Tag Archives: God

Judges 11

Smooth Move Sherlock

The story of Jephthah could have been such a wonderful story of rising above the circumstances of your birth, of fulfilling a destiny set by God. Instead he was a short-lived flame that burned itself out. He was certainly useful, but sadly also lamentable.

Jephthah was the son of Gilead and an unnamed prostitute. As such, his father’s family wanted nothing to do with him. Can you imagine the chip on his shoulder? He was probably in a lot of fights as a boy. As soon as dad was dead and his brothers were old enough they chased him away.

So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Soon he had a large band of rebels following him. – Judges 11:3

Why would a large band of rebels follow anyone? Um, because their leader is one too.

Then opportunity knocks.

When the Ammonites attacked, the leaders of Gilead sent for Jephthah in the land of Tob. They said, “Come and be our commander! Help us fight the Ammonites! – Judges 11:5-6

Of course Jephthah is suspicious. But he sees and opportunity and takes it. He has a chance to be someone.

The Ammonites have a god by the name of Chemosh. This god likes human sacrifice. Note, there are only two gods. There is God who created the heavens and the Earth. And there is Satan, who was created by God and rebelled. Chemosh is just another manifestation of Satan on this earth.

Jephthah, in his reply to the king of Ammon said the following.

You keep whatever your god Chemosh gives you, and we will keep whatever the LORD our God gives us. – Judges 11:24

Sounds good. And it is true, in a sense. But, essentially he just challenged Satan – openly.

Now, if he had truly sought the Lord and relied upon Him for all decisions and actions things probably would have gone well. Sadly, Jephthah’s hot-headed nature takes over.

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” – Judges 11:30-31

What, do cows and sheep regularly come out of his house to greet him? What in the @#$% was he thinking? Maybe he wanted to get rid of Mrs. Jephthah. Smooth move Jephthah.

After Israel wins the battle, his only child, his daughter runs out to greet him, dancing for joy… Cue the regret music and chortling of Chemosh.

He does what any normal person would do in the situation, he burns her alive. Yes, he really did it. But no, he was not a normal person. His stupid rash vow clearly violated God’s word and will.

I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings. – Hosea 6:6

However, there was a god who was quite pleased on the day the sacrifice was made… Chemosh. Jephthah’s victory turned to ash.

In case you think that I’m being harsh on Jephthah by calling him a hot-head, look at his response to an insult by the leaders of the tribe of Ephraim.

The leaders of Ephraim responded, “The men of Gilead are nothing more than rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh.” So Jephthah called out his army and attacked the men of Ephraim and defeated them. – Judges 12:4

He slaughtered forty-two thousand of his fellow Israelites over that insult! No wonder God only left him around for six years.

Jephthah was Israel’s judge for six years. When he died, he was buried in one of the towns of Gilead. – Judges 12:7

Cue another judge.

Lord, how often do I do things without consulting you? Please forgive me. I need to learn to wait, to listen, to not move outside of your will. Thank you for your patience with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Time for a cool drink in the shade. Jan

Judges 10

Here comes ‘da Judge

In reading the book of Judges I was reminded of a 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone. The movie was Judge Dredd. Below is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about the movie.

In 2139, people live in a single city, Mega City, ruled by The Council. Crime is dealt with by a special police force, Street Judges, who may act as judge, jury and executioner of criminals.

The power of the Judges in this sci-fi tale sounds very similar to that of the biblical judges in the book of the same name. The following Wikipedia excerpt really was interesting to me.

Dredd’s commander and mentor, Chief Judge Fargo, assigns him to teach a class in ethics at the academy where he tells the recruits they must be prepared to live in isolation until they take the Long Walk, a time when a retired Judge leaves the city and goes into the “cursed earth” to take the “law to the lawless”, those who live outside the city.

Now paint this portrait biblically. Judges, typically quite alone, are assigned by God to go into the cursed earth to take the law to the lawless, those who live outside of heaven.

Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. They worshiped images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. Not only this, but they abandoned the LORD and no longer served him at all. – Judges 10:6

Why did they need judges? Why did they sin so much? Why did they abandon God so easily and chase after other things and other Gods?

For the answer I go to a New Testament book of the bible.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. – James 4:1-4

The whole army of evil desires at war within them… Within us.

So was there hope for the Israelites? Of course there was!

But the Israelites pleaded with the LORD and said, “We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.” Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved by their misery. – Judges 10:15-16

So is there hope for us? Of course there is!

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor. – James 4:7-10

The greatest honor we could ever be afforded is a place at our Lord’s table. And if we are his children, then we know that we have that place guaranteed.

Father, may I humble myself daily before you. May I resist the Devil, May I draw close to you in prayer, reading, and in waiting. May I truly grieve and turn from any and all wicked ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He is the Law. Jan

Judges 9

Legacy

What kind of legacy am I leaving behind? Am I leaving a good example to follow? Will my children be Godly men who wholeheartedly follow after Christ? What do my words, actions, inactions, and mannerisms reveal to them about my daily walk?

I hope and pray that I do a better job than Jerubbaal, or Gideon. This man, who God physically appeared to in the form of an angel, who subsequently delivered Israel from the Moabites, apparently decided to sit back on his haunches and not do much afterward. In fact his actions caused Israel to sin, and he did not stop it.

Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family. – Judges 8:27

The obvious thing would have been to immediately destroy the ephod, melt it down. But instead it became a trap for Gideon and his family.

If that was the creation of the trap, it was set as a result of Gideon’s pride and indiscretion. He had a child with his concubine, another word for that is slave-girl.

He also had a concubine in Shechem, who bore him a son named Abimelech. – Judges 8:31

He had seventy other sons with assorted wives. Um, can you say profligate? He apparently had a slight issue with the ladies. In that culture, no problem, marry them. You can have as many wives as you want.

Well, Gideon dies and his son Abimelech decides that he needs to be the one in charge. Why? Why Abimelech? Why not one of the other seventy sons?

Words have power, words have meaning. Abimelech, means something. It means “father is king”.

Who knows how often he actually saw Gideon, he lived in another town. But he did know that his name meant that he is the king’s son. Upon his father’s death he decided to claim his legacy, and these so-called brothers whom he hardly ever saw. Well, there was no love-loss or relationship there. They even called him son of the slave.

And you have chosen his slave woman’s son, Abimelech, to be your king just because he is your relative. – Judges 9:18b

He’d show them what the slave woman’s son could do. And he did.

He hired some “worthless human beings” – that is literally what the text says – and made a blood sacrifice to Baal.

He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. – Judges 9:5

Killing them all in a ritualistic manner, on one stone, can only be viewed as a sacrifice to his god Baal.

Pain, sorrow and eventually justice came to those who helped and made possible Abimelech’s abomination.

Gideon had other plans. He did want a bright future for his people and family. He had good intentions. Unfortunately the trap that he had set years earlier was never dealt with, and it sprung.

The son who escaped being killed, his name was Jotham. It means Jehovah is perfect.

Oh Lord, so many plans, so many mistakes. Please help me to be a man who truly follows after you. I want to leave a Godly legacy. May my children all grow up to love and serve you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Walk with God. Jan

Judges 7

The Weapon

In the book of Judges, in the section about Gideon, there is a dream and an interpretation of that dream is given. I’ve always been a bit puzzled by it. God tells Gideon to take his armor-bearer Purah and reconnoiter the enemy camp.

When Gideon came to the enemy camp, he heard a man telling his friend about a dream. He was saying, “I dreamed that a loaf of barley bread rolled into the camp of Midian. It hit the tent so hard that the tent turned over and fell flat!” – Judges 7:13

Now I don’t know about you, but my interpretation of the dream would have gone something like the following.

“Well obviously this is about the fact that we haven’t brought enough food with us. These Israelis can barely feed themselves. Look how many of us there are! We’re going to have to scour the countryside for food or we will all collapse in hunger.”

But no, a different interpretation was given by the friend.

The man’s friend said, “Your dream is about the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel. God will hand Midian and the whole army over to him!” – Judges 7:14

Huh? Where did that come from?

An interesting thing happens when you dig into the etymology of words. you find that the Hebrew word for bread is ‘Lechem’. However, this word has a root word of ‘Lacham’. This word means to fight or to battle, in addition to eat or consume. The word for rolled is the Hebrew word “Bo”. Another meaning of that word is to fall-upon, as in an attack.  So this round cake of barley bread attacked and beat down a tent.

Stay with me.

Gideon means “hewer”. Which means, “to strike forcibly with an ax, sword, or other cutting instrument; chop; hack.”

Notice that the friend who interpreted the dream doesn’t say that the cake of bread is Gideon attacking the camp. No, he says, “Your dream is about the sword of Gideon…”

The hewer’s tool (or weapon) forcibly struck the enemy camp and leveled it.

The friend, understanding the symbolism and words behind them, saw the full implied meaning – they were going to be hewed down.

Funny thing is that they themselves were the instrument of their own destruction.

When Gideon’s three hundred men blew their trumpets,  the LORD made all the Midianites fight each other with their swords! – Judges 7:22a

Father, may I listen to my friends. Often times they have knowledge or revelation that I desperately need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m feeling sleepy. Jan

Judges 6

Least to Greatest

An interesting thing happened in the sixth chapter of Judges, God took a nobody and made him famous.

The Israelites were under the cruel oppression of several surrounding countries. In fact “Israel was reduced to starvation” according to the text. When we first encounter Gideon he is a nobody who is hiding down in a hole, threshing wheat, so that no one will know what he is doing. While there an Angel visits him and he receives an instruction that mystifies him.

Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” – Judges 6:14

It must have seemed like a cruel joke, “Go with the strength you have…” What strength? He’s hiding.

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” – Judges 6:15

Gideon essentially says, “I’m a nobody from a clan of nobodies.”

The angel tells him that the Lord will be with him, gives Gideon a demonstration of his power, then he disappears.

Silence… until night-fall, when Gideon hears the Lord tell him to destroy the town’s altar to the false god Baal, and use the altar-remains to build an altar to God, and to sacrifice his father’s 2nd best bull on it.

Incredibly, Gideon does it! I wonder if I would have responded the same?

The towns people wake up, and they are ticked. They demand that Gideon be killed.

But Joash (Gideon’s father) shouted to the mob, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who knocked down his altar!” – Judges 4:31

Sounds reasonable to me. If I was a god and someone messed with my property, they’d be toast. But, I digress. Back to Gideon. An amazing thing happened at that moment. He lived. And he continued to live. In fact, as a result of not dying, he was renamed by the people.

From then on Gideon was called Jerubbaal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he knocked down Baal’s altar. – Judges 6:32

Gideon took on a god and lived! He was no longer a nobody. He was famous – about as famous as you can get.

That is why when this former nobody called for warriors to join him in battle a little while later, they all came.

Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded. – Judges 4:34-35

The Lord knows how to promote those who are called and chosen. They only need to be obedient.

Father, thank you for lessons from Gideon. May I be willing to do whatever you ask. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Got any altars you need destroyed? Jan

Judges 5

Come back and fight like a man

Until now, I’d never noticed the sequence of what occurred in the battle between the forces  of Barak and Sisera.  An interesting happened on the way to the battle, the enemy ran away! And they did it before Barak’s soldiers engaged them.

Then Deborah said to Barak, “Get ready! Today the LORD  will give you victory over Sisera, for the LORD is marching ahead of you.” So Barak led his ten thousand warriors down the slopes of Mount Tabor into battle. When Barak attacked, the LORD threw Sisera and all his charioteers and warriors into a panic. Then Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot. Barak chased the enemy and their chariots all the way to Harosheth-haggoyim, killing all of Sisera’s warriors. Not a single one was left alive. – Judges 4:14-16

Notice that the Lord marched out ahead of Barak, and that Sisera’s forces were in a panic because of the Lord, not Barak. Why did they panic?

I found it interesting that God made sure to mention that Sisera’s focres had nine hundred iron chariots.

Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. – Judges 4:13

He actually mentioned them earlier in the chapter too, and then he also ensured that Sisera’s leap from his chariot was recorded.

An iron chariot was the equivalent of our modern day tank. Infantry is no match for one. And all of Israel had was infantry. So I ask you, why would you jump out of your battle-wagon? Why would you abandon your armor? Why leave the tank behind?

I think the following section of the song of Deborah and Barak explains it.

LORD, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, even the clouds dripped water. The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, this Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel… The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera. – Judges 5:4-5, 20

Hmm, heavens dripping. Could that be rain? The earth quaked, the mountains quaked. Sounds like thunder. The stars fought from heaven. Sounds like lightning. I don’t have definitive proof, and I’ll have to wait to see it on God’s Blue-Ray screen, but I suspect that Sisera’s iron chariots become lightning-rods. God was having himself a Canaanite barbecue.

Sisera, seeing his forces being roasted as they stood in their Smokey Joe’s, jumped out of the spit as fast as he could and started running for his life – as did the rest of his troops. And Israel began the mop-up operation.

Father, thank you that if we trust you, often times you will battle for us. Of course there are times that you expect us to engage as the Israelites had to. But you certainly know how to put our opposition to flight. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being on your side. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I smell rain… Jan

Judges 4

An Excellent Woman

I find it amazing how people, myself included, tend to interpret scripture through paradigms we’ve been raised with or taught. Yet wouldn’t it make the most sense to read scripture from the paradigm of the author and intended audience – the audience of the time to whom it was written?

My wife teaches writing. One of the examples she gives her students is to find what is wrong with the following sentence.

“The dog ran down the road.”

While the sentence is structurally sound, it lacks much information. Why is the dog running. Is there a destination? What type of dog, what sex, what color? Is the dog in fear, running for joy, with a purpose? What kind of road is it? What is the setting? You get the idea.

In the book of Proverbs there is a chapter which talks about a woman who is praised. The leading sentence about her is most often translated as follows.

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. – Proverbs 31:10

or

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. – Proverbs 31:10

But, if you look at the word translated as “excellent” or “virtuous” you find alternate translations that, had this been a man in the verse, would have been used. Words such as; valiant, warrior, strong, capable, and very powerful. Why weren’t they used?

Because of the paradigm of the translators. Women are not supposed to be associated with those particular descriptors, therefore the translators chose alternate meanings. It is a cultural view that women are “the weaker sex” needing protection, that they are the nurturers and not fighters or leaders.

So, in reading about Deborah in the book of Judges I mentioned to my wife that a woman was in charge of the men.

My wife replied, “That is because no man would step up and take the role. God had no choice but to use a woman.”

Whoah! Where did that come from?

She confessed that it was what she’d been taught.

So I challenged, “Where is that found in scripture?”

The answer is, it is not. Someone’s paradigm had altered how she interpreted scripture rather than reading the narrative as it was written.

This made me a bit more curious than usual, so I pulled out my trusty Palm OS powered Garmin iQue3600, and consulted the Olive Tree Eerdmans Bible Dictionary about Deborah. What I read caused a paradigm shift in my brain too. However, my need for a course alteration was not due to my preconceived notions, rather it was due to that of nearly all bible translators.

Universally Deborah is introduced with a verse nearly identical to the following.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. – Judges 4:4

I’d taken those words at face value and not looked at the Hebrew words behind the scenes. In particular what I should have looked at, and didn’t, was “wife of” and “Lappidoth”.

The word for wife is “ishshah”. However, it simply means woman. If it is used in conjunction with “belonging to”, or “of”, then it is assumed that it means wife. And on first glance, even second, it would appear that this is indeed the context of this verse. However, the word “Lappidoth” is not used anywhere in scripture as a proper name. In fact, this is the only time this particular word is used. It is derived from the Hebrew word “Lappiyd”, which means torch, firebrand, burning, or lightning. Further, Lappidoth is the feminine form of the word, not masculine! So, ishshah lappidoth could be translated, “woman of burning”.

Try this on for a verse translation and see what it does to your paradigm.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, a fiery woman, was judging Israel at that time. – Judges 4:4

Wait, where did her husband go? I don’t know. Perhaps there wasn’t one. Maybe he died. Whatever the reason, God apparently didn’t think he was crucial to the tale.

Eerdmans Dictionary pointed out that her lineage was implied by the description in the next verse, and if she were identified with a specific man, that geographic description would have been superfluous.

‘Because of the overlap between territory and kinship groups in ancient Israel, her family identity is supplied by the information in Judges 4:5 about her geographical locale – that she comes from a place “between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim” – rather than by the name of a male relative.’

Who can find an ‘excellent’ woman? God can! And he can also find a capable, valiant, strong,  fiery woman who is willing and able to execute justice and take command.

Father, please help me to look at your word through fresh eyes. I want to know the things that you have for me, not someone else’s interpretation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

My wife is a “Chayil”, “Lappidoth” woman. – Jan

Judges 3

Rescue Them

I have a pretty good overview of the Old Testament history of the Hebrews. Frankly if I was God I would have abandoned them and started over with a people a bit more receptive to obeying his commands. He certainly had plenty of nations to choose from. But no, he remained faithful even if they didn’t. However, he did discipline them.

Since they wanted to live for themselves, God withdrew his protection and allowed natural consequences to take effect. Soon they were conquered by their enemies and enslaved.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11

Once they experienced the discipline, the consequences of their actions, they cried out for relief. Funny how we always seem to remember God once we are in trouble, but never when we are getting into it.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:9

And again.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:15

And again.

After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel… – Judges 3:31

And the same sad story continues through the entire book. They do evil. God lets them have their way. They are overcome, they are enslaved. They cry for help. God sends rescue.

Isn’t that our story? It is my story.

If I was God, I would have abandoned me long ago and left me to rot. But he didn’t and he doesn’t.

He considers me infinitely valuable.

How do I know that? His Son Jesus created infinity and God allowed him to die to pay the penalty for all of my sins: past, present and future. He rescued me.

Heavenly Father, please continue to create in me the desire to be holy. I want to love the things you love, hate the things you hate. Help me to see everyone through your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m Rescued

Judges 2

Resistance

What does it mean to resist?

re-sist
–verb (used with object)
1. to withstand, strive against, or oppose: to resist infection; to resist temptation.
2. to withstand the action or effect of: to resist spoilage.
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance: They couldn’t resist the chocolates.

I really like the third one where it adds, with difficulty or reluctance.

If you are one of the 1% of men who have no struggle with visual purity, or are female, go ahead and stop reading. You just don’t understand. But, if I am speaking to you, those of us who have difficulty or reluctance, then read on.

As I was reading in the second chapter of Judges I encountered something I’d seen many times in scripture, but never investigated before. It was the relation of Baal and Ashtoreth. Both of these pagan deities are well documented. And both of them, among other functions, are fertility symbols. One reference wrote of “the orgiastic nature of Baal worship.” Part of the worship of Ashtoreth involved “Ashtoreth Poles”. You don’t need too much imagination to conjure up a mental image of their probable appearance. “Archeological excavations in Canaanite locations have uncovered temples with chambers where sexual activity took place. Also, many iconographic representations of the fertility goddess, Asthoreth, with exaggerated sexual features have been discovered.” So, suffice it to say, worship of these gods was at least partially sexual in nature.

As I read this today I noticed some words that connected some interesting dots for me.

They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. – Judges 2:13

Men are such visual creatures, we see something, we want it. We are hard-wired for visual stimuli. So, the men abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.

Images!

How many of us have abandoned our principles, our morals, our purity, because of an image, a picture – be it moving or still? Thank you very little Mr. Hefner.

When we do, what happens?

This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to marauders who stole their possessions. He sold them to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. – Judges 2:14

Have you had your purity stolen? How about your finances, job, or even family? Have they been given over to the marauders because you were no longer able to resist?

re-sist
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance:
They couldn’t resist the images.

What have we allowed the marauders to steal because of reluctance?

Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, bringing them defeat, just as he promised. And the people were very distressed. – Judges 2:15

Distressed yet?

Every time (insert your name here) went out to battle, the LORD fought against him…

Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. – Galatians 6:7-8a

OK, I get it, I’ll buck up. I’ll resist. I’ll never let the Ashtoreth images into my life again.

Fool.

You can’t do it alone. As the old expression states. “The man who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client.”

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

In this battle there are but two courses of action. The first is to be open and honest with at least one other man who can help you if you should start to stumble. The other is RUN.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. – 2 Timothy 2:22a

There is another part to the verses about reaping and sowing.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. – Galatians 6:8b-9

One name for the Holy Spirit is Counselor. That word translates as Lawyer. If the Holy Spirit is your lawyer, you are definitely not a fool. He will never lose in court against the devil.

If we are truly living in a way where we desire to please the Holy Spirit, it is he who gives us everlasting life! We are told not to become discouraged, not to give up the fight. If we resist spoilage of our purity, we will reap a harvest of blessing. It isn’t easy. We refrain, we abstain with difficulty. But it is worth the harvest.

Lord, this battle is one where our enemy knows our weaknesses much better than we ever could. Please give me the desire and ability to surround myself with men who will both hold me up, and hold me accountable – as they have been doing. Give me fleet feet. Please bless the men in my life and give them the same. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who brings the harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Resistance is not futile!

Job 42

Focus

Focus changes things. If you focus the rays of the sun they transform from merely warmth and light to something quite powerful. When you concentrate and focus water-drops, they can cut through steel. When you focus eyes using corrective lenses (glasses), you see clearly. When Habitat For Humanity focuses dozens of construction professionals and willing amateurs in one location, a home can be built in as little as one day.

When my eyes focus on something far away, the things that are near lose their clarity – they lose focus. Conversely when I focus on something nearby, that which is far away loses clarity and becomes peripheral noise.

Today I noticed something about the book of Job I had not noticed before. I was focusing on the verses, individually, intently, trying to find hidden nuggets of truth in them. However, if I shift my focus to the entire book I see another picture. I see a macro view vs. a micro view.

The character of Job is introduced as follows.

There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. Job 1:1

That tells me two things, he had no unconfessed sin in his life, and he lived his life righteously. A little later there is another aspect of Job’s character revealed.

Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice. – Job 1:4b

Job regularly prayed for others.

Then calamity came on him. He cries out to God, but where is the praying for others? It does not reappear until the last chapter.

Now take seven young bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not been right in what you said about me, as my servant Job was.”

So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the LORD commanded them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. – Job 42:8-9

Notice that God essentially told the trio of discouragers to ask Job to pray for them. He didn’t want to hear from them. (Sorry, I started down a bunny-trail.)

Look at the result of Job’s prayer.

When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! – Job 42:10

It makes me wonder; what if Job had prayed for his friends earlier? What if he had continued his practice of doing good for others, instead of sitting and moaning? What if he had refocused? What if by doing as much as he could, with what he had left, on behalf of others, he would have altered what he saw around him? And what if he had prayed for…?

Lord, my I remember to pray for others. Please forgive me for focusing on myself and my issues as often as I do. May I live my life in a way that does not block the path of your blessing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Re-Focus. Jan

p.s. Another interesting thing in this chapter, and the preceding few, was that God only reprimanded four out of the five. Elihu, Obviousman, was not addressed by God at all. Apparently, even though he was quite redundant, he was right.

Job 41

Dra-gon!

In the Disney animated cartoon Mulan, one of the characters is a feisty red dragon by the name of Mushu. He has a big heart, a tiny brain, and a body to match. When he first appears on the scene, Mulan, her cricket, and her horse are rather unimpressed. They think he is a lizard. Mushu responds.

“Dra-gon! Not lizard.” – Drawing out the two syllables of the word dragon as much us possible, and with as much contempt as possible. He also lets Mulan know that he is “Travel sized for” her “convenience.”

In reading in Job I ran across what can only be a dragon, not travel sized for my convenience.

No one is brave enough to provoke Leviathan… I will not be silent about Leviathan’s limbs, its strength, or its graceful form. Who can skin its hide? Who can approach it with a harness? Who can open its closed mouth? Its teeth are surrounded by terror. Its back has rows of scales that are tightly sealed. One is so close to the other that there is no space between them. Each is joined to the other. They are locked together and inseparable. When Leviathan sneezes, it gives out a flash of light. Its eyes are like the first rays of the dawn. Flames shoot from its mouth. Sparks of fire fly from it. Smoke comes from its nostrils like a boiling pot heated over brushwood. Its breath sets coals on fire, and a flame pours from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck, and power dances in front of it. The folds of its flesh stick to each other. They are solid and cannot be moved. Its chest is solid like a rock, solid like a millstone. The mighty are afraid when Leviathan rises. Broken down, they draw back. A sword may strike it but not pierce it. Neither will a spear, lance, or dart. It considers iron to be like straw and bronze to be like rotten wood. An arrow won’t make it run away. Stones from a sling turn to dust against it. It considers clubs to be like stubble, and it laughs at a rattling javelin. Its underside is like sharp pieces of broken pottery. It stretches out like a threshing sledge on the mud. It makes the deep sea boil like a pot. It stirs up the ocean like a boiling kettle. It leaves a shining path behind it so that the sea appears to have silvery hair. Nothing on land can compare to it. It was made fearless. – Job 41:10, 11-33

I won’t belabor the point. But If God can create something as improbable as the Platypus, he can certainly create a fire-breathing dragon named Leviathan. I don’t know why there aren’t any around now. Perhaps they went extinct. But I clearly see one described in the verses above.

Lord, thank you for interesting mysteries in your word. I look forward to learning about the rest of the story when I finally get to see you face-to-face. Your works truly are too marvelous for words. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If I was my real size… Jan

Job 40

Critics

It is so easy to be a critic.

“If I was in charge…”

“No, you should do it this way.”

“Well, if you ask me…”

Yeah right. Walk a mile or two in my shoes, or the one’s of the person you are criticizing, and see how well you do.

Job has been busy criticizing God’s dealings with him. God responds and lets Job know that he is still indeed in charge. Then he challenges him.

Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers? – Job 40:2

It reminds me of the movie Bruce Almighty. Bruce is critical of God. So God shows up, puts Bruce in charge and then goes on vacation.

In one scene Bruce decides to answer everyone’s prayers with a yes. The results are a hilarious disaster. There are hundreds of lottery winners all from one local area, people losing weight on the Krispe Kreme diet, people getting taller, and unlikely sports teams winning.

Yes to all, was not the answer. Some prayers needed a wait, and some needed a firm no.

It doesn’t take long for Bruce to realize that his answers are not going to work. The only thing that works is self sacrifice, continually giving of yourself.

If we could see perfectly into the future, and know all possible outcomes, and weigh every nuance, then, and only then could we even think about criticizing God about his dealings. But even then, only he knows what is best for us. He knows that sometimes, no, most-times, it is the suffering that produces the necessary changes in us; changes that make us like his son Jesus. Left to our own devices, we would never experience pain, hardship, or suffering. And as a result we’d never change.

Lord, thank you for all that you allow into my life. May I remember that when I am in the midst of the hard times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jan, not-so-mighty.

Job 38

Then the Lord…

What an amazing three words, “Then the Lord”. Literally anything could come afterward. There is no limit within this or any other realm of existence or thought which constrain his activity or intentions. Then the Lord…

This particular “Then the Lord” comes from the following verse.

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind – Job 38:1

I know that God is the one doing the speaking, but now there are three additional pieces of information given.

1 – It was an answer or response to something.
2 – Job was the questioner.
3 – The Lord spoke from a whirlwind, or violent storm.

The third item sort of jumped out at me. A violent storm? Where did that come from? Did it just pop up the moment God’s voice was heard?

If I go back in the book of Job a chapter I see the following verses when Elihu is pontificating.

My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice as it rolls from his mouth. It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. Then comes the roaring of the thunder—the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power… Do you know how God controls the storm and causes the lightning to flash forth from his clouds? Do you understand how he balances the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill? – Job 37:1-5,15-16

I’ve always assumed that these verses were mere poetic language by Elihu, more of him rattling off his knowledge of God’s attributes.

However, now I think that Elihu was borrowing from the current atmospheric condition outside of Job’s home.

Imagine the five of them sitting there on the floor in Job’s home. Elihu is speaking. His back is to the open window and he feels the breeze begin to kick up. He thinks to himself, “That’s right, God controls all of the weather too.” Elihu is so focused on being heard that he doesn’t notice that Zophar, and Bildad, who are facing the window, are now staring wide-eyed straight ahead. They are seeing a storm like they’ve never seen before materializing right in front of them. The storm resembles the shape of a man – legs, torso, and arms. They can’t see above mid-chest as that is above their line of sight. Suddenly lightning flashes from above. Terror grips the duo, Eliphaz now glances toward the window and his blood runs cold. Job is just staring at the ground wishing Elihu would shut up already. Elihu makes some comment about God controlling lightning. The storm engulfs the house, darkness descends like a blanket. Elihu continues to speak. Then the Lord…

Everything changes. Nothing is the same. Then the Lord…

Lord, give us patience to wait on you. Sometimes you speak from and through the storm, sometimes from the stillness. But you are speaking, you don’t withhold your voice or presence from your children. You never abandon your children. Lord, please give us spiritual ears to hear. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Answered! Jan

Job 37

Obviousman

One of the things I truly enjoy is reading comics, some people call them the funny pages. Wiley Miller is the the creator of one named Non Sequitur. The name is Latin for “does not follow“, or loosely translated, “that doesn’t make sense“. He has several running story-lines and a cadre of assorted characters. One of my favorites is Obviousman. His super-skill is pointing out the things in life that are obvious or nonsensical. The crest emblazoned on his super-uniform is the word DUH with a red slash through it.

While reading through the book of Job I was struck by how Elihu is the equivalent of Obviousman. His revelations are mostly “DUH” statments.

Just look at how he starts out in chapter thirty-seven.

My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice as it rolls from his mouth. It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. Then comes the roaring of the thunder—the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power. – Job 37:1-5

Duh!

Tell us something we don’t know Elihu. What a comfort he must be to Job, “Let me tell you everything you already know about God…”

Sady, many of us are Elihu’s or Obviousmen. We parrot things that others already know, but rarely do we take time to dig and wait on the Lord to reveal truth to us. God hides things from us for many reasons.

There are secret things that belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law. – Deuteronomy 29:29

Sometimes he wants us to pursue him. We learn so much through the chase, things we would have never learned otherwise.

But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:11

But you Jan… follow, pursue.

Lord, please grant me the wisdom to know when I’m being obvious, when being silent is the better course of action. Also, please grant me the wisdom to know what to say when you want something said. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Duh! Jan

Job 36

Life Interrupted

When we think of a life being cut short we think of an untimely death, or perhaps some debilitating injury or disease. But I noticed a different form of life interruption today.

In the book of Job, Elihu says the following about those who do try to follow after God, those who are not engaged in open willful rebellion.

If troubles come upon them and they are enslaved and afflicted, he takes the trouble to show them the reason. He shows them their sins, for they have behaved proudly. He gets their attention and says they must turn away from evil. – Job 36:8-10

How does God show them the reason? How does he show them their sins? How does he get their attention?

But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity… Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering. – Job 36:15,21

I’ve always known that God allows suffering in our lives so that we change, but I’ve never seen it spelled out so clearly before.

God allows, even sends, suffering to interrupt our lives to effect change. Having what could potentially be a life of sin interrupted by God is blessing, not punishment.

Are you suffering?

Examine your life. Is God trying to get your attention? If so, please listen – and change.

Then take Elihu’s advice, which is pretty good in this instance.

Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. – Job 36:24

This echoes a verse from the New Testament.

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Other translations say to be thankful “in all things”. Note that we are not asked to be thankful for all things, but in them. Praise to the one who is truly worthy changes our perspective and has the ability to restart an interrupted life – in the right direction.

Father, may I be quick to examine the circumstances of adversity, of suffering and trouble, to determine if they are a gift from you, or an attack from our enemy. If it is the former, please give me the grace to change – quickly. If the latter, then please give me the grace to stand up under it and come out on the other side still praising you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Restart your life. Jan

Job 35

Sin’s Effect

What is the price of sin? What effect or effects are there as a result of choices we make or don’t make?

In the passage below, Elihu, one of Job’s friends, commented about sin’s lack of effect on God.

If you sin, what do you accomplish against him? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds affect only other people. – Job 35:6-8

But is that really true?

In 1961 a scientist by the name of Edward Lorenz was working on some weather prediction models. Instead of entering the number .506127 into his computer, thinking that it would make little difference, he entered .506 and walked away for a short time. When he returned he was astounded at the result; the resulting computer weather simulation was completely different than what he expected. Later, while writing and speaking about this discovery he said, “One flap of a butterfly’s wings could alter the weather forever.” In a 1972 conference the scenario was posed as the question, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” The conclusion is that a minute alteration in wind-pattern could have radical results.

Therefore I disagree with Elihu, for two reasons. The first being as a result of Edward Lorenz’ work. Sin can and does alter God’s perfect will for our world. One tiny act that is outside of God’s desire for us affects the course of our lives and that of others. If even one person doesn’t make it to Heaven, then God’s perfect plan is disrupted – we’ve affected him.

The second reason I disagree is because of the following words from Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

The world spoken about is not the globe, it is the inhabitants of it. If you love someone, and they make choices that are contrary to what you know is best for them, it pains you. Lest you think that I’m making it up that it pains God to see us sin, look at the following verses.

Now the LORD observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart. – Genesis 6:5-6

God’s heart was broken over man’s sinful condition and depravity.

So, sorry Elihu. Sin affects both people and God.

Father, please help me to not flap my wings in ways that would disrupt your perfect plans. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ride the current of God’s will. Jan

Job 34

How Great?

A few days ago my wife commented that I treat, or speak with, everyone the same. (Or words to that effect.)

I wish that were entirely true. In thinking about that statement I find that I do guard my words around those whom I don’t know, or moreover, do know – if you catch my drift. However, I also tend to be less careful in my choice of words and display of emotion around those I am comfortable with and in whose presence I feel secure.

But I do understand what she was saying. I generally am not impressed by people, power, authority, position, rank, or title. They are human beings created in the image of God, just as I am. A janitor deserves the same level of attention from me as the senator he serves.

I found Job’s friend Elihu expressing the same sentiment about God.

He doesn’t care how great a person may be, and he doesn’t pay any more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all. – Job 34:19

Just like God, I do however make distinctions based upon a person’s life situation, choices, attitudes, and behaviors. Just like God noticed Job, I too notice people who deserve it as a result of what they do with what God has given them.

Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.” – Job 1:8

I would say that Elihu’s statement about God not paying more attention is not entirely true. God was obviously proud of Job. But it wasn’t because of anything Job owned, or position he held. It was because of how Job lived his life.

Scripture is clear that I’m to treat people as I want to be treated. It does not say anything about them needing to be believers or even nice. In fact Jesus tells me to do it for my enemies, or those who consider themselves my enemy.

“But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you.

“Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. – Luke 6:27-36

This was also expounded upon in James’ letter.

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?

For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? – James 2:1-4

So I find that I do treat people differently based upon their spiritual condition and maturity, both in the Lord and physically. But I do not put on a false face, or at least try not to. I think that is the heart of what my wife was saying; that I’m always the same person no matter whom I’m with. Prayerfully I will always remain true to the image of God that he’s created, and is refining in me.

Father, may I always be me – a bearer of the image of your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Only me – Jan

Job 33

Am I Listening?

God has given me many creative and organizational talents. Unfortunately due to those gifts, one of the things that I’m guilty of is doing things in my own strength, wisdom, and ability.

Yesterday while busily preparing the evening’s program for Wildmen I realized that my stress levels were rising. I had taken notice that I was the only leader in the room. I knew that one of the leaders was scheduled to be out that evening to celebrate his wife’s birthday; and that another leader was returning that evening from an out of town trip and probably would not make it. However, the remaining two were nowhere to be seen.

Just as the waves of worry started to lap at the edge of my consciousness, something much higher up flicked me on the head. It was as if a voice said,

“Have you asked Me about it yet? Do you think that this has caught Me by surprise?”

I was tempted to ignore it, but thankfully I realized that it was God.

But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. He whispers in their ear and terrifies them with his warning. – Job 33:14-16

The enemy was trying to get me to focus on temporal things, not eternal.

I stopped, prayed, thanked God for the fact the He has everything under control and knows exactly who should be there.

The moment I concluded my prayer, one of the other leaders walked into the room. Shortly thereafter the other expected leader arrived. But wait, there’s more. The one I didn’t expect also arrived shortly thereafter!

God knew. He wanted me to listen. He wants me to rely on him, not on me.

Lord, thank you for a lesson in focus. May I go to you first and not last. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Are you listening? Jan

Job 30

Kal’Hyah

It has been many years since I’ve watched Star Trek the Next Generation, but the memories of Worf and the Klingon warriors is still pretty vivid. I think because it is in such stark contrast to the world in which I live, a world full of gray areas, of cowardice, situational ethics, and increasing loss of rights due to governmental intrusion. However, I don’t think I’d trade my world for theirs. It was after-all rather brutal.

What brought the Klingons to mind was the anguish of Job; the trials and tests that he was enduring.

My heart is troubled and restless. Days of affliction have come upon me. – Job 30:27

Job has experienced six different trials.

Deprivation – He lost everything

“Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” – Job 1:14-17

Blood – His family was destroyed

While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the desert and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” – Job 1:18-19

Anguish – He was in mental agony of losing everything and everyone

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. – Job 1:20

Pain – He was now mentally and physically in anguish

So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with a terrible case of boils from head to foot. Then Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. – Job 2:7-8

Sacrifice – Despite the circumstances he worshiped, sacrificed

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God. – Job 1:20-22

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. – Job 13:15

Death – He knew the path he was on

And I know that you are sending me to my death—the destination of all who live. – Job 30:23

Perhaps Job understood the path of the warrior better than we do.

From the Star Trek Encyclopedia.

Kal’Hyah

A mental and spiritual journey that a Klingon man and his friends traditionally share during the last four nights before his wedding.  The ritual was made up of six trials: deprivation, blood, pain, sacrifice, anguish, and death.

Job experienced the journey with his friends. Unfortunately as I’ve seen, they were not there to share in it. Instead they made the journey more difficult.

Father, when my friends must undergo a trial, may I go with them rather than throw rocks from the sidelines. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

R’uustai – Jan

Job 28

Fully Understanding

Most people are familiar with the parable of the blind men who examined an elephant. If you are not, the account is below.

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!”

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: “Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!”

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, “I see,” quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!”

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; “E’en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!”

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
“I see,” quothe he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!

By John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

Each man thought he understood the shape, nature, and function of an elephant. And while each man was right in his individual limited assessment, those of us who can see the entire elephant know that each individual man was entirely wrong.

Like the blind men examining the elephant, Job’s friends have been groping about in the dark trying to ascertain the shape of Job’s suffering and pain. And while each thought he understood, each understood nothing.

In response, Job asked a question about wisdom, twice.

But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?  – Job 28:12 & 20

A little while later, in what surely was a God inspired utterance, Job made the following statement.

Then, when he (God) had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. – Job 28:27

Like those of us with complete use of our senses examining an elephant, God has completely and thoroughly examined wisdom; he knows everything there is to know about it.

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’ – Job 28:28

That says it all. Later writers of scripture said exactly the same words. The sum total of wisdom is to fear God and do good.

Father, thank you for showing me the truth about wisdom – something that like the blind men I could never understand in my limited perception. Thank you for sending Jesus to live in me so that I can have your wisdom. Thank you for life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Whose eyes are you seeing with? Jan

Job 27

Whirls Down

Katrina

In the dark early morning hours of August 29th 2005 New Orleans Louisiana was forever changed. Churning off shore and heading toward the city was a terrifyingly beautiful Category 5 hurricane. Although it decreased in strength to a Category 3 storm by the time it made landfall, the most devastating part was yet to come. As the center, the most intense part of the cyclone, was pounding the downtown area, storm-surge control levees began to fail. Massive flooding ensued. Some areas of the city were inundated with 15 feet or more of water. Wind destroyed windows and roofs at random. Belongings, and lives were carried away with the wind, rain, and flooding. Final death toll estimates are that over 1,400 people died as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The monetary damage, while still not completely understood, is over $100 billion. Post storm, thousands of people were trapped by the flooding for days, even weeks, trying to flee the destruction and terror.

Terror overwhelms them, and they are blown away in the storms of the night. The east wind carries them away, and they are gone. It sweeps them away. It whirls down on them without mercy. They struggle to flee from its power. – Job 27:20-22

Storms of life will come. It is just a fact of life, a sometimes very painful fact.

…and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. – Matthew 5:45

The question is what will be the outcome on us? How will we deal with the aftermath?

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – 2 Corinthians 1:4

While much of the world turned their attention to New Orleans and the cleanup immediately following the devastation of that city. Now, four years later, it is largely forgotten. The Federal Emergency Management Organization maintains a list published of the various organizations that are still engaged in efforts for the Katrina victims. Notice the makeup of this list.

  • Adventist Community Services (800) 381-7171
  • American Red Cross (800) HELP NOW (435-7669) in English, (800) 257-7575 in Spanish
  • America’s Second Harvest (800) 344-8070
  • Catholic Charities, USA (800) 919-9338
  • Christian Disaster Response (941) 956-5183 or (941) 551-9554
  • Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (800) 848-5818
  • Church World Service (800) 297-1516
  • Convoy of Hope (417) 823-8998
  • Dallas County Medical Society Project Access  (214) 948-3622
  • Lutheran Disaster Response (800) 638-3522
  • Mennonite Disaster Service (717) 859-2210
  • Nazarene Disaster Response (888) 256-5886
  • Operation Blessing (800) 436-6348
  • Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (800) 872-3283
  • Salvation Army (800) SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
  • Southern Baptist Convention — Disaster Relief (800) 462-8657, ext. 6440
  • Texas Nurses Foundation
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief (800) 554-8583

Of the 18 organizations listed, only 3 are not directly Christian related. They are comforting with the same comfort they have been given. Jesus has not forgotten them, nor have his people.

Father, may I never grow callous to the needs and suffering of others. Please help me see with Jesus’ eyes. In His name. Amen.

Lift Up. Jan

Job 26

Empty Space

In the twenty-sixth chapter of Job is a mention of a seeming astronomical anomaly.

God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. – Job 26:7

Up until just a few years ago it was believed that the Northern sky was nearly devoid of stars. If you look up you’ll see some constellation patterns, but that is all. However, with the advent of the Hubble Space Telescope that area of space revealed something astounding.

Click to Enlarge

In a five day multi-pass exposure of deep-space in the Northern Sky, Hubble uncovered thousands of Galaxies in just a very minute slice of sky. That’s Galaxies, not stars or planets. It is truly mind-boggling.

So, does this prove that the Bible is wrong? Of course not. That would be stupid. Job was a man just like us, he was merely speaking about what was known at that time. If anything, this discovery shows just how vast God’s creation truly is.

Lord, thank you for incredible beauty hidden in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered. You are an amazing craftsman. I’m looking forward to exploring it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He made it all for us! Jan

Job 24

Trust in The Light

I don’t have much to say about the twenty-fourth chapter of Job. However, the following verse did stick out to me and made think about The Light.

Those who fight against the light do not know God’s ways or stay in his paths. – Job 24:13

The Apostle Paul called Christians Children of the Light.

For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. – 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Jesus also called those who believe in the light Children of the Light.

Believe in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light. – John 12:36

When Simeon prayed to God, while holding the baby Jesus, he had the following to say about him.

He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel! – Luke 2:32

Jesus later identified himself as the light of the world.

Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – John 8:12

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness. – John 12:46

So I see that Jesus himself is the light. And if I believe in him I am his child.

Father, thank you for lighting my dark world with the light of Christ. May I live my life as a child of the light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Come into the Light. Jan

Job 23

God’s Commands

I read something today that made me stop and think.

I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart. – Job 23:12

What commands?

The events of the book of Job would have taken place around 1700 BC.

God’s commands won’t be written down until hundreds of years in the future (about 1500 BC) when Moses receives them on the tablets, and then by direct conversation with God during the sojourn in the wilderness. So what commands is Job referring to?

In doing research, I found that there were earlier codified forms of law.

The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known tablet containing a law code surviving today. It was written in the Sumerian language ca. 2100-2050 BC. – Wikipedia

Then there is the famous code of Hammurabi.

The Code of Hammurabi (Codex Hammurabi) is a well-preserved ancient law code, created ca. 1790 BC in ancient Babylon. It was enacted by the sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi. One nearly complete example of the Code survives today, inscribed on a seven foot, four inch tall basalt stele in the Akkadian language in the cuneiform script. – Wikipedia

And there were others. So it would appear that there was enough law available from which of determine right and wrong. At least right and wrong as defined by man. But what about God’s definition of right and wrong?

For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. – Romans 1:19-20

The writer of Romans makes it clear that from the time the world was created people have had knowledge of God. The only issue has been, what they do with that knowledge.

Father, unlike Job I actually have your written word, your will for my life readily available. May I have a burning desire to do what it says so that in all my ways I please you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read it, Live it. Jan

Job 22

Nothing to Gain

We value altruism in others when we see it, Mother Terresa, David Livingstone, Eric Liddell, and Florence Nightingale, to name a few. But rarely do we want to engage in that type of self-sacrifice ourselves. Yet even these undoubtedly good-hearted people had a motive beyond the mere desire to do good. They were motivated by a vision of the future, of entrance into heaven. I’m not saying that they thought their works would get them there, but their works were greatly influenced by their eternal destiny. So, they did in fact have something to gain.

Job’s so-called friend Eliphaz asked an interesting question.

Can a person’s actions be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect? – Job 22:2-3

No matter how good anyone behaves or thinks, it really is of no benefit to God. He does not need us in any way whatsoever.

Ponder that for a moment. God does not need you. Nothing you could ever do will change that…

The beauty is that he wants you!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. – Romans 5:8-11

If we accept the offer of life, then he calls us friends. Wow!

Father, thank you for life and friendship that will never end. Thank you for making a way for me to come to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I gain everything! Jan

Job 17

Hope

I’ve always gotten a kick out of the demotivational statement

“Since I gave up hope I feel much better.”

I see Job falling into the same line of thinking.

But as it is, my grief remains no matter how I defend myself. And it does not help if I refuse to speak… Here I sit in sackcloth. I have surrendered, and I sit in the dust. My eyes are red with weeping; darkness covers my eyes… My spirit is crushed, and I am near death. The grave is ready to receive me… My eyes are dim with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self… My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken… But where then is my hope? Can anyone find it? – Job 16:6,15-16 Job 17:1,7,11,15

He sees his hope as dying, if not dead already.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

I can see that Job’s heart is definitely sick, his “heart’s desires are broken” and he no longer has hope. But the Psalmist tells me that the Lord is watching those who wait with hope on him.

The LORD’s eyes are on those who fear him, on those who wait with hope for his mercy. – Psalm 33:18

He added later that I need to wait expectantly – in hope.

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. – Psalm 42:5

Jeremiah wrote that the person who does so is blessed – or happy.

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. – Jeremiah 17:7

That means that hope is a huge antidote to despair. But something else is required to establish that hope. I see two things that can make it more tangible.

The first is past experience.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4

We can look through God’s written word and find it replete with examples of hope being fulfilled. In fact the following verses seem to me to be a synopsis of Job’s suffering.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust – there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. – Lamentations 3:21-33

As we know, silence would have been the best option for Job and his friends. And even though grief was allowed into Job’s life, compassion did come in the end.

The second thing which makes hope more tangible is grace.

John Bevere in his latest book, Extraordinary, equates grace with power. He makes a very compelling argument that God’s grace is his empowerment for us to succeed in life and live extraordinarily. Here is just one verse which shows the relationship of grace and power.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

It seems pretty clear, God’s grace = God’s power. So with that in mind I see that the writer of Romans is showing that hope is a product of the grace given us.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. – Romans 5:1-5

Again, I see that God’s power is what makes hope possible.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Thankfully, unlike Job we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us if we are Christians. And therefore we have his empowering grace – grace that gives overflowing good hope.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

So, are you in despair? Are you enduring a trial? Do you see no way out? Trust in God’s word and in his grace to give you all you need to come through it.

Father, thank you for hope. May I remember in my times of trouble where it comes from. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hopeful, Jan

Job 16

Relentless

I noticed one of those Universal Truth things while reading the sixteenth chapter of Job.

Again and again he smashed me, charging at me like a warrior. – Job 16:14

No, it isn’t that God continually smashes us until we can’t take it any more.

The Universal Truth is that a warrior is passionate, tenacious, persistent, unwavering, and relentless in the pursuit of his goal.

Here are a few other scriptures that back up this assertion.

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. – 2 Samuel 23:20

Benaiah was relentless in his pursuit of a lion, to the point of fighting the beast in a confined area on unstable ground. There was no way he was going to let his quarry escape.

Just two examples from Chronicles show the dedication required in a warrior.

The sons of Ulam were all skilled warriors and expert archers. – 1 Chronicles 8:40a

From the tribe of Zebulun, there were 50,000 skilled warriors. They were fully armed and prepared for battle and completely loyal to David. – 1 Chronicles 12:33

In order to be skilled and expert, fully armed and prepared, meant that continual training and discipline was required. These were not some unwilling drafted conscripts. These men were investing considerable time and energy to ensure they were more than up to any combat challenge.

Look at God’s example of what a true fighting force looks like in action.

The attackers march like warriors and scale city walls like trained soldiers. Straight forward they march, never breaking rank.  They never jostle each other; each moves in exactly the right place. They lunge through the gaps, and no weapon can stop them. – Joel 2:7-8

There is no wavering, no ambiguity, every man knows his place, and how to execute their battle strategy. They are impervious when disciplined and determined. However, the example below shows how a warrior’s lack of tenacity can be catastrophic.

King Jehoash, no moral prize here, has a hostile army of Arameans on his border pressing inward, so he visits the prophet Elisha and begs for mercy for the soldiers of Israel.

Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Then Elisha told the king of Israel to put his hand on the bow, and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he did.Then Elisha proclaimed, “This is the LORD’s arrow, full of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek. Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times.  But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until they were entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.” – 2 Kings 13:15-19

Notice he is not rebuked for his sin, his leading Israel astray after false gods. No, he is rebuked for his lack of persistence, tenacity, and passion. Jehoash should have kept striking the ground until Elisha told him to stop. God desires passion and obedience. He’ll take care of the rest.

“Let’s go across to see those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” – 1 Samuel 14:6

It the warrior is passionate, tenacious, persistent, unwavering, and relentless in the pursuit of his goal, God will indeed take care of the rest.

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. – Matthew 11:12

That is how God wants us to be about our desire to enter his kingdom and to bring others with us, forceful, passionate.

Father, may I live my life in passionate pursuit of you. May I press into the kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Press on! Jan

Job 15

Trust

Job’s ‘friend’ Eliphaz the Termite brings up an interesting thought in his second response to Job.

Why, God doesn’t even trust the angels! Even the heavens cannot be absolutely pure in his sight. – Job 15:15

I had to ponder this one for a bit, God doesn’t trust the angels?

So naturally I’ve done some digging. I looked up every reference to Angel or Angels in the New Living Translation of the Bible. Then I extracted those that might fit the Termite’s premise. I have to conclude that he appears to be correct.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. – Galatians 1:8

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels… This great dragon – the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world – was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. – Revelation 12:7,9

For God did not spare even the angels when they sinned; he threw them into hell, in gloomy caves and darkness until the judgment day. – 2 Peter 2:4

Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon – the Destroyer. – Revelation 9:11

And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the day of judgment. – Jude 1:6

Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?  – 1 Corinthians 6:3a

In that day the LORD will punish the fallen angels in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth. – Isaiah 24:1

Ultimately the issue of trusting the angels is one of foreknowledge and predestination. We have no way of knowing what God knew or did not know about the fallen angels prior to their rebellion. Perhaps his omniscience works differently outside of our time-limited reality, I would be inclined to think not. But, we do know that there were incredible numbers of angels that chose to follow Satan, who are now awaiting their judgment. They did not prove to be trustworthy.

So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the Devil. Anyone who does not obey God’s commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God. – 1 John 3:10

If someone does not obey your directives can you trust them? Obviously the answer is no. Thus there are at least some angels that God cannot trust.

Which leads me to ask, “Can God trust me?” Hmm…

If my past experiences and failures are any indication I would have to honestly answer, no.

Father, I want to be trustworthy. Please forgive me for failing to obey those things that I clearly know I am supposed to be doing or not doing. And during those times of ambiguity, which are few, please let me clearly know what you desire of me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Can God trust you? Jan

Job 11

Expectant

I found it hard to find something to wrap my brain around in the eleventh chapter of Job. Just like Bildad, Zophar accuses Job of being a windbag. But then Zophar adds as much hot air as the previous three. At least Job was honestly expressing his anguish. This friend’s diatribe was about prodding Job to confess sin. There was one thing that Zophar said that stood out to me because of a parallel I see in the New Testament.

If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! – Job 11:13

The word prepare is the Hebrew word, kuwm, which connotes something as being firmly established, or securely determined.

It reminded me of the following passage.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting a gift. But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” – Acts 9:4-6

The crippled man’s gaze was firmly established on Peter and John. I don’t think it would be twisting, or reading into, scripture to assume that he held out an outstretched hand, palm open and uplifted toward the duo. His heart was in the right place – unquestioning expectation of receiving something that he could not provide for himself. And then he received more than he could ever have hoped for – not money, but complete healing!

If as Zophar said, we would prepare our hearts and lift up our hands to him in prayer, we would receive more than we could have ever hoped for.

If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. – Matthew 7:11

But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:6

He wants us to ask, and then to firmly believe that we will receive.

Lord, please help my unbelief. May I firmly believe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Palm up and open. Jan

 

Job 10

Painting behind me

Dash

I have a very large painting of a few Seagulls hanging prominently in my living room. My wife thinks it is rather ugly, frankly I’m not too excited by the composition myself – Seagulls are rats with wings. However, since our living room has a Palm-Tree border, this painting works with the decor of our home. But that is not the reason it is given a place of honor.

Next year it will be 25 years since a friend of mine gave it to me as a gift. He found it by some trashcans in an alley behind a doctor’s office and asked if I’d like it. I thought that the frame might be reusable so I accepted.

I’ve had the painting from 1985 – 2009 so far. It some ways it seems like a long time, but that dash between the years is just a blip in the grand scheme of things.

Which brings me to the idea of the dash.

I found an interesting dictionary definition of dash. It is, “a dash is used to note an abrupt break or pause in a sentence or hesitation in an utterance”.

The reason this painting has meaning for me is due to another dash. It is 1972 – 1986.

Todd Wilson

1972-1986

My friend, Cecil Todd Wilson, gave me this painting when he was 13 years old.

Just a few short months later, Todd (he hated to be called Cecil) was riding his bike home from school in the rain when he accidentally turned his bike in front of a car. He died instantly from the impact.

The dash of his life was not even a full 14 years long. His time was up. The dash notes an abrupt break, and a pause.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27

Had Todd lived he would have been 37 this year. As I was reading in the book of Job I was reminded of how brief life really is.

Please remember that you made me out of clay and that you will return me to the dust again. – Job 10:9

Why did you take me out of the womb? I wish I had breathed my last breath before anyone had laid eyes on me.Then it would be as if I had never existed, as if I had been carried from the womb to the tomb. Isn’t my life short enough? – Job 10:18-20a

From the womb to the tomb is just a dash. The question is, what do we make of that dash? Will anyone remember that we were even here? Will your life have mattered? Nearly everyone is forgotten after the third generation. Don’t believe me? What are your great-great-grandparent’s names? Where did they live? What did they do? Very rare is the person that is remembered longer.

But thankfully, if we know Christ as our Lord, and more importantly if he knows us, then the dash becomes irrelevant. And a number at the end of the dash is not the end. Christ will never forget us. Everything about us is indelibly written in his books.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

Some day the painting my come down; it may be damaged, it may lose meaning to those that come after me, it may no longer match the decor. But Todd will never be forgotten.

If you look closely at Todd’s grave maker you’ll see that it has a rather different dash. It says “Asleep in Jesus”, because he knew, and is known of the the Lord. He is not forgotten, no matter how many generations may pass until Jesus’ return. The dash is just a pause in the relationship, I will see him again.

Father, thank you for the dash of my life thus far. Please give me the wisdom and ability to make the most of it. Help me to fulfill your great commission. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Womb – Tomb – Infinity. Jan

Job 9

Daysman

I was raised reading the King James version of the Bible. So for me the archaic English is usually not a problem. In the past few years though, I’ve been reading from some newer translations, primarily from the New Living Translation. I find that it is accurate and much easier to read. Yet on occasion I will jump back into my trusty, well-worn KJV to read some passages. I did a few days ago and encountered the following verses.

For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. – Job 9:32-33

What specifically stood out to me was the word ‘daysman‘. I’d never encountered it before. My KJV had a little number four next to the word, so I followed the reference to an alternate meaning – ‘umpire‘. Ok, batter up… No, not really. So I dug some more.

According to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary,

This word (daysman) is formed from the Latin diem dicere, i.e., to fix a day for hearing a cause. Such an one is empowered by mutual consent to decide the cause, and to “lay his hand”, i.e., to impose his authority, on both, and enforce his sentence.

I sensed there was more, so I looked up the word umpire.

From a Middle English word, noumpere. It “comes from the Old French nonper, made up of non, “not,” and per, “equal”: as an impartial arbiter of a dispute between two people, the arbiter is not equivalent to or a partisan of either of them.”

This brings things into a much clearer light. If I had simply read a modern translation I would have missed the nuance of what was being asked.

He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both – Job 9:32-33 (NIV)

If I was to simply look at the word arbitrate, or mediate, I would miss the fact that Yakach, the Hebrew word used, is really referring to someone that is not partial to the case, different, entirely set-apart from either party, someone who has no vested interest in the outcome.

But really, someone who has no vested interest in either? How could Job ever hope to have a case like that decided in his favor vs. God?

Likewise, how could we? The Bible tells me that my righteousness is literally just as disgusting as used maxi-pads (Isaiah 64:6). So no matter how much good we, or Job ever did, our effort would never measure up. The daysman would have to rule against us.

What we need is a mediator, one who stands in the middle bridging the gap to bring both parties of a dispute together. Thankfully we don’t have a daysman, we do have a mediator.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus – 1 Timothy 2:5

Unlike Job’s wished for daysman, our mediator is like us. But, he is also God. Therefore he is quite partial to the case, on both sides. He is intertwined with both parties and he does have a vested interest. He came to Earth for the specific mission of bridging the gap. Since he is the one doing it, my works or lack thereof are not a consideration in the case. The only thing that is considered is have I relied upon Jesus to place his hand on me, and allowed him to move me into his father’s presence.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as my mediator. May I always rely on his righteousness and not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Game over, all three of us win. Jan