717.) Job 19

January 31, 2012

“Job and His Friends,” by Ilya Yefimovich-Repin, 1869

Job 19 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Job’s Sixth Speech: A Response to Bildad

1Then Job spoke again: 2 “How long will you torture me?
How long will you try to crush me with your words?
3 You have already insulted me ten times.
You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.
4 Even if I have sinned,
that is my concern, not yours.
5 You think you’re better than I am,
using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.

Matthew 7:1-5 (English Standard Version)

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

_________________________

6 But it is God who has wronged me,
capturing me in his net.

7 “I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me.
I protest, but there is no justice.
8 God has blocked my way so I cannot move.
He has plunged my path into darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
10 He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished.
He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree.
11 His fury burns against me;
he counts me as an enemy.
12 His troops advance.
They build up roads to attack me.
They camp all around my tent.

In Job 19:8-12, Job recounts the reverse progression of an ancient siege and conquering of a city; yet the irony was that Job was not like a mighty city, but only like a humble tent.

 We can see the reverse progress starting at Job 19:8:

  • Captivity (I cannot pass; and He has set darkness in my paths).
  • Dethronement (taken the crown from my head)
  • Being like a wall torn down (He breaks me down on every side)
  • Being like an uprooted tree (my hope He has uprooted like a tree)
  • Having a siege set against him (build up their road against me)
  • Being surrounded (they encamp all around my tent)

–David Guzik

_________________________

13 “My relatives stay far away,
and my friends have turned against me.
14 My family is gone,
and my close friends have forgotten me.
15 My servants and maids consider me a stranger.
I am like a foreigner to them.
16 When I call my servant, he doesn’t come;
I have to plead with him!
17 My breath is repulsive to my wife.
I am rejected by my own family.

If it were not enough that he has lost so much, now even the friends and family remaining to him are distancing themselves from him.  This rejection is even a heavier burden to bear!  As the little poem goes:

Sticks and stones are hard on bones.
Aimed with cruel art,
Words can sting like anything.
But silence breaks the heart.

18 Even young children despise me.
When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me.
19 My close friends detest me.
Those I loved have turned against me.
20 I have been reduced to skin and bones
and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth.

The expression by (or with) the skin of one’s teeth, which means ‘by an extremely narrow margin; just barely; scarcely’ is an example of a literal translation of a phrase in another language. It’s also another example of a Biblical expression gaining currency in mainstream usage.

The Biblical source of this phrase is the following passage, where Job is complaining about how illness has ravaged his body: “My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth” (Job xix.20, in the King James Version). The point here is that Job is so sick that there’s nothing left to his body. The passage is rendered differently in other translations; the Douay Bible, for example, which is an English translation of the Vulgate (St. Jerome’s fourth-century Latin translation), gives: “My bone hath cleaved to my skin, and nothing but lips are left about my teeth.”

The phrase, which first appears in English in a mid-sixteenth-century translation of the Bible, does not appear to become common until the nineteenth century. At this point by the skin of one’s teeth is the usual form, as if the teeth actually have skin that is so fine you can barely tell. (An interesting parallel is the nineteenth-century Americanism fine as frog’s hair, meaning ‘very fine’, based on a similar assumption.)

–randomhouse.com

_________________________

21 “Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy,
for the hand of God has struck me.
22 Must you also persecute me, like God does?
Haven’t you chewed me up enough?

23 “Oh, that my words could be recorded.
Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument,
24 carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead,
engraved forever in the rock.

25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26 And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27 I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Job 19:26-27 — In my flesh shall I see God:  whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.

I shall see God for myself, and not another; not a stranger is the KJV margin.  I shall not have to learn to know and love Him, for it will be the God who has led me all my life long — and not another.

No stranger’s face will meet us on the day we die.  We shall be awakened by the vision of His face — only His.

A little girl was slowly dying in her home in India.  A Christian doctor who was called to see her told her of our Lord Jesus.  After a little while she began to understand and love Him.  One day she said:  “I don’t know anyone in heaven.  I shall feel very shy there.”

“But you know our Lord Jesus,” said the doctor.  “You won’t be shy with Him.”  She was comforted.  Soon after that she saw Him — not another, not a stranger, but the Lord who loved her and gave Himself for her.

_________________________

Music:

“I Know that My Redeemer Liveth”  from Messiah, by George Frederich Handel, 1741.  It is performed here at King’s College Chapel, conducted by Stephen Cleobury with the King’s College Choir, Cambridge & Academy of Ancient Music, Ailish Tynan, soloist.

_________________________

28 “How dare you go on persecuting me,
saying, ‘It’s his own fault’?
29 You should fear punishment yourselves,
for your attitude deserves punishment.
Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Repin.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_QVtPk6brgO4/TESiiahh-gI/AAAAAAAABVI/Eb2GlvgMeK0/s1600/Job%2520by%2520Repin.jpg
logs.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_WAsZai723Yk/TTS30wWNCNI/AAAAAAAAAlM/E-Fv5EV1wQc/s1600/Logging.jpg
tent.  http://www.clipartpal.com/_thumbs/pd/buildings/blue_festive_tent.png
smile.  http://www.apnimarzi.com/wp-content/uploads/BestMethodsofTeethWhiteningForYourBeauti_DD26/j04096551.jpg
Jesus.  http://www.prlog.org/11425991-faceofjesus.jpg

716.) Job 10

January 30, 2012

"Job," by Jan (the Elder) Lievens, 1631 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa)

Job 10 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Job Frames His Plea to God

1 “I am disgusted with my life.
Let me complain freely.
My bitter soul must complain.

Pity Party. 

A way of experiencing grief, in which you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself and whining endlessly about how crappy your life is.
Pity Parties can be just for one or for many people, such as your friends, who will try to comfort you or just be there for you while you keep asking yourself what did you do to deserve whatever it is that made you so sad in the first place.
Pity Parties require the proper outfit, which is usually pajamas because you don’t get all dressed up during those feeling-sorry-for-myself moments. Also you should have no make up on or just what remains from the night before; hair undone as well.
They also involve tissues — and comfort food such as ice cream, chocolate, potato chips, cookies, cake, and candy. Low fat food is banned.

–urbandictionary.com

2 I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—
tell me the charge you are bringing against me.
3 What do you gain by oppressing me?
Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands,
while smiling on the schemes of the wicked?
4 Are your eyes like those of a human?
Do you see things only as people see them?
5 Is your lifetime only as long as ours?
Is your life so short
6 that you must quickly probe for my guilt
and search for my sin?
7 Although you know I am not guilty,
no one can rescue me from your hands.

8 “‘You formed me with your hands; you made me,
yet now you completely destroy me.
9 Remember that you made me from dust—
will you turn me back to dust so soon?

Genesis 2:7 (New International Version)

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

_________________________

10 You guided my conception
and formed me in the womb.
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and you knit my bones and sinews together.
12 You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
My life was preserved by your care.

Psalm 139:14 (New International Version)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

_________________________

13 “‘Yet your real motive—
your true intent—
14 was to watch me, and if I sinned,
you would not forgive my guilt.
15 If I am guilty, too bad for me;
and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high,
because I am filled with shame and misery.
16 And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion
and display your awesome power against me.
17 Again and again you witness against me.
You pour out your growing anger on me
and bring fresh armies against me.

Job is searching for an answer to his suffering, an answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people.  His answer:  if it isn’t my fault, it must be God’s fault.  He claims God is out to get him.  If that is the case, then, what is the point of living?  What is life all about?

_________________________

18 “‘Why, then, did you deliver me from my mother’s womb?
Why didn’t you let me die at birth?
19 It would be as though I had never existed,
going directly from the womb to the grave.
20 I have only a few days left, so leave me alone,
that I may have a moment of comfort
21 before I leave—never to return—
for the land of darkness and utter gloom.
22 It is a land as dark as midnight,
a land of gloom and confusion,
where even the light is dark as midnight.’”

_________________________

Music:

A modern-day rendering of the same question:  Why do we live?  “Alfie”  by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and sung by Dionne Warwick.

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it’s wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lievens.  http://popartmachine.com/artwork/NGC-NGC_.4093/0/Jan-%28the-Elder%29-Lievens-Job-1631-painting-artwork-print.jpg
pity party.  http://s2.hubimg.com/u/4593989_f496.jpg
first man Adam and perfect man Christ.  http://heavenlytours.us/images/creating_adam.jpg
newborn baby.  http://www.newbornbabyzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/newborn-baby-needs.jpg
question marks.  http://www.freeimagesarchive.com/data/media/34/10_question-mark.jpg

715.) Job 9

January 27, 2012

Job — pen, ink, and wash, by Chuck Berk, 2011.

Job 9 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Job’s Third Speech: A Response to Bildad

1Then Job spoke again:

2 “Yes, I know all this is true in principle.
But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?
3 If someone wanted to take God to court,
would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
4 For God is so wise and so mighty.
Who has ever challenged him successfully?

Romans 3:19-20 (New Century Version)

We know that the law’s commands are for those who have the law. This stops all excuses and brings the whole world under God’s judgment, because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin.

So Job begins to describe the powerful God he is up against:

5 “Without warning, he moves the mountains,
overturning them in his anger.
6 He shakes the earth from its place,
and its foundations tremble.
7 If he commands it, the sun won’t rise
and the stars won’t shine.
8 He alone has spread out the heavens
and marches on the waves of the sea.

9 He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky.

10 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
He performs countless miracles.

11 “Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him.
When he moves by, I do not see him go.
12 If he snatches someone in death, who can stop him?
Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’
13 And God does not restrain his anger.
Even the monsters of the sea are crushed beneath his feet.

There are many thoughts in this passage that connect with Jesus.

  • We read that God treads on the waves of the sea; Jesus walks on the water.
  • We read that God made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and star was made to announce the birth of Jesus.
  • We read that God does great things past finding out, yes wonders without number and Jesus did uncountable miracles and great things.
  • We read that God moves past, and I do not perceive Him, and Jesus could pass through an angry crowd as if He were invisible (John 8:59).
  • We read that no one can say to God, “What are You doing?” and in the life of Jesus it would come to pass that no one dared ask Him any more questions (Mark 12:34).
  • We read that God will not withdraw His anger, so we are not surprised that sometimes Jesus showed anger.
  • We read it is said of God, the allies of the proud lie prostrate beneath him, and so also evil spirits fell prostrate at the feet of Jesus (Mark 3:11).

“What wonderful irony there is in seeing Job set out to describe the immortal and invisible God, and in the process paint a stunningly accurate portrayal of the earthly Jesus!” (Mason)

–David Guzik

14 “So who am I, that I should try to answer God
or even reason with him?
15 Even if I were right, I would have no defense.
I could only plead for mercy.
16 And even if I summoned him and he responded,
I’m not sure he would listen to me.
17 For he attacks me with a storm
and repeatedly wounds me without cause.
18 He will not let me catch my breath,
but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.
19 If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one.
If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him to court?
20 Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty.
Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked.

Why does a good God let bad things happen to good people?  Eliphaz had one explanation:  Job is not good.  We know that isn’t right because in chapter 1 both the author and God affirm Job as a good man.  So here in chapter 9 Job is flirting with a different opinion — that God is not so good because he is not fair, overwhelming mere mortals, sending punishment on both the righteous and the wicked.  But the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves irrevocably that power and goodness are united forever.  As the old saying goes:  God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.

_________________________

21 “I am innocent,
but it makes no difference to me—
I despise my life.
22 Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God.
That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When a plague sweeps through,
he laughs at the death of the innocent.
24 The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked,
and God blinds the eyes of the judges.
If he’s not the one who does it, who is?

25 “My life passes more swiftly than a runner.
It flees away without a glimpse of happiness.
26 It disappears like a swift papyrus boat,
like an eagle swooping down on its prey.
27 If I decided to forget my complaints,
to put away my sad face and be cheerful,
28 I would still dread all the pain,
for I know you will not find me innocent, O God.
29 Whatever happens, I will be found guilty.
So what’s the use of trying?
30 Even if I were to wash myself with soap
and clean my hands with lye,
31 you would plunge me into a muddy ditch,
and my own filthy clothing would hate me.

Psalm 51:7 (New International Version)

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

_________________________

32 “God is not a mortal like me,
so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
33 If only there were a mediator between us,
someone who could bring us together.

If only!

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (New Living Translation)

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

_________________________

34 The mediator could make God stop beating me,
and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment.
35 Then I could speak to him without fear,
but I cannot do that in my own strength.”

_________________________

Music:

Such lovely pictures of Jesus in this Old Testament chapter!  “You are my all-in-all,”  sung here by Nicole Nordeman.  I hear it anew in the context of Job and his struggles.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Berk.  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nWTExPIUKF0/TY6hil_IR1I/AAAAAAAABeM/C5y0GcoThdM/s1600/Job_98.jpg
Jesus walks on water.  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_v-jkdc-LjSM/S_c2aIj3_lI/AAAAAAAAAMY/4ZsUuuziHng/s1600/jesus-nazareth-120.jpg
star of Bethlehem.   http://images.hellokids.com/_uploads/_tiny_galerie/20091250/star-of-bethlehem-wallpaper-source_bff.jpg
Jesus heals Jairus’ daughter.   http://christ-pictures-images.blogspot.com/2010/05/jesus-heals-jairus-daughter-coloring.html
not fair.  http://www.kathyhoward.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/its-not-fair.jpg
snow.   http://shoulderingmycross.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/shuksan-03-04-84-91.jpg
Jesus.  http://www.jehova.net/prayer/jesus-mediator.jpg


714.) Job 4 and 5

January 26, 2012

“Job is rebuked by his friends,” by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

Job 4 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Eliphaz’s First Response to Job

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied to Job:

Eliphaz came from Teman, a town south of the Dead Sea famous for its wise men.  In  this speech, he traces back all affliction to sin, through the natural operation of cause and effect.  Eliphaz speaks again in chapter 15, with a clear depiction of the punishment of the wicked.  Finally, in chapter 22, Eliphaz insists that Job has sinned and points out to him the path of restoration.

2 “Will you be patient and let me say a word?
For who could keep from speaking out?

3 “In the past you have encouraged many people;
you have strengthened those who were weak.
4 Your words have supported those who were falling;
you encouraged those with shaky knees.
5 But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.
You are terrified when it touches you.
6 Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?
Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?

7 “Stop and think! Do the innocent die?
When have the upright been destroyed?

1)   Elphaz, for all his wisdom, bases his reasoning on this false assumption:  that a good and innocent person never suffers.

8 My experience shows that those who plant trouble
and cultivate evil will harvest the same.

2)   Why do bad things happen to good people?  Eliphaz says, They don’t.  He thinks Job must be a bad person. He thinks  Job’s trouble is his own fault.  This is his second false assumption:  that those who suffer are being punished for their past sins.

9 A breath from God destroys them.
They vanish in a blast of his anger.
10 The lion roars and the wildcat snarls,
but the teeth of strong lions will be broken.
11 The fierce lion will starve for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness will be scattered.

12 “This truth was given to me in secret,
as though whispered in my ear.
13 It came to me in a disturbing vision at night,
when people are in a deep sleep.

Eliphaz claims to have received this revelation through a hair-raising dream:

14 Fear gripped me,
and my bones trembled.
15 A spirit swept past my face,
and my hair stood on end.
16 The spirit stopped, but I couldn’t see its shape.
There was a form before my eyes.
In the silence I heard a voice say,
17 ‘Can a mortal be innocent before God?
Can anyone be pure before the Creator?’

18 “If God does not trust his own angels
and has charged his messengers with foolishness,
19 how much less will he trust people made of clay!
They are made of dust, crushed as easily as a moth.
20 They are alive in the morning but dead by evening,
gone forever without a trace.
21 Their tent-cords are pulled and the tent collapses,
and they die in ignorance.

Job 5

Eliphaz’s Response Continues

1 “Cry for help, but will anyone answer you?
Which of the angels will help you?
2 Surely resentment destroys the fool,
and jealousy kills the simple.
3 I have seen that fools may be successful for the moment,
but then comes sudden disaster.
4 Their children are abandoned far from help;
they are crushed in court with no one to defend them.
5 The hungry devour their harvest,
even when it is guarded by brambles.
The thirsty pant after their wealth.
6 But evil does not spring from the soil,
and trouble does not sprout from the earth.
7 People are born for trouble
as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.

As the Sparks Fly Upward

The little babe I held upon my knee
Had not yet banished from his sleeping eyes
The dreams of some lost world from which he came,
Nor missed some angel-choirèd paradise.
Strange little soul that claimed me not his own
By glance or smile, but with no seeing gaze
Looked to me who, all timid, dared to call
This wonder mine, and held it in amaze.
I prayed, ‘When comes the light of consciousness
Of things that be to hold him so he seek
To know what place life now had set him in,
And at whose mercy left, so young and weak,
‘Let it be mine, the face he first shall see
Bent on him, full of welcome and of joy,
So that his smile, on thus beholding love,
The pain of coming tears shall half destroy.
‘Or if some day he looks to learn, and I
Am not beside, oh! let it be the sun
Or some fair thing shall greet his seeing eyes,
So he shall find life good and well begun.’
Beside the fire I held him close, and sang
Some sweet child ditty, bidding him to sleep,
And broke the log to make it flame and glow;
Then in his eyes I saw a wonder creep.
Now peeped the soul from out his startled gaze.
‘Look first on me,’ I cried, ‘my little child!’
But from my kiss he held his face away,
And as the sparks flew up he saw and smiled.

 — Dora Sigerson Shorter, Irish poet (1866-1918)

_________________________

8 “If I were you, I would go to God
and present my case to him.

3)   Here is the third false assumption Eliphaz bases his argument on:  that Job, because he was suffering, must have done something wrong in God’s eyesJob must repent.

9 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
He performs countless miracles.
10 He gives rain for the earth
and water for the fields.
11 He gives prosperity to the poor
and protects those who suffer.
12 He frustrates the plans of schemers
so the work of their hands will not succeed.
13 He traps the wise in their own cleverness
so their cunning schemes are thwarted.
14 They find it is dark in the daytime,
and they grope at noon as if it were night.
15 He rescues the poor from the cutting words of the strong,
and rescues them from the clutches of the powerful.
16 And so at last the poor have hope,
and the snapping jaws of the wicked are shut.

17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God!
Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.

Eliphaz reminds Job that God will graciously restore those who repent of their sins and turn to him.  This, of course, is absolutely true.

_________________________

18 For though he wounds, he also bandages.
He strikes, but his hands also heal.
19 From six disasters he will rescue you;
even in the seventh, he will keep you from evil.
20 He will save you from death in time of famine,
from the power of the sword in time of war.
21 You will be safe from slander
and have no fear when destruction comes.
22 You will laugh at destruction and famine;
wild animals will not terrify you.
23 You will be at peace with the stones of the field,
and its wild animals will be at peace with you.
24 You will know that your home is safe.
When you survey your possessions, nothing will be missing.
25 You will have many children;
your descendants will be as plentiful as grass!

Ouch!  Eliphaz, this seems cruel, given that Job has just lost his ten children.

26 You will go to the grave at a ripe old age,
like a sheaf of grain harvested at the proper time!

Psalm 91:9-10 (New Living Translation)

If you make the Lord your refuge,
      if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
      no plague will come near your home.

27 “We have studied life and found all this to be true.
Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself.”

_________________________

Music:

For all his misunderstandings, Eliphaz knew that God disciplines us when we do wrong for the sake of bringing us back to the right, and that God kindly restores us.  And we know, because of Christ and his gift to us on the cross, that God does this through LOVE that is marvelous and wonderful.  “I Stand Amazed”  sung by Christ Tomlin.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake.   http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blake/william/job/jobc10.jpg
“as sparks fly upward.”  http://williambradford.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/sparksinfire.jpg
“Create in me a clean heart”   http://rlv.zcache.com/create_in_me_a_clean_heart_poster-r9bc68f2058984b4e90a69963af9be999_wvq_400.jpg

713.) Job 3

January 25, 2012

"Job Praying" by Marc Chagall, 1960.

Job 3 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Job’s First Speech

1 At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth. 2He said:

3 “Let the day of my birth be erased,
and the night I was conceived.
4 Let that day be turned to darkness.
Let it be lost even to God on high,
and let no light shine on it.
5 Let the darkness and utter gloom claim that day for its own.
Let a black cloud overshadow it,
and let the darkness terrify it.

Birthdays are times of joy and celebration, yet Job wants the day of his birth — even the day of his conception! — to be blotted out in darkness.  God once said, “Let there be light.”  Job counters with, “Let there be darkness.”

_________________________
6 Let that night be blotted off the calendar,
never again to be counted among the days of the year,
never again to appear among the months.
7 Let that night be childless.
Let it have no joy.
8 Let those who are experts at cursing—
whose cursing could rouse Leviathan—
curse that day.

In ancient days certain people could be hired to pronounce curses. 

Leviathan — a mythical sea monster or dragon that terrorized fishermen and sailors.

Psalm 104:26 (New International Version)

There the ships go to and fro,
   and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

_________________________

9 Let its morning stars remain dark.
Let it hope for light, but in vain;
may it never see the morning light.
10 Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb,
for letting me be born to see all this trouble.

Job says it would be better not to be born, than to live when separated from God by his trouble.

There is a very deliberate and intricate interweaving of emotions, pain, hyperbole, and figurative language in this chapter which has to do with the nature of Hebrew poetry.  The repetitive cadence is like a hammer hitting one on the head over and over. The repetitive images produce a more pronounced indentation of pain.  The reader “feels” Job’s pain and is left with an indelible mental and emotional mark, just as a physical impact leaves a bruise or scar.

11 “Why wasn’t I born dead?
Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?
12 Why was I laid on my mother’s lap?
Why did she nurse me at her breasts?
13 Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace.
I would be asleep and at rest.
14 I would rest with the world’s kings and prime ministers,
whose great buildings now lie in ruins.
15 I would rest with princes, rich in gold,
whose palaces were filled with silver.

One of the world’s most famous tombs, the Taj Mahal  is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India.  It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Memtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”

_________________________
16 Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child,
like a baby who never lives to see the light?
17 For in death the wicked cause no trouble,
and the weary are at rest.
18 Even captives are at ease in death,
with no guards to curse them.
19 Rich and poor are both there,
and the slave is free from his master.

20 “Oh, why give light to those in misery,
and life to those who are bitter?
21 They long for death, and it won’t come.
They search for death more eagerly than for hidden treasure.

My former mother-in-law told me, after her husband had died, that she woke up each morning disappointed that she had not died in her sleep.  Every day was a burden, filled with her muffled calls welcoming death.  It was so sad to see her like that, especially when she refused any comfort from the Scriptures or conversation about the Lord.  She lived the last years of her life in such emptiness.  I contrast this with my father, who opens and closes each day now, at age 96, as he has for decades:  “This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it!”

_________________________
22 They’re filled with joy when they finally die,
and rejoice when they find the grave.
23 Why is life given to those with no future,
those God has surrounded with difficulties?
24 I cannot eat for sighing;
my groans pour out like water.
25 What I always feared has happened to me.
What I dreaded has come true.
26 I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes.”

_________________________

Music:

“There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God” — a good reminder for us all!

Cleland B. McAfee was at Park Coll­ege, Park­ville, Mis­souri, for al­most 20 years as the chair of Christ­ian Phil­o­so­phy and col­lege chap­lain and choir di­rect­or.  One day in 1901, to his shock and horror, he received the news that diphtheria had just claimed the lives of his two beloved nieces. To comfort his own soul and the hearts of the suffering family, Cleland wrote this hymn. On the day of the double funeral, the Park College choir sang the hymn for the first time outside the quarantined house of his brother.  Cleland McAfee accomplished many good things in his lifetime, but he is remembered most for writing a simple message in the form of a song that reminds us that when bad things happen to good people, the best place to be is Near to the Heart of God.

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.

Refrain

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.

Refrain

There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Chagall.  http://www.marcchagallprints.com/view_art.php?art_id=1481&min=0&max=10000000&portrait=&original=&sub=&sort_by=&sold=
birthday cake.  http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XoR_sAgtZQk/TtMeeK-E2WI/AAAAAAAAAOg/6JEE6q8d9LA/s320/Cake%2BCandles-birthday-cake-with-candles.jpg
Leviathan.  http://www.fybertech.com/4thread/tg_1319933/1205338766443.jpg
Taj Mahal.  http://wallpapers.free-review.net/63__Taj_Mahal%2C_Agra%2C_India.htm
Choose life.  http://www.odessaapartments-ukraine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/ChooseLifeLogo_colour.jpg

712.) Job 2

January 24, 2012

"Satan going forth from the presence of the Lord," by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

Job 2 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Job’s Second Test

1 One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.

Revelation 12:10-12 (New Century Version)

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying:
    “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God
       and the authority of his Christ have now come.

   The accuser of our brothers and sisters,
       who accused them day and night before our God,
       has been thrown down.
And our brothers and sisters defeated him
       by the blood of the Lamb’s death
       and by the message they preached.
    They did not love their lives so much
       that they were afraid of death.
So rejoice, you heavens
       and all who live there!
    But it will be terrible for the earth and the sea,
       because the devil has come down to you!
    He is filled with anger,
       because he knows he does not have much time.”

2“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.   Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

3 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job?

God says, “Have you seen my friend Job?”  I love this line!  I hope God can use it about me!  “Have you seen her?  I know I can count on her.  Throw her whatever problems you want, she will turn to me in faith believing.  She will not deny my name or give up on my goodness.  She will not be swayed by present circumstances, for she has placed her trust in me.  She believes my word and she claims my promises with her whole heart, with her very life.”

He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.”

4 Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5 But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

6 “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” 7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.

8 Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”

"Job and his Wife" by Albrecht Durer, 1503 (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt)

But let us not be too hard on Job’s wife.  She has just lost all ten of her children, too, and her wealth.  It would be hard for her to see her husband suffer like this.  It isn’t difficult to understand why she has lost hope.

_________________________

10 But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.

Job’s Three Friends Share His Anguish

"Job's Despair," by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

11 When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

So here is the great question of Job, and it is our question, too:  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Or more to the point — if God is good, why does he allow evil?

_________________________

Music:

Job’s friends knew this!  From the 60’s — the Tremeloes and “Silence Is Golden.”

Oh, don’t it hurt deep inside
To see someone do something to her?
Oh, don’t it pain to see someone cry?
Oh especially when someone is her
.
Silence is golden
But my eyes’ still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see
.

Talkin’ is cheap, people follow like sheep
Even though there is nowhere to go
How could she tell, he deceived her so well
Pity she’ll be the last one to know
.
Silence is golden
But my eyes still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see
.
How many times did she fall for his line?
Should I tell her or should I keep cool?
And if I tried I know she’ll say I lied
Mind your business, don’t hurt her, you fool
.
Silence is golden
But my eyes still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake, Satan.   http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/images/but550.1.5.wc.300.jpg
Durer.  http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/christian/images/AlbrechtDurer-Job-and-His-Wife-1504.jpg
Blake, despair.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TunyR75qmig/TnAZshv21sI/AAAAAAAAAAo/H1DCuNL8ifI/s1600/Job%2527s_Despair_Butts_set_Blake_MorganLibrary.jpg

711.) Job 1

January 23, 2012

"Job and his family" by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

Job 1 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

The author, date, and place of the Book of Job are all uncertain.  But it is widely recognized that Job is one of the greatest books ever written — a masterpiece, a classic.  It is terrifying and beautiful, tender and powerful.  It addresses life’s deepest problem, the problem of evil, of suffering, of injustice in a world supposedly ruled by a good, compassionate, just God.  Perhaps we can go into it recalling of a portion of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

In chapter eight, as Mr. Beaver is trying to describe what Aslan is like, Susan jumps in to ask, “Is he—quite safe?”

We might ask the same question about Christ, and the answer we would like to hear might be something like, “Of course, coming to Christ will be perfectly safe.”

“Who said anything about safe?”  Mr. Beaver replies.  “Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.”

Four chapters later when the group finally meets Aslan, Lewis’s narrator tells us, “But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him.  People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.”

Lewis provides this image of Aslan, who is both good and terrible at the same time, for Christians who may have an image of God that is out of balance.  Some may have a conception of a God who is only terrible, a God who is only fear-inspiring.  They need to be reminded that God is also good and compassionate.  Others may have an image of a God who is only safe and huggable.  Lewis would remind them that the God of the universe is not just a larger version of their favorite grandparent.

Let us ask God to use this study of Job to give us a clearer vision of who God truly is — our Creator, Redeemer, and Counselor, who is neither “safe” nor “tame,” but always, always, wise and good.

Prologue

1 There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters. 3He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. 4 Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. 5 When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

“What a beautiful example is furnished by Job to Christian parents! When your girls are going among strangers, and your boys into the great ways of the world, and you are unable to impose your will upon them, as in the days of childhood, you can yet pray for them, casting over them the shield of intercession, with strong cryings and tears. They are beyond your reach; but by faith you can move the arm of God on their behalf.”
— F. B. Meyer

_________________________

Job’s First Test

6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. 7“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.   Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

1 Peter 5:8 (New Living Translation)

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

_________________________

8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

9 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

"Messengers tell Job of his misfortunes," by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

standing strong in a desperate situation

In this first round of spiritual warfare Satan was singularly unsuccessful in shaking Job from his standing in faith. Job successfully battled against spiritual attack and fulfilled the exhortation that would come many hundreds of years later from the Apostle Paul: that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13).  Job made his stand —

  • against fear and did not give into panic.
  • against make-believe pretending and appropriately mourned.
  • against pride and humbled himself before God.
  • against self and decided to worship God.
  • against a time-bound mindset and chose to think in terms of eternity.
  • against unbelief and did not give into vain questionings of God.
  • against despair and saw the hand of God even in catastrophe.
  • against anger and did not blame God.

— David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Matt Redman’s song, “Blessed Be Your Name.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)    Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake, family.  http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/images/but550.1.1.wc.300.jpg
father praying for child.   http://www.cathyconger.com/wp-content/uploads/father-praying-over-child1.jpg
lion eating prey.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i76lJTvIDBE/Tpnydu8eW7I/AAAAAAAAHek/4trguEbL_UQ/s1600/LionEating.jpg
Blake, messengers.   http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/images/but550.1.4.wc.300.jpg
cat and dog.  http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/classic_battle_catvsdog.jpg