John T. Willis

Friday, November 20, 2009

Conclusion of Job--Job 42:7-17

The Book of Job concludes with a very important Epilogue, recorded in Job 42:7-17. This little section falls into two parts.

I. Yahweh Reprimands Job's Friends and Restores Job. Job 42:7-9.
a. After Yahweh delivered his two speeches and Job responded by admitting that Yahweh won the debate (Job 38:1-40:5) and repenting of sinning against Yahweh in rebuking God for being unjust and challenging God to meet Job in a fair court trial (Job 40:6-42:6), Yahweh turns to speak with Job's three friends. (Verse 7a).
b. Yahweh rebukes Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar because they have not spoken of Yahweh what is right as Job has. Verse 7b. This certainly does not mean that Yahweh is conceding that Job is right and God is wrong. NO!!! Look at the text!!! The contrast here is between Job and Job's three friends. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar tenaciously held on to their traditions, especially the belief that "all righteous people prosper and all wicked people suffer." They refused to think, to reason, to change, to empathize with others. In contrast to this, Job dared to think, to reason, to change. In the process, Job thought and said many things that are wrong. But, in the eyes of God, this was good BECAUSE Job was "thinking through" one of the most difficult and serious issues of life: Why do people suffer? AND, Will a human being FEAR GOD when all the arguments are against doing this? God wants people to think, not to cling to old traditions and beliefs and ideas. THEN, God can change each and every one of us to be more like God wants us to be.
c. Yahweh then calls Job's three friends to brings appropriate sacrifices to God, and then Job will pray for them and Yahweh will accept their prayers. Job's friends obey, and Yahweh accepts Job's prayer. Verses 8-9.

II. Yahweh Restores Job's Fortunes. Job 42:10-17.
a. When Job struggled through his spiritual issues, repented, and prayed in behalf of his friends, Yahweh "restored Job's fortunes" and gave Job twice as much as he had before the afflictions hit. Job's brothers and sisters and all who had known him came and showed Job sympathy and comforted him over his suffering. Yahweh gave Job twice as much of his possessions that he had before, and gave Job seven sons and three daughters: Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren-happuch. Job gave his children a rich inheritance. Verses 10-15.
b. After this, Job lived 140 years in addition to his prior 60 years, indicating he was approximately 200 years of age. He enjoyed four generations, and died in a good old age. Verses 16-17.

Often, struggles in life are very valuable and fulfilling. They prepare us for life and for eternity. The story of Job gives us insights and encouragement.

How are YOU doing in YOUR life? Share YOUR experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU. Next, we will turn to a series in the Book of Amos. I hope this will be uplifting to all of YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, November 19, 2009

God's Second Speech--Job 40:6-42:6--Part 2--The Crocodile

God's second "parade" animal is the "Leviathan," which most likely is the crocodile. As in the case of the hippopotamus (see Job 40:15-24), God challenges Job to meet the crocodile in a "hand to hand" combat in preparation for encountering the CREATOR of all these creatures in the World Heavy Weight Boxing Match on earth. This second portion of God's second speech appears in Job 41:1-42:6, and fall into two parts.

I. The Crocodile [Leviathan]--Job 41:1-34.
a. God again raises embarrassing questions to Job. Job, can you catch a crocodile with a fishhook? Can you put a rope in the nose of the crocodile and lead it around like someone leads a dog around? Will the crocodile make supplications and speak soft words to a human being out of fear for a human being? Will a crocodile become your servant? Will you play with a crocodile, or put it on a leash so your children can play with it? Will merchants bargain over a crocodile? Can you harpoon or spear this creature? All of these possibilities are absurd. Hence God invites Job:
"Lay hands on it;
Think of the battle; you will not do it again!" (verse 8).
The point is very clear!!! Job cannot defeat a crocodile, SO how absurd is it for Job or any human being to confront God!!! And yet, this is precisely what Job tried to do throughout his speeches. (Verses 1-11).
b. God now describes the crocodile in detail. Its limbs are strong, it has a splendid frame, when it acts, there is "terror all around," its back is fully protected, its look and movements are awesome. (Verses 12-29).
c. When the crocodile moves in the swamp, it moves swiftly, leaving a shining wake behind it. (Verses 30-32).
d. According, God concludes:
"On earth it [the crocodile] has no equal,
a creature without fear.
It surveys everything that is LOFTY;
it is king over ALL THAT ARE PROUD." (Verses 33-34).
Just like Elihu, God emphasizes that THE problem of human beings is PRIDE, SELF-CENTEREDNESS, INGRATITUDE.

II. Job responds brief to God's second speech. Job 42:1-6. This response falls into two parts.
a. Job confesses that God "can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Then Job quotes his own words in verse 3a, and admits: "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." (Verses 1-3).
b. Then Job again quotes his own words in verse 4a, and then responds in verses 5-6:
"I had heard of you [Yahweh] by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself in dust and ashes."

In recent years, scholars have sought five different interpretations of the last line--see Carol A. Newsom in the New Interpreter's Bible on Job, volume IV (1996), page 629. I invite the reader to examine these nuances.

In light of the overall context and the entire thrust of the Book of Job, it seems clear that Job here repents of his sins uttered in his speeches against God, challenging God to meet Job in a fair court trial. As suggested early in our journey through this Book, Job lost his wealth, his health, and his wisdom=his fear of God.

But now we discover that this is important. Often we need to lose our faith--in order to receive from God a much deeper faith. This is that happened to Job. For myself, God has changed him completely around through my life. I am an entirely different person from what I was 60 years ago, 50 years ago, 40 years ago, 30 years ago, etc. God TRANSFORMS people. This is what life is all about. I am so glad that God continually changes my beliefs, my ideas, my traditions, my whole life.

What about YOU? How has God changed YOUR life? Share your thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU. I need all the help I can get.

John Willis

God Can Move the Mountains

This paragraph appears in Matthew 17:14-20 [It is also in Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43a]:

"When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, 'Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.' Jesus answered, 'You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? Bring him here to me.' And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast it out?' He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU.'"

Unfortunately, most of us do not have this kind of faith or belief or trust in God. Why don't you try this out today, and just see what happens? God can move mountains: your fears, your anxieties, your temptations, your sins, your failures, your reversals, your losses. God can move mountains.

A few years ago, a wonderful composer wrote the song: "Mighty to Save." I hope this will encourage YOU today.

Verse 1:
Everyone needs compassion
Love that's never failing
Let mercy fall of me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

Verse 2:
So take as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Shine your light
And let the whole world see
We're singing
For the glory of the risen King, Jesus.

Sing and pray and ponder this song. God will lift your spirit. Share this song with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God's Second Speech--Job 40:6-42:6--Part 1--The Hippopotamus

Job has just conceded that God had won the debate hands down. NOW, God moves forward to win JOB. God's Second Speech falls into three parts, and Job follows with a brief response. This covers Job 40:6-42:6. In this blog, we will discuss the first two segments: Job 40:6-14 and Job 40:15-24.

I. God invites Job to sit on God's throne and be "God for a day" in order to show God how God should deal with people, especially "proud" people [note especially verses 11-12]. Job 40:6-14.
a. God begins his second speech exactly like he began his first speech [see
Job 38:1-3]. Since it is inappropriate for a human being to challenge God to meet a human being in a court trial or in any other situation, God declares that God will question Job [any human being] and then Job [any human being] can respond. Verses 6-7
b. God asks JOB: Are YOU in any type of circumstances to argue that God is wrong and Job has the right to condemn God? Is Job God? Can Job rival God? Such an idea is absurd and totally inappropriate. Verses 8-9. And yet, this is precisely what Job claimed in his speeches. Remember Job 9:13-13; 23:3-12 and often.
c. God now invites Job to put on "God's clothes" to assume this position to rule the world, especially to chastise the "proud." Verses 10-13. Many years ago, there was a program on radio called "Queen for a day." Each day, the coordinators of this program found a women somewhere in the United States and honor her to be queen for a day. When I think of this program, I think of God's invitation to make Job "God for a day." I am afraid that many of us in our heart of hearts think that if we were just God, we would rule the world correctly. Job himself had made that identical proposal as recorded in Job 24:1-12. A parent, a teacher, a senator is constantly the object of criticism from children, students, the public and assume: "If I were
this person, I would do much better. Now, Job has his chance, but he does not respond.
d. God concludes: If you [Job] just showed me [God] how to deal with people, especially "proud" people, I would "take my hat off to you [Job]" and acknowledge that you are right and I am wrong. Verse 14. Of course, this is absurd, and Job never responds.

II. God now parades two of his creatures. The idea here is: God has challenged Job to meet God in a heavy weight boxing match. God agrees, but first, Job must demonstrate his ability to compete by defeating two of God's creatures. Surely, they are inferior to the Creator Himself, God. God first describes the Behemoth, which is probably the Hippopotamus. Job 40:15-24.
a. First, God reminds Job that God "made" [created] the hippopotamus just like God "made" Job and every human being and all creatures. Verse 15.
b. God emphasizes the "strength" and "power" of the hippopotamus. Verses 16-18.
c. The hippopotamus is "the first of the great acts of God," not that God created the hippopotamus first chronologically, but in the sense that the hippopotamus is one of God's most powerful creatures. No human being can compete with the hippopotamus in a "boxing match." "ONLY its MAKER [God] can approach it with the sword." Verse 19.
d. The hippopotamus runs free in the fields and near the rivers, and essentially is in control of his world. No human being would dream of trying to take the hippopotamus with hooks or piece its nose with a snare. This would bring disaster for the human attacker. Verses 20-24.

What are YOUR insights about this first two segments of God's second speech? Would YOU like to be God for a day? Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Deep In the Heart of Texas

Since I was born and raised in Texas, I appreciate songs that portray some of the rugged edges of life in the West. All states have wonderful songs, and I plan to say a little about many of these in time.

One song in Texas that I have love all my life is: "The Stars at Night." You probably know this song. If not, here it is:

The stars at night
Are big and bright,
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The prairie sky
Is wide and high,
Deep in the heart of Texas.

The sage in bloom
Is like perfume,
Deep in the heart of Texas.
Reminds me of
The one I love,
Deep in the heart of Texas.

The stars at night
Are big and bright,
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The prairie sky
Is wide and high,
Deep in the heart of Texas.

The coyotes wail
Along the trail,
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The rabbits rush
Around the brush,
Deep in the heart of Texas.

The cowboys cry, "Ki-yip-pee-yi,"
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The dogies bawl
And bawl and bawl
Deep in the heart of Texas.

The themes: the stars at night, the prairie sky, sage in bloom, the one I love, coyotes wailing, rabbits rushing, cowboys crying out, and dogies bawling are part of country life in Texas--and actually in other states as well. These ideas keep us close to the land, to daily activities, to the presence of God in what many think of "small things."

I hope this song will touch YOUR heart is some unexpected way. Share YOUR favorite song with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis