timepiece reading When God is taking too long January 11-12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Job 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

Note: Since this is a two day study, it is suggested that the Scriptures be read the first day and the Bible study the second day.

When God is Taking too Long; Timely Justice

Have you suffered loss and then were blamed for it? Perhaps some religious people claimed this happened because of some sin in your life. Or, perhaps they say you are suffering because you failed to do something—be kind to the poor, widows, orphans, or some other omission. However, you are innocent. What do we do when we suffer an injustice and correction for this wrong is not timely? The Biblical patriarch Job faced this exact situation. Where can we look for answers? Job will help us.

If you are new visitor to our Bible study on Job, here is where we are in his biography: Job is a patriarch, living around the time of Abraham (more...). One day Satan appears before God and the LORD boasts of Job's integrity and righteous living. This galls Satan. He says Job is only serving the Almighty because he has put a hedge of protection around him—take it away and Job will curse his Creator to his face! God gives Satan permission to test Job. He then suffers the loss of his family, friends, business, and respect all in one day. Seeing he does not deny the LORD, however, Satan seeks permission to touch him personally. Job then suffers great physical pain from a skin disease (probably boils), so he is detestable to all who see him, even his wife. His three friends come to visit him. Instead of comforting him, however, his friends criticize and accuse him of wickedness. In his pain, Job defends himself and his integrity.

Eliphaz is tired of hearing Job's speeches of innocence. After acknowledging Job's goodness (4:3-6) now he falsely accuses Job of wickedness.

Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man, owning land—an honored man, living on it. And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you (Job 22:5-10, NIV)

Job replies that he is innocent and could appear before God without fear of being judged for wickedness. If he could find the Almighty, he would present his case.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread (Job 23:10-12, NIV).

Job mentions other issues which require justice—the confiscation of property by moving boundary stones (this is how property lines were marked)—and the oppression of widows, orphans, and the poor. Their ability to earn a living is removed. In addition, their property and possessions are seized, and they are left without clothing, food, and homes. There is also a need for justice to punish those who do wrong—thieves, murderers, and adulterers. Job knows they will eventually be punished, but what about now? This righteous man is also suffering terribly, but he is innocent of any wrongdoing and cannot find justice. God will not give him an audience, and he does not understand.

Bildad's answer to Job is insulting. Job, you are too insignificant for God to give you an audience! You are like a maggot or worm! (Job 25:6) What an encouragement is Bildad! Then Job replies,

How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble! What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth? (Job 26:1-4, NIV)

In other words, Bildad, are you speaking from God or Satan? It is important when we comfort those who are oppressed that we carefully search out what the LORD would have us say. They need comfort, not insults. The rest of the world disdains them for how they look or their circumstances, but we should exercise mercy and pity.

Job acknowledges that God is All-Powerful, and in his unanswerable and unsearchable wisdom he allows Job to suffer. Although he cannot gain an audience with him, in his frustration he still does not curse or live as if God does not exist. Job determines to hold on to his integrity and righteousness because he knows this is the right way, and he will eventually be exonerated. We should do the same. Job says,

As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.

I will never admit you [my “friends”] are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live. May my enemies be like the wicked, my adversaries like the unjust! (Job 27:2-7, NIV)

It is the wicked which are normally punished, not the righteous. We do not understand why the righteous suffer. Where will we find the answers? Job says that people mine for treasures deep in the earth where no birds or animals reside, but where is wisdom and understanding to be found? (Job 28). God has said to man, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28, NIV).

God is awesome in power and greatness in every way, and were we to meet him we would tremble and fall down as dead in fear of him. Wisdom and understanding reside with God. He has a purpose for everything, although we do not always understand it. No matter if we ever find the reason for our injustice, we know we can trust him to do what is right. Do you know God in a personal way? (more...).

For the Christian, to fear the Lord means we have such reverence for our holy and magnificent God that we seek to please him. A righteous life means reverencing God and shunning evil.

A righteous life is rewarded but not always while we live. Just as a righteous life is eventually rewarded, an evil life will eventually lead to destruction (Psalm 73:27). God offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life, and rewards in heaven if we accept Jesus as our sacrifice for sins (more...). Those who persist in doing right [believers] will eventually be accorded justice and rewarded. This is Job's plan, even though he is in deep distress over his pain. He trusts God. He reveres God. He tries valiantly to maintain his integrity and righteousness, believing that justice will finally prevail. With God's help we can do the same. Pray for the sustaining grace of his Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26)

Lessons to Live By

•  God offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life, and rewards in heaven if we accept Jesus as our sacrifice for sins (more...).

•  Keep on fearing the Lord and walking in his ways. Eventually, God will bring you justice and favor. Don't be discouraged; God is Sovereign and will bring justice at the proper time. Pray for his sustaining grace.

•  It is important when we comfort those who are oppressed that we carefully search out what God would have us say. They need comfort, not insults. The rest of the world disdains them for how they look or their circumstances, but we should exercise mercy and pity.

Focus Verse

Job 28:28 (NIV) “And he [God] said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord-- that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’”

Here is a song by Jason Crabb to encourage you

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A Look Ahead: If Job is so righteous, what Evidence of a Righteous Life does he have? What evidence do we have? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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