Pharaoh's decision to resist God set his nation on a punishing collision course with the justice of the Lord. A series of devastating events begin befalling and befouling the land.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Sometimes we feel sorry for Pharaoh and the Egyptians for all that is about to befall them in the ten plagues. It is important to remember that they had ample opportunities to repent, obey the Lord, and do the right thing in their treatment of the Hebrews. God offered them instructions and signs before embarking on the path of the punishing plagues. But how else was God supposed to accomplish His will over the hardened hearts of Pharaoh and his officials? To break their will He needed to bring them to their knees.
Monday, March 30, 2015
Imagine how Moses felt at the end of Exodus 5. He must have considered his mission to be a complete failure. He had come - unwillingly, but obediently - as directed by God to deliver his message to Pharaoh: "Let me people go!" (vs. 1) And how had Pharaoh responded?
Saturday, March 28, 2015
People respond to God's call in their lives in all sorts of ways. Some are enthusiastic like Isaiah and embrace it wholeheartedly ("Here I am, send me!" - Isaiah 6:8). Others flee and run the opposite direction from where God is sending them. (I'm looking at you, Jonah! - Jonah 1:3). Far from being an eager servant of the Lord, Moses is reluctant to be the chosen deliverer and comes up with a lengthy list of excuses in an effort to wriggle out of the call.
Friday, March 27, 2015
It always makes me chuckle how God delivers the news to Moses that he will be the one to lead the Hebrews out of slavery:
"I have observed the misery of my people...
I have heard their cry...
I know their sufferings...
I have come down to deliver them...
and to bring them up...to a land flowing with milk and honey...
The cry of the Israelites has now come to me...
I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them...
So, come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt."
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
By this time in the story of Job, he is probably regretting that he ever called out for an audience with the Almighty. Again and again, God has challenged Job to consider that his power and knowledge and understanding are severely limited. This theme continues in chapter 40.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
There is nothing greater than God in all of Creation. He towers above everything else. One by one, the Lord spotlights specimens of the wild kingdom of animals He has created on earth. All of them exist and live according to principles beyond human understanding or wisdom. Yet there stands an intelligent design behind all of the world's wildness - God's.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
A shift in Elihu's speech appears in Job 36:24. Suddenly we find a lot of dramatic imagery related to weather events: "the skies pour down," "he scatters his lightning around him," "the thunder of his voice," etc. It seems that a literary as well as a literal storm is bearing down on Job and his gathering!
Elihu makes some sweeping claims in Job 36 (including his boast that he is "perfect in knowledge" in verse 4!) Elihu may be correct that God often acts the way he describes in this chapter - but does he go too far when he paints his vision of the universe in stark black-and-white terms? There is no gray area with your fate, Elihu insists. Instead, he says that it is absolutely true that you get in this world what you deserve.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
What happens when an irresistible force hits an immovable object? According to Elihu in chapter 35, the immovable object (in this case, God) remains immune. He promises that God is like the sky and will not respond to anything that Job does, doesn't do, says, or doesn't say. Elihu believes that God is so wholly other, transcendent, and impassive that Job is just wasting his breath with his "empty talk" and hot air about God's character (vs. 16). Even with the irresistible emotional force of Job's argument about injustice and wrongful suffering, his situation is irrelevant to God. Or so Elihu says.
Elihu argues in chapter 34 that Job slanders God by insinuating that there is "no profit" in loving Him (vs. 9). Previously, Job's friends had stated that everyone knows that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. These are very mercenary reasons to strive to live a life that pleases God. But the Lord does not want mercenaries - He wants children.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
In "The Problem of Pain," C.S. Lewis posits, "Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." Elihu would seem to agree.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Job's grand conclusion to his defense culminates in chapter 31. It represents his "closing arguments" in the trial he wishes he were granted with the Almighty. Job presents an exhaustive list of the righteousness he has pursued and the evil he has shunned. Surely, Job insists, he has suffered unjustly - for there is no iniquity in him.
Job 30 begins with that pivotal conjunction "BUT" signifying that a major change is coming to all that was just stated. As much as Job 29 is his pleasant memory of his glory days as a respected leader, Job 30 mourns the fallout of his suffering which has lead to him being a despised and mocked figure.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Psalm 61 is a short, simple psalm that reminds us of all the reasons we need God in our lives. David thoughtfully calls upon the Lord for such things as:
- Hearing his plea (vs. 1)
- Strengthening his weakness (vs. 2)
- Encouragement (vs. 2)
- Protection (vs. 3)
- Spiritual refreshment (vs. 4)
- Blessing (vs. 5)
- Intercession for others (vs. 6)
- Stability and good government (vs. 7)
- Praising the name of the Lord (vs. 8)
If you were to be like David and compose a psalm to the Lord, what would you include?
Have you ever heard the phrase, "You just can't fix stupid?" Job may have been the first one to come up with that concept. Chapter 28 is his meditation on the worth of wisdom and its elusive nature. Here's a key verse: "Where can wisdom be found? Where is the place of understanding?" (vs. 12)
As we begin drawing near the end of Job's speeches, he is resolute in maintaining his integrity. He will not speak falsely, even about himself in admitting to wrongs he has not done. Though he continues to complain of his unjust suffering, Job understands that the fate of the wicked is even worse.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
In chapter 26, Job meditates on the awesome power of God. There is no question that human beings operate on a very different plane than the Almighty. The Lord has done such great things as establishing the foundations of the earth, ordering the design of the universe, dividing light from darkness, and bringing order out of chaos. In spite of this awesome display of power, God remains a shadowy and unknown person to humanity (vs. 14). We are unable to understand Him.
Bildad replies to Job in chapter 25. His brief point is that Job is severely misguided in applying human standards of morality to God. God is way up there, and we are way down here. There is no comparison between divine and human righteousness. "It's apples and oranges, Job!" (Actually, Bildad uses the more disquieting imagery of us as maggots and worms.) Still, the point is that Job is barking up the wrong tree with his quest to argue his righteousness before God. Such an endeavor is doomed to be...fruitless! (Pun intended!)
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
There is an exquisite agony in "not knowing." Three modern examples: When medical tests are run to check for a disease, the time of waiting may be even worse than receiving the bad news itself. After we take a final examination in class, it's hard to wait for the grade. The justice system churns slowly, and it is difficult to bear up patiently when waiting for the next phase of the legal process. While we remain in ignorance of results and outcomes and verdicts, we are unable to take action. We must be passive and patient, which is difficult for many people to do.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Eliphaz is up again in Job 22. The gentle proddings and implied pretenses are gone; there are now direct attacks (slanders) upon Job's character. Even though there is no evidence of his wrongdoing - apart from his sufferings - Eliphaz offers up a lengthy list of what he is certain are Job's errors.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Job's complaint in chapter 21 is a meditation on the inverse of his own situation. While he, a righteous man, has undergone terrible suffering, Job is instead grappling with the problem of why it seems the wicked so often prosper.
Friday, March 6, 2015
It's so easy to get discouraged in our spiritual lives and believe that we are forsaken forever by God when things don't go our way. I don't mean just the trivial matters like a personal rejection, gloomy weather, or a "bad hair day" that can trigger our self-pitying, but the deeper, more significant issues of life like cancers and divorces and terrorist attacks. When we experience defeat, we can have one of two responses - we can either wallow in it or we can learn from it.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
In Job 20, Zophar thinks he has Job figured out. Even though Job loudly protests his innocence, Zophar believes that he must be keeping silent about his real guilt. After pointing his suspicions out to Job, Zophar reveals what is surely awaiting him.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Job seems to cross a line in Job 19. He flat-out accuses God of being unjust toward him, something he had hitherto only danced around. Yet he also offers a stunning answer to his own previous "rhetorical question" from chapter 14. Amazingly, Job is able to find gospel truth in the depths of his suffering!
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
Job has not only lost his possessions, his family, his friends, and his health - he has also lost his hope. Yet even in the depths of his darkest depression, he is firmly resolute about clinging to his righteousness. He will not yield!
Job replies to Eliphaz's second speech in Job 16. We hear his famous comment: "Miserable comforters are you all!" in verse 2. Job is discouraged by the response of his so-called friends. He is disappointed that they have taken the easy way of criticizing and judging Job. Were their roles reversed, Job believes that he would encourage and support his friends.