Bible reading for weekend March 5 -- 7
Mar 5 -- Job 34 and 2 Corinthians 4
Mar 6 -- Job 35 and 2 Corinthians 5
Mar 7 -- Job 36 and 2 Corinthians 6
"Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly." (Job 36:26-28)
GOD WILL BE JUSTIFIED (ch 34) Elihu continues his speech. God will not act unjustly. In the end his will and his actions will be seen as true and just. "Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, 'That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged'" (Rom 3:4). Some have used the argument that the existence of evil in the world negates the existence of God by showing either his lack of power or his lack of goodness. Evil has not been destroyed, so God must not exist. But the important word "yet" must be inserted. Evil has not yet been destroyed; the story is not over. God is both all-powerful and all-good, and evil will yet be completely removed from God's creation. Elihu notes that we exist and continue to exist by God's will. If the Lord were to take back his spirit, his breath, we ourselves would cease to live and breathe. Perhaps a subtle point is being made here: "Job, the very breath you are using to criticize God has been given to you by God himself (vv 14-15)!
SILENCE IS GOLDEN (ch 35) Elihu continues. God is not merely sovereign, but also righteous. "How much less when you say that you do not see him, that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!" (v 14). Job should see himself as a plaintiff awaiting his day in court, and so, at this point in time it is best to wait quietly for that verdict. An important lesson for us is that an innocent lament, or expression of sorrow, over time can become discontent and grumbling. Sorrow can change into resentment. It's not always easy to see when that line has been crossed, but in Job's case the pain has turned to blame. Has this ever happened to you?
BE TEACHABLE (ch 36). Elihu continues: "Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him?" (v 22; cf 35:11) God is not only a judge but a teacher, as well. And it behooves Job (and us) to be teachable before God. "He opens their ears... if they listen" (vv 10-12; cf Isa 30:21). This principle is reflected in James 1:19-20, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires." Job must be careful not to "cherish anger" (v 13). His voice should be used in calling upon the Lord for help rather than to complain about him. God's greatness is inscrutable (v 26), and like Job earlier (5:8-10), Elihu speaks of the great mystery of rain (and other weather events, vv 27-33). Soon Job will have his occasion to speak directly with the God of the storm (38:1). A number of years ago John Piper wrote a wonderful piece about the amazing phenomena of evaporation and rain.
"So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)
NOT LOSING HEART (ch 4). Here are seven truths from chapter 4 to help you not lose heart in difficult times.
WALKING BY FAITH (ch 5). Paul writes about the confidence (and courage) that we have because we are reconciled with God and have a glorious eternal future (vv 1-10). Rather than losing heart, we walk by faith, knowing that even if we should die, the Lord will take us home to himself. He tells us of the reconciling power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for which he is an ambassador (vv 11-21). "The cross of Jesus Christ is a two-way street; we have been brought to God and God has been brought to us." (Donald Grey Barnhouse) Note verse 21: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Our righteousness before God comes from a "great exchange" with Christ. He took our sin, and we are clothed in his righteousness. Thomas Brooks wrote, "Christ hath crossed out the black lines of our sin with the red lines of his own blood." Amen!
SEPARATION (ch 6). "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (v 14) Paul's concern for the Corinthians is that they "not receive the grace of God in vain" (v 1). This means that he does not want God's grace toward them to be an empty thing, resulting in no change of life. Paul has been teaching and modelling for them purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit (vv 1-13). Paraphrasing a number of OT passages he says that the concept of separation applies to them, too, and to believers of all time (vv 14-18). This teaching may seem negative and intolerant. But as sons and daughters of our Father in heaven, we shouldn't seek the approval of the world (read James 4:1-10). We must ask ourselves if we have blurred the lines of light and darkness, of righteousness and lawlessness. Where have I compromised God's truth with the lies of the world? Where am I seeking the approval of those who hate God, while hiding my own identity as God's child? Why am I so eager not to offend other people but not concerned that I might offend the Lord?
GIVING THANKS! By God's mysterious and wonderful grace I have been walking with him for fifty years! As a college student I called upon the Lord for salvation, and he heard my cry. I'm thankful that his hold upon me is infinitely stronger than my hold upon him! My wife shared this song with me this morning, and I hope you will enjoy as much as we did.
Image credit: photo above by Jennifer Brindley, via fineartamerica.com. 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.