This year as a church, we’re walking through the Chronological Bible Reading Plan. We’ll be posting a weekly blog on Sunday mornings so you have a guided daily look and question prompts for each day of your reading.
*You can begin this plan at any point throughout the year. Simply begin at week one and follow the plan for a year!
We already started last week, but we’ll be suffering with Job all week. It will be easy to get lost in all the back and forth, so here are two videos to help us understand the layout of the book and the major themes.
As you read Job, it will be helpful to keep these questions in mind:
Job picks up where he left off remining steadfast in his hope, but now with a clear-eyed understanding that he cannot currently see where his hope will come from. Bildad holds to his argument against Job’s innocence by telling of God punishment of the guilty. Job will have none of this. He believes his Redeemer lives and hints at the resurrection towards the end of Job 19.
Job responds to Zophar’s argument that God punishes the wicked by contending that, from his perspective, the wicked really do prosper. Eliphaz piles onto Job’s plight by agreeing with Zophar about Job’s apparent wickedness. However, in chapter 23, Job expresses his desire to plead his case before the Lord – yet the Lord is not able to be found. Even still, he trusts in the Lord’s refinement believing he will come out of this trial like gold from a fire.
Today, Job continues asking for a time to bring his case before the Almighty so that he might be made right. But Bildad in Job 25 questions even the possibility that humanity could be made right before God. Job rejects Bildad’s assertion by pointing him to the mind-blowing majesty of God and the possibility that his works are so numerous that we may not know exactly how, in God’s wisdom, humans could be made right before him.
In these chapters, we read Job’s beautifully constructed, poetic defense in three movements. First, in chapter 29, he gives his own character witness by looking back on his life before the disasters. He had been blessed by God and was a blessing to his community. People looked to him for benevolence, grace, wisdom, and help. Second, in chapter 30, he paints a picture of the offenses against him in his present sorrow and suffering. The outcasts mock him and his friends have become desert animals. His grief and anguish gnaw at his insides, while he’s met by silence from on high. Third, in chapter 31, he makes his final plea for innocence. He recounts his faithfulness and steadfastness under trial.
We’re introduced to Elihu - a new, younger friend of Job who has apparently been overhearing these arguments but has remained silent because of his youth. He let the older guys talk first – out of respect for their wisdom and experience. But here in chapter 32-34, he bursts out in a wide-ranging rebuke of Job’s three friends and Job himself. He says they haven’t adequately reflected on God’s “big-ness” and justice.
Elihu continues to speak. He condemns Job’s forward-ness to presume that he can approach God. I do think Elihu is off-base here because Job is vindicated at the end and God does indeed allow Job to inquire honestly. But, Elihu is absolutely right to extol God’s greatness and proclaim God’s majesty.
The Lord begins to “answer” Job. But pay attention to how God answers… he answers by questions. What other times in the Bible does God respond with questions? (Genesis 3, Jonah, Job, Jesus in the Gospels) Why might he do that?