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.

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