Bible reading for March 10 -- 11
Mar 10 -- Job 39 and 2 Corinthians 9
Mar 11 -- Job 40 and 2 Corinthians 10
"Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." (Job 40:2)
MORE LESSONS FROM NATURE (ch 39-40). God speaks of the mountain goat, the wild donkey, the ostrich, the horse, and the hawk, in order to demonstrate the limitation of human knowledge and power. Each of these creatures -- a creature like Job -- has greater strength, skill, and speed than Job. We are not as wise and capable as we often think.
ON BEHEMOTH AND LEVIATHAN (ch 41-42). There are many opinions about whether these are real creatures to be found in nature, being described with hyperbole, or if these are references to mythological creatures symbolizing death and Satan. Some have suggested these are remnants of dinosaur species. See Constable's comments on the various interpretations. And here's Christopher Ash's interpretation. The over-riding point here is that there are created things that man can't control or tame. Only God can.
REFLECT. We must ask ourselves, are we ever tempted to find fault with God like Job did (40:2-8)? Do we ever think that we can take God's place (and glory) and in some way be able to save ourselves (40:9-14)? Do we really think we can control our world and defeat evil and death? This is the heart of the human problem, the desire to be God rather than to worship God. If Job, a faithful and steadfast believer in the Lord (Jas 5:11), fell into that mindset, how much more should believers today take heed, too. Where might you be finding fault with God? Where are you robbing him of his glory by trying to be God yourself?
"Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)
THE GRACE OF GIVING (ch 8-9). What Paul teaches in these two chapters about Christian giving is not a form of prosperity gospel, which is self-centered, claiming God's rewards for oneself in this life (usually in the form of material blessings). Neither is this is about giving just whatever you want, that is, any low level of giving would be just fine as long as you are happy about it. Nor is this is a promotion of socialism, since Paul is teaching about grace-motivated giving by Christians rather than a mandate for governments to redistribute wealth. It's about giving like our Lord Jesus gave, since he's our motivation and example for giving (8:9). He himself, along with all that he gives (new life, justification, eternal salvation, every spiritual blessing), is the "indescribable gift" from God (9:15). Our giving, like God's grace, should be free, joyful, and generous. Gratitude and generosity are always the proper responses to grace.
CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP (ch 10). This is a topic Paul returns to here and in the next chapter. The role of an apostle was not to gain popularity and the approval of others. Paul and his gospel associates were not out to promote their own social platforms and get many "likes". They were engaged in a spiritual battle to speak truth and to expose the lies ("strongholds" and "lofty opinions") that people believe (vv 3-6). As Herman Bavinck wrote, "Truth always seeks to be honored as truth and can never be at peace with error and deception." Paul had authority from the Lord to build up others (v 8), and he was aware of the role and sphere the Lord gave him for service. Some of the Corinthian believers were evaluating Paul based upon appearance and worldly standards (vv 2, 9-12). In Christian leadership it is not comparison with others that is important, but rather the commendation of the Lord is what matters (vv 13-18).
REFLECT. In today's world of mega-churches, mega-ministries, and famous persons with mega-influence, it's hard to accurately judge the validity of a person's ministry. Over the years we have seen so many well-known Christian leaders fail, or be exposed as frauds. Do not confuse popularity, good speaking ability, charisma, and reputation with a ministry that is commended by God. There's something to be said for the blessing of obscurity! Pray for your pastors and leaders, that they would be content with the calling and limitations God gives them. Pray for their moral and spiritual integrity before God. Pray that they would labor faithfully in proclaiming the gospel, teaching and defending biblical truth, and would thus expose the lies which hold the world in its grip.
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.