Bible reading for February 24 -- 25
Feb 24 -- Job 24 and 1 Corinthians 11
Feb 25 -- Job 25-26 and 1 Corinthians 12
"Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?" (Job 26:14)
TO A MAN WITH A HAMMER (ch 24). Job's friends have one paradigm they're working with: if you are suffering, then you are being judged and need to repent. This is a case of the popular saying, "to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail." Job's friends are locked into a worldview, a narrative, about the reason for suffering. Job raises the question of the silence and seeming inactivity of God to bring judgment against evil. In other words, the problem is not just, why do the innocent suffer, but also why do the guilty not suffer (24:1, 12)? As we read Job's examples and descriptions of injustice, take time to ponder. This has been a question that has bothered believers and unbelievers alike down through the millennia: if God hates sin and evil so much, then why doesn't his judgment come more quickly, and with more regularity? Jesus himself addressed this mystery, for example, in the story of the rich man and his barns (Luke 12:16-21), and the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
BILDAD ROUND THREE (ch 25). Bildad gives a short and succinct statement about the depravity and lowliness of man. Technically, Job's friends are right about depravity (and Job agrees), that in ourselves no one can be right before God. True as this is, it doesn't apply to Job's situation. Job is a believer, who is trusting God and seeking to walk faithfully with him. His extreme suffering cannot be accounted for merely from unconfessed sin. Isaiah says that those who looked upon Jesus' life and death would be much like Job's friends, assuming that our Savior was suffering for his own sin (Isa 53:3-4).
THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD (ch 26). Who among us hasn't asked the questions, "Why this? Why now? Why me?" We may be agreeable with a certain amount of pain in life, as long as we have acetaminophen nearby. But extreme pain -- unbearable pain, chronic pain, unexplainable pain -- lowers us into the dust. And then we look at the pain around us in creation -- the injustice, the violence, the loss, the death, the sorrow, the tears -- and it seems beyond any reasonable explanation. (Btw, Job's statements about the earth being hung upon nothing, v 7, and being circular, v 10, accord with science today.) So far in Job we know that God is almighty, completely righteous, and all-wise. So we can be assured that God would not allow evil (and suffering) to enter his good creation unless he could manage it and use it for a higher good. But now Job points us to the incomprehensibility of God. That is, God's ways are inscrutable, and we see only the edges of what his plan and purposes might be. Job calls this the "outskirts" of God's ways (26:14), which has also been translated, "outer fringe" or "mere edges". An intriguing verse (v 12) foreshadows the power of Christ over the sea: "By his power he stilled the sea..." (cf. Matt 8:26), and it is in Christ that we begin to get a clearer picture of God's plan. The cross of our Lord Jesus is where we see sin and suffering, love and judgment, glory and humility, and life and death, all finally resolved.
THE EDGES OF HIS WAYS. Still, we must remember how limited our knowledge is even now. R. C. Sproul once said, "The more I learn about God, the more aware I become of what I don't know about him." And missionary Amy Carmichael reflected on this passage when she wrote about the "edge of his ways"...
Like the unfolding of leaf and flower Opening silently.
And on the edge of these Thy ways, Standing in awe as heretofore,
Thee do I worship, Thee do I praise And adore.
Search I the world for a word of power, Find it at Calvary.
O deeps of love that rise and flow Round about me and all things mine,
Love of all loves, in Thee I know Love Divine.
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ." (1 Corinthians 12:12)
COVERINGS AND COMMUNION (ch 11). In this chapter Paul is beginning to address proper order in the gathering of the church. There are distinct male and female roles and decorum. The women were not to look like prostitutes, but to show honor and respect for their husbands (vv 1-16). For many helpful articles on the biblical roles of men and women visit the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at cbmw.org. The Lord's table observance (vv 17-34) is a holy ordinance that glorifies the unity of the body of Christ, and therefore unreconciled relationships within the church make a mockery of the work of Christ. It was so serious that the Corinthian church was experiencing chastisement from the Lord (vv 30-32). This tells us how important in the Lord's sight is the table of his fellowship.
THE BODY AND THE SPIRIT (ch 12). Read my comments here on chapter 12.
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.