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

Pull those weeds!

I have had a lot of interaction with weeds lately thanks to having a small jungle in our backyard.  We bought a house in Central Florida on a creek where the backyard had been “let go.” We tore through the canopy of vines, pulled a bajillion weeds several times and laid nice sod which, a year later, was blanketed in a couple feet of sand thanks to the 500-year flood that Hurricane Ian dropped. The sand lasted several months giving us quasi beach conditions until spring came and sprouted a nice crop of weeds. Ian also decided for us that it was time to take out our 40-year-old decaying deck.

Prepping our yard for its makeover is when I spent hours and hours with weeds. They are actually fascinating. I was not interested in their scientific or even common names, but in their characteristics. They come in every size and personality imaginable — tall, wide, ground huggers and some that leave you with “gifts.”

Weeds are an eyesore

My experience with them inspired me to write about how I see our lives played out in nature. Weeds are something that is not desired, which reminds me of sin. Like weeds, sin comes in so many forms. We need to recognize that in order to have a nice lawn that is pleasing and representative of a Christ-filled life, we need to clear out the undesirable, dark parts of our lives.

Tall and terrifying

The first kind of weeds are the ones that are most noticeable. They are tall and a bit terrifying, like substance abuse, adultery, physical violence, etc. For the most part, the world agrees that they are easily tagged as sins. Taking one of those babies out, makes a huge difference in your life.

Take out the easy ones

Then there are those that are very bushy and super easy to pull out.  Those are great because they can literally take a square foot of space, so with one easy pull, you clear a satisfying piece of ground. Think of something you can grab hold of out of your life and it makes such a difference. This isn’t always easy to identify, but if you are feeling stressed, you have the “busy” quality. Maybe it’s clearing up some time for others, like getting off social media and helping your neighbor or co-worker. Or giving some time to fellowship with God, tune in to the Holy Spirit or reflect on Jesus’ love for us. Suddenly, you feel lighter because time does not have a grip on you. It no longer owns your productivity. Maybe it’s getting rid of something that costs you money that you really don’t need. Now your budget is freer and then you can save, give a little more to charity or others who are financially struggling.

Sneaky snakes

The ground huggers are the most menacing! They lay low and run, trying to stay inconspicuous, but very effective. They reroot and keep going and going. These sins are not identifiable on the surface, but they do lead to unsettled living. They may be lying to others, unintentional bragging, jealousy, prejudice, really anything that isn’t too glaring. These sins can subtly rule your life to where you don’t let loving others in.  They can crawl into your children, affecting your family for many, many generations (sins of our fathers).  It can also infiltrate any group — friends, coworkers, neighbors, even a nation.  In weeding, these are definitely the hardest for me to deal with.

Shake ‘em off

Then, there are the frustrating ones that have burs or sticky seeds on them. Barely touching them, you get covered. These are little things you struggle with constantly — dealing with traffic, having paperwork pile up, taking the dogs out many times a day and constantly going to the grocery store.  These are not all sins, but things we can get bitter about. They are part of life.  If we don’t take care of them, we will keep collecting them until we are covered. These kind of weeds also remind me of social media.  We can easily get wrapped up in all the tidbits of information and influences, that we let them take over and fail to see the forest for the trees.

Turn yourself over to God

The great thing about all of these weeds is that they can be ripped out! Just like Jesus said that if something causes you to sin, then get rid of it (Matthew 5:29-30). We can profess our belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but still let weeds grow. It’s not until we also obey what God says, follow Jesus’ example and listen to the Holy Spirit that our yard becomes beautiful and attractive to others. If people see all of your weeds, they won’t want to believe anything you say, including being a Christian because the weeds show you aren’t living a righteous life. If your soul is cared for properly by working hard to keep the weeds out, others will be drawn to that beauty and get a glimpse of the comfort you feel and confidence you exude by following Jesus.

This means continuously obeying God’s word and allowing the Holy Spirit lead you instead of trying to control your life yourself.  The Spirit helps identify weeds and warns you about potential threats. If we have a good foundation — or “sod” in our analogy — we can keep the weeds at bay. The goal is to show others how beautiful your soul is so they will want that fulfilling life for themselves and create their own immaculate lawn.

Sorry if this is a bit cringy.  But, go pull some weeds and you will see what I’m talking about.  It’s very satisfying to toss them into a yard waste can and have them hauled away.  Thank you, Jesus!!!