Bible reading for March 1--2
Mar 1 -- Job 30 and 1 Corinthians 16
Mar 2 -- Job 31 and 2 Corinthians 1
"I would give him an account of all my steps; like a prince I would approach him." (Job 31:37)
JOB'S SUMMATION (ch 30). In chapter 29 Job tells of his past sense of blessedness in his walk with the Lord. In chapter 30 he describes his life as a social pariah. Even the outcasts of the community consider him an outcast of outcasts, and sing disparaging songs about him. His prosperity has passed away like a cloud in the sky. His health is broken; he cannot sleep without pain; the few friends that remain are of no help. We must ask ourselves, how do we respond when we see others suffering, and suffering in a way that we might presume that they are under God's judgment? Do we stay away, stand far off, and avoid contact? Do we just think how thankful we are that it is not us suffering that way? Or, do we like Jesus see and have compassion upon others in their misery and loss (Matt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32)? Author Dane Ortlund writes, "The cumulative testimony of the four Gospels is that when Jesus Christ sees the fallenness of the world all about him, his deepest impulse, his most natural instinct, is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it." (Gentle and Lowly, p. 30) As followers of Christ, do we respond in this way, too?
JOB'S DEFENSE (ch 31). Job now reviews the charges, either stated or implied, against him. He affirms his faithfulness in sexual matters (vv 1-12), his care for the poor (vv 13-23), and his generosity and freedom from greed (vv 24-25). He is not idolatrous (vv 26-28), not vengeful (vv 29-30), cares for sojourners (vv 31-32), does not conceal his sin in order to preserve his reputation (vv 33-37), and cares for the land (vv 38-40). Is Job too insistent on his innocence? It would seem so, since a rebuke from the Lord is coming. Truly, there will be only one Person who will be completely righteous before God, and it's not Job. But three things must be said in Job's favor: first, he does not try to conceal his sin (vv 33-37; see Psalm 32:1-5). Secondly, he comes boldly to the Lord (vv 35-37; see Heb 4:16), knowing that the Lord is a righteous judge. And thirdly, Job is not coming as sinlessly perfect, but as a believer who has been seeking to walk with the Lord with integrity. Job is not seeking to win human esteem and gain favorable opinions from others. He's dealing with God, and he is confident that God is completely just, and that he himself has been living faithfully before God. His main contention is true: he is not experiencing this extreme suffering because there is unconfessed, unrepented sin in his life. But Job has more to learn, as we shall see. Man shall be justified only by the perfect righteousness of Christ. And how God deals with us as his children may for a time be shrouded in mystery, as it was for Job. But as believers we can come boldly to the throne of God, not because of our own righteousness, but by faith in the righteousness of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. We have the Mediator that Job was hoping for (Heb 4:16).
"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (2 Corinthians 1:19-20)
PAUL'S PLANS (ch 16). Sometimes we get overly mystical and subjective about seeking God's guidance and making decisions. Many people want to hear God's voice telling them what to do, where to go, what's the next step. Even though the Lord at times guided Paul in remarkable ways, this chapter shows us that he sought advice, made tentative plans, set dates, and looked for opportunities to serve the Lord. Read more about Paul's decision-making process here.
A QUESTION OF SINCERITY (ch 1). After writing a lengthy letter to the Corinthians, containing a number of rebukes, Paul is now writing words of comfort. See Dr. Constable's introduction to 2 Corinthians and Paul's letters and visits to Corinth here. Paul's plans had changed, and some at Corinth questioned his sincerity toward the believers there. Was it a case of him saying "yes" publicly ("I plan to visit you"), but meaning "no" in his heart ("I don't really plan to")? We do this often in the south, where we say, "ya'll come back real soon," or "I'll give you a call", when we really don't mean it or plan to follow through. Paul uses this concern as an occasion to point us to the "Yes" we have to God's promises in Christ (vv 19-20). God is not insincere, calling us to come to him, and at the same time keeping us at a distance, or making a promise but not really meaning it. God is sincere and means what he says when he makes all these wonderful promises to us in Christ. God has integrity. Not only may we take God's words at face value, but also we should trust the good character of God behind all his words. Too, we should ask about ourselves, can people see in us a sincerity of intent, that we mean what we say, and we will act upon what we've promised? Our integrity in the promises that we make can help others catch a glimpse of the sincerity and trustworthiness of God.
Image credit: Sincerely Media via Unsplash. 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.