TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JOB 4:1-7:21
Job’s bemoaning his birth and resenting his existence provoked Eliphaz the Temanite to speak.
Eliphaz once looked up to Job, but now expresses some disappointment to see Job buckle in despair under the pressure of his current calamities.
Eliphaz reminds Job that we reap what we sow. Perhaps there is some hidden sin or wrong in Job’s life that is causing his trouble? He assumes that Job’s suffering is the result of God’s chastisement.
Eliphaz was wrong to conclude that all suffering was punishment. Whereas Eliphaz said many things that were right about God, he had no clue as to what God was doing with his servant Job.
A nighttime vision shook Eliphaz some time in the past. In it he recognized God’s greatness. One of the dangers of spiritual experiences is that it causes people to think that their knowledge of God now knows no limits.
Eliphaz says many things that are true, but they are just not helpful in Job’s situation.
Some things that Eliphaz says rightly frame the human experience:
Job 5:7 7 For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.
(We live in a “Genesis 3” world.)
He describes the chastening process. But it is not always a happy one when you are going through it, as Eliphaz suggests:
Job 5:17-18 17 “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.
Eliphaz is presumptuous when he thinks that only good things will happen to those who put their trust in God.
What about you? Do you go beyond what the Word of God promises? Do you insist that all suffering is of the devil? Do you believe that only good things happen to those who walk with the Lord?
You may have heard the expression, “Job’s comforters”. This term describes friends that may mean well, but offer advice that is not helpful. Job’s friends gave counsel that only made Job feel worse!
Job answers Eliphaz in Job Chapter 6. Job tells his friend that he is a false comfort.
Job 6:14-17 14 “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. 15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow 16 when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, 17 but that cease to flow in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from their channels.
What kind of friend are you? Are you a reliable source of godly counsel and comfort that will truly benefit the hearer?
How do we handle criticism? Job listened, but he was careful not to buy into everything his friends were saying.
Job 6:25-26 25 How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? 26 Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?
God will vindicate Job’s words here. He continues to defend his integrity.
Job 6:29-30 29 Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. 30 Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice?
Job’s depression leads to a death wish. He makes a complaint to God, and then says something that anticipates the gospel:
Job 7:21 21 Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?
The truth is that God will send His Son to do just that!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 CORINTHIANS 14:18-40
The Corinthian church was giving a disproportionate amount of attention to the gift of speaking in languages unknown to the speaker. Paul speaks of the primacy of speaking forth the Word of God in ways that could be understood by all (1 Corinthians 14:1-5,19). Believers should know the Word, speak the Word and live the Word. To prophesy is to speak forth the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. The prophets were those who gave us the Holy Scriptures (Ephesians 2:20). They were appointed to communicate the mind of God as oracles prior to the completion of the Bible. When we speak of prophecy today, we are making a distinction between the way God communicated through those appointed to give the written Word of God, and how people are to minister the Word of God to each other today. Prophecy is the communication of God’s truth for the purpose of stirring up (exhortation), building up (edification) and cheering up (encouragement) (1 Cor. 14:3).
We need to use our gifts in the way that is most profitable for the building up of the body of Christ. If a person at this time in Corinth had the gift of speaking in a language that had no meaning to them personally, they may be feeling chuffed that they have an spiritual enablement (1 Corinthians 14:4), but Paul says it is as useless as speaking into the air (v.6- 12) unless there is one to interpret (14:13). Paul makes it clear that the ‘tongue’ here is not referring to gibberish, but language that has syntax and meaning (1 Cor 14:10).
Paul advocates that we minister with both our spirits AND our minds (1 Cor 14:15) and seek to build up the body of Christ with revelation, knowledge, teaching and prophetic exhortation, edification and consolation (1 Cor 14:3,6).
1 Corinthians 14:20 20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.
Paul’s reference to Isaiah 28:11 illustrates that tongues were given as a sign, indicating God’s gracious overture to the Jewish people who did not have ears to hear.
He says tongues is a sign to unbelievers, a warning to those rejecting the Messiah, but prophecy is for believers.
Warren Wiersbe’s writing is helpful:
Paul made here another point for the superiority of prophecy over tongues: a message in tongues (unless interpreted) could never bring conviction to the heart of a lost sinner. In fact, the unsaved person might leave the service before the interpretation was given, thinking that the whole assembly was crazy. Tongues were not used for evangelism, neither at Pentecost nor in the meetings of the early church.
However, tongues did have a “message” for the lost Jews in particular: they were a sign of God’s judgment. Paul quoted Isaiah 28:11-12, a reference to the invading Assyrian army whose “barbaric” language the Jews would not understand. The presence of this “tongue” was evidence of God’s judgment on the nation. God would rather speak to His people in clear language they could understand, but their repeated sins made this impossible. He had spoken to them through His messengers in their own tongue, and the nation would not repent. Now He had to speak in a foreign tongue, and this meant judgment.
As a nation, the Jews were always seeking a sign (Matthew 12:28; 1 Corinthians 1:22). At Pentecost, the fact that the Apostles spoke in tongues was a sign to the unbelieving Jews who were there celebrating the feast. The miracle of tongues aroused their interest, but it did not convict their hearts. It took Peter’s preaching (in Aramaic, which the people all understood) to bring them to the place of conviction and conversion. (The Bible Exposition Commentary – Warren Wiersbe, New Testament, Volume 1.
With the manifestation of greater love and edification in view, the Apostle Paul laid down these ground rules for the use of the gift of tongues in the church at Corinth.
1. Not more than two or three at most shall speak (1 Cor 14:27).
2. They must speak in order, one at a time, each in turn (14:27).
3. Each must be interpreted credibly corresponding to the syntax of the language (v.27).
4. If there is no interpreter, they must keep silent, reserving it for private use as unto the Lord.
5. As with prophecy, all gifts were subject to the judgment of spiritual leadership (v. 32).
Paul gives guidance for those who speak (prophecy).
It is apparent in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, and his first letter to Timothy, that there were some misunderstandings and disturbances caused by women who were causing division and disruption in the worship services. Women in this culture had not had access to formal religious training. Nor were they familiar with the creation order, and God’s plan to mirror His nature as a community of oneness with the complementary, yet distinct, roles of men and women in marriage and the church.
Paul writes in his pastoral letter to Timothy:
1 Timothy 2:11-13 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
He writes to the Corinthians
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
This is not an entire ‘gag’ order on females in the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:5 we have already learned that women can pray and prophesy in public worship. In 1 Corinthians 12 we learn that both men and women have spiritual gifts. The context in 1 Corinthians 14 suggests that the behavior of the women at the church in Corinth at this time was inconsiderate of the needs of the congregation as a whole. The women may have been casting shame on their husbands. Their husbands could answer their questions at home without disrupting the worship services.
It could have been that the new-found freedom found by women in the gospel of Jesus Christ was being flaunted and causing disruption. Perhaps the women were usurping the authority of their husbands or the elders of the church, which would have been a violation of the teaching of the Word of God.
Paul’s instruction was intended to promote unity and harmony in the church.
Paul concludes that it is a blessing when the church manifests God’s love and functions as a coordinated body under the headship of Christ, and not in confusion.
1 Corinthians 14:26 26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
1 Corinthians 14:40 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 37:30-40
We can hope in Ultimate Vindication at the Throne of Grace.
Psalm 37:34 34 Wait for the LORD and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
Psalm 37:39-40 39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 21:27
Proverbs 21:27 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, how much more when he brings it with evil intent!
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- (from the “Operation World” Prayer App)
Pray for the less evangelized. The Malaysian Church has the resources and cultural knowledge to reach them, but it also needs the courage and commitment. The Malays are one of the world’s largest unreached groups. Some now worship in house groups and multi-ethnic churches, but no public congregation of ethnic Malays exists. The Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia (PM) are original inhabitants of the Malaysian peninsula. The Malay-dominated government considers them Muslim, but most practice animism. 8 of the 19 groups have no churches or believers.
PRAYER: Gracious God with whom Moses spoke face to face as a friend, thank You for sending us Your Son, who did not offer false comfort, but was a true friend of sinners. He did not merely offer advice, but He offered Himself to You on our behalf and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. We ask that You would help us to be true friends to others and that we would use our spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ and serve as faithful agents of Your kingdom purposes. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.