Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 5

Proverbs 5

-Here in this important chapter of Scripture, Solomon warns his son and sons to stay morally pure in regards to their wives as they live out the course of their lives. Again, he purports giving attention, inclining their ear, observing discretion, and reserving knowledge in wisdom. “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life; her ways are unstable, she does not know it (Proverbs 5:1-6).” In other words, what looks like a great time will end in disaster; don’t be lured into a terrible deal.

-Solomon goes on to say to his sons that they should listen to him and not depart from his wisdom on this matter. He tells them to stay far away from these sleazy women, never going near her house. Else, they would give their strength to others and their years to the cruel one (the devil). Consequences for this kind of activity, he warned, would typically be severe. Strangers would be filled with the strength that God intended for them as sons of the king, and their hard-earned goods would go to the house of an alien. There would be groaning at their final end, when their flesh and body would likely be consumed by venereal disease. At that point, they would realize that their father was absolutely right, and they would bemoan, “How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!” Solomon also offers a potential, shameful after-thought when he proclaims, “I was almost in utter ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation (Proverbs 5:7-14).” Solomon was attempting, as a good father should, to head off trouble before it ever began. He was an extremely wise man trying to stave off disaster with his boys.

-After explaining the negative side of immorality, he gives the positive alternative in devotion to the wife of one’s youth. He says, “Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let the fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Then he gets really romantic with colorful language expressing the graces and beauty of enjoying one’s own wife. If his sons would love them with exhilaration, that would be the reward of a life filled with wisdom. Exhilaration with an adulteress and the embrace of the bosom of a foreigner should not even be considered by the prudent. Solomon reminds his sons that God’s eyes are on all mankind, and He watches over all his paths. A person’s iniquities will capture him, “and he will be held with the cords of his sin.” A person will die from lack of prescriptive instruction, and if not careful, go astray in the greatness of his folly (Proverbs 5:15-23).

-*Application* As men, we should always be exhilarated with the wife that God has given, for most of us, in our youth. We should be enthralled and ever expanding our devotion into every area including their personalities, emotions, physical attributes, gifts, talents, affections, and so much more. I’m discovering new and wonderful things every day in my relationship with the wife with which the LORD has blessed me. It is wonderful to have such an intimate relationship. God is about faithfulness and lasting relationships with contentment, true love, and unrelenting passion. He wants us to love our wives as He does His church (Ephesians 5:25-33, Colossians 3:19). Fornication, lust, adultery, homosexuality, or any other perversion of God’s institution of covenant marriage is an abomination before Him, and amounts to idolatry (Exodus 34:15-16, Ezekiel 6:9). Meditate on this and pass it along to our son, or sons, if we have them.

Verse to Memorize: Proverbs 5:18

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 4

Proverbs 4

-Solomon uses the plural now as he addresses his “sons” in the first nine verses of this three-part chapter on a father’s wise instruction. He commands attention to his sayings because it would help one gain understanding and it was sound teaching. He warned his sons not to ever abandon these words of his. He went back in reminiscence to when he was a son to his father, David the great king of Israel. When he was tender and the only son of his mother, his father passed down the lessons of life that were so valuable to his walk. His father had instructed him with diligence and taught him to hold fast to his words in the heart. Keeping his father’s Godly commandments would allow him to live abundantly and long. David taught his son, Solomon, to “Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.” David continued with his lessons as Solomon recounts, “Prize her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if (conditional clause here) you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty (Proverbs 4:1-9).” Grace and beauty come from embracing wisdom and acquiring understanding.

-Solomon returns to a single son in this next section of literature for the wise. He keeps repeating the fact that acceptance of his words will make all the difference. Boys must have been very similar to our young men of this generation. Sometimes we want to do things our own way in our human nature. Not listening to dear ole dad in usually in vogue. However, the wise will pay attention to their father’s sayings, and this will lead to long life as he directs in the way of wisdom and leads in upright paths. Heeding Godly wisdom will help a young man walk without impediments and stumbling. In other words, it will be much smoother sailing through the course of life if young men attend to their father’s sound teaching from the Scriptures. Solomon tells his son to “take hold of instruction” and not let it go. He implores to guard her (wisdom), “for she is your life.” Now, he compares and contrasts the righteous and the wicked for his son’s benefit. He warns not to “enter the path of the wicked,” nor “proceed in the way of evil men.” He flat out says, “Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass by it.” He rightly relates how the wicked cannot sleep unless they do evil and are robbed of sleep unless they induce someone to stumble. Another way of putting it Scripturally, “Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).” Solomon doesn’t want his son to be deceived. These perpetrators metaphorically eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. Solomon wants his son to have no part of this. This is true wisdom. In contrast, the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn breaking forth in all its glory, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day appears. But, “the way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble (Proverbs 4:10-19).”

-Once again Solomon reiterates to his son to give attention to his words and incline his ear to his sayings. He warns to not let them depart from his sight and to keep them in the midst of his heart. These sayings of the LORD are life to those who find them. Cross reference what Jesus said about seeking and finding (Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10). These words aren’t just life to those who find, but health to all their body. Therefore, Solomon instructs under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23, John 4:10-14; 7:37-38).” Then he goes further with some teaching on the tongue and where to fix one’s gaze. A deceitful mouth and devious speech should be put far away from the man of God. The eyes should look directly ahead, fixed straight in front, ever watching the paths of the feet. Then, all the ways of a righteous man will be established. Solomon finishes this pericope with not turning to the right or to the left in a righteous course, but turning the foot from evil every time listening to the words of God (Deuteronomy 5:32; 17:20, Joshua 1:7; 23:6, 2 Kings 22:2, 2 Chronicles 34:2, Proverbs 4:20-27, Isaiah 30:21).

-*Application* A father’s words to his son can be the most precious and endearing factor towards the success of a young man. If we are fathers, let’s make the most of every day we’ve been given with our sons to teach them the proper ways to live under the loving and gracious commands of our Heavenly Father. Be diligent in this, and be faithful to live out what we speak. Let’s help our kids avoid the luring troubles of this world and acquire the wisdom of God for the course of their lives so that they will hopefully pass these things on to the next generation.

Verse to Memorize: Proverbs 4:23

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 3

Proverbs 3

-Solomon begins this section with a plead for his son not to ever forget his teaching. He wants his son’s heart to keep the commandments from God that he is laying out for him to abide by. “For,” he says, “length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” He beseeches him to never let “kindness (checed- goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy, pity)” and “truth ('emeth- reliability, sureness, continuous, firmness, faithfulness, truth)” leave him. He tells him to bind these qualities around his neck and write them on the tablet of his heart. The result will be favor and good repute in the sight of God and man when he applies these nuggets of wisdom. Then my life verses come to the forefront, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Wow! That’s great advice from a father to his son. Solomon goes on to tell him that he should never be wise in his own eyes, which amounts to selfish pride. Instead, he should fear the LORD and turn in the opposite direction from evil. If he does this, generally there will be healing to the body and refreshment to the bones. Next, the king seeks to develop a giving spirit unto the LORD with his son. He instructs him to honor the LORD from the first of all his produce and wealth. The result would be an overflowing abundance of plenty, and he mentions specifically the vats overflowing with “new wine.” I think the “new wine” reference is interesting in considering other biblical uses of such metaphors including Christ Jesus (Genesis 27:28, Deuteronomy 7:13, Matthew 9:17, Mark 2:22, Luke 5:36-39). He then provides a warning that his son NOT reject the discipline of the LORD or loathe His reproof. He offers a biblical theme that reproofs from the LORD are a sign of His love, just like a father who corrects the son in whom he delights (Proverbs 3:1-12, Hebrews 12:4-13, Revelation 3:19).

-The second section of this chapter begins with relating how blessed a man is who finds wisdom, which is again the accurate application of knowledge, and understanding, which has to do with reasoning and discretion skills. The profit of wisdom is better than the money one could have from silver. Wisdom’s gain surpasses fine gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing man can desire compares with her. Long life, riches, and honor are in her hands. Her ways are pleasant and produce paths of peace. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who grasp her and hold on. Happy is the man that finds wisdom and holds to it. By wisdom, Solomon continues, the LORD founded the earth. By understanding, He established the heavens. By His vast and unsurpassing knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew. Solomon reiterates to his son that he NOT let these principles of wisdom vanish from his sight. In other words, keep sound wisdom and discretion. They will be life to the soul (eternal life) and an adornment to the neck. A secure walk will be the norm, and the foot will not stumble and fall. Sleep will be restful, sweet, and unafraid. Wickedness will not alarm the wise one; sudden fear, or terror, will be no match. “For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught (Proverbs 3:13-26).

-The third and last section of this chapter begins with continued lessons in generosity. Solomon tells his son never to withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it. He emphasizes that to send folks away empty handed when you have the goods in hand is flat out wrong. Give, that is the theme. Further, do not devise harm against your neighbor, while he lives at peace and secure around you. Never contend with a man without cause, especially since he has done no harm to you. Live and let live is the mantra. It is evil to devise harm against your neighbor who is innocent. Don’t even envy a man of violence, nor choose any of his ways. “For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate with the upright.” The curse of God is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the dwelling places of the righteous. The LORD scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted. One last contrast here, “the wise will inherit honor, but fools display dishonor (Proverbs 3:27-35).”

-*Application* A divided heart should have no place in our walk with God. Single focus is key to the productive, pleasant, and rewarding life. We simply do not know enough and cannot control situations enough to live life without God’s providential hand and guidance. Therefore, we should trust in Him and acknowledge Him for every decision. He is the only One that can direct our paths in the way they should ultimately go. Let the LORD be our confidence. Find wisdom. Fear the Almighty. Be generous. Be fair. Love peace, not violence or devious things. These all contribute to the righteous lifestyle. Inherit honor, not dishonor. Be wise, not foolish.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 3:5-6, 26

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 2

Proverbs 2

-Solomon tells his son that IF he will receive his words and treasure his commandments within, make his ear attentive to wisdom, incline his heart to understanding, cry for discernment, lift his voice for understanding (ask questions, converse), and seek wisdom as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures, then he would discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5). It is only the LORD that gives true wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. God stores up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who will walk in integrity (tom- completeness, simplicity, fullness, integrity), and guard the paths of justice. The LORD preserves the way of His Godly ones. When his son follows these important principles, he will discern righteousness, justice, equity, and every good course for a life lived well. Plus, knowledge will be sweet, or pleasant, to his soul. Solomon goes on to say that discretion will guard and understanding will watch over his son IF these words of wisdom are heeded. He will be delivered from the way of evil and the man who speaks perverse things. Those who leave the paths of righteousness, walk in darkness, delight in evil and rejoice in the perversity of evil, walk in a crooked manner and are devious in their ways will be no match for God’s better direction. Solomon wants his son to walk in victory with the favor of the Almighty. He also desires for him to be wise and get deliverance from the strange woman, “from the adulteress who flatters with her words.” She will leave the companion of her youth in a sexually immoral manner and forget the covenant of her God. Her house sinks down to death, and her tracks lead to the perishing. “None who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life,” Solomon warns. This is valuable and prescriptive instruction for his young lad concerning faithfulness. Why? Because the king wants his son to walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. “For the upright will live in the land and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous will be uprooted from it (Proverbs 2:6-22).”

-*Application* What we see the king imploring us to do in this passage is to yearn and strive for a righteous walk with our LORD. We have to listen, incline, cry out for, lift our voice, seek, and search for the God who is above us and knows everything. In short, we must reverence Him and make Him our Master. This is when we can start to truly live a life of integrity. Remember that this includes completeness, simplicity, fullness, and stamina. God should be our everything if we truly want His way and His blessings. Faithfulness becomes a huge part of that in resisting in sexual temptation that is thrown our way. Not only that, but those around us that are trying to speak perverse things and live immoral lives of any kind in absolute darkness need to be shunned and resisted. These delight in doing evil, and we, as believers, don’t need to accept them in any way. This is a hard thing to do in this day and age, because we will be severely persecuted for that type of so-called insensitivity or intolerance. However, we must remember the general truth that the upright will remain and live in the land longer than those who are wicked and treacherous. Be planted, not uprooted. Fear God, not evil man.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 2:21-22

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Introduction and Chapter 1

Proverbs 1

-Introduction: Knowledge is knowing the facts, wisdom is knowing how to accurately apply those facts into real life situations. In other words, wisdom is the outworking of what we understand to be true. We cannot have wisdom without knowledge, but we can certainly misuse our knowledge if we don’t apply wisdom. This is the primary motif of Solomon, as well as some later parts with Agur and Lemuel, as they write the Proverbs of Scripture. This compilation is put together, most conclude, in the early days of Solomon’s kingly reign some 1,000 years before the time of Christ Jesus, making it 3,000 years old or so. The wisdom purposes include, but are not limited to, teaching young people, women, leaders, and all people in general how to have a disciplined and prudent life by doing what is just, right, and fair. This book instructs in Divine wisdom, which comes from the Almighty God. One important point to remember here as we start is that these proverbs are general truths, not exact promises, in our interpretation of its principles. They are time-honored guidelines that will usually produce, but not guarantee, the intended and recommended results for mankind. The wide-ranging themes deal with family life, self-control, relationships, resisting temptation, business matters, our speech, knowing the fullness of God, truth, success, wealth and poverty, morality, and especially wisdom. The book is written stylistically in poetic form (usually in couplet form), but also incorporates the devices of brief parables, antithesis, comparison, and personification. They contain a holy mixture of common sense and timely warnings against evil. These meditations are intended to draw people into a closer walk with God. The word proverb comes to us through the Hebrew word meaning “to rule or to govern.” These principles are designed to give us Divine guidance in handling the issues of our lives as reminders and admonitions. It all begins with the knowledge and understanding of the Holy, which comes through our reverent fear of Him. Therefore, the key verse in this work is Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The structure breaks down as thus: Chapters 1-9 deal with wisdom for young people (Solomon speaks to his son), Chapters 10-24 deal more with wisdom for all people in general, and Chapters 25-31 deal specifically with wisdom for leaders.

(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 1050-1051)

-Chapter 1: Solomon, the son of the King David, who was given the eternal promise of rule over Israel through the Messiah, Jesus Christ (2 Samuel 7:8-29), begins the Proverbs. He was known as the wisest of all men (1 Kings 3:6-15; 4:29-34). He begins with the purpose of his work, “To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice, and equity.” He wants to give “prudence to the naïve,” along with knowledge and discretion. He tells us right off the bat that a wise man will listen carefully and keep increasing his learning. He offers that a man of understanding will be quick to acquire wise counsel for comprehending a proverb, a figure, and the words of the wise and their riddles (Proverbs 1:1-6).

-Next, he goes right to the heart of the matter as a believer in Yahweh, the God of all things, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).” Later in Scripture, Jesus also tells us what value it is to absolutely respect the power and authority of God (Matthew 10:28). This fear will eventually lead one to repentance, forgiveness, and redemption through faith. Love, perfect love which casts out all fear, becomes the final result when we as believers go through this salvation process (1 John 4:16-18). This is our hope and expectation now and forever with our LORD.

-The enticement of sinners now becomes the theme as Solomon speaks to his son as perhaps a young father. He beseeches his son to hear his instruction and not forsake his mother’s teaching. These things are a “graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.” He warns not to consent to the temptations of evil people when they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us ambush the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, even whole, as those who go down to the pit; we will find all kinds of precious wealth, we will fill our houses with spoil. Throw in your lot with us, we shall all have one purse.” Solomon displays his wisdom in telling the young man to NOT go in the way with that caliber of foolishness. In fact, he says, “Keep your feet from their path.” Why? Because their feet run towards evil and they are violent propagators of disaster. They will eventually destroy themselves in their folly (Proverbs 1:8-19).

-Wisdom, on the other hand, shouts in the street and lifts her voice up in the square meeting place of the town at the noisy streets and the entrance gates. She utters her sayings, reminding simple ones to quit being naïve, stop scoffing, and cease from hating knowledge. Solomon teaches that when we turn to wisdom’s reproof, the Spirit will be poured out on us, and the LORD’s words will become known. Wisdom calls, but people often refuse her. It stretches out its hand, but too few pay attention. People routinely neglect its council and do not want its reproof for disciplined correction. Because of this, wisdom will laugh at all calamity due to the careless ones. She will mock when the dread comes, since people resisted her. Dread will come as a storm and calamity as a whirlwind, but this does not have to be. We can avoid the distress and anguish of foolishness. It’s our choice. Not just this, but God, in His wisdom, will not answer when ones that resist wisdom call. These will seek diligently, but they will not find due to their arrogance against the truth. They hated knowledge and choose not to fear the LORD. They refused wisdom’s counsel and spurned its reproof. Because of this, these will eat the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. The waywardness of the naïve will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them. On the other side, the intelligent listeners to the words of wisdom will live securely and be at ease from the dread of evil (Proverbs 1:20-33).

-*Application* How ya living? This was a popular mantra from a summer I spent playing baseball in upper state New York. It’s a question worth thinking about. We can spend our time foolishly neglecting the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that God so abundantly offers, or we can embrace it through the respectful fear of Him. A lot of people in our world today can’t even bring themselves to accept the fact that God exists, let alone serve Him. This is complete and utter foolishness (Psalm 14:1). Fact is, I can observe many over the course of nearly 50 years and see that these proverbs are more than generally accurate. People who do foolish things, end up dealing with the tragic consequences. People that have a healthy respect and admiration for the LORD end up being blessed with security and peace of mind. If we are having trouble avoiding trouble, we need to check our wisdom level.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 1:7, 33

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 42

Job 42

-Job’s restoration comes in this climatic final chapter that we would do well to deeply consider. We must understand this ending scene to make full-sense of all that has transpired in the previous 41 chapters. Everything is set straight in this final analysis. First off, Job answered the LORD admitting that only He knew all things and that no purpose of His could possibly be thwarted. He openly and honestly admits his foolishness in trying to declare what he did not understand, things too wonderful for him, which he did not know. He beseeches the LORD to hear him. He would speak and ask. Then he would allow the LORD to instruct him. This is the humility, admission, and searching that Jesus is after in the gospels (Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10). Job had heard through the hearing of the ear, but now his eye could see the LORD in all His transcendent-sovereign glory. It could tragedy to accomplish this. It took affliction. It took time. It took seeking. It took acknowledging his own limitations. It took more understanding of God’s nature. Because he had seen God in all His majesty and wisdom, he retracted and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:1-6). Job was a broken man and he takes this opportunity to die to his old ways, which were religious but not relational.

-Now, it came about after the LORD had spoken to Job that God rebuked Eliphaz the Temanite and his two friends, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite. They, the LORD told them, had not spoken of Him what is right. God vindicated Job saying that what he had said was right. God reiterates this point not only in verse 7, but also in verse 8. He instructed the three friends to make atonement by taking seven bulls and seven rams for themselves, going to God’s servant Job, and offering up these as burnt offerings for themselves. Then, God told them, Job would pray for them, and He would accept that intercessory prayer so that He would not discipline them according to their folly in speaking untruths. They complied, and the LORD accepted Job (Job 42:7-9).

-In fact, “The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.” He doubled his blessing in the end because he had passed the test and even learned how to forgive. Therefore, we can say, in the Scriptural context, that forgiveness leads to the LORD’s blessings. The flood gate of God’s grace opens wide and pours out all His joy and wonderment into the situation. As the future unfolded a brief synopsis is given as to what transpired. All of Job’s brothers and sisters and those who had known him before came to him and ate bread in his house. They consoled him and comforted him for all the adversities that the LORD had brought on him. Notice here though that God brought on the adversity to strengthen him and bring good out of the misery as the end result (see Genesis 50:20 for a similar theme to Joseph’s life). His beloved gave him one piece of money to replenish and each gave a ring of gold. “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginnings; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.” The LORD restored him with seven sons and three daughters, named Jemimah (Yĕmiymah- day by day), Keziah (Qĕtsiy`ah- cassia), and Keren-happuch (Qeren Hap-puwk- horn of antimony), who were the fairest women in all the land. They were given inheritance among their brothers. The wealth was opulent. Job lived another 140 years seeing his sons and his grandsons, up to four generations. “Job died, an old man and full of days (Job 42:10-17).”

-*Application* All’s well that ends well. At the end of all the talk and discussion, what mattered most was repentance, forgiveness, relationship, and restoration. This is a premiere biblical theme under the sovereignty, omniscience, and love of the Almighty. We can truly thank God for His attributes to overcome evil with good. Our mess ups can be redeemed!

Verses to Memorize: Job 42:5-7, 10

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 41

Job 41

-Here in chapter 41, we encounter God’s take on the mighty Leviathan (most likely an enormous crocodile-like creature, but some have postulated it to be a type of dinosaur or even a dragon type creature). It is important to note that God gives this creature the most discussion in His monolog. The LORD’s point in all this? That Job realize that he, as a man, was unfit to establish the justice of this fallen world due to all its unthought of complexities, but He was totally capable of bringing everything and everyone into subjection. He begs the questions, “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Can you put a rope in his nose? Or pierce his jaw with a hook?” God doesn’t stop there, “Will he make supplications to you? Or will he speak soft words? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him for a servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird? Or will you bind him for your maidens? Will traders bargain over him? Will they divide him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears?” In other words, man’s ancient methods of capture and overcoming this animal were totally worthless. God says, “Lay your hand on him; remember the battle; you will not do it again!” What the LORD means is that He can do with ease, while man has no control over this wild kingdom. The LORD continues, “Behold, your expectation is false; will you be laid low even at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him; who then is he that can stand before Me? Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine (Job 41:1-11).”

-God moves on to say that He will not keep silent concerning the Leviathan’s limbs, his mighty strength, or his orderly frame. God has constructed this beast to be unflappable. His outer armor cannot be stripped and no one can tangle with the strength of his double jaws. Once he clamps down on one, it is tantamount to impossible to open his mouth. “Around his teeth there is terror.” His strong scales are created by the Sovereign to be his pride, and they shut him up with a tight seal for all his wonderings. They cannot be separated. As he sneezes (as a croc coming out of water), he flashes forth radiant light. “His eyes are like the eyelids of the morning (Job 41:12-18).” They are stunning, as we can look at images on the internet and totally agree. “Interestingly, in Egyptian hieroglyphs, the crocodile’s eye represents the dawn (Victor E. Reichert, “Job,” London: Soncino Press, 1946, pg. 216).” It is uncertain what to make of the next three verses as to literal or figurative interpretation. This is where some have concluded this animal to be some type of ancient fire-breathing dragon. Otherwise, we can say that this is figurative to the actions of a croc’s mouth as it tears and devours its prey (Job 41:19-21). The neck of this Leviathan lodges strength. Dismay, it is said, leaps before him. The folds of his flesh are joined together to make him firm and immovable. “His heart,” God confidently asserts, “is as hard as a stone; even as hard as a lower millstone.” When this animal raises himself up, the mighty fear because of his bewildering crashes. The sword is to no avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin. Iron and bronze become as straw and rotten wood when they try to conquer this beast. The arrow cannot make him flee, and slingstones and clubs are turned into stubble for him. In fact, he laughs at the rattling of the javelin. His underparts are as sharp potsherds, and he spreads himself out as the threshing sledge on the mire. His stirring in the water make the depths have a boiling appearance, and he makes the sea look like a jar of ointment (an apothecary). Behind him, as he travels boldly, he stirs a shining wake making the water appear like the white hair of an aged-person. God says that there is nothing on earth like this Leviathan, “one made without fear.” The LORD, in His wisdom, sums it up now, “He looks on everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride (Job 41:22-34).”

-“God’s concluding statements that the crocodile ‘looks down on the haughty’ and is ‘supreme over the proud’ would have reminded Job that his pride before God, the crocodile’s Fashioner, was both precarious and dangerous.” The LORD was challenging Job to show any authority that he had over these creatures. This was a task that assuredly Job what not capable of doing; therefore, God proved His mastery over every aspect of the Universe displaying that Job was unqualified to deal with such a job. Though He gives evil and chaos its day, they are not beyond His control. God gives clear evidence of this in this remarkable text of His wisdom (see Roy B. Zuck, “The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty,” Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986, pg. 773).

-*Application* I’ll share a quick story here to help us. One day my 7 year-old son and I were playing some golf in Florida, where we once lived. The course marshal came over to us well into our round and wanted to know if we wanted to see a huge alligator that was sunning himself over by a cove. Of course, we wanted to see this magnificent sight, right?!? The marshal told us it was over 10 feet long, so we just had to cure our curiosity. We approached this monster in our golf cart, and suddenly there it was, massive and totally lethargic, resting in the cove. I was like, “Paul, wanna see me hit him with a golf ball?!?” Of course, he did. He was an adventurous boy. This was a monumental occasion. I threw the ball about 30 feet or so away, and “bam!” it hit the alligator right on the back and bounced off into the water. I thought this would have caused at least some sort of reaction, but to my surprise, the beast was totally unimpressed and unaffected. It didn’t even move or flinch one inch. His impenetrable shell was impressive indeed. We dared not venture any closer. I know what God is talking about here. I was helpless as a human to tangle with such a creature. God has ultimate authority over him though. Today, we should stand in awe and reverence for all God does to bring order out of chaos in His creation. LORD, accelerate the day when all evil is brought under righteousness and all things are made new (Revelation 21:5). Teach us what it means to know that whatever is under the whole heavens is absolutely Yours.

Verses to Memorize: Job 41:10-11

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 40

Job 40

-The LORD and Job converse at the beginning of this section. God asks Job, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” Then He remarks, “Let him who reproves God answer it.” Job briefly answers the LORD with resignation, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth (stop my speech). Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; even twice, and I will add nothing more (Job 40:1-5).”

-Out of the storm, the LORD answers again telling Job to gird up his loins then like a man and try to instruct the Sovereign if he dare. God questions, “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an Arm like God, and can you thunder with a Voice like His?” The Father challenges Job, the one whom He created, to adorn himself with eminence and dignity and to clothe himself with honor and majesty if he can. He continues by imploring Job to pour out the overflowings of his anger and to look on everyone who is proud and make them low. He reiterates this point on pride, “Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him, and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them in the dust together; bind them in the hidden place.” “Then,” says the LORD, “I will also confess to you, that your own right hand can save you (Job 40:6-14).” God is simply but wisely pointing out His transcendent nature here to a beleaguered man who cannot understand his torment. He is describing His incomprehensible understanding of the whole situation to an individual with limited understanding. God sees the bigger picture. Job does not.

-The LORD takes this opportunity to go back to His monolog demonstrating His knowledge and power over His creatures. He speaks of the Behemoth (possibly an Elephant or Hippopotamus= River Horse in the Greek). God made this creature as well as mankind. This animal eats grass like an ox, and his vast strength is in his loins. His power is in the muscles of his belly. His tail is strong like a cedar tree, and the sinews of his thighs are knit together in strength. “His bones are tubes of bronze; His limbs are like bars of iron.” What a specimen. The LORD claims he is the first of the ways of God. The next Scriptural phrase, “Let his maker bring near his sword,” is a difficult observation to interpret. Perhaps it might be reflecting God’s strength alone in relation to this powerful animal with possible reference to its teeth, which can be like a sword. It could be another challenge to Job’s obvious misunderstandings and judgments. Whatever the case, the LORD goes on to discuss how the mountains naturally bring down his food into the lowlands with water, where all the beasts of the field play. Under the lotus plants the Behemoth lies down “in the covert of the reeds and the marsh.” He is covered lovingly there by the Creator with shade of the lotus plants, and the willows of the brook surround him with care. “If the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is confident, though the Jordan rushes to his mouth.” Here is an example God gives Job of hanging in there with trust and belief in times of distress and potential harm. The LORD finishes this sequence with one more thought on the theme of alertness, “Can anyone capture him when he is on watch, with barbs can anyone pierce his nose (Job 40:15-24)?”

-*Application* I love these last two verses in the LORD’s teaching during this poetic narrative. Confidence in how God has designed us to withstand the storms of life, which He allows by the way, is so crucial for our success. We get this brilliant picture of a strong animal that is unalarmed in flood waters rushing down the river because he trusts in the Creator’s plan and will. God gives us the power, we just need to appropriate that in faith. Being alert and ready is also key (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Peter 5:8). We must be paying attention to the spiritual realm at all times and let nothing take us by surprise. Keep watch, just like the Behemoth, to avoid the capture of sins’ footholds and strongholds (2 John 1:8). This is why the study of God’s Word and practicing His presence is so vital to our walk.

Verses to Memorize: Job 40:8, 23-24

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 39

Job 39

-The LORD speaks further of His natural order and the beings that He has created in this precise chapter. He continues His line of questioning as He makes His authoritative points to His servant Job in order to teach this man his place in the scheme of all things. God has seen the mountain goats give birth and the calving of deer in the remote parts of the earth. He orders their fulfillment of days in carrying their young and makes sure of the time of their birth. He raises up their young by His guidance and grace (Job 39:1-4).

-He sets the wild donkey free and looses the bond of the swift donkey. He gives them their home in the wilderness and salt land, far away from the bustle and tumult of the city. God observes these animals in their ways as they explore the mountains of their pasture searching for every green thing. God is their provider and sustainer, though no one thinks of these things. He holds the natural order together in harmony. Then, He speaks of the wild ox, who sometimes consents to serve mankind. God has put that thought in him, since man could never, in his own strength and power, harness such an animal otherwise. Because of the LORD, man can trust and have faith in this beast of burden to return the grain and gather it from the threshing floor. God, in His mercy, helps man out through the labor of the wild ox (Job 39:5-12).

-And now, the ostriches are discussed. Their wings flap joyously with the pinion and plumage of love (or this could mean a stork). This animal abandons her eggs to the earth leaving them to warm in the dust, totally forgetting about them and leaving them for any foot to crush. In fact, she treats her young cruelly as if they were not there. She is unconcerned even after vain labor. Why is this? God has made her forget wisdom. He has not, in His sovereignty, given her a share of understanding. But, she does have special gifts, as God relates, in lifting herself high so that she can laugh at those with no power of flight on the earth, like the horse and its rider (Job 39:13-18).

-So, at this point, the LORD chooses to talk about the horse. He is the One who gives the horse his might and mane so that he can leap like the locust and snort with a majestic foreboding. The horse paws in the valley and rejoices in his strength. By God’s wisdom, He knows this. This fearless beast goes out to meet the weapons of war and actually laughs at the conflict in obedience with no dismay. “He does not turn his back from the sword.” He is valiant as the quiver rattles against him along with the spear and javelin. “With shaking and rage he races over the ground, and he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet.” He senses the battle from afar along with the knowledge of the loud thunder of the captains and their war cry (Job 39:19-25).

-Finally in this chapter, the LORD questions Job as to his understanding of the hawk and his ways. What God is pointing out, in yet another way, is that He maintains the control of over the soaring of this animal as it stretches out its wings toward the south. He not only knows the hawk, but the eagle He also commands, as it mounts up and makes it nest on high. It goes to inaccessible places by man and other animals, but God is there with it with all His glory in the cliffs and lodges. God oversees his spying out of food from afar and all his actions, like the young sucking up the blood of the slain as scavengers (Job 39:26-30).

-*Application* Once again we are faced with the super-knowledge of God to ordain and oversee His creation in all its workings and wonders. The intelligence of the LORD so far surpasses us as we observe His case for greatness over our very limited understanding. We can trust Him because He really knows all things.

Verses to Memorize: Job 39:26-27

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 38

Job 38

-It is now time for the LORD to speak into this situation as He sustains a prolonged series of questions in response to all of Job and his friends’ questions concerning Him in this calamity. He answers out of the whirlwind having some sort of relation to the last chapter and Elihu’s message (see Job 37). But, it is unclear what this relationship is other than God announcing His majesty and glory through the nature that He has created and has dominion over. He makes the initial comment, which seems to be directed at Job’s four previous counselors, in direct fashion, “Who is this that darkens counsel, by words without knowledge?” In one fell-swoop He negates all that these men have tried to explain without having full awareness of the spiritual situation that was occurring. Now He would set the record straight with Job and show him who He really was without any shadow of a doubt. He commands Job to gird up his loins and act like a man. God would ask him, and he would be required to instruct the LORD, if he could. God begins, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set it measurements? Since you know.” He goes on asking about the lines of the earth and the sinking of its mantle. God wants to know who laid its cornerstone. He demands that Job tell him about when the morning stars sang together as the earth was created and how all the sons of God shouted for joy when they saw it. He then goes into His knowledge of the seas and the atmospheric conditions that make up the rain and the storms upon this great expanse. He set the limits of the oceans and told them where to stop by His great power (Job 38:1-11).

-The LORD continues His line of questioning designed to relate His authority. He asks Job if he’d ever commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place “that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?” The LORD describes characteristics of His planet with clay as its garment, which He coordinates withholding light from the wicked and proud. Here we see the justice of God at work. He discusses the waters next and asks Job if he’s ever actually entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep. He goes on, “Have the gates of death been revealed to you (Job), or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know this.” His point in all this? I AM God and you are not Sir Job, so please decide for yourself to come under My absolute wisdom and authority. As He continues to elaborate He beseeches Job to tell Him where the way to the dwelling of light is, and where the place of darkness resides. Surely if Job knew all this, he could take it to its territory and discern the paths to its home. God sounds sarcastic at this juncture as He declares, “You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!” Next, the storehouses of snow and hail are conferred, which God says He reserves for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle (God has total authority and control over these matters of historical concern). He continues, “Where is the way that the light is divided, or the east wind scattered on the earth (Job 38:12-24)?”

-The LORD is just getting started however. He begs the question, “Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land without people, on a desert without a man on it, to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of grass to sprout?” He is the Father of the rain and has begotten the drops of dew. He forms the frost and ice, which He personifies as having a womb and giving birth. He is the One who makes water become as hard as stone and imprisons the surface of the deep. Not only that, but He binds the chains and cords of the galaxies, of the constellations Pleiades, Orion, and the Bear with her satellites. He firmly asks, “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, of fix their rule over the earth?” He keeps going with a return to earth’s atmosphere, “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that an abundance of water will cover you? Can you send forth lightnings that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are?’” God has put wisdom in the innermost being and has given understanding to the mind. He counts the clouds with wisdom, and allows the precise amount of rain from the heavens, “when the dust hardens into a mass and the clods stick together.” This is exactly what happens we have found through scientific observation. It would have been totally unknown, it can be speculated, in this ancient culture apart from the knowledge of the Almighty. The wild-life is the theme of this final stanza in the first chapter of God’s discourse. He asks, “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait in their lair? Who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry out to God and wander about without food (Job 38:25-41)?” God is the sustainer of all things.

-*Application* As we see here in this chapter, it becomes non-sense to argue with God in our distress. He is soooo far above us and our mundane and petty little issues here in our world. He holds the universe and directs each and every action and circumstance. Our awareness is so limited. The point? Can we just learn to trust in Him, even during rough spots, for our life and well-being? If we can do this, we are well on our way to wisdom. God is great. He is powerful enough to straighten out any dilemma we may be facing. Trust, hope, and pray. He will respond and guide in His supreme and transcendent omniscience.

Verse to Memorize: Job 38:33

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 37

Job 37

-Elihu will finish his discourse in this chapter with extolling the powerful attributes of God pertaining to His creation one more time. His power makes the young man’s heart tremble and leap from its place. He tells Job to listen closely to the thunder of His Voice and the rumbling that goes out from the LORD’s Mouth. He lets loose His remarkable demonstrations under the whole heaven, and His lightening goes to the ends of the earth. His Voice roars; He thunders with His majestic Voice. He does not restrain His bolts of lightening when His Voice is heard. His Voice thunders wondrously, doing incomprehensible and mighty things. He commands the snow to fall on the earth and strengthens the downpours of rain. “He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work.” For the beast, they go to their appointed lair and remain in their den. From the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold. Using personification, Elihu says that God makes ice from His breath and freezes the expanse of waters. He uses the moisture to form thick clouds, and then He disperses the cloud of His lightening. The weather changes direction only at His beckoning and guidance. The LORD is all-wise. His command over the face of the inhabited earth is complete. “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen (Job 37:1-13).”

-In his final stanza, Elihu tells Job to, “Listen to this…” He wants him to stand and consider the wonders of God and realize that He alone establishes them. He evaporates the storm with its lightening and brings back the sunshine. Elihu does once again comes across as demeaning towards his elder with questioning him on his understanding of the natural order that God does coordinate. But, he rightly says that God is “perfect in knowledge.” He remains Job of his human limitations in the grand scheme of things. He argues that mankind cannot say anything to God’s glory and that no one has a case against Him. Men just don’t understand His light and brightness as the wind passes and clears everything up. “Out of the north comes golden splendor; around God is awesome majesty.” He postulates that there is no way for mankind to find God because of His exalted power, but that we can trust Him since “He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness.” The final point is this, “Therefore, men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise of heart (Job 37:14-24).”

-*Application* Our God is the immovable Mover. He has total and absolute authority, and we should be constantly reminded of that in our prideful, sometimes cynical, hearts. This is a good reminder for us today that we should give Him awe and majesty. The vital point to get in all this is that God does what He does, even the bad stuff, for correction (Job 37:13). It’s also nice that we can count on His lovingkindness (checed- goodness, faithfulness, kindness, beauty, favor, mercy, pity, love), which will let us in to His gracious riches poured out through the work of Jesus Christ. So, let’s rest in the fact that we can confidently come before the most powerful Being in the cosmos (Hebrews 4:14-16). It all starts with reverent fear and humility (Proverbs 1:7).

Verse to Memorize: Job 37:13

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job-- Chapter 36

Job 36

-As Elihu continues his discourse, he initially comes across as particularly cocky, but he eventually offers some wisdom that can be grasped by all. He asks for patience from his audience in his presentation, then boasts that he will definitely show them “that there is yet more to be said in God’s behalf.” He prides himself on gaining “knowledge from afar,” and he rightfully ascribes righteousness to his Maker. He claims that surely and truly his words are not false. He sums up his arrogance with these words, “One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.” Many of his statements are accurate, but he comes across as a real know-it-all, which in fact he is not (Job 36:1-4).

-He leads off this section of teaching with the truth that God is indeed mighty but does not despise anyone. His might is in His strength of understanding. This speaks to the omniscient wisdom of God. Elihu maintains that the LORD “does not keep the wicked alive, but gives justice to the afflicted.” This is also accurate in the long-term. Elihu rightly describes God as keeping His eyes on the righteous without withdrawing them, but this is not always the case in temporary settings (2 Chronicles 32:31, Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). Next, earthly kings in authority are discussed. God has seated them there on the throne forever, and they are exalted. At times these kings are bound in fetters and caught in affliction. God declares to them their work, and in many cases their transgressions, when they have magnified themselves. The LORD has His way of opening their ear to instruction, and He commands that they return from evil. If these hear and serve Him, they will end their days and years of reigning in prosperity and pleasure. However, if they do not hear, the LORD will eventually execute His justice by the sword of violence, and “they will die without knowledge.” Elihu continues by correctly saying that, “The godless in heart lay up anger; they do not cry for help when He binds them.” These corrupted kings die in their youth, “and their life perishes among the cult prostitutes.” But, on the other hand, God delivers the afflicted in their affliction, and opens their ear in time of oppression.” This harkens back to Elihu’s theme that suffering should cause mankind to draw closer to God for a right relationship (Job 33:19-33). Elihu draws application to Job’s situation now that if he was enticed by the Almighty from the “mouth of distress” as one who had authority, and learned his lessons that God was teaching, he would be given freedom in a “broad place with no constraint.” Further, Job would have his table once again set with plenty, which Elihu uses the cultural idiom, “full of fatness (Job 36:5-16).” This underscores the young man’s attempt to bring Job to the point of admission to his sinfulness and corruption, which we will see elaborated on in the next section.

-The preponderance of accusation returns in these next verses as Elihu expresses his disdain for his elder in this situation. He says Job was “full of judgment on the wicked.” Now, he claims, “Judgment and justice take hold of you.” He warned Job not to scoff at God’s wrath, nor “let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.” He ridicules the riches and strength of Job, because they cannot save him in this dilemma. He warned him not to long for the night, when people vanish from their place. This was in response to some of Job’s negative comments earlier when he was despairing on his life (Job 3:11; 14:1-22). Elihu purposefully and wisely recommends that, in this situation, Job, “Be careful, do not turn to evil.” But, he wrongly assumes that Job has preferred evil to affliction (Job 36:17-21). After all this negativity towards his elder, Elihu once again exalts God in His power and as the Master Teacher with no equal. No one has appointed His way, and no one can accuse Him of doing wrong (Job 36:22-23). These are words of accuracy, but fall flat in helping the distressed.

-Elihu chides that Job remember to exalt the work of the LORD, “of which men have sung,” for the purpose of restoration. He concludes that all men have seen it beholding it even from afar. He explores the incomprehensible aspects of the Sovereign, but he misses the point in saying that man cannot “know Him (John 17:3).” He rightly acknowledges the timelessness of God and His power over all creation to sustain and transcend it. God is the judge of all the people and gives generously at His discretion (Job 36:24-33). Therefore, Elihu exalts the LORD ascribing Him majesty and dominion in this final summation of the chapter.

-*Application* Once again we see Elihu making some great points, but his misappropriated accusations against the innocent Job take much away from his declarations. Let’s choose today to focus on the greatness, compassion, and sovereignty of God rather than trying to judge the motives and intentions of others. God is fully capable of bringing about conviction of wrong doing through His Holy Spirit, and it is usually not for us to totally figure out. Let’s not be arrogant and cocky in our spiritual walk. Else, we are no better than the brash-young Elihu.

Verse to Memorize: Job 36:5

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 35

Job 35

-Elihu continues his sharp reproof of Job in this brief chapter. He chastises Job with, “Do you think this is according to justice? Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s?’” He goes on, “For you say, ‘What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?’” Elihu answers these rhetorical questions for both Job and his friends. He beckons them to look at the heavens and see that the clouds are indeed higher than them. If Job has sinned, there is nothing that can be accomplished by acting this way toward the LORD, which Elihu deems as fighting with the Almighty. He questions further, “If your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?” Then, he placates a bit, “If you are righteous, what do you give to Him? Or what does He receive from your hand?” But after that, he goes right back in with the accusation, “Your wickedness is for a man like yourself, and your righteousness is for a son of man (Job 35:1-8).” According to Zuck, Elihu’s main point here is that God is unaffected one way or another by the innocence or sin of man (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books: Wheaton, IL, 1985, pg. 761). This nullifies God of emotion, though He does still have transcendent control over the matters of earth and Heaven (Exodus 34:6-7, Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

-The next half of the chapter Elihu makes some more general comments about people’s insincere cries out to God during anguish, which he will apply to Job’s situation. Elihu recognizes that humans are slow to acknowledge the LORD’s sovereignty in matters, especially when He is slow in answering. This, Elihu elaborates, is because of mankind’s pride. Therefore, he concludes, “Surely God will not listen to an empty cry, nor will the Almighty regard it.” He then accuses Job for doing even less than that by saying that Job was not beholding Him in his time of trouble. Elihu maintains, “The case is before Him, and you must wait for Him!” The young man finishes this section by stating that, “Now, because He has not visited in His anger, nor has He acknowledged transgression well, so Job opens his mouth emptily; He multiples words without knowledge (Job 35:9-16).”

-*Application* Elihu breaks a biblical principle by offering this sharp reproof of Job in this chapter (1 Timothy 5:1). His disrespect should cause us to ponder how we treat the older generation in our day. Too often, we make flippant comments or assessments that may need to be reconsider when it comes to our elders. This is another admonition to watch our tongues and use them the right way for peace, wisdom, and posterity (James 3:3-10). We must watch our own pride when it comes to these matters.

Verse to Memorize: Job 35:12

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 34

Job 34

-An accusatory tone pervades Elihu’s words in this chapter as he begins to sound more and more like Job’s other three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He respected his audience of elders and called them “wise men,” as he beseeched them to listen further to his message. “For the ear tests words, as the palate tastes food.” He wanted them to choose for themselves what was right and good. Job had maintained his righteousness before the LORD, yet Elihu chides him for his complaints against God for taking away his rights. This was a plausible argument, especially when we consider the biblical command to become “slaves” to Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1; 6:18, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1). In fact, Paul asserts that we as believers should be ready always to give up our rights (1 Corinthians 8-9). Elihu persisted in saying that Job had lied about his rights because he complained about an incurable wound that was brought about in spite of his innocence in regards to transgression. Elihu almost seems to mock Job now at this point, making him out to be exceptional in his derision directed at God. Elihu further marks Job as one who “goes in company with the workers of iniquity and walks with wicked men.” This is an untrue statement and God will vindicate this in the end (Job 42:9). Elihu took offense at Job’s remark about it profiting a man nothing when he is pleased with God (Job 21:15). Because of all these things that create tension in this young man to the point of speaking in the assembly, he beckons them to continue listening to him as men of understanding. He states accurately, “Far be it from God to do wickedness, and from the Almighty to do wrong (James 1:13).” His next sequence of words can be called into question though. He offers much of what we might call, “a works based theology,” with his quote, “For He pays a man according to his work, and makes him find it according to his way.” However, he turns back to fact in asserting that God will never act wickedly, nor will He ever pervert justice. He then offers some practical theology in regards to the LORD’s authority over the earth and world. No one can stand against the Almighty, and if He determines to do something, no one can stop or thwart His actions. Elihu puts it like this, “If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His Breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust (Job 34:1-15).”

-As the next poetic section begins, Elihu once again calls his audience to hear him and listen to the sound of his words if they have understanding. Can we say “conceit” yet of the character of Elihu? He questioned some inconsistencies he’s seen in this world. He relates them serendipitously to Job. He feels he has to defend God’s justice, and he presumes Job had condemned the LORD, the “righteous mighty One.” He also states that Job had dishonored God by defaming His worth and calling His servants “wicked ones.” Elihu rightly defends the impartiality of the LORD and His creative and sustaining powers. He offers truth to the omniscience of God in the statement, “For His Eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness of deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. For He does not need to consider a man further, that he should go before God in judgment.” In fact, Elihu maintains that God is perfectly capable of breaking into pieces the mighty men of this world who question Him without inquiry. Why? Obviously because the LORD knows it all already. He is the One who sets “others in their place,” knowing their works, striking them, overthrowing them, and crushing them at His discretion when they turn aside from following Him having no regard for any of His ways. These oppressed by God, which he insinuates is Job here in this case, have caused the poor and afflicted to come to the Sovereign in their cries for help. But, when God keeps quiet, there is no one to condemn Him. When the LORD hides His Face, no one can behold Him. This goes for both nation and man. God answers to no one “so that godless men should not rule, nor be snares of the people (Job 34:16-30).” We can easily discern Elihu’s consternation for Job in these powerful words of allegation. He truly believes Job is condemning God for his own misfortune, which was egregious (Job 19:7; 30:20).

-Now Elihu pronounces his arraignment of Job’s perceived nonrepentance and rebellious spirit against the Almighty. He questions, “For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne chastisement; I will not offend anymore; teach Thou me what I do not see; if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more?’” Elihu thought Job was trying to tell God what to do. This unrepentant attitude was not helpful, in Elihu’s opinion, to making things right. Elihu asks, “Shall He recompense on your terms, because you have rejected it?” Then he implores him to choose, because he, himself, can’t in this situation. This matter was between Job and the LORD, and ultimately no one else. Elihu then exhorts Job to “declare what you know.” He was convinced that men of understanding and wisdom would conclude that, “Job speaks without knowledge, and his words are without wisdom.” He believed, “Job ought to be tried to the limit, because he answers like wicked men. For he adds rebellion to his sin; he claps his hands among us, and multiplies his words against God (Job 34:31-37).”

-*Application* While Elihu’s theology was on point to many of his deductions, he was still guilty of a condemning spirit that was not of God. At no point in the text is this young man ever extolled as virtuous by the Almighty. Why? Because great theology without love and compassion has no reward in the economy of the Kingdom of God. In fact, it really becomes poor theology when we consider it. Elihu puffed himself up, but this is certainly not a trait of the sincere-righteous man of God (Habakkuk 2:4). What we have to contemplate from this portion of Scripture is our presuppositions in finding fault with someone. Sometimes it is hard to discern whether a person is rebelling against God or just being honest with Him in a tough time. David is a great example, along with Job, of being completely raw about feelings before the LORD. Neither were being rebellious, and God actually honored their forthrightness. Before we condemn people, let’s assess ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:41-42). Only God has all knowledge of the facts in any matter.

Verse to Memorize: Job 34:21

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 33

Job 33

-Elihu makes his speech now beseeching Job and the rest of the audience to listen carefully. Elihu claims that his words are from an upright heart and with total sincerity. He acknowledges the God of the Universe who has made him and given him life. He challenges Job to refute him if he can. He claims that he belongs to God like the one is talking to, formed out of the clay. Elihu tries to build rapport by stating that Job should not fear him, nor let his pressure weigh too heavily on him (Job 33:1-7).

-Elihu has listened carefully to everything that Job has conveyed up to this point. Elihu asserts that Job has maintained that he is pure, without transgression, and innocent with no guilt. He, and perhaps wrongly here, rebukes Job for saying that God had invented pretexts against him and counted him as His enemy putting his feet in stocks and watching all his paths. But, then he declares an absolute truth at the end of this comment when he states, “God is greater than man (Job 33:8-12).”

-Elihu now questions Job on why he is complaining against the LORD because He had yet to give an account for all His doings. The young man notices, “Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it.” He relates some forms of God’s Voice through dreams and visions during their slumber, when He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction. He even postulates the reasoning for God’s announcements to mankind, “That He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride. He keeps his soul from the pit, and his life from passing over into Sheol (Job 33:13-18).”

-Next, Elihu offers the fact that God can speak to man through suffering. Through chastening with pain on his sick bed and unceasing complaint in his bones bringing a person to the end of themselves to the point of loss of appetite and wasting away from malnutrition, God is at work to fulfill a mediation for him through an angel. “One out of a thousand, to remind a man what is right for him,” is the messenger of mercy drawing one to a place of grace and deliverance from the pit. Elihu even uses the word “ransom” in true biblical form to describe this wanted transformation by Deity through pain and suffering (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Timothy 2:6). The end result? A man’s flesh, and inner man I might add (2 Corinthians 4:16), can become fresher than in youth. He can return to youthful vigor. He can pray to God, and the Almighty will accept him, “that he may see His face with joy.” The redeemed will sing to men in humility and say, “I have sinned and perverted what is right and it is not proper for me.” God, Elihu rightly maintains, can rescue the soul of mankind from the pit of destruction and make his life see light (Acts 26:18). In fact, this young man claims that God does this often with men, meaning this redemption process and the illumination of life. He begs Job to, “Pay attention,” and “Listen to me.” He wants his elder to keep silent and continue to let him speak. At the end, he would have ample opportunity to answer. Elihu kindly states that his reasons for this monolog is to “justify” the aching Job and “teach” him wisdom (Job 33:19-33).  

-*Application* What a powerful testimony to the redeeming work of Christ delivered by this young man in this Old Testament context. We can be clothed in His righteousness by faith and be given His Light for salvation and Godly living (John 8:12, Galatians 3:27). It is nothing that we deserve and/or have earned (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is all by His grace given to us through suffering (Hebrews 2:9; 13:12). When we suffer, we are becoming more and more like Christ. Therefore, let us conform to His image while we go through the hardships of this earthly life (Romans 8:29).

Verses to Memorize: Job 33:14, 28

Friday, March 3, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job: Chapter 32

Job 32

-At this point the three friends of Job ceased to make attempts at answering the deep questions of why all this calamity had come upon their companion. They felt like he was righteous in his own eyes, so they gave up trying to rehabilitate him. Though they were offering the wrong counsel as we will see in the end (Job 42:7-9), their haughty spirits left them with no more words because Job wasn’t in agreement with them. This is when Elihu, who was admittedly much younger and inexperienced, came to the forefront with some words of his own. He was from the people group labeled here as the Buzites and the family of Ram, which could possibly coincide with a group mentioned in Genesis 22:21 as Aram. Initially, his anger burned against Job because he had justified himself before God. His anger also burned against his three friends because they had no worthwhile answers, yet they condemned Job. Elihu had customarily waited to speak because of his young age, shyness, and fear, but now he was hot with words to pour forth. He is apparently a bystander in the conversation offering a new vantage point. Job’s friends were concerned about his past sins as being the reason for his suffering, but Elihu seems to focus more on the fact that sin is not meant to punish as much as correct and restore so that one can keep on the right path. He puts a different spin on the conversation offering a diverse perspective. He acknowledges that it is only the Almighty that gives understanding and wisdom, far above the age of a man. In fact, he surmises that an abundance of years does not necessarily make a man wise, and that an elder may not necessarily understand justice. With that in mind, he says, “Listen to me, and I too will tell what I think (Job 32:1-10).”

-In his mind, he had waited patiently for their words and had truly listened to their reasonings, pondering what to speak. He had paid close attention, but no one had a sufficient refutation to Job’s words. Therefore, he proclaimed, “Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom; God will rout him, not man.’” In other words, it would be God who would defeat Job’s arguments, since mankind could not do it. Elihu now sought a new way to handle the issue of suffering because Job had not arranged his words against him, and he was not going to use any of the three friends’ arguments. They were obviously dismayed and could no longer provide any answer. With this he was matter of fact, “Words have failed them.” Since they had nothing left to say, he figured it was his time to illuminate the situation with his own opinions. Humorously, he states that, “I am full of words.” There was a spirit in him that constrained him for a time, but now he was ready to burst forth, like a belly full of unvented wine or new wineskins. He just wanted to speak to get relief from all that was on his mind concerning this matter. He wanted to open his lips and give an answer to the questions plaguing everyone around. He didn’t want to be partial, nor did he desire to flatter any man. If flattery was his way, he deduced that his “Maker would soon take me away (Job 32:11-22).”

-*Application* We’ve probably all been in confrontational situations where we had to wait our turn to speak, or had time to consider and ponder on what was at stake. These can be mind-numbing experiences with tons of stress and strain. Knowing what to say and how to say it with the right timing is so critical to the success of any resolution. Elihu makes some astute observations in this chapter that we can glean. God does hold the ultimate wisdom and trumps any of man’s opinions on matters of conflict. Age doesn’t necessarily mean brilliance when it comes to opinions and judgments. Impartiality is commendable too (Leviticus 19:15, Matthew 22:16, Mark 12:14, Luke 20:21), not to mention refraining from flattery in every situation (Psalm 12:2-3;78:36, Proverbs 26:28, Romans 16:18, Jude 1:16).

Verses to Memorize: Job 32:21-22

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 31

Job 31

-At every point in this last chapter of Job’s long discourse, he asserts his integrity with a model for how man ought to live. Let us take a closer look at these noble attributes. First, he made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze with lust on the beautiful-young virgins. Next, he was seeking the LORD’s portion from above and on high. He was not taking credit for all that he had as if he’d earned anything. He absolutely acknowledged God’s provision of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). He knew that calamity was more for the unjust than the just, and that disaster was for those who work iniquity. He acknowledged that God sees everything about him and numbers all his steps (Job 31:1-4).

-Next, Job begins a long section of ifs. He says, “If I have walked with falsehood and my foot has hastened after deceit, let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.” He then says that if his step has turned from the righteous way or if his heart followed his lustful eyes or if any sinful spot has stuck to his human hands, let another eat what he has sown and his crops uprooted. Next, he deals with his faithfulness to his wife. If his heart has been enticed by a woman or if he has lurked at his neighbor’s doorway to steal their partner, let his wife grind for another and let others kneel down over her (sorry for the graphic language here, but it’s in the Book). He knows that these types of things would be a “lustful crime” and an “iniquity punishable by judges.” He agrees with other Scriptural evidence that crimes of this nature would be “fire that consumes to Abaddon (destruction),” and would uproot all his increase (Job 31:5-12, Proverbs 6:24-28, Romans 13:13-14, 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

-The ifs continue with Job asserting that he had treated his male and female slaves well, and that God would surely hold him accountable if he didn’t. God was the Creator of both slave and free, poor and rich. If he had kept the poor from their desire, had caused the eye of the widow to fail, or had eaten his morsel alone without sharing with the orphan, he would concede failure in God’s sight. But, he emphatically claims, “From my youth he (the orphan) grew up with me as with a father, and from my infancy I guided her (widow).” Job remembers thanksgiving given from those less fortunate as he warmed them with the fleece of his sheep. In fact, he plainly states that if he had at any time lifted his hand against the orphan in his time of power among the people, he was calling on God to, “Let my shoulder fall from the socket, and my arm be broken off at the elbow.” He truly feared the LORD as expressed by this next statement, “For calamity from God is a terror to me, and because of His majesty I can do nothing (Job 31:13-23).”

-In the next section of ifs, Job deals with his integrity in the area of wealth. He claims that he had not put his confidence and trust in gold. He had not gloated over his increase materially. He had also not committed idolatry by worshipping the creation, of which he mentions the sun and the moon. His heart was pure before the LORD. No enticement from other gods could make him throw a kiss from his mouth. “That too,” Job says, “would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above.” Then, Job defends the fact that he had not sought retribution and rejoiced over the extinction of his enemy. He never exulted when evil befell him. He demonstrates this with these words, “No, I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for his life in a curse.” He had treated people in a God-honoring manner. He’d feed his men, he’d housed the alien, he’d exposed his faults (unlike Adam in Genesis), and he’d been forthcoming and courageous. He longed for the Almighty to hear and respond. He’d signed his signature and just wanted to know what the indictment that was written by his adversary. This to me showed his spiritual awareness of the Satanic activity that was going on behind the scenes of the natural world. In Scripture, Satan is often referred to as the “adversary (diabolos- devil, adversary, accuser, 1 Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6, Psalm 107:2, 1 Peter 5:8).” Job was ready, willing, and able to admit his mistakes and pay the price standing before the King of judgment. He makes one more stanza of ifs to lay out his case for justification. He’s been good to the land and totally upright in his business dealings. At this point, “The words of Job are ended (Job 31:24-40).”

-*Application* Sometimes, we are forced to make a defense for our position. In these times, life can seem like a great-big court of law. Making a strong case for our integrity is not always easy. Like in Job’s situation, the circumstances pointed to assumed conclusions from his audience that were not actually accurate, nor true. His appeal was to God, who knew all things concerning him, and eventually he was vindicated (Job 42:7-10). Job is the perfect example of “sticking it out” through adversity with his righteousness in the end shining as the sun (Matthew 13:43).

Verse to Memorize: Job 31:30