Hello! It’s time for another Bible Reading Plan Recap. Before that, how have you been finding your Bible Study? Do you take the time to understand what you’re reading? Or do you just read to check the box of devotional consistency? Some days in this journey of growing in the knowledge of Christ through Bible study are more enjoyable than others — you enjoy the study, the words make sense to you, and you don’t want to stop. Other days, you can’t concentrate and feel guilty because you’d rather be doing something else.
Don’t overthink things. If you don’t have your Bible study today, make sure you have it tomorrow. Take note of the things competing for your attention, such as unfinished office work, a desire to always be entertained, legitimate demands from family and loved ones, a waning love for God, or anything else, and recognize and address them so that you can spend quality time with your Father in His word.
Now, the Bible Reading Plan Recap
We finished the book of Job in less than two weeks. It’s been a long, perplexing, and nerve-racking ride. A man who had it all lost it all in one day! Then his friends gather to philosophize about the causes of his misfortune without a modicum of empathy. He’ll have questions, of course.
As we read Job 20-42, we may have wondered why God would allow such a thing to happen to a man He Himself described as “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” ( Job 1:8 NKJV) The book never provided an answer to this question in particular. However, the events that followed provided answers to the following questions:
1. God’s justice
2. Why evil happens in the world
3. How to respond when we go through trying times
Let’s get started.
Job, like his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, had his own ideas about how God should administer justice in the world. The friends believed that God created the Universe with a strict sense of justice in mind. If you are wicked and evil, you will bear the brunt of His wrath (Job 4:6-9, 8, 11). If you are righteous and good, you will have a happy and prosperous life. With this line of reasoning, they concluded that Job must have sinned, which is why He is suffering. Job responds that, by their logic, God is unjust because he is a righteous and innocent man. (Job 3-37)
After Job had finished his argument, Elihu, a younger man among Job’s friends, spoke up. He approached Job’s predicament from a different angle. He corrects Job and his friends on their understanding of God. He tells them that anyone can suffer, but that this does not change the fact that God is merciful and just.
After their speeches, God responded to Job. Rather than responding to Job’s false accusations, He asked him a series of perplexing questions that all point to his (Job’s) ignorance of the Universe and how the world should be ordered. This is in contrast to Job’s earlier boastful display of knowledge and sound judgment.
God demonstrated to Job and his friends that they lack perspective and wisdom to comprehend how He governs the world. Job’s worldview is limited, and he cannot reach a conclusion about how God should govern the world. He emphasizes that we live in a complex world that is not designed to eliminate suffering. Instead, Job should put his faith in God’s wisdom and character. Despite this, He praised Job for being truthful and seeking answers. Job eventually admitted that no one is wiser than his Maker. He repented of his actions, and in his mercy, God restored all that he had lost after he prayed for his friends. It is important to note that God does not rebuke Elihu in any way. (Job 39-42)
Why Evil Happens In This World
One thing is clear in the book of Job: Satan is a key player in the world’s suffering. He desired to harm Job and was the one who carried it out, not God (Job 1:12,2:1-7). He was envious of God’s goodness in Job’s life, and he destroyed it all in one day (Job 1:6-11)! In this book, we also see that the world has fallen and is not designed to prevent suffering.
How To Respond When We Go Through Trying Times
Job did not accuse God of wrongdoing at first (Job 1:22). He did not curse God as his wife had commanded (Job 2:9-10), but when various accusations of iniquity were leveled against him by his pitiless friends, he rose up in self-defense and his stance began to shift. He accuses God of being a bully (Job 16:9), and then he accuses Him of being wicked (9:22-23). After this, he demands that God appear to defend Himself after claiming his innocence (Job 13:23-24; 31:35). As ridiculous as his actions were, we must remember that Job was experiencing an emotional rollercoaster and was completely perplexed by his situation. He used to believe that God is just, but now he doesn’t understand why he is being “punished” (Job 27:2). As the day progressed, he sank deeper and deeper into depression and hopelessness.
In contrast, Elihu tells him that God may allow suffering as a warning to help people avoid sin in the future, or to help a person build character and teach them valuable lessons. He did not claim to know why Job suffered, but he is certain that Job is incorrect in accusing God of being unjust. (Job 32-37)
In all of this, we see how to not respond when we are in pain. Job’s friends could have been more sympathetic to his situation, and his wife was clearly inexperienced in dealing with pain and suffering. Job, in particular, should have seen his limitations as a a man with finite wisdom, and should have trusted God through it all. Let’s learn something from all of these as it concerns pain or suffering and how we all process it.
And that brings us to the end of our summary of Job’s book. What did you take away from this insightful ancient text? You can leave a comment to help others learn from your experience. We’ll see you in two weeks!