So That You May Not Grow Weary – Hebrews 12-13

In Hebrews chapter 12, the writer offers encouragement to the Christians he addresses. Some were no doubt experiencing persecution. All throughout the gospel, we are told of trials and suffering that we will endure. It should, then, come as no surprise to us when they occur.

English: Pagans kill Christians in Pliska.

English: Pagans kill Christians in Pliska. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The writer speaks of trials that we experience because of the sinful world that we live in. Those who dwell in that darkness are hostile to us, as they were then. On that subject, he reminds them of Jesus:

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

That is true of most of us. But many have died in those days, and even today we see that Christians are being killed for their faith.  So then in chapter 13, he quotes from Psalm 27:1, saying “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

We might say, “well they can kill me!” Jesus said in Luke 12:4: “do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.” Our lives here in a world that is not our home are simply the beginning. Beyond this life, no man has power of any kind over us.

The other kind of suffering the writer talks about has to do with the normal day-to-day trials, pain, grief, and yes, even suffering of a physical and mental nature. God does not cause bad things to happen to us. But He will allow them to happen if it will strengthen us and build our endurance.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Hebrews

Heb. 9, Heb. 10, Heb. 11, Heb. 12, Heb. 13

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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Job 30 – My Soul Is Poured Out Within Me

In the previous chapter, Job recounted the days before his tragedies when he not only was respected, but had the ability to help those in need.  Chapter 30, on the other hand, begins with “but now…,” as he enumerates many of the ways his life has changed for the worse.

Job's Evil Dreams (illustration)

Job’s Evil Dreams (illustration) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now the losses that Job refers to involve his relationship with God, as well as the relationships he longs to have back with his fellow-man. Once again, Job’s character shines through his suffering and his mourning. Indeed, verses 9 and 16 begin recounting more of these reversals in fortune with “and now…” and “but now,” with verses 16-17 demonstrating some of the chapter’s most poetic, if pathetic, verses:

“And now my soul is poured out within me;
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
The night racks my bones,
and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest”

Verses 1-9 describe the lot of those who refused to work and were too proud too beg. This left them scrounging in the desert for sustenance, shunned by society. Even these looked at Job in disdain. But verse 24 demonstrates his deepest despair, as Job mourns his perceived loss of relationship with God: “Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, and in his disaster cry for help?”  Job retains his love for God, though he believes that the Lord has abandoned him.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 77 – Has God Forgotten?

This psalm has been seen both as a national (or community) lament and a personal lament.  It is appropriate for both because the underlying question is the same in either case – “has God abandoned me?”  The psalmist raises the questions not disrespectfully, but in genuine wonder and distress.  The problem is not an uncommon one for any of us.  How do we deal with the doubt that can come over us when there are times in lives that result in grave trouble or great sorrow?

crying_002No matter whether the trials are from illness, loss of a loved one, loneliness, or any kind of suffering at all, how do we come to terms with the pain and suffering we feel and reconcile those feelings with a loving, just, and gracious God? When the trials continue for long periods of time with seemingly no relief, do we not have the same questions of God that this psalmist has?  (“Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” “Has His steadfast love ceased forever?” “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?”)

The devil uses those feelings to bring our doubts to their fullest heights in the hope that our faith will ultimately fail.  Little by little (or sometimes a lot by a lot) he tries to wear us down and bring doubt to our Christian hearts.  There is no reason to suppose that God is offended by the questions.  We already have the answers after all.  God is love – His love never ceases.

He cannot forget to be gracious because His grace is everlasting.  Repeatedly, the Scriptures tell us that “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Numbers 14:18).  Remember Psalm 27:14: Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage” – and again, verse 14 of this chapter “You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 15 – Eliphaz Accuses Job

pointing_fingerEliphaz takes the floor again and accuses Job of both impiety and of turning his spirit against God with his words (verse 13) – which Eliphaz only considers as Job’s craftiness, trying to justify himself in the face of his sins.  He rebukes Job for his attitude toward him and his other two friends, speaking indignantly of it and implying that Job seems to believe that he is smarter than they are (verse 9).

Eliphaz then goes into detail about his own knowledge of the ways of wicked men and their abominable behavior and utter disregard for either their fellow man or the Lord Himself.  In verse 21, he states that the wicked who are prosperous will be brought down very low because of their sins.  And in the remainder of the chapter, he implies that Job has much worse to dread in the coming days because of his lack of fear for the Lord.  It is a very bleak picture that this “friend” paints for Job, and a stinging assault on his integrity, which is all that Job feels he has left.  And now Eliphaz would take even that away from him.

How thoughtless and destructive man’s words can be for his fellow man even when they are at their lowest.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 55 – Cast Your Burden on the Lord

prayingmanA good portion of this psalm relates to betrayal by a once close and trusted friend; and Spurgeon seems right to assess it as reading “like a song of the times of Absalom and Ahithophel.”  Some have also seen it as a prophetic foretelling of the prayers of Jesus in the face of His betrayal and imminent death; and that certainly does fit as well.  There is no reason why it cannot be both, as most of the Royal psalms do refer to present as well as prophetic circumstances.  Consider verses 3-6:

…in anger they bear a grudge against me.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;

But as a lament, much of it also seems to have application to the despair that overwhelms one because of the oppression of the world and the ultimate enemy – the devil himself, who lays in wait, constantly seeking to beat us down, and causes us grievous harm in ways we may not understand as being from his work at the time they occur.  As such, it is like a great many other psalms, which have tremendous power and application in our own prayers when we often wonder how we can carry on through our suffering:

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan
because of the noise of the enemy

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 14 – Man Flees Like a Shadow

Job concludes his fourth speech with a soliloquy on the brevity of life.  Although, as we have said before, it is often dark in these early chapters, the poetry in Job is clearer and more beautifully eloquent and evident the further along we go.  Of man being few of days and full of trouble, verse 2 says

He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not

Job still does not understand; and he continues to wonder why God seems to be angry with him.

Oh …that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me…
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come

rushing waterJob feels totally hopeless and is mistakenly certain that it is God who has brought him to this state.  His pitiful condition elicits a heart-wrenching cry of desperation:

But the mountain falls and crumbles away,
and the rock is removed from its place;
the waters wear away the stones;
the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
so you destroy the hope of man

Job still has not cursed God, but the words are certainly accusatory.  We have to wonder whether God will tire of this.  To that question at least, we will at last get an answer.  But not just yet.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 13 – Worthless Physicians

broken2In the first section of chapter 13, Job rebukes his three friends soundly, calling them “worthless physicians” in verse four, and declaring their eloquent speeches garbage in verse 12.  He accuses them of formulating lies, when they should be comforting him.  And he rightly predicts the future, telling them that God will rebuke them for their position concerning the character of man determining his lot in life.  Then in verses 13-18, he again declares his righteousness, as well as his trust that God will recognize it.

In verses 20-29, he again addresses God.  One  commentator called this last section “a new attack on God.”  But though he will come to reconsider the wisdom of demanding an audience with God, Job is certainly not launching any attack here.  Clearly though, Job is convinced that God must be mistaken about something concerning himself, and he wants his time to plead his case.  He even suggests in verse 26 that God may be punishing him for sins he committed in his youth.  He was a better man now, and wanted the chance to get the Lord to recognize that fact.  But even so, he allows for the possibility that he may really be guilty; and if so, he wants God to tell him what he has done – and that then he should just accept what has happened (verse 19, 23).

These seemingly different and wandering thoughts on Job’s part simply underscore his confusion and pain.  He is hurting so badly, and wants to understand why it is so.  It is this fact that explains much of the value to us in this book that can be very difficult to take at times.  It teaches us much about ourselves.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 44 – Why are you sleeping, O Lord?

This lament psalm has been the subject of much speculation as to when it was written, and under what circumstances.  Some of the proposed answers for those questions have been the reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24), the time of the Macabees (inter-testamental), the reign of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18), and even the time of Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 25). It is reasonable however to more narrowly define the circumstances in terms of a group or community of people who are simply persecuted unjustly.

The time and circumstances really do not matter though.  It begins in verses 1-8 as a wonderful hymn of praise to God.  From there, it becomes much like several other lament psalms that cry for help from God, while it appears to the psalmist that God not only is ignoring their pain, but may well be responsible for some of it; and the psalmist cannot understand what they could have done to deserve such.   We may even read in shock at the way the psalmist addresses the Lord, as in verses 23-24:  Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?  Rouse yourself!  …Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

In that respect, the psalm is of great value to God’s people today in a couple of ways.  First, it demonstrates without a doubt that even in keeping with God’s will, godly and righteous people do often suffer undeservedly.  The apostle Paul pointed this out very well in Romans 8:36, as he linked the sufferings of persecuted 1st century Christians with that of God’s people in this psalm, quoting verse 22:

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Rembrandt - Apostle Paul - WGA19120

Rembrandt – Apostle Paul – WGA19120 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second thing that we can take away from this psalm, which is the inspired word of God, is that when we are hurting it is not wrong to cry out to Him – and yes even to express the unfairness of it all and our grieving disappointment that He has not yet taken away our pain.    It may be His will that we have that pain eased soon, or He may have more important plans for us and for those we influence.  But no, it is not sinful to be hurt, nor to plead for His mercy for us.  But keeping our eyes on the promise to which He will surely be faithful, we can know that He loves us even in those times.  And we should keep close Paul’s words that follow in Romans 8:37-39:

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 2 ( or Just When You Thought Things Were Bad Enough…)

"Job covered in boils" - from Martin Luther's Bible

“Job covered in boils” – from Martin Luther’s Bible

The opening of the second chapter of Job is exactly as written in Job 1:6-8.  These encounters between God and Satan, especially when one interjects the “sons of God,” are the subject of lots of varying interpretations among commentators; and trying to sort through those may well overwhelm you as much as it does this blogger.  Some see these “sons of God” as angels, and some see them as worshipers.  It is pointed out that in no part of the scriptures does it say that these events take place in heaven.  The righteous are said to come before the Lord every time we worship him.  It is also true that Jesus said that the angels see the face of God every day (Matthew 18:10), so they would hardly need to “present” themselves before Him.

Matthew Poole saw these encounters between God and Satan as parabolic, and it is also possible that he could be partially right about that.   But the question in the end is – Does it really matter?  Okay so here, admittedly, is one more opinion.  <Insert disclaimer here> The discourse between God and Satan is told in the word of God by His inspired writer, just as a prophet would tell us in a book that is both history and poetry.

The conversations between God and Satan in Job have three purposes in my view.  First, they tell us that Satan is a real adversary.  (“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8).   Secondly, they serve to demonstrate that although God does not cause us to suffer, it is not His will to prevent evil from be-falling us at all times.  Third,  they assure us that Satan’s power is not unlimited.  God does have dominion over him.

So Satan struck Job with “loathsome sores” (some versions say “boils”) literally from head to toe.  Attempts have been made to assign a medical condition using the description of the breath and other symptoms in other chapters.  But again, does it matter?  The point is that he was in so much agony that he was using broken pottery to “scrape” himself (verse 8).  And he was so disfigured that his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who we will get to know better) did not even recognize him, cried when they saw how bad he really was, and sat with him for a week without anyone even speaking.

The question of why Satan did not take the life of Job’s wife is answered in verse nine, as she tries to persuade Job to curse God, to give up, and to take his own life.

We will resume Job’s story next Thursday.  I think I need me some Psalms and Proverbs before then.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Introducing Job – Chapter 1

Tennyson, as Poet Laureate, used verse to prom...

Among the books of the Bible widely classified as “wisdom and poetry literature,” one would naturally think of Psalms among the poetry.  But the book of Job is not one that comes to the mind of most people when they think of poetry.  The great poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, however, would disagree.  Tennyson called Job “the greatest poem, whether of ancient or modern literature.”  A common statement made about Job is that it is about the question of why good people suffer.

Well, that question certainly was raised in Job, but there is a problem with that description after a careful reading – that question was never really answered.  Oswald Chambers said it better when presenting a summary of all five of the wisdom books.  Speaking of Job, he said it describes “how to suffer.”   And that is just about as good of a description as you will get, for much of the book does teach us how the righteous should face suffering, when it comes into their lives.  And in fact, Job is overflowing with poetry, as well as wisdom.  Every Thursday this year, we will read a chapter from this great book.

One question that constantly comes up about Job is whether it is fiction or history.  Defending the (correct, I solemnly believe) view that the Book of Job is the real story of a real man who suffered unimaginably difficult times is beyond the scope of this blog – except maybe to point out that God’s word treats it as such, and His inspired writers in other books refer to Job as a historic figure (Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11, for example).  For a more in-depth  look at the historicity of Job, please see this article at ApologeticsPress.org.

Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia, although once united with Judah against Babylon, had abandoned Judah and rejoiced to see its ruin. But these nations were as sinful as Judah and would also feel the sting of God's judgment.

Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia, although once united with Judah against Babylon, had abandoned Judah and rejoiced to see its ruin. But these nations were as sinful as Judah and would also feel the sting of God’s judgment.

We will start off chapter one by stating that there is much we do not know.  We do not know who the author was or when it was written.  The absence of reference to a Levitical priesthood (as demonstrated in verse 5) along with Job’s longevity (see Job 42:16), however, suggest roughly a time in Genesis after the flood.  We also do not know where, geographically, Job’s home in Uz was either, other than it was in the east (verse 3) and near a desert (verse 19).  It could be related to the northern home of Uz, the grandson of Shem (Genesis 10:22-23), Noah’s son, of whom the historian Josephus wrote in “Antiquities of the Jews” (book 1, chapter 6, paragraph 4), crediting him with the founding of Trachonitis and Damascus.  It could also be the land of Abraham’s nephew Uz (Genesis 22:20-21).  It could even be the land of the Uz the descendant of Seir, who had been related to Esau by marriage (Genesis 36:28).  It could also be the same land spoken of in Jeremiah 25:17-29 and Lamentations 4:21, which would be near or even include Edom to the south and east of the Dead Sea.

There is a lot of speculation also about verses 6-12.  Some say that the “sons of God” in verse 6 were angels.  Others make the perfectly good point that the term “sons of God” is used elsewhere in the scriptures to speak of people who serve the Lord (e.g. Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God”).  Along those lines, it is noteworthy that six times in these six verses, the Tetragrammaton (the Hebrew letters usually transliterated as YHWH or JHVH, which many refer to as Jehovah, rather than Yahweh) are used for God.  This use of the proper covenental name of God would seem to suggest a gathering of worshipers in which Satan asserted himself.

What we do know is that Job was a wealthy man who lived an upright life in the fear of the Lord (verses 1-3),

Messengers tell Job of his losses.

Messengers tell Job of his losses.

even to the point of offering sacrifices to God for his ten children (verse 5).  He seemed to have everything one could desire in life.  Then came the news from messengers, one after another, each telling of the great calamities that had fallen upon Job.  The Sabeans came from the south and killed his oxen and donkeys, and then murdered his servants that were with them (verses 14-15).  Then what we could assume as lightning had struck and killed his sheep and the servants that tended them (verse 16).  Before the second messenger had finished, another came and told Job that the Chaldeans, coming from the north, had taken his camels and killed the servants that were with them as well (verse 17).  The worst blow came again before the third messenger finished delivering his news.  All of his children, having been at the feast at his oldest son’s house had been killed by what must have been a great tornado that destroyed the house (verse 19).

Of Job’s immense grief at all of this loss, we get only a sense, as he tore his robe and shaved his head (signs of mourning) in verse 20.  He then fell upon the ground and worshiped God, rather than cursing him as Satan had hoped.  Verses 21-22 begin the real lesson of this book:

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

Many have suffered great loss in this world (though few as great as this in such a short time), but who has not known someone who blamed God for their troubles, even those that were really self-inflicted?  How often have we been inclined to do the same?  Any loss, however great, is not the end of eternity.  Not for us, nor for any of the loved ones we may have lost.  Every blessing we have received in this life has come from God (James 1:17), unearned by us, and all of those blessings will be only a memory by the end of this life.  But as James, the Lord’s brother, also wrote in 1:12:

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

But Job’s story is only beginning.  We will take up chapter 2 next Thursday.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy

Please “like” us on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/bobsboy01

___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.