Hard testing

Job Sees The Light - Twenty-third in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Job 22:1-3 NIV In Chapter 21 Job argued that wicked people are not punished in a timely fashion, but rather enjoy life as though they are under no scrutiny nor law. Eliphaz could have said to Job, Point well taken. But in Chapter 22, Eliphaz concedes nothing. It is more important to him to flatten Job.

Let’s say your insight about the wicked is right. So what? Do you think God benefits from your tidbit? If you were really wise, it could be a big help to you— but it would profit God nothing. And furthermore, God does not gain anything from your righteous deeds.

There is a sense in which this line of reasoning has validity. All Christians would agree that God did not create man out of any personal deficiency or compulsion, and therefore man cannot give anything to God. This is standard orthodox doctrine. (David Guzik commentary)

From the standpoint of God’s all-sufficiency, man can give him nothing, yet in that God created man in his own image, and showed wonderful love for us by giving us his Son, and has an amazing plan of redemption, resurrection and eternal life, YES, man’s behavior makes a difference to God. We can glorify the Lord by our faith and our deeds that are performed in obedience and the help of the Holy Spirit.

If Job had no relation to God and God had no pleasure or interest in him, why did Satan desire to ruin him and force him to curse God? (Job 1-2) It does matter to God if you shrink from your faith, and whether you grow in it. (Heb 10:38; 1 Pet 1:7 et al) And will we grow in grace and faith if we are not tested? We will be tested! Abraham was tested. All God’s children will be tested (Isa 48:10) to prove and to refine our faith. (1 Pe 1:7; Prov 17:3)

Job was being tested. In this phase the devil is tempting him to feel despairing and angry by reason of heartbrokenness and defamation. It is heart crushing and insulting when friends falsely accuse us. Jesus endured the same, yet “answered nothing” (Mat 27:12 et al).

Job 22:4-11 NIV Job will refute these accusations in time.

Job 22:12-14 NIV Job actually had said in Chapter 9:
Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.
(Job 9:8-11 KJV)
Yet, in a long dialog, who will recall all the statements? There is only One who will.

Job 22:15-20 NIV Eliphaz makes reference to Noah’s flood and other types of catastrophes in these verses. Job likewise has come under severe judgment.

But he can escape! Embrace God's words and ways; prize him not gold; seek his face and favor — Good advice, but aimed at the wrong heart.

Job 22:21-25 NIV These verses predict that Job will be delivered, though not innocent, when he humbles himself.

Job 22:26-30 NIV Commentators point out that Eliphaz is here unconsciously prophesying that Job will deliver his friends from God’s wrath when he prays for them, in the end.

Speaking for Satan

Job Sees The Light - Sixteenth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

A God-ordained trial such as Job endured, is not to be viewed as divine permission for onlookers to help bring the subject to a right view of things. Job's friends believe they are promoting God’s agenda by castigating Job, but they have no concept of what the Lord has determined to achieve, so how can they assist him?

Job 15:1-6 NIV Nevertheless, Eliphaz, in Chapter 15, striving to defend God in the courtroom brawl, takes the floor to cross examine Job. In his previous speech he was solicitous, but now he wants only to prove that Job is guilty.

The “east wind” in that land was the most violent. Job is being accused of attacking and weakening the foundational knowledge about God's very nature. Such an offense must be strongly opposed!

Job 15:7-14 NIV Job, you are not a discerning man. (But wasn't it Job who initially stated that man is by nature impure? (refs Job 15:14; Job 14:4)) We, your friends, have tried to comfort you with our words and you have shown no respect for our wisdom, even though we are your elders!

Job 15:15-16 NIV Next, Eliphaz repeats his previous insight that God “puts no trust” in his servants, “and his angels he charges with error.” (Job 4:18)

God takes a dim view of his angels who were created with mightier powers and better qualities than man, so how can man expect any greater consideration?

This line of reasoning rephrases Satan’s own complaint against the Lord. I was the most beautiful creature of all — I was anointed as a guardian cherub. Every precious stone adorned me… But I was driven from the mount of God — I, the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… (Ez 28:12-17) —If God would do this to me, the highest angel, then he would surely do it to you, a mere man. Thus we detect the influence of Satan in the discourse of Eliphaz.

Satan wants us to identify in his rebellion against God and to doubt our prospects for salvation. Man needs assurance of salvation and to know that God is love. We must minister in this way to those in deep distress.

Job 15:17-30 NIV Job had pointed out that the evil are not always hounded by God (Job 12:6), but Eliphaz thinks differently. The evil man is a marked man and will be punished. In fact the two would agree: evil men are not always promptly punished, but in time, they will be. Arguments cause us to bicker over things about which we agree.

Job 15:31-35 NIV Eliphaz has begun to view Job as a reprobate.

In Proverbs we read that the wounds of a friend are faithful (Prov 27:6), but here we see that they can be deadly and cruel. We also read in Proverbs: The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? (Prov 18:14)

Will Job collapse under Eliphaz’s tirade? Stay tuned.

And lead us not into temptation

Tenth in The Lord's Prayer Series, “The best prayer to pray in times of stress”

Many years ago I attended a church whose pastor explained that, in the original language, the text actually would read, “Leave us not in temptation.” That sounded good to me, but it's inaccurate. See here. More recently, Pope Francis stated that “Lead us not into temptation” is a mistranslation. “It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation… It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.” Yet, even Satan cannot tempt man without God’s permission. (Job 1:12, 2:6; Luke 22:31)

So, what type of person would God lead or bring into temptation and why? God at times leads HIS OWN CHILDREN into temptation or hard testing. UNBELIEVERS, too, may be led, but that would be a separate study. To look at WHY he does so, we can study an example of this tactic.

However, before looking into this difficult truth, we can absolutely know and trust that God does nothing thoughtlessly, arbitrarily or heartlessly. Also, the Lord TEMPTS no one.Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13, 14) There is a real, not arbitrary, difference between tempting a man and leading him into temptation. In the first case, the one who is the temptor is a sinner, and in the second, the one who leads into the circumstance is God himself who has the right to test the hearts of men, for his own perfect purposes.

Our example is Hezekiah, who began to reign in Jerusalem at age 25. (2 Ch 29:1) He followed in David's footsteps, reestablishing proper worship. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did [it] with all his heart, and prospered. (2 Ch 31:21)

During Hezekiah's reign a greater nation, the Assyrians, came to attack Jerusalem. They entered Judah and made threats, mocking Hezekiah's underlings for believing Judah could win the battle; they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech unto the people of Jerusalem that [were] on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city. (2 Ch 32:18)

During this siege, at age 40, Hezekiah was very ill. The Lord told him by way of Isaiah, the prophet, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. (2 Ki 20:1b) In response, Hezekiah prayed and sobbed,I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done [that which is] good in thy sight. (2 Ki 20:3)

The Lord then determined to add 15 years to his life, "And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake." (2 Ki 20:6)

Further, the Lord gave him a sign it would be done: Time was reversed for ten hours. The Lord brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz. ( 2Ki 20:11-- Ahaz was Hezekiah's father.)

Isaiah and Hezekiah cried and prayed, and the Lord sent an angel to defeat the Assyrians. It was such an incredible victory that many foreigners brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and to Hezekiah, so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations after that time. (2 Ch 32:23b)

This, unfortunately, went to his head. The Bible states: But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Ch 32:25)

To demonstrate that Hezekiah did not show humility and gratefulness but rather self-satisfaction and pride, the story continues.

Ambassadors from Babylon paid him a visit, expressly to congratulate him on his health and to inquire about "the wonder that was done", the changing of time. Hezekiah happily showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. (2 Ki 20:13)

Isaiah then warned him the Babylonians would return one day and carry off all of it.

Hezekiah was so proud of his magnificent holdings and his health. Yet these were his because of God's power and grace, so he was basking in glory that rightfully belonged to the Lord. And God has stated: I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another (Isa 42:8a).

Thus, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all [that was] in his heart. (2 Ch 32:31), and he failed the test.

We can learn from this account:

  1. Don't take credit for the things God does; give Him the glory!
  2. Learn from trials. There is nothing sadder than a person who has been through a great trial, and then cannot apply its lessons or remember God's grace.
  3. If there is something in our spirit or personality that displeases the Lord, he wants us to put it away, whether fear, pride, anger, or the other sins and behaviors that compromise our faith and diminish a victorious Christian witness.

Let us hope and pray not to be released from the stress of trials unless we will go forward to live in a new way, closer to God, not further away. As we pray, "Lead us not into temptation," let's reflect and consider whether that "guidance" may be needed. Avoid it if possible!

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