Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 15: Thursday
Today’s Bible reading of Job 29–30 is part of Job’s last speech that began in Job 27 after his reply to Bildad in Job 26. Pray and ask God to help and uphold you through His Word. I don’t know what you’re going through, but God does, and I pray God will minister to you in your need through His Word.
Last week I mentioned Francis Andersen’s comment that in Job 27,
“A new formula is used to introduce this speech. This marks it off from the rest of the dialogue. We suggest that it is a closing statement, balancing chapter 3.”1
Job has been of immense help to me in the past, and the book is very precious to me. My hearing loss is the tip of the iceberg of the times I have been slammed against the wall by suffering. I have been through the book several times on my own, although it’s more accurate to say Job journeyed with me, as I walked with him in his suffering. In His mercy and love God has given us such a great gift with this book. Trust in God in the midst of my anguish has not come easily to me, and time and again the book of Job has brought me to a greater understanding of who God is and given me rest.
Chapters 29 and 30 are heart-rending. Job contrasts the past, When the Almighty was yet with me, And my children were around me (29:5), with the present, And now my soul is poured out within me; Days of affliction have seized me (30:16). In the past Job was both blessed and a blessing; “But now” he has become a taunt and a byword.
Or in his disaster therefore cry out for help?
Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?”
These are not the words of someone who stood aloof when all was going well for him, but one who showed compassion and real help to those in pain. Now he feels alone in his affliction, abandoned both by God and by man.
Andersen looks back at the changes in Job since his first lament in Job 3:
“In linking Job’s closing statement (Job 29 – 31) with his opening lamentation (chapter 3), we had chiefly in mind the resemblance between chapters 3 and 30. But there are also many differences, and they are important. Job has come a long distance. In chapter 3 his attention was narrowly focused on his immediate pain. In chapter 30, he is more widely aware of the social and spiritual dimensions of his predicament. This is perhaps the most pathetic of all Job’s poems of grief, and a fitting finish to all the earlier ones. It is more subdued, more reflective, less defiant. It shows Job in his weakness, no longer able to hope for even one touch of friendliness from God.”2
Chapter 30 contains the last time Job cries out to God in anguish.3 Job has already poured out his heart at length to God numerous times in his laments: Job 7:8–21, 9:25–10:22, 13:20–28, 14:1–22, 17:3–4, 30:20–23.
In his introduction to Job, Francis Anderson writes:
“The helplessness of Job is pathetic. If he had sinned, he could repent. But he cannot dishonestly invent imaginary sins to repent of. There is nothing he can do, except to cry out to God from the depths (Ps. 130:1). In this gulf of anger he is alone, until he discovers that God has not deserted him permanently…he does not at first — not for a long time — receive any answer to his desolate cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’… Job’s final contentment is inexplicable unless he found in the shadow of death a place of spiritual growth.
“…an unendurable agony at the time becomes a holy honour in memory. Moses in Midian, David in his hide-out, Jeremiah and Joseph in the pit, Daniel in the lion’s den, Paul in more than one prison. Like Job on the city dump, their life would seem to have reached its end. The long wait, sometimes for years. The silence of God. But deliverance came, and with it a gratitude never felt by those who never knew despair.
“The heroes of Hebrews 11 were sufferers, and many died without deliverance. Now no suffering seems pleasant at the time, but afterwards ‘it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it’ (Heb. 12:11). This is not a thing for anyone to arrange for himself in order to gain spiritual benefits. God alone may send it. No-one who has felt his rod would wish to go that way again; but no-one who has come with Job to ‘what the Lord is aiming at’ (see Jas 5:11) would ever wish not to have trodden his path. The body of Jesus for ever bears the scars of his crucifixion, and they are its chief glory…For he is the chief Pilgrim and Pioneer of this way, ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’ (Isa. 53:5). His Gethsemane was a human experience, but it exceeds all others in its intensity and in its healing powers…What Job longed for blindly has actually happened. God himself has joined us in our hell of loneliness…All the meanings of suffering converge in Christ. He entered a domain of suffering reserved for him alone. No man can bear the sin of another, but Jesus carried the sins of all…his sufferings were penal, a bearing of the death penalty for sin. They were also a full and authentic sharing of our human condition with a love that gave itself completely into the furnace of affliction. That the Lord himself has embraced and absorbed the undeserved consequences of all evil is the final answer to Job and to all the Jobs of humanity.”4
You may be suffering right now, and with your anguish made worse by your loneliness; remember, the Lord of the universe is right there with you, right now, at this very moment to uphold you and to help you. He will not forsake you.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”
May you know His abundant comfort through Christ.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Job at Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center: Avishai Teicher via the PikiWiki – Israel free image collection project. (CC BY 2.5). Click the photo to enlarge.
1,2,4Francis Andersen, Job (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1976) 235, 253. 74–75.
3The next time Job speaks to God, he will be speaking face to face.
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter