Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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


            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).


            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.


             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.

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