Job 30

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Job 30:1-1

30 “But now they mock me,
men younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to put with my sheep dogs.
2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,
since their vigour had gone from them?
3 Haggard from want and hunger,
they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night.
4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom bush.
5 They were banished from human society,
shouted at as if they were thieves.
6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,
among the rocks and in holes in the ground.
7 They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the undergrowth.
8 A base and nameless brood,
they were driven out of the land.
9 “And now those young men mock me in song;
I have become a byword among them.
10 They detest me and keep their distance;
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
they throw off restraint in my presence.
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Job now turns from the wistful reflection of his exalted past to a heavy lament of his present situation. In contrast to being the most celebrated of leaders and wise men he is now the subject of derision from the lowest in societies pecking order. Disrespected by outcasts and mocked by street urchin type children.

He was the subject of jokes from the mouths of vagabonds and sordid entertainment for societies most unwelcome.

Formerly the most important people would gather to listen to Job. He was someone with great influence and was respected by the wise and influential from near and far. Remember that even Job’s three friends were among those and they travelled some distance when they heard of his plight.
But now, there was gathering of a different kind. The low level gathering of mockery and spectacle. He was mocked, jeered and insulted.

A shadow for Christ perhaps?

Job had known the fathers of these youths. But the fathers did not impress Job. Job would not employ them. They were too lazy. They did not want to work.
These fathers were not responsible men. Perhaps they were drunks. Perhaps they were always asking other people for money. They were outcasts from the city as they were trouble makers and these children were like their fathers. They swore. They insulted Job. They laughed at him. And they caused trouble.
They considered themselves superior to Job.
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Job 30:12-15

12 On my right the tribe attacks;
they lay snares for my feet,
they build their siege ramps against me.
13 They break up my road;
they succeed in destroying me.
‘No one can help him,’ they say.
14 They advance as through a gaping breach;
amid the ruins they come rolling in.
15 Terrors overwhelm me;
my dignity is driven away as by the wind,
my safety vanishes like a cloud.
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This is the continuation of a description of the taunting young men or children who had gathered like a gang and were cruel to Job. They tried to trip him when he walked by them, and they put obstacles in his path that took great pain to go around. They showed no respect him. He was the laughing stock of the town. These gangs of young men tried to stop Job in every step he took.

Job watched the youths as they talked. He felt that they were making plans to attack him but felt too ill and lacking in any motivation or energy to avoid them.

Job compared himself to a City when being attacked. A City cannot move when under siege, it cannot hide. It must just absorb whatever punishment that is coming at it
He was waiting for the youths to attack. He had no escape and could not protect himself.

Job had lived most of his life up until now as a confident, secure man who was respected and honoured. This was no longer the case. (Job 29:18-20).

His security was not real. His reputation would not endure. This can happen to any of us. We could lose everything through our own moral failure (as was true in my own case) or through events outside of our control as was the case of Job. Either way, whatever we put our security in other than God will be brought into question at that point. Whether it is something physical such as financial security or something more spiritual such as our reputation both will be brought down. God is a jealous God, he will not allow us to have any other God’s… why? because they can do us no good at all, they are false God’s. They cannot give us what we deeply desire or need. Only God Almighty the author of life, the founder of all things can do that and he promises to do so. He stops at nothing in his pursuit of us,

All of this terrible treatment by these gangs of young boys, coupled with the shame and disgrace that Job was feeling, had him terrified. It seems that no one was interested in the welfare of Job. God used this attack from Satan to strip Job of everything and leave him only with the presence of God and the possibility of Job finding his peace in that alone.
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Job 30:16-19

16 “And now my life ebbs away;
days of suffering grip me.
17 Night pierces my bones;
my gnawing pains never rest.
18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;
he binds me like the neck of my garment.
19 He throws me into the mud,
and I am reduced to dust and ashes.

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Job’s life ebbed away, suffering gripped him, his bones ached, he experienced relentless gnawing pain, his skin was peeling (verse 30), and he was reduced to mud, dust, and ashes. He felt that he was the victim of some kind of divine mugging.
Job’s afflictions had robbed him of his will to live. It consumed his thinking. He was ravaged with disease, pain and anguish.
Even at night he could not find rest. The pain was gnawing away at him.

The word mud in verse 19 can also be translated “the mire” which is the lowest depth of misery and degradation (see Psalm 40:2; 69:2, 14). He blamed God but still had enough faith to wrestle with him in prayer.

Job believed that God had discarded him. He sat in ashes and prayed. His becoming like dust and ashes indicated that he was impure, offensive to his fellow men, an object of scorn and disdain.

To feel completely abandoned by everyone and to feel abandoned by God is perhaps the greatest pain of all. We may have had dark moments in our lives where we experienced that momentarily, maybe through relentless pain and suffering, maybe as a result of our sin or someone else’s sin. That hopelessness is a hard place and quite usually the crucible where our faith is formed to be deeper and more profound although it’s hard to see it ourselves in that moment. Jesus endured this at the cross. Complete abandonment even from his father. His words as recorded in Matthew 27:46 were “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus did not deserve to be in that position, it can be argued that Job did not deserve to be in that position. The truth is though, that God was present. Very present. At the Cross he was present. It was part of an incredible plan, in Job’s suffering he was very present and in our suffering he is also very present. He is at that crucible knowing that something new will emerge from this situation.
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Job 30:20-23

20 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me.
21 You turn on me ruthlessly;
with the might of your hand you attack me.
22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;
you toss me about in the storm.
23 I know you will bring me down to death,
to the place appointed for all the living.
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Job struggled to see God’s presence in all that was going on and the anguish he felt. If God was present he could only deduce that it was cruel behaviour on the part of the hand of the almighty. In his worldview he was suffering the fate of the wicked and yet he knew that in his heart of hearts he was not wicked.

He knew that ultimately death comes to everyone but he struggled with the process or his journey towards what seemed like an inevitable pending death.

Why do bad things happen to good people? We don’t actually know. God in his wisdom does not answer that question for us. He alone knows. What we do know is that our definition of “good people” varies a lot depending on variable experiences of life, cultural views, worldviews. Only God defines what is truly good. Secondly we know that we live in a broken messed up world where things don’t function properly since we took on the definition of good and evil on our own terms in the garden of Eden. 

The world we live in has suffered as a result of our attempt to play God rather than allow God to be God. The outcome is that we can suffer as a result of long term flawed condition, the result of another person’s action or even as is the case of Job due to something occurring in the spiritual realms. There is of course also the consequences of our own sin.
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Job 30:24-31

24 “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
when he cries for help in his distress.
25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?
Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.
27 The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.
28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.
30 My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.
31 My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my pipe to the sound of wailing.

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Verses 24-26 seem to be saying that God must have some sympathy, if Job has shown compassion for the needy and poor (verse 25). Job reached out for help in his misery and received only evil (verse 26).

He could not believe that his all powerful all loving God would not hear his cries and continue to allow his intense suffering and distress.

Verse 29 could possibly be translated as ostriches as opposed to owls. The mournful howl of the jackals is referred to in Micah 1:8; the ostrich also gives a strange, melancholic cry, particularly at  night. In Job 39:13, the female ostrich receives the name of “wailer.”

Job described his skin as black and peeling. He felt abandoned by God and hopeless, and his physical condition amplified this feeling (Psalm 102:3; Lamentations 4:8).

Formerly, Job played music. Then the sounds that he made were happy, like the sound of the children in Job 21:12 but now the sounds that Job made were mournful.
It must have been immensely difficult to see anything to inspire faith at this time. The feeling of abandonment is one of the most intensely painful feelings. I felt it in the Summer of 2015. It was my own fault and I knew it was my own fault but to feel rejected and abandoned by everyone without hope, without certainty then there are moments you just want to die and to feel God’s abandonment on top of that, the physical suffering and intense grieving of having lost everything I can’t imagine how dark this must have all felt to Job especially knowing deep down that he was a good man and walked with God.

Job 25

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Job 25:1-6
Bildad

25 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “Dominion and awe belong to God;
he establishes order in the heights of heaven.
3 Can his forces be numbered?
On whom does his light not rise?
4 How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
How can one born of woman be pure?
5 If even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
6 how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—
a human being, who is only a worm!”
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These verses usher in Bildad’s final speech which come in the form of an interruption as he upholds his position that God is awesome and man is worthless.
The arguments all seem to be exhausted as Bildad offers a few final words in this discourse.  Brief but brutal. “Yahweh has all power, but a man is as useless as a worm in His presence”.

The essence of Bildad’s short comments are true. God is absolute in sovereignty and terrible in power, so that even in His high places, and among His celestial hosts, He maintains peace and harmony.

However, he was not answering what Job had said in the last chapter. He was bringing up the greatness of God, which is undeniable, and also bringing up the worthlessness of man.

Bildad’s dark view of humanity is frequently propagated in theology circles even to this day however our true value to God is revealed at the Cross. If we are indeed worthless to God then why sacrifice all that he did for us. We may be misguided and foolish in our ways, hurting and devouring all of creation with our selfish core but God sees enough value in us to send Jesus to die for us, to take the consequences of all this chaos and mess on his own head. Bildad either forgot or was unaware that man was made in the image of God, we were given dominion over the animals so we are indeed more than worms.

Job 22

almighty
Job 22:1-3
Eliphaz
22 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “Can a man be of benefit to God?
Can even a wise person benefit him?
3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?
What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
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Eliphaz makes his final speech. It seems that his frustration with Job escalates into a vicious attack. Eliphaz compiles a catalogue of sin of which Job must be guilty (verses 6-20). This leads into a beautifully poetic passage on the forgiveness and grace of God (verses 21-30) along with an appeal to Job to repent.

It begins in response to Job’s words in Chapter 21:14-15, he spoke about the attitudes of wicked people. Such people will not serve God because there is no benefit for them. But Job would not behave like them.

Eliphaz emphasizes the almighty nature of God, saying that God was so lofty and transcendent that he had no direct concern at all with Job. That even if Job were righteous it would have no great benefit to God himself and therefore God would not be interested in Job’s appeals or be involved in the trivia of his life.

Eliphaz’ view of God is not an uncommon view among believers. This would be my default view of God that he is far off, distant and not really concerned with the trivia or detail of my life. That God is not really connected with me or engaged with my experience of life.

It seems that often our view of God is shaped by our experience of our own earthly father’s and this may be a frequent worldview of someone who grew up with an absent father or a father who was not really engaged.

There are some who may fear God in an unhealthy way who grew up with an overbearing father.

Whilst this is not an absolute, it’s certainly something I have noticed when sitting in groups with people who have struggled with their view of God. Counsellors and therapists call this projection.

Even in Job’s story we see in the opening verses that God was intimately involved with Job. He knew details, he thought about Job, he considered his life and his ways. We see evidence throughout scripture that God is a God of intimate connection with his people. Far from the lofty view that Eliphaz was asserting.

Whilst it may be true that our righteousness may have no great benefit to God, it has a significant benefit to our own well being and that is why God is passionate about it because he loves us intimately, deeply and fully.

Eliphaz was implying that Job was depending on his own righteousness. He thought that Job wanted to be perfect to assist God. This had never been what Job had said, or even hinted at. Whilst this can be an issue for religious people, we can get cocky and arrogant in a very subtle way with the idea that we are good have earned God’s favour almost that he is lucky to have us on the team.

Job was not like that. He knew the righteousness that he had. He knew that he could not lay claim to it. This had been a work of God in him. He knew that he was flawed, but redeemed. He stated in chapter 19 that his Redeemer lives.

It is important for me to remember that my story is not one where I once needed God but now I am okay. I need God’s ongoing redemption and grace. I didn’t used to be a sinner and now I am okay. I am a sinner today and tomorrow and next week. It’s also important to remember that sin is not about whether I measure up or meet a performance criteria but is a violation of relationship. It is a usurping of my father and effectively saying… I don’t trust you dad, you don’t have my best interests at heart and therefore I don’t believe you will meet my needs so I am going to meet my own needs.

Every lie, every manipulation, every fleeting lustful thought and glance does something to me and those around me that erodes what is supposed to be relationship, that is supposed to be underpinned by love, safety, security and trust and instead if I assert my own way over God’s way it brings fear, fragility and mistrust into my life and those around me.

Does it make any difference to God? In one sense no. It has no effect on his well being. He is always 100% God. He is fired up and 100% full of joy. In another sense his love for us and longing for us to connect with life and experience the fullness of relationship with our fellow humans and our maker mark a grieving in his heart. …not for him, he’s okay but for us that we lose something that he longs for us to have.

In our human experience we have moments of that when we shed our usually selfish heart and in a moment we may feel this for our spouse or our children or grandchildren. Sometimes a bad decision from one of our children may bring a negative feeling of shame and skew that selflessness because we feel disappointment due to how we might look in the eyes of others and our reaction may be more self focused than on the wellbeing of our children but in one of those moments when we feel only love and compassion for our children and we lose all sense of self a bad decision by our son or daughter leads us down a path of grieving which is not our loss but theirs. We see clearly how their bad decision may effect them and we feel their pain even though they themselves don’t quite connect with that yet.

After my multiple affairs and wanderings and the initial hurt and trauma that my wife suffered as a result of my destructive behaviour, she was able to work through her own sense of hurt and pain and shame in the story and this awakened a compassion and love that although not without consequences for our marriage and family was a strong catalyst in facilitating my journey home.
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Job 22:4-20

4 “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you
and brings charges against you?
5 Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
6 You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
7 You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honoured man, living on it.
9 And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.
10 That is why snares are all around you,
why sudden peril terrifies you,
11 why it is so dark you cannot see,
and why a flood of water covers you.
12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?
And see how lofty are the highest stars!
13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
Does he judge through such darkness?
14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’
15 Will you keep to the old path
that the wicked have trod?
16 They were carried off before their time,
their foundations washed away by a flood.
17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!
What can the Almighty do to us?’
18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
19 The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;
the innocent mock them, saying,
20 ‘Surely our foes are destroyed,
and fire devours their wealth.’
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Eliphaz now makes some specific charges against Job…
The idea of demanding security against loans given to relatives when the wealth that he had meant that he did not need to do so was a strong accusation of taking advantage of his own family when they were in need.

The thrust of Eliphaz’ accusations was that Job took advantage of the poor and needy and was not generous with his wealth.

He accused Job of concealing his sin from God and selfishly indulging in his blessed life. He reasoned that this is the reason that God was punishing him now. He reminded Job that he could not hide from God!!

The three friends told Job to learn from ancient advice (Job 8:8-9; Job 15:10; Job 20:4). But Eliphaz knew that some ancient advice is wrong and that people had passed down ancient advice sometimes to justify their own actions rather than express a spiritual truth.

Verses 16 & 17 may refer to Noah’s flood (Genesis chapters 6-8). It may be a more general metaphorical term.

Eliphaz emphasizes the truth that the enjoyment gained from the blessings of God will not be permanent for the wicked and that they will be swept away but he targeted this at Job as if he was to be counted amongst the wicked and also he had an short term perspective of it happening by the way of some earthly judgment without an eternal perspective.
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Job 22:21-30
21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
22 Accept instruction from his mouth
and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent
24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
25 then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.
26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.
27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfil your vows.
28 What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.
29 When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
then he will save the downcast.
30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
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Eliphaz urged Job to stop all of his fine sounding speeches and turn his efforts to repentance then God would return to him. The words of Eliphaz are recorded as beautiful dense Hebrew poetry. Theologically accurate but misguided at Job. He was convinced that Job had fallen out of fellowship with the almighty.

Ophir is mentioned in verse 24 which was apparently a land where high quality gold could be sourced. It’s location is not certain. It is mentioned a few times in the Bible. Ophir in Genesis 10 (the Table of Nations) is said to be the name of one of the sons of Joktan.[The Books of Kings and Chronicles tell of a joint expedition to Ophir by King Solomon and the Tyrian king Hiram I from Ezion-Geber, a port on the Red Sea, that brought back large amounts of gold, precious stones and ‘algum wood’ and of a later failed expedition by king Jehoshaphat of Judah. The famous ‘gold of Ophir’ is referenced in several other books of the Hebrew Bible. In Jewish tradition, Ophir is often associated with a place in India, named for one of the sons of Joktan. The 10th-century lexicographer, David ben Abraham al-Fasi, identified Ophir with Serendip, the old Persian name for Sri Lanka.

Eliphaz realised that real success is not money. Eliphaz emphasised his ideas with humour. Men used to find gold in the rocks (Job 28:6; Job 28:10). So Eliphaz told Job that his gold belonged in the rocks. Job should return his gold and trust God instead.
God will be his silver and gold…even more secure than precious metal. Eliphaz urged Job to put his trust in the Lord and all his troubles will be over.

This may be over simplistic …one of my spiritual friends told me that his troubles actually started when he began to walk with God but it was his walk with God that helped him navigate the trouble. That could be true in my story too… the trouble didn’t really get going until I started to walk with God. If you think about it then it would make sense.Why would Satan bother with me if I was not walking with God. I am already doing what he wants me to do! Living a faithful life does not prevent trouble but simply equips us to handle trouble. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world”.

Job 19

alienated
Job 19:1-12
19 Then Job replied:
2 “How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?
3 Ten times now you have reproached me;
shamelessly you attack me.
4 If it is true that I have gone astray,
my error remains my concern alone.
5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me
and use my humiliation against me,
6 then know that God has wronged me
and drawn his net around me.
7 “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response;
though I call for help, there is no justice.
8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;
he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honour
and removed the crown from my head.
10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.
11 His anger burns against me;
he counts me among his enemies.
12 His troops advance in force;
they build a siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
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Job’s response to Bildad’s second speech was desperate. The collective accusations from his friends brought such grief to Job that he cried again for a mediator. He affirmed his deep belief in the ultimate justice of Yahweh, even if His justice is not revealed immediately or in this life. Job’s words expressing hope in his “Redeemer” and his belief in the resurrection of the body are pivotal.

In verses 1-19 Job felt “strange” by God and abandoned by his “Close friends” and what remained of his “relatives”. No one stood up to defend him. All that was once strong in Job’s life – his family, his social standing, his wealth, his faith – was now broken. There was nothing to hold onto except God.

Job was anguished that friends had become defiant and relentless for mentors (verses 2-3). However, we begin to see deep faith in the midst of deep despair emerge in this passage. It seemed their attack would never end. Job mentions ten times here which is an expression for “never ending”. This was not a reluctant reproof of Job but rather a vicious assault on his character.

In verses 5-7: Job effectively was saying that if God sent him friends like Bildad, who needs enemies? Job’s fear was that there would be no justice..

They had shown Job no mercy at all. He reminded them that if he was being punished by God for whatever it was that he had done wrong. It was not their duty to add to his pain and suffering.

Job felt that he was being attacked but when he called for help, nobody came to assist.

Job compared himself to a city, the walls of which are attacked on every side and broken down. His ruin is complete and he perishes. He was torn up like a tree and all hope of life gone as a result. Job’s “hope” was no doubt, to lead a peaceful life walking with God, . surrounded by his relatives and friends, until old age. This hope had been “torn up by the roots”.

Job could have stood the calamities much better had he known where they had come from. His deepest hurt was believing that God’s wrath had been poured out upon him. He struggled to understand this.

The beauty of this section is we see an authentic wrestling with the goodness of God and a dismissiveness of his friends erroneous counsel. Job’s processing is desperate and courageous.
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Job 19:13-22
13 “He has alienated my family from me;
my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
14 My relatives have gone away;
my closest friends have forgotten me.
15 My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner;
they look on me as on a stranger.
16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,
though I beg him with my own mouth.
17 My breath is offensive to my wife;
I am loathsome to my own family.
18 Even the little boys scorn me;
when I appear, they ridicule me.
19 All my intimate friends detest me;
those I love have turned against me.
20 I am nothing but skin and bones;
I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.
21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,
for the hand of God has struck me.
22 Why do you pursue me as God does?
Will you never get enough of my flesh?
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In Job’s suffering he felt completely abandoned. His friends were insulting him, his servants did not answer and even his wife would not come near him because his breath was so bad!!

Once his house had been a centre of the community and people came to celebrate but now everyone looked upon him as though he was not known to them. He was an outcast.
Job loved his friends and had been comforted by them at the beginning as they sat in silence with him but now their words were deeply hurtful. He pleaded with them to have pity and not abandon him as everyone else had done.
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Job 19:23-29
23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him,
since the root of the trouble lies in him,’
29 you should fear the sword yourselves;
for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,
and then you will know that there is judgment.”
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Job has endured incredible suffering beyond what most people suffer. He has experienced loss of everything he knew that we would ordinarily place our security in, abandonment of those closest to him, he has lost his reputation (I can relate to that – although for different reasons). He has lost his health, his wealth and has been wrestling with the spiritual issues that have caused him to feel abandoned and punished by God for no apparent reason.

…and yet something beautiful emerges from this passage. From the depths of degradation he expresses the confidence that if his case could only be recorded for posterity, future generations would judge him favourably (verses 23-24). Furthermore, he knows confidently that he has a “Redeemer” (verse 25, Hebrew goel), One who will champion his cause and vindicate him. The Redeemer is more than an arbiter (9:33) or a witness (16:19) but a Kinsman-Redeemer who will avenge him. Clearly, Job viewed God Himself as the Redeemer, and the Hebrew word is in fact used often of God (Exodus 6:6; Psalm 19:14; 72:14;  Isaiah 41:14; 43:14; 47:4; 49:26; Jeremiah 50:34). He had landed on a square of faith and absolute confidence that he would be vindicated by his just God.

“In my flesh” (verse 26) speaks of a resurrected body. Though it may also be translated “apart from my flesh,” as a spirit being, the emphasis of the original means “from the standpoint of my flesh,” in my resurrected body. Here is evidence of the Old Testament belief in the resurrection of the human body. Mind blowing!

Bildad said that everyone would forget the wicked man (Job 18:17-19). But Job did not want anyone to forget that he was innocent (Job 16:18). So Job wanted someone to write his words so that people would remember them always. Somehow the story was indeed recorded and passed on as the Book of Job. It may be the most ancient book that still exists. Job wanted a permanent record of the things that he and his friends discovered about God.

The three verses (Job 19:25-27), are the most emphatic words Job has spoken so far in this book.

It appears to be that Job is alluding to a strange kind of rock-inscription, of which, there do not appear to be any specimens. This presumably is one of the clues that tell us that this dates the book in the most ancient of times.

Job wished the characters of his record to be cut deep into the rock with an iron chisel, and the incision made to be then filled up with lead (compare the mediaeval “brasses”).
It is not exactly clear whether Job wanted the whole story recorded or just the words about the resurrection which clearly is a pivotal point in this story but also in ancient understanding of the story of God and man.

The Redeemer is the clear message of the gospel. See Luke 2:38; Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12).

Up to this point Job had been doubtful whether he could ever prove himself innocent. He prayed. But he was not sure that God would ever help him. His wrestling with God brought him to a place of confidence.

Job was developing his thoughts. They are recorded in chapter 16:19-21. There, Job said that somebody in heaven was helping him. He described that person as a lawyer or a friend. Job probably meant God himself. In Job 14:7-9, Job remembered about trees. A tree that seems dead can often live again. And in Job 14:13-17, Job prayed that this would happen to Job himself.

The Hebrew word translated as redeemed is GOEL. In Hebrew thinking a GOEL frees someone by either of two particular methods. Either the GOEL may pay a debt for that person. Or the GOEL may fight to free the person. Some examples of further use are:
(1) In the Book of Ruth, Boaz freed Ruth. He loved her. So he paid her debts and he married her. He was her redeemer or GOEL.
(2) God is often called a GOEL or redeemer. For example, Psalm 19:14 and Isaiah 63:16.
(3) The Bible teaches that Jesus is our redeemer (1 Peter 1:18-19). When he died for us, he freed us from Satan’s power. The price for our freedom was paid at the cross. He took on death for us.
(4) In Job 19:25, Job uses this word to describe God. Even if God has to take Job from the grave to save him. God will rescue him, even if God must pay to rescue him. And God will rescue Job even if God must fight for Job. This was a metanoia (worldview change, mind change, repentance) .

Job 18

Terror (2)
Job 18:1-4
Bildad
18 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “When will you end these speeches?
Be sensible, and then we can talk.
3 Why are we regarded as cattle
and considered stupid in your sight?
4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,
is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?
Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
———————————–
Bildad enters the discussion for the second time. He decides he cannot reason with Job, so fear becomes his weapon of choice.

He ruthlessly attacked Job in his second speech with a wake up and smell the coffee kind of recant. Next he turned to scorn (verses 3-4). Then he turned to another long tale of the bad outcomes the wicked experience (verses 5-21).

He was saying that Job talked too much and should calm down. He took offense at being compared to cattle. Job had insulted their intelligence.

He asserted that Job could not change the world. He was tearing himself in anger for no good reason. He was his own greatest tormentor with his own rage.

He accused Job of tearing himself as a child does when he is having a tantrum. He said that Job actually wanted God to change the forces of nature to suit him. He accused Job of wanting to be the centre of attention.

This is what happens in dialogue when our focus is not on listening and understanding the other person we are in dialogue in. We move into fear and start to dig our heels in, assert our own worldview and attempt to control. It all comes from a place of fear because it raises too many questions about our own belief system. We all do it. Sometimes subtly and sometimes not so subtly.
———————————–
Job 18:5-21
5 “The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out;
the flame of his fire stops burning.
6 The light in his tent becomes dark;
the lamp beside him goes out.
7 The vigour of his step is weakened;
his own schemes throw him down.
8 His feet thrust him into a net;
he wanders into its mesh.
9 A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare holds him fast.
10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground;
a trap lies in his path.
11 Terrors startle him on every side
and dog his every step.
12 Calamity is hungry for him;
disaster is ready for him when he falls.
13 It eats away parts of his skin;
death’s firstborn devours his limbs.
14 He is torn from the security of his tent
and marched off to the king of terrors.
15 Fire resides in his tent;
burning sulphur is scattered over his dwelling.
16 His roots dry up below
and his branches wither above.
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth;
he has no name in the land.
18 He is driven from light into the realm of darkness
and is banished from the world.
19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people,
no survivor where once he lived.
20 People of the west are appalled at his fate;
those of the east are seized with horror.
21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;
such is the place of one who does not know God.”
———————————–
This is a blistering speech on the woes of the wicked.

In verses 5-6 light is associated with life just as darkness is associated with death.

God is the Author of life. He alone can “light” a person’s “lamp” (Proverbs 13:9; Acts 17:25, 28). But Bildad’s misguided point is that the Lord also snuffs out “the light of the wicked”. This berating of Job is intense to say the least.

Bildad’s only idea in this chapter was that a wicked man is never successful. Bildad did not directly say that Job was wicked but this is clearly a loaded series of statements full of implied intent.

Bildad was certain that the wicked man could not continue to live. A candle can only burn for a few hours. Then, there is darkness. Job expected to die soon (Job 16:22).
The wicked man tries to make trouble for other people. But he himself suffers from his schemes. He is like a hunter who walks into his own trap.

Job asserted that God caused his suffering. Bildad appeared to think that Job caused his own trouble.

Verse 9 is sometimes obscurely translated as “The gin”. A “gin” is a metallic sheet pounded thin, or a spring. A trap that was set at night to catch robbers and thieves. They would be held tight until morning when they would be apprehended. Verse 10 is speaking of the two types of gin. One above ground and one that was like a pit.

Six different kinds of traps or snares are mentioned. The speaker scrambling together every word that he can find that is descriptive of the art of snaring. The art had been well studied by the Egyptians long before the age of Job, and a variety of tricks and tools for capturing animals and birds are represented on early Egyptian monuments. It looks like this had been an influential craft throughout the Middle East.

In verse 13 “death’s firstborn is a poetical expression meaning the most deadly disease death ever produced.

When Bildad referred to the man’s tent, he did not simply mean a home. He also meant the man’s life. A tent is temporary. Sometimes tent is used to describe the human body. A dwelling place for the soul.

As God rained fire and brimstone out of heaven upon Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24), so shall brimstone be scattered upon his habitation to ruin and destroy it (compare Deuteronomy 29:23; Psalm 11:6). This is a serious and weighty assertion that Job is being destroyed because of his sin.

We read earlier that the thought about a tree gave comfort to Job (Job 14:7-9). The nature of a tree seemed to imply that the dead can live again. But Bildad thought that Job’s idea was not reality. He reminded Job that a tree can really die.

It appears that he was speaking of Job’s ancestors being forgotten, and him not having any children to be his branches. We read of the tree which had no water at its roots drying up and dying.

Bildad warned Job. Nobody would remember him after his death. Job had no children alive (Job 1:18-19). Job trusted God to prove that Job was innocent (Job 16:18-21). But Bildad was of the opinion that Job was deluded about this.

This is the greatest dread of the modern roamers of the desert (Compare Jeremiah 35:19).
Bildad was asserting that Job would not be remembered by anyone. Ironically Job is one of the best remembered people in the Bible. It turned out to be the book of Job and not the Book of Bildad or The Wisdom of Eliphaz.

Bildad’s words throughout the chapter illustrate the power of words; in this case, their power to do further damage (Proverbs 12:18). Job is obviously broken already, and here is Bildad, tearing him to shreds. Much of the Book of Job could be a manual on how not to counsel, how not to deal with grief. Grieving is often met with head information when it is a state of the heart. To meet grieving with intellect will not touch it. The excellent grief recovery handbook  (James & Friedman) describes this practice as “attempting to paint with a hammer. It’s the wrong tool for the job and will create a mess”. A heart issue can only be effectively met with heart counsel. ..empathy, connection, love! Head counsel of judgement, repair advice and an examination of what went wrong or caused the issue of grief will only alienate and push others away.

Job 17

grief


Job 17:1-2

17 1 My spirit is broken,
my days are cut short,
the grave awaits me.
2 Surely mockers surround me;
my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

—————————————-

This was Job’s rock bottom moment and at this he took his anguish to God. He believed he was near death. His friends had become enemies, mockers and had failed to provide him with the emotional support that friends are supposed to provide. He had been abandoned in that sense.

Is this a kind of shadowing of Jesus? Job did not deserve death. Although he had not lived a perfect life, he had lived a faithful life and in his hour need his friends had deserted him. God of course would restore Job’s life to a life greater than his previous life. Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven.

Perhaps this is a shadowing of God’s greater plan. Perhaps it just gives a few clues about what is to come in the future.
—————————————-

Job 17:3-5

3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.
Who else will put up security for me?
4 You have closed their minds to understanding;
therefore you will not let them triumph.
5 If anyone denounces their friends for reward,
the eyes of their children will fail.
————————————–
Job had discovered at this point, that the only one he could trust was God. He was wanting a handshake from God. This would be a sign that an agreement had been struck. He prayed that God would declare him innocent.

He was accusing his friends of attacking him as they would a prey. In the past, they had flattered him when he was wealthy. Now they were accusing him of every type of sin. The saying “Kick a man when he is down” springs to mind.

I wonder if this is how my colleague feels after I fired him yesterday (March 2017). It’s tough. I want to contact him and let him know how I feel about what happened away from all the formality. I can’t until the appeal period is over should he choose to appeal.

I have fired people before. It’s never easy but I think that this was one of the hardest. There were some questions about his performance but I felt he just needed more time in the role. We had promoted him to a senior position only a month earlier. 

My bosses were under pressure to cut costs and needed a return on investment quicker than they had confidence and I had to admit that he could deliver. It was a moral dilemma. I wrestled with my conscience on the matter. I believed the company were most at fault in this situation and though I said so, I didn’t say it with the steeliness to match the strength of opinion from the other two members in the leadership team whose convictions were heading in the opposite direction. I was a coward and delivered the blow that caused my colleague to lose his job. 

Are there some parallels that relate to this passage? Were Jobs three friends the product of ancient “group think” causing negative momentum? Did my colleague feel a great betrayal on my part? 

I talked with him after the appeal period had passed. He was very gracious. I revisited the conversation with the leadership team and put a different marker in the sand. I would not be pressured into firing someone that I didn’t believe should be fired. 

Job’s suffering of course was far greater than being fired. He lost everything and everyone. He lost his health and well-being. I wonder if I had been one of Job’s friends how would I have been? I wonder if I had been one of Jesus’ disciples at his arrest how would I have been? 

…I believe I have my answer and its not pretty even at a time I am supposedly “doing well spiritually” (Whatever that means) 
————————————–

Job 17:6-7

6 “God has made me a byword to everyone,
a man in whose face people spit.
7 My eyes have grown dim with grief;
my whole frame is but a shadow.
——————————————

Job’s words remind us about Jesus’ death. See also Psalm 22 and Isaiah chapter 53. The similarities are really quite remarkable.

——————————————

Job 17:8-9

8 The upright are appalled at this;
the innocent are aroused against the ungodly.
9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,
and those with clean hands will grow stronger.

————————————–
Job asserted that wise and good men would consider his calamities, and not be as condemning as his friends but instead wonder at the depth and mysteriousness of God’s judgments, which can fall so heavily upon innocent men, while the worst of men prosper.

These verses describe the effect that the book of Job has on most of us who pursue to do what is right and pursue a walk with God. It is perhaps the intention of this piece of work and one of the key reasons that the book of Job is included in the canon. We are astonished at the amount of suffering that Job endured without being overcome. We are shocked by the attitude of his so-called friends. Yet we can hold up the mirror to our own hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes as we read through the book.

The righteous man does not stop being righteous because problems come his way. He will hold fast to his belief in the face of all sorts of trouble.

Actually he sometimes does stop being righteous… and I did for a season or two… but the point is that God puts us through what we need to facilitate spiritual growth and that he will form Christ in us (Romans 8:28-29).

Forming Christ is not some spiritual revelation that comes out of the blue but such is our pride and self sufficiency the forming of Godly character into our stubborn hearts and ways involves suffering. This can be suffering as a result of our sin or someone else’s sin. It can be suffering as a result of doing what is right in a broken world of sin or it can be suffering (as is the case of Job) for no apparent or immediately obvious reason.
————————————–

Job 17:10-16

10 “But come on, all of you, try again!
I will not find a wise man among you.
11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
Yet the desires of my heart
12 turn night into day;
in the face of the darkness light is near.
13 If the only home I hope for is the grave,
if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness,
14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’
15 where then is my hope—
who can see any hope for me?
16 Will it go down to the gates of death?
Will we descend together into the dust?”————————————

Job was not unteachable, he seemed interested if they had any insight worth hearing and ready to reply. He was expecting to die soon and no longer felt the need to prove himself before men.

He was preparing to acquaint himself with death. He had no further hope for the future. He simply wanted to prove that he was innocent before God. His great frustration and despair was that he could not understand why all this had happened to him. It challenged his worldview about how God works and interacts with men. He knew that he was a sinner, the same as all men but he was also certain that he was not a hypocrite and that he had been authentic in his walk with God.

Job 16

693beb3a7e9a3a6ff96c32b052dc743c

Job 16:1-6
16 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
6 “Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;
and if I refrain, it does not go away.
———————————–
Job tells his friends that they are miserable comforters. What had started out as a seemingly sincere intention to help and support had turned into a rancour littered with sarcasm and had only served to frustrate all parties involved. Job asserts that if the situation were reversed he also could make lengthy speeches with fine sounding words but he would have been a lot more encouraging, comforting and generous with his words.

This whole discussion had now degenerated into an exchange of insults and name calling. The expression “Shake my head at you” was a common statement of  derision (see 2 Kings 19:21; Psalm 22:7; Isaiah 37:22; Matthew 27:39).
———————————————-

Job 16:7-18

7 Surely, God, you have worn me out;
you have devastated my entire household.
8 You have shrivelled me up—and it has become a witness;
my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.
9 God assails me and tears me in his anger
and gnashes his teeth at me;
my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.
10 People open their mouths to jeer at me;
they strike my cheek in scorn
and unite together against me.
11 God has turned me over to the ungodly
and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.
12 All was well with me, but he shattered me;
he seized me by the neck and crushed me.
He has made me his target;
13     his archers surround me.
Without pity, he pierces my kidneys
and spills my gall on the ground.
14 Again and again he bursts upon me;
he rushes at me like a warrior.
15 “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin
and buried my brow in the dust.
16 My face is red with weeping,
dark shadows ring my eyes;
17 yet my hands have been free of violence
and my prayer is pure.
18 “Earth, do not cover my blood;
may my cry never be laid to rest!
——————————————-
Job thought that God caused these troubles and cruelly turned him over to the ungodly. He said that his enemy attacked him like a wild animal. It was as if he was being cruelly tortured.

Job’s lament of his suffering pointed his frustration towards God. Some of the greatest spiritual change comes about through authentic wrestling with God. It makes me think of Jacob wrestling all night (Genesis 32:24-32) and the result being a change of identity, Peter arguing with God became a metanoia moment (Acts 10:9-16). 

The constant wrestling in the Psalms seems to indicate that it is this kind of relationship which facilitates growth and greater understanding of God and our place in the presence of God and his creation.

My own greatest moments of enlightenment have not come through peaceful meditation or “quiet time” insight but in the raw wrestling of my soul in the crucible of life. In moments of suffering or the consequences of personal darkness. That’s usually when the light goes on. The passages of peace are a blessing to be enjoyed but the real work is done in the turmoil and the storms of life.
——————————————-

Job 16:19-22

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;
my advocate is on high.
20 My intercessor is my friend
as my eyes pour out tears to God;
21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God
as one pleads for a friend.
22 “Only a few years will pass
before I take the path of no return.
—————————————————–
Job had expressed his desire for advocate to represent him before God in chapter 9:33. This demonstrates an internal longing for Jesus in his life. It is a deeply moving passage. Here we see a shift in his faith where there is a certainty that this advocate is present in heaven bringing his case before God!

The words describe the character of Jesus. He sympathises with our struggles (Hebrews 4:15). He prays for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is our priest (Hebrews 7:24).

Job knew that he could not fully rely on his earthly friends for the support that he needed and now he begins to look for this from a heavenly friend to meet these needs. It was a paradigm shift.

Job was so sick that he felt death was very near.