OBSERVE: The first three chapters of Proverbs do well to introduce the material of the whole book of Proverbs. Proverbs 1:7 indicates that the patterns discerned in the world ultimately come from God and place God at the center of the observable world. The objective of the book is to share advice for successful living by having a pursuit for wisdom and a healthy fear of God. In the first three chapters we get to listen in on a father giving advice to his son about how to live life, avoid pitfalls, and achieve success. Over and over, the father points out to the son that two “ways” or two “paths” are open to him, and that he will have to choose one or the other.
INTERPRET: One choice is the way of wisdom, which leads to life in its fullest sense. God is with those who are on this path; he protects them from danger. “He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him” (Proverbs 2:8). The other choice is the way of folly. This path is called “dark” (2:13) and “crooked” (2:15). Its dangers include evil people who take pleasure in doing wrong, and hidden snares that may appear good but ultimately only bring harm. Most significant, however, is the path’s destination – death and destruction.
APPLICATION: Jesus also spoke of two choices, two ways of living or two paths. In the Sermon of the Mount, he talked about two roads, warned that people cannot serve two masters, and described two builders, one who was wise and the one who was foolish. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate,” Jesus said. “The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many that choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7: 13-14).
Whereas Proverbs describes a way of wisdom that provides general rules to live well, Jesus then defined the way in much more personal terms. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14: 6). This decision, as Jesus made it clear, is not merely a matter of behavior or companions, but a choice about how we respond to him, whether or not we will choose him as our path in life.
REFLECTION: Where do you seek wisdom?
PRAYER: Jesus – you are the path to eternal life and the true source of wisdom. I turn to run in your direction, knowing that only as I walk in you will I find joy and peace, satisfaction and security. Your Word is a lamp to me feet as I walk in this path, enabling me to see your beauty and your worth, convincing me of the folly of any path that takes me in another direction. AMEN.
SONG: Perfect Wisdom of Our God - Keith & Kristyn Getty
The Book of Psalms - by Richard Neufeld
I will not be observing merely the first two Psalms in this blog, rather an overview of the entire book with a special emphasis on Psalm 1.
The book of Psalms is generally regarded as the most widely read book of the Old Testament, and its authorship spans nearly 1,000 years from Moses, to Asaph, to David, to Solomon, and beyond. It is a collection of hymns, songs, prayers, laments, and more, all of which praise the Lord in a variety of different ways.
Whether it is a hymn of thanks, a plea from utter darkness, or a quiet reminder to trust the Lord, the Psalmists continuously affirm the goodness of God on a tapestry of raw human emotion. Indeed, even the giants that went before us felt despair, suffered humiliation and grief, felt bewildered and perplexed, and everything in between – therefore we can find solidarity in their words by the power of the Holy Spirit, who comforts, guides, and strengthens us day by day.
If you have trouble praying, read the Psalms! There is inspiration packed into each page, and it provides a model on how to navigate the treacherous waters of this world while remaining humble, thankful, and joyful in the Lord.
The very first Psalm is one of my favourites, pointing to a blessing for those who do not walk with the wicked or stand with sinners or sit with scoffers, but delights in and meditates on the law of the Lord. It goes on to describe those who do as a tree planted by streams of water that yield fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, who prospers in all their ways.
I love the imagery used here of a tree planted by streams of water and the instruction it provides. Plants are all about environment, and in many ways so are our own souls. If a tree is bought and kept in the wrong environment, it dies. At best it may sit around for a year or so before slowly withering, but it cannot grow. However, a tree planted in the right conditions cannot help but grow and flourish and bear fruit. It is not a matter of effort on behalf of the tree, nor does it toil or stress about growth. Rather, being planted near streams of water and with the sun shining down, it will steadily and deeply burrow roots down and push its branches up. It is effortless, inevitable growth. That is what the tree was meant to do.
Likewise, we can choose where we put our roots down and we can choose the sort of soil we pack around ourselves. Will we choose rocky ground and shallow puddles as our home, or richer soil and deeper streams that nobody can see? Psalm 1 tells us that the man who delights in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it daily is putting roots deep underground to the precious living water that is the Word of God. He will not whither or fade. He will always bear fruit in season. And so our own lives, deeply rooted in Scripture with the Son shining down on us won’t be able to help but grow and bear fruit. It is not terribly complicated, and it is not always easy, but it is what we are meant to do.
The Psalms are a wonderful place to help you put down roots. They tell of what was and what was to come; to remind us constantly of the goodness of our God and how He is carefully tending even you, today, right now. This image is meant to relax you, to stop your striving for His approval. God already delights in you and takes special pride in you, His beloved child! You cannot earn more, and you cannot make His love less. Just take some time and focus on slowly burrowing your heart into His precious word, His priceless love. Feel the Son’s warmth this day and turn your face to Him, for this is what you were meant to do.
If I could have one thing, it’s that each of us would seek the Lord in the Psalms every day. Take a pen and paper with you each time you crack open this magnificent book and just start reading. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you read, to open your eyes and ears and heart – then dive in. When you come across something that catches your eye, write it down. Even if it is just one or two verses. Carefully copy out each word that resonated with you and allow it to settle in your mind. This is both mediation and worship, dwelling on the word of God and giving it proper time to drop from your head to your heart. It keeps your eyes from rushing from page to page and lets it all sink in – something we could all use a little more of!
I cannot think of a more practical way to apply Scripture than this. The Psalms are perfect, for they cover a whole host of topics and situations, plus they always push us to call out to the Lord in thanksgiving. As you learn to meditate on Scripture, as you pray and practice sitting with the Lord Jesus in some quiet place, as you make space for the Holy Spirit to work and sanctify, you will experience growth. It is not terribly complicated, and it is not always easy. Proverbs 4:23 tells us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Take the time today to sit with Jesus Christ and His written word!
What methods or structures do you have in place to help you engage with Scripture? How important is the Bible to you in your everyday life?
Lord, we thank you for tending us and growing us. We thank you for grace upon grace as we walk through the works you laid out for us ahead of time. Thank you for always having your hand upon us and for the gift of salvation! We pray that we might learn to put down roots in your written and Living Word, that we might prize Jesus Christ above anything this world has to offer, and that He will always be first in our hearts. Amen!
Song: Shane and Shane - I Will Wait For You (Psalm 130)
Storm and Silence (By Lynne McCarthy)
Text Job 38-42 (Ps 142)
Observe So end the dialogues between Job and friends. The final chapters are given over to God, a whirlwind (power symbol!) of 42 questions hurled at Job, no explanations, inviting only silence.
Question 1: Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (38:1) God roars Genesis 1 in His first round: Where were you when… I was laying the foundations of the earth, measuring, separating sea and land, morning and evening, light and dark? Can you do this… make snow[LM1] , hail, rain, ice, thunder, stars, constellations, clouds, lightning? Have you done…?
More relentless jabs, chapter 39: What about the earth? The animals? What do you know about running all this? Lions and ravens, mountain goats and wild donkeys, oxen and ostriches, horses and hawks and eagles? Who controls them, their births,[LM2] deaths, territories, their strength to run and soar and nest far above?
And then: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (40:1) No answer. Job can only put his hand over his mouth and whisper, “… I will proceed no further.” (5b)
The barrage doesn’t stop: Can you tame that immense land beast Behemoth[LM3] (40:15)? And the terrifying sea-riding Leviathan (chapter 41)? Can you manage their chaos?
Job recognizes his utter smallness. He has met Truth and is bested: “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know….” (42:3b) Recognition becomes repentance[LM4] : “… therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:5-6) His friends? God rebukes them for not quite getting it. They must offer atoning sacrifice, for they spoke badly; God tells Job to pray for them. Prayer and offering God accepts; -- and then?
The astonishing epilogue… Restoration!
Beyond anything Job could hope: … the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…. And Job died, an old man, and full of days. (12, 17).
Interpret Hebrew tradition equated prosperity with godliness (chapter 1), but Job’s rapid descent into poverty, disease, disgrace, completely counters this equation. The rigidly moralistic friends pile on the guilt – your sin brought this on, you know! God intervenes to set things straight -- who’s in charge here? In the blistering interrogation from his Maker, Job has finally met God (and His quite different agenda) Whom he’d demanded to meet, Whom he’d really been addressing all this time.
The whole point is that Job trusted God. Why all this happened is irrelevant. For Job, God is sovereign. Job’s innocence and integrity are confirmed; he knew God, all along.
Apply In our suffering, we wail, “Why me?” “What have I done?” “Why is God punishing me?” Lost in the wilderness of not-knowing, we plod through deserts, stumble over sharp rocks, heartsick, exhausted, despairing. What to do?
Determined to focus on God’s unchanging nature, we entrust ourselves through His Spirit to Him who made heaven and earth. His grace strengthens our will to relinquish fixating on our feelings or situation. Ignoring pious platitudes or pat answers, we cling to His Truth, His Life. And then? Ah…!
We encounter merciful Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).
Ask When I’m lost or down or sick and lonely and frightened, am I willing to abandon introspective self-pity and seek You? Would you strengthen my will to trust You even in suffering, sovereign King? Do I truly know You as Lord of my life?
Pray Thank You, God of true comfort, that You know all things. Search me in this isolating, lonely time. Reveal Yourself anew: good, just, holy. Thank you, Lord of my life, that I can bring pain and grief and uncertainties to You because You listen, and care. I don’t need reasons or answers. I need You.
Song: Psalm 142: To God I Made My Sorrows Known Bruce Benedict
The Question of Suffering by Pastor Dave
“God’s voice thunders in marvellous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”
Job 37: 5
Job 32-37 (Psalm 141)
The three friends, prior to Elihu, had basically argued that suffering was a punishment for sin and prosperity a reward for righteousness. There was some acknowledgement that the matter was not quite as simple as that (5: 17); in effect they were saying that Job’s suffering was his own doing (22: 5). Job had countered, and perhaps won the argument, with evidence from experience and by pointing to God’s sovereignty. It seems though, that there is not yet an answer as to why the righteous suffer; enter Elihu.
In complicated and sometimes confusing arguments Elihu states that suffering is not simply because of sin nor does it occur at the whim of a sovereign God. God uses suffering to refine His people (36: 8-11), to correct and save them (33: 17). God’s people still have sin and pride within that has to be dealt with. Suffering causes that sin to be identified and offers the route to a renewed relationship with God; whereas the godless refuse to listen (36: 13). So Elihu proves the friend’s explanation to be in error and he also shows Job that there was more to the suffering than he (Job) thought (33: 8-12). Perhaps there was hidden and deep pride within Job, that had to be revealed, for Job to grow in godliness and to know the Lord more clearly.
It is worth noting that Job does not answer Elihu and that God steps in and speaks directly after Elihu (38). In addition God does not include Elihu in the rebuke of Job’s friends (42: 7)
A point of application that is immediately clear; words count. However well-intentioned Job’s friends were, there is no doubt, that their words hurt a man in deep distress. Even Elihu’s contributions were not completely clear. The five men were working the truth out as they spoke; a legitimate process but one that was truly more painful for the subject of the discussions. God’s ways are truly beyond our understanding (37: 5). We must take care in our conversations, especially with regards issues where there is no agreement.
That said, the book of Job, when linked with truths from the New Testament, takes us deeper into the matter of suffering. God does refine us, His children, through suffering; this proves our faith (1 Peter 1: 3-9). His discipline brings a harvest of righteousness and peace (Hebrews 12: 11), and it demonstrates His power in our weakness, witnessing to the world (2 Corinthians 1: 8-10). Sometimes we continue Christ’s suffering on behalf of the Church (Colossians 1: 24).
Suffering is never an easy, nor pleasant experience. Confusion, anger, frustration, and depression can all be part of the reality. Our faith, though, is worth more than gold, gives us joy in our relationship with Jesus, and through Him, we achieve the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1: 7&9). We also, can rest assured that God will bring good out of the situation (Romans 8: 28).
The Question of Application
There is a deal of suffering present in the world and for us individually in our current situation. What might God be saying to you through the truths we have just considered, how might this help you to persevere (James 1: 2-4)
Dear Father we so often plead with you to take away our suffering, and yes, we do today. If though, we hear you say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” give us the grace and strength, to be able to be glad about our weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on us. May we, for Christ’s sake, delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties; for when we are weak, then we are strong. Amen
From 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10
Suffering Servant by Dustin Kensrue
Refiners Fire by Hillsong
The drama of Job has unrolled to a point where we are now looking for the climax and closure. It is the third round of speeches by Job’s friends and by Job himself. Eliphaz speaks with intensity about the great wickedness of Job in challenging God who is high in the heavens. Eliphaz attributes to Job the kind of arrogance and greed practiced by many of the rich and powerful, then pleads with Job to repent and delight himself in the Lord God so that he will be delivered.
Job’s reply reiterates his pleas to God to meet him face to face. Job seems to have some idea of how incredibly awesome and frightening this could be, saying “I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him.”
Bildad responds (third speech) in a rather short speech, wondering how anyone can declare themselves to be righteous before God.
Job responds in a lengthy speech about God’s holiness and power especially in creation but maintains his integrity before all. He then delivers a speech on God’s wisdom and vast understanding, shown through all creation of bird, animal or precious jewels found in the earth’s mines. In this, his final speech for his own defense, Job pleads with God to be heard directly, calling on him to remember that Job used to be the one who dispensed justice to many other people; now those same young people are mocking and cursing him. Although Job ends his speech, he has not given up—he maintains his innocence.
None of Job’s questions are resolving—we have no answer to the problem of evil. We still do not know why bad things happen to good people. The friends have tried their best to get to the root of the problem—that is, why did Job lose all his goods and his health. His friends all think there is some deep sin in his life and if he acknowledges and repents, God will deliver him.
Job insists on his integrity; he truly believes that he has done nothing to warrant this type of devastation in his life.
In Job’s song of praise for God’s wisdom (ch28), he demonstrates his knowledge regarding the wisdom and understanding of God. Job again protests his righteousness before God, and pleads with God to answer him directly (ch30 &31).
One might wonder at Job’s insistence on his own innocence—that he has done nothing to deserve this judgement from God’s hand. Personally, I would find it impossible to insist on my innocence before God Almighty! I need to confess and hear God’s forgiveness daily; there is always something I have done or have left undone that is not pleasing to God.
What about the question of “what do we do when it seems God has abandoned us? Or has allowed evil and devastation to overwhelm us?” Do we trust that God is still sovereign and will eventually bring about true justice? It seems that God’s mercy and compassion plays a very small part in this massive drama.
How about you? When you ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart, are there things you need to confess? Are you keeping a “clean slate” with God? Are you reassured of God’s forgiveness? Are you able to trust God “in spite of the bad things” happening in your life?
Dear God and Father of all, please help us in our times of questioning and doubt. Keep us away from the temptation of following our own ways of “making the best of things”. Speak to us, show us your path, make clear to us what we are to believe and to do during our hard times. Grant us your mercy, your compassion. Hold us ever closer to you (see Deut33:27). May these difficult times teach me to put my roots down deep into your love (see Eph3:17).
After reading Job, I need to remind myself that God is good:
Goodness of God
Redeemer (By Chris Barnes)
TEXT: Job chapters 15-21
OBSERVE: Job’s understanding of the future life was very obscure at first, and we hear him asking the hopeful question, “Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death” (Job 14:14). Somewhere along the way, as job pursued God in the agony of his suffering, God clearly revealed the answer to Job so that he spoke of resurrection life with firm confidence:
But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! (Job 19: 25-26)
INTERPRET: The Hebrew word translated “Redeemer” is Go’el, and it had two general applications. It was used to refer to the next of kin who intervened to maintain rights or preserve the continuity of the family (you may remember this happening in the book of Ruth, referring to Boaz). But in the daily usage, its primary meaning was “to buy back, recover.” This is the prophetic vision Job had of Jesus himself – his Restorer, his Redeemer.
APPLICATION: Job envisioned a day when his Go’el would restore his body and remake it into a body fit for the new heaven and the new earth, where the Redeemer would live with redeemed humanity. Job longed for the day when he would gaze with his eyes upon his God-Redeemer standing “upon the earth.” It was not the thought of his soul resting with God in a far-off heaven that brought him such intense anticipation, but the thought of seeing God-in-glorified-flesh standing in victory on a renewed earth.
God gave Job the prophetic ability to see not the first coming of Christ, but the second coming, when “the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout (1 Thess 4:16). He could see with eyes of faith the renewal that Paul described clearly when he wrote, “Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever…… Thanks be to God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15: 42, 57). As believers in Christ, we too are to speak of resurrection life with confidence knowing that our Redeemer lives.
REFLECTION: Are you absolutely certain that your Redeemer lives?
PRAYER: Jesus, the day is coming when all of those who are in Christ will have exactly what Job’s heart had longed for. I proclaim with absolute certainty that my Redeemer lives! AMEN.
SONG: I Know That My Redeemer Lives - 7-Year-Old Claire Crosby
SONG 2: My Redeemer Lives (Nicole C. Mullen)
In this first cycle in the book of Job, we see conversations between Job, Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz. We begin with Eliphaz suggesting that Job has some great sin in him for which he is suffering, that the innocent prosper and the guilty are brought low and destroyed. It is a reminder of God’s justice and a call to repent of whatever sin he has done. Job rebuffs him, saying that his complaint before the Lord is just, that he has done no wrong to incur this divine wrath, then goes on to lament his utter lack of hope.
Bildad steps up next, saying that God does not pervert justice and that Job should repent. He reminds Job that God is quick to forgive and will restore him if he only repents, but Job goes on to insist that he is being treated unfairly and pleads with God to consider his frail humanity.
Zophar then takes his turn to insist that, assured of some great sin on Job’s part, Job deserves far worse than what has already befallen him, but Job insists that this is an act of the Lord that is undeserved based on his deeds. The final two chapters of this section conclude with Job vacillating wildly between hope and despair.
The question of suffering and the problem of evil – both are serious topics that are felt and considered deeply in almost everyone. Job grappled with this in no uncertain terms and epitomizes the question “why do bad things happen to good people?” The entire book of Job shows him grappling with a just God on one hand and injustice in the other. How do we put these two things together? A Friday morning blog is far too small a space in which to explore all these thoughts fully, but I believe we can make some headway.
I am not unfamiliar with suffering in my own life, and the more one grows older in a world such as ours, the more we see the suffering, injustice, and pain of one another, near and far. The truth of the matter is that we have a sovereign God of love, justice, and mercy, yet we live in a world of hate, violence, and fear. These facts exist side by side. However, it is not God who perpetuates evil or does evil things, but sinners with evil in their hearts. The truth of the matter is that God does not just work with the righteous and ignore the evil; He gets right in our messy world and works His mighty hand to bring about His good and perfect will. He can work with anyone and anything in His masterpiece to bring about His good will - and thank God that he does! And remember, He does all things according to His infinite, sovereign love. This means we can have such joy, even in our greatest suffering and darkest nights that He knows what He is doing and has not forgotten you or is unable to save.
A good leader never asks their employees to do something they themselves have not done or would not do. I have vivid memories from my previous profession when my Chef would be right there with us on his hands and knees, cleaning and repairing and prepping and sweating, and it increased our respect and loyalty for him immensely.
And we find the perfect leader in Jesus Christ! He did not sit comfortably in heaven as we struggle and toil in a broken world – no! He stepped down into the muck and the grime of earth, taking on the form of a lowly craftsman, accustomed to grief, tempted and tried, acquainted with sorrow, to love and lead and save, only to be brutally nailed to a tree. This is a comfort to us in so many ways, knowing that anything we face, the Lord has walked there too. It is a comfort especially in this – Not even Jesus was spared pain or suffering or sorrow, yet it was through such agony that we were given the greatest gift of all: peace with God! Through His death on the cross, Jesus glorified the Father and then the Father glorified the Son. If it was not for the Son of God suffering unjustly and being raised, we would not be saved. He does not excuse us from the trials of this life, yet like the perfect leader, He has come along side us, made Himself a refuge, and will teach us how to bear them.
In summation, it is therefore true to say that pain and suffering is a part of our life on earth, yet never outside the bounds of God’s sovereignty. It is true to say that God, this master craftsman, works all things to the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). And it is true to say that His power is made perfect in weakness, and that those who suffer walk in the footsteps of Him who has gone before us.
How do you interpret the presence of evil and suffering alongside the reality of a perfect, just, and loving God? How might God use even your worst pain to bring about good in your life while also glorifying Him? What examples can we learn from Jesus? Does it comfort you, knowing that Jesus did not exempt Himself from even the worst the world could throw at Him?
Lord, there is no shortage of suffering in our world. I pray that you use all of the pain felt through this pandemic to glorify yourself, and make in me an example like Christ who obediently followed where you directed. I commit my own struggles to you and ask that you teach me to bear them, so that in all things I might be a testament to your goodness. Please teach me to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, and teach me to make your joy my strength. Amen!
Song: Psalm 46 by Shane and Shane
Intro to Job (By Lory Mitton)
“The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Psalm 135:6
Text: Job 1-3, Psalm 135
In today’s reading, we meet Job, a man blameless and upright, who feared God and shunned evil. He was famed as “the greatest man of the East” and was very wealthy with 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke oxen, 500 donkeys and plenty of servants to manage his household.
We also get a glimpse into a heavenly realm in which Satan approaches God and accuses Job of being faithful to God only because of the blessings God has given him. In order to test that theory, God grants permission to Satan to remove Job’s wealth and belongings.
In a single day Job learns all his camels, oxen and donkeys have been stolen, his servants murdered, a “fire from heaven” has killed all his sheep and the servants tending them, and his children are all tragically killed when a mighty wind causes the house they are feasting in to collapse.
Job’s immediate response is both grief and worship:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)
Satan again accuses Job in God’s presence saying Job passed the test because he still had his own life. God allows this theory also to be tested and permits Satan to afflict Job's health and sores break out over his whole body.
In response to this new tragedy, Job’s wife suggests he “curse God and die” but Job sees her words as foolish and asks, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” Despite all his troubles, Job again does not sin by what he says.
Then Job’s 3 friends come to mourn with him. Upon seeing his immense suffering, they sit in the dust with him 7 days and 7 nights in complete silence.
Then Job voices his suffering by cursing the day of his birth. He begins to ask “why” questions and says he has no peace, no quiet, no rest, only turmoil.
Let’s look at the three main characters in these initial chapters. We see first Job, who is not only righteous himself, he also initiates the right-making of each of his children by offering sacrifices before God on their behalf after their lavish parties at each other’s houses. Job’s initial response to his immense loss is grief and worship and acceptance of God’s sovereignty over his troubling situation. We see from this that Job has an immense respect for God and desires to remain in right standing before Him.
Next, we have Satan, whose name literally means, ‘the accuser’. We clearly see Satan’s character of wanting to break down the righteous. After he makes an accusation against Job, his desire and permission is to steal, kill and destroy; his boundary however, is that he can only do what God allows him to.
We also see a snapshot of God’s character in these 3 chapters. In this heavenly realm, God sees and acknowledges his righteous servant, Job. He allows Job to be tested. And also, God remains in complete control over what is permitted in Job’s life.
Does it make us a little uncomfortable to recognize that God allowed Job to suffer? Or, on the other hand, does it bring peace to observe that God filtered out the kind of suffering that would be permitted in Job’s life?
The tragic events Job experienced threw his soul into a state of turmoil, however, we see in contrast that God remained in a state of sovereign control over what Satan was and was not permitted to take away. We are told that Job passed the test when he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. He did well to worship God, to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and right to give and to take away.
How about us? Are we able to acknowledge that God is sovereign above the chaos created by Covid-19? Although this pandemic has thrown the world into turmoil, God is not moved by it. He remains in control and has allowed this to happen. Can we trust like Job did initially that God is still worthy of praise when we go through hard things?
We will all likely at some point in our lives wrestle with the topic and tension of God’s sovereignty and our suffering. Space was made in God’s Word: 42 long chapters are given to this book to explore grief and suffering and God’s role in it all. As we journey further into the book of Job, let’s allow ourselves to be honest with God and ourselves about the effect trials have on us and our need for God in the midst of it all.
Prayer: Lord, I acknowledge your sovereignty and control over the events in the world and in my own experience. Help me as I wrestle with the troubles of life and the idea of suffering. I invite you to make yourself known to me in a clearer way through the reading of the book of Job.
Song: Weep With Me (Rend Collective)
The Day of the Lord by Pastor Dave
“The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry.”
Zephaniah 1: 14
Zephaniah (Psalm 133)
Zephaniah is introduced as the great, great grandson of Hezekiah, and so is probably of royal blood, as the Hezekiah is likely the famous king. None of this is certain, it is though relevant; Zephaniah is warning King Josiah, who seems to have heeded the counsel. Josiah has followed Manasseh and Amon. These latter kings remained vassals to Assyria and allowed apostate conditions. Josiah, however, pursued faith and obedience to God and independence from foreign nations.
Zephaniah’s main focus is upon the ‘Day of the Lord,’ which he stated was: near; wrathful; distressing; ruinous; and full of darkness and gloom. This ‘Day’ was due to sin against God (1: 17); sin committed by God’s people and the surrounding gentile nations. Zephaniah describes God’s wrath and judgement with cold clarity while explaining its justification. Israel’s unfaithfulness and non-witness has resulted in the fall of the northern kingdom. Judah is now the witness but the warning here is against them too. A ‘remnant,’ however will be saved and expected to witness to the truth of God (3: 12-13)
The focus on judgement turns to salvation (3: 8-9) where all nations will turn to the Lord and Judah will be restored (3:11). Salvation though, comes after judgement and punishment; the command to be faithful continues.
In this book we can see the reality of our sin and God’s holiness; humankind’s rebellion and hard heartedness rightly brings God’s judgement. God’s wrath and judgement are the realities that we should truly fear; the loss of our souls and eternal separation from God are the absolute worse conclusions our lives can face. The Day of the Lord, Christ’s return, will be too late for any change or repentance on our behalf. That Day will both be terrible and wonderful – the New Testament and Christ’s teachings are full of direction, encouragement and warnings in relation to this truth.
The answer to God’s wrath, my friends, is found in Jesus. It is He who takes away our punishment and He who has turned back the enemy of sin and death (3: 15a). For us to saved, and for Christ’s return to be awesomely wonderful, we need to humble ourselves before God, repent and trust in Him and then live in meekness and obedience (3:12).
God’s people, Israel, were to be a witness to the surrounding nations. Today, God’s people, the Church, have that same mission. How terrible for His Church to go away from the truth and lead others away! How wonderful for the Church to be a beacon of light in a dark world drawing others to the Love of God in Christ Jesus!!!
The Question of Application
Have you considered God’s judgement and wrath or do you not like to think about its harsh reality? To dismiss this truth is to underestimate the depth of God’s love for us and Christ’s self-sacrifice. Who, in your life, needs to know these truths?
O Holy Spirit, before the Day of the Lord Jesus’ Return, enable and encourage us to seek Him in true humility and to obey what He commands. Help us to seek righteousness and humility so that we may be sheltered by His self-sacrificial love and welcomed into the Father’s loving embrace. Amen
(Taken from Zephaniah 2: 2-3)
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us sung by St. Aidan’s
Holy (Wedding Song) by City Harmonic
The question asked at the title of this scripture asks “how should we then pray?” We can use the prayers of Habbakuk as examples for our own prayers and dialogue with God.
What is God telling me, telling us (the family, the church) in this time of darkness. Example: “Even though I don’t understand what is going on, you are God and you are in control of history. You are Lord of all the earth.” How shall I respond to this God?
Dear Lord God, how are you expanding my understanding, and my experience of you during this time of darkness? How shall I praise you? I do trust you for our salvation and our well-being. Nevertheless—whatever happens, I will trust you. I will follow you.
(I call this faith with no back door).
SONG – I will sing… Hab.3:17-18
Another version of the scripture in song: (this is the scripture song I learned long ago…)
Though the fig tree does not blossom…
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.