Restoration of Job

Scripture reading for June 3rd: Job 40-42

Finally, we come to the end of this long book of endless arguments concerning the nature of suffering, God’s character and justice, and God’s ability to work out everything according to the counsel of His Word.   God continues His questioning of Job, who is now under conviction of being unworthy to say any more. (Job 40:4-5)  Job was to brace himself and give God some answers.  The first question was:  “Would you discredit my justice?”  The next related to the first:  “Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?” (Job  40:8)

Curiously, God then begins to direct Job’s attention to two of the most fierce animals.  Behemoth is a fierce land animal that is perhaps the hippopotamus or elephant.  Leviathon is a fierce water creature that is perhaps the crocodile or fire-breathing dragon.  These two animals bring fear to the hearts of men because of their power and ability to dominate.  But at the end, God says that there is nothing on earth that is these creatures’ equal–a creature without fear.  He is king of all that are proud!  What is God talking about?  Why this discussion of these fearful animals?  Could it be that God is teaching Job about Satan and his downfall, pride?

Job repents and comes to a new understanding of  God’s greatness and trustworthiness.  God instructs the friends to offer sacrifice and have Job pray for them to avert God’s judgment.  Elihu is not mentioned.  We are not told why. After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored Job to his former prosperity and gave him double all that he had lost.  (Job 42:10)  Job had seven more sons and three daughters.  This is the same as before and implies that he would see his others in heaven as well!  God does everything well!

This story has a happy ending and teaches us all valuable lessons of faith and trust in God.  We won’t always have all the answers and we must be careful when trying to help those going through trial and affliction.  We certainly don’t want to become like Job’s comforters!  We can be thankful that God is in control and that He is merciful and answers prayer.  We can also rest assured that God will work everything for good to those who love Him and keep the faith!

“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:10-11

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God speaks to Job!

Scripture reading for June 2nd: Job 38-39

Job had been longing for an audience with God so that he could state his case and find mercy.  His friends had accused him of harboring sin in his life and being under God’s punishment.  They had tried to define God’s ways and actions to him but Job had needed to hear from God Himself!  Job had maintained his integrity and faith in God but had lots of questions for God.  Finally, Job got the desire of his heart and it turned out differently than expected!

God appeared to Job out of a storm or whirlwind.  (Job 38:1)  God’s first question was: “Who is this that darkens My counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)    I feel that this is a strong word of rebuke for all of Job’s friends, particularly the last speaker, Elihu.  (He claimed perfect knowledge in Job 36:4.)  God was also there to correct Job’s understanding as well!

The next four chapters are filled with questions that only God can truly answer. There are about seventy questions about the world that God created and about the animal kingdom.  God never answers Job’s questions about why he is suffering.  He never tells Job his purposes for allowing the suffering.  God only shows Job through these questions that He is in control and knows more about creation than we do. He implies that we do not need to know everything while here on earth.  Just knowing God and his great power and total authority over all creation should give us hope and peace.

When it comes down to it, God’s wisdom and understanding make us look small indeed!  To think that this God who created the vast heavens and unique earth would care about man is difficult to understand.  I am humbled and amazed that God would come to Job and personally talk to him!  It reminds me of Jesus Christ when he said: “Come to me all you who weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)  God is humble too!  He stoops low to speak to us and teach us about Himself.  We are blessed to learn and to hear His voice!

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One perfect in knowledge is with you!

Scripture reading for June 1st: Job 35-37

“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker.  Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you. Job 36:3-4

Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything?  For every question, he has an answer and he even has information you did not ask for.  Elihu seems to be such a person.  He boasts of his great wisdom and does seem to have some good information.  However, as I read this section, I get the feeling that Elihu is not much different from the other three friends.  He seems to talk down to Job and subtly accuse Job of not knowing God.  He claims to know God perfectly.  (Job 36:4)

Elihu stated that God commands sinners to repent and that if they listen, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity.  (Job 36:11)  This argument has already been hashed around by Job and Job reminded them that this was not always the case.  Sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them here on earth.  (Job 21:7-14)  We cannot always presume that our life on earth has to be a certain way based on our behavior. God may allow other things to work out His purposes in our life, but they will all be for our good if we love him.  (Romans 8:28)

Elihu also stated that our sin has no effect on God.  (Job 35:6)  Sin does have an effect on God.  It provokes his anger and all sin is against God first.  Without His Law we would not know sin, good or evil.  God’s revelation of His Law and the consequences of sin show God’s concern.  Of course, Job is before the Law was written but God never changes and His character is the same then as now!

Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction.  (Job 36:21)  This also is presumptuous on Elihu’s part.  When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others.  Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up!  (1st Corinthians 8:1b)  Elihu’s analogy’s of God’s greatness and majesty must have caused Job to think and further examine his own heart.  Elihu’s last words told of God coming in majesty and splendor, but beyond our reach!  How ironic that God Himself next speaks to Job!

As I ponder these dissertations by Job’s friends, I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20)  No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord!  He is our helper and guide!  In all our ways we must acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths!  (Proverbs 3:5-7)

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Sunday rest and reflection–Pentecost!

Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ!  Today is Pentecost Sunday and a time to celebrate the precious gift of the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is the personal gift of the Father who was sent to dwell in followers of Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:49)  Jesus told His followers to wait for this promise and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. (Acts1:8)  This power would be a divine enablement to be witnesses for the Lord.  God’s command was for these believers to go into all the world and preach the Gospel message with signs that would follow! (Mark 16:15-20)

On the day of Pentecost, 120 believers were gathered in a room of the temple praying and waiting on the Lord when suddenly the room was filled with the sound of a rushing wind.  Visible tongues of fire descended on this company and they all began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:1-4) These believers went out into the temple area and caused quite a stir among those Jews gathered from around the world for the Feast of Pentecost.  Each one heard them glorifying God in their own language! (Acts 2:8-10)  What a miracle!  Peter preached that day and many came under conviction through the power of the Holy Spirit!  (Acts 2:37)  They were told to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!  (Acts 2:38-41)  Three thousand were baptized and added to the church that day!

Today, nearly 2000 years later, God is still empowering believers to be witnesses for Him.  He is still pouring out His Spirit on all flesh.  He is still sending His Church to be witnesses to the nations.  He is still baptizing people in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues!  He is still confirming His Word with supernatural signs!  God shows no partiality and wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth!  (1st Timothy 2:3-4)  If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, why not pray and ask the Jesus to baptize you with power to be His witness?  You can become even more effective as a witness with power!  God bless you this Pentecost Sunday!  May you be filled with power again and again.  (Ephesians 5:18-21)

Pastor John

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God is impartial!

Scripture reading for May 30: Job 32-34

“So listen to me, you men of understanding.  Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.  He repays a man for what he has done, he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.  It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.  Who appointed Him over the earth?  Who put Him in charge of the whole world?” Job 34:10-13

After all the older and presumably wiser friends of Job are silent, Elihu opens his mouth to speak.  Elihu is a younger man, also a friend of Job, and has been listening in on their conversations and debate.  Elihu claims to be full of the Spirit of God and to have wisdom by the Spirit.  (Job 32:8)  He says he is sincere and has an upright heart.  (Job 33:3)  He acknowledges that God has made him and given him life. (Job 33:4)  Elihu dares to confront Job about his complaint that God has not answered him.  Elihu tells Job that God speaks in many ways and it is sometimes we who are not paying attention or listening.  (Job 33:13-14)  He stated that God sometimes speaks through a bed of pain, which Job was then enduring himself.

Elihu pointed out to the friends that Job had tried to justify himself.  (Job 34:3-7)  God was the one who should have been justified instead of Job, because God is perfect and impartial.  He is always just and never does wrong! (Job 34:10-12)  He gives each person what he deserves.   He is in charge of the earth and no one tells Him what to do!  He is not partial to rich or poor and He knows each person perfectly.  (Job 34:19)

As we look at the words of this younger man, we sense that he understood God and had placed much of his understanding on a knowledge of the Almighty.  The Spirit of God did give him insight that did not depend on age.  Elihu had correctly discerned God’s impartiality and ability to judge each person justly.  However, Elihu still didn’t have complete wisdom.  He made some assumptions.  One assumption was that Job was getting what was due him.   As we know from the first two chapters, this was not the case.  God, Himself, had declared Job righteous.   In Job’s case, he was not guilty, but only being tested!   This young man, Elihu, may be wise in some things, but still is short on full understanding!

What do we learn from this?  We do understand that God is impartial and knows everything.  We also learn that God can use pain and other means to speak to us.  But, in addition, we  learn that we as mortals cannot be presumptive.  We do not know everything about every situation.  God is sovereign and we must let Him be God!  Check your own heart today and allow the Lord to set it in order!  He is truly able!

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Taking inventory!

Scripture reading for May 29th: Job 29-31

Soul-searching is a good thing for us if we can be honest with ourselves.  We must have an understanding of “good” and “evil” before we can identify it in our life.  If we have no core convictions of what is right and wrong, it is impossible to make progress.  God has given each person a conscience that informs him in general of God’s law.  This can help guide us if we are sensitive and teachable.  Sometimes this conscience is seared and is not active because of repeated disobedience and rebellion.  We then need to go to God’s Word for the standard and re-activate the seared conscience by believing truth.

After all the friends are silent and their accusations cease, Job was still suffering!    He remembered his past time of blessing  with a sense of joy.  (Job 29) He was taunted by the young men of the city and then felt driven to do a self-examination and moral inventory.  (Job 30:1)  He had some beliefs or core convictions about what was right and wrong, good and evil.  We find Job going over these things in a systematic way to try to be sure that he had not forgotten anything.  He was judging himself, so that God would not judge him.

Job first dealt with his personal life. (Job 31:1-12)  He was careful with his eyes, not to look lustfully on a woman.  He stayed away from his neighbor’s wife.  He knew that this would lead to trouble!  He knew that sexual sin was something that God would judge! (Job 31:11)  He also checked his honesty and truthfulness.  God would weigh him with honest scales in this regard!  (Job 31:5-6)

Job next dealt with his public life. (Job 31:13-23)  He tested his heart for his treatment of his servants.  Was he fair and respectful of them?  He then looked to his treatment of the poor and orphan.  Was he willing to give to help them with food and clothing?  God is watching all of these and will judge!  (Job 31:23)

Job also checked his spiritual life.  (Job 31:24-40)  How did he treat money?  Was it a ‘god’ in his life?  Did he secretly worship anything other than the God who created everything?  He also checked his attitude about revenge.  Vengeance belongs to the Lord–we must not get even or even rejoice over someone’s misfortune.  How had he treated strangers?  Were his motives pure in all that he did?  Job longed to be able to stand before God because he felt that he was doing what he knew to be right and avoiding evil!

What an inventory!  Take time today and allow this 4000 year-old inventory to give you insight into your own walk with God.  Remember, Jesus Christ has already paid the penalty for our sins and if we confess them to Him, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all sin!  (1st John 1:7-9)

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God is most precious!

Scripture reading for May 28: Job 25-28

Bildad opened his final argument by citing the power and dominion of God.  He then questioned that in light of God’s greatness, how can man who is born of woman be right with God?  (Job 25:4)  This is a good question and finds the answer implied by Bildad in other writings of Scripture.  Romans 3:10 says that there is none righteous, not even one (Psalm 14:1) .  Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  The problem with Bildad’s statement is in his understanding of God and man’s relationship.  Bildad stated that man was like a maggot in God’s sight, only a worm.  (Job 25:6)  This view is neither encouraging or accurate!

Job refuted Bildad by asking him what spirit was speaking through him!  Job’s counter-argument was that he would continue to trust God, even if he didn’t understand!  (Job 27:2-6)  God was his only source of hope and encouragement!  God’s character and wisdom were worth more to Job than anything this earth had to offer.  Finding this wisdom is not easy! (Job 28:12-13)

The bottom line for Job was that the fear of the Lord was wisdom and understanding was to depart from evil!  (Job 28:28)  Let’s think about this for a minute.  Respecting God and His power and authority is the very core of wisdom.  We can only live our life successfully if we have this wisdom in operation in our life.  Respecting God is the character trait of humility.  God, Himself, is humble!  Jesus Christ taught his followers to come and learn from Him, because he was humble of heart!  (Matthew 11:28-30)  By respecting God and being humble we are able to follow God and live successfully by faith and not be destroyed by our sight!  We know from God’s word and character that there is a definite “good” and a definite “evil”.  We walk in understanding when we depart from evil and do good!

God is the most precious one in our life.  Job came to this conclusion as he was forced by the circumstances of a trial to live by faith.  He did not have all the answers, but he knew the one who did and who would help him!  He steadfastly held on to what he knew and persevered!  We can, too!  What a precious Lord we have!  Don’t let go!

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“The Lord knows the way that I take”

Scripture reading for May 27th: Job 22-24

When we walk by faith, we will go through testing!  Mary and I had set out to adopt two girls from Russia.   We believed that we had a Word from the Lord to proceed with this, even though we were in our early fifty’s at the time.  We needed a home study to send to the government and the court in Russia stating that we were fit parents and capable of handling our new children.  We proceeded with this requirement and had a social worker come to our house for the initial consultation.  We paid her $650 in advance for her report.  A week later , we received a letter and the report stating that we were not fit to be parents because of our biblical views on parenting!  Neither our references nor our three grown children had been contacted.  Where was God now?  Why were we accused of wrong for no reason?  What  do we do now?

Job, in the chapters for today, continues to be accused of wickedness when he knew of none. (Job 22:5) He had been walking by faith in God and had lost everything.  He was having trouble finding God and wanted to see Him and talk.  (Job 23:2-4)  Although Job had searched for God, he was confident that God knew the way of faith that he was walking.  He knew that testing would result in something good.  (Job 23:10)  Why?  Job was closely following the Lord’s steps and keeping His ways.  He was speaking his Words and truths.  (Job 23:11-12)

God’s eyes are on our ways.  In our situation, God was  watching us even though we were in the midst of a trial.  We tried another source for home study, payed another fee, and got  a good report.  We were to walk by faith and not by sight!  Our steps were closely following His Word and we were speaking confidence in God even though we weren’t sure what He was doing in that trial.  God knows the way you take, too!  Is it the way of faith?  In the end, you will come forth as gold!

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”  My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.  I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” Job 23:10-12

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Why do the wicked seem to prosper?

Scripture reading for May 26th: Job 20-21

Job’s friend Zophar was offended by Job’s warning to be afraid of punishment by God as well! (Job 19:28-29)  Zophar had a belief that the wicked only get by for a short time and then punishment will fall on them here in this life.  He held a strong belief in what he could see,  but looks can be deceiving!  Job took exception with his theology and his way of comforting him!

Job stated that often the wicked seem to grow old and increase in power. (Job 21:7)  He observed that they appear to be safe and have no fear or problems.  They mock God and God seems to do nothing.  (Job 21:14, 15)  Some men die fat and happy, others die in bitterness and pain.  The grave swallows them both and we don’t know why.  (Job 21:23-26)

This controversy has been the subject of other writers of Scripture.  Psalm 73 was written by Asaph, a gifted muscian in King David’s Levitical choir.  Asaph nearly lost faith when he observed the prosperity of the wicked.  (Psalm 78:2)  He saw that they had health and prosperity and were proud at heart.  They scoffed at man and mocked heaven and nothing seemed to happen.  He thought he was keeping himself pure for nothing and almost slipped away from serving God.  Then he entered the sanctuary of God and he understood their final end.  In the end, God would judge them and send them away to sudden destruction! (Psalm 73:16-19)

We can’t go by what we see!  The righteous live by their faith!  Job was having his faith tested by the taunts of Zophar.  Asaph was being tested by Satan when he began to reason by what he observed in the world.  We are often tempted to join the wicked in their sins and folly.  But when we enter the sanctuary of God and see the truth of His holy Word, we understand that the wicked will not stand in the judgment or sinners before a holy God who will bring every secret thing into judgment!  (Psalm 1:5-6)  Allow the Lord to bring you understanding today.  If you are involved in sin or wickedness, repent quickly and begin a new path of faith and obedience!  You’ ll never regret it!

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I Know my Redeemer lives!

Scripture reading for May 25th: Job 18-19

The attack on Job’s character by his friends continues with Bildad the Shuhite in Job 18.  Bildad harshly accuses Job of being wicked, evil and not knowing God.  (Job 18:21)  He tells Job of the destruction that awaits him if he doesn’t come to his senses and deal with his problem of sin.  These statements are very presumptive and go against all that Job has tried to tell him. They certainly did not give Job any comfort and brought further suffering his way.  (Job 19:2-3)

Job was being attacked and it forced him to evaluate his beliefs.  He went to God for answers, but even God seemed to be against him.  (Job 19:8)  He was opposed by his own friends and even his wife.  He looked at his own body, which was skin and bones and knew that he might not be long for this earth.  He asked for pity from his friends and began to state his true feelings!  (Job 19:21-22)

Job wished that his words would be recorded!  His desire was granted and we are reading them today!  He stated a belief that his redeemer lived–that he would see him one day, even if he died.  This foundational belief in resurrection brings hope to us.  It is what Christ gives each one of His followers!  We know that we will suffer and eventually die while in this life, but that isn’t the end!  We have a permanent dwelling place with the Lord to look forward to!  (2nd Corinthians 5:1-2)  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!  (2nd Corinthians 5:8)  There is the “blessed hope” as well, the soon appearing of Jesus Christ for His people!  (Titus 2:13)  We are watching for this hope, even while we live.  There will be a sudden appearing of Jesus to take His people who are ready to be with Him!  (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)  This will be a glorious day for each of us!

If you lack the understanding of a living redeemer and your personal redemption, today is a good day to do something about that.  Ask the Lord for mercy and place your trust in Jesus Christ, His Son.  Whoever calls on the Lord, will be saved!

“And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son as life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1st John 5:11-13

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