Job 40-42

Rounding out the final chapters of Job feels a lot like reading “and they all lived happily ever after.” Were the last forty chapters just a huge build up to God giving Job more livestock and a new batch of children? What difference was made by this whole ordeal?

1 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
    and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:1-6, ESV

We all likely know the basic story of Job. God allows Satan to bring his life crashing down around him, but Job refuses to curse God. The end of the story is that God…makes Job’s life better and gives him back his stuff? Partially, yes. Job was blessed with more children and more in general than he had before, but we also see his confession, repentance, and greater understanding of God. After much hardship and a few chapters sitting in the dirt getting bad advice from his friends, Job has a direct experience with the Lord and sees His power in a clearer way.

Where has God given and taken away in your life, and how has that called you to see our mighty God in a clearer way?

Genesis 3-4

Have you ever heard the term protoevangelium? It is a compound Greek word meaning “first gospel,” and it refers to God’s words in Genesis 3:15.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15, ESV

Our reading today takes us through Genesis 3 and 4. We see temptation, disobedience, deception, murder…. We see sin. Mankind falls for the lies of the serpent, and things just continue to get worse from there. But we also see the protoevangelium, the glimmer of gospel within the downward spiral. This is the first time we see the promise of Jesus’ victory over sin, that as God in human form He would bruise the serpent’s head, and it’s still good news thousands of years later.

Psalm 68

Psalm 68 paints the picture of a powerful, victorious God who is worthy of praise. As you read through the psalm today, make a note of the words that remind you of strength, victory, majesty, and praise. I lost count after the first few stanzas. Even these last verses are nearly overflowing.

32 O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God;
    sing praises to the Lord, Selah
33 to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
    behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
34 Ascribe power to God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    and whose power is in the skies.
35 Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
    the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God!

Psalm 68:32-35, ESV

So what should be our main take away for Psalm 68? There’s a lot we could research regarding context and what David might have been going through when he wrote these words. Beyond that, there are plenty of verses we could single out and study. For today, we’ll stick to some simple yet powerful truths: God was and is and will always be a mighty God who wins battles, and He is deserving of all the songs of praise we could ever sing.

Psalm 131

Why do we spend time with God? We often use prayer and quiet time to send up a list of wants and needs. Our souls get troubled, and we turn to God for answers or for comfort. We call out to Him because we need Him. I’m not saying this is wrong. Our God is a great provider, and we shouldn’t hesitate to approach Him in that way. But do we also spend time with God because we love Him?

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psalm 131:2, ESV

David writes in Psalm 131 that his soul is “like a weaned child.” A baby cries out to its mother for an immediate need of sustenance. A weaned child might have needs but would increasingly spend time with their parents for love and closeness. God is a loving Father, and time we spend with Him can be a reciprocation of that love. When you pray today, spend some time dwelling on your love for God.

Luke 18:9-14

When I started leading worship at South Wilson, I really wanted to be great at praying out loud. It wasn’t my only motivation, but I really wanted the praise team and any church members that overheard the Sunday morning pre-service prayer to think “Man, that Zach guy can really pray. He sounds like a professional pray-er.” To date, this has never happened. In fact, my praying suffers when I’m trying to be the best in the room. It’s only when I drop the act and just talk to God that I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14, ESV

Jesus reminds us through the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18 that it doesn’t matter who can hear you. It doesn’t even necessarily matter what you say. The tax collector humbled himself before the Lord and went away justified. When we go to God in prayer, we should seek to make less of ourselves and more of the God who hears us.

Habakkuk 3

I read a story this week about Benjamin Franklin serving in France as a representative of the United States. Although there is some debate about whether or not Ben was a Christian, he was said to have had a great respect for the Bible, which some French atheists mocked him for reading. In response, he read them a poem one night. They were impressed by the beautiful words and asked where they could find a copy. Ben revealed the source–Habakkuk 3.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV

In this poetic song-prayer from Habakkuk, we see that things are looking rough. Our guy is looking to the future, and the future looks bleak. Instead of ignoring this, the language of the passage is almost confrontational. The bad stuff is going to come. Yet… Habakkuk will rejoice in the Lord. Maybe things are looking rough or uncertain in your life; maybe they’re not. Bad times come for us all at some point. Through it all, we should seek to rejoice in the Lord and take joy in the God of our salvation.

1 Kings 18

I almost set my roommate on fire once.

I shared a small house with my friend and bandmate Connor during my sophomore and junior year of college. For both of us, it was the first home we had away from our parents. Nice old house. Cheap rent. We filled it with cheap and/or hand-me-down furniture and built a fire pit in the back yard. One night we wanted to start a bonfire, but we couldn’t get it to light – you see where this is going. I doused the pile of wood with a decent amount of gasoline (I will take full responsibility for this stupidity, but Connor was also on board with the plan) and Connor went to light it. The whole back yard…what’s the right word…exploded. Connor either jumped back or was blown back at least six feet. I was fine. He was fine, too, for the record.

24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.”

1 Kings 18:24, ESV

Had Connor and I doused our fire pit with water instead of gasoline that night, we would have never had a fire. Presence of water typically means the absence of fire. In 1 Kings 18, we read about Elijah in a situation with the prophets of Baal. The short version of this is that God and Baal were both going to have an opportunity to start a fire to consume an offering. Baal gives no proof of hearing or even existing. But Elijah drenches the offering to God and the surrounding area with twelve jars of water, then calls upon the Lord.

37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

1 Kings 18:37-39, ESV

Our God answered by fire. He is God. If He can set a soggy offering ablaze, then He is powerful enough to handle the things we pray about that seem impossible. You may think your bonfire is doused with water, but watch out. You might find yourself blown away by the flames. The Lord, he is God.

2 Peter 3

Every morning before I leave for work I call my dogs into the kitchen, where I tell them “crate” and reward their obedience with a treat when they settle down in their designated areas. This arrangement works for a couple of reasons: I know what’s best for these two dogs, and I know that I will be back at the right time. Without the crates, Rocko would lick the furniture all day, and Millie would likely eat something that we did not know was edible. I know also that they can only stay crated for so long, so I’m always sure to be home at the right time.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:8-9, ESV

As Christians, we believe that Jesus will one day return, but it’s not always an easy wait. It is important to remember that this arrangement works for a couple of reasons: God knows what’s best for us, and He knows that Jesus will be back at the right time. In 2 Peter 3, we read that our long wait is not due to the slowness of our God, but rather due to His patience. As we wait, let us do so while striving to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and responding with true repentance.

Isaiah 2

Stop in trusting in man,
who has but a breath in his nostrils.
Of what account is he?

Isaiah 2:22, NIV

I love people. They fascinate me. I always try to pick out (and sometimes point out) the unique qualities in those around me. Sometimes I even get caught up in pointing out the things about myself that I find uniquely interesting. As a church worker, I have the great privilege of working with and attending church with an above-average concentration of good people. I turn to my brothers and sisters at Valley Creek for fellowship and support. I turn to the gifted pastors and other equally-gifted staff members of the church for assistance with tasks and even for advice from time to time. At home, I am blessed to have an amazing wife who puts up with me during every minute that I don’t spend at the church. I am surrounded by great people. But they’re just people.

In Isaiah 2, we see some words about the last days. At risk of oversimplifying the chapter, the main point is that God will be exalted above all else. Anything and everything that we have held higher, including ourselves, will be so completely overpowered by His glory that they will practically disappear. But we don’t have to wait. We can put Him above all else right now.

What are your idols? Possessions? People? Yourself? Things are just things. People are just people, even if they’re great people. God is GOD. A day is coming on which he will take his rightful place above everything else – let’s get a head start and put Him there in our own lives.

Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 4

Are you any good at “Spot the Difference” activities? Take a moment to read through the following passages.

1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.

Isaiah 9:1-2, ESV

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
    the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:12-16, ESV

These similar verses, one set referencing the other, are separated by about 700 years. In an act of continuity spanning centuries, Jesus does exactly what God said through the prophet Isaiah .

So, are you ready for a little bit of homework? Read through Isaiah 9:1-7 and Matthew 4 and make a note of what you find. What other references and similarities do you see? If I had to guess, you will likely find more evidence of a God who has always had a plan. Prophecy. Prophecy fulfilled. Jesus was and is the answer. Today, I encourage you to dive into God’s word and see for yourself.