Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22- As The Sparks Fly Upward

August 22, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 4:1-7:21; 1 Corinthians 14:18-40;
Psalm 37:30-40; Proverbs 21:27

Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.  
~Job 5:7

Job 4:1-7:21

In the year 2010, a catastrophic earthquake hit the nation of Haiti. This 7.0 magnitude quake had at least 52 aftershocks and affected 3 million people.  While millions of people sent money, food, supplies, and well wishes to the people of Haiti, some others sent unwanted advice.  Pat Robertson, a television evangelist and Christian broadcasting legend, pronounced on national television that the earthquake in Haiti was God's judgment against a past pact with the Devil that had been made by Haiti's leaders.  There is no way that Pat Robertson could have know why the earthquake hit Haiti.  His words just put salt in the wounds of hurting people. One of the lessons of the book of Job is that men are unable to discern the reasons for suffering.  There are many reasons why one person or one nation may be suffering.  Today, Job hears from one of the three friends who have come to comfort him.  Unfortunately, his friend, Eliphaz, is like Pat Robertson.

Eliphaz's Advice

You may have noticed while reading these passages today that the men speak in beautiful prose.  Their eloquence is stunning.  Anyone who thinks that we are evolving to a higher state in our modern day should contemplate the writings of the ancients.  They were far more intellectual than we.  Anyway, Eliphaz has come to comfort Job, but he misses the mark, terribly.  Although eloquent, his words are not a balm to Job's soul.  We learn from Eliphaz that Job was a man whose life caused other people to turn to God. Job was a person who steadied those who were wavering and strengthened those who had fallen. Job knew how to comfort those who were suffering!  What a wonderful accolade!  Unfortunately, Eliphaz is not of the same caliber as Job and he follows this nice compliment with a dig at Job for not following his own advice.  He acts as if Job is a paper tiger.  In other words, he says "Why don't you follow your own advice and quit whining?"

His next piece of advice to Job is that Job admit that his suffering has come about because of his own sin.  Eliphaz suggests that Job go before God and present his case. He also tells him to not despise the chastening of the Almighty that comes because of his sin.  All in all, Eliphaz does not get it.  He is presuming to know why Job is suffering.  He is giving advice without knowledge of the situation. This is always dangerous.  Eliphaz had an opportunity to minister to Job and comfort him.  He could have strengthened Job's faith in God, but he doesn't.  Instead, he accuses Job of sinning and being a wimp.

Job's Response

Job retorts that if oxen can low when they don't have food and donkeys can bray when there is no green grass, why can't he moan in his suffering?  Job has an excellent point.  His complaining is natural and justified. He wishes that God would grant him some hope.  Without hope, Job is at his wit's end.  Death would be a comfort.  In spite of his pain, Job does not deny the Words of the Holy One. 

Job then tells Eliphaz that he has been an unreliable friend.  He has been like a seasonal brook that sometimes floods and sometimes is bone dry.  His friendship is a mirage.  Ouch!! Job is right in that all three of his friends do not know God, do not know Job, and do not understand the reason for his suffering.  They also don't truly understand themselves.  Job is the wise and suffering one in this story.

Job then breaks out in a new bout of complaining.  He says that his suffering has made his nights and days miserable.  He perceives this illness to be terminal.  It has caused him to hate his life.  Job says that he must express his anguish and complain in bitterness. Notice his truthful expressions before God and man.  Like King David, Job lays it all out there. Job admits in Job 7:21 that he has sinned.  But his friends are accusing him of some gigantic secret sin that has brought about punishment.  Job is stating that there is not a large secret sin.  Job asks why God is making him a target. He wonders aloud why God won't just pardon his sin and take away his guilt.  Notice that Job understands that God is merciful.  Job is the only one who has his finger on the pulse of God.  This is why he is distressed that God is testing him in this manner.

Lessons:  We do not always know why there is suffering.  All humans experience trouble in this life. In order to comfort someone who is suffering, we should not claim to know why they are suffering. Complaining is okay.  Blaming God is not okay.  God is merciful.

What do you notice about Job's suffering?  How does it relate to how you react to trials and suffering?  What do you think about how his friend attempts to comfort him?

1 Corinthians 14:18-40

I find it interesting as Paul wraps up his teaching about spiritual gifts and talks about the gift of tongues that he points out that this gift of being able to speak in foreign languages in order to spread God's Word was prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 28:11-12.  Don't know if I've ever picked up on that before. Paul points out that tongues is a sign for unbelievers.  This is like miracles, which are a sign that point to God's power.  Prophesy, on the other hand, is a gift  for believers. Prophesy builds up the body of Christ. Tongues builds up nonbelievers.  Paul wants the Corinthians to desire the gifts that build up the Church.

The Corinthians are immature in their faith.  This has resulted in competitiveness amongst the believers, ecstatic and undisciplined worship, people speaking out of turn in the services, and general chaos among the body.  Paul's encouragement is that they desire the gifts that build up other people, rather than their own egos.  He states that women should not speak in church.  Is he saying that women should never utter a word in church? No. This would not square with other parts of Scripture where women have the gift of prophecy.  We also have women like Priscilla and Lydia very involved.  He is talking about the gift of tongues, here.  The women with this gift must have been dominating the worship services by getting up and speaking in tongues, non-stop.  Do you know any women who might be prone to this if they had the gift of tongues?  I do.

Paul concludes by reminding the Corinthians that they are not the be-all-to-end-all on spiritual matters.  He encourages them to listen to him and make sure that everything they do is done properly and in order.

Lessons:  Desire spiritual gifts that help other people grow in their faith.  Remember, Job was described as a man that helped other people in their faith.  Be like Job.

How can you find and use your spiritual gifts?

Psalm 37:30-40

Well, it should not surprise us that the first verse is this, "The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong."  Job's friends do not do this.  Job is the one who knows right from wrong.  The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, is giving godly counsel to the Corinthians.

Proverbs 21:27

God loathes sacrifices from the wicked.  This is strong.  You can't fool God.

What did you see today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

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