Bible reading for weekend February 26 -- 28
Feb 26 -- Job 27 and 1 Corinthians 13
Feb 27 -- Job 28 and 1 Corinthians 14
Feb 28 -- Job 29 and 1 Corinthians 15
"From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? ... 'God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.'" (Job 28:20, 23)
GOD WILL JUDGE (ch 27). In this chapter Job affirms God's judgment upon the wicked. But he will not, as his friends seem to be urging him to do, call upon the Lord (and confess some sin) to get out from under his judgment. God's plan for redemption is not merely to bring people to call upon the Lord in their troubles, but rather to call upon the Lord at all times and to delight in him: "For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life? Will God hear his cry when distress comes upon him? Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times?" (vv 8-10) This has been the pattern of Job's life all along.
UNFATHOMABLE MINES (ch 28). This chapter is a beautiful, extended poem about where to find wisdom. Just as birds and land animals have no comprehension of human mining operations, as well as how we refine precious metals and produce beautiful gemstones, so humankind is unable to understand God's deep ways and his beautiful artisanship. William Cowper, the hymn-writer, alluded to this: "Deep in unfathomable mines / Of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, / And works His sovereign will" (from "God Moves in a Mysterious Way"). Many people have, or seek to have, an earthly wisdom, but we need wisdom from God. We need to have his view of life, the world, and morality, so that we might be able to make good decisions in the circumstances we face day by day. This wisdom is revealed by God, coming from above: "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (Jas 3:17-18).
LIFE BEFORE SUFFERING (ch 29). Job now begins his final speech to his friends. In this chapter he tells of the blessings of his life before everything fell apart. Job is not a man who has neglected his relationship with God. He enjoyed God's guidance and presence: "...as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent..." (vv 2-4). It is not the loss of possessions that Job mourns so much as his loss of conscious fellowship with God and the awareness of his approval.
"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
NOT JUST FOR WEDDINGS (ch 13). In his continuing discussion on spiritual gifts, Paul helps the Corinthian believers discern what is eternal from what is temporal. Many gifts are limited and partial and temporary, but other things will remain for eternity. Paul states that faith, hope, and love are enduring and ongoing virtues (v 13). What this means practically is, it's more important that you and I be patient and kind people, than it is that we be great prophets or miracle-workers. Read more here on this chapter. As well, see the NET Bible notes.
WORSHIP ORDER (ch 14). He then gives directions on the use of spiritual gifts in the congregation, and here the guiding principle again is, let all things be done for the edification (upbuilding) of the body of Christ. Our gifts are given not mainly to profit ourselves, but to profit others. The one who prophesies (speaks on behalf of the Lord) is to speak "to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation" (v 3). The church service was not to be merely a meeting to express religious feeling, but for mental comprehension of God's truths (vv 14-15). "Let all things be done for building up" (v 26). And, "...all things should be done decently and in order" (v 40). Read more here on exercising spiritual gifts.
THE RESURRECTION (ch 15). Paul restates the gospel (vv 1-5; another good passage to memorize) and then continues with a lengthy discussion of the physical (bodily) resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and connected to that, our future resurrection. Apparently, some Corinthians were teaching that physical resurrection either would not take place or had already taken place in a "spiritual" sense (v 12). Greek philosophers generally looked down on the concept of bodily resurrection, since the physical universe was seen as something to be escaped, not restored. Our physical lives in this world matter, and our physical bodies shall be resurrected, that is, restored and glorified with the Lord. And so, our work matters: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (v 58). Read more here.
REFLECT. I see some similarities between our OT and NT readings this weekend, namely, how limited our wisdom is. We think we know, but we don't know all that we do not know (Rom 1:22)! We "know in part" (Corinthians), and we cannot access the "dark mines" of God's working (Job). Job's friends were promoting an earthly wisdom (they think they'd figured out what God was up to), and the Corinthian believers thought gifts of knowledge and works of power would impress God like it did to each other. But the wisdom of God was more sublime, and simple, and practical: it was to walk in the fear of the Lord (Job 28:28) and to live a life characterized by faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13), and to demonstrate that love practically by encouraging and building others up in the Lord.
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.