Bible reading for weekend February 12-14
Feb 12 -- Job 11 and Romans 15
Feb 13 -- Job 12 and Romans 16
Feb 14 -- Job 13 and 1 Corinthians 1
"With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding." (Job 12:13)
ZOPHAR ZOGOOD? Sorry, I couldn't resist the word play! Zophar, the third of Job's counselors, now answers Job, with the same harshness as the others speak to Job (11:1-3). There is no "gentle and lowly of heart" here in Job's friends (Matt 11:29). Zophar's angle is that Job should admit that he has not truly suffered in the degree that human guilt deserves (11:4-11). Job in chapters 12 and 13 agrees in principle with what Zophar and the others are saying. Namely, God's wisdom is infinitely beyond us, and the wicked will most certainly be judged. Job's contention is that he wants to hear from God (who is silent at this point) as to the reason for his extreme suffering at this time and place, especially when he is not aware of serious guilt or unconfessed sin in his life. God will speak to Job eventually, and the answer won't be exactly what he's looking for, but will be what he needs to hear. Job believes God to be just, even though silent. Meanwhile, Zophar argues that if Job will turn from his sin and stupidity then his good life, filled with good things, will be returned to him (11:12-20). Job finds this advice of little use.
THE WILD DONKEY. One of the themes stated by Zophar, that of God's infinite wisdom and power, will be echoed in God's answer to Job later in the book. But Zophar's handling of that truth betrays his own lack of wisdom about Job's situation. The reference of the wild donkey (Heb., pereh, possibly a zebra) is cited by Zophar (11:2) and also later by God (39:5), as well as two other places in Job. This animal, like other examples from nature, is a creature that can provide lessons for the wise (cf Prov 30:24-28). But, as the Lord will say later, human knowledge even about creation (and its wild donkeys) is very limited. So perhaps the point we should see is that Zophar, in speaking a proverb about a wild donkey, doesn't even know about donkeys, much less about Job and his suffering!
SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. "Never are men's hearts in such a hopeless condition as when they are not sensible of their own sins." (J. C. Ryle) Many of us at the first reading of Job identify more with what Job's friends are saying, and agree less with Job's speeches, because they seem a bit self-righteous. Yet, Job in his pain is asking God for a reason for this immense suffering. He believes God is reasonable and wise. He is asking for justice from the God of justice. He disagrees with the popular wisdom expressed in the platitudes of his friends. He knows that something else is going on. Job's counselors have unexamined assumptions about God and how life works, and what they are saying in their contempt of Job is, "forsake your sin and you will again have God's favor and blessing in life", along with this implication, "...just like us". Job may be edging closer toward self-righteousness, but his friends are covered in it without knowing it. In calling out Job's stupidity (11:12), Zophar is unaware of his own. He is like the Pharisee looking down at others with superiority and contempt: "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger" (Matt 23:4; cf Luke 18:9-14).
"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)
WITH ONE VOICE GLORIFYING GOD (ch 15). Paul continues his point that we should accept one another and build up one another (vv 1-7; cf 14:1, 13, 19). The Scriptures -- here he's specifically thinking of the Old Testament, but the same principle applies to the New Testament -- were written to stimulate endurance and to give us encouragement. And it is these Scriptures that tell us that God called Gentiles together with the Jews into one body (vv 8-12). The goal is that we -- whether Jew or Gentile, whether strong in faith or weak -- may together glorify God. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, then the church also exists "that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v 6). Paul is encouraged by the maturity of the Roman believers and expresses his desire to visit them in the future (vv 14-33). Paul gives a benediction in verse 13, which we can also use as a prayer for others: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Who among your family and friends needs to abound in hope? Who needs to be filled with peace, joy, faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit?
PEOPLE (ch 16). Notice how many people Paul knew and appreciated. He says something about each and commends them by name. Some he knew from previous travels and missions, like Priscilla and Aquila (v 3). Others he may have known through friends, correspondence, or reputation. He knew and cared about many people! He gives one last call to keep sound doctrine and to be on guard against false teachers (vv 17-18). A wonderful consolation for the early church, as well as for us today, is that Satan will soon be destroyed (vv 19-20). It may seem like a long period that the serpent has been thrashing about, but for any of us, and for the history of the church, it is only a short season of trial. The evil one who blinds, deceives, oppresses, and dehumanizes mankind, and who with hateful spite accuses, tempts, attacks, and seeks to destroy God's children will one day be thrown into the lake of fire forever (Rev 20:10). Forever! This is great, great comfort! Paul's closing benediction (vv 25-27) highlights several themes he has been writing about in his letter to the Romans: the power of the gospel, God's once-hidden plan now being proclaimed to the nations, its result in obedient faith, and the wisdom of God that brought it all to pass.
NEXT POST I'll write about 1 Corinthians (I promise), which you will begin reading this weekend.
SOME RANDOM PRE-WEEKEND STUFF...
-- As you ponder the book of Job, enjoy listening to "Job Suite" by Michael Card. (Thanks, Judy!)
-- Happy Valentines Day! I found this post very moving.
-- "I'm not fighting cancer, I'm fighting sin." A recent interview with Tim Keller on a variety of topics.
About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.