Saturday, March 11, 2023

Job: Words Matter

 "Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?" Job 5:1

Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you that God told him something about you? Has anyone ever turned to you and professed great wisdom that you should obey or wise counsel that you must adhere to? 


Have you ever been the one to urge another to listen to your warning, to change the path they are taking, to listen to you declare the wickedness you see in their lives?

I squeeze my eyes shut in shame at these last questions, because quite honestly, been there done that.

Job's friends claimed to have great spiritual insight. For whatever reason, they believed that if they could convince Job of his sin, everything would be all right. 

I mean, really. Has that ever worked? Well, I do think when the prophet Nathan approached David about his sin with Bathsheba, it worked. David did take it to heart and changed. But then, David actually knew he'd sinned. Nathan wasn't telling him anything he didn't already know. 

And what I find interesting here is that Eliphaz seemed to believe there was no one who would help Job. Did he really think that Job was so far gone that any person of faith wouldn't reach out to help him? So....what does that say about Eliphaz?

To be kind, I do think it possible that Eliphaz genuinely wanted to help Job. But for the hidden things of his heart. We are complex people and Eliphaz is no different than us. Rarely do we have singular motives. In fact, often we deceive ourselves into believing we are singularly motivated for good. Only to discover later, that we were not.

Wisdom tells us to hold our tongue. Only the Holy Spirit can do a true work of conviction. That's part of His job description (John 16:7-12). Yes, there are times when our words are used by the Holy Spirit to convict...but there again, the work is that of the Holy Spirit not us.

The prophet Nathan went to David under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I'm not thinking that Eliphaz went to Job under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Although, I do believe God used Eliphaz's words to prove Job.

I've been mulling over the following verses: 

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:17-18)

Perhaps in Eliphaz' mind he was doing just this: loving Job by telling him he had sinned. But I'm not thinking his words actually bear this out. I think that Eliphaz bore a grudge against Job and was taking this occasion to try to convict Job of the perceived sin. 

I know I've mentioned this in a previous post, but I think it bears reviewing. Two things we should be conscious of before we confront another person: 

  1. Our Motive
  2. Our Love (or lack thereof)
A true person of faith will not speak in such a situation unless he's confident the words would be of the Holy Spirit. How can you know? Search your own heart before you speak and be sure you are truly speaking out of a great love and sincere desire to help that person, not out of a secret grudge or hidden desire to avenge, or out of petty jealousy and a desire to lord it over another. 

Often, when the words you speak come truly from God, healing and restoration occurs.

But not always. 

While we need to take care our words and actions are in line with God's leading, we cannot be held responsible for how another reacts to us. Words once spoken can never be taken back, but we have no idea how God, in His infinite grace, mercy and judgment, will use even the wrong words we say. For this, I am truly thankful.

God's wonderful and beautiful grace upon grace covers all.

...the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. (Job 42:7-8)

Thursday, March 9, 2023

God's Sovereignty over All

 "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem." Ezra 1:5

Sent into captivity, the Israelites suffered a great deal at the hand of the Babylonians and the Assyrians. But God's plan did not falter. The Israelites sinned against God, which led them to their current predicament, yet God's ultimate will prevailed.

Time and time again, you read in Scripture how man disobeyed God, suffered the consequences, then God made everything work out according to His purposes. In the Old Testament, the disobediences did not prevent Jesus Christ from coming and suffering, dying, being buried, and raised again for our salvation. In the New Testament, disobedience did not keep the Gospel from being spread throughout the known world.

And the neat thing: God uses the most unusual characters to bring about His will. 

Take Cyrus, King of Persia, a gentile king who conquered Babylon. According to his own words the "LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth;" (Ezra 1:2). 

He ruled all of what is now Turkey and northern Greece, part of what is now Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, probably some of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and maybe into Pakistan. He also ruled all of what is now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Libya, and quite likely had great influence in what is now Bulgaria and Macedonia.

That's quite a territory, even by today's standards, especially when you consider the diversity of people located in those regions. I confess, I find this astounding and a sure sign of God's hand moving the leaders of nations. 

But the greatest take away I have, when I ponder all that happened to Israel, is that I cannot thwart God's ultimate plan. I can't stop His judgments, and I can't stop His acts of mercy. I can't keep Him from holiness, and I can't keep Him from extending grace. 

And quite frankly, that causes me to sigh with relief. Because, if the salvation of the world or the judgment of the world relied on whether I obeyed or disobeyed, whether I chose the right thing at the right time—if the future outcome of even one person's life depended upon me, we'd be doomed. I'm not wise enough, knowledgeable enough, righteous enough, smart enough, anything enough for that responsibility. 

Yes, I'm not denying that my actions have consequences. I'm not denying that I'll miss out on some blessings if I disobey God. But I am ever so grateful that all of eternity does not rest on my shoulders.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

II Samuel: Who Are the Amalekites of My Life?

 "And he said unto me, Who art though? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite." II Samuel 1:8

Do you ever read the Bible, and something sticks out at you—something you'd not otherwise thought about? 

This happens to me, usually when I've been studying a particular subject, or picked up on something I didn't know before, or something someone else pointed out that now I notice.

The Amalekites. That's the most recent subject.

Time and again, they keep popping up in the most unusual places. And here we go again.

They've been around a long time, even during Abraham's time (Genesis 14:7). Their kings bore the name, Agag (Numbers 24:7, I Samuel 15:8). And Haman (from the story of Esther, Esther 3:1) was the son of an Agagite, which scholars assume refers to the Amalekites.

The Bible refers to Amalek as the first of nations (Numbers 24:20). Balaam prophesied that Israel's king (King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ) would be higher than Agag, the Amalekite king (Numbers 24:7). 

Ten of the twelve spies that scouted the Promised Land noted the Amalekites dwelt in the land of the south and believed them to be stronger than the Israelites (Numbers 13:29-33). 

The Amalekites fought against the Israelites when they were enroute to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:39-45).

Wickedness abounded with the Amalekites, thus God determined to destroy them along with the other Canaanites. However, the Israelites lack of faith and lack of desire— resulted in their inability to defeat them. 

   "And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land: and ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you." Judges 2:2-3

King Saul failed to kill the king of Agag (I Samuel 15), and later history, Haman (a descendant of Agag) sought to kill all the Jews. 

Now, in II Samuel, this young man lies to David about how Saul died.


At the end of I Samuel, we learn that Saul committed suicide.

Now, we see an Amalekite, enemy of the Israelites, taking credit for Saul's death. Perhaps, he assumed David would reward him—'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' type thinking.

David would have none of it. He and his men mourned Saul and Jonathan and the people of the Lord and the house of Israel. His answer to the young man?

  "How was thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD's anointed? And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD's anointed." II Samuel 1:13-16 

Wow. The consequences of pride and lying lead to death.

The Israelites lacked faith. They lacked understanding of what would cause them to stumble. They lacked the trust needed to conquer what would later be a continual thorn in their flesh, even to the point of almost wiping them out but for the courage of Esther. Consequences of disobedience brought on by lack of faith and understanding of God's protection and provision.

Yes. I have encountered Amalekites in my life. I live with the consequences. But I do not suffer eternal condemnation because my King of Kings is greater than my Amalekites' king. My Saviour is greater than my moments of weakness, my lack of understanding, my times of faithlessness, my failure to obey. My Saviour knew I would not be capable of living a sinless life or a perfect faithful life of obedience. So, He took all that upon Himself at the cross. I will one day cross the river of life into the Heavenly Kingdom and all of my Amalekites will be fully removed from my sight.

To God be all glory and honor and praise.

"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelations 19:15-16

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Remembering the Past

 "For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee: thou hast lacked nothing." Deuteronomy 2:7

The Israelites escaped Egypt by the hand of God. By His hand, they ate manna and quail. All that they needed, God provided. Protection in times of war, purification when the enemies within rebelled against God, and the clear presence of His Spirit in the cloud and the pillar of fire.

Now, they prepare to enter the Promised Land, and God promises to go before them and to fight for them.

The Israelites wandered for forty years because they lacked faith. Time and again, they chose to rebel rather than trust. God accused them of whoredoms, and not as we think, but of their heart and what they chose to see. 

"...that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:" Numbers 15:39

Many times, they angered God. Many times, they wanted to give up and return to Egypt. Many times, they complained.

But here's the wonderful thing about our God. He forgave.

God's will prevailed. He had promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed by his 'seed'. From Adam and Eve, God set a plan in motion for the redemption of man. From before time and the creation of the universe, God knew what this course would be in order for Him to have fellowship with us.

And take note: He did it. Not us.

When the Israelites tried to do things on their own, without God, even though it was in pursuit of the land God promised to give to them, they failed. 

Perhaps one of the most difficult lessons I must learn (and it is a continual process), is that if I am worrying about my testimony, then I'm worrying about the god of people's opinion and that is not honoring God. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of others. That's not my work. Better to just live the best I can with my heart given over to God, than to worry about convincing someone else that I'm so holy. My testimony isn't in my 'doings', but it is revealed in my faith and trust in God despite my 'doings'.

God builds that faith and trust in me through life experiences and the reading and preaching of His Word. I can look at the stories of the men and women of the Bible and learn what a great God I serve. And, I can look through my life and see how time and time again He provided and protected and brought me great pleasure. 

To God be all glory and honor and praise! Amen and Amen!

"Turn you, and take your journey,...Behold, I set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers,...Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place." Deuteronomy 1:7-30

Understanding Leviticus: Part 1

 "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

Genesis to Deuteronomy make up the law, according to Jewish tradition. The psalmist, therefore, refers to the laws presented in these books. 

I feel the same as he. I love these first five books of the Bible.

These books contain the knowledge of God, of His great love for mankind, of His holiness, His mercy, His righteousness, His judgments--all that we need to learn about the Creator of this world.

When Jesus spoke of the law, these books were His source. When the apostles spoke of the Scriptures, they were not referencing any of the New Testament books (except when Peter referenced Paul's writings in II Peter 3:15). Rather, they referenced all the books of the Old Testament. 

If we approach the latter chapters of Exodus through to the end of Deuteronomy as lists of do's and don'ts, we miss the purpose behind them completely. The laws in these books revealed God's heart.

Through the many sacrifices and ceremonial rites, God revealed His plan for the coming Savior of the World. Through the details of how to build the tabernacle, He gives the Israelites pictures of His plans for them and all men, of Who He is and Who men are, of His desire for a relationship with us.

The law given then, pictured what would later be accomplished through Christ in perfection. The imperfect law could not do what the perfect Man, Christ the Messiah, has done.

"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." Hebrews 7:19

If we only had the law, it would point us to Christ, just as it did the thousands of Christians of the first century.

Is it important for us today? Yes! But often rejected by those who perhaps do not understand the value of the pictures God gave the Israelites of His master plan to save all men.

To understand Leviticus, one must delve into the symbolism God used to help the Israelites remember Who God was and what God had planned to do through them.

Over time, I hope to share with you what I am learning through my study in Leviticus. Perhaps you'll be able to say as the psalmist did:

"Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts....Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." Psalm 119:98-104

Job: From Grief to Worship

 "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped," Job 1:20

All of what Job had, both of family and treasures, had just been stripped from him. It did hurt. He rent his robe, a sign of great grief. He shaved his head. A sign of shame. He fell on the ground. 

I'm thinking that there was an inner struggle at that moment. I'm wondering if Job was battling the desire to give over to the grief and the anger and the bitterness that would no doubt be pushing at the edges of his thoughts. I'm thinking that the battle was fierce, that his thoughts were running to and fro. Scattered. Untrappable. 

And then he falls down and does what a man of great faith would do. Worshipped.

Instead of continuing fighting the battle inside him, he turned his thoughts to God and who God was, and says:

"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21

This sets an example for us to follow in times of grief. 

When we experience great loss, often we have a hard time comprehending what really just happened. Our minds shoot out thoughts in a million different directions leaving us feeling overwhelmed and dropping us to the ground. We need to get re-aligned. Refocus somehow on something that is good and comforting and able to bring order to what has become chaotic. 

And worshipping God puts everything into perspective.

Worshipping God:

  1. turns our eyes back to the Creator of all, Sovereign over all;
  2. reminds us that all that we have is His and nothing we have is really ours;
  3. pulls us into the loving and wonderful arms of our Heavenly Father who desires to comfort us and bring us peace and order.
Worshipping God puts everything back into perspective.

Job gives us an example of how to cope in a tough situation.

Now before you beat yourself up, remember God's grace. Remember that He knows we are made of dust ("for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" Genesis 3:19; "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." Psalm 103:14). He knows our limitations and knows we are weak.

And He knows what we can chose to be or do. 

If we are willing to bow before Him, trust Him, and wait, He will bring order and peace and joy once more. To Him be all glory, honor and praise.
"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126:5

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the plating of the LORD, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

And the Chase Is On

  Years ago, I set my iPad on the treadmill, started up a movie   and pressed 2 for a warmup. I had just begun to punch the button to speed ...