Bible Reading Notes

March 2015

Saturday, March 28th - Job 16: 9
      In vv.7,8, Job had directly addressed the Lord, saying, Thou hast done these things.  In v.9, he returns to expressions of aimless cries regarding God’s treatment of him.  Also in vv.7,8, the sufferer was expressing the anguish he was personally experiencing.  Then Job was voicing his physical and emotional exhaustion.  Now in v.9, Job speaks of the divine attitude that, in his view, must be prompting all that was happening to him.  It appears that with these words Job is impugning the Lord’s motives.  Job sees his God as being angry with him and filled with adversarial wrath against him.  Job calls it as he sees it.  Is he wrong to do so?  Is he sinning in his thoughts and words about God?  Let only those who have never thought untrue things and said untrue things about our God cast a stone at this man whom God steadfastly declares to be righteous.  We can be right with our loving and understanding God, even when we are not thinking or speaking right things about Him.

Sunday, March 29th – Job 16:9
Job does not know that it is Satan’s malice and not God’s anger that he is experiencing.  We know what Job does not know only because the Lord has made it clear to us (Job 1:9-12; 2:4-6).  Even with our clearer knowledge of God’s sinless and beneficial use of Satan’s malice, we still think hard and wrong thoughts about our God.  It is only through our exercise of the patience, kindness, and gentleness of the fruit of the Spirit that we can keep ourselves from siding with Job’s friends and voicing the devil’s accusations against a righteous sufferer.  By the sweetness of the character of Christ forming in us, we can lovingly understand and gently lead our mistaken brethren into more accurate views of the Lord than they have under the distorting pressure of their agonies.

Monday, March 30th – Job 16: 9   
In a sense, Job speaks truly when he attributes all of his abusive afflictions to God.  It is God who is ultimately responsible for all things.  Without the Lord having pointed Job out to Satan and having repeatedly permitted Satan to torture Job, the suffering servant of the Lord would still have his family and possessions and none of his pains.  God did ordain all that Job was suffering.  What is not true is that the Lord did so in wrath against His servant.  The most horrible things we or anyone else can suffer are ultimately attributable to God.  Yet it does not mean that in His causing all things He does so in wrath.  For His beloved children, He does so in holy, immeasurable, and unchangeable love and for their highest good.

Tuesday, March 31st - Job 16: 9
We know how condemningly Job’s friends regard such words as Job expresses in this verse.  Can we know how the Lord regards those words?  The Lord declares Job as righteous in His sight at the end of his course of afflictions as He declared Job to be before his trials began (Job 1:8; 2:3; 42:7,8).  How can the Lord not regard Job’s inaccurate expressions about Him to be sinful?  Our Lord knows that Job’s knowledge, not Job’s faith or love, is what is deficient in his painful cries.  By his faith, Job still cleaves to God, even though by his faulty knowledge he regards the Lord to be worse than He truly is.  All believers are at times just like Job in this respect.  When we see the face of God we will know how poor our knowledge of Him has been.

Wednesday, April 1st - Job 16: 9
Job cleaves to God by faith, though his faulty knowledge of God makes such cleaving difficult.  God has ordained that His servant should suffer for a time.  Part of his suffering issues from Job’s limited knowledge.  No believer in this life ever has perfect knowledge of the essentially incomprehensible God.  Our God understands and accepts this and uses even our imperfect knowledge for our good and for His glory.  The devil charges our defective knowledge as sin.  Our God patiently spurs us onward in our growing in His grace and knowledge until that day when we see His face and know as we are known by Him.

 

Thursday, April 2nd - Job 16: 10, 11
Job’s mind and mouth move from expressions about God to expressions about his friends.  The somewhat indefinite pronoun, they, certainly refers to his three sorry comforters but may also include others who had come to know of Job’s appalling sufferings. Job’s friends have been behaving disappointingly toward him.  However, it appears that Job overcharges them with failure.  He characterizes them as assaulting criminals and as hostile enemies.  He calls them ruffians and regards them as being wicked.  Shall we at least criticize Job for his emotionally charged exaggerations, if not condemn him for his slandering and vilifying his friends?  Before we answer in the darkness of our own faulty knowledge, let us recall how Jesus at one point referred to His beloved friend Peter as Satan (Matt. 16:23; Mk. 8:33).  It is certain that our Lord, and it is likely that Job, both discerned in the painful opposition they experienced the deep reality that we ultimately wrestle not against the flesh and blood of fiends but against powerful, subtle, and malicious spiritual foes (Eph. 6:12).

Friday, April 3rd - Job 16: 12
When Job declares that he had been at ease (v.12), he is not confessing complacency so much as contentment in the blessed gifts of his God.  But, as Job has already confessed, God is blessed and blessing whether He gives or takes away (Job 1:21).  The Lord did ordain that Job should be sifted like wheat and refined like gold, but to Job it seems like he has been shattered (Lk. 22:31,32; 1 Pet. 1:6,7).  We fear that the dark providences of God will ruin us; God knows that they will refine us.

Saturday, April 4th - Job 16: 12-14
In this flood of anguished cries Job attributes eight things to the hand of God:  1) God has shattered him, or broken him to virtually irreparable degree; 2) God has grasped him and shaken him senseless, as a dog would shake vermin to death; 3) God has targeted him as a sporting archer or an enemy sniper would do; 4)  God has zeroed in on His target repeatedly; 5)  God has mercilessly delivered to him a deep and mortal wound; 6)  God has drained him of his vital digestive fluid; 7)  God has broken into his soul as an army would break down the city walls of an enemy; 8)  God hastens to attack him with the anger of an enemy and the effective killing skill of a seasoned soldier.  The malice, dreadful determination, and destructive power of Satan are what Job describes in these verses.  Yet, God has ordained these vicious attacks, and so Job is right to attribute ultimate responsibility for them to Him.  What Job does not know or even see in these attacks is that what Satan is doing to shatter him, God is using to sanctify and strengthen him.  It is the evil hand of the devil that is striking Job to break him down, while it is the loving heart of the Lord that is sustaining Job and building him up better than he has ever been before.  Job looks back to his easy days with longing, but he is learning to forget what lies behind and to press through his tribulations to the upward call of his God (Phil. 3:13,14).

Sunday, April 5th - Job 16: 15, 16
Job describes some of what his afflictions have wrought in him.  Outwardly, he has covered himself with sackcloth, the fabric that indicates grief, humiliation, bondage, and brokenness.  Sackcloth is a suitable covering for a humbled soul.  Inwardly, Job has been flooded with anguish that has pressed out of him a flow of ceaseless tears.  Those tears have obscured Job’s vision, for as fear distorts our perception of all things, so grief clouds our vision.  Job feels and thinks that his suffering has come upon him by the hand of his God.  Yet, when Job looks through his anguish, he will at least glimpse and finally see that it is not the hand of God that strikes him.  Instead, the hand of God is pierced through for the salvation of Job and for all who, like Job, trust in God in and through all things, even severe afflictions and death (Job 13:15; Phil. 1:19-21).

Monday, April 6th - Job 16: 17
The hardest part for Job to bear in all of his afflictions is the knowledge that he is innocent of any transgression that would warrant his sufferings.  His possessions have been taken from him, his children have been killed, his wife has counseled him to curse God, and his friends have intensified his afflictions.  But he has hurt no one and his devotion to the Lord and dependence upon Him has remained steadfast.  Whoever is responsible for this unjust abuse of this righteous servant of God, the servant’s bearing of it in the knowledge that he does not deserve it is perhaps the deepest pain Job has to endure.  The wicked know that they deserve just punishment and come to some degree of resignation in their knowing that.  But who can answer the question of the sinless Son of God who asks of His Father:  Why have You forsaken Me?  Who can know the depths of His suffering or who can tell the immeasurable profundity of His love for us as demonstrated in His bearing all that we justly deserve?  Job’s misery points us to the mysterious depths of God’s saving mercies.

Tuesday, April 7th - Job 16: 17
Job asserts that he has neither dominated men nor forsaken his devotion to God.  Even when the ways of a child of God please the Lord, the ways of the Lord do not always please or make themselves plain to that child.  Yet, the Lord gives grace to us so that when He answers our prayer for relief with sufferings that increase rather than cease, we find that in all tribulations we are not overcome but rather triumph as more than conquerors (Rom. 8:33-39).  The result is that as Daniel’s friends lost nothing in their fiery furnace but the bindings that men had applied to them, so when we face the worst that God ordains for us, we find that all we lose is our fears. Then we understand with gratitude and joy that our God has not brought such afflictions upon us as our punishment or as His perverse reward for our holy living, but rather as His blessing of freeing us from our fears and strengthening us in His wisdom, power, and love.

Wednesday, April 8th - Job 16: 17
Job asserts two things in this verse.  He declares that he has not hurt men and that he has remained faithfully devoted to his God.  These two assertions accord with the summation Jesus gave of the moral law:  that we love God and love our neighbor.  From some of the hard things that Job has been saying to and about his friends and his God, we could easily think that Job is sinfully overestimating his godliness by his assertions.  Yet, it is not men but the Lord who at the end of Job’s sufferings declares that His servant has spoken only true and right things about God and men (Job 42:7).  There is a fine but significant difference between a godly soul expressing his painful condition and that soul expressing sinful rage against God and his neighbor.  God can perfectly tell the difference, and, by our fulfilling His royal law of love, we will be able patiently to bear with the cries of our hurting brethren, knowing that their cries are not accusations against God or us but are instead cries for our sympathy with them and our prayers for them.

Thursday, April 9th - Job 16: 18, 19
Job’s faith enables him to sense (if not see) through his afflictions to God’s vindication of him.  Job’s faith also makes him ingenious in his perceiving what had been hidden from his eyes before they had been opened in the course of his suffering.  In the early course of his afflictions, he thought he had lost all things. Now he sees that even if the men who walk upon the earth disappoint him, the earth itself will not fail to serve for his vindication.  Therefore, he calls upon the earth as an understanding ally. The earth itself had already demonstrated its willing capability to serve the purposes of God and of His servants when it did not bury and bar the cry of Abel’s blood to the Lord (Gen. 4:10).  Our sufferings are designed by God to stimulate our exercise of faith whereby we see that more things in heaven and earth are for us than we had imagined in our philosophies.

Friday, April 10th - Job 16: 18, 19
Job sees that he has two witnesses to testify for his vindication.  One witness is the earth that discloses all to God that men may regard as being buried in secrecy.  The other witness stands in heaven itself as an advocate for him.  Although Job’s friends regard him to be one who has sinned and who is adding to his sin by the thoughts and words he expresses in his suffering, Job maintains that even to this current point in his course of afflictions he knows that he has an advocate in heaven and that it will be through the person and work of that advocate that he will be vindicated.  Job’s friends would have him confess his sin to their satisfaction, and they would also have him wallow for an indefinite time in contrite sorrow for his sins.  Job knows that his Advocate has paid for all of his sins and thereby removed the penalty for those sins.  Moreover, Job knows that his Advocate can prevailingly answer all charges that are brought against him, so that when Job or even God might look for Job’s accusers, there will be none for either of them to see.  This is a marvelous and invigorating glimpse of truth that Job apprehends.  As it sustained him, so it should sustain us (Rom. 8:33).

Saturday, April 11th - Job 16: 19
Job declares that his advocate is in heaven, even now.  By this saying he alerts us to the comfort that he enjoys that we may not perceive due to the grim covering of his afflictions and cries.  Here Job declares his knowledge that nothing past, present, or future can separate him from the love of God in his Advocate (Rom. 8:38,39).  This knowledge is far more profound and practical than is Job’s understanding all of the mysterious elements of his current sufferings.  Such knowledge transcends his knowing that he is justified in God’s sight.  Job has grasped that God’s love for him transcends all time and such knowledge gives him peace that passes all understanding.

Sunday, April 12th - Job 16: 20
Even the best of our friends and family can and do fail us.  They do so because they are not the unique necessity for us.  Job recognizes this and accordingly he takes to God all of his troubles.  Our deepest anguish we cannot and should not share with others—even with those who know and love us best.  Those profound trials are treasures that God gives to us to share with no one but Him.  Our attempts to share such anguish with others would only pain and burden them and would not relieve us.  It is to our God that we are told to take such burdens, knowing that He with whom we are vitally yoked can and will bear them and do so precisely because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7).

Monday, April 13th - Job 16: 21
In these words, Job reveals his deepest desire to be nearer to his God.  Even with all of the hard thoughts he has had and expressed about the Lord’s treatment of him (vv.7-17), Job can still sincerely say that the nearness of his God to him is his highest good. This is a notion that Asaph expresses in the words of his psalm:  But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge.  That I may tell of all Thy works.  (Ps. 73:28).  The declarations of these men who have felt the afflicting providences of God indicates how vitally conscious they are of their justification before God and of their having that justification through the mercy of their Lord’s saving love.  They, therefore, unlike our guilty first parents who fled from God, run toward God and desire Him to come quickly to them.

Tuesday, April 14th – Job 16: 22
Now the glimpse of liberating and comforting truth that Job has enjoyed begins to fade as it has done repeatedly.  It is not that the Lord grows dim.  Instead, Job’s vision of the Lord reverts to that grim appearance that is brought on by his painful woes.  How long will these spiritual ups and downs continue?  They will continue to characterize the lives of all believers until they reach the end of their worldly pilgrimage.  In this world, we shall always have tribulations that cover us with waves of sorrow and gloom.  But our comfort is in the reality that our Redeemer has overcome the world and all of its tribulations for us (Jn. 16:33).  We may, under the recurring pressures of those tribulations, lose sight of this reality, but we need never fear that we will lose the substance of it.

Wednesday, April 15th - Job 17: 1, 2
Our tribulations in this world come upon us like waves throughout the course of our lives.  Job’s spirit is once again crushed under a new wave of his approaching death and of his miserable life.  As painful and frustrating as his repeated sinking into despair may be, it does not alter the truth that he is and will consistently prove himself to be, whether in death or life, more than a conqueror over all things through Christ (Rom. 8:38).  As it was with Job’s trials and triumphs, so shall it be for all who are in the world but who are of Christ.

Thursday, April 16th - Job 3, 4
This current wave of woe passes quickly over Job.  He sinks into gloom only briefly and emerges quickly into comforting communion with his God once more.  We know that this is so because in these verses Job resumes his speaking directly to the Lord.  A man might not be able to plead with the Lord as he can do with his neighbor (Job 16:21), but a faithful man can plead with God better and more prevailingly than he can with his neighbor.  Therefore we find Job persevering in his cries to God.  This righteous sufferer will not let the Lord go until He blesses him (Gen. 32:26).  Specifically, Job asks the Lord to succeed where he has thus far failed in giving to his friends an understanding of his innocence and of the agonies of his sufferings.  Whether or not his friends ever come to such an understanding, Job pleads that the Lord would give him but a token that all was right between himself and his God as he believed it to be.  To whom else, other than God, can those in the deepest agonies turn for certain assurance of their being at peace with God, while being at odds with man?

 

Friday, April 17th - Job 17: 3-5
The pure praying that Job has been doing (Job 16:17) continues in these verses.  After Job asks the Lord to give him some token to confirm his assurance of his being right with God (v.3), the suffering servant proceeds to include his friends in his prayers.  Their failure to love both God and man (specifically, Job) has blocked their understanding of Job’s plight.  They speak to Job only of justice.  They fail to understand that they are not bringing conviction to Job.  Instead, they are condemning themselves to a forced humbling.  They are also setting up their children for a just chastisement as well.  For they who would abuse their friend, who is at least their equal, surely would abuse their children, who are their inferiors.  Those children, apart from God’s gracious intervention, would languish under their fathers’ loveless treatment that could never nourish them but only reduce them to a painful and perpetual subjugation.  Job intercedes with God on behalf of his friends who have yet to utter one word of prayer for him.  Job will persevere in his praying for them, as we learn in the last chapter of this book (Job 42:8).  Here is a man deeply pained by his afflictions that are made worse by his friends, who prays for the welfare of those friends.  Here is a man whose children have all been killed and whose friends callously declare their deaths to be Job’s fault (Job 8:4; 15:34,35), who is praying for the welfare of the children of his friends.  Job is showing us how we who are in Christ can afford to be lovingly generous even with those who hurt us.  Let us follow the example of his overcoming evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

Saturday, April 18th - Job 17: 3-5
Job, who has endured the death of his children, prays for the blessing of his friends’ living children.  Job’s children died having a godly, loving father who enriched their lives in every way.  The children of Job’s friends were living in the impoverishment of their fathers’ loveless and critical regimes.  Why is Job and all that pertains to him so blessedly different from his friends and all that pertains to them?  It is because Job, unlike them, does not stand in his own righteousness.  Instead, Job recognizes his need for a guarantor (v.3), one who will bear the cost of Job’s sin.  Job rightly glimpses by faith and hope that God is not only his Judge, but also that God will provide Himself a sacrifice for sin.  Job blesses those who curse him because he is a living fruit of the blessing of his heavenly Father, who loved so thoroughly those who had sinned against Him that He gave His Son as the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so that redeemed sinners and their children would be released from their sin, guilt, and death to enjoy eternal life and infinite blessing.  Our Savior’s mercy for us begets in us mercy for others (Eph. 4:32).

Sunday, April 19th - Job 17: 6, 7
Job returns to the theme of his own current condition.  The appalling sufferings he continues to endure remain as an inescapable burden imposed upon him.  His friends’ facile analyses and admonitions have done nothing to explain them or relieve Job of them.  Job declares that he, the righteous servant of God, has been made by his divine Master an object of mocking and insulting ridicule to all people.  His personal pains, amplified by the universal disgust that others demonstrate toward him, have served to cloud his vision of God and dim his hope in Him.  They also have drained every power of his being of vital energy.  These effects strongly testify that man was not designed by God to bear physical suffering.  Still less was man designed to survive in a world wherein all of his human relationships were loveless and rejecting.  We were made to love and to be loved by God and our fellow humans.  The existence of sin in Job is the most logical explanation for his sufferings.  However, not the theological explanation for his sufferings, even though it is true, as Job declares, that God has ordained them all for him.  Who can explain this mystery except God?

Monday, April 20th - Job 17: 8, 9
When even the best people—the upright and innocent—see the obvious afflictions of a man, and reason that those afflictions have come upon him by the holy will of God, they cannot help but to be appalled and agitated.  The best of them will weep with the sufferer who weeps, and the rest will try to save the sufferer with the sort of misguided and pain-magnifying words that Job’s friends have been pouring upon him.  Yet, if the sufferer is truly righteous in God’s eyes, then he will cleave to his God even when the hand of God and the mouths of the godly turn in concert against him.  The godly will grow stronger in his love for God, for the godly, and for his enemies, even when the Lord and all others seem to hate him.  This is Job’s faith working itself out in love that will not curse God or lash out at men, but will rather embrace them and bless them.

Tuesday, April 21st - Job 17: 10-16
To all of the challenges and accusations that God’s dark providence and the darkened understanding of men have brought against him, Job now responds with a defiance that is not desperate but rather is raised upon the sure foundation of hope.  The works of God press against him; the words of men condemn him; he is threatened with death and hell.  Yet, although all of these things conspire to drag him down, to destroy his faith, and to deprive him of hope, he triumphs by that faith and hope that have been under the fiercest assaults.  It is no wonder that Scripture regards our faith as being more precious than gold (1 Pet. 1:7).

Wednesday, April 22nd - Job 17: 10
Job cries out to his challengers, challenging them to bring on their smug analyses of his plight as well as their ridicule and rejection of his person.  The problem is not that there is defect in Job but rather that there is a lack of wisdom in his accusers.  True wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).  Those who truly revere the Lord, who are truly spiritual, will humbly seek to restore a man, even if he is in transgression, and not determine to reject him.  Job may have love for his accusers, but they have no right reason to ridicule and reject him. Job understands this, and so he rejects their misguided criticisms.  Job is demonstrating the strength of the breastplate of righteousness (Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:14).

Thursday, April 23rd - Job 17: 10, 11
Job invites his critics to come against him with their most powerful condemnations.  They will find that they gather as vultures to feed on a carcass.  For Job’s afflictions have reduced him to regarding himself as dead, to viewing all of his worldly plans as being shattered, and to finding that the desires of his heart have been denied.  The painful providences of his God have laid Job so low, and this humiliation is Job’s safest place from the arrows of his accusers.  One cannot hurt a dead man.  We who are in Christ have been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:3).  The life we now live we live no longer in the fear of the accusations of men, of devils, or of God Himself, but rather we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20).

Friday, April 24th - Job 17: 12-14
The three friends glibly dismiss the depths of Job’s anguish.  They see his way of release from his sufferings as being near and easily attained, if only he would confess his ungodliness and repent of it.  But they hold out to Job a false hope.  If what they offer as light depends upon his repentance, the only thing that Job could truly repent of would be his steadfast trust in the Lord.  Therefore, his repentance would not be from sin and dark misery, but would instead be from God who gives life to the dead.  Job accepts his suffering, although he does not delight in it.  He would rather be in the fiery furnace with God than to be out of it without God.  Job has found a resignation and even a peace in not only his contemplation of the worst but also in his vivid experience of the worst.  His faith enables him to triumph over his friends’ threats of hell as well as over his own current hellish experience of which they are dismissive.  Job will go to hell and dwell in hell and in the darkness of death.  He will embrace the grave and the consumption of his flesh as though they were beloved and nurturing parents.  He will do so because his faith enables him to know and to accept that his God is with him in light and darkness, in heaven or on earth or in hell (Ps. 139:8).  He does not fear death or dissolution of his body because he knows that his God can and will rescue him from corruption (Ps. 16:10,11).  He embraces all that his friends loathe and dread because he truly and vitally does believe that God causes all things to work for his good (Rom. 8:28).

Saturday, April 25th - Job 17: 15, 16
These are not weak words of despair but rather strong words of defiance spoken against all of the miserable consequences that have been brought into the world from the sin of men and devils.  Job does not cry out these questions as one who does not know the answer to them.  He is challenging his friends, who regard themselves as wise, but whom he knows to be foolish (v.10).  Can they conceive of a hope that transcends and triumphs over sin, suffering, death, divine judgment, and just condemnation of the sinner to hell?  Job not only conceives of such hope, he possesses it and is invigorated by it, being enabled by it ingeniously to draw light from his darkness, life from his death, and love from the hatred that is shown to him by the words of his friends and the works of his God.  What would it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose such hope?

 

Sunday, April 26th - Job 17: 15, 16
Job knows the answer to these questions he raises.  Where is his hope?  It resides with him, never to leave or forsake him.  Who regards his hope?  Job himself treasures it and God rewards it.  Will his hope go down with him to hell?  If Job goes there, his hope will be with him there and raise him up out of hell.  For Job’s hope is not in his own false and facile repentance that his friends are urging upon him.  His hope is in the Lord, who is his help and the One who made heaven and earth and governs them for the good of His people.  Job is here like the Canaanite woman who embraced being called a dog by the Son of God in hope that she would receive a crumb from him.  Job is like Paul, who came to accept and rejoice in his thorn in the flesh because through it he hoped to find strength issuing from the weakness that the thorn imposed upon him.  Such radical acceptance of death and hell can only be attained by those who know that they are inseparably united to the Christ who has conquered death, hell, and the judgment of God.  All who hope in Him will never be disappointed (1 Pet. 2:6).

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