Sunday, September 2, 2012

Job 21

Today's reading in our daily plan is Job 21. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • In this chapter, Job responds to Zophar’s words.
  • In his response Job showed his friends that he listened to what they had said. He frequently quotes them or alludes to their words. (for example, compare 20:11 with 21:7; 18:19 with 21:8; 18:5 with 21:17; 5:4 with 21:19; and 20:4 with 21:29.)
  • It’s interesting that Job asked his friends to be patient while he spoke. Obviously, Job anticipated their interruption again. Job even said they could continue to mock him if they would just hear him out.
  • Job was in agony in this chapter because he could see no way to explain his suffering apart from God himself inflicting it. To understand that we have to keep Job's words in context. Jesus had not yet come, and people’s understanding of God’s nature was limited. However, in context, we can understand how terrifying this must have been for Job. Job thought he had a relationship with God and understood how it worked. Job’s entire theological foundation was shaking. Job’s fear is itself proof that he was not indifferent or arrogant towards God, as his friends had previously said.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • The thing was that both Job and his friend’s assumptions about God were leading them further away from who God really is. I wonder how often that happens to us today? However, Job didn’t pretend to understand while his friends did. This is why Job still had humility while his friends' responses were aloof and uppity.
  • Their advice may have been well-meant -- even artistically stated -- but inaccurate. No doubt a large part of the problem was their academic commitment to a viewpoint they refused to alter: that sin brings suffering, and suffering is evidence of sin. This is not always the case. Job gave room to admit that his knowledge of God may have been defective, and his friends arrogantly did not. It was precisely his high view of God that was presenting Job problems. Those of us with a similarly loving view of God can appreciate the depth of the issue facing Job. Truth be told, the answers still evade us. We often still wonder about the apparent injustice present in the world. Our only answer (as incomplete as it may be) is that the world is broken due to our sins, and we must wait and trust God to right all the wrongs in his timing.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • What “issues” do you have with God today? Do you think that maybe you and I (like Job) have issues with things that we simply don’t fully understand? If that is a possibility (and I don’t see how it can’t be), wouldn’t it be wise of us to trust God? Take time today and present your confusions to God. Also, tell him that you will trust his ways over your own understanding.