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Job: Week 12 (Wednesday, January 24 2018)
Chapters 29, 30 & 31
Job describes his life before his troubles started
v1 Job continued his speech.
v2 My life was wonderful before these troubles started. I wish that I could live like that again. In those days, God protected me.
v3 In those days, God was my guide. He was like a lamp that shone for me in a dark place. v4 Each day seemed like the harvest. God was my friend. He protected my family and me. v5 God was with me. My children surrounded me. v6 My cows provided more milk than I could use. I had so much oil that it seemed to pour from the rocks.
Job had a very successful life before his troubles began:
· God was protecting Job (Job 1:10). And God was providing for Job.
· Job became rich (Job 1:3) because God gave many possessions to Job (Job 1:21).
· Job had a large family (Job 1:2).
· Job’s farm was very successful. The oil was from trees called olive trees.
Even the city’s leaders used to respect Job
v7 I used to go to the city gate. The city’s leaders would meet there. And I would sit with them. v8 When younger men saw me, they stepped aside. The old men stood, because they respected me. v9 Important men did not continue their speeches. They chose to be silent. v10 And other important men did not speak. They chose to say nothing.
v11 (So, I spoke.) I impressed everyone who heard me. And everyone said good things about me.
Before Job’s troubles began, everybody used to respect Job.
In ancient times, walls would surround a city. There would be a square by the city’s main gate. People would gather there for meetings. The rulers would make important decisions there. And the judges’ court would be there.
Job used to go to the meetings of the rulers. They considered him important. They wanted to hear his opinions. They knew that Job was a wise man.
Job’s good deeds
v12 (These are the reasons why everybody respected me:)
· I rescued poor people when they asked for help.
· I helped a child who had no father. Nobody else helped him.
· v13 I looked after a man who was dying. So, he blessed me.
· I caused a widow to be so glad that she sang.
· v14 In the morning, when I chose my clothes, I also decided to do good deeds.
· I selected my coat and hat. And, at the same time, I decided always to be fair.
· v15 I led blind people.
· I carried people who could not walk.
· v16 I provided for poor people. I was like a father to them.
· I even helped strangers in court.
· v17 I opposed wicked men. And I rescued the people who were suffering because of those wicked men.
Job did many good things. He even helped people whom nobody else would help. And Job wanted to do good deeds every day (verse 14). Job did these things because he was a servant of God (Job 1:8). So Job was doing the work of God. But God did not force Job to do these things. Job chose to do these things (verse 14).
Many people want to impress God by their good deeds. They think that God will help them if they do the right things. But such people are unwise. We must be humble when we pray to God. God will not help us because of our good deeds. God helps us because he loves us (Titus 3:5). And God helps us because Jesus died for us. So we all need to trust Jesus.
Job’s former ideas about old age
v18 I thought, ‘I shall die at home, when I am a very old man. v19 Even then, I shall be like a tree that has plentiful water. v20 People will still respect me. I will remain strong for my whole life.’
Job thought that he would always be successful. His troubles surprised him.
Sometimes God changes our lives. We did not expect that anything would happen. But God has other plans for us. We might feel confused. But we should continue to trust God. God helps us when we are successful. And God also helps us when we suffer terrible troubles.
Job used to be a leader of people
v21 Formerly, people waited for me to speak. They were silent until I advised them. v22-23 After I spoke, they added nothing to my words. They accepted my advice, as the ground accepts the rain in spring.
v24 When I smiled at them, they were so glad. They were so pleased to see me.
v25 I directed them. I was their leader. I was like a king with his army. Or, I was like someone who comforts sad people. (So people would gather round me.)
These people were glad to hear Job. They loved him. His words seemed precious to them. Nobody would argue with Job then. They thought that his speeches were always right.
But after Job suffered his great troubles, everything changed. Even Job’s friends did not think that his speeches were right. Bildad said that he would prefer to listen to the wind (Job 8:2). Job’s own friends argued with Job. And they seemed to agree with nothing that he said.
Job makes a list of his troubles
The worst people insult Job
v1 But now, men laugh at me, although they are younger than me. I would not have employed the fathers of such men to work with the dogs on my farm.
v2 Their fathers were too weak to work for me. They had no energy. v3 They were lonely men because of their hunger. So, they had to wander in the desert by night. v4 There, they gathered wild plants. And they ate the roots of trees. v5 Other men chased them away. Other men shouted at them, as if they were thieves. v6 So, they had to live in the desert. They lived among the rocks. Or, they lived in holes in the ground. v7 They shouted behind the bushes. They gathered together under the bushes. v8 These men were terrible men. They were the children of fools. This is why other men forced them to leave the country.
v9 But now, their sons insult me in their songs. They use my name when they swear. v10 They hate me. They do not want to look at me. They spit at me. (That is: ‘They empty the contents of their mouths onto my face.’) v11 God has made me weak. He made me suffer these troubles. So, these youths do not respect me.
Formerly the most important people would gather to listen to Job. And they respected Job greatly.
But now, the worst youths would gather to see Job. They would insult Job. And they would laugh at him.
Job had known the fathers of these youths. But the fathers did not impress Job. Job would not employ them. They were too lazy. They did not want to work.
These fathers were not responsible men. Perhaps they were drunks. Perhaps they were always asking other people for money. So the people in the city forced these men to leave.
These youths were like their fathers. They swore. They insulted Job. They laughed at him. And they caused trouble.
And these youths even thought that they were better than Job.
Job’s enemies are like an army
v12 They are like an army that attacks a city. And I am like that city.
· The army comes from my right side. The soldiers make traps. They place ladders against the city walls. v13 They destroy the roads. They will succeed. They do not need anyone to help them. v14 Then, the city’s walls break. The soldiers rush in to destroy the city.
v15 So, I suffer great terror. Nobody still gives honour to me. My honour was like wind that blew far away. And my security was like a cloud that disappeared.
Job watched the youths as they talked. And Job thought that they were making plans to attack him. Job felt too ill to avoid them.
Of course, a city cannot move when its enemies attack. So Job thought that he was like such a city.
At the time of the Bible, walls surrounded a city. So, before soldiers attacked the city, they would make plans. They needed to climb over the walls. Or, they needed to break through the walls. The soldiers would make traps so that the city’s inhabitants could not escape easily. And they would destroy the roads. Then anyone who managed to escape could not move quickly.
Job felt like the inhabitant of such a city. He was merely waiting for the youths to attack. And he could not escape when they did attack.
Before Job’s troubles, Job was confident. He thought that people would respect him for his whole life. He had great security (Job 29:18-20).
But Job’s feeling of security was not real. And his honour did not last.
Job is dying
v16 Now, I am dying. I suffer greatly during the daytime. v17 By night, my bones suffer great pain. I cannot rest. v18 This great power that causes my pain is like clothing. This power is like a collar that holds my neck firmly. v19 So, my body will lie in the mud. My body will become like dust and ashes.
Job was suffering pain because of his illness. The pain reminded him of clothing that someone cannot remove. So the pain affected Job’s whole body. The pain also reminded Job of a collar. It felt as if something was holding Job’s neck. Soon, Job might be unable to breath. So Job would die. His friends would place his body in the mud of his grave. In the end, his body would become like dust.
Job cries to God
v20 God, I cry to you. But you do not answer me. When I stand, you merely watch me. v21 You are cruel to me. You are strong, and you oppose me. v22 I am like dust that the wind blows about. And now, there is a storm.
v23 I know that I shall die. You have selected this fate for everything that lives.
Job accused God. God seemed so powerful. And Job was very weak. Job thought that God was using his great power to kill Job.
It seems strange to remember Job 2:3. The truth is that God was proud of Job. The devil had fiercely attacked Job. But Job continued to praise God. Whatever happened, Job would still trust God. Job would always be loyal to God. Job did not always realise that God was helping him. But soon God would send a man called Elihu to Job. And then God himself would speak to Job.
Job’s terrible troubles
v24 Nobody should attack a suffering man when he cries for help. v25 I used to sympathise with people who had troubles. I cared about poor people. v26 I hoped that I would have a good life. But, in fact, I have a terrible life.
v27 My pain never stops. I suffer every day. v28 The sun did not cause my skin to be dark. (My illness made my skin dark.)
When people gather, I cry for help. v29 They think that I am a noisy animal. I sound like a dog or a bird.
v30 But my skin is dark because of my illness. My skin burns, because my body is too hot.
v31 And I do not still sing. Instead, I cry, like someone who sings sad songs at a funeral.
Job did not deserve these terrible troubles. Good people do not always have good lives.
In verses 28 and 30, Job spoke about the terrible illness that affected his skin. Job had painful spots over his whole body (Job 2:7). In these verses, Job explained that his skin had become dark. And it felt too hot. Job called for help. But the people did not want to help him. His voice sounded like a noisy animal to them.
Formerly, Job played music. Then the sounds that he made were happy, like the sound of the children in Job 21:12.
But now the sounds that Job made were sad. He would cry because of his pain. He sounded like someone at a funeral.
Job finishes his last speech
Job’s attitude with regard to attractive women
v1 I promised that I would not think about young women in a sexy manner. v2 God has decided what men deserve. He would not reward me for such behaviour. v3 So God will punish wicked men. And people who do evil deeds will suffer. v4 God sees my behaviour. God knows all my actions.
In Job 22:4-9, Eliphaz accused Job. Eliphaz supposed that Job was guilty of many evil deeds. Eliphaz made a list of particular evil deeds. But Eliphaz was guessing. He had no evidence.
Job replied to Eliphaz in chapter 31. Job made a list of many more evil deeds. And Job insisted that he was innocent. Job agreed that a guilty person deserved a terrible punishment. But Job was not guilty, and he did not deserve his troubles.
Job was careful about his deeds. And he was also careful about his thoughts. Jesus warned about such thoughts in Matthew 5:28.
Job knew that God was his judge. So Job was careful about his behaviour. A man might hide his evil deeds from other people. But nobody can hide from God (Psalm 139:1-10).
Job’s attitude with regard to lies
v5 I have not told lies. I have not cheated other people. v6 God should test me fairly. Then, he will know that I am innocent. v7 My actions are right. I have not allowed evil things to tempt me. I have not carried out wicked deeds. v8 If I were guilty, I would deserve to suffer. Other people should take the things that I have earned. And I would deserve to lose my crops.
Job was careful not to lie. Other people may believe a person who lies. But God always knows the truth.
Job was careful about
· his actions,
· his thoughts,
· and his behaviour.
An evil person does not deserve success.
Job’s attitude with regard to sex
v9 I have not decided to have sex with another man’s wife. And I have not tried to have sex with my neighbour’s wife. v10 A man who does such things deserves to lose his own wife. He cannot complain if other men have sex with her. v11 That is a shameful matter. It is an evil deed, and that man deserves punishment. v12 Such actions cause terrible troubles, like the fire in hell. If I were guilty, I would deserve to lose everything.
A husband and wife should only have sex with each other. And unmarried people should not have sex. This is God’s command (Deuteronomy 5:18). Jesus also taught this (Matthew 5:27-28). Jude also warned about such behaviour. He associated this behaviour with the fire of hell (Jude 7).
Of course, God will forgive people who confess their evil deeds to him. But this was not what Job was saying. Job was explaining that he was innocent. So he wanted to show that he knew the serious nature of such behaviour.
Job’s attitude with regard to his servants
v13 When my servants complained, I was fair to them. And when my maids complained, I was fair to them too. v14 I realised that I myself must explain my actions to God. I must be ready to answer God. v15 My servants are as important as I am. That is because God made everybody. God made me, and God also made my servants.
Often a wealthy man does not respect his servants. That man might be very proud. He might think that he is more important than other people. James warned that such attitudes are very evil (James 5:1-5).
Job was fair to his servants. If they complained, he listened. He was their employer. But he did not imagine that he was more important than them. And Job himself was a servant of God (Job 2:3). Jesus taught that only a wicked servant would be cruel to other servants (Matthew 24:48-51).
Job’s attitude with regard to poor people
v16 I was not cruel to poor people. I did not make widows cry. v17 I shared my food. I fed the child who had no father. v18 In fact, I brought up that child, as if I were his father. And I have always looked after widows.
v19 Sometimes I saw a poor man who was very cold, without enough clothing. v20 So, I gave a coat to that man. The coat was wool, and the wool came from my own sheep. And the man blessed me.
v21 I did not oppose the child who had no father. Instead, I helped him in court. v22 Anyone who opposes that child should suffer. If a man uses his hand to cause trouble for that child, then that man should lose his arm. v23 I knew that God punishes an evil man. So I respected God and I did not do evil things.
Many people today do not think that they should help poor people. And many people are only generous to their own friends and family. But the Bible teaches that we should be generous to other people also (Matthew 25:34-36). Paul explained that God will reward the giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).
Job helped many poor people. He helped widows. He helped children who had nobody to look after them. He gave gifts to the poorest people.
Sometimes we can use our money to help people. But sometimes they do not need our money. So Job chose carefully how to help each person.
· Job was kind to the widows in verse 16.
· The child in verse 17 needed someone to look after him. Job acted as if he was that child’s father.
· The poor man in verse 19 was cold. Job gave him a good, warm coat.
· The child in verse 21 needed help in court. Job acted as his lawyer.
Job did all these things because he respected God. God had made Job rich. So Job shared his wealth with these other people.
Job’s attitude with regard to wealth
v24 I did not trust my wealth. I did not imagine that gold provided my security. v25 I was not proud because I was rich. I was not proud because of my success.
Money becomes like a false god for many people. They think that money can rescue them from any trouble. And they would do anything to get more money. See Matthew 6:24 and 1 Timothy 6:10.
Job had been wealthy. But Job trusted God. Job did not trust his money. We have seen this already. After Job lost all his possessions, Job immediately praised God (Job 1:20). So God was much more important to Job than money.
Job’s attitude with regard to false gods
v26-27 I saw the sunlight. But I did not pray to the sun. I saw the bright moon. But the moon was not my god. Even in secret, I did not give honour to either the sun or the moon. v28 Such actions would also be evil. God is the only real God. I knew that I must always be loyal to God in heaven.
Many people chose the sun and the moon as their gods. In areas that do not have lights in the streets, the moon is very impressive. And, especially in a hot country like Job’s, the sun is very powerful.
But Job did not pray to the sun or the moon. Job only prayed to the real God who is in heaven.
Job’s attitude with regard to enemies
v29 When my enemy suffered, I was not happy. I was not pleased to hear about his troubles. v30 I did not desire his death. I never prayed that I might kill him. Such words would be wicked.
Many people want revenge. In other words, they want their enemies to suffer. But the Bible teaches that such attitudes are wrong (Romans 12:19). Instead, we should pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). And we should even be kind to them (Romans 12:20-21).
Job’s attitude with regard to strangers
v31 I was always generous. My servants used to say, ‘Everybody eats Job’s meat!’ v32 I did not allow strangers to sleep in the street. I invited every traveller into my home.
Like Job, we should be kind to strangers. We may invite people to our homes. We may provide a meal. The Bible says that sometimes people have invited angels (God’s servants from heaven) to stay with them. And these people did not even realise that angels were their guests (Hebrews 13:2).
Job’s attitude with regard to his own evil deeds
v33 I am not pretending that I am totally innocent. I do not hide my evil deeds, like Adam. v34 You can see that I am not afraid of gossip. I allow the people to laugh at me. I am not silent. I do not hide. I go outside, where everybody can accuse me.
Adam was the first man. He refused to obey God’s command. Then Adam hid from God (Genesis 3:8). But the second line of verse 33 could also mean, ‘I do not hide my evil deeds, like other men do.’
Job did not hide. He allowed his friends to accuse him. In fact, he was outside (Job 2:13). So anybody could speak to him. The youths laughed at Job. But nobody could come with evidence of Job’s evil deeds.
Job did not pretend to be better than he really was. Later God would show Job’s errors to him. And Job confessed his mistakes (Job 40:2-5; Job 42:1-6).
This should be our attitude too. We should not try to hide our evil deeds. We should confess these things to God (Proverbs 28:13). And God will forgive us (1 John 1:9).
But Job does not know who accuses him
v35 But I wish that someone would hear me. I record this evidence for my judge.
God, please answer me! If you are my accuser, write your words in a book. v36 That book would be more important to me than anything else. I would want everybody to see it. v37 And I would explain all my actions to God. I would be like a prince, and God would be my king. So, I could meet God.
v38 Surely the ground does not accuse me. I did not cause my farm workers to cry because their work was too hard. v39 I paid the people who harvested my crops. I was not cruel to the farmers who worked on my land. v40 But if I did these evil things, I deserve to suffer. If I did these things, I deserve to harvest weeds instead of wheat. If I did such things, then I deserve nothing good.
Job’s speeches finish here.
Job allowed anyone to accuse him (verse 34). And his friends did accuse him (Job 22:4-9). Job did not really want his friends to accuse him. They had no evidence anyway. But there was someone whom Job wanted to accuse him.
Job believed that God caused Job’s troubles. Job could not explain why God would do this. So Job wanted to go to God’s court. Job was confident that God would listen. And Job was confident that God would be fair (Job 23:4-7).
Job thought that God was his accuser. But chapters 1 and 2 teach us that this idea was not correct. Satan (the devil) was Job’s accuser. And Satan caused Job’s problems.
Job respected God greatly. So Job believed that God’s words would be wonderful. Even if God accused Job, God’s words would still be wonderful. Through all his troubles, Job hoped that God would speak to him.
God’s words were very precious to Job (Job 23:12).
Job would be like a prince or a ruler when he met God. Job had always been loyal to God. So, unlike Job’s friends, God would not act as if Job was hopeless. God would give to Job the honour that Job deserved.
The Bible says that Christians are God’s royal priests (1 Peter 2:9). And Revelation 1:6 describes us as kings and priests. Such is the honour that God gives to his people. But we must not be proud. We are only God’s people because Jesus died for us. Without God’s love, we would be hopeless.
Job finished his speech with words about the ground.
He had often spoken about the soil at the end of previous speeches (Job 7:21; Job 10:21-22; Job 17:16; Job 21:33). The Bible says that God created man from earth (Genesis 2:7). And when a person dies, his body returns to a grave in the soil (Genesis 3:19).
Of course, the ground is not a person. So it cannot really accuse anyone. But it seemed to Job as if the ground was trying to reclaim his body. If the ground had been a person, it would have no reason to accuse Job. Job was fair to his farm workers. Job’s respect for God showed in everything that Job did.
Job thought that he would soon die. Then his friends would return his body to the ground. Nobody would cultivate the soil of Job’s farm. And weeds would grow instead of wheat.
Job finished his speech with these sad words.