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Posted By Nan

17:1-16
Job believes he is innocent. He has thought long and hard about this and has listened to his friends’ words and has arrived at the conclusion that he is innocent. Despite this, he expects to die un-vindicated. He sees death as the certain thing in his future. It is not imminent, but it is closer than he thought before.
In this chapter Job’s words express the difference between hope and death. Hopelessness is the form Hope often takes in this chapter. But in his words there is the emergence of some fire. He is angry at the language and behaviour of his friends and he is reacting to that.
Job acknowledges he feels deeply depressed and blames his friends, who will not budge from their belief that his suffering is deserved. That he has obviously sinned. He believes God has closed their minds to the truth. He feels great anger at their unhelpfulness, but most of all he feels despair. It is a sad indictment of his friends that they came to comfort him but only succeeded in making him feel isolated and without hope. With friends like these who needs enemies!
Job’s only hope is that, because God has closed their minds, He will not allow them to be proved right and therefore triumph over him. Job expresses views that are also found in Psalm 24:4-5 (NIV):
‘He who has clean hands and a pure heart
Who does not lift up his soul to an idol
Or swear by what is false
He will receive blessing from the Lord
And vindication from God his Saviour’
No matter how much others condemn him, Job clings to the belief that those whose actions are guiltless and whose motives and attitudes are pure, will be vindicated by God.
No matter how hopeless things seem, Job will still not curse God. He clings fast to his faith in God.
 

 
Posted By Nan

16:1-22
Again Job speaks. He wonders when the long winded speeches of his friends will end. He acknowledges he could speak like them if they were in his place and he could insult and scorn them as they do to him. But he would not do that. He would encourage and comfort and speak kindly. Things are bad when the person you have come to ‘comfort’ has to tell you how to behave towards them.
Having rebuked his friends, Job turns back to God.
He pleads with God.
He is worn out and hopeless.
He feels God is angry at him and is punishing him. The scorn and insults of his friends hurts him more. He feels God has turned him over to wicked men and is showing no pity. This is in contrast to Eliphaz’s picture of the evil being given suffering rather than the good being handed over to the evil.
Job considers himself innocent, yet he suffers and he does not believe he will ever be free of this suffering, which will continue until he dies. He hopes for an intercessor in heaven who will plead his case as there are none to do so on earth. Again, he expresses the desire for Jesus. He introduces the reader to the idea of a Messiah who intercedes on our behalf in heaven. Books such as Job, which are categorised as being about suffering, also offer an introduction to the concept of the one who would be our advocate.
This is the suffering we face in this age. The suffering where, although it may not feel like it, we have a mediator in heaven. It doesn’t always feel like this is happening. And people today lose hope just as Job did. It is hard to answer that. Philip Yancey in ‘Where is God When It Hurts?’ expresses it best when he says we need to stop fighting and just praise God. We need to acknowledge His love for us and sovereignty over creation. Sometimes we have to sit with the pain and stop fighting, even when it seems to be getting worse. Healing will come in the form and timing that is exactly right. Sometimes we have to journey further through the darkness of suffering to reach the point of healing, but reach it we will, in God’s perfect timing.
 

 
Posted By Nan

15:1-35
Now it is time for Eliphaz to speak again. The first time he spoke he was seemingly sympathetic but made cruel insinuations about Job’s guilt.  This time he is extremely critical and offended at Job’s anger and criticism of his supposed friends.
He criticised Job for calling himself wise. Would a wise man behave as he perceives Job is behaving (denying he is guilty and wanting to argue his case with God)? Would a wise man use the empty words and give a show of piety that undermines devotion to God? Again, this perception is based on Eliphaz’s assumption of Job’s guilt. These words are pretty strong and ones it is unwise to utter without really good proof and prompting from God. We may judge our fellow humans and consider they have no faith or behave in a way we consider is not becoming to a Christian, but this does not mean the person is actually doing anything wrong. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart so be very careful before you accuse another person of not following Jesus.
Eliphaz chides Job for presuming to know more of God than his friends know and being wiser than them. As far as Eliphaz is concerned, Job has some hide criticising his friends!
Eliphaz is convinced the words he spoke to Job in his first speech were given by God and were words of consolation. How arrogance can blind us to the source of our words and their impact. Such an easy trap to fall into and something we all have to guard against. It is extraordinary that Eliphaz, who made many insinuations about Job being a sinner whose children and possessions were taken away from him as punishment, thinks he was being kind and sympathetic. His words were designed to tear down not build up. A friend is not one who tears down and Eliphaz cannot see that he and his friends have said cruel and hurtful things to Job. Eliphaz is full of his imagined knowledge of God. He is convinced Job is a sinner and cannot consider any alternative point of view. He repeats his point made in his earlier speech, that sinners are punished. He ignores Job’s contention that the evil prosper, perhaps because if he admits this is true then he has to find an answer to the question that springs from that – why do the innocent suffer?
Eliphaz is determined not to budge from his stance that Job is a sinner and therefore deserving of all he is suffering. It seems that the discomfort of considering other options is too frightening for him to consider, so he pushes those thoughts away and doubles his effort to paint Job as a sinner. How easily a person can turn against a friend when he feels threatened. In our culture there is great unwillingness to sit with discomfort and our friends suffer for it. It is so awful to have friends who won’t stand by you in your time of suffering. It makes the suffering so much worse when you have to face it alone. What sort of friend are you? Do you sit with your friends without judging? Or do you seek to push their suffering away due to discomfort or judge because of fear? Never forget Jesus was a friend who demonstrated care and compassion during His time on earth and seek always to be like Him.
 

 
Posted By Nan

14:1-22
Job continues his conversation with God. He recognises that he, as with the rest of humanity, is born to a short life that is full of trouble. There is little time for man to achieve everything. He wonders why God bothers Himself with anyone who is so short lived. Echoes of Ecclesiastes here.
So Job asks, why are we here? Why do we matter to God? Our lives are so transient. Why would God even bother to punish man?
Trees have hope. They are cut down and grow again from the stump. Man dies and there is no coming back. Man will not come back. Job wants God to hide him in the grave because he fears God’s wrath.
He wonders if man can live again once he dies. Job hopes for resurrection. When God will forget his sin. But he asks how anything clean and pure can be brought out of something unclean. For now he has no hope and looks forward to a lifetime of pain and sorrow.
The longing of every human heart. For those humans born now there is the joy of Jesus. The joy of hearing that, yes, we who love and follow Jesus are resurrected and yes God forgets our sin. Why? Because Jesus is pure and He can and did bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing. So, unlike Job, we have that reassurance during bad times. He clung to hope of what was said to come, something nebulous and hard to understand. We live in the truth of what Jesus has done for us. As we move through this time of preparation for Easter, may we ponder and rejoice in that amazing truth that Job, all those centuries ago, clung to in hope.
 

 
Posted By Nan

13:20-28
Job now talks to God. He wants God to withdraw the punishment from him and to talk to him. He wants these things granted to him as a reassurance he matters to God. In his suffering, with such unhelpful, un-empathic friends, he must have felt very alone and that he didn’t matter. It is quite natural he should turn to God, who has always been such a vital and much loved part of his life.
He tells God the suffering he is under is terrifying to him. He sees God’s majesty and it is awesome, but his fear at what is happening prevents him from hearing God.
He wants God to tell him how badly he has sinned. He is resigned to the faulty doctrine that his suffering is a punishment for sin. But humility is creeping into his thinking. He is moving away from the attitude of entitlement where he demanded God answer him, to an attitude of humility where he acknowledges God’s greatness and begs Him to answer his questions. He is reaching a point of humble acceptance of what is.
We all go through stages like this when bad things happen to us. There is the attitude of God having to stop it, and the indignation that such things should happen. There is the despair at God seeming not to be speaking to us. Then there is the humility and the acceptance of God’s majesty. Only then can we hear that God has been speaking to us all along, it is just we couldn’t hear Him because we were not listening.
Job is understanding God’s awesomeness, but he is confused. He doesn’t understand how the God he loves and thought he knew is treating him as the enemy. He feels God is holding him accountable for every sin he ever committed when he has been regularly confessing his sins to God and sacrificing to atone for those sins. He feels enslaved by the punishment and unable to move away from it.
He ends this plea with a bridge into the next part of his conversation to God. He acknowledges that man is born to decay. That life on earth is transient, like a garment eaten by moths. In Matthew 6:19-20 Jesus admonishes His listeners to store up for themselves treasures in heaven, not on earth. This is partly because those earthly treasures are as transient as our earthly life and will decay and perish but mainly because, as Jesus tells us in v21, our hearts will be where our treasure is. So he instructs us to store up treasure in heaven. This has great relevance for Job’s story. He is here, with nothing. He has come to God, in his pitiful state, with nothing. Yet he still has God.
We love the certainty, as did Job, of having earthly possessions and money. If we are lucky we have enough to feel really secure. But we prefer to trust in that security rather than in God. Trusting in God is uncertain and uncertainty is uncomfortable. We will do anything to avoid being uncomfortable. Yet here is Job, alone, without support, and learning to rely on God.
In previous blogs I have spoken of the danger of truly following God. I have spoken of the words of the Beaver in “the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” who, when asked if Aslan (aka Jesus) was safe, answered ‘no, but he is good’. Following Jesus is not a comfortable life of certainty. Although often we seek to make it that way. We gather in nice little church clubs and socialise and feel happy and complacent. But that is not following Jesus. This teaching for Job, took him out of his safe, comfortable life and into an uncertain existence. God was teaching him an important lesson. It was a real blessing. And this teaching is a blessing for us.
Do you have the courage to learn that lesson?
 

 


 
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Nan
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