Bible reading for weekend March 8 -- 9
Mar 8 -- Job 37 and 2 Corinthians 7
Mar 9 -- Job 38 and 2 Corinthians 8
"Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?" (Job 38:33)
ELIHU FINISHES (ch 37). Elihu finishes his speech, and in these last two verses he speaks of several of God's attributes: "The Almighty -- we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit" (vv 23-24). God is omnipotent and great in power; he is infinite and inscrutable, that is, beyond our full comprehension; and he is completely righteous, with an impeccable standard of justice. Again, Job and his friends have only been considering a limited view of God, specifically his temporal judgments in human affairs. Elihu's conclusion is that our knowledge of God -- and our lack of knowledge about him -- should lead us to humble ourselves before God and to revere him alone (cf Deut 29:29). Michael Horton writes, "As the infinite Creator, God alone possesses absolute knowledge. Every fact is interpreted, and we need God’s interpretation if we are to know reality properly." (Pilgrim Theology)
JOB'S DAY IN COURT (ch 38). Job finally gets what he's been seeking, a chance to speak to God face-to-face, in order to state his case. God appears in a theophany, a manifestation of his presence, speaking from a wind storm. He asks Job to gear up and answer God's questions: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" (v 2) Many more questions follow, "where were you when...", "do you know...", or "can you do this..."? (Note: God is speaking poetically and in the language of appearance, for example, in speaking of the motions of the heavens.) "Do you know..." is followed by, "Can you establish...?" (v 33) Often in our scientific age we think that because we can describe a natural phenomenon, with material causes and effects, that we've actually explained it, when we haven't. We may describe (and measure) life and light and gravity and human consciousness, but we cannot really say what these are. Much less can we "establish" them or make them come into existence or follow rules we set for them! Through all these questions Job is shrinking back down to size, and will begin to wonder what he really knows about anything!
THE SELF-DISCLOSURE OF GOD. One big lesson from these chapters is that we cannot find God out, and understand him in any clear measure, unless he so chooses to reveal himself and allow us to know him. John Frame, a contemporary theologian, puts it this way: "God will not let people find him by methods that presuppose their own autonomy." In other words we do not "find" God on the basis of our own limited and biased knowledge. He has given witness of himself in creation and redemption, and calls us to know him in that way (Deut 4:29; Acts 17:27). But if we speculate about God, or the non-existence of God, or what kind of God we prefer, based upon our own knowledge or reasoning, we will always end up in atheism or idolatry (Rom 1:18-23). Carl F. H. Henry, a theologian of last century, wrote, "The case for the reality of God begins not with human experience or speculation about the ultimately real but with God’s self-disclosure… When discussing divinity, God in his self-revelation is not a deferrable or disposable consideration; it is the sine qua non without which all God-talk is but human chatter." (God, Revelation and Authority, II:156-57) Without God telling us who he is and what's ultimately real, "all God-talk is but human chatter." We cannot find God, as Elihu said, but he can find us. And he is able to tell us who he is, and why we were created, and what his will and promises for us are.
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
PAUL'S HEART (ch 7). As you read this chapter, ask: what do I learn here about the heart of the Apostle Paul? What do we learn from this chapter about his attitude toward people and his ministry toward those people? Read more on chapter 7 from my post last year.
CHRISTIAN GIVING (ch 8). This chapter and the next are important for us in understanding the ministry of giving, specifically, as it applies to believers today under the new covenant. The OT specified percentages of giving ("tithes"), but the NT emphasis is a bit different. As you read this chapter (and the next), ask: what principles do you see here for Christian giving? How is it different from the OT? Is this how you view giving today? Read more on chapter 8 from my post last year.
FINALLY, A PRAYER. Here's a "Prayer for the Church" from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer: "O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic (universal) Church; that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen." (Book of Common Prayer, 1928)
Image credit: photo of the Milky Way by Denis Degioanni on 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.