Sunday, 29 June 2014

(181) June 30: Job 15-17 & Acts 9:1-22

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

To discover:­
As you read note why Job takes issue with Eliphaz.

To ponder:
We return to Job’s first “friend.” He argues Job lacks wisdom because he speaks empty words that have no value. Rather, he says Job condemns himself by speaking so forthrightly to God (15v6, 13). He therefore challenges Job with thinking he knows something others don’t, and rebukes him for not listening to God’s consolations (ie. the “gentle” words of the friends), but instead raging against him. He is still failing to actually listen to or empathise with Job.
            Now Eliphaz speaks more strongly than in his first speech. He implies Job considers himself purer than other men (15v14-16), but then states in numerous ways how he thinks the wicked get their comeuppance in this life (15v17-35), so questioning Job’s assertion that often they don’t, and that the righteous often suffer. Surely he intends 15v25-26 to be a particular dig at Job (see 15v13). How easy it is to be driven to distort facts out of a desire to win a debate. One really shouldn’t speak to the suffering, unless sure of what is to be shared.
            Job responds that he’s already heard much of this sort of thing, charging his friends with being “miserable comforters.” He says he could speak that way if the tables were turned, but wouldn’t. Instead he would encourage and comfort them. This stresses what Job really needed.
            Now however, whether he speaks or is silent, his pain remains. And he addresses himself again to God, saying his sufferings “testify” against him, perhaps as a false witness in suggesting to others that he is unrighteous. He then adds his friends’ opposition to him as yet another means of God assailing him in numerous ways (16v9-14). It’s a reminder that unhelpful counsel can end up only adding to people’s distress.
            Job goes on to stress his mourning (16v15-16). But his appeal for help is what is striking. He speaks of his blood lying on the earth (probably that of his children) crying out for justice (see Gen 4v10), and asks that this would never cease. But he then speaks of a “witness” and “advocate” and “intercessor” in heaven, who pleads with God for him as a friend (16v18-21). He may be doing nothing more than personifying the truth that appealed to God on his behalf. However, one can’t but see God the Son here, acting for those who are his. When we are falsely accused with doing wrong as Job was, we can be certain both that God the Father sees, but also that God the Son speaks for us as our friend. And this enables us to leave justice with God and not act in vengeance towards our opponents (Rom 13v17-21).
            Acknowledging he will die in a few years, Job then puts his hope in God. Indeed, recognizing he can give no “pledge” to back up his words himself, he asks God to do so – in essence, do whatever is necessary to take Job at his word. Moreover Job recognizes that whatever God’s reasons, he has surrounded him with mockers whose minds he has closed. He then asks that God would not let them triumph. Of course the call to punish them by afflicting their children is wrong. God does not punish children for their father’s sins (17v5, Ezek 18v20). But Job is angry. Even upright men are “against” him as they are against the “ungodly.” Yet he knows they will continue as they are and even grow stronger. It’s a reminder that it is often believers who make the sort of mistakes these friends are making, exacerbating the despair of the suffering as they find they don’t even have upright people to turn to. Yet of them, Job says none are wise. Rather, they are giving him false hope saying “light is near” in the midst of darkness (17v10-12). This false hope must be their assertion that if Job repents he will experience God’s blessing and restoration. But as Job knows his suffering is not for some major sin, he knows repentance will make no difference. And so he feels his only hope is for the darkness and decay of the grave (17v13-16).
Praying it home:
Praise God that whatever people think of us he knows the truth, and Christ speaks for us before his throne. Pray that you would entrust any sense of injustice to him.

Thinking further:
None today.
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