May 29 — Job — Job 1-4. There is a lot of mystery regarding where the book of Job fits chronologically in history. Most scholars feel that he belongs in the ancient times of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Job was a real person, mentioned by Ezekiel (14:14) along with Noah and Daniel. The main idea of the book is trusting in God’s sovereignty and faithfulness during suffering. Many things that don’t make sense to us, make perfect sense from God’s infinitely greater perspective. We are given a glimpse of that perspective in the first chapters of Job. Although Job doesn’t see that, yet he continues to trust God. His pitiful “comforters” evaluate his situation from the distorted perspective of their own theology, which said that God allows bad things to happen only to sinful people. We live in a world of suffering. I visited two members of our adult Sunday class in the hospital the night before I wrote this, and my sister, Ruby, passed away the day before that. Today is Memorial Day in America when we honor fallen soldiers. How should we deal with suffering? The answer in Job is that we should trust that God, who is infinitely wise and loving, has a good purpose for what we are going through.
May 30 — Control — Job 5-8. Several years ago, I read “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. Here is something I found interesting that they shared regarding Job:
May 31 — His Righteousness — Job 9-12. As good as we might be in our own strength, we are lacking before the standard of a perfect God: “How can a man be in the right before God?” (9:2). Job lived before the substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son, so he must say, “Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy…” (9:15). We live after Christ’s sacrifice and know that as good as we can live through our own obedience, we are still sinners at the core who can only be considered righteous before God through possessing the perfect righteousness of Jesus. As the modern hymn addition to “Jesus Paid it All” says: “O praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!”
June 1 — Job Cycles — Job 13-16. To give us a better perspective of the structure of the book of Job, we see the three friends of Job presenting their comments in three cycles, always in the same order (except that Zophar retires before the third cycle!), and each usually answered by Job. We heard from Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar in chapters 4-14. The second cycle starts in our reading today and covers chapters 15-21. The third cycle follows that, ending with chapter 25. After a long response by Job (26-31), a fourth friend, Elihu, presents his rather arrogant arguments (32-37). God ends the book by answering Job with His divine perspective and restoring Job’s health, family and wealth.
June 2 — Seeing God — Job 17-20. Job gives a wonderful early expression of the expectation of life with God after death: “After my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (19:26 ESV). In contrast, Zophar sees Job as a wicked man, who, being punished by God, “will fly away like a dream and not be found; he will be chased away like a vision of the night” (20:8). What a different way of looking at the end of life! Many non-believers today see death as the end of everything that concerns them. The Christian, however, knows that his/her Redeemer lives (19:25) and that after this life, in a new body (19:26), we “shall see God.”
June 3 — Why? — Job 21-24. Job posed a question that reflects our human sense of fairness: “Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?” (21:7). It is like the question many challenging unbelievers ask today: “Why does God allow evil?” I would say that a primary answer involves patience and love. He gives them time to repent, “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). In today’s reading, I also discovered a good basis for Henrietta Mears’ motto of “No Bible? No breakfast!”: “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (23:12). This is a statement about priorities. Are you behind in your daily reading? Make it a priority! You can not only keep up, but you can catch up as well. It is not too late.
June 4 — Gaining Wisdom — Job 25-29. Job suggests two ways to gain wisdom: fear God and forsake evil. “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding” (28:28 ESV; ideas repeated in Prov. 1:7, 3:7, 9:10 and 16:6). One way is positive, and one is negative. Fearing God has both the ideas of respecting greatness and dreading punishment. In a way, God is both awesome and awful. Like the Christ-like lion Aslan in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Tales, God is “good” but not “safe.” We fear God in worship, acknowledging His greatness; we fear God in obedience, avoiding His indignation.