August 26

Job 20:1–22:30

Zophar the Naamathite speaks for the second time and not much has changed in his “approach.” He refers to Job as wicked (Job 20:5), as a hypocrite, and he tells Job that such people will perish forever (Job 20:7). Not only is Zophar gravely mistaken in his health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine, but he begins to make accusations against Job that have no merit whatsoever. He accuses Job of oppressing the poor – and yet God saw Job as blameless (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3).

Zophar is convinced that Job is on his way to the fiery flames of hell:

Job 20:26–27 (NKJV) “Total darkness is reserved for his treasures. An unfanned fire will consume him; it shall go ill with him who is left in his tent. 27 The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him.”

Job corrects Zophar’s errant theology, pointing to the fact that often times the wicked seem to prosper on earth. They live long, they rise to power, their descendants are established, their houses are safe, the animals multiply, their children dance and sing, they spend their days in wealth and die a peaceful death. 

Job 21:14–15 (NKJV) “Yet they say to God, ‘Depart from us, for we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?’”

Job was speaking truth. We all know of people who are atheists, or immoral, and yet it seems as if they have a “wonderful” life! Many celebrities, politicians, innumerable wealthy have no fear of God and all seems to be well. Psalm 73 touches on this point. Asaph the author of that Psalm saw how the wicked prospered and the righteous suffered and he almost fell away.

Psalms 73:2-3, 17 (NKJV) “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.”

Job’s friends were convinced that the wicked get punished now, here on earth, and that Job was being punished by God. But Job speaks biblically.

We cannot concede to a doctrine that says a person who goes through hard times is being judged by God, for sometimes the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosper on planet earth. Oftentimes it’s not until after we die, that God settles accounts.

Job concludes his words to Zophar:

Job 21:34 (NKJV) “How then can you comfort me with empty words, since falsehood remains in your answers?”

Eliphaz speaks up for the third time. Notice his indictment of Job:

Job 22:5 (NKJV) “Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end?”

Eliphaz goes on to offer accusations that are unsubstantiated – that Job stripped the poor of their clothing, that he didn’t give water to the weary, that he withheld bread from the hungry, sent widows away empty, even crushing the orphans. How could any of this be true if Job was blameless before God? These men were assuming – and they apparently were under the influence of the Devil, who no doubt was pulling strings all along, trying to win his “bet” against God and make Job curse God and die. Satan is an accuser of the brethren – he accuses us day and night (Revelation 12:10).

Eliphaz calls Job to repent, to return to God…and promises that if he did, God would build him up, make him wealthy, and every prayer would be answered; he could name it and claim it, blab it and grab it (Job 22:22-28).

Friends, beware of the enemy and the Word-Faith teaching. Yes, we must have faith in God and believe He is able to bless and heal – but He is not bound to make us healthy, wealthy, and prosperous. We will have tribulation, even as Christians (John 16:33; Acts 14:22) and even if we’re right-on with God. Job is the poster child to this profound truth.

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

2 Corinthians – Introduction

You can bypass this introductory material if you’d like, but I thought I would include it, just in case any of you are interested in getting the background to this book.

Paul the Apostle planted this church in Corinth during his second missionary journey (you can read the account in Acts 18:1-17). Unlike his previous church plants, where he would typically spend brief periods of time in each city, Paul ministered there in Corinth for 18 months, a whole year and ½ – he poured his heart into the congregation.

It was a miracle simply to have a church in Corinth, because it was a wicked city in that day. Not to demean any city, but it was like the Las Vegas of the day, or Los Angeles, or New York, basically a big city with big problems. God did a great work.

After Paul left Corinth, because of the fact that he was a moving missionary, a lot of the worldliness of the city crept into the congregation. It became a very carnal church with divisions, sexual immorality, Christians were going to court against Christians, without first trying to work it out as Christians. There was confusion in their services, no order – tongues seemed to be the priority, rather than prophecy, and by that I mean the clear teaching of the Word of God, so much so that Paul wrote in: 

1 Corinthians 14:19 (NKJV) “Yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

They were a very gifted church, but they were abusing those gifts, they were exercising them without the Biblical parameters, without discernment and without love. Even the church potlucks, which in those days were called “love feasts,” lacked love, the rich looking down on the poor, not really wanting to share their food.

The Corinthian church digressed; so Paul had to make a painful visit to Corinth to confront the people causing the problems (2 Cor. 2:1; 13:1). He then wrote a severe letter of correction and sent it with Titus to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:4–9; 7:8–12). Paul was pacing back and forth, wondering how they would respond to the letter. We’ll see later he even had open doors to preach the Gospel in Troas, but he just couldn’t, he was worried and wondering how the Corinthian church received his letter – so he traveled over to Macedonia and waited for Titus.

Eventually Titus returned to Paul with good news from Corinth, that the majority had repented, but there was still a minority in rebellion.

Undoubtedly these problem people were those in the church who wanted to continue in their divisions, false doctrines, and their emphasis on the gifts over and above the teaching of the Word. But the only way they could accomplish their agenda is if they attacked the leader.

And that’s exactly what they did, they attacked Paul, and his Apostolic authority. They slandered him, talked smack about him, in their attempt to diminish his influence in the church, even though Paul was the one who planted the church commissioned by Christ. They even tried spreading a lie, that Paul didn’t really love them.

Now again, most of the church had come around, but there were still some who hadn’t – and Paul, in this letter appeals to them, for a couple of reasons:

#1 Paul loves them (the unrepentant minority)

#2 Paul loves the entire congregation. When people in the church get divisive, unruly and disorderly, rejecting the God-given authority, then they can infect the other sheep.

It’s like a cancer that spreads throughout the congregation.

And so, we will see that 2 Corinthians is probably Paul’s most personal letter to any church. He wears his heart on his sleeve and makes himself very vulnerable, because sadly he was “cornered” and forced to make his case in order to prove his calling as a pastor, as a pastor’s pastor, and as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Paul identifies himself as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and he makes it clear that it’s “by the will of God.” In part, this letter would be a defense of his calling as an Apostle.

We will go through extremely hard times in life, because we live in a fallen world, in fallen bodies, and we fight fallen angels. But God will go through it with us, and He will comfort us – not simply for our own comfort, but that we can comfort others. I think of my friends Carlos and Christina, whose 21-year-old daughter, Nadine, passed away of cancer. She went home to be with the Lord before her parents and the rest of her family. For the rest of their lives, they will be able to comfort others who experience the passing of a loved one, especially a child, because they’ve gone through it themselves. They can do this much more effectively than me, because I haven’t experienced this. My heart aches for them, but God is using them mightily.

Paul had gone through many, many trials, and he knew part of the reason was because God wanted him to be able to minister to others. In 1 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul reveals the fact that there were times they felt crushed and overwhelmed beyond their ability to endure, they thought they would never live through it, but God graciously delivered them. He will always do that, until it’s our time (Hebrews 9:27). I thought it was interesting that Paul, in part, credits their prayers that brought them through it all (see 1 Corinthians 1:11).

Psalm 40:11-17

We continue in this Psalm which reveals that David had sinned (Psalm 40:12). The enemy is trying to capitalize on it and take David down…while God is disciplining him, perhaps allowing the opposition.

So David repents and David prays:

Psalm 40:13 (NKJV) “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me!”

Psalm 40:14 (NKJV) “Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who seek to destroy my life; let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor who wish me evil.”

No matter what, let’s keep seeking the Lord (Psalm 40:16) and loving the Lord (Psalm 40:16) that we might bring Him glory and magnify His name (Psalm 40:16). Let’s make it our goal, our heart – not to sin, but if we have sinned, let’s not give up, let’s get up, look up, and lift up our voice to God…He is merciful and ready to pardon, if we are genuinely repentant.

1 John 2:1 (NKJV) “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Proverbs 22:2-4

Proverbs 22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common, the Lord is the Maker of them all.

God mentions this truth so we that we won’t show partiality to the rich; neither are we to think any less of ourselves if we’re more poor than the guy next door.

The Bible clearly teaches that everyone is equal, because of the fact that we are all made by the Lord in His image. No one is to be treated with contempt.

Red and yellow, black and white, rich and poor, in the core, no one’s less, and no one’s more…may we never forget!

Proverbs 22:3 (NKJV) “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”

The prudent person looks ahead to see if there any potential dangers or pitfalls on the road he’s on, in order to avoid them. But the naive person just plows through all the red flags of warning, falls into the enemies’ evil trap, and suffers the consequences.

This is illustrated in Proverbs 7:7-23 (heed the warnings).

One person said, “Scripture gives blind optimism its right name: not faith, but folly.”

I’m a God’s child, I’m good, I got this, I’ll be okay…Samson said, and the spiritual giant was reduced to a crust of bread.

Proverbs 22:4 (NKJV) “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”

These are definitely a couple of twin towers when it comes to Christian character wouldn’t you say? – humility and a healthy fear of God.

As we learn to cultivate this type of heart, what inevitably follows is spiritual riches, heavenly honor, and an abundant life (John 10:10).

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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