Bible Reading Notes

January 2015 

Tuesday, January 27th – Job 13: 6               
Job gently appeals to his friends who have been growing more insistent and prosecutorial in their dealings with him.  A soft answer turns away wrath (Prov. 15:1).  It may not always do so immediately or even eventually, but a harsh answer only adds fuel to the fires of anger.  Yet while Job, even in his anguish, tries this appealing tactic, he does so not merely as a rhetorical device.  Here this godly sufferer is reaching out in love to help those who have been hurting him.  He desires to lead them out of their false judgments of him. Those judgments were hurting not only him but they also hurt his friends.  Their failure to see the truth of Job’s case was misleading them into an increasing accumulation of guilt as they continued to slander him.

Wednesday, January 28th - Job 13: 7, 8
Job questions his friends in an attempt to have them consider the logs in their own eyes before they attempt further to consider the speck in his eye.  By his questioning, he does not make positive assertions or level offensive charges against them.  Instead, he appeals to them to consider more carefully and deeply what they are doing.  If Job has not sinned so as to bring his sufferings upon himself, then his friends are falsely representing not only Job but also Job’s God.  This is something that they, who were themselves godly men, would hate to do.  And yet, by their lack of patient, careful, and honest consideration, they had forsaken the judgment of charity and even of justice and had launched themselves into a vigorous contention against Job in the name of the God who stoutly regarded Job as His righteous servant.  We do well to stop and ask ourselves often whether we are serving our Lord in spirit and truth or working against Him and His servants with a zeal that lacks knowledge as well as love.  Such self-examination, if pursued rightly, will put the questions ultimately to the Lord and He will always answer those who seek to see light in His light.

Thursday, January 29th - Job 13: 9
In this verse, Job reminds his friends that it is not only they who examine others but it is ultimately God who examines all people, including these three zealously unloving inquisitors.  These men would have been wiser and more loving had they concerned themselves less with Job’s standing before God and more with their own standing before the Lord.  It is easy for us to be directors and controllers of others while remaining heedless of ourselves and of the state of our souls before God.  It is easy for us to target others because as they are finite and fallible sinners they are easy to mislead into our mistaken notions about their needs.  Yet, for all of us, a day is coming when we shall face the God who is not mistaken or misled by men, however great their knowledge and certainty may be.  Let us practice judging ourselves before the Lord more than charging a brother or sister in Christ with sin.

Friday, January 30th - Job 13: 9, 10
Job both asks and answers the question in these verses.  So great is his assurance of his being just in the sight of God that he knows his God will be for him and against all who rise up against him.  The partiality against which Job warns his friends is that in their zeal to stand for God they have gone beyond God in their pressing the claims of divine justice.  In this they are actually showing partiality to divine justice over divine mercy, when, in fact, it is God’s mercy that triumphs over His judgment (Jas. 2:12).  Job’s friends favor the law’s condemnation over the Lord’s redeeming mercy, especially when the matter concerns others rather than themselves.  Such perversions of law and grace will be reproved by the God of righteousness.  This wrong we should most carefully and stridently refuse to commit.

Saturday, January 31st - Job 13: 11, 12
Again Job asks then answers his question.  The supreme majesty and holy glory of the God who will judge Job’s friends will expose all sinful partiality and vanquish all ignorance.  In the light of His glory, all words fail because then they will be unnecessary.  Then we all shall know even as we are known as we truly are.  The prosecuting arguments that Job’s friends now think are so right, and holy, and strong will be seen for what they truly are: ashes and shields of easily breakable clay.  Job saw their arguments as such even before that day of stupendous revelation because he had found refuge in His redeeming God.  Job declares this to his friends before that day of judgment because he who knew he was loved by God loved God and loved his friends.  Therefore, he was seeking to have them rightly judge themselves before that day so that they might be spared a terrifying divine reproof.

Sunday, February 1st - Job 13: 13
Job, having proven his friends’ words to be worthless and worse than worthless, once again asks for them to be silent (cf. v.5).  Their silence will not result in total silence.  Instead, Job will speak words of such grace and truth that all in heaven and earth would do well to hear him and heed what he says.  What will come from his lips and heart will be a declaration of the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.  He will declare liberty to all who are captive to the law of sin and death.

Monday, February 2nd - Job 13: 14
In this verse, Job asks a question that may seem to us obscure.  The sense of it is that of a two-fold image.  The first image is of an animal, such as a dog, wolf, or lion, clinging to the flesh of its prey that it is determined to devour to sustain its own life.  The second image is one of a man depending on the work of his own hands to preserve and sustain his life.  Both images combine to show one who is desperately intent upon clinging to his life.  Job questions why he should be like that.  He puts the question to his friends but not before he had faced it himself and found the answer.  We all desperately cling to our lives and all that they contain, until we come to the place where we know and trust the hands of God more than our own feeble, if determined, grasp. From such divine hands no one and nothing can snatch our lives (Jn.10:29).

Tuesday, February 3rd - Job 13: 14, 15
In v.14, Job declares that he does not desperately cling to his life.  In v.15, he declares why he is a soul at leisure from bondage to the fear of death.  Job knows that even if God should kill him, that seemingly terminal deed would not terminate his hope in his God.  But how could a slain man maintain hope in anything?  Job’s declaration expresses a hope and an assurance far beyond reason’s height and one that can only be reached by faith.  This man in his fiery furnace of affliction has believed and come to know that nothing can or will separate him from the love or eternal life of God (Rom. 8:35-39).  If the loss of all things leads any man to this discovery and assuring hope, it will be a price well worth his paying for that man to attain this pearl of infinite value.

Wednesday, February 4th - Job 13: 15, 16
The hope that Job here declares in his God is the highest and brightest manifestation of his faith yet expressed in this book.  It is also the first expression of a hope in a continued relationship with God after death.  This hope not only frees all who have it from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14,15).  It also frees them from the dread of life in the presence of the holy God of heaven and earth.  It does so because the God who delivers His people from the wages of their sins also frees them from the dominion of their sin nature that made them ashamed of themselves and filled them with dread of Him.  Therefore, Job declares that his hope in God is a hope and trust in the full person and work of God that will provide him with an Advocate who will argue the mortal wounds of His atoning death to justify all who trust in Him.  That saving work of God also provides another comforter, the Holy Spirit, who will progressively transform a believing sinner’s godless nature into the sweet fruit of godly character in which God delights.

Thursday, February 5th - Job 13: 17
Job knows that his words of hope express the truth of God that sets sinners free and the love of God that motivates them freely to bind themselves to the service of God and man.  Therefore, Job shares this pearl of greatest price with his friends, and he urges them to hear and hold vitally within themselves this saving treasure that he seeks to share with them.  It is amazing for us to observe how massively gracious and generous a man who has vitally tasted and known the sweet and fortifying salvation of the Lord can be with others—even with those who have hurt him and held him in contempt.  Job’s friends seek merely to win an argument, while Job seeks to win his friends into the saving love of God.

Friday, February 6th - Job 13: 18, 19
Job has asked his friends to be silent.  By his doing so, he was also appealing to them to stop their petty prosecution of him.  This does not mean, however, that Job was seeking to have justice turn a blind eye to his personal sins.  Rather, it means that Job was already conscious of placing himself before the highest court of the God of his salvation.  The case he had prepared was his reliance upon the person and work of his divine Advocate, without whom he knew he was nothing and could justly receive nothing but death and condemnation.  Yet with God, Job knew that he was more than a conqueror, even over divine judgment.

Saturday, February 7th - Job 13: 18, 19
Job has been responding to his friends’ accusations.  He has not, however, been concerned with arguing his case before them.  He knows that he is not accountable to them but rather that he is accountable to God for his life and all of his thoughts, emotions, words, and actions.  But Job is not dismissive of his friends.  He wants them to understand him and to enter into the peace of conscience that he enjoys amid his sufferings.  Yet, he rightly knows that fellow-sinners will always be not only faulty in their finite assessments but also overly harsh in their judgments.  Accordingly, the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians that he counts it an insignificant thing to be judged by them in light of his knowing that the God of saving grace alone was his Judge (1 Cor. 4:3-5).  Sinners are hard on sinners, calling for the stoning of adulterers, or even for fire from heaven to destroy those who disrespect them.  Yet, when the divine Judge came into the world of sinners, He came to save sinners from all threats and condemnations against them.

Sunday, February 8th - Job 13: 20, 21
Now Job turns from speaking to his friends and returns to addressing his God.   He requests two things he knows to be necessary for him or any other sinner to have from God in order to stand before Him.  We sinners have all justly deserved the Lord’s holy wrath and such wrath from the God who is infinite, eternal, and almighty is an inconceivable terror to us.  Apart from God’s saving mercy all people seek to run from the Lord and suppress the truth of Him in unrighteousness.  Our only hope of standing before God lies in God and in His gracious additions to and subtractions from our lives.  Thankfully, He has taken away our sin and given us His righteousness.

Monday, February 9th - Job 13: 20, 21
The first request Job makes of God is that He not remove His hand from him.  This may seem an incredible thing to ask, considering that the sovereign hand of the Lord was pouring out heavy afflictions upon Job.  And yet, Job is asking for God’s upholding hand as well as His afflicting hand to remain upon him.  In short, Job hungers and thirsts for the living God (Ps. 43).  He desires the true God and all of that true God, with His darkest providences and His brightest eternal pleasures that He alone holds in His right hand for His people (Ps. 16:11).  It is Job’s friends who want other and less than the true and living God.  They, unlike Job, cannot endure a God who strikes the righteous with suffering, even though the foundation of our salvation depends upon it (Isa. 53:4,10).

Tuesday, February 10th - Job 13: 20, 21
The second thing Job asks from God is that He somehow save him from the terror of His dreadful majesty, power, and glory.  For as long as our first parents remained upright, they had no dread of God but rather delighted in Him.  However, as soon as they sinned and fell from their original righteousness they fled in terror from the Lord.  What Job is here requesting is that the Lord sustain him in the faithful confidence of his justification before the God against whom he had sinned.  He is also implicitly desiring God’s sanctifying grace that will enable him to grow in that righteous character without which no one can see the Lord without being terrified of Him (Heb. 12:14).

Wednesday, February 11th - Job 13: 20-22
Job does not ask from God worldly possession or an exalted position.  He does not ask for the restoration of all he had lost or the removal of his pains.  Furthermore, Job does not even think of his approaching God on the basis of his own personal merit.  He confessed through these requests that apart from God’s enabling mercy he is nothing and can do nothing to stand before his God.  All that is necessary for a sinful soul to stand before the Lord with bold and prevailing confidence must be mercifully supplied for the sinner by God Himself.  By God giving him all merciful necessities, such peace is established between God and Job that they are naturally enabled to have holy communion and loving communications as between Father and son instead of what would be the case between a justly wrathful holy God and a guilty and corrupted sinner.

Thursday, February 12th - Job 13: 23
The Lord’s granting of Job’s two-fold request is immediately apparent in the way that Job continues to speak with God.  He asks the Lord to show to him his sin in all of its intensive perversion of his thoughts and intentions as well as in all of its extensive exercise in his actions.  The manner in which Job asks this of God is not that of a man humbled and broken by the conviction of God so much as it is that holy boldness that asks:  Where are my accusers?  The certain expectation Job has of the answer he will receive is that there are no accusers, including God.  Such an attitude may look to men like brazen pride.  Yet, God sees it for what it truly is.  This is the cry of a strong faith that enables Job vitally to grasp that if God is for him, no one can prevail against him, and that if charges are raised against him, God will justify him and not condemn him (Rom. 8:31-34).  May the Lord give to us such a grasp of His perfect love that casts out all fear so that we will increasingly know how thoroughly our God has forgiven us all our sins.

Friday, February 13th - Job 13: 23, 24
The question and confident call of Job in v.23 represent the holy confidence inspired by his faith giving to him a certain knowledge of his justification before God.  The question in v.24 reveals not the knowledge Job has of his stand before God, but rather the knowledge Job has of what he does not know and does not understand.  It is painfully perplexing to this man of God, the righteous servant of the Lord, that he should be experiencing apparent divine avoidance.  It seems to Job that whereas he does not dread God, yet God dreads him.  Scripture gives us wonderful knowledge of things that are true about ourselves and our God and the relationship that He has established between us.  Yet, Scripture also tells us that there are secret things that now belong to the Lord and do not yet belong to us (Dt. 29:29).  That is why the Word commends to us an attitude of our waiting on the Lord and also urges us to go to Him in prayer, asking Him directly to remove the thorns He has put into our flesh, or at least to explain to us why He has placed them in us and keeps them there (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Saturday, February 14th - Job 13: 25
Here Job questions God’s intention in His sovereignly allowing the course of afflictions that continue to rain upon him.  The suffering servant of the Lord does not question in demanding pride but rather in unbelieving perplexity.  This is not to say that Job’s faith fails him.  His is a virtuous unbelief, a stubborn refusal to believe that God is so cruel and petty as to add misery to a suffering soul whose pains have reduced him to a quivering insignificance.  Here is faith working itself out in a love that believes all that is good and true about his God while stoutly resisting the temptation to think hard thoughts about his Savior or to nurture hard feelings toward Him.

Sunday, February 15th - Job 13: 26-28
Job has asked why the Lord had hidden his face from him (v.24).  He has put the question directly to his God and ceased his arguments and appeals with his friends.  Yet, God has not answered Job’s question with any new manifestation of His liberating truth and healing, restoring love.  Therefore, Job once again finds himself plunged beneath the waves of despondency and solitary lamentation.  Apparently, God is justly charging him and condemning him, or at least painfully chastising him for his sins.  Seemingly, God does add His righteous blows of holy wrath to Job’s already dead, rotting, and useless state.  But as we have repeatedly noted to this point, when Job speaks in this way, he is not so much charging God with a rigorous prosecution, as he is venting the distorted perceptions that his pains and the trying silence of God cause him to have.  These painful providences can and do bring any person to the breaking point of faith.  However, they are superintended by God not to destroy the believer’s faith but to refine and strengthen it (1 Pet. 1:6-9).

Monday, February 16th - Job 14: 1, 2
Job plunges ever deeper into his gloom.  He now not only views his own life as a brief and futile affair but he also generalizes his observation to encompass all people born into this world.  He still acknowledges that there are beautiful and promising features to every life, as a flower blossoms with delightful form, color, and fragrance.  Yet, as flowers one day possess beauty that exceeds the artificial splendor of Solomon’s attire, the next day they wither and die.  Job perceives life’s pleasures and joys as being fleeting while the misery and destruction are lastingly enduring.  Prolonged pain and perplexity always distort our perspective.  But whatever their perceptions may be, for those in Christ as Job certainly was, the reverse is actually true.  The pains are momentary and light, while they glory they produce in us will prove to be eternal and full of everlasting pleasures (Ps. 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Tuesday, February 17th - Job 14: 1-3
This pain-wracked man has not only come to perceive an appalling misery that prevails over all humanity, he also has come to conclude in his own misery that God is aware of all men being sinners.  The divine awareness does not relieve but adds to the misery of all people.  For all have sinned and God is the Judge of all who pays to each sinner his just measure of condemnation.  Job has slipped from seeing himself distinguished from sinners by the justifying grace of God (Job 13:18) into his regarding himself as sharing the common doom of sinners who have no Savior.  Let us learn from this that even a very faithful man, under the pressures of afflictions, may for a time lose sight of the merciful love of the Lord.  But the salvation of the faithful soul does not depend upon his always seeing his God as his Savior.  Instead, his salvation depends upon the God of sovereign mercy electing to be his Savior, and committing Himself to beginning the good work of redemption and reformation in a sinner’s life and to completing and perfecting it through many trials.

Wednesday, February 18th - Job 14: 3, 4
Job continues to consider his God through the distorting lens of his painful anguish.  Our pains can serve us as do our fears:  both paint the Lord in the worst way.  But while our pains and fears have power to confuse our thoughts and agitate our emotions, they cannot change the Lord or diminish His saving work.  Job’s tortured state leads him to rave and rant against the truth of who God is and what He can and will do, but such desperate howls do not change the Lord’s immeasurable and immutable love for His children.  Job states the truth in part when in v.3 he conceives of the condemned state of the natural man before God.  However, as a painful shock can cause a person to jump and drop a precious object that the person fully intended to cradle with care, so the shock of Job’s sufferings have temporarily jarred him into feeling as though his holy God would only punish all defiled and guilty sinners.  Job regards the Lord through the distorting lens of his anguish and sees Him not only as being unwilling to save and transform sinners, but also as being unable to do so.  But what Job now considers to be impossible, even for God, the Lord had begun and would perfect in Job until he was cleansed of all his sins and perfected in the purity of his new nature.  However dirty and doomed Job may have felt himself to be, God was using even this dark providence that clouded Job’s hope to promote Job’s sanctification and everlasting happiness.

Thursday, February 19th - Job 14: 5, 6
In these words, Job begs God simply to leave him and his fellow members of a naturally sinful and miserable humanity alone.  This request, of course, is contrary to what Job had already asked the Lord not to do (Job 13:20,21).  It is another feature of extreme afflictions to make us agitated and mercurially changeable.  Job’s apprehension of God has become dark and sinister.  He acknowledges that God is sovereign, that He has given all people their lives, that He has authority to superintend the course of their lives and to decide the termination of their days.  Job appeals to God to be content with such features of His sovereignty and to cease trying to be more involved in the lives of all people as such involvement would tend only to increase the sinner’s misery and would bring no satisfaction to God.  This sentiment is the opposite of our glorifying God and enjoying Him forever that is man’s chief end (Westminster Larger & Shorter Catechisms #1).  Yet, it is possible for grief and pain to unhinge a faithful soul from his apprehension of this truth and drive him to regard the Lord as his greatest enemy rather than as his loving Father and friend whose sticking closer to us than a brother is our greatest blessing.  When a redeemed soul suffers such confusion, only the sympathy and patience of the Lord leads him out of his nightmare.  Our Lord will lead us out of such times because he loves us.             

Friday, February 20th - Job 14: 7-12
Here Job states his current feeling that man’s life is inferior to the existence of the lower creation.  Trees appear to him to be more resilient than people, as they can sustain seemingly mortal blows and yet tenaciously regenerate themselves with the least encouragement.  In contrast, men appear to die and cease to exist forever.  Here we find an example of dark ingenuity.  When faith is operating properly, a person, however disadvantaged, sees and seizes opportunities to triumph over all opposition.  Jacob by faith prevailed in his wrestling with God (Gen. 32:28), as did the Canaanite woman prevail by faith over the ignoring and insulting treatment she received from the Son of God (Mt. 15:21-28).  Yet, when faith is weak, truths lose their power to set the sufferer free, encouragements and blessings are hidden and forgotten, and even the nearness of God seems to be neither good nor desirable.  This state is one in which an exhausted servant of God finds himself ingeniously conceiving ways to regard himself as hopeless and worse than any other thing in creation.  Such a conception is a consequence of Job’s torture.  But when Job emerges from his tortured gloom, it will serve as a testimony to the inconceivable power of his faith and of the love of his God.  That faith will yet cause him to mount up in triumph over all that is in life and death, including even his darkest imaginings (Rom. 8:38,39).

Saturday, February 21st - Job 14: 13
Here, once again, Job longs for death as his only relief.  His longing for death may be very close to death, in that all of life seems to Job faded and without power to appeal to the dejected one even to desire to go on living.  However, Job is not yet in death or hell.  Instead, he remains engaged with his God, asking Him for measures of relief that are more akin to the rich man in hell asking for a drop of water than to a servant of the Lord claiming every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Nevertheless, Job asks his relief from the Lord and not, as the rich man did, from a fellow sinner, even a redeemed such as Abraham.  With whatever tortured logic and clumsy asking the tried child of God appeals to his God, the Lord well understands the scrambled, inarticulate groaning of His child, and He will answer above what the groaning one can ask or think.  As grim and disappointing and theologically perverse as Job’s asking is here, he still commits himself into the hands of his God who will conceal his life not in hell but in His victorious and beloved Son (Col. 3:1-4).

Sunday, February 22nd - Job 14: 14
Here the burning fever of Job’s sickened faith breaks.  His ravings and his twisted logic have ceased.  Now he returns to asking the Lord for the light of true understanding of His person and work.  As Ezekiel was asked whether the dry bones of his vision could live again, and as that prophet rightly and faithfully declared that only the Lord could know the answer to such a question, so Job puts the same question to God.  His mere asking in good faith serves to break the power of anguish that had been trammeling his thoughts and feelings in darkness and hopeless expectation.  As soon as the question is posed, Job is again clothed and in his right mind.  Accordingly, his desperate cries for escape from life and from God stop, and he declares his renewed determination to wait upon His God.  That determination, in turn, leads Job to a revived apprehension of the truth that his afflictions were momentary and that the sackcloth of his sorrows he would one day change for a crown of joy and triumph.  Faith can be abused with torture to the point where it seems dead and gone, and yet it springs forth repeatedly with reviving power and replenishes lost hopes.

Monday, February 23rd - Job 14: 15
No sooner has Job declared that he would trust the Lord, though the Lord should slay him (Job 13:15), then the Lord does seem to slay His servant.  God at least ordained that Job’s faith reach the failing point, not so as to kill it but rather to revive and strengthen it, as the praying of Jesus did for denying Peter’s faith (Lk. 22:31,32).  From the gloom in which his strained and faltering faith temporarily lost sight of the goodness of his Lord, Job now emerges into the light of truth.  In that light he confesses his hope that God will yet call him, not to judge and condemn him for his sins, but rather to commend him as a triumphant trophy of His redeeming grace.  Satan can bring our faith to the point of extinction but he cannot kill it.  He knows and dreads the truth that at any time even a smoldering faith can be brought to blazing life by the reviving call of the Lord.

Tuesday, February 24th - Job 14: 16, 17
In these verses, Job concentrates on part of the work of God’s hands.  That work consists of the Lord’s containing Job’s sin in preparation for the full and final disposal of it.  Job recalls that God had determined not to condemn him for his sins but rather to cleanse him of them. It would be an infinitely costly cleansing, not to Job but to Job’s redeeming God.  Both the hands and the heart of God would be pierced in order to accomplish the removal of our sins.  Those wounds would not be the threat death, as Job has tasted.  God in His Son would become sin for Job and for us, and would die for Job and for us, so that in His death our sins would be put to death, never to revive in us to plague us again.

Wednesday, February 25th - Job 14: 18-22
The spiritual revival of Job appears short-lived.  His faithful confession in vv.14-17 is quickly countered by his returning fears that his course of afflictions would yet wear him out of existence.  His imagination grows dark and his logic becomes fallacious once again.  He sees how mountains erode gradually over time and how gentle abrasions from water over a long enough time wear away rocks.  He applies these phenomena as analogies to the Lord’s hand threatening to demolish him rather than save and exalt him.  This lapse is a disappointment and can discourage us in our walk by faith.  We might ask what good comes of our exercise of faith when its light can so quickly appear to be repeatedly overcome by darkness.  Here is where the operation of genuine faith distinguishes it from its counterfeits.  Genuine faith enables us to pass through innumerable courses of tribulations and to persevere until we see the face of our God who will wipe away all of our tears.  Counterfeit faith prompts us to expect and demand steadily diminishing tribulations and the avoidance of those afflictions that produce for us an eternal weight of glory.

 

Immanuel Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) located in Norfolk, VA. Home