Bildad and Zophar speak to Job. Job's friends plead their case that Job must have sinned. Job stays steadfast for God

Day 21 (Jan. 21): Bildad accuses Job, Job reveres God’s power, Job pleas to God, Zophar calls Job to repent and praise

Sweet Publishing / 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 8-11
(Before 2100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (Job 8:1-7): In 1:8, God held Job in high regard.  Yet, after you read what Bildad is saying in 8:4, you think, maybe Job is being punished for these sins.  But, this sounds like the devil working his way in to get Job to turn and believe his friend.  Yes, Job’s sons apparently partied.  We don’t know if they actually sinned.  Job was looking out for them by offering sacrifices for them.  We know that God was pleased with Job.  Yet, this friend is acting like he knows God’s reasoning and trying to get Job to question his own righteousness.

O. (8:20-22): Bildad is putting words in God’s mouth.  Bildad says that God sends nothing but good things to believers.  Through this devastation, Job has learned otherwise.

Q. (9:14-20): Wow.  Rob, the guy who is answering these questions, told me that we would get into deep stuff in Job, he was right.  This passage says EXACTLY what I’m feeling as I’m doing this blog.  I want to know God’s reasoning, but I get so scared to ask about it.  It’s hard to fathom just how powerful God is.  I think about that we are spinning on a sphere in the middle of nowhere and yet we don’t think twice about our existence.  That, not to mention the seas, mountains and everything else that Job mentions displays his power, so how dare we question him.  I do feel though to try to understand the world that I have to ask these questions.  I’m beginning to think that understanding the world is like an “in” box, there is no end to it.  So, just seek guidance and stop asking so many questions.  I will try.  I am really enjoying studying it so far.  For me, Job offers more things to glean from than any of the Genesis stories.  Rob, can you talk about questioning God?

A. I certainly can.  While we must never forget our reverence for God and who He is, I for one have always believed that God can handle our tough questions, especially about His will.  In the person of Jesus Christ, we have the way that God shifted the relationship between Himself and human beings, and we should remember that this story long predates that relational shift.  Since we are in Christ, God sees each of us as sons and daughters (rather than servants), and one of the advantages of sonship and daughtership is that we can approach our Father in prayer with what is on our mind.  The Bible strongly encourages us to do so, in fact.  So when we have tough questions, we can know that the power of Christ has made it possible for us to (reverently and humbly) approach the throne of our Heavenly Father and present our tough questions.  We do not have to fear God when we do not understand or even question His will, what a privilege of being a child of God!

What we must keep in mind, however, is that God does not answer to us (one of the major themes of this book), and ultimately one of our jobs as followers of Christ is to trust that His way is best.

O. (9:22): Job is struggling here.  He’s flip-flopping between being faithful to the Lord and irate.

Q. (9:33): Job is foretelling Jesus?  Anything else?

A. I honestly don’t think even Job knows what he is asking for here, but in his statement we see the great truth of the Incarnation.  Job is asking for a being that can bring together God and man and force mediation (if you will).  This is one of the ways that the Church throughout the ages has come to see Jesus: as the only being who was both fully God and fully human (Hebrews 1:3 and 2:17), Jesus is the way that brings us together with God.  Job, I think, would not have understood the Incarnation, but the longing that he expresses: to be able to approach God, is a deep human longing that we all share.

O & Q. (10:2): I think getting answers from God — patience — is one of the hardest things to handle as a Christian.  As the leader of a past Bible story pointed out: We have a book, the Bible, to read and learn from.  The people in Bible times were living out the stories.  Their direction was from what God told the leaders.  Luckily, we can learn from their experiences.  What does the Bible say about having patience toward God?

A. I’m not sure I would use the word “patience” toward God, but would rather use words like “trust” and “faith”.  Isaiah 40 reminds us that those who trust in God will endure, and one of the central ideas from our discussion today is that we have to have faith in God’s ways (something Job is having a hard time doing), even when things are not going well for us.

O. Again, another of Job’s friends, Zophar is saying Job must have sinned to be receiving so much devastation.

For further interest
— Is it OK to question God? https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/is-it-a-sin-to-question-god.html
— Are you into philosophical reasoning about the existence of God? https://gradresources.org/evidence-for-gods-existence/

Blog: Putting all the evidence together points to Him! https://livinlight.org/blog/proof-is-in-the-pudding/

Tomorrow’s reading: Job 12-14:22

Eliphaz response continues. Job’s friends came to comfort him and all three cried when they saw his distress.

Day 20 (Jan. 20): Eliphaz response continues

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 5
(Before 2100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible

Questions & Observations

O. (Job 5:1-27) It seems that Eliphaz wants Job to cry out to God and question his intentions. (I, Rob, would add that I think what Eliphaz is trying to do here is convince Job that he is being disciplined by God — which in Eliphaz’s mind is a good thing — and Job needs to accept God’s discipline and repent of his sin.  Don’t forget, WE know Job hasn’t sinned, but his friends do not — their responses will remain trying to talk Job into confession the sin they assume he has.)

Q. (Job 6:1-7:5): Job is basically saying that he has every right to complain, but how dare anyone question the ways of the Lord.  Just because he is speaking out about his pain, does not mean that he has lost faith in the Lord.  Is there anything else we should get from this passage?

A. Job’s response is pretty steadfast throughout these passages: basically he is saying “I haven’t done anything wrong, so I have no need to repent.  I have no idea why God is doing this.”  He is defending God, but he is also in this section responding to his friend by saying that his advice is not helpful, but is just twisting the knife that Job has already received from God.  Job is saying that not only has God wounded him with His arrows (v. 4), but now his friends are making it worse.  One of my commentaries noted that the saltless food Job refers to in v. 6-7 is his way of saying that the “food” (words) his friends are bringing him are tasteless and useless — he refuses to “eat” them.

Q. (Job 6:1-7:5): Does anyone ever feel like when they complain, that you feel an immediate sinking and shameful feeling?  Sometimes, I look for someone to complain to who will give me affirmation and not make me feel like a loser.  The older I get, the harder those people are to find.  I guess they have figured out too that complaining doesn’t do any good and they don’t want to hear it either.  Does the Bible talk about complaining?  Is it OK to, sometimes OK or never OK?

A. While it certainly can feel good to get some things off of our chest when we are genuinely frustrated by life, the Bible definitely warns about grumbling and complaining, notably in Philippians 2:14 and Ephesians 4:29.  To me, there is a clear line between talking to someone who cares about us (privately if possible) about our circumstances or the pain we have in life and being a person whose lives to complain about every little thing.  People like that are no fun to be around, and that is especially frustrating if they are Christians.  Christians who complain (as a habit — we all do it some), I think, have missed the point of the joy and blessing that God provides: if all you see is negative, then I would ask how much you have really let the message of the gospel change your heart.  If you want a good collection of verses on why grumbling and complaining is not a good lifestyle, go here: (http://www.openbible.info/topics/complaining)

O. (7:17-21): How boldly and eloquently Job accuses God.  Job understands that God is the Creator and doesn’t question that, he simply cries out, “Why me?”  I think we can all relate to Job in this passage.  I look forward to God’s magnificent response!  But first we hear from two more of Job’s friends who say their piece.  Stay tuned!

P.S. Is anyone feeling encouraged by Job’s faithfulness … and frustration?  His endurance and steadfastness have made me feel happily emboldened.

For further study: Ways God tests us today.  See article from Pastors.com, a website founded by Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life: https://pastors.com/six-ways-god-tests-your-faith-character/

Tomorrow’s reading: Job 8-11:20

Book of Job. Photo by Leigh An Coplin

Day 19 (Jan. 19): Job — Satan challenges God, Job tested, Job’s friends offer “help”

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 1-4
(Before 2100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible
The book of Job may be out of chronological order, but that is because its timeframe is uncertain.  According to the NLT The One Year Chronological Bible, p. 72: “The account of Job is traditionally thought to have taken place around the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (2200-1800) BC), or shortly thereafter.  However, it could have occurred as late as the Exile (during the sixth century BC). 

Questions & Observations

O.  How can anyone possibly own this much property?  He has all these riches and still praises God.

Q. (Job 1:5): After his children had been celebrating for several days Job made it practice to purify them by offering a sacrifice for each one in case they had sinned against God.  How does God view routinely sinning and then asking for forgiveness — taking Him for granted?

A. What you are describing in your question is what Bonheoffer (a church father during the Nazi rule in Germany) called cheap grace: the idea of taking God’s forgiveness for granted, and going on to make bad decisions.  This, frankly, is a very tempting option for a lot of people, and it also can be hard to avoid, since many of us have “pet” sins that we struggle with.  But part of what it means to be a maturing Christian is our gradual efforts to change our bad habits and to be increasingly repulsed by our defiant sin choices.  It should be a daily part of our walk with God to ask for His guidance in the ways that we are taking advantage of His grace and working to remove them.

As it relates to the story, I honestly don’t think this is what the author is talking about.  The writer is trying to show that Job is such an upright man, that he even offers up sacrifices for things his kids MIGHT have done.

Q. (1:6): Can you tell us anymore about this meeting?  Who is the heavenly court?  What is Satan doing with them?

A. While this is not the only glimpse into heaven that we get in the Bible (at least that’s what it appears to be), this is the only time that such a description is given to us.  My assumption is that the heavenly court is made up of angels (including at least one fallen one), but it doesn’t exactly tell us the “roll” of who is there.  The word Satan means “accuser”, which is exactly what he is doing in this scenario: accusing God of protecting Job, and accusing Job of being a “fair weather” person who only loves God because God has been so generous to him.  This is not the last time in the OT that we will see Satan accuse.

One other note that warrants mentioning here: there is a fair degree of variation between what Christians and Jews have to say about Satan and his “role”.  Many Jews do not see Satan as the great enemy of God, but rather an angel who serves the important role of “testing the mettle” of God’s faithful: he does so on God’s side, so to speak.  Passages like this one can point in that direction: the passage does not make God and Satan to be completely antagonistic.  Satan is testing Job, but only with God’s permission.  This image of Satan being a servant, rather than an enemy of God, varies greatly from the picture that is painted by the New Testament.  Keep in mind: much of what the Bible says about the devil (and hell, by the way) comes directly from Jesus Himself (see John 8:42-47 for example), and this obviously would lead to a very different interpretation of Satan’s role between Christians (who follow Christ) and Jews (who reject Jesus as Christ or Messiah).  We will continue to get glimpses into the spiritual realm of angels, demons, and Satan, so see how these two visions line up with what you’ve been taught.

Q. (1:20): I know there is a larger question to ask here.  I’ll get to it.  But, I want to ask about the tearing of clothes.  We have seen Jacob do this, Joseph’s brothers, and here Job tore his robe and shaved his head in despair.  Is there symbolism here?

A. Tearing (or rending) one’s clothes was a way of showing great distress, in this case mourning for Job’s dead children and servants.  Shaving the head would have also been seen as a sign of mourning: it was very uncommon for a man to shave his head (which probably included shaving off facial hair) in this period, and it would have made the man stand out.  If you wanted to bring attention to the fact that you were in mourning, shaving your head and beard would have been a great way to do it.

Q. (1:13-2:10): After reading this, I just said “whew.”  How could anyone take this and why would God test Job so harshly?  In 2:4, it says “you (Satan) urged me (God) to harm him (Job) …” saying God did the harming.  But in 1:12, God said he would allow Satan to test him.  So, who tested him?  Is this a slip of translation?  I bet you’re going to say that what we need to glean from this is that Job was faithful to God no matter what happened to him or who harmed him.  So, here we are again at: “Does God cause bad things to happen?  Or just know about them and allow them to happen?”  I think it’s clear here that God made the bad things happen.  What significance does this have in God’s battle of strength with Satan?  To me, this is a battle between God and Satan and Job is the pawn.  Again, I feel like I’m going to get struck for saying that!  Just trying to understand.

A. Lets pull back a bit.  Job is basically an extended narrative essay on the eternal question of theodicy: basically, if a loving, all-powerful God exists, why do bad things happen?  So in the first few chapters, we already have one part of the answer: part of the reason that we suffer is that God is not the only powerful entity in our universe.  There are other entities whom desire to harm God’s children because doing so harms the God who loves them.  If Satan cannot confront God directly, he surely can target God’s children to gain (in his mind) some measure of revenge.  So, God does not choose our suffering, but allows it for us to be tested just as Job is being tested here.

I think the verse you are pointing to does not say that God harmed Job directly, but as you clearly state, He does allow the harm of Satan.  Is that exactly the same as saying “God harmed Job” because He allowed it to happen?  Well, that’s up to you to decide.  Part of what this story builds up to in the late chapters is that we must be VERY cautious in assuming anything about the mind of God.  We make a lot of presumptions about God’s justice (or lack there of as we see it), but ultimately, God does not have to answer to us, as we shall see.

O. (1:1-26): Job is obviously beside himself, hurt to the core.  He seemed calmer when he told his wife that we need to accept the good and the bad — all that comes from God.  Here, it finally hit him.  His ranting reminds me of when something is troubling me and I have crazy thoughts running through my head as I struggle to see the light of it.  His problems are much more devastating than anything I have faced, but I can still relate.

Q. (4:9, 4:19):  When I first read this, I thought it was God talking.  Then, I looked back and was relieved when I saw that it was Eliphaz.  I imagine most people listening to this response of his friend and thinking, “He’s got a point.”  However, we learn that Job does not forget who his Creator is.  We are told that God is loving, yet he can come down on people severely.  We are merely dust, purely disposable.  From my perspective, it seems that the Old Testament is harsher, but the New Testament is the new law and shows much more affection.  Do you feel God can have a change of heart?

A. That is, of course, a classic debate that has been going on for centuries.  Certainly the relationship between man and God changed through the actions of Jesus in the New Testament, but I do not feel that the OT paints God as any less loving and faithful to His chosen people.  It’s just that in the NT, everyone — Jew and Gentile alike, becomes His chosen people if they are in Christ.

Book recommendation: I have this great book called Grace in a Tree Stump by one of my professors at Asbury (Ellsworth Kalas — one of my favorite writers), that talks about the many ways that God shows mercy and grace to people throughout the Old Testament.

We should be careful about saying God is more or less “harsh” in the Old or New Testaments.  One thing to remember that frequently gets cast aside in such discussions: while the Old Testament certainly comes across as harsh, it is the New Testament that has the most to say about hell, its reality, and the reality that people will end up there if they do not trust Christ for their salvation.  The Old Testament has a some instances of God striking people down or “causing them suffering” as we’ve been talking about, but the New Testament has a lot more to say about the ETERNAL destiny of sinners.  Is that ultimately more harsh and cruel?  Something to think about.

For further study: If I follow God, won’t He protect me from bad things? Look at this article on syllogism.

Blog: Want to build your life on a solid foundation? See https://livinlight.org/blog/give-yourself-a-solid-foundation/

Shop: The source of true wisdom doesn’t come from your friends, family, celebrities or scientists, it comes from above!

Tomorrow’s reading: Job 5-7:21