Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 31: Job 37 – 39; Psalm 44:9-26; Proverbs 22:13; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10



Overview

            Job: Elihu continues to speak. He declares God’s power in nature likening his voice to thunder as lightning flashes over the whole earth. He controls the rain, snow, and wind. When the storm comes, people stop working and animals hide in their dens. He storm are there to correct people, provide for the land, or show his love.
            Elihu asks Job to consider God’s works in nature and asks if Job know how God does them. Can Job do any of these things? He challenges Job to teach them what to say to God because they are not smart enough. Does Elihu need Job to tell God he wants to speak? We can’t look directly at the sun so what makes us think we could see God in all his splendor. He is beyond us in all ways but he is righteous and just and doesn’t oppress us. Therefore, we should fear God and also because he does not pay attention to those who think they are wise in their own selves.
            A whirlwind comes and God speaks to Job from it. He asks Job who he thinks he is, speaking without knowledge. He then asks Job a series of questions about creation challenging him to answer if he has understanding. The questions start with creation when the angels rejoiced at it. God keeps nature going and limits it including the timing of the day and path of the morning star. Does Job know what is under the ocean or what happens after death or even how big the earth is? He says Job is old so he must surly know how light and darkness work, snow, hail, and wind. Does Job know how canyons and rivers are formed with rain and torrents or how it freezes? Does he set in place the constellations and know all about astronomy? Does he have any control over the weather? Can Job regulate the complexity of feeding the animal kingdom?
            God continues to ask questions of Job, such as when animals give birth and what happens to them as they grow up. Where did wild donkey originate? Will a wild ox do what you want? Who made the ostrich both stupid but can run faster than a horse? Who made horses the way they are even eager to ride into battle at the sound of a trumpet? Did Job design raptors to soar and make nests high up in the crags?
            Psalm: After boasting in the Lord, the psalmist now turns to complaining about how God has abandoned Israel to their enemies. He goes on for eight verses detailing how God has let them down. He then says that they have been faithful but God has sent these problems. He then asks God to wake up and redeem them.
            Proverbs: A lazy person finds excuses to not work, such as fearing a lion will kill them on the way.
            2 Corinthians: Paul and his companions spoke in faith believing God about Jesus and his resurrection and therefore will raise them up to be with God. This was for the sake of the Corinthians so that grace may be extended to more people and glorify God with thanksgiving.
            Because of this, they didn’t lose heart as their bodies wear out but their spirits are renewed every day. Their afflictions are temporary but their eternal future is worth it. All the stuff we can see is temporary but unseen things are eternal.
            They know that death isn’t the end of their lives. When they die, they will put on a heavenly body where they won’t have pain any more. The heavenly body would be like putting on better clothes. God has prepared this for them and he has given them the Holy Spirit to guarantee it.
            While they are still alive in physical bodies, they are not with the Lord and have to walk by faith since they can’t see the eternal things. They would rather be out of their current bodies and with the Lord but they still want to please the Lord now or after death. Everyone must appear before Christs judgment seat to receive recompense for what they have done in this life, good or bad.

What Stood Out

            Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2).
            Psalm: “You have …” (Ps 44:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14).
            Proverbs: “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!’” (Prov 22:13).
            2 Corinthians: “For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies” (2 Cor 5:3).

Insight

            Job: Elihu asks Job some good questions as he winds up his discourse. Then God speaks. Starting in Chapter 38, we no longer have to wonder if the author is speaking correctly about God. God is telling us his wonders. When I read these chapters I think about those who deny God’s work in creation and his ongoing care for all things. Atheists should ask themselves these questions.
            Unfortunately, atheists do ask these questions and say that science explains them all. They believe that everything can or will be explained by natural processes and that means there is no need to consider the existence of God. It reminds me of a story where a group of scientist approach God. They tell God that they don’t need him anymore because they have discovered how all things work and replicate whatever God does or has done. God asks them if they are able to create a human being from the dust of the ground. The scientist answer that they can indeed do that. God challenges them to go ahead and try. They stoop down to gather some dust and minerals from the ground but God stops them. He says, “Wait a minute, get your own dust.”
            If we truly understand God then we have to start with creation. As much as scientists would like to think, inanimate material can’t create itself. Yet the very existence of the material universe begs for a Creator that has to be so far beyond it that he had to either be able to create himself or had to always exist. No one should consider this Creator to be anything other than a supreme being of immense wisdom and power to create this vast universe. God clearly told Moses he is that being, being both eternal and self-existent when he gave his name as I Am (Ex 3:14).
            Psalm: Job isn’t the only one who says God has done some tough things to people. The difference between Job and this Psalmist is that Israel deserved everything they received. God made a covenant with them when he took them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. If they followed him, God would care for them. If they disobeyed and went after other gods and lived ungodly lives, he would do to them exactly what the Psalmist said. Later, in verse 17, he says they had been faithful to the covenant. Fake News!
            At the final judgment, this will be what many people will say to God, “We were faithful, we were sincere.” But God will shake his head sadly and tell them that he doesn’t know them because they didn’t accept, believe, trust, obey Jesus. Their punishment should not be a surprise to them.
            Proverbs: The Proverb says a sluggard or a lazy person makes up excuses not to work. The example is quite extreme. It could by hyperbole, but it could also indicate that this particular sluggard is more than just a sluggard and has some very unreasonable fears. I’ve heard of some, such as the fear a teenager had for not getting a driver’s license. She was afraid of running over her little brother. The interesting part of this is that it also got her out of other responsibilities that usually come when a kid is growing up. Perhaps, the fear is actually serving another purpose that is in reality a sinful desire. The heart is very deceitful and can come up with many ways of getting what it wants or getting out of doing what it doesn’t want to do.
            2 Corinthians: We really don’t pay enough attention to spiritual things when we are struggling with physical problems. When we get so focused on our aches and pains, we forget that these bodies are only temporary. When we die, we will immediately get new bodies without all the limitations we have now. Paul says that this life and these pains are preparing us for an eternal glory (2 Cor 4:17).
            Some people believe that when we die, we will be unconscious until the resurrection. Others believe that we will go to be with Jesus but we will be spirits without bodies. Paul says we will not be unclothed but clothed or as the NLT puts it, we will not be spirits without goodies (2 Cor 5:4). Some will ask, “If we immediately get heavenly bodies upon death, what is the resurrection all about?” All I can say is that we might get one more change of clothes or it will be just the same as the one we get immediately after death. Either way, it will last for eternity. I’m just glad that we can look forward to having it for eternity and keep that in view when troubles assail us.

Application

             I need to think more about God’s awesome strength and wisdom in creation. When I think about it, it helps understand how much he deserves to be worshiped. I can also trust that when my time comes, I can trust that I’ll be better off with him in heaven.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 30: Job 34 – 36; Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 22:10-12; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12



Overview

            Job: Elihu continues saying that wise men and he will be able to choose what is right. He accuses Job of scoffing when he proclaims his innocence and that he associates with evildoers claiming he says that there is no profit in delighting in God.
            Elihu explains that God would never do anything wicked but will repay a man for his deeds. If God wanted, he could remove his spirit and breath and all living creatures would perish. God will not pervert justice but denounces wicked people and takes their lives whether kings, nobles, or princes.
            Elihu continues to explain that God sees all and wipes out wicked people without any need to investigate. He hears the cry of the poor. If he doesn’t respond, who can condemn him though he rules nations and prevents godless men from ruling.
            He says people don’t usually admit their sin because they have been punished much less ask to be taught correctly not to sin again. If you reject his punishment, should he then change it for you? No, Job has spoken like a wicked man and must be punished for his words against God.
            Elihu claims that Job thinks he would be better off if he had sinned. He tells Job to look at the clouds, how can Job’s sins do anything against God? If Job is righteous, that doesn’t do anything for God either. Job’s actions only affect people, not God.
            People who cry to God because of oppression don’t ask where God is. So only evil people will ask that and think they can present their case to him. God doesn’t respond to prideful cries like that or when you say you can’t see him. Elihu claims Job has accused God of not responding to sinners with anger and is not concerned with wicked people. That is Job’s foolish talk.
            Elihu says his arguments for God’s righteousness are really better than anyone else’s and his words are true. He says God is mighty and doesn’t despise anyone, yet he doesn’t keep the wicked alive and takes care of the afflicted. He exalts kings and if they do wrong, he will tell them to repent. If they listen, they will proper, if not they will perish.
            The godless love anger and God kills them young but some he delivers by afflicting them. Elihu tells Job that God is doing this for him. However, Job has to be careful or wealth will lead him into sin and his cries for help will not be answered.
            God is powerful and no one can tell him he has done wrong. Instead, Job should praise his works that are evident to all. God brings water from below to the clouds and then causes the rain with thunder and lightning. With these he provides food or judgment.
            Psalm: The Psalmist recounts what he has heard of God’s salvation for Israel. God drove out the people of Canaan, not by the power of Israel. He did it because he loved them. He proclaims that God is their king and that he is still saving them from their enemies. For that reason, they will boast in the Lord and give thanks to him forever.
            Proverbs: Get rid of a scoffer and you won’t have quarrels or abuse. A person who is pure in heart and speaks graciously will be welcomed as the king’s friend. The Lord makes sure knowledgeable words are kept but a traitor is exposed.
            2 Corinthians: Because Paul’s ministry is from God, he and his companions didn’t use worldly, crafty ways of presenting the gospel or mess with the message. They were open and truthful. If the message wasn’t understood, it was because the hearers were perishing. The god of this world hid the message from unbelievers so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel and glory of Jesus, the image of God. Paul and others proclaimed Jesus as Lord and themselves as the Corinthian’s servants. God’s light has shown in their hearts enabling them to spread the light of the knowledge of God in Jesus.
            This treasure in in their breakable mortal bodies shows that their power is from God and not in their own abilities. They suffered all kinds of physical problems and persecution but always overcame them manifesting the life of Jesus in them. They are in danger of death for Jesus’ sake so that his life will be seen in them. They suffer but the Corinthians gained life as a result.

What Stood Out

            Job: “Would that Job were tried to the end, because he answers like wicked men” (Job 34:36).     
            Psalm: “In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever” (Ps 44:8).
            Proverbs: “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend” (Prov 22:11).
            2 Corinthians: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor 4:7).

Insight

            Job: I have to keep reminding myself that Job, his three friends, and Elihu do not have Scripture to determine God’s character and purpose. While they have all discerned some truth about God by observation and logic, they really don’t have a clue about Job’s suffering. Elihu uses flattery to enlist his hearers to his side of the argument. He calls them “men of understanding” (Job 34:10) when in actuality he is angry with them for not having enough wisdom to refute Job. This is coming from someone who said he doesn’t flatter (Job 32:22). Elihu continues to malign Job for his desire to ask God why this is happening to him. He doesn’t quote Job but sums up what Job has said and puts his own twist on it. He claims Job has said that trying to please God doesn’t profit a man (Job 34:9). That isn’t exactly what Job said. But in the heat of an argument, who pays attention to what a person actually said?
            Misquoting or worse, lying about what someone said, and accusing the other of evil is the way many people argue today, especially in political circles. We even have a modern term for this and it is “post-truth.” It is the Oxford English Dictionary’s international word of the year. Basically, it is what happens when public opinion is based more on emotional and personal appeal than on objective facts. Observe Elihu’s emotional appeals in his argument. We often do this by shading the truth to make our position sound right and another person’s wrong. The full brunt of it comes when a person slanders another to win the argument, gain the election, or blame the other for the divorce.
             This all reminds me that when people keep on yammering on and on, the possibility of sinning becomes a probability (Prov 10:19). With that, I must stop yammering.
            Psalm: Israel was able to boast in the Lord who brought them out from Egypt and recued them from his enemies. They didn’t boast in his own power or abilities. About what things do you boast in the Lord? I think some people boast about their salvation. This can work two ways. We can boast that we accepted the Lord when we finally understood our sin and our need for a Savior, or we can boast in the fact that the Lord saved us and then we understood our sin and need for a Savior. These two ways of boasting in the Lord are called synergism and monergism.
            Both of these systems agree that salvation is not by works or a person’s goodness. Synergism is the idea that God gives us grace to be saved and we make the choice with our free will to accept it. It is a cooperation between God and man. Monergism is the idea that the Holy Spirit regenerates us and we are saved regardless of our choices. When it comes to boasting, a person who believes in the theology of synergism is really boasting in his choice to be saved. In a sense, he is sharing in the glory with God. If a person believes in the theology of monergism, he is boasting in God saving him and all the glory goes to God. Where is your boast? Is it all in God or is it somewhat in yourself?
            Proverbs: I had to laugh when I read Proverbs 22:11. I remembered Richard Nixon and his penchant for using expletives in his recorded meetings. Personal experience with executives in business reveal a mix of the same kind of people. Do those who are not pure in heart and don’t have gracious speech want pure and gracious people around them? Billy Graham has had access to more presidents than most people and one was Richard Nixon. One thing is for sure, if we are pure in heart and have gracious speech, more often than not, we are accepted even by those who don’t. It certainly gives us the ability to speak truth and salvation to those who need it.
            2 Corinthians: Paul may have boasted in the Lord, but he also was well aware that he was a mortal person. However, he viewed that fragility and the way he and his companions were able to overcome all kinds of problems as God’s power working in them. These things were all related to ministry. They weren’t things that he was doing for his own pleasure or welfare. He proclaimed that he was a servant to the Corinthians for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor 4:5). When he said he could do all thing through Christ who strengthened him (Phil 4:13), he was not proclaiming that God would give him strength to do whatever he wanted.
            Some people do stupid things like getting into debt over their heads, fall prey to an illness because of bad lifestyle decisions, love money and stuff, and other things. Then they pull out Philippians 4:13 to say God will give them strength to get out of it or get what they want. I think today’s reading lets us know that when we are doing God’s work, he will take care of things, not necessarily when we are trying to advance our own agenda. When we are in God’s will doing what he wants, it is amazing to see how much he can do with our feeble bodies.

Application

             I want to make sure that any boasting I do is in the Lord. Whatever I achieve is all because of the Lord Jesus Christ. If he didn’t want it to happen, it wouldn’t. If he wants it to work out, it will.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 29: Job 31 – 33; Psalm 43; Proverbs 22:8-9; 2 Corinthians 3



Overview

            Job: Job continues his defense. He says he promised not to look lustfully at a woman because God sees all and brings calamity on sinners. If he has lied or lusted for what he sees, then let calamity come upon him.
            If he has lusted after women, then let his wife be taken by others because his sin would be grievous. If he has been unfair to his servants, who were made by God just as he, he would not be able to defend himself before God. Job goes on to list various evils and that punishment should fall on him if he had committed them. If he trusted in wealth or worshiped the sun or his own strength, he should be punished.
            Job has not even cursed his enemies or in any other ways concealed his sins. He wishes God would write his indictment so that he could see it and acknowledge it. He would then be able to answer it and come before God like a prince. He again asks for punishment if he has done anything wrong.
            His three friends stop talking because Job was self-righteous. Then Elihu was angry because Job didn’t justify God and his three friends couldn’t refute Job though they accused Job of being wrong. Elihu was younger so he had waited for the older men to stop talking.
            Elihu says that God’s Spirit gives understanding, not how old a person becomes. He paid attention to all their talking and told them they couldn’t refute Job. He rebukes Job’s friends for not finding a way to answer Job and then they gave up by saying God will convince him. Since they have given up, Elihu will speak to get relief at holding his tongue as his answers have built up within him. He says he won’t play favorite and flatter; God would not like that.
            Elihu says God’s Spirit has made him and given him life so he challenges them to answer him. Since he is a man like Job, he doesn’t need to fear him. He has heard what Job has said about being innocent and God has become his enemy. He tells Job he is wrong because God is greater than all and God does answer. He speaks in dreams terrifying men with his warnings. God also rebukes man with pain and suffering, just like what Job is suffering. If a mediator from heaven comes and says he will be rescued from the grave, and the person asks God, he will be spared. That man would then tell everyone he was a sinner but God redeemed him. God would restore him.
            Elihu then tells Job to answer or continue listening while he teaches Job wisdom.
            Psalm: David asks God to vindicate him against ungodly people. He took refuge in God and then asks why he is still depressed about these people. He asks for God’s light and truth so he can worship with joy and praise. He again asks why he is so depressed and tells himself to hope in God, and again praise him for his salvation.
            Proverbs: People who have no regard for justice will come to ruin. Generous people ae blessed because they share with the poor.
            2 Corinthians: Paul says he doesn’t need to commend himself and his companions to the Corinthians with letters of recommendation as some require. The work that he did among them and their receiving the Holy Spirit is Paul’s letter written on their hearts.
            Paul and his companions’ confidence comes through Christ. Christ is sufficient to make them competent minister of the new covenant by the Spirit, not of the old which was by the written code which killed. The new covenant give life.
            The old covenant, which brought death, came with glory and the Israelites couldn’t view Moses’ face. It is ended but the new, ministered by the Spirit brings even more glory. The new, which brings righteousness, surpasses the old which brought condemnation and the new has more glory.
            Paul is very bold because of this hope, not like Moses who veiled his face so people couldn’t see the glory on his face and then see it fade, like the covenant, which is brought to an end. Israelites are hardened and have a veil over their minds so that when they read the old covenant, they can’t understand until Christ takes it away when they turn to the Lord.
            The Lord is the Spirit and when we have the Spirit, we have freedom. Now, we have unveiled faces and can see the Lord’s glory as we are being transformed into the same image of the Lord. It is done through the Lord who is the Spirit.

What Stood Out

            Job: “Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2).
            Psalm: “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God” (Ps 43:4).
            Proverbs: “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Prov 22:8).
            2 Corinthians: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18).

Insight

            Job: Elihu is not mentioned until this time. However, it appears that a group of people have gathered around Job to listen to this debate and Elihu is one of them. He enters the picture because he is disturbed that the three friends could not prove Job wrong and that Job is being self-righteous. The name Elihu means, “He is my God” (The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, OT:453). Some have argued that he is actually a preincarnate representation of Jesus Christ (Adam Clarke's Commentary Job 32:2) and therefore he speaks correctly. This is not a good evaluation as Clarke points out in his commentary. We should be careful understanding what Elihu says just as with Job’s three friends.
            We know only what the Bible says about him, which isn’t much, but we can determine his character by what he says. The first thing we see is that he patient in waiting his turn to speak. His motivation is to make sure God is not vilified by Job and that is a noteworthy endeavor. He is also egotistical in that he thinks he will be able to teach them wisdom and that his words will be more effective than the others (Job 32:17-22, 33:33). In the first two chapters of his discourse, he hasn’t said anything different than Job’s friends. He only says them in a different way.
            It makes me think about how I write and why. Do I come across like Elihu? Do I think I can present a better case for theological arguments than others? I can certainly identify with Elihu on wanting to make sure God’s character is not maligned. That is something we should all want. How we do that and our motivation can be revealed to be self-serving instead of God glorifying.
            Psalm: David asks God to vindicate, rescue, and guide him then he will praise God. Did David get this backwards? Paul tells us to always rejoice in the Lord (Phil 4:4) and then he tells us to go to God in prayer asking with thanksgiving (Phil 4:6). This all takes place before the answer has been received.
            I once had lunch with a practicing Jew who was very religious. After the meal, he gave thanks for God’s provision. I wondered, if the meal was not up to his expectations, would he give thanks for it? I think we need to always give God praise and thanks whether or not we get our prayers answered in the way we want. We don’t want to wait to praise God who we know is worthy of all praise only after we see things are going our way.
            Proverbs: Just how is a person blessed when he shares with the poor? Is this something we should expect to reap like material blessings? While there are promises of material blessing in the Bible for being generous, we should be hasty to add that our motivation is more important. Jesus made it clear that we shouldn’t give alms just to be seen or rewarded by people (Matt 6:2). If we are giving with the motivation to get back more, that doesn’t sound like something the Lord rewards, but I can’t find that specifically mentioned in the Bible. What I can find is Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians. The blessings he lists for generosity is a harvest of righteousness, thanksgiving to God, glory to God, and the recipient’s prayers for us (2 Cor 9:10-14). We should also have inner joy just knowing that people are helped.
            2 Corinthians: The Israelites could see the glory of the Lord in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They saw it on Moses’ face when he came down from the mountain. But we don’t see the glory of the Lord in these majestic demonstrations of his presence. Jesus came and he is the exact radiance of God’s glory (Heb 1:3). When we want to see the glory of the Lord, we should be looking at those in whom Jesus lives. When we see people changed by the Lord who is the Spirit, we are seeing God’s glory up close and personal. When we see our own lives changed we are showing others that God is real and is among us. We are Christ’s letter written on our hearts to those who are around us, Christians and non-Christians alike.
            When unbelievers look at us they should see us changing and becoming more Christ-like. It has been said many times that we are the only letter from God that many people will ever read. Even if the Bible is veiled to them, God can use us to open the doors for them to see Jesus.

Application

             I need to be careful about the way I present things when I write or speak. I need to be careful to make sure my exegesis of the Bible is not putting me first, but the Word of God. For those who don’t know the Lord, it is very important not to come across as a know-it-all and live a life that reflects Jesus.