Job’s Christlikeness

Scripture Focus: Job 42.7-12a
7 After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. 

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. 
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

Reflection: Job’s Christlikeness
By John Tillman

Job is a “type” or example of Jesus. He demonstrates or proves God’s righteousness through suffering and death. Like Jesus, God calls Job his servant, saying he is pleased with him and Job’s friends are told to listen to him because Job tells “the truth” about God.

Job is Christlike in righteousness, in suffering, in enduring scorn and insults, and in his eucatastrophic return to wealth and blessing. 

Job is Christlike in righteousness. Job is not completely righteous and sinless in the same way as Jesus. (In all of these categories, Job is only like Christ, not equal to him.) God never called Job an evildoer, as his friends did, but challenged him to work justice and crush evil. When Job describes righteousness, he refers to actions to set free captives and help the poor and downtrodden, as Jesus did.

Job is Christlike in suffering. Job lost the power and comforts his wealth and position gave him. Jesus chose suffering over heavenly power and poverty over riches, making himself nothing, in our likeness, obedient to death. Job did not choose this suffering. Jesus did.

Job is Christlike in enduring of scorn and insults. Reading Job sometimes feels like scrolling through the worst insults and scorn from social media. And these are Job’s friends! Jesus endured scorn on Good Friday from voices that sang “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” just a few days earlier. Jesus is the despised and rejected one.

Job is Christlike in his eucatastrophic return. God’s command prevented Satan from killing Job but everything else in Job’s life died or was lost. Then, unexpectedly, everything was restored. The second half of Job’s life was better than before. God’s command would not allow Jesus to “see corruption in the grave.” The resurrection is the ultimate eucatastrophe.

If we follow Jesus, we cannot be surprised to step into the same situations. We must step forward to enact justice and righteousness. We must step into suffering and endure scorn. We step through the valley of death, knowing that resurrection and miraculous recoveries are often just around the corner.

May pits of suffering not make us ashamed. May piles of blessings not make us complacent. Job used both for God’s glory. May we not waste opportunities to make ourselves like Christ. Like Job, may we be a type or model of Christ for our community.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Even so, come Lord Jesus.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Job 42 (Listen 2:41)
Psalm 30 (Listen 1:32)

​This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 1 (Listen 3:12), Psalm 31 (Listen 3:11)
Proverbs 2 (Listen 3:03), Psalm 32 (Listen 1:34)

Read more about Unexpected Victory
There is no one whose sufficient victory is more surprising than the eucatastrophe of the cross.

Read more about Pause To Read
Today’s episode is “Lady Wisdom,” last week was “Lady Folly” and next week, “RSVP to Wisdom or Folly.” Share this series with a friend who needs wisdom.

Unobligated God

Scripture Focus: Job 41.11
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? 
Everything under heaven belongs to me. 

Job 42.10-11
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

From John: We return to this devotional from 2020, remembering that growing in godliness means growing in our willingness to help those we have no obligation to help. Just as God helps us.

Reflection: Unobligated God
By John Tillman

“Who can stand against me?” God says to Job. “Who has a claim against me that I must pay?”

In the beginning of the book of Job, the adversary, Satan questions God’s justice. He says, in effect, “You are just bribing Job, God. He doesn’t really love you.”

Through many of their arguments, Job and his friends question God’s justice. They suppose that Job must be sinning in some way, otherwise, God is unjust.

We often question God’s justice today, asking many of Job’s same questions. Why do the wicked thrive? Why do the innocent suffer? Why is the world not just, if God is just?

When we question whether God is just, we question the author of justice.
We think God owes us something because we live in an unjust world.
But we are the ones who have made this world unjust, wrestling it from God’s will along the way.

We have sinned against God. Not the other way around. God is not a debtor. We are. Our sinful condition means that we are not the victims but the perpetrators. Sin makes us into God’s enemies.

God does not owe us salvation and forgiveness. 

Thank God that he pays debts that he does not owe. He is a God who gives when he has no obligation. He is a God who comes to us, as we suffer in the highways and the byways, and compels us to come into his lavish banquet.

In the last chapter of Job (tomorrow’s reading) we see that God restored Job’s fortunes. I suppose we picture God handing Job a reimbursement check. 

But there is an important detail that we should not skip over. God restored Job’s fortunes, yes. But God used the means of Job’s friends to carry it out. Scripture says Everyone Job knew came to give him a financial gift. 

Part of God’s restoration of Job was carried out in the community and by the community. When God sets out to redeem someone and rebuild their lives, he typically uses people to do it. 

May we cry to God for his justice, his righteousness, to be done on earth among us.
May we be a part of communities that line up to help the suffering as people helped Job.
May our actions be empowered by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate God’s justice in the world.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “ So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” — Psalm 33.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Job 41 (Listen 3:03)
Psalm 28-29 (Listen 2:41)

Read more about God is Faithful, not Indebted
Job and his friends believed in an indebted God who owed good to the righteous, owed suffering to the wicked, and never made late payments.

Read more about Pause To Read
Tomorrow, we release “Lady Wisdom,” the 2nd of a three-part series of related podcast episodes. Last week was “Lady Folly” and next week, “RSVP to Wisdom or Folly.” Don’t miss them.

Waiting on the Lord, Loudly

Scripture Focus: Job 40.3-5
3 Then Job answered the Lord:
4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
     I put my hand over my mouth.
 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—
     twice, but I will say no more.”

Psalm 27.13-14
13 I remain confident of this:
     I will see the goodness of the Lord
     in the land of the living.
 14 Wait for the Lord;
     be strong and take heart
     and wait for the Lord.

Reflection: Waiting on the Lord, Loudly
By Erin Newton

Waiting on the Lord is one of those phrases we use all the time, but what does it even mean?

We pray for someone to spend our lives with and wait on the Lord in singleness. We pray for the healing of our loved ones and wait on the Lord throughout treatments. We hope for a few quiet days after a difficult year and wait on the Lord while we pour a cup of coffee.

We assume that waiting on the Lord requires some sort of quiet compliance. After all, we ask children to “wait over there.” Customer service says, “Wait one moment” while they connect us. The crosswalk signs chant sternly, “Wait! Wait! Wait!” All of these are expected to happen without complaint, without a fuss, without questioning the person who told us.

Job has not been so quiet. In his suffering, he has made all his frustrations known. No words or feelings have been spared. When God answers him, he admits he has spoken freely but comes up short to finding an adequate answer.

He covers his mouth and resolves to say no more. Is this finally his attempt at waiting on the Lord?

We are tempted to say, “Aha! See, he finally repents and submits.” We have just read chapter after chapter of theological discussion between Job and his friends. Job has begged God to come and answer him. Does God delay because Job wasn’t waiting quietly? Surely not, for we know that even the persistent woman was granted justice against her adversaries (Luke 18).

But we are left with the question we started with: What does waiting on the Lord even mean?

Is waiting on the Lord some sort of spiritual quiet game? Is there no room for questions, complaints, and pleading?

Job has been waiting on the Lord since the first tragedy. Job has waited in the silence of grief. Job has waited in the disagreements with his wife. Job has waited in the heated debates with his friends. Job has waited while scraping the sores on his body. Job has waited even in his harsh words. And Job waits as God speaks in the end.

We are all waiting on the Lord for something. Its various expressions are rooted in this: We will see the goodness of God in the land of the living because God always speaks in the end.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves. — Psalm 126.6-7

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Job 40 (Listen 2:09)
Psalm 26-27 (Listen 3:13)

Read more about God’s Sufficient Justice
Humans are capable of a certain level of justice and we are responsible before God to bring about justice.

Read more about Sitting with Sinners
The Christian life means we follow the narrow path of obedience, but we must also follow the way of love. It is possible to do both.

A God Who Celebrates

Scripture Focus: Job 39.1, 5, 9, 13, 18-19, 26-27
1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? 
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? 

5 “Who let the wild donkey go free? 
Who untied its ropes? 

9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you? 
Will it stay by your manger at night? 

13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, 
though they cannot compare 
with the wings and feathers of the stork. 

18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, 
she laughs at horse and rider. 
19 “Do you give the horse its strength 
or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? 

26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom 
and spread its wings toward the south? 
27 Does the eagle soar at your command 
and build its nest on high? 

Reflection: A God Who Celebrates
By John Tillman

In Genesis, we read, “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1.25) What we read in Job is an exponential expansion that goes beyond “good” to demonstrate God’s great pleasure in all creatures, great and small. 

In Job, we see God thrilling in his creation. Each creature he mentions is spoken of with deep affection and pride. God shows he values diversity in his distribution of skills and power to the many different species which he singles out to Job.

God’s intense boasting is intentionally intimidating. However, we also see his tender love for these creatures. He does not only single out animals we might consider majestic, such as the warhorse. His loving gaze points out to us mountain goats and fawns tenderly raising their young. God implies that it is he who unties the donkey, liberating it from enslavement to run free in the desert.

Our God teaches goats to be tender.
Our God loosens the bonds of donkeys to run free.
Our God rejoices in the speed of the unwieldy and unwise ostrich.

God called creatures “good” in Genesis. God called humanity’s addition to creation “Very good.” (Genesis 1.26-31)

God celebrates the diversity and wondrous variety of the animals of creation, yet his rejoicing over us is more, higher, greater. The book of Job may end with God bragging to men about animals, but it began with God bragging about a man (Job 1.8) before the courts of Heaven.

What is humanity that he is mindful of us? We are a little lower than the angels. We are the kings and queens of the Earth—the rightful rulers of nature. (Psalm 8.4-9) We are the focus of Christ’s loving mission to Earth and of Christ’s advocacy before Heaven on our behalf. (1 John 2.1-2; Matthew 10.32-33)

O God, we are unworthy creatures who rejoice that you rejoice over us.
May we be humbled by your great power and lifted up by your great love.
Though we are tough and hard-headed as goats, teach us to be tender.
Though we are unwieldy and unwise as the ostrich, give us grace to run in the path of your commands.
Though we are enslaved to this world’s sins, liberate us like the wild donkey to celebrate in the desert.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Yours are the heavens, the earth is also yours; you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it. — Psalm 89.11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Job 39 (Listen 2:47)
Psalm 25 (Listen 218)

Read more about Haunting Spirit
The Holy Spirit haunts us with hope and love. He brings conviction but never shame or disdain.

Read more about Christ, Our “If Only…”
Thank God that he is the God who does the unthinkable on behalf of the unworthy.

Two Storms

Scripture Focus: Job 38.1a
1 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm…

Reflection: Two Storms
By John Tillman

There are two storms in the Book of Job. At the beginning is a storm sent by Satan. At the end is a storm bringing God’s presence.

Satan’s storm brings death. A wind blows in from the desert, destroying a house with Job’s children inside. News of this storm comes to Job alongside news of disasters that hit like hailstones. A storm of fire rains down, burning up sheep and shepherds. Raiders steal oxen, camels, and donkeys and murder their caretakers. Satan’s storm crushes joy and celebration. It destroys resources. It leaves Job sobbing in a circle of the storm’s sole survivors.

Satan isn’t satisfied with the external storm’s lack of success. Storms of sickness follow, attacking Job’s skin, bones, inner being, and mind. He scrapes his itching sores with broken pottery. In his mind, thoughts of suicide, death, and annihilation scratch their way to the surface.

As Elihu speaks in chapter 37, he repeatedly references a storm. They must have been able to see it blowing in. “Listen! Listen…” Elihu cries. (Job 37.2-4) In chapter 38, the storm breaks over them.

This storm is no airy, dry wind from the desert. It is far greater and more terrifying. It has lightning, thunder, billowing clouds, and downpours of rain and snow. But this storm is not just sent by God or made by God. God is in this storm. God’s power flashes in its lighting. His roaring voice echoes in its thunder. His hovering Spirit stirs up its billowing clouds of darkness that blot out the sun.

God speaks out of this powerful, threatening storm. His words are harsh lighting flashes of truth. His emotions rumble like rolling thunder. His arguments are unanswerable. There is no defense against the flood of them. All Job’s words, doubts, and challenges are washed into the sea. Yet, this storm does not bring chaos and death.

God’s storm brings life. Job’s illness washes away with the flood. The sky clears, and God makes Job his priest, interceding and accepting offerings for the sins of his friends. The sun warms Job as friends bring him comfort. Job is, once again, God’s righteous representative, restored to honor, wisdom, and wealth.

God is not in every storm. Some storms just bring death. Wait and pray for the second storm—the storm that brings God’s presence. God’s storm restores health and faith, brings growth and joy, and rains blessings and comfort.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
Show us your mercy O Lord; and grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness; let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world; for only in you can we live in saftey.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Job 38 (Listen 3:33)
Psalm 23-24 (Listen 2:03)

Read more

Read more about Prayers Before the Storm — Guided Prayer
It seems to me that Elihu must have been aware of the storm of God’s presence…I imagine the winds lifting his words as he spoke of God’s majesty

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