Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is God affected by our sin?

Read Job 35.

When a person sins, how does that affect God?  He is sovereign and self-sufficient.  He is not dependent on anyone or anything.  But Job and his friends had touched on the topics of God's responses to human sin and His rewards for doing what is right.

One by one, Elihu continued to take on the issues that the others brought up.  In verses 10-11, there are several basic statements that underpin the entire teaching of the Bible.
1. God is "my Maker", not the result of a process.
2. Humans were created separately.  We are not the descendants of animal life.
3. Humans are given different capacities than animal life.
4. God treats humans differently than any other part of His creation.

Though man's behaviors do not alter God's being and character, the Bible repeatedly mentions God's emotions toward us and our sin.
Sin saddens God.
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."  Ephesians 4:30
Sin angers God.
"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.  Blessed are all who take refuge in him."  Psalm 2:12
Sinners are loved by God.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Does God make mistakes?

Read Job 34.

Did God mistreat Job by allowing these things to happen?

Elihu continued to unload, not only on Job, but also on the other three men.  Job had questioned what God was doing and why.  The so-called friends judged that Job had brought this on himself.  Elihu defended God: "...far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong."  

       My Father's Way
"My Father's way may twist and turn,
   My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know,
   He maketh no mistake.

"My cherished plans may go astray,
   My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead
   For he doth know the way.

"Tho' night be dark and it may seem
   That day will never break;
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
   He maketh no mistake.

"There's so much now I cannot see,
   My eyesight's far too dim,
But come what may, I'll simply trust
   And leave it all to Him.

"For by and by the mist will lift
   And plain it all He'll make,
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
   He make not one mistake."
                                      (A. M. Overton)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Are you hearing God speak?

Read Job 33.

God was speaking but sometimes people do not hear Him.

The young man, Elihu, took a chapter and a half giving an introduction to what he wanted to say.  Keep in mind that this took place around the time of Abraham.  Of course, they did not have a Bible.  It was centuries before the law of Moses.  Yet, there is insightful clarity regarding God's desire to communicate.

1. Elihu provided a perspective on how God speaks.
Through a dream. v.15
Through pain. v.19
Through a messenger. v.23

2. Elihu added a perspective on why God speaks.
To warn and purge pride. v.17
To declare what is right. v.23
To move us to pray to Him. v.26a
To restore us with joy. v.26b,
To share what God has done for us. v.27-28

3. In addition to Elihu's list, God continues to speak to us today.
Through His creation.  Psalm 19:1-2
Through His written Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Through listening to His messages.  Romans 10:14-17
Through a personal relationship with His Son.
Hebrews 1:1-2 "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, who he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."

Friday, July 26, 2013

2 Insights from an Angry Man

Read Job 32.

Most of the book involves three rounds of back and forth between Job and his three visitors.  Each took a turn and then Job would respond.  After a response to Bildad that took six chapters, Job is done.  It was Zophar's turn but he never got the opportunity.  A fourth visitor had been sitting by listening.  He was young and kept silent while the older men spoke.  But he became so angry at Job for what he perceived was self-righteousness that he verbally exploded...six chapters worth.

However, as we have seen before, even in the misdirection of the blame, there are some solid insights concerning God and life.

1. Spiritual understanding comes from the Holy Spirit.
"The breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand." v.8
1 Corinthians 2:6-16 describes how it is not possible for one to perceive spiritual truth with natural means.  "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)

2. Wisdom does not always come with getting older.
"It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right." v.9
Unfortunately, not everyone learns from their experiences.  Some may learn valuable life lessons without ever having those experiences.  The Word of God is the key to helping us know, understand and live in ways that will protect us and to be able to help others.
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." (Proverbs 9:10)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Character Traits of an Innocent Man

Read Job 31.

Is anyone truly innocent?  Would not there be someone who could bring up a legitimate offense against us?

Job stated all along that he was falsely accused and did not do anything that deserved his severe losses or his mistreatment by others.   So, in defense of his integrity and his innocence he challenged anyone to step forward with their claim.

No less than seventeen times Job used the word "if" to lay out a scenario of possible wrongdoing.  And, if that were true, "then" he knew the consequences.  Only a person with an absolutely clear conscience could make such statements as these.

Here are the life values and commitments of Job.
1. Sexual purity, both with his eyes and his behavior. (vv.1, 9-12)
2. Personal Honesty. (vv.5-6)
3. Business Honesty. (vv.7-8)
4. Fairness and treating others with equal respect. (vv.13-15)
5. Generosity. (vv.16-23)
6. Humility. (vv.24-28)
7. Peaceable. (vv.29-30)
8. Hospitality. (vv.31-32)
9. Transparency. (vv.33-34)
10. Justice. (vv.38-40)

Life is 24/7.  Character is who you are.  Job's character was not the result of his innate goodness.  He knew better.  Rather, it had been shaped first by his life commitment to God and by his understanding of his direct accountability to God for his words and actions.

When we submit our lives to the Holy Spirit, our character looks like this: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." (Galatians 5:22-23)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hope at the end of the Rope

Read Job 30.

Once so highly respected, with the loss of everything, Job was now laughed at.  People talked about him and treated him in derisive ways.  They could not stand to be around him.

Meanwhile, Job had enough internal issues of his own.  His chronic pain would not allow him any rest.  His body was disfigured.  Spiritually, he felt thrown aside by God.

In crying out to God, Job recounted how he came to the rescue of those around him when they needed help.  But now, when he was the one in need, no one seemed to care.  "But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came." (v.26)

It can be difficult to find solid hope in the middle of a tough test.  Job held on to his faith but questioned his circumstances with each response.  Would God allow him to be this miserable and then merely die? (v.23)  The lessons from Job are consistent with many others in the Bible when experiencing excruciating tests of faith.

Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah and mother of Ishmael, was sent away from the family of Abraham to fend for herself.  But when the food and water ran out, it appeared that she and her son would soon die.  Surely, she felt abandoned by the people she had served for years and now forgotten by God.  But when "she lifted up her voice and wept" (Genesis 21:16) she discovered that God had been watching every move and listening to every word.  Though others may have forsaken her, He did not.  It was at the lowest point of her despair that the LORD revealed two things to her that we can rely on today.

1. God has plans for our future.
The LORD was not through with her yet.  She would not die because of this test.  There were things to do.  Her descendants would one day be a great nation.

2. God has already provided to meet our immediate need.
The water was right in front of her but she did not see it until God "opened her eyes".

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One thing that never Changes

Read Job 29.

"Oh, for the good old days."

Job longed for times past when he felt close to God, when he daily experienced the blessings of God, when he was surrounded by his family, and enjoyed prosperity.  In those days, he was a respected member of the community.  Because he had resources, he generously helped those in need.  People could not wait to hear his counsel.  "I lived like a king..." (v.25)

But those days were gone.  Things changed.  He lost his health.  His family was gone.  Without his wealth, people no longer had respect or use for him.  On top of that he felt distant from God.

When everything around us changes (and eventually they will) and the storms of life assail us (and they will), we must have an immovable anchor in our lives that holds firm and never changes.

Concerning our personal relationship with God, the writer of Hebrews put it this way: "...we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.  We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul..." (Hebrews 6:18-19)

In a world that ever changes, there is One who never does.  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

Monday, July 22, 2013

How to find what God has hidden

Read Job 28.

Question of the day: "Where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" (v.12)

It is not found in natural searches.
Job's example was the human skill in searching for ore and precious stones.  Mine shafts are dug, tunnels bored, waterways dammed up so that precious items may be brought out of the darkness to light.  These things are hidden under the earth's surface.  Birds flying overhead and animals walking the land have no idea what is beneath them.

Even the efforts of mining human philosophies and seeking out the hidden things of the mind will not meet a person's deepest needs.  Because when it comes to spiritual matters we are naturally ignorant, lacking wisdom, and need help outside ourselves.

It is not available for purchase.
All the wealth in the world cannot buy wisdom and understanding of life.  Such insights are not on the open market.  The value of wisdom is priceless.

God understands.  He knows.  He sees everything.  He is the Creator.

Answer from God Himself: "And he said to man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn from evil is understanding." (v.28)

Two insights for life:
1. No fear of the Lord (respect and sense of direct accountability to Him) = no true wisdom.
2. No intentional turning from evil (sin and the things that displease God) = no understanding.

Speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote: "In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:3)

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." (James 1:5-6)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Life of Integrity

Read Job 27.

Integrity, according to Webster's Dictionary is "the quality or state of being complete; wholeness; entireness; unbroken state...honesty and sincerity."  Integrity is when thoughts, words and behavior are consistent.  A break in consistency reveals a lack of integrity.  It is the opposite of hypocrisy, where a person says one thing but does another.

Job defends himself in this chapter with a few of his strongest personal statements.
"...til I die I will not put away my integrity."
"I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;"
"My heart does not reproach me for any of my days."
His conscience was clear as a result of a consistent life.

Two bedrocks of integrity:
1.  Job committed himself to God.
"Though he slay me, I will hope in him." (13:15)
2. Job committed himself to God's word.
"I have not denied the words of the Holy One." (6:10)

In order for one to live a life of integrity there must be an absolute commitment to a group of core values. Without such a commitment one will be a slave to their own weaknesses and/or the culture around them.  This requires discipline to read, study and put God's word into practice.  But the outcome is a life of honor.

Acts 24:16-"So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Are we listening to the right voice?

Read Job 26.

What does a hurting person need?  What should one look for when seeking wise counsel?

The opening verses drip with Job's sarcasm directed at Bildad.  His friends have proved to be no help at all.  Looking behind the verbal barbs one can see what Job longed for.  This what every person wants from a counselor. Adhering to such an evaluation checklist should protect one from gossip sessions and wasting time and money on those who cannot provide what is needed.

1. When feeling helpless, one needs help.  Can this person actually provide something that I cannot?
2. When feeling powerless, one needs strength.  Does this person possess the maturity or resources needed?
3. When feeling a lack of insight, one needs wisdom.  Does this person have the learned experience to specifically help?
4. When feeling a lack of understanding, one needs knowledge.  Does this person know how to solve the problem?

To address Bildad's brief presentation about God, Job responded with his own.
1. God controls even the dead. (vv.5-6)
All souls live forever in some place after this life.  In torment or comfort, everyone is accounted for under His rule.
2. God controls space. (vv.7-10)
The placement of the earth, the movements of the waters and clouds, day and night, and even the shape of the earth (round, not flat) was by His doing.
3. God controls what happens on earth. (vv.11-14)
The mountains, the seas, the winds may be sustained by Him with peace, rather than earthquakes and storms.

While the greatness of God should capture our attention and humble us, the voice of God is most often heard in a "small whisper."  One must stop and give God glory for what He has done but then be silent, listening to what He has to say.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge." (Psalm 19:1-2)  God is speaking.  Are we listening?

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Question every person who ever lived must Answer

Read Job 25.

Bildad's final response is the shortest of all.  Perhaps, he ran out of things to say.  He and his friends tried everything they could to argue against Job's faithfulness and steadfastness.

Nothing is more humbling than to discuss the depravity of mankind in comparison to a holy and all-powerful God.  That was Bildad's last approach.  And, as readers have seen consistently, though the words of these men were meant to hurt and humiliate Job, they do contain some rich truths about God.

1. God has absolute "dominion" or rule over this universe and life itself.
2. God's sovereignty, then, should cause Him to be feared, respected and revered.
3. God is the source of peace.
4. God has a heavenly army that cannot be numbered.
5. God's "light" is universal.  He sees all and knows all.
6. God's inanimate creation is not holy before Him.
God is holy and cannot tolerate a lack of holiness in His presence.
Therefore, what is a human being next to this One in heaven?

In the middle, Bildad asked the most important question anyone could ever ask.  It is the question every person must be able to answer.  "How can a man be in the right before God?  How can he who is born of woman be pure?"  

In the New Testament, Nicodemus was a spiritual leader in Israel.  He served in the Sanhedrin and was known as "the teacher of Israel."  Yet, he did not know the answer to Bildad's question.  Jesus gave him the one and only solution.  "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)  Physical birth and good works alone will not solve our dilemma.  God has provided the means for a spiritual birth through faith in Jesus that will give a person eternal life and a right standing before Him.

By faith, Job looked forward to the day of such a provision from God.  Today, we look back to the time our crucified Savior paid our sin debt so we could be cleansed,  in a pure position, and fit for God's presence.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When will God act against Evil?

Read Job 24.

Job asked an amazing question.  Why doesn't God announce when He will judge evil doers?  In fact, why does He not act now?

Solomon wrote, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil." (Ecclesiastes 8:11)  In other words, delays in punishment allow the sinner to not only think that they got away with their wrongdoing but actually encourages them to do more.  Many have commented that this is the problem with the American judicial system.

Job gave a list of illustrations.  People steal from the helpless and poor, even taking their children as surety for what they owe.  Then, there are murderers, criminals, and even adulterers who do their deeds under cover of darkness saying to themselves, "no one will see me."

Perhaps, the ultimate chestnut from the unbeliever is "If there is a god, let him strike me dead right now."

Yet, "They are exalted a little while, and then they are gone." (v.24)

People make their choices in this life how they will live.  God does keep exact records of good and evil. These will be the basis of degrees of rewards for believers and punishments for those who rejected Christ.  But the Lord will mete these out on His own timetable and according to His pleasure, not man's.

When will God judge every human life?
Hebrews 9:27-"And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment..."
Our evaluation in this life, then, is limited at best.  According to the Bible, there is no second chance.  God's real judgment awaits after death.

Why does He delay His responses to sin?
2 Peter 3:9-"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish."
God's lack of immediate action against sin should never be construed as acceptance or dismissal.  His delay is to give every allowance for repentance.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where is God when I need Him?

Read Job 23.

The weight of his sufferings and the frustration of the accusations were more than he felt he could bear.  After being so falsely and harshly criticized, Job wanted to strongly respond; not to Eliphaz, but to God.  However, there was no place to go for the public hearing.  God was already present!

Here we get to see that Job's faith in God supersedes his physical experience.
1. Job understood the character of God.
"But he knows." (v.10a)
Job was saying, "I may not see him, but He sees me."   In Psalm 139, David wrote: "Where shall I go from your Spirit?"  There is no place.  God is omnipresent.  We communicate with God, not in a building, but "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).  In fact, Jesus stated that God is "seeking such people to worship him."

2. Job understood that suffering is not an end but a process.
"When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." (v.10b)
The Apostle Paul was bold in stating, "More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that the suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope..." (Romans 5:3-4)

3. Job understood God's sovereignty.
"What he desires, that he does.  For he will complete what he appoints for me." (vv.13-14)
God's goal for every human being is not our happiness, but our holiness.  We are His creation.  We belong to Him.  He has a unique design and purpose for each person.

How could Job be so confident about these things?
Check out his testimony in verses 11-12.
Two insights into living with such inner confidence while experiencing outward suffering:
1. He disciplined his moment by moment behavior before God.
Each step in his life "held fast to his steps."  He did not get off course.
2. He made what God had to say the guiding priority of his life.
He treasured God's word more than food.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A look at Irrational Criticism

Read Job 22.

Few things feel more bizarre and bewildering than to be falsely accused.  On one hand, the blame is absolutely meaningless because it does not apply.  On the other hand, it is hurtful to hear that others would think such things about you.

Critics often emotionally jump to judgment, many times harshly, without first seeking to understand the facts.  Job had done nothing wrong to warrant his misery.  In fact, his selection to experience this test was due to his godliness and outstanding behavior.  But that did not stop Job's critics.

This chapter begins the third and final round of the back and forth between Job, Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz.

There appears to be no small amount of wealth-envy in Eliphaz' list of sins he thinks Job must have committed.  Surely the reason this once prosperous man lost everything had to be because of his failure to use his blessings to help others.  The problem with his argument was that he made it all up in his own imagination.  None of it was true.

As he concluded, Eliphaz called upon Job to repent.  Here, Eliphaz turned and demonstrated some wonderful theological understanding.  He outed with several statements that are bedrock to our faith.
1. "Agree with God, and be at peace." (v.21)
Compare 1 John 1:9
2. "Then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver." (v.25)
Compare 1 Peter 1:7
3. "You will make your prayer to him and he will hear you." (v.27)
Compare Jeremiah 33:3
4. "He saves the lowly." (v.29b)
Compare James 4:6
5. "He delivers even the one who is not innocent." (v.30)
Compare Romans 3:23-24

Concerning criticism, Dr. Rick Warren wrote: "Amazingly, sometimes people who know the most about the doctrines of grace are the least gracious; they are ungracious."  Those of us who have experienced God's grace are most equipped to be gracious to others.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Challenge to be Patient in Pain

Read Job 21.

In the New Testament, James wrote that we are to be patient and steadfast in times of suffering.  He even refers to "the patience of Job."  He did persevere but there were times when Job lost his patience.  In verse 4, Job asked, "Why should I not be impatient?"

In response to Zophar, Job has a few questions.  If all the things Zophar said about wicked were true, then how does one explain that the wicked are still alive, live long lives, and increase in their power?  By observation, Job does not see God's punishment of them.  Quite the opposite.  They appear to live in prosperity and peace.

All the while they reject God.  They see no need to serve Him, nor to even pray to Him.
Job is quick to point out that he is not one of them.  "The counsel of the wicked is far from me" (verse 16).

Death is the great equalizer.  Rich or poor.  Young or old.  Powerful and helpless.  All will one day face the inevitable.  So, none of the outward appearances are accurate evaluators of one's eternal standing with God.

The reality is that godly people do suffer.  Indeed, Paul indicated that this was part of the believer's preparation process (2 Corinthians 4:17).  So, in the meantime, while we are going through it, we are to turn the focus from our temporal pain to our eternal future.

"You also, be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold the Judge is standing at the door."
(James 5:8-9)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Taking a Second Look at our Inheritance

Read Job 20.

It was Zophar's turn again.  The gloves had been taken off.  The verbal punches came faster and harder.  It is difficult to imagine any graphic detail these so-called friends left out in pounding Job.  They kept on trying to beat him into submission and to admit some unconfessed sin.

Zophar expounded a list of behaviors of  wicked persons and what God will do to them.
-Their celebration and pleasures will be short-lived. (v.5)
-Their life, no matter how high their position, will one day be gone and forgotten. (vv.6-9)
-Their children will have to deal with those they oppressed and any accumulated wealth will be gone. (v.10)
-Their bodies, no matter how strong, will return to dust. (v.11)
-Their desire and delight in doing evil will one day turn into a lethal poison that will do them in. (vv.12-17)
-Their ill-gotten gains will all be lost. (vv.18-19)
-Their constant striving for more wealth will not spare them from God's wrath. (vv.20-26)
-Their sin will be openly exposed for all to see. (v.27)
-Their possessions will all be gone. (v.28)

That is all they have to look forward to when this life is over.  While those things may be certainly be true of the wicked, it was not true of Job.  Nor is this the "portion" (inheritance or allotment) for those who worship the LORD.

Asaph, in Psalm 73, confessed that he was envious of the prosperity of the wicked.  Nothing seemed to bother them.  They do what they want.  They say what they want.  They do not feel any accountability to God.  But when Asaph went entered into worship with the LORD he was reminded of their end.

"Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

7 Beliefs about Jesus we share with Job

Read Job 19.

Sometimes when a believer in Jesus is in great pain they may feel one way but their faith counters their feelings.  Their words may even sound contradictory.  But it is our faith that sees beyond the physical present and looks to our eternal hope.  Watch how Job's words demonstrate this.

Everything was gone.  No one was left to comfort or to come alongside Job.  He cried out for mercy.  But he could find no compassion.  He wanted his complaint and his innocence written down in a permanent record for all to see.  Indeed, it was.  Here thousands of years later we know the truth about what happened to this man.  Beyond us reading it, Job switched on his perspective of faith.  He looked forward to the day with the Redeemer would appear.

Do not miss Job's incredible descriptions contained in these verses.
1. He believed in a Redeemer.
This refers to a close relative who would come to the aid of a needy family member.  They would defend, avenge, or provide when the person could not help themselves.
2. He believed in a personal Redeemer.
"My" Redeemer lives.  His faith was not in an institution or a religious system.  It was a relationship with a real person.
3. He believed that this Redeemer was living.
His faith was not in a man-made idol or some dead hero.
4. He believed in a Redeemer who would come "at the last".
The present life was not final.  There was coming a day of vindication "in the end".
5. He believed this Redeemer would stand on earth.
That would eliminate a spiritual appearance of the Redeemer or only a heavenly one.  This One would come to earth as Judge and make all things right.
6. He believed that this Redeemer was God.
7. He believed that he would see this Redeemer in his own body after his death.
There is no room here for reincarnation or so-called "soul sleep".  Fully aware, with a new body, Job looked forward to eternal fellowship with the LORD Himself.

When Jesus ascended back to heaven, the angels announced, "This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."  (Acts 1:11)

Jesus said, "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."  (Revelation 22:12)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Be Careful Evaluating the Lives of Others

Read Job 18.

Bildad's name means "son of contention".  How appropriate!  In this, his second round of confronting Job, Bildad described his erroneous view of what happens to those who are evil and forsake God.  He squarely issued this to explain what has happened to Job.

Bildad's anger at Job was fueled by Job's refusal to repent of his sin and his offensive language toward those trying to help him.  In return, Bildad unleashed a diatribe against him.  Every calamity mentioned was directed at what Job had experienced.  He accused Job of being caught in a trap of his own making.  All his losses, including the deaths of his children, were due to Job's sin.  That was designed to hurt.

Finally, according to Bildad, all of this calamity befell Job because he simply did not know the LORD.  Of course, that was not true of Job and Bildad's list may only sometimes be true of those apart from God.

So, now the question: Does God always punish those who do not know Him?  No.  There is clear evidence all around us that indeed the most wicked in any culture may appear to prosper.  But that will only be in this life.  Our judgments of people here are limited at best.  Eternal judgment (the only one that counts) awaits.

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (John 3:36)

In our attempts to understand the lives of other believers, Paul wrote:
"Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.  Then each one will receive his commendation from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Our Transcendent Hope

Read Job 17.

Job's spirit was broken.  It is one thing to experience great loss and be financially, emotionally, or even physically broken.  But a broken spirit is a destroying devastation of person-hood.

He just wanted to get it over with and die.  And, he was ready.  There was nothing left for which to live.  People only mocked him.  They seemed to hang around merely to divide up what would be left of his property.  He lost so much physically that he was only a shadow of his former self.  All his future plans and dreams were gone.  If his so-called comforters possessed anymore wisdom, they could bring it on.

Yet, there remained a glimpse of his faith in God.  He had done nothing wrong and, therefore, his faith should make him stronger. (vv.8-9)

Job's question, "Where then is my hope?" (v.15),  has much more to do with his hope of recovering from all the losses, including his health.  The grave appeared to be the only place of peace, rest, and escape from the suffering.

In Psalm 42, the songwriter expressed one of the most graphic descriptions of brokenness in all the Bible.
"As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.....My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, 'Where is your God?'...Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

Eventually, everyone looses everything, leaving it all behind.  The LORD alone is the only source of unchanging hope that transcends this life.