Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jun 1, Job 1-4

Today's readings are Job 1-4.

Some think Job may be the oldest book in the Bible. Whether it is or is not, it teaches a universal lesson about suffering and God. The text provides no historical time frame other than the fact the Job lives in the land of Uz, in the area east of Canaan settled by Shem, one of Noah's sons. We have no way of telling whether Job and Shem were contemporaries of each other.

Situating Job in the middle of the Old Testament reveals a fundamental element of God’s plan of redemption. In Genesis, we learned that mankind is inherently sinful and unable to rescue himself from his own nature. God exhibited grace in the garden and again by preserving Noah and his family in the Flood. God always preserves a remnant. As the biblical narrative develops, we learn the remnant always consists of good and righteous people but not pure and holy people. They are people that still need heart work to be sanctified. Noah, though he was pronounced righteous (Gen 6:9), needs work to become the man God intends for him to be. The same applies to Abraham, Moses, David and every other man and woman God creates. Job’s story shows us that it is possible for the highest expression of human righteousness to be further refined. Its middle position in our timeline tells us that mankind is not improving, not getting better, and still needs a savior.

So, Job is a good and righteous man (Job 1:1). He’s as righteous as a human being can get. God will emphasize this at the beginning of the book (Job 1:8) and again at the end (Job 42:7-8). But, as we will see, Job, as righteous as he is, still needs work to be the man God intends him to be.

We see Job’s status as a godly man in Job 1:1-8. Then we get a peek into what is apparently the throne room in heaven. It is significant to note that Satan appears there but in all he does is also clearly subject to the sovereign authority of God (Job 1:6-7). In an action that may surprise some, God directs Satan’s attention to Job (Job 1:8). It will not be apparent for a while, but God is going to use Satan to refine Job!

Chapter one poses the question, "Can a righteous man suffer?" This is one of the most powerful lessons in Job. Conventional reasoning would dictate that those who are truly righteous would not have to suffer. This quaint notion is dispelled before the chapter ends.

In the space of a few minutes, Satan takes nearly everything Job owns, including his children Job 1:13-18! In a stunning display of godliness, Job’s response to his tragedy is worship (Job 1:20-22).

Job 2:1-9 depicts Satan afflicting Job’s health. Yes, indeed! A righteous man can suffer, apparently with God's full knowledge and awareness. Job’s suffering, although he is innocent, echoes a biblical pattern that reveals the suffering of God’s people and points to the ultimate suffering, that of the only truly righteous one, Jesus Christ.

The rest of the Book of Job is devoted to answering another Scripturally significant question. We hear it directly from Job’s lips. 
Job 2:10 "...Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"
Job's wife and friends try to counsel him. His wife just wants to see his suffering end (Job 2:9). As we will see, Job’s friends can't believe he is as innocent as he claims. In their eyes, he must have done something wrong. They firmly believe that bad things do not happen to good people.

Meanwhile, Job laments the day he was born (Job 3). He’s not railing at God. However, he is regretting his life which has become so incredibly painful. There’s a hint of Job’s heart here. Underneath his lament, he is questioning God. It will take some time for this to come to the surface.

Eliphaz, one of Job's close friends, tells Job that innocent people don’t have the kind of problems Job is having (Job 4:1-11). Eliphaz speaks with confidence because he claims to "have a word" from God or an angel (Job 4:12-21). Part of his proof that it is authentic is that he has goose bumps (Job 4:15) His "word" is powerful and profound--except it is also wrong! Eliphaz believes the angel has told him that Job is being punished and should accept the discipline of the Lord. All this shows that Eliphaz has no idea what has transpired in the heavenlies. Eliphaz has no clue that Job has been pronounced blameless and upright by the words of God Himself (Job 1:8). Neither does he understand that a righteous man can suffer for the purposes of God. Eliphaz would probably have an equally tough time understanding the suffering of the cross where the only perfectly righteous man was crucified.

"Words from God" can be a powerful influence on us. We must take great care in depending on the experiences and spirituality of other people for our guidance. We have to be equally careful of our own experiences. Eliphaz depended on his tingling sensations to validate his feeling about his friend...and he was wrong. Any type of extra-biblical revelation must be compared to the only reliable source, the word of God, the Scriptures. If it contradicts what we read in the Bible, then it is not from God. 

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