Job 11: Shouldn’t someone answer this torrent of words? (12 February 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

Joseph Tells his Brothers Who he Is

1Joseph was no longer able to control his feelings in front of his servants, so he ordered them all to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. 2He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the king's palace. 3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But when his brothers heard this, they were so terrified that they could not answer. 4Then Joseph said to them, “Please come closer.” They did, and he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people's lives. 6This is only the second year of famine in the land; there will be five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor reaping. 7God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure that you and your descendants survive. 8So it was not really you who sent me here, but God. He has made me the king's highest official. I am in charge of his whole country; I am the ruler of all Egypt.

9“Now hurry back to my father and tell him that this is what his son Joseph says: ‘God has made me ruler of all Egypt; come to me without delay. 10You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me — you, your children, your grandchildren, your sheep, your goats, your cattle, and everything else that you have. 11If you are in Goshen, I can take care of you. There will still be five years of famine; and I do not want you, your family, and your livestock to starve.’ ”

12Joseph continued, “Now all of you, and you too, Benjamin, can see that I am really Joseph. 13Tell my father how powerful I am here in Egypt and tell him about everything that you have seen. Then hurry and bring him here.”

14He threw his arms round his brother Benjamin and began to cry; Benjamin also cried as he hugged him. 15Then, still weeping, he embraced each of his brothers and kissed them. After that, his brothers began to talk with him.

16When the news reached the palace that Joseph's brothers had come, the king and his officials were pleased. 17He said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers to load their animals and to return to the land of Canaan. 18Let them get their father and their families and come back here. I will give them the best land in Egypt, and they will have more than enough to live on. 19Tell them also to take wagons with them from Egypt for their wives and small children and to bring their father with them. 20They are not to worry about leaving their possessions behind; the best in the whole land of Egypt will be theirs.”

21Jacob's sons did as they were told. Joseph gave them wagons, as the king had ordered, and food for the journey. 22He also gave each of them a change of clothes, but he gave Benjamin 300 pieces of silver and five changes of clothes. 23He sent his father ten donkeys loaded with the best Egyptian goods and ten donkeys loaded with corn, bread, and other food for the journey. 24He sent his brothers off and as they left, he said to them, “Don't quarrel on the way.”

25They left Egypt and went back home to their father Jacob in Canaan. 26“Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “He is the ruler of all Egypt!” Jacob was stunned and could not believe them.

27But when they told him all that Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to take him to Egypt, he recovered from the shock. 28“My son Joseph is still alive!” he said. “This is all I could ask for! I must go and see him before I die.”

Jesus is Brought before Pilate

1Early in the morning the chief priests met hurriedly with the elders, the teachers of the Law, and the whole Council, and made their plans. They put Jesus in chains, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “So you say.”

3The chief priests were accusing Jesus of many things, 4so Pilate questioned him again, “Aren't you going to answer? Listen to all their accusations!”

5Again Jesus refused to say a word, and Pilate was amazed.

Jesus is Sentenced to Death

6At every Passover Festival Pilate was in the habit of setting free any one prisoner the people asked for. 7At that time a man named Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the riot. 8When the crowd gathered and began to ask Pilate for the usual favour, 9he asked them, “Do you want me to set free for you the king of the Jews?” 10He knew very well that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous.

11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, for Pilate to set Barabbas free for them. 12Pilate spoke again to the crowd, “What, then, do you want me to do with the one you call the king of the Jews?”

13They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14“But what crime has he committed?” Pilate asked.

They shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15Pilate wanted to please the crowd, so he set Barabbas free for them. Then he had Jesus whipped and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16The soldiers took Jesus inside to the courtyard of the governor's palace and called together the rest of the company. 17They put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown out of thorny branches, and put it on his head. 18Then they began to salute him: “Long live the King of the Jews!” 19They beat him over the head with a stick, spat on him, fell on their knees, and bowed down to him. 20When they had finished mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

Jesus is Crucified

21On the way they met a man named Simon, who was coming into the city from the country, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus' cross. (Simon was from Cyrene and was the father of Alexander and Rufus.) 22They took Jesus to a place called Golgotha, which means “The Place of the Skull”. 23There they tried to give him wine mixed with a drug called myrrh, but Jesus would not drink it. 24Then they crucified him and divided his clothes among themselves, throwing dice to see who would get which piece of clothing. 25It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The notice of the accusation against him said: “The King of the Jews”. 27They also crucified two bandits with Jesus, one on his right and the other on his left.

29People passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus: “Aha! You were going to tear down the Temple and build it up again in three days! 30Now come down from the cross and save yourself!”

31In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law jeered at Jesus, saying to each other, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! 32Let us see the Messiah, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him!”

And the two who were crucified with Jesus insulted him also.

The Death of Jesus

33At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. 34At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”

35Some of the people there heard him and said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah!” 36One of them ran up with a sponge, soaked it in cheap wine, and put it on the end of a stick. Then he held it up to Jesus' lips and said, “Wait! Let us see if Elijah is coming to bring him down from the cross!”

37With a loud cry Jesus died.

38The curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw how Jesus had died. “This man was really the Son of God!” he said.

40Some women were there, looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joseph, and Salome. 41They had followed Jesus while he was in Galilee and had helped him. Many other women who had come to Jerusalem with him were there also.

The Burial of Jesus

42-43It was towards evening when Joseph of Arimathea arrived. He was a respected member of the Council, who was waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God. It was Preparation day (that is, the day before the Sabbath), so Joseph went boldly into the presence of Pilate and asked him for the body of Jesus. 44Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. He called the army officer and asked him if Jesus had been dead a long time. 45After hearing the officer's report, Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46Joseph bought a linen sheet, took the body down, wrapped it in the sheet, and placed it in a tomb which had been dug out of solid rock. Then he rolled a large stone across the entrance to the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph were watching and saw where the body of Jesus was placed.

Zophar

1-2Will no one answer all this nonsense?

Does talking so much put you in the right?

3Job, do you think we can't answer you?

That your mocking words will leave us speechless?

4You claim that what you say is true;

you claim you are pure in the sight of God.

5How I wish God would answer you!

6He would tell you there are many sides to wisdom;

there are things too deep for human knowledge.

God is punishing you less than you deserve.

 

7Can you discover the limits and bounds

of the greatness and power of God?

8The sky is no limit for God,

but it lies beyond your reach.

God knows the world of the dead,

but you do not know it.

9God's greatness is broader than the earth,

wider than the sea.

10If God arrests you and brings you to trial,

who is there to stop him?

11God knows which people are worthless;

he sees all their evil deeds.

12Stupid people will start being wise

when wild donkeys are born tame.

 

13Put your heart right, Job. Reach out to God.

14Put away evil and wrong from your home.

15Then face the world again, firm and courageous.

16Then all your troubles will fade from your memory,

like floods that are past and remembered no more.

17Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon,

and life's darkest hours will shine like the dawn.

18You will live secure and full of hope;

God will protect you and give you rest.

19You won't be afraid of your enemies;

many people will ask you for help.

20But the wicked will look round in despair

and find that there is no way to escape.

Their one hope is that death will come.

Please Others, not Yourselves

1We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak to carry their burdens. We should not please ourselves. 2Instead, we should all please our brothers and sisters for their own good, in order to build them up in the faith. 3For Christ did not please himself. Instead, as the scripture says, “The insults which are hurled at you have fallen on me.” 4Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. 5And may God, the source of patience and encouragement, enable you to have the same point of view among yourselves by following the example of Christ Jesus, 6so that all of you together may praise with one voice the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Good News for the Gentiles

7Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you. 8For I tell you that Christ's life of service was on behalf of the Jews, to show that God is faithful, to make his promises to their ancestors come true, 9and to enable even the Gentiles to praise God for his mercy. As the scripture says:

“And so I will praise you among the Gentiles;

I will sing praises to you.”

10Again it says,

“Rejoice, Gentiles, with God's people!”

11And again,

“Praise the Lord, all Gentiles;

praise him, all peoples!”

12And again, Isaiah says,

“A descendant of Jesse will appear;

he will come to rule the Gentiles,

and they will put their hope in him.”

13May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul's Reason for Writing so Boldly

14My brothers and sisters, I myself feel sure that you are full of goodness, that you have all knowledge, and that you are able to teach one another. 15But in this letter I have been quite bold about certain subjects of which I have reminded you. I have been bold because of the privilege God has given me 16of being a servant of Christ Jesus to work for the Gentiles. I serve like a priest in preaching the Good News from God, in order that the Gentiles may be an offering acceptable to God, dedicated to him by the Holy Spirit. 17In union with Christ Jesus, then, I can be proud of my service for God. 18I will be bold and speak only about what Christ has done through me to lead the Gentiles to obey God. He has done this by means of words and deeds, 19by the power of miracles and wonders, and by the power of the Spirit of God. And so, in travelling all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have proclaimed fully the Good News about Christ. 20My ambition has always been to proclaim the Good News in places where Christ has not been heard of, so as not to build on a foundation laid by someone else. 21As the scripture says:

“Those who were not told about him will see,

and those who have not heard will understand.”

Paul's Plan to Visit Rome

22And so I have been prevented many times from coming to you. 23But now that I have finished my work in these regions and since I have been wanting for so many years to come to see you, 24I hope to do so now. I would like to see you on my way to Spain, and be helped by you to go there, after I have enjoyed visiting you for a while. 25Just now, however, I am going to Jerusalem in the service of God's people there. 26For the churches in Macedonia and Achaia have freely decided to give an offering to help the poor among God's people in Jerusalem. 27That decision was their own; but, as a matter of fact, they have an obligation to help them. Since the Jews shared their spiritual blessings with the Gentiles, the Gentiles ought to use their material blessings to help the Jews. 28When I have finished this task and have handed over to them all the money that has been raised for them, I shall leave for Spain and visit you on my way there. 29When I come to you, I know that I shall come with a full measure of the blessing of Christ.

30I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love that the Spirit gives: join me in praying fervently to God for me. 31Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to God's people there. 32And so I will come to you full of joy, if it is God's will, and enjoy a refreshing visit to you. 33May God, our source of peace, be with all of you. Amen.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: Job 11

Job has lamented his suffering, protested his innocence and complained to God, but now Zophar the Naamathite (one of Job’s friends) has had enough. He believes Job’s words are empty and dishonest, amounting to the mockery of God. ‘Shall no one shame you?’ he cries (verse 3), before proceeding to do so himself.

As far as Zophar is concerned, there’s no such thing as undeserved suffering so Job must have done something wicked. Zophar is sure that were God to answer Job, he would deliver a sharp rebuke. If anything, Job’s punishment seems ‘less than [his] guilt deserves’ (verse 6). If only Job would swallow his pride and repent, the suffering would stop and he would live a charmed life once more! Zophar’s statement that Job will forget his misery like so much water under the bridge (verse 16) seems particularly heartless when you consider all that Job has lost.

Job knows the situation is far more complex. He’s not guilty, yet he suffers. It shatters what he previously believed about God, so he questions him not out of arrogance but because he wants to understand him rightly.

Before we judge Zophar, perhaps we should examine our own hearts. Unlike Zophar, we know what’s going on behind the scenes of this story, but in our own lives it’s unlikely we’ll have this kind of insight. How do we respond to friends in distress? Are we ever judgemental and lacking in compassion?

If our friend is hurt, we can pray for comfort and healing. If they are struggling to see that God loves them, we can pray like Paul in Ephesians 3 that they will know ‘how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ's love’ (verse 18). We can join them in asking God for understanding. It’s better to admit we don’t have all the answers than to misrepresent God as Zophar will later discover!

Pray

Pray

God, I’m sorry for the times when I have been cold and judgemental. Show me where my thinking about you is wrong and deepen my understanding. Teach me to come alongside suffering friends in a way that accurately represents your love, your compassion and the hope they have in Jesus.

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