Job and Zophar. Job’s friend Zophar answered, ‘Will your empty talk reduce men to silence? Will no one rebuke you for what you have said? I wish that God would speak up against you.

Day 24 (Jan. 24): Job calls for sympathy, Zophar says the wicked’s revelry is temporary, Job argue’s Zophar’s speech

Glory Story / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
— Job 19-21
(Before 2100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible

Questions & Observations

Q. (19:7-20): As painful of a state as Job sounds, there is some humor in this.  I want to say “Poor Eeyore.”  I was surprised to see even his stinky breath in his ranting, like Job is saying, “What kind of sick trick are you playing on me, God?”  The tone of his statements seems to communicate that he knows he is not deserving of this fate.  Would you agree?

A. That would certainly be consistent with his message throughout the text.  He, as a righteous man, is suffering the “sick joke” as you put it, while many who deserve punishment lavish or get away with it.

Job actually makes a good point (21:26) : if this life is all there is, then ultimately there is no justice.  As he said, if death is the end, the we, rich and poor, all end up in the same grave to decay.  In order for there to be justice (and a just God), the afterlife is needed.

Q. (19:29): Again, I see humor in this saga.  Now Job is acting as God when he says, “for your attitude deserves punishment.”  To me, it’s only human for Job and his friends to judge one another.  Everyone would think that someone with such bad luck surely has wronged God.  And, being human, would probably speak up about it, especially as vocal as these characters are.  How can you blame either side for saying what they are saying?  It’s the blind accusing the blind.  Both don’t know God’s reasoning for this devastation and would never be able to guess it. Yet they are put in the middle of the God/Satan challenge and wondering, “what is going on here?” to put it lightly.  Any comment?

A. It is in our nature to try and find the reason for things; we all desire to be able to “pull back the curtain” and reveal the wizard (to borrow from the Wizard of Oz).  The problem, as this story reveals, is that very often we are TERRIBLE at making these types of judgments.  Hopefully this story can teach us to be careful about judging motive, the sins a person may or may not be hiding, or their relationship with God.  Very often we stand ready to condemn, but it is almost always with only limited information.  If God shows restraint in His condemnation, then we should make it our practice as well.

Q. (20:4-5): Is Zophar accusing Job of being godless?  How well did these “friends” know Job?

A. I don’t think Zophar means that Job is an atheist, but rather that he is concerned that Job’s walk with God is badly out of sync.  Job is talking like a godless man: he is accusing God of being unjust to him, and Zophar appears concerned that nothing good will come of that.

We have no real outside information on how well Job’s friends knew him.

Q.  In 21:16, Job still shows his loyalty to God, but he doesn’t know why he does, given the “unfair” treatment between the godless and followers.  I don’t know if Job’s views are fact or if he is just saying these statements of unfairness because of his own despair and he is assuming that the Godless have a great life.  Is he just pouting?  This reminds me about a comment I almost typed out the other day.  I was going to say that Job was like a modern-day Warren Buffett.  But, then I wikipedia’d Warren Buffet and found out he was agnostic.  This is an example of Job’s beef — the Godless enjoy life.

A. I actually like the idea of Job being a “pouter” as you put it.  He’s waiting around for his “day in court”, and he appears to be sick of his friends “help” and getting no response from who he really wants answers from — God Himself.

(Since as far as I know Buffett is still alive, I would say he is agnostic).  Folks like Buffett and many successful (by this world’s standards anyway) folks who amass great wealth would seem to prove Job’s point: he is accusing God of allowing the godless to enjoy the good life, while so many others just get by or even starve to death.  Here again, this makes the afterlife even more important.

Tomorrow’s reading: Job 22-25

Jobs friends advise ‘As for me, I would advise you to seek God. Happy is the man that Almighty God corrects.’

Day 23 (Jan. 23): Eliphaz and Bildad continue to accuse Job, Job defends himself to friends and God

Glory Story / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Job 15-18
(Before 2100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Job 15:1): If you were in these friends’ shoes — Eliphaz in this instance — can you blame them for making such accusations as these?  They do not know for a shadow of a doubt that Job’s kids didn’t sin.  They don’t know the relationship that Job had with God.  We are supposed to be God’s disciples, but how can we tell when it’s a proper time to give an opinion.  Is it ever proper?  Is it just like that saying (please pardon), but to assume makes an ___ out of you and me?  Meaning that you assume you know everything about someone’s relationship with God, but you don’t, so your opinion makes you look foolish.  Eliphaz still relies on his knowledge that if you are good, you are blessed and if you sin, you will suffer.  He does not acknowledge that God can conjure good and bad.

A. Honestly these passages are a lot of Job and his friends talking past each other.  They are trying to be helpful to each other (Job is trying to make the situation clear, and his friends are trying to offer good advice to Job), but each side is failing.  As to Eliphaz’s statement, I’m not sure I would say that God conjures up both good and evil, but rather that bad things happen (to both “good” and “bad” people as we see them) which God allows, and that God is greatly generous in this life even to those who do not seek him (see Matthew 5:43-48 to read Jesus describing how this works).  So, on some level, God causes good to all (He allows our lives to continue, and provides for the needs of even the gravest offender), and bad things happen to everyone as well.  As Pastor Jim Keller said in a sermon, suffering is universal, and that at any given moment each of us is undergoing some sort of suffering however minor.  Ultimately, we are called to leave the hard decisions about who is “good” or “evil” to God, and to be good comforters, unlike Job’s friends.

Q. (16:1): I think if I were Job right here, I would exit the conversation.  Is this a message to us, that the accusations may keep coming, but we have to remain steadfast and answer them time after time.

A. There’s an interesting bit of wisdom from Proverbs 26 that I’m going to share here that can help us sort this out (I think).  In verse 4, the writer tells us to not bother answering a fool in his error (folly), because it’s not worth the trouble.  Then, in the very next verse, the writer tells us that we SHOULD address a fool, in order to prevent him from being wise in his own eyes.  What is going on?  Is this a contradiction?  Is the writer really being that stupid?  Of course not!  What he is saying is that as a wise person (Proverbs is all about becoming wise), you must discern when is the time to argue, and when is the time to say “it’s not worth it.”  Basically, we would be hard pressed to say that we should always argue, or always retreat, but rather that we should consider the wise path in our given circumstance.

O. (16:7-17): Wow!  Although I feel for Job here, I also see another story line.  I see how furious and hurt Job is toward God, yet he remains true to God.  He says in 16:17, “… my prayer is pure.”  This must really irritate Satan by now.  Job is reduced to skin, bones and boils and he still acknowledges God.

Q.  I just noticed a verse I missed in a prior reading.  Job 1:22.  It says, “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.”  To me, this is God saying, “Seek me, study me, question me, learn me, know me.”  What do you get from this verse?

A. Throughout the narrative, it is clear that Job desires to be heard by God, and though he is incredibly bitter about his lot at the moment, he does not falsely accuse God.

Q. (16:21-22): Either Job is giving God an idea here or he is foretelling.  Just curious, do we know that God knew He was going to send a Savior from Day 1 or is it a plan that came to be from man’s hopeless struggle with sin?  I don’t know what Job is saying in 16:22.

A. I think your question presumes to know the mind of God, but my best guess is that the Trinitarian Son of the Godhead volunteered to be the needed savior long before humanity was even created, but it’s just a guess.  It certainly did have its origins in the hopelessness of man’s sin, as we discussed yesterday — the need for both love and justice required a great sacrifice on God’s part.

I think verse 22 is saying that since Job knows he’s going to die (or maybe that he wishes he was dead), he wants to be “squared” with God before he goes, since there is no coming back.

Q. (17:6-7): The devastation that became of Job was a result of God showing Satan Job’s obedience to Him.  On the flip side, this is showing others bad fortune that has become of one of God’s followers.  This would be counter-productive to showing others that living a Godly life produces good fortune.  Your insight?

A. Certainly it is harder to be a good witness for God if you feel that God is using you as a punching bag, as Job is convinced of here.  But oftentimes it is the people who have been through the blackest periods of life (and survived) that have the most powerful witness of all.  As we’ve been talking about, it can be very hard to praise God in the midst of trials (though I think this is our call).  But if we are able to trust God to bring us through difficult times, when they are complete, we can give powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Q. (18:1-21): I didn’t get anything new from this passage.  Just making sure I didn’t fail to point out something.

A. Keep in mind that repetition is the key to emphasis in ancient storytelling.

For more study: What does faith look like? https://blog.kcm.org/the-7-vital-signs-of-faith/

Shop: “Live for the Lord” sums up our purpose in one simple phrase, yet it takes a lot of humbling to get there.

Tomorrow’s reading: Job 19-21