Thursday, April 26, 2018

Year 8, Day 116: Job 22

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Once more we get to see an example of human wisdom at work.  Don’t get me wrong.  Human wisdom can have some good points.  Human wisdom, however, doesn’t equal divine wisdom.  Human wisdom cannot have the same universal applicability as divine wisdom.

For example, look at what Eliphaz says in Job 21:22.  “Agree with God and be at peace, thereby good will come to you.”  At first, it sounds like a great quote.  Agree with God and be at peace.  When we are aligning ourselves with God, we are going to be at peace with God.  That portion is absolutely true.  That’s why the wisdom sounds great.

The problem is that it isn’t universally applicable.  Am I at peace when I agree with God?  At peace with God, absolutely.  Am I at peace with the world?  Actually, the more I agree with God, the more likely I will feel like sandpaper to the world!  Of course, peace with God is greater than peace with the world.  Eliphaz’s advice is still good in that perspective.  Agreeing with God is generally a good thing, so long as we understand that we will be at odds with the world.

There’s another problem with this piece of advice.  If it was just about peace, it would be conditionally good advice.  The problem is that it uses something that sounds good to draw an even bigger conclusion.  Peace isn’t the issue for Eliphaz.  What Eliphaz’s advice truly is about is the reward.  What Eliphaz is saying is that if we agree with God, we’ll be at peace because we’ll get what we want.  That’s the issue with this advice.  It’s prosperity gospel.  It’s about getting.  The primary goal isn’t peace with God.  That’s the bait to make us feel like the advice is good.  This advice is about equally relationship with God to living the life we want to live.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Year 8, Day 115: Job 21

Theological Commentary: Click Here

There are deep reasons why I love and respect Job as a spiritual figure.  A number of them reside in this chapter.  This chapter speaks as to why I consider this afflicted man a personal hero.

Job sticks to his guns.  He hears time and time again about how he must be evil because of his affliction.  Yet, Job doesn’t believe them.  Job knows his heart.  He may not know the hearts of others, but he does know his own heart.  He knows his own relationship with God.  Others say what they may, but he stands his ground.  When a person knows they are right, it can pay to be stubborn and stick to one’s guns.  Especially when the stakes deal with ourselves and not others.

Another dynamic that I love about Job is that he is honest.  Job doesn’t have to be perfect.  He doesn’t have to hide his flaws.  Job knows himself and is happy to admit the human flaws within.  He tells the people to look at him.  He knows that he’s a walking billboard for calamity.  He knows people are appalled when they look at him.  He himself shudders when he considers his own flesh!  Job doesn’t see through rose-colored glasses.  Job sees the truth and paints a true picture.

Finally, Job invites truth.  He doesn’t want platitudes.  Job doesn’t want quaint sayings.  Job doesn’t want to hear things we think are true.  Job wants truth.  Job wants to think things through and know they are true.  Job knows that there are plenty of wicked in the word who have the respect of others.  Job knows there are plenty of people who are evil and yet at the end of their life they are buried with all the pomp and circumstance that one would expect from a truly wonderous person.  Job doesn’t accept that affluence and general well-being proves righteousness – even though we’d love for that to be true.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Year 8, Day 114: Job 20

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Ever wonder about the problem of social wisdom, cultural proverbs, and truisms?  They do contain truth.  There is a little bit of truth in most things!  The problem is that while they seem like the truth, they really aren’t.  They don’t universally apply.  They are true in some circumstances, perhaps even many circumstances.  But they aren’t universally true.

This is the case with Zophar’s speech today.  When Christians hear these words, we want to jump on them and talk about how true they are.  He talks about evil within people being vomited back up.  He talks about the wicked perishing like their own dung.  He talks about the memory of the evil ones fading away.  Zophar talks about evil sowing and then reaping its own evil.

We hear things like that and we want to believe them.  We desperately want to believe that evil will be punished and judged.  It will be.  One day, God will have His say and all will be exposed.  In fact, all of us will know our evil exposed under the judgment of God.

The reality, though, is that Zophar’s words simply don’t play out in reality.  The wicked often prosper.  The wicked often seek and find the fruit of their toil.  They often find, at least in this life, thee prosperity that their heart desires.

This shows us again what has been a significant theme throughout the book.  We cannot judge a book by its cover.  We cannot assume that because Job is having a hard time that he is evil.  We likewise cannot assume that because a person is having an easy life that they are righteous.  Who are we to judge in any way?  The only way to truly know a person is to know their heart and motivation deep within them.

It’s harder to live this way.  It’s hard to refrain from judging until we know a person’s character.  But it is the better way.  It is the godly way.  When we buy into cultural wisdom, we often err in our decisions because we allow ourselves to apply what seems like truth to a situation to which it may not apply.  The problem is that we never realize that it doesn’t apply.  That’s the danger of Zophar’s words.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Year 8, Day 113: Job 19

Theological Commentary: Click Here

This is considered one of the most powerful chapters in the book of Job.  Naturally, the chapters at the end of Job, where we hear from God, are also powerful chapters.  Aside from the chapters where God speaks, this is a great voice from a hurting man.

What makes this chapter great can be summed up in one line.  It is a line that most Bibles use as a header for this chapter.  Job 19:25 says, “I know that my redeemer lives and at the last He will stand upon the earth.”  I love that line because of the pattern of theology that it represents.

This verse is focused upon God.  It is focused upon His majesty, His omnipresence, and His omnipotence.  So many people quote verses because they want to apply God’s promise to them; they want to pick a verse that is good for them.  This verse is about lifting up God as the central figure in our life and in the universe.

It is in this thought that we find true religion.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am happy to think about verses that promise eternal life with God.  I love thinking about a time when God will make me perfect and wash away my sins permanently.  But true religion realizes that such things are secondary effects to the greater truth of putting God central in one’s life.  It is God who is the focus.  It is God who is righteous.

That’s what I love about this quote.  Job acknowledges that the only way he can know salvation is by casting aside all the awful things that have happened to him and focus on the fact that in the end, it is God who will stand upon the earth.  It is God’s character that surpasses everything. All that I look forward to happening to me is a secondary effect coming out of God’s character.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Year 8, Day 112: Job 18

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Bildad makes me mad.  Look at where Job had brought himself in the last chapter.  Job has managed to remember the path to hope.  He has managed to remember to focus back upon God.  He has remembered how to turn his eyes back upon God.

Enter Bildad.  Rather than rejoice with Job and his ability to turn to God, Bildad begins to tell Job how evil he is because he is suffering.  Rather than celebrate Job’s ability to maintain his relationship with God in spite of his troubles, Bildad accuses him of being wrong.  With friends like Bildad, Job certainly doesn’t need enemies!

There is a great lesson here.  Bildad isn’t about leading people to God, Bildad is about being right.  That’s an incredible distinction to learn to make when evaluating spiritual people.  What is the motivation for their teaching?  Are they open to God and allowing God to reach people in His way or do they force people to always see things their own way?  Spiritual people should be about being God’s hands and feet and letting God be the master.

This is also a good lesson to learn when mentoring.  When someone draws closer to God, we should celebrate it!  It isn’t about whether or not I had a hand in the person growing closer to God, it is all about the person growing closer to God in the first place.  That’s the key.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Year 8, Day 111: Job 17

Theological Commentary: Click Here

We see Job begin to turn a corner.  Up until now, he’s been wallowing in his sorrow.  He’s been focused on the negative things that have happened.  While it may not be correct, it is absolutely understandable.  It is the human condition.  It is far easier for most of us to remember the last negative experience than to consider the future with hope.

What Job shows us in this chapter is how to turn the corner.  While it can be natural to focus on the negative, life is not best lived when we are doing so.  We need to push through the negative memory and look ahead in hope.  This is how we experience grace.

Look at how Job ends this passage.  What hope is found in Sheol, the place of the dead?  What hope is found in the earth that swallows the dead or the worms, flies, and animals that dispose of the body?  There is no hope to be found there.  If death is the final outcome, what’s the greater point of life?

Look at the great verse that allows Job to turn the corner.  Job 17:9 is a powerful verse.  “Yet the righteous hold to His way.”  This is how we turn the corner and get past the negative experiences in our life.  We turn to God and remind ourselves of how He wants us to live.  His way is a way of hope.  His way is a way of grace and peace.  Hs way is a way of forgiveness and love.  The righteous get past the evil around them and bring their focus back upon God.  It is God’s ways that allow us to move beyond the dark world that surrounds us each and every day.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Year 8, Day 110: Job 16

Theological Commentary: Click Here

In this chapter we find Job once more running low on vision.  I’m going to try to not be too hard on him because he has endured great suffering.  However, there is something we can learn from him so long as we look at him as a case study and not make it personal.

Today as I was going about my day I was allowed the privilege of listening to another teacher do a devotion with a couple of students.  I am blessed with this opportunity quite regularly.  Today, I heard the teacher quote a phrase from a book: “Grace is found at the intersection of clarity of sight and hope for the future.”  This quote stuck with me, especially since I have a love of mathematics.  When I hear the word intersection, I think of a graph or chart.

I am pretty sure that this quote speaks to Job’s state of mind today.  Job is lacking hope for the future.  He’s suffering and doesn’t know how to make it better.  He’s pleaded with God.  He’s prayed.  He tried to make a defense.  His condition remains unchanged.  He has no hope for a great life in the future.

While this lack of hope is devastating enough, I think Job also has a lack of clarity.  His circumstances are preventing him from seeing what God is really doing.  He doesn’t see the restoration God is planning. He doesn’t see the truth that God is trying to teach.  He doesn’t see much at all.

What is the summary of this state?  Because of Job’s hopeless state, he doesn’t see much reason to go forward.  That is why Job longs for death from God.  Because of Job’s lack of clarity in vision, he isn’t very receptive to anything but his current frame of refence.  He’s not in a place to learn.  He’s not in a place to receive.  He’s in a place to focus on his current circumstances and dwell in the misery of his being.

That being said, I can’t really blame Job.  Clinically, I can point to where he is going wrong.  Rationally, I can know what he needs to do to get out of his funk.  Pastorally, I can understand where he is coming from and why he is feeling as he is.  I can empathize with the man.