Bible reading for February 22 -- 23
Feb 22 -- Job 22 and 1 Corinthians 9
Feb 23 -- Job 23 and 1 Corinthians 10
"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside." (Job 23:10-11)
"SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS..." (ch 22) Don't you hate it when you're trying to explain something and a listener jumps in to say, "What you're saying, then, is this..." and runs with your statement to arrive at some bizarre conclusion? (No, that's not what I'm saying!) If it hasn't happened to you, just read a few social media posts to see how that works! That's what Eliphaz is doing in his third speech to Job (chapter 22). First, he agrees with Zophar that Job must surely be mistreating the poor, though there's no evidence of that. Then he says, "But you say, 'What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness?'" (22:13) I don't see where Job said anything quite like that. Job is saying that God is silent, not that he doesn't see. Eliphaz is taking this to mean that Job thinks God doesn't know what's going on. These are two very different statements about suffering. Again, Eliphaz, like the other two "friends," believes that great suffering comes because of great guilt, applying that principle to individuals like Job. One big lesson here for us is to be sure we listen carefully to others so that we know what people are saying, or not saying, before we jump in and make conclusions. Are you a good listener?
GOD KNOWS THE WAY YOU TAKE (ch 23). Job affirms that, though he is personally in the dark about what's going on, he does believe God knows all, including Job's life, conduct, and future. God will listen to a reasonable defense. Job is, however, fearful of God's sovereignty and his decree, but knows that God's purposes must ultimately be good. Elisabeth Eliot, missionary and widow of Jim Eliot (who was killed on the mission field), once said, "God knows the way that you take; you don't know his." A good memory verse related to this is Deuteronomy 29:29. Also, Job's statement, "There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge" (23:7) points ahead to this wonderful truth in the NT about Jesus: "Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25; cf Heb 4:14-16). It is easier trusting an unknown future to God, who is now known to us through his Son Jesus!
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL (ch 9).The Greco-Roman thinkers of Paul's day tended to be enamored with speakers who excelled in philosophical content and polished delivery. Most top-rated teachers of that day demanded fees (or honoraria) and monetary support. They were professionals. The Apostle Paul gave his teaching freely, and this actually caused some of the more elite people to look down upon him. In chapter 9 Paul establishes his right to be financially supported in his ministry but that he himself gives up that right in order to make the gospel more freely accessible to all. He is so free that he has the freedom to not demand his rights! "I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings" (v 23). His mindset is that of an athlete (vv 24-27), who wants to subject all of himself and all of his life to the one goal of making Christ known. This freedom, and this discipline, is something that both the Corinthians then -- and we today -- truly need! Are you and I free enough to not demand all our rights? Are we free enough to pursue Christ with everything we have? (Note: what did Paul mean by being "disqualified" in verse 27? Read more about that here.)
WARNINGS FROM HISTORY (ch 10). Paul teaches that believers are not under the OT law but neither are they lawless, being under the law of Christ (9:20-21). This chapter provides a warning to the Corinthians to not presume upon a mere association with Christ (10:1-12). He teaches that the Old Testament stories are given as examples and warnings for us, so that we might not crave evil or fall into sin. (The Bible is not written TO us directly, and so we must understand Scripture first in its original context; but it is written FOR us, for our instruction and edification.) Verse 13 gives a precious promise: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." This is a good verse to memorize.
ALL FOR HIS GLORY. In the latter part of chapter ten Paul again addresses the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols (cf 8:1-13; Rom 14). This was a major problem in building unity between Jewish and Gentile believers. Even though the meat itself was not at issue, yet, openly participating in something that appears to reflect fellowship with false gods was a bad thing. We are to do the things which build up others and bring glory to God: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God..." (10:31-32). This should be the guiding principle in our Christian living: is what I'm doing being done for the honor and glory of God, and for the good of others, in order that God's goodness might be revealed to the world? Many professing Christians today, as in Paul's day, want to exercise all their rights and freedoms, pursuing their own popularity and advancement, rather than serving others and working to advance the gospel for the glory of God. What would your daily life look like if every action were tested by the question, "does this bring glory to God and good to others?"
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.