Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

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Job Sees Jesus

October 18 – Today’s Readings – Job – 19-21 and Psalms 108

Now we come to an interesting point of conversation in our study. In these three chapters Job declares that wicked men often are better off in this world than righteous men. They often have more wealth – they seem to have healthy bodies and no catastrophe befalls them all the days of their lives. This is not necessarily a false statement – just an exaggeration.

Neither does righteousness does not guarantee a life free of troubles – it does not guarantee financial prosperity – it does not guarantee good health. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

There is a day of judgment for the wicked but that day is often reserved till death. There is great reward for the righteous as well but that day too is often reserved till after death. Please don’t misunderstand me – the Bible teaches that God gives the righteous ability to gain wealth [if you don’t believe me, re-read the Book of Proverbs] – we also recognize that by the Holy Spirit many of us walk in divine health. Prosperity however is not a sure sign of good standing with God – neither is suffering and loss a sign of the judgment of God. Certainly God blesses His children here on earth and we often end up with prosperity of various kinds for the sake of the Kingdom, but there are many great saints who lack in earthly blessing. We will do well if we keep these things in mind, for even today many well-meaning Christian people are locked into thinking about earthly blessings far more than eternal ones.

Just a side note – did you notice the incredible messianic prophecy in Chapter 19:25-27? – “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

This statement is a divine revelation of Jesus the Redeemer, of the resurrection of the dead, of a new body after death, of an eternal relationship with God Himself – this was Job’s salvation. He believed in Jesus Christ even before Christ was born. Have you ever thought of how the “saints” in the Old Testament were saved? It was by faith in Christ – the same way that we are redeemed. Even though Job was struggling with all of his difficulties, he was given the revelation he needed – the salvation of God. So too – when we go through trials of many kinds – we must never lose sight of the abundant life that is resident in Christ Jesus.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Questions:

1. Can you think of Godly Biblical characters who had great wealth?
2. How about some equally Godly saints who lacked in financial prosperity?
3. Name them and describe what set them apart as men or women of God.

Suffering

October 17 – Today’s Readings – Job 16-18 and Psalms 107

For the last three days we have discussed how not to behave around those who are suffering. Today I want to switch gears and focus on the problem that Job was having with ‘perspective’. He was suffering physically to the point of death. He had emotional pain that was beyond all reason. As a result he was now also lacking in SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE. Chapter 16:7-9 reads, “Surely, O God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. You have bound me—and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.” In Job’s mind God had become his opponent – his enemy – his fierce attacker. This is a very sad place to come to spiritually. Of course God was not the attacker – the Devil was. God was not the accuser – the Devil was. God was not the enemy – the Devil was. God had not intervened supernaturally in Job’s troubles but his heart toward Job had never changed. He loved Job like a father loves his son. So then – Why He did not intervene till the trial was complete? This is something that only the “sovereignty of God” can explain. We will not truly understand some of these “mysteries” till we get to heaven.

Job did get some things right however. He saw Jesus, the Great Intercessor of the saints – Chapter 16:19-21 reads, “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” Job somehow knew that the Great Shepherd of the flock was in heaven interceding for him. What he didn’t put together very well was that the Father and the Son were one and the same. Let’s not be too hard on Job though – any one of us could end up with the same conclusions if we had just gone through what Job did!

If we perceive God as our enemy how does it affect us spiritually? We simply lose all hope. If God is not for us then we have no source of life left to draw on. BUT – IF GOD BE FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US! (Romans 8:31) All courage and hope comes from the firm knowledge that God is steadfastly for us regardless of the circumstances that face us. I believe the ultimate suffering Job felt was when he no longer saw God as being on his side. This is exactly what Jesus felt when He became sin for us though He was sinless. – “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ — which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46)

Our hope is built on the love of God – that He cares – whether our boat is struggling in a storm or whether we are experiencing smooth sailing. Job made a serious mistake when he began to see God as his enemy – all hope was lost at this point in the story.

Questions:

1. Have you ever been around someone who had lost all hope? How did this affect their eternal perspective?
2. Give another Biblical example of a person who lost hope. What was the outcome of their situation?

So – You Think You’ve Got The Answers?

October 16 – Today’s Readings – Job 13-15 and Psalms 106

Job’s “friends” are persistent in trying to find a “quick fix” to his problems and to restate their opinion of God’s character and how things work. “The solution to Job’s problems must be simple”, they thought. “Job must be lacking something – or have too much of something – sin in his heart – or lack of faith – or broken relationships – or not enough knowledge – SOMETHING is wrong with Job or this would not be happening to him.”

In Chapter 13:4 Job fires back at his comforters; “You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!” We all know what a physician is but do we understand that we all can be “physicians” to each other? Our words – our prayers – our attitudes – our touch – our faith – the look in our eyes – the tone of voice we use – whether we are accusing our friends or comforting them – all these things bring a physician’s touch to people who are in trouble. All of these things speak of loving our neighbor or judging our neighbor. Would Job’s sufferings have been easier if his friends had been sensitive to his real needs? Not physically of course but emotionally and spiritually – yes! One of the greatest secrets to health is how a person handles things spiritually and emotionally. The friends may not have known it but the Devil himself used them to bring Job down to the lowest emotional place he could be. If a person feels rejected by God and all those he cares about, what is there left to live for? Job’s suicidal thoughts ought not to surprise us – he was in shock, in depression, in grief, in anger, without any evident support from God, without his wife, rejected by friends and resigned to the fact he would die very soon. At this point a person needs comfort so that even through his tears he knows someone cares.

There are others in Scripture who arrived at the door of death, yet came out shining like gems. Think of Joseph for a moment (Genesis chapters 30-50) Here was a man who learned what it was like to suffer and be in torment – yet without sin. The Bible says he was just 17 when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and was a full forty years old when he was promoted out of prison to be the governor of Egypt. (Genesis 37:2 & 41:46) He spent 23 hard and painful years, suffering for no fault of his own. Was God absent? Did He not care? Was He judging Joseph for some sin? Was He playing games with Joseph’s life? The answer to all these questions is “no” of course and Joseph managed to grow in grace, wisdom, and spiritual gifting as he spent his years slowly dying in the dungeon and in slavery. He also managed to not hold bitterness and anger in his heart, so that he was finally able to clearly represent God to his family. – “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)

Trials will come – and so will difficulties. In the process we must always remember that God is for us and is with us. Herein lies our hope.

Questions:

1. Have you ever felt misunderstood and not “comforted” in a very difficult situation? Tell about it and how you would have handled it differently.
2. Give an example of a person who suffered great difficulty as a direct result of sin or moral failing.

Desperate

October 15 – Today’s Readings – Job 10-12 and Psalms 105

Chapter 10 of the book of Job is most interesting because Job is speaking to God in desperateness of soul and body. He questions God in a fairly confrontive manner! We may even call this “being angry” with God.The reason for this is that Job can see no sense or rationale for what is happening to him. It’s almost as if God is punishing him for no good reason. Have you ever been with a hurting or grieving person who speaks in this manner? My guess is that you have. Perhaps you also have spoken to the Lord in this way when you were hurting and confused. Is it “right” to speak to God in such a way? No. We can never say that accusing God or questioning God’s character is right – BUT – God does understand us and sees deep into our beleaguered hearts. He is not afraid of our questions nor our emotions. Neither is He offended with our natural, human response to disastrous situations. Even our Lord Jesus, who was without any sin, cried out in anguish; “My God my God – Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) This was not a sin; it was a cry of pain from the human heart of Christ. Our hearts too may be overwhelmed at times and we too may cry out to God in a manner that is confusing to the hearer. Here’s a thought – should you come upon a distressed soul, be careful not to “judge” too hastily lest you find yourself in the same position and have others judge you. Remember, God’s heart is with the troubled soul. His purpose is to walk through troubled times with us and to comfort us. Our words and actions towards others should mimic God’s.

Over in the book of Acts, there are two other men who found themselves in an unfair and desperate situation – “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:22-25)

I love these guys! Here they were in a horrible situation – beaten – pounded on – shackled – shamed – and their response was to worship. They not only began to sing through their parched lips and aching, bruised ribs – they sang loud enough so that all the rest of the inmates began to listen carefully to the praise and worship songs. Remember that this was all happening at midnight in the middle of this diseased and rat infested prison – after a very bad day at the office! Here then is the New Testament believer’s response to anguish of soul – worship. We acknowledge that Jesus is with us not against us – and that He is Lord of all – then we come to Him with worshipping hearts, knowing that He is the only real solution to all of our problems.

Questions:

1. Tell of another Scriptural instance where a person’s response to adversity was worship.
2. Tell of a situation where you too questioned the Lord in anguish of heart.

Is Sickness A “Cause And Effect” Thing?

October 14 – Today’s Readings – Job 7-9 and Psalms 104

Today we must deal with the “cause and effect” doctrine propagated by some when it comes to dealing with sickness or tragedy in our lives.

In these verses Job has been asking himself [and God] whether it was sin that caused his calamity – ”If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?” (Job 7:20) This is a most natural response for Job. Who in their right minds would not seek a simple answer to tragedy or sickness in their lives – “God, have I done something to bring this on myself? – Is there any sin or rebellion or hardness of heart that has brought this sickness or hardship upon me?”

Job received only an answer of silence – until his “friends” arrived. They thought they had God all figured out – and they thought they had all Job’s “troubles” figured out too. They had placed God in a convenient little theological box.

Chapter 8:4 reads, “When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” Yet there is NO INDICATION that Job’s children had been living sinful lives at all! On the contrary, it seems that God went to great pains in telling us that all was well with Job and his family!

So – first of all – Job’s friends told him that his children must have sinned to end up dead. But get this – the attack on Job’s own character also intensified – “If you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.” (Job 7:6)

We now come to the reason “why” these men had such issue with Job’s condition – It was because of what they believed about God. “While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.” (Job 7:12-13) – “Surely God does not reject a blameless man”… “or strengthen the hands of evildoers.” (Job 7:12 & 8:20)

What is actually being confessed here? “Job! You must have some kind of SIN or LACK OF FAITH in your life – because – look at you! You used to be blessed by all earthly standards and now you don’t seem to have any earthly blessings at all!”

Hold on boys! – What about all the wonderful Godly people who live their whole lives in persecution or great poverty? Does this mean they are less “Godly” or have less faith than we who are materially blessed? What about those fantastic believers who suffer through the devastation of natural disaster or physical problems? Is God punishing them? Hardly. This is why I find great comfort from the Book of Job. It gives perspective to the suffering and pain all around us – in believers’ lives. Why did Job’s friends do more harm than good? – It was because their thinking was wrong! —- More to follow tomorrow.

Questions:

1. Does the Book of Job in any way contradict the teachings of Jesus or the Apostles?
2. Does the Book of Job contradict some of the prevalent teaching in the Christian world?
3. In which ways?

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