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Day 151 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete Job (well done!) and continue Psalms.
Job 40 – After the Lord addresses Job for the first time, directly and in person, right away Job responds, “I will not answer . . . I will proceed no further.” The Lord then spotlights Job’s wrong, with light of the highest possible power. God asks Job simply whether he would compare himself with the Author of Life. As an example of His incomparable and measureless power, the Lord reminds Job of Behemoth: “Behold, Behemoth”, a primeval monster, “the first of the works of God.”
The way that God engages with and humbles Job reminds us that we really have nothing to say before such a great Creator: nothing of an availing defense, nothing of an extenuating self-justification, nothing of self-preservation, just nothing. When we have nothing to say, we should say nothing, recognizing that in human silence the divine voice will speak to and for us. God so speaks to and for Job by these descriptions of divine greatness, in order that finally, like Ebenezer Scrooge wakened from his self-preoccupation and self-dependence at the end of A Christmas Carol, Job would begin to bow down and wise up.
Job 41 – The Lord’s speech to Job concludes on an unusual note. The Lord devotes the entire last chapter of his speech, to a description of Leviathan. To modern ears this Leviathan sounds like some kind of “Loch Ness Monster” which God has made. Various commentators seek to identify the animal as a crocodile, a whale, an extinct creature only known to the ancients, or an “allegorical” beast representative of the forces of both nature and evil that God subdues and surpasses. Whatever its identity, this creature’s great power is yet governed by God’s greater power. Is this odd, that the words of God to his servant Job, whose life and soul he has worked so hard to save, should dwell at the end upon a sea monster?
No, for the Word of God takes us sometimes straight into the mysterious in order to upset our preconceptions and disorder our “order.” We might have expected a cascade of life-correctives directed at Job. Nothing like it! Rather, Job receives a strange and awesome message: “Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke. . . . and a flame comes forth from his mouth….Behold, the hope of a man is false; he is laid low even at the sight of him.”
The creature whose description is meant to humble Job reminds us that God speaks to us against our fixed ideas of almost anything. “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). The gospel of grace confounds our intuitive expectations of how this world, and especially God Himself, functions. He is Lord of all and He rules, beyond our control or expectations, as He alone knows is best.
The reality is this world, in its present state, is not made to eliminate suffering. It is designed to draw us toward the God of grace, Whom we can trust completely.
How are you reminded that God is sovereign over all creation and how does that bring you peace (even in the midst of suffering)?
Job 42 – Job has nothing more to say in response to God’s word, though he does make an overwhelming admission: “I didn’t know what I was talking about.” Job “hid” wisdom by his questions and complaints that were “without knowledge”. Job “uttered what [he] did not understand” and said things “which [he] did not know.” There is only one thing for Job to “do”: “[I] repent in dust and ashes.”
Job’s repentance reflects what happens when the realities of God’s power, holiness, and provision pull the rug out from under a person. The way that these aspects of the gospel were revealed to Job also reminds us that they cannot be earned. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy of God’s grace. It is a gift, and generally comes to someone when they stop trying to “make it” by themselves. We have to give up, often after having hit bottom through pride, selfishness, or self-dependence. Some people seem to have a “high bottom”—blessed are they!—while other people have a “low bottom.” Suffering has to go deep in order to reach people with a low bottom. As in the incarnation of God in Jesus, so in Job’s life, God went all the way to the bottom needed to bring the repentance required.
The grace of God also extends to Job’s three foolish friends. They hear the truth from God about their faulty “comfort”: “You have not spoken of me what is right.” You have spoken “folly”. But they are also given a gift: Job’s prayer for them, which God accepts.
Even if we have spoken from “self,” acted from “self,” and defended our “self,” it doesn’t mean God is done with us. His grace covers even the pain-exacerbating drivel of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
We are told that Job’s sufferings were “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.” Everything that happens to us comes from God. “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Such truths challenge us no less than they challenged Job, but they are also responsible for leading Job (and us) to a right understanding of the God who provides eternity—even if it is through earthly difficulties. God’s purposes are eternal as he weans us from earth and woos us to heaven.
Is the book of Job’s “happy ending” tacked on? No, it is another revelation of God’s grace. While Job’s suffering was not based on what he had done in the past, the prosperity he now receives from God is also not based on his behavior—it is a gift of God.
Of course, for many of those who suffer in this world, prosperity and pleasantness await fulfillment in the new heavens and new earth, but this reality is no less real for those of faith. Through Job we learn that God will do whatever is necessary to claim the hearts of those He loves. His eternal love is solace, sufficiency, and satisfaction for all whose ultimate hope is in Him.
It’s the old, old story, of Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus the tax collector, Peter the denier, James and John the Sons of (raging) Thunder, Paul the Christian-tracker, and Cornelius the sideliner. And us. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Knowing this world (and it’s suffering) is temporary, how do you remind yourself to trust God for today’s needs and for your future with Him where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering?
Psalm 146 – The final five Psalms of the Psalter all begin and end with the same imperative: the Hebrew words, Hallelu–jah! That is, “Praise the Lord!” But the emphasis of Psalm 145 on the greatness of God’s goodness toward those who trust in Him is continued here. After the opening declaration, announcing an imperative for all of the people of God to “Praise the Lord!”, the psalmist enumerates a multitude of ways in which God shows His kindness and compassion to His people. He alone is their salvation. Trust in mere humans—even in mighty yet mortal princes—is vain, but trust in the true and living God is the pathway of blessing.
How do we know it makes sense to trust in God? Answer: God has made the heavens and earth, the sea and all in them! He truly is God, and hence, all hope and trust in Him is validated fully. As the true God that He is, He alone is able to execute justice for the oppressed, to give food to the hungry, to set prisoners free, to open the eyes of the blind, to lift up those bowed down and to watch over the sojourner, the widow, the fatherless.
In each of these mercies, our God reflects His gracious character. And as God, He alone reigns over every and all generations. So, let all peoples, at all times, praise the Lord! In the provision of His Son Jesus, our God makes the fullest and greatest declaration of the grace He has demonstrated through the ages, as reflected in this Psalm.
How does this Psalm lead you to worship Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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