PHILIPPIANS – SECTION 1

PAUL’S ACCOUNT OF HIS PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCE <1:1-30>

(a) Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving               <1:1-11>

He addresses his letter “To all the saints ….. together with the overseers and deacons” <1:1 (NIV)>. “Saints” – the status of every N.T. believer, well-known for godliness and integrity; consecrated to God <cf 1 Sam.2:9; 2 Chron.6:41; Ex.28:41; 29:1; Lev.21:6; 1 Pet.2:5>. “Overseers” – a shepherd <Acts 20:28>; a bishop or elder; the term elder originated from ancient times when the older men, because of their experience, were the heads of large families. There is no specific origin of eldership pertaining to the N.T. Church especially to local congregations, but their office was to give direction to the local Church <cf Acts 15:22-29>. The elders of the N.T. Church are referred to as pastors <Eph.4:11>; bishops or overseers <Acts 20:28>; leaders and rulers of the congregation <Heb.13:7; 1 Thess.5:12>. “Deacons”one that executes the commands of another, a servant [Unger’s Bible Dictionary]; in the N.T. they were originally appointed to the duty of ministering to the poor and to oversee the temporal affairs of the local congregation <cf Acts 6:1-4; 1 Tim.3:8-12>.

He continues to speak of his joyful and prayerful thanksgiving for their partnership in supporting his ministry in the gospel “from the first day until now” <1:5; cf. 4:15; cf 1 Thess.2:8>, they had participated from the first day he met them until the present time.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” <1:6 (NIV); cf Col.2:6-7; 1 Cor.1:8>. He expresses his confidence that God not only begins the work of salvation, He will complete it! The good work that is evident in their lives <1:11> will be completed <cf 1 Cor.1:8> at the time of Christ’s return for His saints; our salvation is initiated, sustained and completed by God.

“all of you share in God’s grace with me.” <1:7 (NIV)>. Their sharing was not deterred by his imprisonment or persecution for they willingly identified themselves with him by their financial gifts sent by Epaphroditus <cf 2:25>, which achieved a Christ like affection in Paul for them and they were constantly present in his thoughts, forming a spiritual unity between them and himself <1:8>.

Paul expresses three petitions that the Philippian Christians should exhibit:

Paul’s prayer for them is: “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” <1:9 (NIV)>: a real Christ like love must exhibit maturity <cf 1 Thess.2:12; 4:10; 2 Thess.1:3>: growth in knowledge <cf Col.1:9>, demonstrate practical discernment (insight) and understanding.

“so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ” <1:10 (NIV)>: to approve and practice a moral and ethical behaviour; to exhibit no combination of evil due to moral or spiritual failure; so that a “good account” can be given when we stand before Christ’ judgment seat <cf 2 Cor.5:10; Rom.14:10-12>.

“filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.” <1:11 (NIV)>: this is expected of all believers <cf Matt.5:20, 48; Heb.12:11; Jas.3:18; Gal.5:22-23>. Such righteousness is produced from union with Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit <cf Jn.15:5; Eph.2:10> for which the ultimate goal is glory and praise to God <cf Eph.1:6, 12, 14>.

(b) Paul’s Afflictions Promote the Gospel     <1:12-18>

To his friends, Paul’s imprisonment seemed like a calamity, but he had a more positive perception on his situation, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” <1:12 (NIV)> for this was Christ’s revelation to Paul at his conversion, and God was working out His will in Paul’s life <cf Acts 9:15; Rom.8:28>. Paul’s comment on the perceived tragedy is that it has encouraged most of the Christian believers to speak the Word of God “courageously and fearlessly” <1:14> and this was evident to the entire Palace Guard, and everyone else, that Paul had been imprisoned for his stand on preaching the gospel of Christ <cf Acts 28:16, 30-31>. The advancement of the gospel was also influenced by two other factors: “some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” <1:15 (NIV)>; the latter group do so in love for Paul acknowledging that he was in prison for his defence of the gospel, while the former group were preaching out of selfish ambition with wrong motives thinking that they would make his imprisonment harder to tolerate. Paul concludes that in consequence of all this, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” <1:18 (NIV)>. Paul will continue to rejoice in the fact that regardless of the reason, the gospel will continue to be preached for that was his goal in life.

(c) Paul’s Afflictions Exalt the Lord            <1:19-26>

“through your prayers” <1:19 (NIV)>: Paul is depending on the prayers of the saints in Philippi for his continued ability to preach the gospel under the pressure of his imprisonment <cf Matt.18:19; Eph.6:19; Col.4:3>: “and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ” <1:19 (NIV)>; for it is only by the help of the Holy Spirit that Paul, or any other servant of The Lord Jesus, is able to do the work of God, for that is one function of the indwelling Spirit of God <cf Jn.15:26; 16:13-15; Rom.8:9; Gal.4:6>. He is confident that this being the case it will “turn out for my deliverance.” <1:19 (NIV)>, for one way or the other, by life or death, God will set him free <cf Rom.8:28; 1 Pet.1:7-9; 2 Cor.4:17>.

He continues by expressing his expectation that he will not be ashamed <cf Rom.1:16>, but that he will have all the courage he will need to continue his work with the knowledge that at the present time, and for as long as he is alive, “Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” <1:20-21 (NIV)>.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” <1:21 (NIV)>: for the believer in Christ, we live by His power and in our death we gain the fulfillment of all His promises to us <cf Jn.14:1-3; Isa.57:1-2; Rom.8:35-39; 2 Cor.5:6; Col.3:4; 1 Thess.4:13-15; Rev.14:13; cf Isa.38:1-20>. For Paul to remain alive will result in rewarding work for him, but it is difficult for him to decide; “I am torn between the two” <1:23 (NIV)>; his desire is to depart this life and to be with Christ which is the better of the two choices, but it is more beneficial for the Philippian believers that he remain alive <1:23-24>. Being convinced of the latter choice he desires that he will continue to live for their progress and joy in their faith “so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” <1:26 (NIV)>.

(d) Paul’s Exhortation to the Afflicted        <1:27-30>

Regardless of what they were experiencing, persecution or otherwise, Paul’s instruction was, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” <1:27 (NIV)>, for such conduct would be evidence to both fellow believers as well as curious onlookers who are not believers, as to the worth of their faith <cf Eph.4:1-3; Psa.133:1; Matt12:25; 1Cor.1:10; Jn.17:21>. This would also be evidence to Paul and all others that they were united in the Spirit and in harmony for the gospel of Christ <1:27b>. He also encourages them not to be terrified of those that oppose them for confidence in the power of God would be a sign that God would overthrow their intimidators <1:28; cf Num.14:9; 1 Chron.12:17>. Paul then reminds them, and all other believers in Christ, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” <1:29 (NIV)>, for this was also the word’s of our Lord Jesus to His disciples and their experience <cf Mk.13:9; Lk.21:17; Acts 5:41; Rom.5:3; James 1:2; 1 Peter.4:13; Acts 4:24-31; 14:22; 1 Cor16:13-14; 1 Pet.3:14; 1 Thess.1:6-7; Matt.5:12>, and now the experience of the Philippian believers <1:30>.

 

THE EMPTY HOUSE

MATT.12:38-45

white and brown painted house
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Approximately one-third of Our Lord’s teaching, as recorded by the Gospels, was in the form of parables, and the reason is seen in His response to His disciples: “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them”. <Matt.13:10-11 (NIV)>

In this reply we see that our Lord intended to reveal truth to some of His audience, while at the same time, hiding this truth from others. He wanted to instruct the Jews by the truth concerning Himself without adding responsibility of that truth to the Gentiles. John the Baptist appeared on the scene to introduce the Messiah, calling on the people to repent and prepare themselves for Messiah’s coming. Christ then publicly “offered Himself” as the Messiah <Matt.4:17>, and authenticated His offer by the miracles that He performed, recorded in Matt.8-11, during which time He told only a few parables. A notable change in our Lord’s ministry begins in Matthew 12, where, because of His miraculous healing of the man with the “shrivelled hand”, and the healing of the demon-possessed man, introducing the phase in His ministry where the people were ready to accept Christ as the Messiah; “All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” <Matt.12:23 (NIV)>.

The religious leaders, however, had no intention of accepting Christ as Messiah, the Pharisees “plotted how they might kill Jesus” <Matt.12:14 (NIV)>. Further to this they accused Christ of being Beelzebub (Satan) when He healed the demon-possessed, blind and mute man, leading to the request for a sign of authenticity, for which Christ ignored their request. His purpose was to show that a spiritual relationship of faith was needed, and not a physical or “blood” relationship <Matt.12:49-50>, and all this led to a change in His teaching, with more emphasis on parables, and to the ultimate rejection of Christ resulting in His death upon the cross.

The Parable of the “Empty House” is recorded in Matthew 12: 38 – 45 where “some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” <Matt.12:38 (NIV)> “SIGN”: the word is most frequently used in the Scriptures to denote a token of coming events or a miracle to confirm faith. It is often an object or event that reveals God’s purpose; such as the rainbow <Gen.9>. God requested that His people perform certain practices as “signs” of their covenant with Him; such as circumcision <Gen.17>; the keeping of the Sabbath <Ex.31>; blood on the door posts <Ex.12>.

God asked of Moses: “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” <Num.14:11 (NIV)>. Even though king Ahaz of Judah was told to “ask the Lord for a sign” that God would deliver His people from their fierce enemy, Ahaz refused to ask but God gave the sign, which Ahaz did not live to see; <see Isa.7:14 (NIV)>.

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” <Heb.1:1-2 (NIV)>. Our Lord Jesus performed numerous signs that revealed His identity as the Messiah, but most of the people refused to recognize Him as the Messiah. On one occasion He had to comment: “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders……you will never believe.” <Jn.4:48 (NIV)>. Signs were a familiar way of God confirming the authenticity of a message or messenger to Israel <Deut.18:14-22>, and began at the very outset of their history. God sent Moses to deliver them from their Egyptian slavery and confirmed this by signs <Ex.4:1 – 9:30>. God changed his Rod into a snake and then back to a staff. God made his hand leprous, and made it whole again. God turned the water of the river Nile into blood as Moses poured it upon the ground. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers– the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob– has appeared to you, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed.” <Ex.4:5, 30-31 (NIV)>

Now, approaching the time when God is about to “put the nation aside” because of their unbelief, they still ask for signs and still doubt God’s message and messenger. So here we see our Lord says that no further sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Christ had proved His authority over nature; His authority over sickness and disease; His authority over Satan by casting out demons; His authority over death; and His authority to forgive sins. Therefore, no other evidence was necessary.

THE PARABLE <Matt.12:38-45>

Our Lord speaks of a demon-possessed man from whom the evil spirit that possessed him had departed. While possessed of the demon, the man is considered unclean and unfit to live in the community, and when the demon decides to leave the man he can then return to the community and enjoy fellowship with family and friends. The demon suspecting that the man may have already been possessed by other demons, must now find another place of abode, but is unable to find such, or any other company to live with. Upon returning to his old house, the demon finds it cleaned, put in order, and unoccupied; and then goes and finds seven other demons “more wicked than itself”, and returns to take up residence; and the man’s condition is now worse than at first. Our Lord implies that such was the condition of that generation of the Jewish nation.

THE APPLICATION (THEN)

John the Baptist had called the nation to repentance, and confessing their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River <Mark 1:4-5>. This profession of cleansing was represented by the departure of the demon in the parable, but their profession of cleansing however, was only temporary since they came under the influence of the unbelief of their leaders. Because the nation did not turn in faith to Christ as Messiah, their profession of cleansing was not “made permanent” so the people were not delivered from their uncleanness (a profession of the mind and not the heart). Now the condition of the nation that had desired to experience cleansing was in a worse state than before their profession of cleansing, for they were now permanently separated from God.

 THE APPLICATION (TODAY)

Do not seek or expect any other sign but that of Christ Himself: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” <Heb.1:1-2 (NIV)>. The preaching of the gospel calls sinners to repentance; and by believing in Christ and confession of sins, believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (spiritual baptism); <see Eph.1:13 (NIV)>. God delivers the sinner from Satan – the spiritual enemy – the “possessing demon”, and every effort must now be made to combine belief with a daily exercise of faith, <Heb.4:2> so as to enter and enjoy the “rest of God” <Heb.4:2, 11>. Combining belief with faith is accomplished by a continual “cleansing of the house” through the Word of God <Heb.4:12-13> since unbelief never goes undetected by God and nothing is hidden from the eyes and knowledge of God.

What is the condition of your house? Is it swept clean and empty? Or do you allow Christ to occupy it day by day by joyfully doing the will of our Lord? <John 14:23-24>. In the same way as the contents of a house is added to, and the many maintenance jobs are performed; there is the need to “add to our faith” <2 Pet.1:5-9>.

CONCLUSION

What is your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?

  • Have you repented of your sins and sought the forgiveness of God?
  • Is Jesus Christ Lord of your life?
  • Is Jesus Christ living in your house?
  • Or is your house just clean and empty?

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.   But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” <Heb.3:12-13 (NIV)>

Unbelief is being indisposed to believe; being skeptical. This is the attitude of doubting God and His word. We have thoughts such as: can God really do so? Is God really all that the Bible says that He is? Do I really have to be obedient to His commands? Being fully aware of what the Bible teaches, we completely ignore the teaching and do as we please. God is willing to give us all the direction we need, even signs if He wishes, if only we are obedient to His commands. Do not be like Ahaz! He was more interested in doing things his way rather than seeking to obey God’s commands.

When we ask for a sign, we pre-determine what our action will be – if the sign is what we expect there is no intention to act accordingly. By not believing that the sign is from God, leads to unbelief, or doubting; and a heart of “unbelief” can result in a “falling away” from the living God, and this is a constant menace! The unbelieving heart can cause us to use the words that Job quoted: “Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?” <Job 21:14-15 (NIV)>

In Heb. 6: 4-6 two words are used to illustrate what it is to “fall away” from our belief in God: “Enlighten”– to have an intellectual understanding; a characteristic of belief in the power of reasoning; being able to reason intellectually and spiritually: and, “Taste”– to test the flavour; to eat or drink a small amount; to perceive or experience only to a slight degree. (from Webster’s Dictionary). We should be like Jeremiah the prophet in his appreciation of God’s Word: “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” <Jer.15:16 (NIV)>

Our Lord concludes the parable by the words recorded in Matt. 12: 46-50, and considering what they imply: are you “standing outside” wanting to speak and relate to Him? Are you true and sincere “mothers sisters and brothers” seeking to do His will? Our “houses” should be characterized by, praise and adoration for our Lord and Saviour, by a sincere attitude to do His will! A willful “turning away” from God is the final state from which it is “impossible to be brought back to repentance”.

This is the warning of the parable! And the message to us today!

JOB – THE EPILOGUE

<42:7-17>

In this short section of the Book of Job we are given the details of the fate of the characters. God had spoken to Job and Job confessed and repented of his self-righteousness <42:5-6>. God now addresses Job’s friends: “he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” <42:7 (NIV)>. Even while Job was enraged because of his suffering and in his challenges to God, he spoke honestly of God, while his friends in their statements did not have a personal knowledge of God. Unlike Job who spoke to God, they were only able to speak about God, they were only presumptuous of the reason for Job’s suffering. God now instructs the three friends to offer a sacrifice for their sins and Job would pray for them, affirming “I will ….. not deal with you according to your folly.” <41:33 (NIV); cf. 14:16-17; Psa.103:10; Rom.4:8; Heb.10:17-18>, an affirmation which applies to all individuals that accept His salvation; they “did what the Lord told them” <42:9>. In this act we see two things: first, God refers to Job as “My servant” <42:8>; in all of his suffering and disputing with God, he was still God’s servant <cf. 1:8>, and as we are called to undergo suffering today we need to honour God and accept the fact the He knows and is aware of all that we are enduring, we need to trust in His sovereignty. Secondly, Job’s three friends were made aware of their need to confess their sins to God and to repent, and they did as God had instructed them; so likewise we, who are convicted of our sins by The Holy Spirit, need to act on such conviction and turn to God in repentance, accepting the sacrifice that Christ has offered to God on our behalf.

The Book now closes with Job’s reward for his firm belief in God all through his suffering, there is no indication that God gave any reason to Job for all that he had endured, but we see that God abundantly restored all that he had lost in Satan’s attack on his life; “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” <42:10 (NIV); 12>. It is good and beneficial for us to understand that God will not cause us to suffer without reason, and although we may never know the reason in our lifetime God will see us through; we may not be rewarded in the way Job was rewarded, but we need to trust God and recognize that He knows, understands and sees all that we are experiencing <cf. Isa.55:8-9>.

SYNOPSIS

For centuries, even from the beginning of time, mankind has been attempting to explain why suffering exists in a world created by a loving and Omnipotent God; and it is frightening to ask “Why?” If God is all powerful and all loving, then Why? Unfortunately there is no verifiable answer to the question. God’s power or love is never the cause of suffering, nor will His power or love eliminate suffering, but His love will be our help in overcoming suffering.

The presence of sympathizers <2:11-13> is sometimes better than the thoughts they express. Never fall for the temptation to say “I know what you are experiencing”, since, for each individual, suffering is entirely different. Just be there for the person and assist in every way that you can. Never presume that sin is the cause for the individual’s suffering and anguish, in our attempt to console we should not make speculations. Do not “play God” by judging the person who is suffering <19:2, 4>. It is better to wait, listen and give your full attention to what the person says <32:11-12> and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and your expressions <32:13>.

We cannot challenge God since His wisdom, power, love and greatness are beyond human comprehension; we can only plead our case before Him <9:2, 15>. God cannot be unjust – He is God <34:11>, and by observing His creation and the control that He has over His creation, it is obvious that human reasoning and wisdom cannot duplicate what God has accomplished <38:4, 18; 40:15, 19; 41:1, 33>.

Let us not be like Job’s friends, or like Job in our attempt to rationalize human suffering by human reasoning <42:2-3, 5-6>; God will eventually reveal all things <37:22-24>, and obedience to His command is the key to wisdom <42:9>.

WHILE GOD’S METHODS ARE BEYOND OUR COMPREHENSION, HE CAN ALWAYS BE TRUSTED!

JOB – GOD’S SECOND CONTROVERSY

<40:6—42:6>

(a).  God’s Second Challenge to Job     <40:6—41:34>

God continues to speak to Job as the “storm” of his suffering continues focusing on Job’s previous comment; “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” <40:8 (NIV); cf. 19:6>; Job, by upholding his own righteousness had cast doubt on God’s righteousness; so God challenges him on this point suggesting that Job prove himself in a display of his power over the animal kingdom; “Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his?” <40:9 (NIV)>.

First, God alludes to a large land animal; “Look at the behemoth” <40:15 (NIV)>; “it is uncertain whether this refers to the elephant or the hippopotamus, but the text appears to favour the elephant” (The Book of Life – Historical Digest); but could also be the hippopotamus as stated by Adam Clarke in his commentary; created along with mankind, but due to its large size and enormous strength is feared by humans, “yet his Maker can approach him with his sword” <40:19 (NIV)>; but is under the control of God its creator. The phrase “with his sword” could indicate that it is now extinct. So God asks Job “Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose?” <40:24 (NIV)> or, Job could you control such a creature? Secondly, God refers to the Leviathan <41:1>, a large marine animal <see Psa.104:25-26>, and the text appears to indicate that it was more terrifying than the Behemoth; “Nothing on earth is his equal — a creature without fear.” <41:33 (NIV)>. The Leviathan may be mighty, but God is more powerful; “Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” <41:10-11 (NIV)>. So God challenges Job and his friends to be as great and powerful as He is, yet perfectly just and righteous in all His acts with mankind. Human reasoning can never equal God’s wisdom!

(b).  Job’s Second Answer to God   <42:1-6>

God had said to Job “Listen…I will speak” <cf. 38:3; 40:7>, and proceeded to challenge Job by describing His creation; the heavens above, the earth below, and the animal kingdom; confirming His complete sovereignty over all created beings and things; and then inquiring of Job if he was wise, mighty, and adequate to be in charge of all creation. Job, finally humbled before God, responded as all who are exposed to the glory and awesomeness of God;  first he acknowledges God’s sovereignty, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” <42:2 (NIV); cf. Gen.18:14; Isa.14:24, 26-27; Jonah 1:2; Nahum 3:18-19; Acts 17:30–31; Rev.20:11-15>. Secondly, in response to God’s question <42:3> Job confesses his sin, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” <42:3 (NIV)>. In the anguish of his suffering, like any other human being, Job questioned God’s actions by his human wisdom, accusing God of injustice and not acknowledging His righteousness. In response to God’s command <42:4>, his attitude is that of a remorseful sinner, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” <42:5-6 (NIV); cf. 9:32-34; Isa.6:1, 5; Lk.18:13b>.

Although Job to this point in time did not know God’s purpose for his suffering, he found rest and peace in God as he saw God’s manifestation; likewise all individuals who suffer in this lifetime unable to understand the reason, can find peace in the knowledge that while God is silent we can rest in the fact that He is sovereign, He knows our pain and His purpose will eventually be evident to us <Jas.5:11>.

JOB – DIVINE WISDOM AND SUFFERING

<38:1—42:17>

             (1).       The First Controversy of God with Job     <38:1—40:5>

(a).  God’s First Challenge to Job    <38:1—40:2>

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” <38:1-3 (NIV); cf 13:3; 23:3-4; 31:37>. The Lord answers Job where he is in the centre of his storm facing the anguish of suffering with no human solution, just as He answers all who experience such stress today; loss of income, deteriorating health, marriage break-ups, and all such things that way heavily upon us; during such times as we exhaust all human reasoning and emerge with no answers to our problems. In such times when we question God’s actions, or what may appear to be His lack of action, we question our faith, and question if our prayers are being heard; such as we have seen in the many debates between Job, his three friends, and Elihu. God speaks to Job’s impoverished view of knowledge in respect to His ways – the result of human reasoning and perception of Job and his friends, challenging and commanding him to respond to His questioning.

God then presents a picture to Job of the wonders of the earth and sky <38:1-38>, the awesomeness of animal life <38:39-39:30>, with humbling questions to show Job’s insignificance in comparison to God. Where were you Job, when the foundations of the earth were placed? “Tell me, if you understand.” <38:4 (NIV)>; “Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.” <38:18 (NIV)>; do you Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar or Elihu, have any idea how it all came about? Can human reasoning solve the mystery? Neither Job nor any one else can really understand the work of God in creation, neither can we fully understand life in the animal kingdom; we cannot understand the ways of the lions, the ravens, the mountain goats, the wild donkeys and ox, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk or the eagle; many hours have been spent attempting to gain an insight into their behaviour and life but no complete understanding is evident. There is the addition of sarcasm from God saying to Job; “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!” <38:21>; surely Job, you should know all this since you were there at the beginning of creation. Such is the greatness and knowledge of God and the insignificance of the knowledge of mankind, so God challenges Job, and any one else who questions His actions: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” <40:2 (NIV)>.

Why did God challenge Job rather than correct his affliction and difficulty in understanding, did Job need to be humbled? Before we can challenge what God has done or is doing, we first need to seek His counsel <1 Kings 22:5>, for God is Omniscient – all knowing – and we can never fully understand the way or why He functions <Isa.40:13>. Job, no doubt did so, but rather than wait for God’s response, he and his friends attempted to reason by human knowledge.

(b).  Job’s First Answer to God        <40:3-5>

“I am unworthy — how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer — twice, but I will say no more.” <40:4-5 (NIV)>. In contrast to all his responses to his friends, Job has a brief reply to God; “I am unworthy”; here, the Hebrew word for unworthy can also mean “small” or “insignificant” (NIV Study Bible); and is always the response of one who is exposed to the glory of God <cf. Gen.32:30; Ex.34:8; Isa.6:5; Acts 9:3-5, 7>. He further states that he spoke once – twice; or, that he could speak many times or numerous words, but could not answer God’s questions; “I have no answer”.

(Continued…..)

 

JOB – ELIHU’S REBUTTAL CONTINUES

(c).  Elihu’s Second Rebuttal  <34:1-37>

Just as the tongue tastes food and determines what is palatable, hence the ear tests words so that we can  “discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.” <34:4 (NIV); cf. Heb.5:14; 1 Thess.5:21>; thus Elihu invites Job and his friends to listen and learn as he deals with what he considers to be Job’s false theology <see 19:7; 27:2>. He now addresses two more of Job’s allegations; first that God was not justified in His actions <34:5-6>; and secondly that there is no profit in trying to please God <34:9>. In his answer to the first assertion he says that God cannot be unjust because He is God <34:10-12; cf. Gen.18:25; Rom.3:5>, “He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.” <34:11 (NIV)>. He continues to develop this concept by showing God as creator <34:13-15> and as Sovereign <34:17-30>. “If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.” <34:14-15 (NIV); cf. Gen.2:7>; God as The Creator put the breath of life into mankind and withdrawing that breath would put mankind back where we were taken from – the earth. God cannot do evil and as Sovereign He can only be righteous, “He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” <34:11-12 (NIV); cf. Rom.1:28-32; 2 Cor.5:10>; an unjust ruler cannot govern successfully <34:17; cf. 2 Sam.23:3-4>, and will show partiality <34:19>; while the Sovereign God sees everything <34:21; cf. Jer.32:19; Prov.15:3; Heb.4:13>. God, then, has no reason to further examine mankind because He has noted all our ways, and since we have no intention of turning away from ungodliness, and have no regard for His ways, He remains silent so no one can fault Him <34:23-30; cf. Rom.1:18-32>. His question to Job therefore is: “Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? You must decide” <34:33 (NIV)>, and this is the issue to all mankind today!

And so Elihu adds to his accusation of Job, “‘Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.’ Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.” <34:35-37 (NIV); cf. 38:2; 42:3>.

(d).  Elihu’s Third Rebuttal  <35:1-16>

Elihu now addresses another comment that Job had made in earlier conversations, inquiring of Job; Do you think this is just? You say, ‘I will be cleared by God.’ Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?'” <35:2-3 (NIV); cf. 13:18; Psa.42:1-2, 9; 43:9>. Each of us should be free to express our thoughts to God just like the Psalmist. So Elihu continues to give his interpretation; “I would like to reply to you and to your friends with you.” <35:4 (NIV)>, suggesting that Job look up to the heavens and see that his sin does not influence God, and his self-righteousness and wickedness impacts only himself and those around him <35:5-8>. “Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker..” <35:9-10 (NIV); cf. Lk.18:9-14; 23:39-43>; the wicked are only concerned with themselves and their complaints but never acknowledge God for His goodness and mercy in His amazing grace, unrestricted charity and instruction to all mankind <35:10-11; cf. Matt.5:45b>. He then suggests that if God does not respond to the appeal of mankind there must be a good reason; it is because of their arrogance and their meaningless appeal <35:12-13; cf. Psa.66:18; Deut.1:43, 45; Prov.15:8>. So in Elihu’s human wisdom he declares that Job, although he may not be arrogant, speaks without knowledge, so God will not listen to his complaints; “How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him, and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.” <35:14-15 (NIV); cf. Psa.10:2, 11; Hos.7:2; Amos 8:7; Titus 1:10; 1 Cor.4:20; Jude 10>.

(e).  Elihu’s Conclusion  <36:1—37:24>

“I get my knowledge from afar……one perfect in knowledge is with you.” <36:3-4 (NIV)>, as he continues to speak of God’s righteous and trustworthy administration, it is evident that his reference here of perfection in knowledge is applicable only to God <cf. 37:16; 32:8>, and such knowledge is available to all who will search for it. He proceeds to speak of the supremacy of God which guarantees the accomplishment of His purpose <36:5>. In His righteousness and justice, God does not differentiate the self-righteous from the ungodly; “he tells them what they have done — that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil.” <36:9-10 (NIV)>; and if they obey they will enjoy prosperity and contentment; but if they refuse to obey they will perish without that perfect knowledge <36:11-12; cf. Eph.4:18>.  The ungodly are resentful and stubborn and have a short life-span; and to those who are suffering affliction, God speaks <36:13-15; cf. Rom.2:5; Amos 4:11; Psa.107:1-43 (note v.43)>. Elihu’s reasoning is that God’s compassion brings people back to Himself <cf. Hos.2:13-15>, so he cautions Job not to be enticed with riches for great wealth cannot sustain him in his distress <36:18-21>; and such is the warning to all of us in this present age, “Be careful that no one entices you by riches…..Beware of turning to evil” <36:18, 21 (NIV)>. Elihu continues to encourage Job to magnify God’s greatness in His control over the rain and the storms and the magnitude of His providential dealings which are not comprehensive to mankind, but are of divine grace to unworthy mankind; “God is exalted in his power…..How great is God — beyond our understanding!” <36:22, 26 (NIV)>. Elihu is excited at this and encourages Job to listen to the roar of God’s voice as it is heard in nature; God unleashes His lightning which is followed by the roar of His thunder <37:1-4>; and continues to describe God’s awesome control over His creation <37:5-13>, and the marvelous ways in which He speaks and works; “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” <37:5 (NIV); cf. Mk.7:37a>; His purpose is that all mankind will be conscious of His command over all that is on the face of the earth, within the earth, and that is contained in the heavens above, all of which “do whatever he commands them” <37:12>. He then suggests “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” <37:14 (NIV)> the wonders of Him who is perfect in knowledge <37:16b; cf. 36:4>. Considering all of God’s wonders, His wisdom, power and knowledge; how can Job confront God to inquire why he has to endure all the suffering he is experiencing <cf. 31:35>, such excellency in power and wisdom of God should lead all mankind to fear God and submit to his discipline and not to suggest that God is unfair <37:17-21>. So Elihu concludes his debate by preparing Job for God’s solution to his suffering; “Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?” (or “for he does not have regard for any who think they are wise.”) <37:22-24 (NIV); cf. Rom.11:3; 1 Tim.6:16; Isa.63:9; Lam.3:33; Ezek.18:23; Eccl.12:13; Micah 6:8; Matt.10:28; Eph.5:15>.

JOB – THE SOLUTION OF ELIHU

<32:1—37:24>

(a).  Elihu Intervenes in the Debate   <32:1-22>

Now that the three rounds of debate between Job and his friends has ended, and Job has made his final defense, there is silence from the group <32:1> because Job insists on his innocence. Now enters a fourth individual, Elihu: “But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram” <32:2 (NIV)>: (Elihu means God himself; Barakel means blessed of God). It will be seen from his opinions that he is closer to the truth than all the others. First he reprimands Job for justifying himself rather than God <32:2>, then the three friends, that their great discussion only exhibited human wisdom <32:3>; and finally he suggests that affliction can be for instruction rather than for punishment.

He continues to say that he had waited before speaking because he was younger than all the others, but now that they had nothing further to say he was frustrated <32:4-5>; “So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said: “I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.'” <32:6-7 (NIV)>; and this may be correct that in some cases wisdom comes with age, but sometimes a younger mind can see a greater perspective <cf. 1 Tim.4:12>. He then expresses a truth that may not have been evident to Job or his three friends; “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.”  <32:8-9 (NIV); cf. Jn.16:13-14; 1 Cor.1:26; Psa.119:34, 100>, and this truth should always be at the forefront of all attempts to deal with life’s problems, and when we seek to assist anyone who is suffering affliction; “I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning……I gave you my full attention.” <32:11-12 (NIV); cf. Jas.1:19-20>; this should be our guideline. When this is our approach we will be able, like Elihu, to let God prove the error rather than by human reasoning <32:13>, for God will put the words in our mouth <39:18; cf. Lk.12:12; Prov.16:23>.

(b).  Elihu’s First Rebuttal    <33:1-33>

Elihu now addresses the allegations that Job has previously made, prefacing his remarks by stating that he is similar to Job before God <33:6; cf. 4:17-19>, then proceeds to Job’s first assertion <33:8-11>; “But you have said in my hearing…….’I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt.  Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy.'” <33:8-10 (NIV); cf. 13:24; 19:11>. Job’s concept that God is his enemy is incorrect, for The Sovereign God does not have to give a reason for His actions <33:12>; and Elihu is also incensed that Job considers himself to be pure and without sin <33:9>, but in this Elihu has misunderstood Job, for Job admits being a sinner but denies the disgraceful sins for which he assumes he is being punished <cf. 7:21; 13:26>. Elihu also responds to Job’s second assertion in which Job claims that God has not answered his complaints <33:13> proceeding to show different ways in which God answers <33:14-20>.

“For God does speak — now one way, now another — though man may not perceive it.” <33:14 (NIV)>. God can speak in a dream or vision, first expressed by Eliphaz <4:13; cf. Gen.20:3; Matt.27:19>; or God could speak audibly – in the ear – <33:16; cf, 1 Sam.3:10-11>; or God could speak by chastening, as in Job’s situation <33:19-21; cf. Deut.8:5; 2 Cor.12:7-10; Heb.12:6-7; Jas.1:2-3>; and in every case when God speaks, His purpose is to save the individual from sin and from “the pit”, or from death.

Elihu continues to speak of a redemption provided through a mediator <33:23-30> in response to Job’s previous comment <16:19-21>, and such redemption would spare an individual from “going down to the pit” <33:24>; and a renewal of flesh and bones would be possible <33:25>; prayers would be answered, ensuing in rejoicing and restoration to righteousness <33:26; cf. Gen.16:13>, and testimony to God’s grace <33:27-28; cf. Ezra 9:13; Ex.15:13; Psa.34:22>. God can do all these things many times as necessary in the life of an individual <33:29> so as “to turn back his soul from the pit,  that the light of life may shine on him.” <33:30 (NIV): cf. Psa.56:13>. Elihu declares that this will only happen if Job repents, suggesting that Job should so act in response for he desires that Job be cleansed of his sins <33:32> otherwise he should remain silent while Elihu teaches him wisdom <33:33>. The scriptures teach us that the purpose of redemption is because we are unable to save ourselves so God made a provision for our redemption from sin, in order that the righteous requirements of the law of God would be fully satisfied <see Heb.2:14-18; Rom.8:1-4>.

 

JOB – FINAL DEFENSE

<27:1—31:40>

 (a).  Job’s First Monologue   <27:1—28:28>

Commencing his final defense he expresses his continuing faith in God even though the opinion of denied justice exists <27:2>; “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.” <27:3-4 (NIV); cf. 1:8; 2:3, 10; Dan.1:8>; he has no intention of admitting that his friends are correct in their accusations or of denying his integrity <27:5>. He resolves; “I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” <27:6 (NIV); cf. Phil.2:12-13; Jas.1:22>, he will live for the rest of his life with a clear conscience.

He then verbalizes that his enemies, his friends, should be like the wicked, godless and unjust, for they have no hope when God takes away their life, God does not listen to their cry for they find no delight in Him <27:7-10; cf. Psa.109:6-15>, for they have falsely accused him so they should be treated as if they were wicked; proceeding to describe four characteristics of the destiny of wicked people, echoing Zophar’s words <20:29>. “Here is the fate God allots to the wicked” <27:13 (NIV)>: First he declares that they will leave no heritage <27:13-15>; secondly, all their personal possessions will be disappear <27:16-19>; and thirdly, “Terrors” like a flood will overtake them and they will be carried off by the “east wind” which will blow against them without mercy <27:20-23>. The east wind is typical of the Sirocco: It arises from a warm, dry, tropical air mass that is pulled northward by low-pressure cells, with the wind originating in the Arabian or Sahara deserts. The hotter, drier continental air mixes with the cooler, wetter air of the maritime cyclone, and the counter-clockwise circulation of the low propels the mixed air. The dust within the sirocco winds can cause abrasion in mechanical devices and penetrate buildings. Sirocco wind speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (54 knots) are possible. [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia]: Job equates this to the judgment of God upon the wicked and ungodly, and the Scriptures often refers to the east wind as judgment <cf. Gen.41:6, 23, 27; Psa.48:7; Isa.27:8>.

His long tedious uninterrupted speech continues by addressing the subject of wisdom, first human wisdom <28:1-20>; “But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living.” <28:12-13 (NIV)>, and suggests that it is searched for like a miner looking for gold and precious stones in the darkest recesses of the earth, it is not found in the depths of the earth nor in the depths of the sea, neither can it be purchased with all the gold or precious stones, “the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.  The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold.” <28:18-19 (NIV)>. He resolves that wisdom is hidden and concealed from the eyes of every living thing, even Destruction and Death (Sheol and Abaddon; <see 26:6>) have only heard a rumour of wisdom <28:21-22>.

So then, what is wisdom and where does it originate? <28:20> He concludes that “God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells” <28:23 (NIV)>; and from the very beginning of time, creation, He looked at wisdom and appraised it, confirmed it, and tested it; and confirmed to humankind, “And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'” <28:28 (NIV); cf. 1:1, 8; 2:3; Psa.111:10; Prov.9:10; 1:7>; and this characteristic was confirmed by God of His servant Job.

Job therefore shows that godly wisdom is not discoverable by humankind because we are all looking for it in the wrong places <see 1 Cor.1:30; 2:7-16; Eph.1:7-10>.

(b).  Job’s Second Monologue          <29:1—31:40>

Job’s final speech is in three parts; first he recalls his past experiences, then he contrasts his present afflictions, and finally he denies any guilt in the sins for which his friends have accused him.

“How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me” <29:2-5 (NIV)>. Here Job reflects on the past when God was his friend and constant companion, God’s care and protection was evident, and he lived by the light of Scriptures <cf. 2 Sam.22:29; Psa.18:28; 119:105; Prov.20:27; Eph.5:14; 1 Jn.1:7>; God’s loving friendship was experienced by himself and his family <Job 1:5>. This should be the expression of all God’s children, and should be the reflection of all those who have left their “first love” <Rev.2:4-5a; cf. Jer.6:16; Lam.3:40-42; Joel 2:12-13>. He was respected by the citizens, both young and old, of the city <29:7-11> because he assisted the poor and fatherless by charity, righteousness and good judgment <29:12-17>. “I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.” <29:14 (NIV); cf. Isa.61:10; Eph.6:14, 17>. He anticipated a peaceful death in his own house after a life of prosperity and delight in God’s Word <cf. Psa.92:12-14>. He was a counselor to the people and they respected his techniques  <29:21-25>.

“But now they mock me” <30:1 (NIV)>; even the outcasts of society <30:1-8> those that I would not have used to help watch my sheep, those that have become homeless nomads driven out of the city. These outcasts now look upon Job with complete disrespect <39:9-15>; he is their object of scorn, they abhor him, spit in his face and keep their distance, causing terror to overwhelm him and his dignity and safety vanishes. He is in constant pain and agony <30:16-23> and God refuses to answer his prayers but apparently attacks him and he is tossed around by the turmoil. Certainly, God would not continue to afflict one who is at death’s door <30:24-31>, Job had shown mercy to those who were in trouble, but he has not experienced any mercy, all he has seen is evil and darkness as he cries for help; he is covered in sores and burns with fever, he is so lonely that he considers himself “a brother of jackals and a companion of owls” <30:29 (NIV)>, one who is nocturnal in character and feeds on live prey. His songs of praise are turned to sounds of mourning <30:31>.

“For what is man’s lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step?” <31:2-4 (NIV)>. Job finally addresses the accusations of his friends, denying any guilt of sins against God <31:1-12>, stating that God will judge the wicked whose end will be ruin and disaster <see Psa.11:6>, but God sees and knows Job’s deeds <cf. 2 Chron.16:9; Psa.139:3>. He insists that he has not been guilty of lusting after women, he has not been deceitful in his actions and he has not digressed from his godly life, “let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless” <31:6 (NIV)>. He has not denied justice <31:13-37> to his servants, nor has he withheld help due to the poor, widows or the fatherless, he has shared his wealth with those that needed his assistance. He has not been an idolater, nor has he trusted in his great wealth considering it to be the work of his  hands alone, for such would be sins to be judged for he would have been unfaithful and he would have to answer to God, “what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?” <31:14 (NIV); cf. Rom.14:10-12>. He has not rejoiced at his enemy’s misfortune nor sinned by cursing him, nor has he concealed his sin. “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense — let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.” <31:35 (NIV)>, for he would wear it like a crown if they would put it in a book.

Job then calls for a curse on his property if all that he has been accused of is true <31:38-40>, and so his speech is ended and he has nothing more to say to his accusers; The words of Job are ended.” <31:40 (NIV)>.

 

JOB – THE THIRD SEQUENCE OF DEBATE

<22:1—26:14>

(a).  Eliphaz’s Third Speech      <22:1-30>

“Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit him?” <22:2 (NIV)>: benefit – an advantage; to be of service. What does mankind have to offer God that would be beneficial to God? God has given to us all that we need to live and to survive so there is nothing that we possess that did not come from God. Therefore, we learn from the Scriptures that it is our attitude that is important as we present our gifts to God <cf Mal.1:6-14>. Our wisdom is nothing to compare to God’s wisdom, so that does not benefit God <cf. Jer.8:9>; neither would our self-righteousness, since our righteousness is like “filthy rags” <cf. Isa.64:6>. God does not condemn us for our execution of righteous duties <22:4>, but rather for our wickedness and our sins <22:5>; so Eliphaz describes to Job his numerous sins <22:6-11>, Eliphaz has no proof of these accusations but assumes that Job’s present suffering is the result of sin. He reminds Job that “God is in the heights of heaven” <22:12 (NIV)> and judges mankind although He is unseen by those who have said to Him “Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?” <22:17 (NIV)>; they forget that it is God who has supplied all the good things that they have <22:18; cf. Jas.1:17>. So he inquires of Job “Will you keep to the old path that evil men have trod?” <22:15 (NIV)>; for if you do, remember that the righteous rejoice in the demise of the wicked <22:19-20>. Eliphaz then closes his speech by describing the blessings of God to the righteous: “Submit to God and be at peace with him” <22:21 (NIV)>, for by doing so prosperity will return.“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored” <22:23 (NIV)>, Job will then find delight in God, his prayers will be answered and the light of God will illuminate his ways <22:22-28>. Job will also be able to point others to God “through the cleanness of your hands” <22:29-30; cf. Prov.24:16; Matt.23:12; Jas.5:16; Psa.24:3-4>.

 (b).  Job’s Response          <23:1—24:25>

Although Job is not directing his cause of distress to any of his friends <23:2a; cf.21:4>, and even though the suffering was intense <23:2b; cf. 1 Sam.5:6>, he insists upon his integrity and desires to be able to bring his accusation before God. “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” <23:3-4 (NIV); cf. Deut.4:29-31>; for if this was possible he knew that God would not press charges against him <23:5-6>; unlike his previous argument where he was fearful he could not defend himself <9:14-20>, he now seeks a fair trial since he is confident that he would be acquitted of any offense <cf. 13:13-19; Psa.17:1-3; 26:1-3>. He continues to express that wherever  he goes he cannot make any contact with God <23:8-9>, and his frustration builds because of his apparent inability to have his audience with God who knows that he is ethical in all his ways, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” <23:10 (NIV); cf. Psa.119:11, 101, 168; 1 Pet.1:7>. His reasoning here is in response to Eliphaz’s reprimand <22:21>, declaring that he has always submitted to God <23:11-12>. He acknowledges that God is supreme, that there is none other but Him, and He acts independently as it pleases Him, He is sovereign; “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.” <23:13 (NIV); cf. Psa.115:3; 135:6; Lk.10:21>; and because of his faith he fears God <23:15-16>, but not to the point that he is silenced by the despondency he experiences <23:17; cf. 3:6;19:8>.

He then describes the appalling injustice that exists in the world and the scene he describes is agonizing as he cannot understand why God is silent and unresponsive; “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?” <24:1 (NIV)>, should not judgment be handed down immediately? <24:2; cf. 2 Pet.3:7; Acts 1:7>. He speaks to the stealing of property <24:2; cf. Deut.19:14>, the possessions of the poor and needy and orphans are confiscated <24:3-4; cf. Isa.1:17; Jas.1:27>, and they live by the food they can rummage <24:5-6>. Without proper clothing they spend the night in the cold and are soaked to the skin by the rain <24:7-10>, denying the accusation of Eliphaz <22:5-9>. “The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But God charges no one with wrongdoing.” <24:12 (NIV)>. There are murderers, adulterers, and burglary, committed by those that operate in the darkness <24:13-17>, in agreement to some extent with his friends that “evil men are no longer remembered” <24:20-22>. In conclusion he answers his question <24:1> as he states: “He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain.” <24:23-24 (NIV); cf. 2 Chron.16:9a>; God will judge the wicked and give satisfaction to the righteous but He will do so in His time <see Jn.5:28-29; Rom.2:4-11; Rev.20:11-15>.

(d). Bildad’s Third Speech    <25:1-6>

Bildad adds nothing to the discussion but attempts to communicate the greatness of God <25:1-3>,  and the insignificance of mankind <25:4-6>. “Dominion and awe belong to God” <25:2 (NIV); cf. Zech.9:7; Rev.1:6>; the authority and dominance of God should produce fearfulness and admiration in His creatures since we all share in His goodness and grace <25:3b; cf. Matt.5:45; Jas.1:17>. In consideration of the greatness and holiness of God, “How then can a man be righteous before God?” <25:4 (NIV)>, if God does not consider the moon to be bright and the stars to be untainted, then in His estimation “how much less man” <25:4-6>; everything in God’s dominion diminishes in respect to His glory; this is Bildad’s concern. How then is righteousness characterized? The scriptures teach that all mankind is unrighteous because of inherited sin <see Rom.3:10-18, 21-22>; and we cannot attain righteousness by human effort <see Gal.3:3>. It can only be attained by faith in Christ <Rom.1:17>, and should be evident in our lifestyle <see Col.3:1-17; Psa.1:1-3; Ex.33:12-17>.

(d).  Job’s Response       <26:1-14>

Job begins his response to Bildad with stinging mockery in respect to his help and advice, “What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?” <26:3-4 (NIV); cf. 15:3-9>. Here again we see the danger in attempting to apply human reasoning in a situation where one does not know the real reason to the circumstances of the affliction of the person that needs our help. Job then continues to address the statement of Bildad in regards to God’s Dominion and Power <25:2-3>; commenting on God’s greatness in hell (Sheol), earth and heaven: “Death is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered.” <26:6 (NIV)>; death is a reference to Sheol and destruction refers to the Hebrew word “Abaddon” the angel of the abyss (NIV Study Bible) <cf. Prov.15:11; Rev.9:11>, death and hell are exposed to the eyes of God and so are the dead that are contained therein <26:5-6>. His greatness is seen in the universe by His control over the earth, the seas and the skies, “He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” <26:7 (NIV); cf. Psa.24:2; Isa.40:22, 26>. He concludes by commenting that he has only touched on the exterior edge of God’s greatness, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” <26:14 (NIV)> it is impossible for a mere human to comprehend the full extent of His Dominion and Power <cf. 11:7-9; Psa.139:6; Rom.11:33>.

 

JOB AND ZOPHAR’S SECOND DEBATE

(e).  Zophar’s Second Speech           <20:1-29>

Zophar is very angry at Job for his comments, especially Job’s closing comment <19:28-29>, so he proceeds to remind Job of the ancient truth; “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since man was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.” <20:4-5 (NIV); cf Psa.73:18-20>. He continues by commenting on the prosperity of the sinner <20:5-11>; pride causes an individual to be filled with arrogance and self-acclamation that reaches to the heavens, but results in death <20:6-7; cf Gen.11:4; 2 Sam.18:18>. He speaks to the punishment that sin brings to the individual <20:12-22>; although evil and ungodliness may be enjoyable it will eventually become repulsive, like food that is tasty and causes heart-burn; all the riches that have been accumulated will eventually make life miserable and there will be no reprieve from obsession, for in the end there will be nothing left to consume; “In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him.” <20:22 (NIV)>. He then outlines God’s final judgments <20:23-29>; when all sinful and ungodly obsessions have been fully experienced “God will vent his burning anger against him and rain down his blows upon him.” <20:23 (NIV); cf Psa.11:6>, and any attempt to escape will only result in continued punishment; terror will be overcoming, consuming fire will be experienced; “on the day of God’s wrath. Such is the fate God allots the wicked, the heritage appointed for them by God.” <20:28-29 (NIV); cf 18:21; Jer.13:25; Rev.21:8>.

(f).  Job’s Response                           <21:1-34>

As Job continues to defend his integrity he addresses the accusations of his friends in regards to the results of evil. First he states that his complaint is not directed to them or any other individual; “Is my complaint directed to man? Why should I not be impatient?” <21:1 (NIV)>, since he perceives that God is responsible for his demise. He then turns his defense to what his friends have said as they have gone into detail on the fate of the wicked. Bildad has said that the life of the wicked is like the papyrus, that withers faster than the grass, and “Such is the destiny of all who forget God” <8:11-19>. Eliphaz stated that, “All his days the wicked man suffers torment” <15:20-35>, continuing to describe the torment that comes upon those that shake their fist in defiance at God. What Bildad describes of the wicked; “The lamp of the wicked is snuffed out”; “Fire resides in his tent” <18:5-21>. And Zophar’s remarks; “He will not enjoy the streams, the rivers flowing with honey”; “God will vent his burning anger against him” <20:1-29>.

Job then expresses his understanding of those that exhibit their wickedness; “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” <21:7 (NIV)>, they grow old and increase in power, they see their children established, they are safe and free from fear. Their animals flourish, they see their offspring enjoying life and they go to their grave in peace. “Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?'” <21:14-15 (NIV); cf Isa.30:10-11; Deut.32:15; Psa.139:20; Jer.9:6; 44:17>. He questions how often is the “lamp of the wicked snuffed out” <21:17>; he comments on the statement that God stores up the punishment of the wicked for his children, suggesting that the wicked person should see his own destruction <21:18-21>. His summary is that the wicked do not have a long and painful illness before death. How does God work in all of this Job asks; “Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest? One man dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease…..Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both.” <21:22-26 (NIV); cf Isa.40:13-14>; stating that he knows and understands their accusations as they question where are all his possessions <21:27-28>; in comparison to the wicked person who is spared calamity and is finally buried with great celebration <21:29-33>.

So Job ends his reply as he begun: “Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on…..So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” <21:2-3, 34 (NIV)>; concluding that their accusations do not make sense.