TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JOB 34:1- 36:33

Elihu is the last person to speak in the earthly debate among Job and his friends. In Job Chapters 32-37, Elihu gives four separate speeches before God interrupts and silences all with the final word.

In his first speech, Elihu explains why he must join the discussion (Job 32:6-33:33). 

Today we start our reading with his second speech (Job 34:1-37). He believes that Job is attacking God’s justice, and therefore he speaks to defend it. Elihu calls his fellows to judge for themselves, to listen with the taste buds of reason and experience. He asks them to distinguish truth from error as the diner distinguishes sweet from sour. 

Job 34:4 4 “Let us choose for ourselves what is right; Let us know among ourselves what is good.

Yet, he fails to recognize the limits of his understanding.

Elihu then attempts to answer two of Job’s previous assertions as he understood them.

Assertion #1. Job 34:5-6 5 “For Job has said, ‘I am righteous, But God has taken away my right; 6 Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’

To Job’s claims of righteousness, Elihu responds as many do today when they hear that a believer has confidence in being justified before God by faith. Elihu believes Job is claiming that God is denying him justice and thereby accusing God of being wrong. 

As Elihu berates Job he gives us a preview of the Pharisaical spirit that will be present in the religious elite of Jesus’ day.

Job 34:7-8 7 “What man is like Job, who drinks up derision like water, 8 Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, and walks with wicked men?

The same criticism will be given to Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus absorbed the scorn of men and was accused of being a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34, 15:1). Whereas Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, were convinced that suffering was due to Job’s sin, Elihu was expanding that concept. He said that Job’s suffering was educational. He proposes that God is allowing Job’s suffering to teach him something.

Job 33:29-30 29 “Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men, 30 To bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.

Elihu comments on Job’s second assertion, quoting it twice in Job 34:9 and 35:3.

Job 34:9 9 “For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing When he is pleased with God.’

Job 35:3 3 “For you say, ‘What advantage will it be to You? What profit will I have, more than if I had sinned?’

Whereas Elihu is right in affirming God’s aseity, seeing that God does not need anything from man, the gospel of Jesus Christ will demonstrate that our behavior does affect God. He feels the pain and insult of our sin. He absorbs it as He bears our burden of guilt on the cross.

Campbell Morgan writes: “The complete revelation of God shows that, whereas according to the terms and requirements of infinite righteousness, God is independent of man, nevertheless, according to the nature of His heart of love- which these men(Job’s comforters) did not know- God is not independent of man. The whole Biblical revelation, centered and consummated in Christ, shows that human sin afflicts wounds upon God, and causes sorrow to the Holy One, and that man, living in righteousness, does give glory to God and cause joy to His heart.”

Both Job and Elihu are wrong in their assertions and stand to be corrected by God.

In Chapter 36, Elihu continues to defend his own view of God’s justice.

Like Job’s three other friends, Elihu continues to believe that Job is suffering Divine chastisement for his sin. He gives the example of God paying him back for judging others. 

Job 36:17 17 “But you were full of judgment on the wicked; Judgment and justice take hold of you.

He cautions Job not to react to those who oppose him. God is using this trial to teach him.

Job 36:22 22 “Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him?”

Truly God’s knowledge and power is beyond our comprehension. Therefore we look to the Word of God as it is perfectly expressed to us in Christ.

Elihu’s interpretation is not accurate, however. God’s primary intention was not to teach Job something in this trial. God was highly honoring Job by using him to display to principalities and powers a truth about worshiping God for Who He is. He was correcting Satan’s misinterpretation that Job worshiped God to get blessings from Him. That is not the truth about God’s grace.

And it is the truth about God’s grace that makes us free.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we learn that we also have the high privilege of demonstrating God’s wisdom to principalities and powers.

Ephesians 3:10-11 10  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11  according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (NIV). 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 CORINTHIANS 4:1-12

Do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1)! Don’t be discouraged! Get a grip on the reality of redemption. It is true that we are flawed and fragile earthen vessels, but we have the treasure of the indwelling life of Christ.

We do not need to prop up God’s reputation and solicit votes by manufacturing something that looks like ministry. We do not preach ourselves or our own ministries. We do not use deception or distort the Word of God to promise something other than what God has indeed promised. We are not God-salesmen. We are redeemed sinners who have been justified by faith and are being transformed by God’s grace.

Chapter 4 is a continuation of Paul’s thoughts regarding the new covenant ministry of Christ who died for us so He can live in us and through us.

2 Corinthians 4:1 1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

We recognize the power of the Word, the power of the gospel. As Luther said, “The Word does the work.” We do not lose heart because we have the indwelling life of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:16), and our momentary afflictions and hardships are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:17).

If we were to trust in ourselves, our own wisdom, our own methodologies and energies, we would get discouraged. We would be defeated in the fight. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, so our strength is not to be in our own flesh and blood. Satan, the god of this present age, has blinded the minds of those who do not believe (2 Cor 4:4).  Jesus is the Light of the world, yet light cannot be perceived by those who are blind. Salvation is of God (Jonah 2:9). Only He can command the light to shine and the light to be perceived (2 Corinthians 4:6).

If we look to ourselves, we get discouraged. We see the flawed and frail vessel. But instead, we look to Christ, our treasure. Even as Gideon’s 300 were ordered to smash their vessels so that the light within would manifest that the Lord is the “Lord of hosts”, so adversities that highlight our brokenness become means of manifesting God’s light in this darkened world (Judges 7:20; 2 Cor 4:6). We carry around in our body the fact that we are crucified with Christ, dead to sin and alive to righteousness (4:10).  This brokenness manifests the resilience of the victorious life of Christ within.

This is the ministry that we share. Death is at work in us. We die to self daily that the life of God’s Word would work in you. (2 Cor 4:12) This is our ministry. May the life and power of the Word be exhibited in us all today.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 44:1-8

The Psalmist recalls what God did to aid them in the conquest of Canaan. He enabled them to drive out the enemy to a great degree. He established His people as a nation in Israel.

Their existence was not due to their skillful swordplay but by the gracious hand of the Lord.

Psalm 44:3 3  It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.

As we saw in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, we see God’s grace and glory on display in the face of Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation.  He drives out the idolatries of our heart.

2 Corinthians 4:6 6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

He gives us victories day by day.

Psalm 44:4-5 4 You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob. 5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes.

So we do not preach ourselves. We do not trust in ourselves. Our trust is in the Lord and we make our boasts in Him day and night.

Psalm 44:8 8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever. Selah

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 22:10-12

Proverbs 22:10-12 10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. 11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend. 12 The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- MEXICO

(Prayercast.com)

Mexico is a unique combination of ancient indigenous traditions and thriving modern cities. Handcrafted works of art, picturesque beaches, and the temple pyramids of ancient empires all make this nation truly remarkable in its cultural and natural beauty. Known for their strong national and regional pride, as well as familial bonds, the Mexican people are a diverse mix of Amerindian, Mestizo, and European descent. The same diversity is evident among the breathtaking plateaus, lush rainforests, vast mountain ranges, and picturesque plains that make Mexico a top tourist destination.

Even with a reformed and growing free-market economy and developing middle class, the nation faces serious concerns with wide socio-economic disparity, poor job conditions for over half its workers, and high underemployment. Years of political conflicts, rampant corruption, and marginalization of Amerindian peoples continue to hold Mexico in bondage. This is the second most violent country in the world, with one of the highest kidnapping rates. Drug trafficking cartels and the resulting gang violence have left tens of thousands dead, with over 20,000 homicides in 2016 alone. Fear and police corruption have hindered any lasting solutions. Neglected rural areas, massive urban shantytowns, and rampant poverty present huge social challenges. In addition, thousands of mainly Central American refugees flee north through Mexico in the hope of crossing into the United States. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, have killed thousands. Over 15,000 children – often known as “rat children” – live in deplorable conditions on the streets and in the sewers of Mexico City. To cope, many inhale a harmful solvent that numbs their pain and helps them forget. It is also estimated that 14% of the adult population suffers from diabetes, the leading cause of death in Mexico.

Ninety-five percent of Mexicans identify as Christian. Many are cultural Catholics and blend Christianity with traditional pagan beliefs. There remains a great need for this Christian majority to replace cultural faith with a vibrant and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Although Protestantism is increasingly accepted – about 8% are evangelical – they have faced widespread persecution and violence from organized crime, corrupt officials, and even their own families. This is particularly prevalent in southern states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero when individuals refuse to participate in pagan rituals. Even so, the Evangelical Church is growing and stands in great need of discipleship, sound Biblical doctrine, and strong Christian leadership. 

PRAYER: Lord, we confess our sins, our limitations, our weakness, our flaws and frailty. Cleanse us as we trust in Your mercy shown to us in the cross of Christ. Thank You Lord Jesus for shedding Your blood that we might be justly forgiven and made new. We pray that the power of Your Word and Spirit would work in us today. We pray that in our weakness, the excellency of Your great power would be manifested in a display of the victorious life of Christ, our indwelling treasure. We ask it in His Name. Amen.