5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…you will have a covenant…” Job 5:23a

Eliphaz concluded his response to Job’s lament by listing the benefits of those who dwell in the secret place of The Most High – perhaps an inspiration to King David many years later (read Psalm 91):

  • “You will be protected from the lash of the tongue…”

    “…and need not fear when destruction comes.” (v.21)

  • “You will laugh at destruction and famine…”

    “…and need not fear the beasts of the earth.” (v.22)

  • “…you will have a covenant with the stones of the field…”

  • “…the wild animals will be at peace with you.” (v.23)

  • “You will know that your tent is secure…”

  • “…you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.” (v.24)

  • “You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth.” (v.25)

  • “You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.” (v.26)

In this list, God breathed into Eliphaz some significant observations. Notice the first benefit Eliphaz spoke to Job was being protected from the power of another’s tongue. The human tongue has the ability to bless and to curse (read Proverbs 15:4; James 3:12), and Eliphaz listed it first, before the tragedy of destruction by man or nature. In other words, the tongue can do a world of damage, which Eliphaz declared as powerless before The One Who made the heaven’s and the earth.

Eliphaz also gave Job a glimpse of heaven when he described the absence of fear and presence of peace between humans, wild animals, and the beasts of the field (vv. 22 – 23). In Heaven, the children of God will also enjoy the benefit of a wonderful reunion with family and the descendants from which their life sprang into being (v.25).

In this prophetic statement we also have a glimpse of The Messiah. Eliphaz asserted that Job would have a covenant with the stones of the field (v.22)! Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus entered Jerusalem to shouts of praise and adoration by crowds who threw palm branches upon the path ahead of Him and the donkey upon which He rode, shouting, “Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees demanded Jesus rebuke the crowds, only for Jesus to respond by saying if those praises stopped the very stones surrounding the city would cry out (read Luke 19:37-40). Job’s covenant with the stones is a covenant with all creation which bows to the authority and command of The King of Kings.

Eliphaz described the death of God’s beloved as grain gathered at harvest – fully matured and bearing fruit… full of life-giving power (v.26)! He declared all the benefits as fully observed by his friends and himself, and instructed Job to apply them to himself (v.27). Just as Eliphaz’s words were meant to encourage Job, allow them to encourage your faith walk in our time. Look for the blessings of belonging to God in this life and the next!

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…I would appeal to God…” Job 5:8a

It seems Eliphaz would have been better to start his response to Job’s lament with chapter five, instead of charging head-strong into the accusations found in chapter four. Did he regret his previous words? Whatever-the-case, we have a beautiful description of God as our advocate and defender through Eliphaz’s poetic depiction of Heaven’s King.

After stating an obvious universal truth that man is born to trouble (see yesterday’s vignette), Eliphaz offers another obvious word of advice, stating: “…I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before Him. Then, in a moment of inspiration, he dispatches one of the most memorable descriptions of God found in the Bible. Eliphaz was trying to boost Job’s faith by reminding him of the following characteristics of God:

  • “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” (v.9)

  • “He bestows rain on the earth, He sends water upon the countryside.” (v.10)

  • “The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (v.11)

  • “He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.” (v.12)

  • “He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away.” (v.13)

    “Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night.” (v.14)

  • “He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; He saves them from the clutches of the powerful.” (v.15)

    “So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.” (v.16)

  • “…He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.” (v.18)

When we appeal to God, we are doing what comes naturally to obtain what God accomplishes supernaturally. When a person of faith appeals to God, s/he does the possible, to see God do the impossible; doing the ordinary through faith in Him, revealing God’s power to accomplish the extraordinary.

Today’s passage challenges us to consider our personal view of God. Is He able to meet your most desperate need? Are you confident in His ability to work on your behalf? Pray to Him in faith and lay your life needs before Him, trusting Him to work things out for you.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…man is born to trouble…” Job 5:7a

As Eliphaz continued in his ‘diatribal’ response to Job’s lament, one gains clear insight to Eliphaz’s world-view and religiosity. There are parts of his first response which ring true, while the tone and absence of grace reflect a more judgmental position. The Hebrew word for “holy ones” (v.1b) is “Kedoshim”, and may have alluded to all those in Job’s  faith community who had abandoned Job in his time of need, though we have no reason as to why such would happen.:

“Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn?”

Eliphaz’s statement does not consider a personal God, full of grace; Who is accessible by merely calling out to Him in prayer. Job’s friend then pours salt into his emotional wounds by implying Job acted foolishly, and that the death of Job’s adult children could be directly blamed on Job (vv. 2 – 4).

All of Eliphaz’s statements speak of the immediate instead of the ultimate will of God. Surely, even in his day, Job understood God desires to bless His children; and while evil men may rule for a day, a time of judgment and reckoning will come when God will extend His eternal reward to His children, while bringing doom to workers of evil.

Eliphaz clearly understands that each day has enough trouble in itself (read Matthew 6:34). In today’s five understandable words, Eliphaz recognizes this universal truth. People all over the world understand the blessings of health, home, and happiness being temporary. Days of trouble come when one least expects it.

The question for us today is: Are we ready for the moment trouble will come? Will we fall under the pressure of disaster and tragedy? Or will we continue to hope in God through faith? What side of the trouble equation will we be found on when that day of trouble comes?

MAN IS BORN TO TROUBLE

We may as well acknowledge it… and prepare our hearts and minds for it.

Have a blessed day…

 (Revised 10/11/2019)

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…my ears caught a whisper…” Job 4:12b

Being quite familiar with Job’s piety, Eliphaz asserted that Job’s blameless ways should be the anchor of hope for his future (v.4b). Then Eliphaz’s tone took an about-face. He described his ‘life observation’ of evil people reaping their just deserts, implying that Job was only getting what he deserved (vv. 8 – 11). Eliphaz posed the assumption after first confronting Job with this question:

“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?” (v.7)

Eliphaz transparently revealed his world view: he believed good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. His unsolicited counsel was asking Job to consider himself or his children having done something evil. Eliphaz then described a disquieting dream when his ears heard a whisper from a spirit. The spirit seemed to speak wisdom, asking:

“Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (v.17)

The spirit continued with the following scenario:

“If God places no trust in His servants, if He charges His angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! Between dawn and dusk, they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever. Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?” (vv. 19 – 20)

Eliphaz’s dream reflected his familiarity of spiritual oral history – including the fallen angels. Eliphaz challenged Job once again, asking, “Call if you will, but who will answer you?” (v.5:1) Such a question suggests one being so compromised as to be unredeemable. Eliphaz seemed to already have the jury’s verdict on Job’s spiritual condition.

Have you ever come across someone who could mix just enough knowledge of the Bible with a distorted world view to make unfounded conclusions on a person or perspective? Such people are quick to push the buttons of others – arriving upon the scene with accusations to discredit and disqualify another. It happens in churches and communities across the globe. The Bible describes satan as having an accusing spirit – being the father of lies (read John 8:44, 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 12:10). In fact, that’s how the whole thing started: satan accusing God of surrounding Job in such a way as to never allow Job to be tested. Perhaps the spirit in Eliphaz’s dream may have been a visit from the accuser.

Eliphaz continued with his diatribe, which we will look into tomorrow, Lord willing. For now, suffice it to say that we are all fallen creatures loved with infinite, inconceivable love by The One Who knows us intimately.

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…who can keep from speaking?” Job 4:2b

Job had three friends who sat by him silently for seven days and nights. Job rose from his posture of grief and spoke a long lament over his life situation. His friend, Eliphaz, was the first to respond. God designed within every man and woman certain traits. For example, most women have a strong sense of care-giving, while most men are wired as protectors and defenders. This is not to say men cannot be care-givers or women cannot be protectors, only that men and women have different perspectives and inclinations. As the old saying goes: women are from Venus and men are from Mars.

That being said, men are ‘fixers’, feeling helpless at times of distress without providing a solution or fix to a dilemma. Eliphaz was the first to “break”. He could stand it no longer… his world view was clearly expressed through his diatribe, seeing the human experience as weighed by good and evil deeds. It seems that he asked permission to speak, stating:

“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?” (v.2a)

However, Eliphaz bullied his position with today’s five understandable words. He began to provide unsolicited instruction on how to deal with his grief. He chastised Job by reminding him how others had been comforted by Job’s encouraging words and care (vv. 3 – 4), only for Job to now be discouraged and dismayed over his continuing state of hardship (v.5). Eliphaz pressed further by asking the following:

“Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?”

To us, Eliphaz’s instruction sounds perfectly suited to the occasion. However, there were two things wrong with it: first, Job never asked for a patent solution to his pain; secondly, Eliphaz ‘just-world’ view simply isn’t true. Bad things do happen to good people. Good people stand for good causes and often die for those causes. Countless souls have died on battlefields that were sopped in their blood – many who had lived good, holy lives.

How should this passage speak to us today? Believers should:

  • be just as quick to come to the side of one in distress;

  • sacrifice just as much as Job’s friends did in getting to the one in need;

  • remain faithful in providing essential care and comfort;

  • avoid trying to explain the circumstances.

Though Eliphaz had good intentions, and perhaps provided an accurate assessment of Job’s situation, his world-view was somewhat distorted (which we will see further proof of tomorrow).

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…those who long for death…” Job 3:21

The final section of Job’s lament exposed a pitiful existence for many: “…those who long for death that does not come…”. Those in an extended chapter of suffering know all too well what Job is describing. He begins with a question of why and ends with a declaration about the state of his existence. Here’s how he presented his thoughts:

  • First, he asked why light is given to those in misery and life to the soul imbittered by suffering (v.20). In other words, to those in suffering, another morning is another day of agony. Someone in this chronic state of affliction look forward to an end to the personal torment. For this reason alone, the Faith-Walker should be quick to sympathize and offer words of consolation and prayers for relief. God will offer relief in His way and in His time.

  • Job further elaborated on the persistent pain through today’s five understandable words, adding those who identify with his pain search for death more than for hidden treasure. This statement stands in stark contrast with David’s suffering, as David searched the ancient texts for his comfort and strength. David’s son, Solomon, asserted that one should seek understanding, as if seeking hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:3-4). The prophet Isaiah conveyed these words from the God of Heaven: “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord…” (Isaiah 45:3) Isaiah went on, in what could address Job’s situation, explaining God’s control and purpose for all things in each person’s life. Jesus compared The Kingdom of Heaven to finding hidden treasure in a field (Matthew 13:44). Perhaps, Job’s statement of looking for death as if searching for hidden treasure could reflect one finally reaching Heaven’s gate.

  • Job asserted that those in perpetual suffering are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave (v.22). Perhaps they truly are filled with gladness… knowing the joy of seeing God’s face and the relief He offers through death. This line of thinking can lead to very complex issues engaged in contemporary society, which I will not address at this point.

  • Another question posed in Job’s lament was: “Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (v.23) This question is impossible to answer… except by God Himself (though we will not get to that part of Job’s story for a long time, yet.) Job felt invisible to the world… possibly thinking no-one cared. He vented his frustration through sighing and groaning. The sighs took the place of food (v.24a); an accurate depiction of depression – when people loose weight by lack of appetite. His groans would pour out like water: a steady stream of emptying oneself of life (v.24b). Those who minister to the severely depressed must understand the enemy of hopelessness, and be willing to hear the groans and sighs, for they must be expressed – it is a form of self-soothing on many dimensions.

Job concluded his lament by confessing his one short-coming (and possibly his sin):

“What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (vv. 25 – 26)

These are very transparent words. Job admitted that though he prayed for God’s intervention, he did not pray in complete faith. Is this conjecture on my part? I don’t think so. Job echoed his fear in his restatement of his nagging dread… and because of it, he did not have the internal peace that passes understanding; though it would come later.

Life has a way of throwing one in the “heavy-duty” wash cycle, creating a dizzying perspective. Oftentimes, this extended chapter of life can lead one to believe there is no hope for the future. However, with the scientific advances in our time, hope could be just around the corner. As people of The Promise, Christians are especially equipped to share in one’s sorrow and joys. It is necessary for real community to exist. Without those who will share the burden of hurt or suffering, life can become extremely sorrowful and void.

What does Job’s lament teach us today? To allow one to express their hurt, hopelessness, groans and sighs… and to be there to hold them through the pain. To some, that’s the only Jesus they will ever see.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“Why did I not perish…?” Job 3:11a

Please forgive my neglecting to post yesterday. You see, I am in Nevada for a week, caring for my grandson-by-marriage. He is an adorable eight-year-old boy who has won the hearts of my wife and I… as well as our families. Anyway, needless to say, my life has been in hyper-drive. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to keep up with an eight-year-old! So, here is the second part of Job’s lament:

Seeking to find the words for reflecting his deep anguish, Job first described in several ways why he wished he had never been conceived so that the day of his birth would have never happened. Job then stated he wished he had perished at birth – dying immediately after delivery (v.11).

In anguish, even contesting the goodness of one’s mother is not considered sacred, as Job reflected in his words: “Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed?” (v.12) Yet, one of the best blessings Job ever received in life was having a mother anticipating the joy of motherhood – responsibly caring for him as an infant. It is an honor of the highest order, bringing life into this world; partnering with The Creator in introducing to mankind another soul made in His image.

Job reasoned that had he died during or after delivery, he would never have experienced the turmoil of lost wealth, work and family, and be at peace in the grave. He worded it this way:

“For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and counselors of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, with rulers who had gold, who filled their houses with silver.” (vv. 13 – 15)

Not satisfied with the notion of dying at birth, Job added the blessing of being still-born – never seeing the light of day (v.16). Had he been still-born, Job would have joined those resting from earthly labors, listing them in the following manner:

  • The wicked who cease from their turmoil;

  • The weary who find rest;

  • The captive who get to be at ease and be freed from their slavery;

  • The small and the great all must face the reality of death.  (vv. 17 – 19)

Obviously, Job had spent much time developing his thoughts on the advantages of death. What does this passage teach us? Primarily, that death is an appointment every person must face. To those who have experienced life, death may be a fearful thing; however, to those who are in misery, death may be a blessing.

My sister five years younger than I passed away in 2001 from brain cancer and the treatment of it. She suffered through three surgeries, chemo and radiation treatments, the loss of her mobility and many days of humiliation that those who depend completely on others experience. Though her husband, her siblings, and those who cared for her tried to make her as comfortable as possible, I’m convinced she may have preferred the peace of death over her suffering.

It’s quite painful for the ones who love and care for those in suffering, though the afflicted one surely bears the weight of the burden… attacked day after day by pain and torment. The knowledge of this should motivate us to pray for those in pain: for their relief from emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual trouble. We should also support those who are in such a pitiful state through our financial philanthropy, encouragement, and by making an effort to understand the hardship.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…may that night be barren…” Job 3:7a

After the seven days of sharing silent sorrow with his friends, Job exposed the weakness of his faith when he cursed the day he was born. Is it possible that he had come to a personal breaking point, wishing he had never been born? Anyone could understand it, if he did.  He was quite thorough in describing the depth of his despair:

  • “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’” (v.3);

  • He said the day of his birth should have turned into darkness and wished God would not care about it; even to the point that, “…no light shine upon it.” (v.4);

  • Job wished for a cloud to settle over the day of his birth – that thick darkness would seize it – so much so that blackness would overwhelm its light (v.5);

  • Job was so distraught that he wished his birthday be omitted from the calendar (v.6);

  • In fact, if he could place a curse on his birthday, Job would make the night “barren” so no shouts of joy could ever be heard in it (v.7);

  • Job invited others to join him in cursing the day of his birth, comparing those doing so as dragon slayers and whale hunters, being courageous enough to participate in delighting over a day’s demise (v.8);

  • His exasperation led to wishing the morning stars of his birthday become dark so that the first rays of dawn are never seen (v.9);

  • All those curses were spoken by Job because his conception wasn’t prevented, which would have hidden the troubles from his eyes (v.10).

This is more than a personal pity-party, these are the thoughts of a broken heart articulating the desire for the pain to stop. Perhaps he thought his prayers for such had gone unheard. He had held it in for so long; as a man he may have wanted his despairing wife to witness his strength. But it was all for naught; for he, too, reached the end of his personal strength. Despair was all that was left… and perhaps, just perhaps those desperate words may move the heart of God.

This passage paints a vivid picture of a man who might very well be completely broken and desperate for a change. Most people can understand how one may not be able to make sense of losing one’s children, home, possessions, business, and then suffer even more humiliation and pain through possibly what we know now as a severe case of shingles. It all came crashing down on him.

Why would God include such dialogue in His Word? Why would He preserve such talk for generations of faith-walkers to read? I believe that God respects and admires truth. There is no attempt to hide the reality of devastation… bad things do happen to good people. One strength of God’s Word is that it presents stories of both evil and good, sadness and joy, weakness and strength. Believers who study God’s Word are fully informed of how God works all things out for the good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (read Romans 8:28).

So, how is this passage to direct us today? Primarily, we can know and accept that God understands our circumstances and our pain. He has not left us. He is still for us. He has a plan and we can trust Him to work it out – even if that plan includes pain or death. Our perspective can rise above our pain by looking forward to our heavenly home and anticipating the joy and peace we will find there.

Trust God in your time of pain… and don’t pretend to be super-human. You can be just as real as Job was… with a better perspective, thanks to the life of Job. It’s OK to cry… God hears you.

Have a blessed day…

 

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…they began to weep aloud…” Job 2:12b

Friends are a blessing, especially during times of crisis. The old saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” is quite true. Job had three close friends that heard about his calamity. They agreed to meet on a certain day to go to Job and offer him their moral support by sympathizing for him (v.11).

Once they arrived at Job’s home, they barely recognized him when they saw him from a distance. Job must have been such a sad sight that they began to weep aloud. So they tore their clothes and sprinkled dust on their heads, which in their day was customary to demonstrate grief and mourning. Job’s friends came next to him and sat on the ground with him for seven entire days. During that time, no one spoke a word, for they could see the magnitude of Job’s suffering, and at such times words may often seem shallow. Yes, just being there with him demonstrated their love for him.

True friends know very well the importance of being present at a time of need. One’s presence conveys a strong message of caring, as well as the value of the friendship. One can easily applaud Job’s friends for their sensitivity, sympathy and devotion. They were not about to let their friend slip into the ‘old friends file’.

We live in a disposable society. We generate more garbage than any other time in history. We make trash because we consume so much. We have appetites for food, wealth, work advancement, success, and much more. Some have appetites for recognition, touting a friend list of thousands… and perhaps they truly care for each other… but will they be there for each other – can they be there for each other? Sadly, our culture is often quick to dispose of past friendships too quickly. We do not allow for full venting of one’s reasons by shutting down avenues of communication. Part of the story of Job is reminding us today that real friends make the sacrifice to be there for each other.

Jesus is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother. He is the Friend that took the penalty for our sins, and Who is as close as the mention of His name in prayer – when we present to Him all of life’s concerns: our troubles, doubts, joys, and needs. He is the only One Who is able to sympathize for us completely, and Who is readily available to draw near to us as we draw near to Him.

As much as you are able to be, be a true friend to those you know are your friends, and be there for them, if at all possible, in their time of need.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…holding on to your integrity?” Job 2:9b

As if talking in today’s vernacular, these five words from Job’s wife show an attitude of hopelessness. Her full query spoke like this: “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (v.9a-c) Job’s wife reflected the conclusion many come to have after going through difficulty: what good does living lives fully devoted to God if it doesn’t lead to a life of blessing and increase?

Job, however, would have none of it. His reply was direct, loving, and wise. He spoke the truth in love when he said, “You are talking like a foolish woman.” (v.10a) Job then provided a measure of wisdom with his words of correction: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (v.10b) Job demonstrated a faith that understands the precept of God’s will – that God is in control. The writer surmises that Job endured the suffering, refuting his wife’s exasperation with their life and did not sin in his conversation (v.10c).

It is painfully obvious that Job’s wife was not on the same spiritual page as her husband. It must have been painful for her to watch Job suffer, and she saw no end in sight to the devastation and ruin. This was not what she had enrolled for in the blessing of marriage. They had rejoiced in the births of their children, enjoyed great blessing and wealth, and known the respect of others from their region… only to see it all go away. When one member of a couple suffers, they both suffer – and Job’s wife is a very real character in this drama who is often forgotten.

Let me speak to married couples for just a moment. There are times when a couple will not be on the same page in life spiritually, emotionally, physically, and even motivationally (just to name a few). For this reason, couples need to regularly articulate their joys, successes, failures, and fears to each other; and they need to keep the lines of communication open to encourage and feed each other emotionally and spiritually. Spouses who pick each other apart are actually picking apart the fabric of the relationship, which over time may unravel. Though Job’s conversation with his wife may seem curt, it was one that was surely spoken in love.

When going through difficult times, hold on to your integrity by trusting God and encouraging those who may be walking with you through a difficult chapter of life.

Have a blessed day…

 

O, no! Though I wrote a vignette yesterday, I neglected to post it! I'm sorry.

5 Understandable Words for Today (9/24/2019):

“…he is in your hands…” Job 2:6b

So God permitted satan to put Job to the test… with one exception: God directed satan to spare Job’s life. Was God still in control? Yes, and in having control we discover an eternal truth: God had a plan for Job beyond the pain of losing his family and all he had, and beyond the test he was about to experience.

As soon as satan went out from God’s presence, he went to work afflicting Job with painful sores from head to toe (v.7). The only way Job found some relief from his suffering was by scrapping the sores with a piece of broken pottery (v.8). Isn’t it odd that sometimes relief from pain comes by causing further pain? Like pressing on a bruise or popping one’s knuckles.

Though God maintained control, he temporarily placed the circumstances of Job’s life in satan’s hands. Satan loves to see God’s people suffer. Perhaps, it’s because his time is soon coming for his suffering and destruction. In any case, one of satan’s maneuvers is to bring suffering to those God loves. Why? Because pain and suffering can only be endured for so long before one’s will breaks, and satan was determined to break Job’s will – his will to live, and his will to live intentionally for God.

Satan is opposed to everything God stands for:

  • Where God grants favor, satan stirs fear;

  • God blesses; satan blasphemes;

  • God expresses the truth of His love; satan perpetuates only lies;

  • God extends a peace that passes understanding; satan seeks to disrupt that tranquility;

This passage may touch a nerve within you. If so, remember that God has a plan for your life after the test is over. God is still in control. Don’t give satan the benefit of watching you surrender your will to the pain. Instead, offer praise to God for granting you the strength to endure through it. God has enough confidence in you to allow it.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…he will surely curse You…” Job 2:5c

Like a kid saying, “No fair!”, satan’s retort to God went like this: “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out Your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse You to Your face.” (vv. 4-5) Like a child, satan always wants to be in control… and he never actually gets to be in charge.

Being exiled from Heaven didn’t teach the accuser anything, did it? Satan believes a person is unable to be separated from self-preservation, no matter how full of faith one appears to be – that when bad things happen to good people, those good people will abandon their faith in God. Satan’s assumption points to the cross. The very test of God’s Son was to willingly be executed for the sins of mankind. Yes, Jesus prayed to let the cup of self-sacrifice pass from Him. Yet, He completed the mission He was sent to do – performing the one act that could restore mankind to God… His death on a cross.

Yes, Job’s life – as a type of Christ – pointed to the real Messiah, Who was put to the same test. Jesus endured the cruelty of a severe beating, the mockery of a fixed trial, the rejection by His own race, and death on a cross. Jesus, like Job, remained true to God’s purpose. Jesus was fully man, tempted in all ways such as is common to man. Jesus was also fully God, He had been in on the discussion of redemption from the very beginning. Jesus even knew the outcome before it happened, predicting His own death and resurrection (read Matthew 16:21, 17:22; Mark 8:31; Luke 13:33).

There is an abiding joy every Christ follower experiences, just as Christ knew the joy set before Him – the joy of a king’s coronation. The Christian’s joy is knowing the welcome s/he will receive upon entering the court of Heaven’s King. Every soul who places faith in Christ will be tested just as Job. Will you keep the joy set before you or will you curse God to His face?

Trust Him and have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“From roaming through the earth…” Job 2:2b

Satan’s reply to God’s question hadn’t changed either… satan is a roamer, and he is roaming the earth like a lion, seeking one to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan likes easy targets; which is why Job was not considered, for Job’s faith and devotion to God was already on record. However, in verse three, God seemed to get in satan’s face by touting his servant Job (each attribute is presented in five words!):

  • “Have you considered my servant”: the same opening description of Job as before, exposing satan’s method of targeting the weak (v.3a) – Job had evidently not been considered because of the strength of his faith.

  • “….there is none like him…” : again, the words are following the pattern established in God’s first description of Job, a superlative Believer among the sons of men.

  • “…he is blameless and upright…”: pointing to The One Who lived a perfect life, Job is the embodiment of everything God applauds; there were others in the Bible who are described as upright, but Job stands out as unique in his time.

  • “…a man who fears God…”: reminding satan of his impending doom, these words mirror one who understands an eternal perspective, thus equipping him to deny temptation and flee from evil.

  • “…he still maintains his integrity…”: this last phrase is an addition to the original description of Job, for Job passed the test of authentic faith, demonstrated at the end of chapter one.

God’s description of Job provides five litmus tests for every Believer:

  1. God will present us as worthy to be tested to show our true character.

  2. True Believers are set apart from the world, being in it – though not of it.

  3. Those who walk by faith are to be Jesus to the world – blameless and upright. When a Believer grasps this reality, it brings a huge paradigm shift in the way s/he lives and interacts with others.

  4. True Believers have an eternal perspective… they fear God more than man or satan; and this frame of reference empowers one to overcome tests of temptation.

  5. Those who claim the name of Christ develop spiritual disciplines which build a reputation upon which others can count on; for God’s will is to shape each Believer into the pattern of His Son, Jesus Christ. When one maintains her/his integrity, that one is displaying a mature faith which points to God’s faithfulness and power.

God uses those available to Him to prove His Lordship and wisdom, both in Heaven and on earth. We needn’t be surprised if God were to choose us as one to be considered on the same basis as Job after developing the spiritual disciplines to be a mature, dependable soul who walks by faith.

As satan roams the earth, does he consider you an easy target or an impossible one?

Have a blessed day…

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“Where have you come from…” Job 2:2

Sound familiar? It should… these same five words appear in 1:7, when God addressed satan during another heavenly tribunal. It is during those celestial times when the angels present themselves before God – a time of giving an account for their actions. God did not deviate from His pattern established in the first chapter: He is in control; the angels are presenting themselves to Him (The Ruler); and God has the right to give an inquisition… not because He doesn’t already know the answer. God is not surprised or ever caught unknowing about anything. He is omniscient, and He knows about our tomorrows before we ever get there.

There are hermeneutical (the study of interpretation) principles at work here that should be noted:

  • The rule of precedent: God established the pattern at an earlier time and does not deviate from that pattern (though, as God, He has every right and authority to do so);

  • The rule of unity: when seen in reference to the first chapter, there is a unity of presentation and pattern;

  • The rule of inference: the fact that God is in control is reasonably implied by the angels presenting themselves to God and not the other way around.

From these few verses, we learn that history repeats itself in both eternal and linear time. In other words, God’s pattern of heavenly appointments was both predictable and unavoidable. In linear time we see cyclic ‘appointments’ in the seasons, the tides, the moon, and even in our personal lives. God is not only interested in the details of our lives; He is intimately familiar with them.

For that reason alone, one should strive to appear before God (meet with Him) in a daily quiet time – devoted completely to studying His Word and speaking with Him (praying to Him and listening for His voice to guide us). The discipline of meeting with God starts with an appointment – one must schedule the time and keep it. By not doing so, an implicit message is being sent to God which denies Him access to your heart and mind, the essential parts God uses to bring transformation into one’s life.

WHERE HAVE YOU COME FROM?

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…he fell to the ground…” Job 1:20b

In the span of a single day, the greatest man in the East (v.3) lost his livestock to a band of raiders who stole them, killing his ranch-hands (vv. 13 – 15). Then a catastrophic storm or volcano caused “fire” to fall from the sky, burning up all of Job’s sheep and the shepherds keeping them (v.16). Making bad matters worse, another band of raiders made-off with his camels, killing all the servants who cared for them (v.17). Job’s loss of his livestock, sheep, camels, and their caretakers reflects the complete loss of his wealth and ability to live and prosper. However, the worst was yet to come: his children were killed in a horrific weather tragedy while gathered at their oldest brother’s home (vv. 18 – 19).

Can one even begin to imagine the enormity of loss this man experienced? Job had to have known the full spectrum of human emotion in times of loss: anger at the marauders; devastated by his material ruin; shock from the casualties of his devoted servants; and enormous grief over the news of his children’s death. Today’s five understandable words describe Job’s reaction to the weight of all this bad news: he dropped to his knees… in worship (v.20). He didn’t collapse into an emotional heap of hopelessness. Instead, he continued to live intentionally, knowing the best place to be in all the world is in God’s loving hands… even during times of devastation and loss. Bad things do happen to good people.

Job provided a well-grounded (excuse the pun) spiritual perspective:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and The Lord has taken away; may the name of The Lord be praised.” (v.21)

Job’s response was one of faith, never blaming God for wrongdoing (v.22). Job’s life teaches us today to trust God in every moment and for every tomorrow. We cannot know what a day will bring. Trying to anticipate what tomorrow may bring could lead one into insanity. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace and a sound mind (1 Corinthians 14:33). God’s Word assures us that He will keep those in perfect peace whose minds trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).

In times of blessing and in times of loss, worship The Lord for His lovingkindness, His perfect will, and His grace to be sufficient for every moment.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…do not lay a finger.” Job 1:12c

A decision was pronounced by The Almighty One – one which, to most, seems inconceivable. God allowed satan access to everything belonging to Job. The only limitation given to satan was to not lay a finger on Job. When satan is given access to one of God’s servants, satan uses that opportunity for tempting that servant into sin. Where satan tempts, God tests.

The tests never stop. God is always seeking those whose hearts are passionate for Him (read 2 Chronicles 16:9; John 4:23). He tests the genuineness of one’s faith, and He may do so at any time (read Deuteronomy 8:2-5; Isaiah 48:10; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7, 4:12-13; Revelation 2:10). Not all tests are a byproduct of the access satan is given to a Believer, though every temptation aimed at a Believer becomes a test of one’s devotion and steadfastness to God and His ways.

The obvious dynamic, once again, is the control Almighty God has over the drama getting ready to unfold. God is not limited by time and space; He is as intimately aware of our future as He is with our past and present. God had confidence in Job… and He has confidence in you! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith designed to make you an overcomer (read 1 Corinthians 4:7-9; Hebrews 12:3; 1 Peter 5:10). Trust in His power to equip you for anything you will face in life. His grace is sufficient to get you through each moment (read 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Remember, God limited satan and He will not test you beyond what you can bear (read I Corinthians 10:13).

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…he will surely curse You..” Job 1:11b

Many resist authority of any kind, refusing to be controlled by laws, mores, regulations and guidelines. There are three obvious influences of satan (whose name literally means, “Adversary”) and his imps of darkness: accusing, lying, and rebelling against authority. The Bible describes rebellion as witchcraft (read 1 Samuel 15:23)! Just as Jesus is the model of goodness and light, satan is the antithesis of righteousness and order. Satan’s mode of operation (MO) is disruption of God’s plan through division, lies and rebellion - opposing God at every turn. This is no secret to God now, and it was no surprise to God in Job’s time.

So satan challenged God’s appraisal of Job’s character, stating:

“Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”

This heavenly rebellion began in eternity past when satan was known in Heaven as Lucifer – the daystar! The name refers to the brightness we know from our own sun. Lucifer’s downfall was usurping God’s glory – seeking the glory and recognition given only to God. Revelation 12:4 – 9 describes how Lucifer was banished from heaven – taking a third of the angelic population with him! (Ezekiel 28:11-19 provides an excellent description of Lucifer before his fall. Isaiah 14:12-17 supports John’s vision of Lucifer’s fall.) Jesus even supported the story of Lucifer’s fall when He stated He saw satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:17-19). Lucifer’s name was changed to satan after being banished from Heaven, though satan is also referred to as: the serpent, The King of Tyre, the devil, Beelzebub, the ruler of this world, the father of lies, the evil one, a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, and the Great Dragon.

So, you see, this cosmic drama has been in action before the creation of the world. Satan was jealous of the way God had blessed Job, knowing such favor once in millennia past. We can see, however, how satan confirms to us today how God blesses and protects those who are faithful to Him: a protective “hedge” around Job, his family, and his business; and the blessing of his work – multiplying his ability to prosper. God desires good for His people (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28), and His desire is to bless the world through the blessings He provides to His people.

Satan’s challenge was centered totally on denying Job the benefits of God’s goodness and favor. Could Job continue his devotion to God, even if everything he enjoyed was taken from him? Would Job prove to be stalwart in faith, trusting God in times of destruction and desolation as much as he had in times of great blessing? This will be the focus of the rest of this story.

Thank God for His protective hedge… for the times God has protected you from harm or evil. Thank God for the blessings of your life, even the smallest ones. Know that satan wants to interrupt God’s efforts to connect to your heart. Perhaps we can better understand now Satan’s MO, and perhaps it will change the way we see the difficult times in life. God is able… trust Him.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“Have you considered my servant…” Job 1:8a

The day God convened a heavenly council, He asked satan a second question: Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8a-d)

There is no doubt, Job could be described as a type of Christ: blameless, a priest to his family, and there was no one on earth like him. The Lord Almighty, Who is full of truth, accurately described this servant of the most high. In essence, God was bragging on Job. Like a parent beaming with pride over one’s child, God lifted up Job’s reputation before satan – once known as Lucifer in Heaven, “the shining one or daystar” (Ezekiel 28:11-19. In fact, Paul warned that satan can masquerade as an angel of light (read 2 Corinthians 11:14). If satan is capable of any emotion, it must agitate him to no end to hear God tout the superior qualities of His servants.

Does God present your name with such confidence? The truth is, there is no one on earth like you! Do you fear God and shun evil? Are you blameless and upright? Many feel so tied to their past mistakes that they never break the cycle of reoccurring sin. Christ rose victorious over sin and death to empower the Faith-walker to overcome sin and live blamelessly. God delights in His children, and will place them right in the line of satan’s attacks for at least two reasons:

  1. To test them as fire tests or purifies iron (read Genesis 22:1-2; Exodus 16:14; Psalm 11:5; Isaiah 1:25; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2-3; James 1:2-3)

  2. To put satan in his place, just as God did here by lauding Job’s character.

Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is walking with us through each day. Place your confidence in His power to work all things out for our good, just as His confidence is placed in you to be an overcomer.

Have a blessed day…