;

a snare holds him fast.

10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground;

a trap lies in his path.

11 Terrors startle him on every side

and dog his every step.

12 Calamity is hungry for him;

disaster is ready for him when he falls.

13 It eats away parts of his skin;

death’s firstborn devours his limbs.

14 He is torn from the security of his tent

and marched off to the king of terrors.

15 Fire resides in his tent;

burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling.

16 His roots dry up below

and his branches wither above.

17 The memory of him perishes from the earth;

he has no name in the land.

18 He is driven from light into darkness

and is banished from the world.

19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people,

no survivor where once he lived.

20 Men of the west are appalled at his fate;

men of the east are seized with horror.

21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;

such is the place of one who knows not God.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Bildad is drawing a false conclusion about evil men.  Yes, God will punish them eventually for all their sins.  Some may have more consequences in this life than others.  But it isn’t an immediate correction.  Bildad and Job’s other friends kept assuming that Job’s sin was the root cause of his torment. 

Job didn’t quite understand the cause, so he questioned God.  Sometimes we get answers in this life and sometimes we don’t.

Job 13-15

job13.jpgGreetings!  Job is in the middle of his response to his friend Zophar.  He strongly defends himself and accuses his friends of false accusations. 

13     “My eyes have seen all this,

my ears have heard and understood it.

2 What you know, I also know;

I am not inferior to you.

3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty

and to argue my case with God.

4 You, however, smear me with lies;

you are worthless physicians, all of you!

5 If only you would be altogether silent!

For you, that would be wisdom.

6 Hear now my argument;

listen to the plea of my lips.

7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?

Will you speak deceitfully for him?

8 Will you show him partiality?

Will you argue the case for God?

9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?

Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?

10 He would surely rebuke you

if you secretly showed partiality.

11 Would not his splendor terrify you?

Would not the dread of him fall on you?

12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;

your defenses are defenses of clay.

13 “Keep silent and let me speak;

then let come to me what may.

14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy

and take my life in my hands?

15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;

I will surely defend my ways to his face.

Verse 15 is powerful: Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.  Now that’s faith.  May we all have the faith that says that whatever God directs or lets happen that we’ll trust in him for the end result. 

16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,

for no godless man would dare come before him!

17 Listen carefully to my words;

let your ears take in what I say.

18 Now that I have prepared my case,

I know I will be vindicated.

19 Can anyone bring charges against me?

If so, I will be silent and die.

20 “Only grant me these two things, O God,

and then I will not hide from you:

21 Withdraw your hand far from me,

and stop frightening me with your terrors.

22 Then summon me and I will answer,

or let me speak, and you reply.

23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?

Show me my offense and my sin.

24 Why do you hide your face

and consider me your enemy?

25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?

Will you chase after dry chaff?

26 For you write down bitter things against me

and make me inherit the sins of my youth.

Job does not claim to have lived a sinless life.

27 You fasten my feet in shackles;

you keep close watch on all my paths

by putting marks on the soles of my feet.

28 “So man wastes away like something rotten,

like a garment eaten by moths.

14     “Man born of woman

is of few days and full of trouble.

2 He springs up like a flower and withers away;

like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.

3 Do you fix your eye on such a one?

Will you bring him before you for judgment?

4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure?

No one!

5 Man’s days are determined;

you have decreed the number of his months

and have set limits he cannot exceed.

6 So look away from him and let him alone,

till he has put in his time like a hired man.

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:

If it is cut down, it will sprout again,

and its new shoots will not fail.

8 Its roots may grow old in the ground

and its stump die in the soil,

9 yet at the scent of water it will bud

and put forth shoots like a plant.

10 But man dies and is laid low;

he breathes his last and is no more.

11 As water disappears from the sea

or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,

12 so man lies down and does not rise;

till the heavens are no more, men will not awake

or be roused from their sleep.

13 “If only you would hide me in the grave

and conceal me till your anger has passed!

If only you would set me a time

and then remember me!

14 If a man dies, will he live again?

All the days of my hard service

I will wait for my renewal to come.

15 You will call and I will answer you;

you will long for the creature your hands have made.

16 Surely then you will count my steps

but not keep track of my sin.

17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;

you will cover over my sin.

18 “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles

and as a rock is moved from its place,

19 as water wears away stones

and torrents wash away the soil,

so you destroy man’s hope.

20 You overpower him once for all, and he is gone;

you change his countenance and send him away.

21 If his sons are honored, he does not know it;

if they are brought low, he does not see it.

22 He feels but the pain of his own body

and mourns only for himself.”

Eliphaz

15     Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 “Would a wise man answer with empty notions

or fill his belly with the hot east wind?

3 Would he argue with useless words,

with speeches that have no value?

4 But you even undermine piety

and hinder devotion to God.

5 Your sin prompts your mouth;

you adopt the tongue of the crafty.

6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;

your own lips testify against you.

7 “Are you the first man ever born?

Were you brought forth before the hills?

8 Do you listen in on God’s council?

Do you limit wisdom to yourself?

9 What do you know that we do not know?

What insights do you have that we do not have?

10 The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,

men even older than your father.

11 Are God’s consolations not enough for you,

words spoken gently to you?

12 Why has your heart carried you away,

and why do your eyes flash,

13 so that you vent your rage against God

and pour out such words from your mouth?

14 “What is man, that he could be pure,

or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?

15 If God places no trust in his holy ones,

if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,

16 how much less man, who is vile and corrupt,

who drinks up evil like water!

17 “Listen to me and I will explain to you;

let me tell you what I have seen,

18 what wise men have declared,

hiding nothing received from their fathers

19 (to whom alone the land was given

when no alien passed among them):

20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment,

the ruthless through all the years stored up for him.

21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears;

when all seems well, marauders attack him.

22 He despairs of escaping the darkness;

he is marked for the sword.

23 He wanders about—food for vultures;

he knows the day of darkness is at hand.

24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror;

they overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,

25 because he shakes his fist at God

and vaunts himself against the Almighty,

26 defiantly charging against him

with a thick, strong shield.

I didn’t realize that the phrase “shakes his fist at God” was in the Bible.  I’ve used that metaphor to describe many of the atheist and apostate Christian groups.

27 “Though his face is covered with fat

and his waist bulges with flesh,

28 he will inhabit ruined towns

and houses where no one lives,

houses crumbling to rubble.

29 He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure,

nor will his possessions spread over the land.

30 He will not escape the darkness;

a flame will wither his shoots,

and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away.

31 Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless,

for he will get nothing in return.

32 Before his time he will be paid in full,

and his branches will not flourish.

33 He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes,

like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.

34 For the company of the godless will be barren,

and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.

35 They conceive trouble and give birth to evil;

their womb fashions deceit.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 10-12

job10.jpgGreetings!  Job is speaking again and responding to his friends.  He is deeply depressed and accusing God of toying with him for no reason.  He concedes that he has sins and faults and is properly mortified by them, but he doesn’t see where he has sinned in this case.

10     “I loathe my very life;

therefore I will give free rein to my complaint

and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.

2 I will say to God: Do not condemn me,

but tell me what charges you have against me.

3 Does it please you to oppress me,

to spurn the work of your hands,

while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?

4 Do you have eyes of flesh?

Do you see as a mortal sees?

5 Are your days like those of a mortal

or your years like those of a man,

6 that you must search out my faults

and probe after my sin—

7 though you know that I am not guilty

and that no one can rescue me from your hand?

8 “Your hands shaped me and made me.

Will you now turn and destroy me?

9 Remember that you molded me like clay.

Will you now turn me to dust again?

10 Did you not pour me out like milk

and curdle me like cheese,

11 clothe me with skin and flesh

and knit me together with bones and sinews?

12 You gave me life and showed me kindness,

and in your providence watched over my spirit.

13 “But this is what you concealed in your heart,

and I know that this was in your mind:

14 If I sinned, you would be watching me

and would not let my offense go unpunished.

15 If I am guilty—woe to me!

Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head,

for I am full of shame

and drowned in my affliction.

16 If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion

and again display your awesome power against me.

17 You bring new witnesses against me

and increase your anger toward me;

your forces come against me wave upon wave.

18 “Why then did you bring me out of the womb?

I wish I had died before any eye saw me.

19 If only I had never come into being,

or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!

20 Are not my few days almost over?

Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy

21 before I go to the place of no return,

to the land of gloom and deep shadow,

22 to the land of deepest night,

of deep shadow and disorder,

where even the light is like darkness.”

Zophar

11     Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 “Are all these words to go unanswered?

Is this talker to be vindicated?

3 Will your idle talk reduce men to silence?

Will no one rebuke you when you mock?

4 You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless

and I am pure in your sight.’

5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak,

that he would open his lips against you

6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,

for true wisdom has two sides.

Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.

7 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?

Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?

8 They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?

They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?

9 Their measure is longer than the earth

and wider than the sea.

10 “If he comes along and confines you in prison

and convenes a court, who can oppose him?

11 Surely he recognizes deceitful men;

and when he sees evil, does he not take note?

12 But a witless man can no more become wise

than a wild donkey’s colt can be born a man.

13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him

and stretch out your hands to him,

14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand

and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,

15 then you will lift up your face without shame;

you will stand firm and without fear.

16 You will surely forget your trouble,

recalling it only as waters gone by.

17 Life will be brighter than noonday,

and darkness will become like morning.

18 You will be secure, because there is hope;

you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,

and many will court your favor.

20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail,

and escape will elude them;

their hope will become a dying gasp.” 

 Once again Job’s friends make some true claims about God but misapply them to Job’s situation.

Job

12     Then Job replied:

2 “Doubtless you are the people,

and wisdom will die with you!

I love sarcasm in the Bible.

3 But I have a mind as well as you;

I am not inferior to you.

Who does not know all these things?

4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,

though I called upon God and he answered—

a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!

5 Men at ease have contempt for misfortune

as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.

6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed,

and those who provoke God are secure—

those who carry their god in their hands.

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,

or let the fish of the sea inform you.

9 Which of all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

That is a stinging rebuke to the atheists who insist that they just can’t see any evidence for God.

10 In his hand is the life of every creature

and the breath of all mankind.

11 Does not the ear test words

as the tongue tastes food?

12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?

Does not long life bring understanding?

13 “To God belong wisdom and power;

counsel and understanding are his.

14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;

the man he imprisons cannot be released.

15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;

if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.

16 To him belong strength and victory;

both deceived and deceiver are his.

17 He leads counselors away stripped

and makes fools of judges.

18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings

and ties a loincloth around their waist.

19 He leads priests away stripped

and overthrows men long established.

20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers

and takes away the discernment of elders.

21 He pours contempt on nobles

and disarms the mighty.

22 He reveals the deep things of darkness

and brings deep shadows into the light.

23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;

he enlarges nations, and disperses them.

24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;

he sends them wandering through a trackless waste.

25 They grope in darkness with no light;

he makes them stagger like drunkards.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job notes how God is sovereign over all things.  This foreshadows a lot of what God does with the Israelites and their enemies.

Job 7-9

job7.jpgGreetings!  Job shifts from responding to his friend, Eliphaz, and begins speaking to God.  He is clearly in anguish and very depressed.  He doesn’t understand the situation but doesn’t appear to accuse God outright.  It is challenging enough not to sin, but especially so when we are suffering.

Job correctly notes that God watches over us, but it isn’t in the sense of watching us be tormented.  Part of faith is reminding ourselves that God wins in the end and that He can make good come out of evil. 

7     “Does not man have hard service on earth?

Are not his days like those of a hired man?

2 Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,

or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages,

3 so I have been allotted months of futility,

and nights of misery have been assigned to me.

4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’

The night drags on, and I toss till dawn.

5 My body is clothed with worms and scabs,

my skin is broken and festering.

6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,

and they come to an end without hope.

7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;

my eyes will never see happiness again.

8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;

you will look for me, but I will be no more.

9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,

so he who goes down to the grave does not return.

10 He will never come to his house again;

his place will know him no more.

11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;

I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

12 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,

that you put me under guard?

13 When I think my bed will comfort me

and my couch will ease my complaint,

14 even then you frighten me with dreams

and terrify me with visions,

15 so that I prefer strangling and death,

rather than this body of mine.

16 I despise my life; I would not live forever.

Let me alone; my days have no meaning.

17 “What is man that you make so much of him,

that you give him so much attention,

18 that you examine him every morning

and test him every moment?

19 Will you never look away from me,

or let me alone even for an instant?

20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,

O watcher of men?

Why have you made me your target?

Have I become a burden to you?

21 Why do you not pardon my offenses

and forgive my sins?

For I will soon lie down in the dust;

you will search for me, but I will be no more.”

Now Bildad responds and criticizes Job’s words.  He assumed that Job was suffering because of Job’s sins and not for some other reason.  We do suffer from our sins, but we can also suffer because of natural causes or the consequences of the sins of others.

Bildad

8     Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

2 “How long will you say such things?

Your words are a blustering wind.

3 Does God pervert justice?

Does the Almighty pervert what is right?

4 When your children sinned against him,

he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.

5 But if you will look to God

and plead with the Almighty,

6 if you are pure and upright,

even now he will rouse himself on your behalf

and restore you to your rightful place.

7 Your beginnings will seem humble,

so prosperous will your future be.

8 “Ask the former generations

and find out what their fathers learned,

9 for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,

and our days on earth are but a shadow.

10 Will they not instruct you and tell you?

Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?

11 Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh?

Can reeds thrive without water?

12 While still growing and uncut,

they wither more quickly than grass.

13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God;

so perishes the hope of the godless.

Job’s friends mix some truths in with their misunderstandings.  Forgetting God will lead to hopelessness and damnation.

14 What he trusts in is fragile;

what he relies on is a spider’s web.

15 He leans on his web, but it gives way;

he clings to it, but it does not hold.

16 He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine,

spreading its shoots over the garden;

17 it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks

and looks for a place among the stones.

18 But when it is torn from its spot,

that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’

19 Surely its life withers away,

and from the soil other plants grow.

20 “Surely God does not reject a blameless man

or strengthen the hands of evildoers.

21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter

and your lips with shouts of joy.

22 Your enemies will be clothed in shame,

and the tents of the wicked will be no more.”

Job

9     Then Job replied:

2 “Indeed, I know that this is true.

But how can a mortal be righteous before God?

3 Though one wished to dispute with him,

he could not answer him one time out of a thousand.

4 His wisdom is profound, his power is vast.

Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?

5 He moves mountains without their knowing it

and overturns them in his anger.

6 He shakes the earth from its place

and makes its pillars tremble.

7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine;

he seals off the light of the stars.

8 He alone stretches out the heavens

and treads on the waves of the sea.

9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,

the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.

10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,

miracles that cannot be counted.

11 When he passes me, I cannot see him;

when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.

12 If he snatches away, who can stop him?

Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

13 God does not restrain his anger;

even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.

14 “How then can I dispute with him?

How can I find words to argue with him?

15 Though I were innocent, I could not answer him;

I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.

16 Even if I summoned him and he responded,

I do not believe he would give me a hearing.

17 He would crush me with a storm

and multiply my wounds for no reason.

18 He would not let me regain my breath

but would overwhelm me with misery.

19 If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty!

And if it is a matter of justice, who will summon him?

20 Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me;

if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.

21 “Although I am blameless,

I have no concern for myself;

I despise my own life.

22 It is all the same; that is why I say,

‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’

23 When a scourge brings sudden death,

he mocks the despair of the innocent.

24 When a land falls into the hands of the wicked,

he blindfolds its judges.

If it is not he, then who is it?

25 “My days are swifter than a runner;

they fly away without a glimpse of joy.

26 They skim past like boats of papyrus,

like eagles swooping down on their prey.

27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,

I will change my expression, and smile,’

28 I still dread all my sufferings,

for I know you will not hold me innocent.

29 Since I am already found guilty,

why should I struggle in vain?

30 Even if I washed myself with soap

and my hands with washing soda,

31 you would plunge me into a slime pit

so that even my clothes would detest me.

32 “He is not a man like me that I might answer him,

that we might confront each other in court.

33 If only there were someone to arbitrate between us,

to lay his hand upon us both,

34 someone to remove God’s rod from me,

so that his terror would frighten me no more.

35 Then I would speak up without fear of him,

but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job generally has a right understanding of God.

Job 4-6

job4.jpgGreetings!  Job’s friends got off to a good start by sitting in silence with him for a week (chapter 2).  Then they opened their mouths and the troubles started.  Eliphaz spoke first and said Job was suffering because he sinned.  While our sins do lead to suffering for us and others, that is not always the cause of suffering.  Job responded by saying that Eliphaz should take back his false accusations.

As you read the words of Job’s friends you may notice how some of what they said was true but some was not.

Eliphaz

4     Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?

But who can keep from speaking?

3 Think how you have instructed many,

how you have strengthened feeble hands.

4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;

you have strengthened faltering knees.

5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;

it strikes you, and you are dismayed.

6 Should not your piety be your confidence

and your blameless ways your hope?

7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?

Where were the upright ever destroyed?

8 As I have observed, those who plow evil

and those who sow trouble reap it.

9 At the breath of God they are destroyed;

at the blast of his anger they perish.

10 The lions may roar and growl,

yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.

11 The lion perishes for lack of prey,

and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

12 “A word was secretly brought to me,

my ears caught a whisper of it.

13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night,

when deep sleep falls on men,

14 fear and trembling seized me

and made all my bones shake.

15 A spirit glided past my face,

and the hair on my body stood on end.

16 It stopped,

but I could not tell what it was.

A form stood before my eyes,

and I heard a hushed voice:

17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?

Can a man be more pure than his Maker?

18 If God places no trust in his servants,

if he charges his angels with error,

19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,

whose foundations are in the dust,

who are crushed more readily than a moth!

20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;

unnoticed, they perish forever.

21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,

so that they die without wisdom?’

5     “Call if you will, but who will answer you?

To which of the holy ones will you turn?

2 Resentment kills a fool,

and envy slays the simple.

3 I myself have seen a fool taking root,

but suddenly his house was cursed.

4 His children are far from safety,

crushed in court without a defender.

5 The hungry consume his harvest,

taking it even from among thorns,

and the thirsty pant after his wealth.

6 For hardship does not spring from the soil,

nor does trouble sprout from the ground.

7 Yet man is born to trouble

as surely as sparks fly upward.

8 “But if it were I, I would appeal to God;

I would lay my cause before him.

9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,

miracles that cannot be counted.

10 He bestows rain on the earth;

he sends water upon the countryside.

11 The lowly he sets on high,

and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty,

so that their hands achieve no success.

13 He catches the wise in their craftiness,

and the schemes of the wily are swept away.

The Apostle Paul quotes v. 13 in 1 corinthians 3:19.

14 Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;

at noon they grope as in the night.

15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;

he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.

16 So the poor have hope,

and injustice shuts its mouth.

17 “Blessed is the man whom God corrects;

so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;

he injures, but his hands also heal.

19 From six calamities he will rescue you;

in seven no harm will befall you.

20 In famine he will ransom you from death,

and in battle from the stroke of the sword.

21 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,

and need not fear when destruction comes.

22 You will laugh at destruction and famine,

and need not fear the beasts of the earth.

23 For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,

and the wild animals will be at peace with you.

24 You will know that your tent is secure;

you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.

25 You will know that your children will be many,

and your descendants like the grass of the earth.

26 You will come to the grave in full vigor,

like sheaves gathered in season.

27 “We have examined this, and it is true.

So hear it and apply it to yourself.”

Most of the last section was not true at all.  People rarely die when they are in “full vigor.”  Eliphaz sounds a bit like the false teachers who preach the “prosperity gospel,” claiming that God wants us to be rich in this life.

Job

6     Then Job replied:

2 “If only my anguish could be weighed

and all my misery be placed on the scales!

3 It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—

no wonder my words have been impetuous.

4 The arrows of the Almighty are in me,

my spirit drinks in their poison;

God’s terrors are marshaled against me.

5 Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass,

or an ox bellow when it has fodder?

6 Is tasteless food eaten without salt,

or is there flavor in the white of an egg?

7 I refuse to touch it;

such food makes me ill.

8 “Oh, that I might have my request,

that God would grant what I hope for,

9 that God would be willing to crush me,

to let loose his hand and cut me off!

10 Then I would still have this consolation—

my joy in unrelenting pain—

that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.

11 “What strength do I have, that I should still hope?

What prospects, that I should be patient?

12 Do I have the strength of stone?

Is my flesh bronze?

13 Do I have any power to help myself,

now that success has been driven from me?

14 “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends,

even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams,

as the streams that overflow

16 when darkened by thawing ice

and swollen with melting snow,

17 but that cease to flow in the dry season,

and in the heat vanish from their channels.

18 Caravans turn aside from their routes;

they go up into the wasteland and perish.

19 The caravans of Tema look for water,

the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope.

20 They are distressed, because they had been confident;

they arrive there, only to be disappointed.

21 Now you too have proved to be of no help;

you see something dreadful and are afraid.

22 Have I ever said, ‘Give something on my behalf,

pay a ransom for me from your wealth,

23 deliver me from the hand of the enemy,

ransom me from the clutches of the ruthless’?

24 “Teach me, and I will be quiet;

show me where I have been wrong.

25 How painful are honest words!

But what do your arguments prove?

26 Do you mean to correct what I say,

and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?

27 You would even cast lots for the fatherless

and barter away your friend.

28 “But now be so kind as to look at me.

Would I lie to your face?

29 Relent, do not be unjust;

reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.

30 Is there any wickedness on my lips?

Can my mouth not discern malice?

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.