John T. Willis

Friday, September 25, 2009

God Treats Me Unjustly--Job's First Response to Bildad--Job 9-10

As we attempt to follow through the Book of Job, we now come to Job's first response to Bildad, related in Job 9-10. Like Job's first speech, here again Job presents his case in an ABAC pattern.

A. God does not give me [Job] any chance to defend my position. Job 9:1-12.
B. God makes me suffer without just cause; God is arbitrary. Job 9:13-24.
A. God does not give me any chance to defend my position. Job 9:25-35.
C. God is inconsistent in the way he mistreats me. Job 10:1-22.

Because of the cohesiveness of the thoughts in this speech of Job, we will deal with sections A and A in this blog, then discuss sections B and C.

A. God does not give me any chance to defend my position. Job 9:1-12.
1. Job begins by responding to Eliphaz's statement in Job 4:17, agreeing that no human being can be just before God. Verses 1-2.
2. The reason this is true is because no human being has a chance before God--it is all unfair. God is "wise"--human beings are "foolish" compared with God. God is "mighty"--human beings are "weak" compared with God. Verses 3-4.
3. Job cites several obvious situations on earth and in heaven which prove that God can do many things impossible for God--like moving mountains, shaking the earth, controls the sun and the stars, overrules the sea, and makes the constellations function in order through the heavens. God "does great things beyond [human] understanding, and marvelous things without number." Verses 5-10. No human being could do anything like this. This is disproportionate.
4. God acts all around human beings, and we are unaware of God's activity. If God takes a person away, who can stop him? No one can successfully question God's actions and say: "What are you [God] doing?" This would be foolish. Verses 11-12.

A. God does not give me any chance to defend my position. Job 9:25-35.
1. The life of a human being is at best very brief. Job uses several figures to convey this idea: (1) Our days are swifter than a runner in a marathon; (2) Our days go by like skiffs of reed [fast-moving canoes] on the Nile River; (3) Our days are like an eagle swooping out of the sky to catch a prey moving very quickly. Verses 25-26.
2. Job says that it is vain to work hard, because God is determined to condemn Job, even though Job is innocent. Verses 27-29.
3. If Job cleansed me thoroughly, God would plunge Job into a miry pit and make Job appear sinful, even though Job is innocent. Verses 30-31.
4. Job asserts that GOD is the problem, BECAUSE--POOR GOD--cannot understand human beings--after all, God is God, and we human beings are human, so there is no way that God could possibly understand how human beings are--human beings are NOT GODS. Verse 32.
5. Job proposes one way to resolve this conflict between God and human beings--then immediately Job abandons this proposal as impossible. Job's proposal is that an "umpire," an "intermediary," a person consisting of GOD on one side and a HUMAN BEING on the other side that might mediate both sides. This umpire would explain the human being to God, then explain God to the human being, and in time would reconcile these severe differences. But Job realizes that no such "umpire" exists or could ever exist. Verse 33.
*Now, before someone lunges forward and suggests this might be JESUS CHRIST, think again. Job is asking for someone to PROVE that God is WRONG in the way God is treating Job. Is Jesus Christ's "role" according to the Bible to CHANGE GOD, and prove that God is WRONG, and ask human beings to FORGIVE GOD for mistreating human beings? I do not think so. What do YOU think?
6. Job concludes in this part of this speech by pleading with God to take away God's wrathful rod constantly beating on Job, so that Job could "catch his breath" and have a fair chance to "speak without fear" to God. But Job is convinced that God will never do this, and give Job a fair chance to defend his position. Verses 34-35.

Remember, I am NOT taking Job's views here. I am simply TRYING to faithfully present Job's feelings and arguments. Later, in the Book of Job, we will find out whether Job is correct or incorrect on all this.

How are YOU doing on this study in Job's speech here? What are YOUR insights? How do YOU feel about Job here? If YOU were in YOUR place, what would YOU think and say? Share your thoughts with your friends, your family, your church, your community. Help me. Send me YOUR ideas.

John Willis


This week at ACU, we experienced our annual lectureship, which is now called Summit. Brady Bryce, one of my former students, coordinates the lectureship now--in his second year. Brady does a great job. His team works well.

The theme this year is Standing on the Mountain of God, built around the book of Exodus. The speakers are excellent, and touch the hearts of all the people, especially our students, who came in large crowds. I do not yet know the total, but there are approximately 10,000 people in all.

I had the joy of meeting many of my former students and dear friends from around the world--from all over the USE, from Hawaii, from Ghana, from Zagreb, from Thailand, from all over Europe and South America and Canada, and it goes on and on.

Four special things stand out in this year's summit.
1. Our students prayed around the clock (24 hours a day) through summit. When this many young people constantly arrange a prayer time like this, God is surely present. I am so thankful for all my students.
2. The atmosphere is inclusive rather than exclusive. The people of God gathered here essentially open our hearts to other people, not just people from churches of Christ. As you know, our population of "Church of Christ" students at ACU is now less than 50%. Most of our students are deeply committed Christian people, and their goals and contributions are marvelous. Anyone coming to ACU would be thrilled at what our students are doing each week.
3. The long-established walls between races and genders and denominational practices and beliefs are slowly evaporating. There is much more emphasis now on God and Christ and the Holy Spirit rather than matters of mint and dill and cummin, minors rather than important issues of life.
4. People here are finally beginning to realize that life is much bigger than "religious" activities done in restricted ways in "church buildings." There is so much more emphasis here at Summit on ministry, serving others, and unity and fellowship in a broad sense.

I am wholly supportive of what Brady Bryce and his fine team are doing. We all look forward to future Summits in Septembers here in Abilene.

I hope YOU were there. If not, you can get DVDs of all the presentations. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tradition! Tradition!--The First Speech of Bildad--Job 8

[A Reminder: As we work slowly through the book of Job, keep in mind that each speaker is responding to EVERYTHING that has already occurred. This is very important].

We turn now to the first speech of Bildad, reported in Job 8. This chapter falls into four parts.

I. Bildad extends an invitation to Job to repent and turn to God. Job 8:1-7.
a. Bildad begins by chastening Job with saying such terrible things that Job uttered. Surely, no one should or could say such things. Verses 1-2.
b. Bildad is appalled at Job's assertion that God is unjust and perverts the right. Verse 3. This is clearly directed against Job's declaration in Job 6:4 and 7:20 that God has particularly picked out Job to make Job suffer for no reason.
c. In a bitter heartless and unsympathetic attitude toward Job, Bildad boldly affirms that God destroyed Job's ten children because they sinned against God. Verse 4. Like Eliphaz and Zophar [and even Job before his suffering occurred], Bildad is smugly convinced that all righteous people prosper, and all wicked people suffer. SO, if Job's ten children suffered a great calamity, this HAS TO BE BECAUSE they had sinned against God.
d. Bildad now assures Job if Job will simply seek God and pray to God and be pure and upright, God will restore Job and bring Job back to his former advantageous status. Verses 5-7. [Note that Job's three friends assume that Job is sinful; therefore, Job needs to repent. If Job will just do this, God will restore Job].

II. We are right, because we are taking the position of our ancestors. Job 8:8-10.
Tradition! Tradition! Remember the song of Tevye in the play Fiddler on the Roof. All of us human beings "receive" a great deal of ideas and customs and gestures copying our parents and grandparents and close friends and revered church members. So, we ASSUME that MY RIGHT is the ONLY RIGHT. Tradition! Tradition! Now, some tradition is very good and very important. But much of the time, tradition is just wrong. Some of my friends are shock when they learn that I have changed my ideas, my beliefs, my practices, my outlook on life has changed tremendously over my almost 76 years of life. But, I ask you, how can we GROW spiritually if we do not CHANGE? God is constant. But we need badly to change.

III. All wicked people suffer, even though they may enjoy prosperity for a brief time. Job 8:11-19. Here, Bildad uses several figures and metaphors and similes to try to PROVE that all wicked people suffer.
a. A papyrus or reed plant grows quickly and early in the season. It looks so good and so enduring. But it withers before any other plant. In the same way, the godless have the same experience. This is invariable. Verses 11-13.
b. A spider's web looks strong and lasting. Hence, the spider enmeshes flies and beetles and other insects. But if a human being leans against the web, it will not endure. In the same way, the wicked are doomed to perish after prospering for a brief time. Verses 14-15.
c. Shoots of growing grass or small plants living near rocks seem impenetrable. But soon, the dry weather or human beings or animals or insects will destroy these plants. Similarly, the wicked will soon perish. Verses 16-19.

IV. God's LAW is invariable. All righteous people prosper; all wicked people suffer. Job 8:20-22.
a. Bildad sums up the position of Job's three friends in one verse: Job 8:20.
"See, God will not reject a blameless person,
nor take the hand of evildoers."
God will not allow a righteous person to perish. And God will not sustain an evil person. "Blameless" here does not mean "sinless," but one whose life is continually committed to God. [See Job 1:1, 8; 2:3].
b. Bildad promises Job "the moon" if Job will simply repent and turn to God. Further, Bildad assures Job that if Job repents, Job's enemies will be put to shame and the wicked will perish. Verses 21-22.

What about YOUR TRADITIONS? Often, we do not realize that our beliefs have been handed down to us from previous generations, some of which may have been good, and some of which may have been bad. This is why it is so important for us to THINK through our own ideas and beliefs and customs and practices.

How are YOU doing? Share your thoughts with others--your family, your friends, your community, your church. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Here in West Texas, from March to November, we are abundantly blessed by a constant flow of all kinds of butterflies: large and small, all types of colors, intricate shapes.

A butterfly is an insect of the order Lepidoptera. It is notable for its unusual life cycle in four stages. Most species of butterflies fly during the day, so they regularly attract attention. Once or twice a year, a large horde of monarch butterflies come through Abilene and surrounding areas. Many make butterflies a hobby, and make butterfly collections because butterflies have brightly colored wings and their graceful flight is erratic. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers (superfamily Hesperioidea), and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). Some species of butterflies migrate for long distances. They are very important economically as agents of pollination.

Stage 1--The Egg. Butterfly eggs consist of a hard-ridged outer layer of shell, called the chorion. This is lined with a thin coating of wax preventing the egg from drying out before the larve has had time to fully develop. Each egg contains a number of tiny funnel-shaped openings at one end, called micropyles, to allow sperm to enter and fertilize the egg. Butterfly eggs are attached to a leaf with a special glue which hardens rapidly. As it hardens, it contracts, deforming the shape of the egg. The glue is so hard that the silk pad cannot be separated. Most butterflies lay their eggs near winter in preparation for a hibernation until spring.

Stage 2--The Larva. The larva is a caterpillar. It eats leaves; eating is its primary purpose. Caterpillars mature through a series of stages called instars. At the end of each instar, the larve undergoes a process called apolysis, in which the cuticle, a mixture of chitin and specialized proteins, is released from the epidermis and the epidermis begins to form a new cuticle beneath. At the end of each instar, the larve moults the old cuticle, and the new cuticle rapidly hardens and pigments. Development of butterfly wing patterns begins by the last larval instar. Butterly caterpillars have three pairs of true legs from the thoracic segments and up to six pairs of prolegs arising from the abdominal segments. These prolegs have rings of tiny hooks called crochets that help them grip the substrate. Some caterpillars have the ability to inflate parts of their heard to appear like a snake. Near pupation, the wings are forced outside the epidermis under pressure from the hemolymph, and although they are initially quite flexible and fragile, by the time the pupa breaks free of the larval cuticle they have adhered tightly to the outer cuticle of the pupa. Within hours, the wings form a cuticle so hard and well-joined to the body that pupae can be picked up and handled without damage to the wings.

Stage 3--Pupa. When the larva is fully grown, hormones such as prothoracicotropic hormone are produced. The larva then stops feeding and begins wandering in quest of a suitable pupation site, often underneath a leaf. The larva transforms into a pupa or chrysalis by anchoring itself to a substrate and moulting for the last time. To transform from the miniature wings visible on the outside of the pupa into large structures usable for flight, the pupal wings undergo rapid mitosis and absorb many nutrients. In the pupa, the wing forms a structure that becomes compressed from top to bottom and pleated from proximal to distal ends as it grows, so that it can rapidly be unfolded to its full adult size.

Stage 4--Adult or Imago. Adult butterflies have four wings covered with tiny scales. The fore and hindwings are not hooked together, permitting a more graceful flight. An adult butterly has six legs.

As I marvel as this metamorphosis leading to the production of a beautiful butterfly, I have to bow before the Creator of the Universe to invent, produce, bring about, and complete such a creature. Just this one creature demonstrates the power and wisdom and love of our God.

There is also another "metamorphosis" or "transformation" in human hearts. We all begin as children, grow into children, grow into puberty, grow into adulthood, marry, and have our own children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Similarly, we begin our spiritual life in infancy; slowly, we become more mature; little by little, more mature; becoming more and more like God desires us to be. Passages like 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 and Hebrews 5:11-6:8 admonish God's people to sluff off the old way of life and move forward to "perfection." Here is one snippet from Hebrews 5:12-14:

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil."

Where are YOU in your spiritual GROWTH? God constantly desires to transform everyone of us. If YOU are where you are where you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago, you need to change. NO ONE has arrived. We all have a long way to get where God wants us to buy. One cannot grow without changing. It may be time for YOU and ME to change. We can learn much from butterflies.

How do YOU respond? Share your ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis