Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, September 2, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 115

Prayer Point:   An idol is anything we trust for our security and significance outside of God. We all have them and without God’s intervention, we will become like the lifeless gods we serve. What idols have a hold on your heart? Confess them to God today and pray for the faith to believe that God will keep his promises and satisfy our souls.

Matthew 5:1-12

This passage, known as the Beatitudes, includes eight sayings that describe the virtues of a disciple in the kingdom of heaven. Each beatitude speaks of an inward quality of a disciple and a reward. What is the overall posture of a person who is called blessed according to these verses?  What is God looking for in a disciple or citizen of the kingdom? How is it different than the world’s understanding of a successful person?

Revelation 5:1-14

The Apostle John has been swept up into a vision of heaven which began in chapter four and continues in chapter five. God is seated on the throne with a sealed scroll in his right hand. The scroll represents God’s plan to restore Creation, rescue his people, and rid the world of evil once and for all. What in the vision causes John to weep? Who steps forward to open the scroll? What is interesting about this Lamb? Who must this Lamb be?

What do the four living creatures (representative of the reflection of God’s glory in creation) and the 24 elders (representative of God’s people, Israel and the church who have died and are in heaven) do once the Lamb opens the scroll? What do they sing about?

Throughout history God’s people sang “new songs” in response to a “new action” performed by God to save his people.

Like ripples on the water, worship of Jesus, the Lamb of God, begins at the throne and moves out to fill the whole universe. Who surrounds the 24 elders (God’s redeemed people – Israel and the church who have died) and the four living creatures (symbolic of the creatures of the earth)? What do they sing? Remember that God’s plan of salvation goes beyond saving people, but includes the restoration of all Creation.

Job 11:1-9, 13-20 – Zophar puts in his two cents worth

Zophar the Naamathite has been silent all this time. He now speaks up and makes up for lost time.

What is Zophar’s tone as he begins? (Zophar sounds both mocking and sarcastic: “You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides.” (Job 11:4-6) and that is only the beginning.)

What is Zophar’s declaration to Job about some of his sin? (“Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:6b NIV) The New American Standard version renders verse six thusly: “Know then that God 2forgets a part of your iniquity.” 2 is a reference to a literal translation which says: “causes to be forgotten for you”. [This expansion of explanation stems from a pet peeve of mine, namely, that God “forgets” anything. Forgetfulness is a “defect” in humanity. You forgot where you put the keys; you forgot your place in a book; or worse, you forgot your anniversary. This is a shortcoming of being human. God has no defects, no shortcomings: he forgets nothing! He does something more wonderful – he chooses not to remember. They are not the same thing. That is why I included that NASB version of verse 6. Forget here is better thought “causes to be forgotten for you”. That is perhaps the best rendering of this verse. – j.t.])
Chapter 11 verses 7-9 are questions which will extol the attributes of God: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?” (Job 11:7 NIV) The limits of God are higher than the heavens; deeper than death; longer than the earth and wider than the sea. Pretty big!
According to Zophar how can we “lift up our face without shame” and stand without fear? (Devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, and put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent. (Job 13-14))
What promises does Zophar connect with putting away the sin? (You will forget your trouble; life will be brighter; you will be secure and rest in safety; rest in peace (RIP!); many will court your favor. As for the wicked – “their hope will become a dying gasp.” (Job 11:20b NIV))

Let’s review.

Eliphaz (Chapters 4 & 5)
Eliphaz is happy to attribute to Job all of his problems. We all know that God does not afflict the righteous. If Job were as righteous as he claimed he was all this misery would not be visiting him. God’s blessings are denied Job because he must be at fault before him. It’s all Job’s fault.

Bildad (Chapter 8)
After Job has defended himself before Eliphaz and the others, Bildad questions whether Job isn’t lying – or isn’t being less than honest with himself. From Bildad’s perspective, Job doesn’t trust God and is, in fact, blaming him for all his troubles. If God does not reject a blameless man (v. 8:20) and since God has (apparently) rejected you, therefore you cannot be blameless. A great syllogism – but not true. In Chapter 9 Job then goes on to defend God to Bildad! “Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.” (v. 9:15) Does the innocent need mercy? In Chapter 10 Job questions whether God can “feel” like a man or see like one. Job does not think that God can identify with his misery.

Zophar (Chapter 11)
Zophar questions Job’s integrity – “Will no one rebuke you when you mock?” (v. 11:3b) Zophar thinks that Job is being proud. He then goes on to show that Job should be seeking wisdom in order to understand the events in his life. “Surely he [God] recognizes deceitful men; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But a witless man can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt be born a man.” (11:11-12 NIV)
Remember that Job had lost everything he owned and all of his (10) children in one day – alas but he did not lose his wife who is famous for saying: “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9 NIV)

Tune in next week to find out Job’s answer to Zophar.

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