Thursday, 3 July 2014

(185) July 4: Job 26-28 & Acts 11

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read note what Job is teaching about wisdom.

To ponder:
Job begins sarcastically (26v-4). The inference is that his hearers haven’t helped the needy, imparted wisdom, or received inspiration. 26v5-6 is difficult to understand. The point may be that God knows even what happens in the place of the dead, causing anguish to those there as they are still accountable to him. But by contrast, his great power and wisdom displayed in the creation shows we grasp only “a faint whisper” of him and so cannot understand “the thunder of his power” – presumably the terrifying experiences we may suffer in life (26v7-14). 26v12-13 illustrate God governing the sea and sky with the mythological idea of him slaying Rahab, a sea monster who causes rough seas, and a serpent, which seems to be a picture of cloud. So in response to Bildad’s rebuke (25v6), Job shows he is well aware of his smallness before God. And this section helpfully humbles us, reminding us that although we can see in Christ that God does only what is right, his ways are ultimately unfathomable. It is presumptuous and arrogant indeed to assume we can grasp what he is doing or why (see Rom 11v33-36).
            What Job is certain of however, is that although he maintains that God has denied him justice and made him bitter, he will not sin by denying his integrity (27v1-6, see 2v3, 9), ie. that he is righteous. Moreover, in anger at his friends’ condemnation of him, he wishes they would receive the penalty of the wicked and unjust. This of course does not commend such an attitude, but simply portrays Job’s feelings. Job then outlines what the fate of the wicked is. Intriguingly, this is closer to Zophar’s reflections (ch. 20) than Job’s earlier response (ch. 21). The resolution is probably that whereas there Job was contradicting Zophar’s assumption that all the wicked receive their just deserts in this life, here he is outlining what happens when some do (as he accepted in 21v17). And so he declares that the wicked man’s fate is to be without hope or delight in God when distress comes (27v7-10), and despite some experience of prosperity in family and wealth, it is for his children ultimately to suffer and his money to be enjoyed by the righteous as he is snatched away by death (27v11-23). There is truth here. Although it may not be through hunger and plague as in Job’s day, in a general sense the offspring of the wicked can experience hardship, not least because of the errors of their parent. And their material gain may well be taken, perhaps in payment of debts due (as 20v10). So Job notes that the prosperity the wicked enjoy and that seems so unjust whilst he suffers, is a temporary prosperity. A degree of justice may be worked out in this life, and should keep us from envying the wicked (the point of Ps 73).
            Having taught what he does know, however, Job concludes that although man can mine and so search out great riches far from where anything can see, he is unable to find the treasure that is wisdom, nor buy it with the riches he has gained (28v1-19). Like precious gems, it is “hidden” from “every living thing,” and even from death itself. Only God who sees and formed everything knows the way to it, and he has said to man: “The fear of the LORD – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding” (as Prov 1v7, 9v10). This is key in the book and explains Job’s refusal to compromise. We like Job may lack wisdom as to God’s purposes, but we have wisdom as to his pleasure. What matters in life is not being able to fathom God’s ways, but obeying his commands. This is to live wisely. And Jesus was clear that because this displays true faith, it is this that brings eternal rewards (Matt 7v24-27, Jam 3v13-4v10).
Praying it home:
Praise God that his power and wisdom is so great that it far surpasses our ability to fathom it. Pray that you would focus instead on fearing him and turning from evil.

Thinking further:
None today.
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