February 19, 2015.
Daily Reading: Job 12-14.
Background: Job 11.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Laughing at the misfortune of others: Sometimes, though it will seem very wrong when said aloud, we get some internal satisfaction when we see the misfortune of others, especially when it comes on people that we don’t particularly like or of whom we are jealous. Job starts out with this idea of people mocking him because of the calamity that has come upon him. He says that he is a laughingstock to his friends. It would seem that Job here is feeling undercut and under appreciated for what he once was. He once was in the good grace of God (and still was, he just did’t know it), a position where he was respected and listened to, but now that tragedy had struck, everyone, even his closest friends, assumed that he had done something wrong, setting Job lower in their eyes of leadership. Job laments this fact, as he can see his dignity being eaten away. Do we do the same thing when misfortune comes on one of our leaders? One of our spiritual leaders? Sometimes, this is the unfortunate reality. When we do this, even unconsciously, we are not helping the one who is struggling, but rather wearing away at their self esteem. Let us learn from the mistakes of Job’s friends and those around him not to laugh at other’s calamity, for it is easy to look down on the misfortune of others when we are at ease.
2. The sovereignty of God: After rebuking his friends, Job turns to logic an reasoning to work through his situation. He believes his friends are correct in the sense that it is by the hand of God that his calamity has struck, but he knows that he has not done anything unrighteous to warrant the attack, so to speak. Thus, Job seeks a line of thinking that harmonizes what is happening and his righteousness, and he arrives at the ultimate sovereignty of God. It did not matter whether Job did right or wrong, only that this is what the Lord God of heaven willed to do, and being His will, it would occur. Job knows that He is above all, and that no one or no thing could ever stand before the Lord to win a conflict. He tears down, and none can rebuild, He shuts in and none can open. He is the supreme power over nature and man. However, it is important to note that though there is truth to be found in the notion that the Lord is supreme in power, it is also important to keep in mind that this is Job speaking out of distress. It is not necessarily truth just because it comes out of the mouth of Job. In the end, Job is justified by the Lord before his friends (see chapter 42), but not before a stern rebuke from God (see chapter 38-41). The Lord is supreme, but He we also must remember that He has revealed His will to us through His word. Does that mean that we know all of His will and all of His mind? No. But it does mean that we can know the will of God that He wants us to know, and we can stand by it in faith.
1. Worthless physicians: The beginning of this chapter gives a good summery of many things that Job’s friends have done wrong that we have examined in the former chapters. He reminds them that he has wisdom just as they do, and that their pride and arrogance towards the situation is blinding them to seeing truth. He asks if they will speak falsely for God, for the have asserted that they know what the will of the Lord is due to their wisdom. He asks if it will be well with them when the situation is reversed and the hand of the Lord is against them. He even explicitly calls them worthless physicians, or comforters. They had started off well in the comfort process, simply being there for Job and sitting with him for a full week in silence (see chapter 2), but once Job started his lament, they could not contain their critiques and rebukes for Job. Their pride had gotten in the way, though it was disguised as advise. They had wearied Job even more than the situation had done for him. This is not the way to comfort someone who has hit an all time low. Though advise is good, and we certainly need to help those who are in a bad situation in any way that we can, we need to first be sure that we have all the information and that our advise actually fits the situation. Then we must learn to give it in the right way, not in the way that Job’s friends had rebuked him. It is often hard to do this when things seem so clearly to us, but it can mean a world of difference for the friend that we are trying to help.
2. Turning to God, even when bad things happen: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” Job then turns to God and enters boldly into conversation with Him. It is amazing how much faith that Job really does exhibit through these chapters, even when it is obscured by his lament. Job wants to have a conversation with God, to plead his case before Him, for he is confident that he will be proven right, even in the sight of God. “How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.” Job knew where he stood in his righteousness, and he wanted an audience with God to ask Him, “Why?” He would later get his wish in this, though he would regret it, repenting in dust and ashes (see Job 42:1-6). God would come to him out of the whirlwind, and essentially put Job in his place. However, it does show that Job had a close relationship with God to even have the courage to ask counsel with Him (and actually mean it, as opposed to an atheist asking counsel with a god that they don’t believe in). Job was willing to accept both good and bad from God (see Job 2:9-10), but he did want to know why he was in the situation he was in, a question that would never be answered for Job, at least in the text. The lesson that we can learn from this, however, is that we should turn to God, even in times of trouble that seem like they are unending, for He is our Hope.
Leave me alone: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” Job seems to have reached a point in his lament where he has generalized his plight to the life of man. He considered that man will only live once, and he is at the point of telling God to leave him alone and let him enjoy what little, dismal time he has on this earth (see verse 6). Yet the Almighty continues to wear away at him, just as streams of water wear away at rock and soil (it is interesting that Job describes at least a rudimentary concept of erosion here, which wasn’t really defined by scientists until the late 1700s in terms of the earth’s shape). Job is in a deep lament at this point and is simply asking God to release His hand from him. We too can get to this point at times when all around us seems to be falling apart. Though it is hard, let us take heart and remember that Job was not being punished here, but tested. And in the end, it would all work out. If the Lord is on our side, we have nothing to fear, but only to put our trust in Him, however difficult that may be.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 34-39.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.