Job (part 6)

Something I’ve always found fascinating about the Scriptures is how often they cross-reference each other. Things in the Old Testament are revealed on a deeper level in the New Testament. Writers in the New Testament do callbacks to multiple things in the Old Testament.

I think there’s a tendency to overlook a lot of the middle chapters in Job, seeing them as a long waste of time. But as I was going through Job this time, I noticed a large number of prophecies and/or predictions that come true later within the book of Job. Other times, Job and his friends will say something in their dialogue, which then comes to pass later in other Scriptures.

Here’s a list of a few of them:

  • Job 11:4-6: Job’s friend, Zophar, wishes that God would give Job a piece of his mind. Obviously, this happens in Job 38.
  • Job 13:3, 20-27: Job said he desires to speak to the Almighty and argue his case before God. He doesn’t realize that he’s about to get that chance. Plus, God will answer Job’s two requests to essentially stop the onslaught of pain.
  • Job 15:1-16: A lot of what Eliphaz says here actually sounds like God’s response later in the book.
  • Job 16:18-22: He’s appealing to Jesus before Jesus was actually on the scene. Crazy!
  • Job 19:21-25: He wishes that this would all be written in a book. Tada! It is.
  • Job 28:12-28: These words on wisdom resemble the wisdom of God in Proverbs or even in early Genesis.
  • Job 29:12-20: Hints of Messianic language, aka Jesus phrases.

Isn’t it crazy?

In the midst of the vain discussions between Job and his three friends, it turns out they actually spoke a few truths. Imagine!

Job (part 5)

Job’s friends always get a bad rap.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon or read a commentary on Job where the person had a favorable outlook on Job’s friends. But let’s think about this for just a second…

Job’s friends did actually come and visit when he was going through his personal hell on earth. They didn’t leave him hanging or ignore him. They didn’t just send him a “sorry for your loss” comment on Facebook that took 10 seconds to write before moving on to the next thing in their news feed. They didn’t pretend it didn’t happen.

In one translation it says, “When Job’s three friends…heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.”

They actually got up off their couches, left their homes, met up, and made a plan on how they could go help their friend.

Oh, may more of us learn how to do this!

In the next verse, it says when they saw him, they could barely recognize him, and they began to weep aloud. They even tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.

In other words, they sympathized and empathized. They entered into his pain with him. They showed sensitivity to what he was going through. They identified with his pain. And they expressed through actions, that they’d be in this together.

Now get this…

This part totally blows me away. They sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him. Why? Because they saw how great his suffering was.

If you’ve ever had someone sit by your side, for seven straight days, you’ve had an angel in your midst. In this day in age, you’re lucky to have someone spend seven minutes by your side in your suffering. Seven hours? Maybe at a funeral. But seven days?!

Please, think on this, pray through this, and see where your heart is at when it comes to empathizing with the pain and suffering of the ones you love. How can you be there for them? How can you show them support? This is a huge retrospection and area of improvement for me. Maybe it is for you too.

Now, if the story ended there, with Job’s friends sitting at his side for seven days and nights, I think we’d have a very different outlook. And for this entry, I do want us to pause there. Because they got this first part right. They nailed it. Dead on.

Unfortunately, the situation got worse, as we’ll see in coming chapters… all because they opened their mouths.

Job (part 4)

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

“In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”

A variation of this phrase comes up a couple times in the book of Job, and as we know, when there’s repetition, pay attention. What lessons can we glean here?

First, let’s go back to the context. Job has lost everything. By everything, I mean he’s lost his sons (7) and daughters (3). Can you imagine having 10 kids? And losing all of them? Whoa! And Job also lost his sheep (7000), his donkeys (500), his oxen (500), and his camels (3000). And by lost, we should clarify: he didn’t lose them as much as they were all taken from him. But you know what wasn’t taken from Job? His one nagging wife. You know what she said to him? Do you remember?

She said, “Curse God and die.”

Just give up. Throw in the towel. Leave your faith. Curse God. Die.

To which most men would respond…

Wow, honey! Thanks for the support and encouragement! That’s exactly what I needed.

Not! But here we see Job’s integrity even more. He doesn’t mock and disparage his wife. He also doesn’t take her advice. Instead, he responds with, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Right after is where we see the line that he didn’t sin in what he said. Why didn’t he sin in what he said? I think it’s because those things above, but I also think it’s because his faith wasn’t conditional upon everything going right and well. He’d still follow God in the tough times, as we’ll explore in future entries.

In this entry, however, there’s another truth worth pointing out. It’s super obvious when you think about it, but I think it sometimes gets lost in the story.

God is NOT the one doing the punishing.

God is NOT the one snatching all these things from Job.

God is NOT the one creating the hardships and loss and pain.

Satan is.

Which is a profound and important insight. Often, when bad things happen, w see the opposite response. People immediately start to question and accuse God. God, how could You?! God, why did You do that?!

In Job’s story, it’s crystal clear though. It’s not God doing the harm. The harm is coming from Satan. Satan is doing everything possible to destroy Job, and God is the one who protects Job’s very life.

Job (part 3)

(Disclaimer: Read my previous post if you haven’t already)

Let’s take a trip back in time.

Before grocery stores, people had to butcher their own animals, or take their animals to a local butcher for meat.

Before shopping centers and department stores, people had to shear their own sheep and make their own wool garments.

Before cars, people had to travel via camel or horse if they wanted to go anywhere.

Before tractors and combines, people had to use oxen and donkeys hitched to implements to harvest their crops.

Why does all of this matter?

Because Job owned 7000 sheep. Which means he was a major meat and clothing provider. Think Tyson chicken meets the Gap and Old Navy.

Job owned 3000 camels. Which means he was the Uber of the ancient near east. Or maybe more like the Cornelius Vanderbilt of the 1800s, running trains of supplies, shipping goods across the region.

Job owned 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys. Which means he was a major farmer and harvester of all kinds of crops. Think Whole Foods of ancient times.

I draw these comparisons to give you the magnitude of his wealth. That kind of wealth, in ancient days, was unheard of. His was immense. Enormous. Think about it: very few of us know ranchers who own/maintain this level of livestock today.

And here in chapter one, Job has it all. Then, he loses it all. In a single afternoon!

Worst of all, he loses his sons and daughters that same day.

I can’t even imagine.

Job tore his robe, shaved his head, and then…

He fell to the ground to worship. Wow!

Job (part 2)

The first thing that sticks out to me in the Book of Job is the problem of interpreting chapter one. I mean, I have no problem believing that there was a rich guy in Uz who had a lot going for him, and lived uprightly. That’s easy to believe. It happens often.

I have trouble understanding how someone knew the conversation that happened between the devil and God.

This part just has to be made up. Or it’s just believable enough that as the story kept getting passed down generation after generation, when it came time to decide whether to include it in the Bible or not, someone said, “You know what, we don’t really know what happened. But it sounds close enough, and I’m sure not that many people will question it. We’ll just keep it at the front end of the story.”

Do you know what I mean?!

Who could possibly know whether the angels come and report to God regularly?

Who could possibly know whether the devil joins for that regular team huddle?

Who could possibly know whether the devil can actually speak to God still? Don’t other passages allude to God residing in heaven inside some pearly white gates and the devil living in a dark but fiery hell? Yet somehow they can still talk to each other? And it turns out, according to Job, that the devil is out roaming the earth, just going to and fro?

Who could possibly know whether God would allow the devil to do some things but not other things?

Well, maybe someone could know an answer to that last question. Maybe. Because there are other sections of Scripture that talk about this similar idea — the idea that God lets the devil get away with some things but not other things. God also lets humans get away with some things but not other things.

In some wild way, in some comprehensible yet still incomprehensible way, this is true. God is sovereign. But the devil and us humans still make choices. We have freedom to act in a myriad of ways. But there are certain limits and/or times at which God intervenes.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is…

What is the point?

That’s for you to decide. Maybe something in the above paragraphs made sense and clicked for you. Maybe it’s what I’m about to say:

At the end of the day, I want you to use your brain when reading a text. Ask questions of the text. Have doubts of the text.

But also keep reading and keep praying through the text. You’re bound to find things you don’t understand. And that’s good. Because if you understood everything… well, you’d be God. And we both know that wouldn’t be good.

Excited for part 3? We’re just getting started.

Job (part 1)

I’ve probably read the book of Job a dozen times or more. It’s one of my favorites in the Old Testament, and no, I’m not a masochist.

What draws me to the book of Job is the wisdom and timelessness of it. Some commentators believe Job lived before the patriarchs, before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Which means if you were creating a chronological Bible, you’d have Genesis 1-5, a break somewhere in there for the book of Job, then Noah, the Flood, the rest of Genesis, and the rest of the Bible. Yet, the story of Job, his friends, and God’s response seems like it could happen today.

Here’s what I mean by that…

I think we all know the basic storyline of Job: instead of rags to riches, it’s a story of riches to rags. Job has it all, loses it all, his friends come to console him but do a really sucky job of it, they all accuse each other back and forth for a long time, then God shuts them all up by speaking out of a storm. Then God restores Job and he lives happily ever after. That’s the storyline.

But there’s a whole lot more to it. There’s so much more to unpack. And over the next few entries, I want to do just that. I want to unpack it and show you how Job’s story from thousands of years ago is just as relevant to our lives and mode of operating today.

See you in the next entry!

How to Be a Better Husband

Today, I want us to focus on an idea that comes up multiple times in the Bible:

The idea of God being the husband/bridegroom and us being the bride. 

I’ll admit it’s quite tough for me to try to imagine being a woman / wife. But it’s not difficult for me to imagine God being a husband. I know what it’s like to be a husband and it’s not easy.

I can’t speak for all marriages, but many of the marriages I have seen are not 100% healthy. In fact, I’ve seen a lot more marriages in the gutter or end in divorce than I’ve seen succeed. Why?

Because marriage is hard work. It’s damn hard.

It’s easier for me to work. It’s easier for me to be alone and enjoy some peace and quiet. It’s easier for me to do chores. It’s even easier for me to watch my kids or play with them. All of those things are easier for me than actually spending time with my wife.

I love my wife. I have a deep appreciation for her. She’s my best friend. We work well as a team. We have a solid relationship, and we have great sex to boot! But at the end of the day, the relationship of marriage can be hard work. 

If you feel the same way, that’s totally ok. It’s normal. But allow me to give you one small challenge:

What if it could be better?

What if you could learn how to do this whole marriage thing at another level?

Would you do it? 

I would.

In fact, I did.

My wife and I decided to do marriage counseling. How did we decide? She said we needed to improve our relationship and communication; I said I was willing to improve. She researched and found the counselor and scheduled it. We met over a dozen times. Well worth it!

Speaking of investing in your marriage, a friend of mine heard this from his pastor a few years back. His pastor said,

“It’s amazing… people will spend 1000s or even 10s of thousands of dollars to get married; but they won’t spend a few hundred bucks to stay married.”

Quite insightful, eh? 

Whether it’s a marriage conference, a marriage retreat, a book, an online course, or counseling…I’d recommend doing something. And whether you view it as trying to fix your marriage, save your marriage, or simply grow and improve your marriage, I don’t really care and I don’t think God does either. Just do something for your marriage.

I didn’t realize until I was in my 30s that you could do counseling just to stay healthy. I thought you only went if your marriage was on the rocks and you were thinking about divorce. But no, all kinds of people do counseling. Extremely healthy people do counseling. Why? Because it’s always good to have a 3rd party, a neutral party, coaching you, speaking into your life, and helping you see your blind spots. Great counselors can translate, mediate, and even help you see — like you’ve never seen before.

Someone once told me: “In business, play to your strengths. In relationships, work on your weaknesses.”

I don’t know about you, but in my marriage, I have a lot of weaknesses to work on.

God is an incredible husband to us. Perhaps we can learn to be the same to our wives.