Feb. 2. God Plagues Egypt

Ex. 7:14-10:29

The Egyptians were a religious people. The problem was that they worshipped the wrong gods instead of the true God. Because of Pharaoh’s refusal to grant the request of Moses and Aaron, God sent a series of plagues against him and his people. These plagues attacked the deity of those so-called gods.

Among the gods that the Egyptians worshipped was the Nile River. After the second meeting with Pharaoh, God instructed Moses to return to the king and inform him that he would strike the waters of the river and all of the other rivers, streams, ponds and other water containers and turn the water into blood. This bloody water continued for seven days before clearing. Because of the bloody water all of the fish died and the waters stank. Pharaoh still would not let the Israelites go.

The next plague that the Lord used against Pharaoh was frogs coming out of the river—another affront to their river god. Frogs invaded the houses and everything in them. This was too much for Pharaoh. Or was it? He called Moses and asked that they entreat the Lord to take the frogs away and, “I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.”

In order to further show the power of God, Moses allowed Pharaoh to set the time for the frogs’ removal. He said, “Tomorrow.” Accordingly, the frogs died the next day and the land stank again. “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them…”

Lice were and still are an abomination to people. The Egyptian priests kept themselves clean and shaven to prevent lice infestations from defiling their idol worship. Imagine how the people felt when the dust of the ground was turned into lice. The magicians had been able through some means to imitate the first two plagues, but failed to duplicate the lice. They stated to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” Again he refused to let the people go.

The fourth plague to happen to Egypt was an invasion of flies. One fly can be a major annoyance, but imagine swarms of them everywhere with no way of escaping or destroying them. Again, Pharaoh relented and said that the people could go sacrifice, but to stay in the land.

Moses pointed out that would not be acceptable because, “we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God.” The animals that the Israelites would be sacrificing were considered sacred by the Egyptians.

Pharaoh then said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.” As before, when the plague was lifted, Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go.

God was a long way from being finished with Pharaoh. He knew that it would take much hardship for the king to let the Israelites go. As has been stated earlier, the Egyptians worshipped their cattle. The fifth plague showed God’s power over this object of their worship. He sent a fatal disease upon the cattle that killed vast numbers of them. Not one of the cattle of the Hebrews died. That also showed the power of God that He could be selective of what died and what lived. “But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.”

God instructed Moses to take ashes from a furnace and scatter them toward heaven. They became fine dust that settled upon the Egyptians and caused boils to break out on them. That sixth plague of ulcerous sores formed on man and beast, but still did not convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites.

For the seventh plague, God sent a giant hail storm upon the land. The people had an option that would prevent damage to themselves and to their cattle. Moses instructed them to bring everything inside with them and they would be protected. Everything and everybody left outside would be subject to the storm. Also the land of Goshen would be spared.

The hailstorm and its destruction really got Pharaoh’s attention. He called for Moses and said, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.” After the hail stopped, he again refused to release the children of Israel.

Locusts are destructive creatures. Before sending the eighth plague, Moses informed Pharaoh, that God would send locusts to cover the land and eat everything that the hail had not destroyed. At that point, Pharaoh’s servants confronted him. They stated, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?”

Pharaoh proposed to allow only the men to, “Go, serve the Lord your God.” Moses refused to go without everyone and their flocks and herds. He and Aaron were then driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

After the locusts came, Pharaoh again stated that he had, “sinned against the Lord your God and against you.” At his pleading, Moses asked God to remove the locusts from the land. Once they were gone, Pharaoh did not free the Israelites.

God sent a ninth plague against Pharaoh. Darkness so thick that it could be felt was sent over Egypt for three days. This was an affront to their sun god, Ra. Again, the land of Goshen was spared. They had light.

The king again tried to compromise with God and Moses. He offered to let everyone go, but leave their cattle behind. With Moses’ refusal before him, Pharaoh said, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”

#chronological-bible-study

Feb. 1. Continued Meetings with God and Pharaoh

Ex. 5:22-7:13

Moses was in a difficult position. God had called him to perform a task that he was reluctant to accept. His first meeting with Pharaoh was a disaster. Oppression against his people increased and they blamed him. Furthermore, God had not delivered the Israelites from bondage.

Upon hearing his complaint, God assured Moses that the Israelites would be set free. We, as feeble men cannot understand why God sometimes delays our requests and pleas. With Moses and the Israelites, He had a plan that would show His power. He knew that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened by the request to do something that he did not want to do.

God had promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob hundreds of years earlier. It was then the time that He was going to fulfill that promise.

As a side note, the genealogy of Moses and Aaron is listed. They descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kohath and Amram. Some marriages were permitted in those days that were forbidden in later years. For example, Moses’ father, Amram had married Jochebed, his own aunt.

Moses continued to protest his inability to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites. For every objection, God had an answer. He had given Moses the ability to perform miracles to show His power and Aaron was to do the speaking. “Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the Lord commanded them, so they did.” He has an answer for our objections too. Will we do so as the Lord has commanded?

The second meeting with Pharaoh was another failure. His magicians were able to turn their rods into serpents as Aaron’s rod had become. The vast difference was that Aaron’s serpent swallowed the other serpents. Pharaoh was not favorably impressed; “…and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.”

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 31. God Calls Moses; Meets with Pharaoh

Ex.3:1-5:21

Among the places that Moses grazed flocks was Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai). It was at this location that he saw a bush on fire. The odd thing about this was that as the flames rose from the bush, it was not consumed by the fire. As Moses turned to investigate this phenomenon, God called him from the burning bush.

The Lord identified Himself and stated that He had heard the cry of His people in Egypt and was ready to deliver them to a land flowing with milk and honey. “Come now, therefore and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.”

Moses promptly began to make excuses. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…” God said that He would be with him.

Moses was concerned how he would answer the people when they asked who had sent him. God said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God is everlastingly present. There is no past nor future tense with Him.

“But suppose they will not believe me…?” God asked, “What is that in your hand?” Moses only had a rod, but God used it to show His power. What do we have in our hands that can be used to serve God?

Moses then stated, “…but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Again, God assured him that He would be with him and teach him what to say.

God answered all of Moses’ excuses with a solution to his problems. Moses was still not convinced. He then suggested that God send someone else. Does that sound like us? In His anger, God gave him his brother, Aaron to be his spokesman.

God has an answer for our excuses. We each have abilities, however slight or great and He expects us to use them in His kingdom.

Having exhausted all of his excuses, God assured Moses that all who sought his life were dead and that he would be safe. He took leave from his father-in-law, Jethro and returned with his family to Egypt.

Aaron, at the command of God met Moses at Horeb and the two of them proceeded to meet with the elders of the children of Israel. They explained with words and signs that the Lord was going to deliver them. “Then they bowed their heads and worshiped.”

For the first time in forty years, Moses, along with Aaron, his mouthpiece is in the king’s presence. The previous Pharaoh had died and another king was ruling Egypt. As Moses and Aaron presented God’s case, “Let My people go…” to the king, he said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”

This was not the reaction that Moses wanted to hear. Pharaoh, himself was considered to be a god. He surely was not ready to allow his slaves to take off from work to worship another god. Instead of allowing Moses’ request, Pharaoh increased the labor of the Israelites because, “They are idle…” The taskmasters previously had been furnishing straw for their bricks, but now the Israelites were required to furnish their own straw and continue to make the same number of bricks daily.

Directly over the working people were Israelite officers, who were responsible to the taskmasters. These officers went to Pharaoh and complained about their new working conditions, but to no avail. As they were leaving the king, they met Moses and Aaron and blamed them for their increased persecution.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 30. Israelites Become Slaves in Egypt; Deliverer Arrives

Ex. 1:1-2:25

One may tend to think of the events of the first part of Exodus as being immediately following those of Genesis. Bible historians indicate that about three hundred years transpired during this time. Through the fulfillment of God’s promise, the Israelites had grown from seventy plus wives, servants, and Joseph’s family to a mighty people of approximately three million.

Some years after the death of Joseph, a new Pharaoh became king of Egypt. With the passage of time everyone who had been associated with Joseph and his family had died. The new king either had not heard about Joseph or he refused to acknowledge the importance of the Israelites. He feared that they would ally themselves with an enemy of Egypt and defeat them in a war.

The decision was made to persecute and destroy the Israelites. This was attempted by enslaving them with hard labor and killing the male babies. With no Israelite men to marry, the women would be forced to marry Egyptian men, which would make the children of Israel become extinct. God had other plans.

As the Israelites continued to suffer at the hands of the Egyptians, another male child, Moses was born. He was a descendant of Jacob’s son, Levi. The Levites were slated to have a special place in God’s plan for his people.

His mother saw that Moses was special and in order to protect him from the Egyptians, she hid him among the reeds of the Nile River. She posted his sister, Miriam to look out for him. Upon being found by Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam suggested that she could find a woman of the Hebrews to nurse the child for her.

The providence of God allowed the future leader of His people to grow up and be educated in the king’s palace. We are not told, but perhaps Moses’ mother was allowed to continue to nurture her son into adulthood. In any event, he was well aware of his ancestry.

When Moses was forty years old, an event occurred that changed his life forever. He killed an Egyptian who was beating one of the Hebrews. When Pharaoh learned of this, “he sought to kill Moses.” He was no longer welcome or safe in Egypt.

The next forty years of Moses’ life were spent in Midian. While there, he married Zipporah and had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. He also worked as a shepherd for his father-in-law, Reuel also called Jethro.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 29. Jacob’s Family Grows and Prospers in a Foreign Land

Gen. 47:13-50:26

Economic conditions were so dire in Egypt that the people had spent all of their money for food and were facing the prospect of starvation. With no money to buy food for themselves, they were also unable to feed their cattle. Joseph traded food for cattle, thus saving the people and their livestock.

Next, with all of their cattle gone, they traded themselves and their land for food. The people then became servants of the king. They were moved into the cities, but were given seed to grow crops as the famine ended. One fifth was to be returned to the king and they could keep the other four fifths for seed and food.

Israel was an old man one hundred forty-seven years of age. He sensed after seventeen years in Egypt, that his life would soon end. Jacob asked Joseph to vow that he would take his body out of Egypt and bury it with his fathers in Canaan. Joseph swore that he would heed his father’s request.

As has been stated earlier, the first-born son was to receive the greatest blessings or inheritance from his father. Jacob accepted Joseph’s sons as equals to his own sons and blessed them after he had blessed their father. Joseph expected his older son, Manasseh to receive the primary blessing. Jacob had other ideas and blessed the younger Ephraim first.

Jacob’s blessings of his twelve sons were delivered partially as obscure prophesies. Reuben, through his sin of adultery with Bilhah had forfeited his birthright. Simeon and Levi were cursed instead of blessed because of their quick temper and anger.

Hidden in Judah’s blessings is a hint of the coming Messiah through his lineage. Jacob’s prophesies concerning his other sons are borne out as one studies the history of the Israelites in the Old Testament.

“And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”

After Jacob’s death, he was embalmed. This was a forty-day process in which the body was completely dried. It was wrapped tightly in cloths and placed in a coffin. Thirty more days of mourning later, a great procession of Jacob’s family and Egyptian dignitaries made the journey into Canaan for the burial. Seven additional days of mourning were observed in Canaan.

The brothers of Joseph reasoned that he had been kind to them during the previous seventeen years because of respect for his father. Their father was gone; time for revenge for the great harm that they had committed against their brother. This sin had been gnawing at them for nearly forty years.

Messengers were sent by the brothers to beg for Joseph’s forgiveness. Upon hearing their plea, Joseph again wept. The brothers then appeared before Joseph and fell down at his feet and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

One of the greatest tragedies in life is the failure of families to live together in harmony. Forgiveness is one of the happiest things that can occur. Joseph repeated the statement that he had made to them seventeen years earlier that they meant evil against him, but that God meant it for good in order to save their lives (to preserve the lineage of Jesus). “Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”

Joseph lived one hundred ten years—ninety-three of which were in Egypt. He also requested that his bones would be returned to Canaan when they left Egypt many years later as God “swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 28. Joseph Reveals Himself; Jacob and Family Move into Egypt

Gen. 45:1-47:12

Enough was enough! Joseph could no longer contain his emotions. He sent everyone out of his presence except his brothers. As he wept aloud, he said, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?”

Joseph’s brothers were speechless and dismayed. Imagine the thoughts that were racing through their minds. Many memories of past sibling conflicts along with their recent encounters surely flashed before them.

As the brothers stood before Joseph, he explained that it was not they who had sent him into Egypt. God had sent him to preserve their lives. It was through God’s providence that they would be nourished in Egypt. Through their lineage would be the earthly birth of the Son of God.

Pharaoh was grateful to Joseph for revealing the coming of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. This allowed him time to plan ahead to prepare for the lean years. Because of this, he allowed Joseph’s entire extended family (Inferior Canaanites) to move into “the best of the land of Egypt.”

Upon hearing that his son, Joseph was still alive, Jacob’s “heart stood still, because he did not believe them.” After being convinced, Jacob said, “’It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’

“So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.”

Beersheba was a place of significance to Jacob/Israel. It was there that his father, Isaac and grandfather, Abraham had communed with God. God spoke to him that night and assured him that, “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again…” The second part of this promise was fulfilled many years later under the leadership of Moses.

This was a major event in the life of a man who had made many moves in his one hundred thirty years of life. Jacob, his wives, his eleven sons, their wives, his grandchildren, their wives (none mentioned here) were a very large family to relocate at one time. He and his direct descendants, including Joseph and his sons, totaled seventy Israelites in Egypt.

Shepherds were of a lower social class in Egypt and were somewhat segregated from the rest of the population. Joseph advised his father to be up front with Pharaoh and let him know that they were shepherds. Some sheep were pastured in the rich region of Goshen. It is likely that was one reason that Jacob’s family was given land in that area.

Joseph had served the king so well that Pharaoh instructed him to select competent men from his family to be chief herdsmen over his own livestock.

“Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families.”

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 27. Joseph’s Dreams Come True

Gen. 41:53-44:34

After seven years of bountiful crops, the seven years of famine began. Soon, people from Egypt and all over the world (countries around Egypt) began to be hungry and to purchase grain from the storehouses of Egypt. Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of the sales.

Meanwhile, Jacob and his family in Canaan exhausted their food supply and heard about the Egyptian grain. Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. He was still protective of his youngest son, Benjamin and kept him home, “lest some calamity befall him.”

The following events are both sad and humorous. Joseph’s ten brothers came before him to make their purchases and BOWED THEMSELVES TO THE GROUND just as his dreams had prophesied. He recognized them, but they did not know him.

Speaking through an interpreter, Joseph accused his brothers of being spies against Egypt. They strongly declared their innocence as they spoke of their father and their other two brothers, the younger being with their father and, “one is no more.”

After keeping his brothers locked in prison for three days, Joseph released them with the stipulation that Simeon would remain in prison while they returned home and brought Benjamin to confirm their story that they were not spies.

Twenty plus years after they had sold their brother, Joseph’s brothers were still suffering from guilty consciences regarding their sin. Unaware that he could understand their native language, Reuben reminded them of how he had tried to prevent them from selling Joseph, “and you would not listen.” At that point Joseph was overcome with emotion and turned away from them and wept.

To further disturb and test his brothers, Joseph ordered that the money used to pay for the grain would be placed in the tops of their sacks. Upon finding the money, they were quite troubled as they feared that they would be accused of stealing the money.

After hearing the report from his sons, Jacob was distressed. “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.” With that said, he refused to allow his youngest son to leave.

With the passage of time, Jacob and his sons had eaten all of their food and it was time to buy more grain. After being reminded that they could not see the man (Joseph, the grain seller) without bringing their younger brother with them, Jacob reluctantly allowed Benjamin to accompany his brothers to Egypt. Judah, who had suggested selling Joseph to the traders many years earlier, accepted responsibility for his safety.

To further assure favor from the Egyptians, Jacob returned the money from the first trip along with money for the grain they were going to buy. He also sent a gift of some of the best produce that they had—including spices, honey and nuts.

Compounding their fears of reprisal, upon arrival in Egypt, Joseph ordered that they be taken to his house to dine at noon. They expected to be taken as slaves because of the money that had been returned in their sacks.

Joseph was overcome with emotion again when he saw his brother, Benjamin. He hurried out of their presence into his bedroom and wept. After composing himself, he washed his face and returning to them said, “Serve the bread.”

Following the meal, the test of Jacob’s sons continued. Joseph ordered the sacks to be filled as much as they could carry. He also ordered that their money again be placed in the mouth of their sacks AND that his silver cup would be placed in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack.

Soon after the brothers left the next morning for home, Joseph sent his steward to overtake them and confront them with, “Why have you repaid evil for good?”

When the silver cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, they were promptly returned to face Joseph again at his house. He proposed to send everyone back home except for Benjamin, who would become his slave because of his misdeed.

Judah, being responsible for Benjamin pled for his release because of his father’s love of his youngest son. He stated that his father would die of grief if Benjamin were not returned to him. Judah climaxed his appeal by offering himself as a slave instead of Benjamin.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 26. Joseph Blessed and Punished in Egypt

Gen. 39:1-41:52

Many times, we fail to see how the events in our lives work together for our good. This was true in Joseph’s life. As he began his duties in the house of Potiphar, the Lord was with him in everything he did. Potiphar prospered and Joseph gained much favor in his master’s eyes. He even became chief of everything in the house.

The young man, Joseph was handsome and Potiphar’s wife made advances toward him. Even though he was in a pagan country, he remembered to not yield to those temptations and sin against God. Each time he was approached, he would flee from the woman. In time, she falsely accused him of making advances toward her and he was banished into prison. It’s possible that Potiphar did not believe his wife or he would have had Joseph executed.

God continued to bless Joseph in prison. He was soon placed in charge of the other prisoners.

Joseph, the dreamer became Joseph, the interpreter of dreams. Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker, who had been imprisoned, had dreams that Joseph accurately interpreted. He asked the butler to remember him after his release from prison.

Two full years after the butler’s release from prison and thirteen years after Joseph was sold into Egypt, Pharaoh had a couple of troubling dreams. Seven fat and seven lean cows (possibly hippopotamus) came up out of the Nile River. The lean cows ate the fat cows, but were not any fuller. Also, seven heads of plump grain grew on a stalk and seven blighted heads grew on another stalk. The blighted heads consumed the plump heads.

Pharaoh was quite perplexed about the interpretation of these dreams after no one was able to tell him their meaning. We sometimes make promises that are promptly forgotten. The butler finally remembered Joseph’s request and informed the king about the forgotten prisoner.

Upon meeting the king, thirty-year-old Joseph stated, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”

Pharaoh related the dreams to Joseph and he relayed their meaning. There would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.

Joseph was then placed in charge of storing grain during the seven plentiful years in preparation for the next seven. He became second to Pharaoh in authority in the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh gave Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On to Joseph for a wife. They had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 25. Early Life of Joseph

Gen.37:1-38:30

One of the mistakes of parenting among some of the early biblical characters was of showing favoritism among their children. Joseph being the first-born of Jacob’s late favorite wife, Rachel was Jacob’s favorite son. His early life was one of pride and arrogance.

Joseph’s dreams purporting him to be superior to his family members and the gift from his father of the coat of many colors depicting royalty fueled the flames of jealousy and envy among his brothers.

At the age of seventeen, Joseph was sent by his father to check on the welfare of his brothers who were tending the flocks more than fifty miles from home. Through a series of events brought on by their envy, Joseph’s brothers sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelite/Midianite traders. They deceived their father into thinking that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

During this period of time, levirate marriage was practiced. If a man died without leaving seed to carry his name, his brother or nearest male kinsman was required to marry his widow.

Judah’s firstborn son, Er was a wicked man and God took his life before he had a son. Through a series of events and a failed promise, Tamar, Er’s widow dressed as a harlot and enticed Judah. Through this union, twin sons were born. The firstborn was Perez and he eventually figured in the earthly lineage of Jesus.

We shall see in succeeding studies how God’s providence worked through these events and through the sale of Joseph into the Egyptian household of Potiphar, an officer of King Pharaoh. Joseph would indeed save Israel and his children from starvation.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 24. The Lord Speaks; Job Repents and Is Restored

Job 38:1-42:17

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job had asked to speak directly with God. That desire was fulfilled as God spoke to him from a whirlwind. He asked Job a lengthy series of rhetorical questions designed to make him realize his lack of understanding of God and all of His creation. God—not man has control and dominion over all nature. One cannot reasonably consider those questions and continue to justifiably believe that all of God’s creation just happened by chance. Nothing nor no one but a divine Creator could have possibly spoken all of those things with their perfect timing and coordination into existence. No! Job was neither present nor even a thought of man at that time.

Since Job had vehemently proclaimed his innocence and intimated that God had been unfair, He asked Job if he were in a position to correct Him. His reply was. “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You…” He failed to completely renounce his previous statements, but would have nothing more to say about the subject.

God challenged Job to sit in His place and oversee the affairs of the world. Many of us are sometimes haughty and bold in our speech until being faced with the reality of our attitudes. Job was finally made to recognize the folly of his charges against God and he reacted in humility.

“I know that You can do everything…I have uttered what I did not understand…I have heard of You…But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” His repentance was not for the wickedness that his friends had falsely stated, but for his attitude of arrogance toward God. Man will suffer afflictions during his lifetime. It is imperative that he maintain a proper attitude during those trials.

After Job’s statement of repentance, God turned His attention to his three friends. He was angry with them because they had spoken wrongly against Job. The Lord commanded them to offer a burnt offering and to allow Job to pray for them to avoid punishment for their folly.

As for Job, he had passed the test. His losses were restored twice as much as he had before. He had seven sons, three daughters as before and many thousands of livestock. Job lived one hundred and forty more years and was able to see four generations of children and grandchildren. “So Job died, old and full of days.”

“All’s well that ends well” is a well-known expression of men. It is stated to a greater degree in Rom. 8:23. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” As Job was, one is highly prone to fail to recognize that truth because God does not work according to man’s thoughts and desires nor according to his time table. However, in His time and maybe unknown to anyone else, His good will be accomplished.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 23. Elihu Breaks His Silence

Jan. 23. Elihu Breaks His Silence Job 32:1-37:24

Job’s three friends had nothing else to say because they saw that he would not be convinced of his “unrighteousness.” Elihu, a man much younger than they, had politely refrained from speaking until they had finished. He was angry with Job because he had justified himself instead of God. His anger was against the three friends because they had condemned Job, but had no answers to correct him. He reasoned that with their age, they should have had greater wisdom. If one cannot offer positive suggestions to correct a situation, it may be best to remain silent. He was eager to offer his solution to Job’s complex life.

Elihu humbly addressed Job and offered his assistance as a spokesman before God on his behalf. He used their shared heritage—creation from the dust as common ground to gain Job’s trust. Elihu then rebuked Job because as a mere man he had accused God of being unjust. He is greater than man and has His own methods of chastisement. Man is made stronger by the things that he suffers. The younger man paused and gave Job an opportunity to reply or to allow him to continue to speak.

As he resumed his speech, Elihu asked all present to continue to hear his plea for justice. He summarized Job’s declarations of innocence, but defended God’s righteousness and justice as being in conflict with Job’s claims of injustice. God, the all-powerful creator of all things has the right to destroy it all if He wishes. Job had no special rights from an impartial God that were not available to all. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God and He has the divine right to exercise His will. Elihu charged Job with rebellion along with challenging God to accept his righteousness on his terms instead of God’s.

God does not depend upon our righteousness for His survival nor does our unrighteousness diminish from His existence. However, without HIM, WE are NOTHING! He desires for us to be righteous for our own welfare. Our actions also have an influence and impact upon others. Elihu spoke words to that effect as he continued his speech to Job and his three friends. He charged vain speaking as another reason that Job had not heard from God.

Elihu continued by further speaking for God. He is mighty and just treating everyone alike whether rich, poor, wise or foolish. However, the righteous enjoy special blessings and hypocrites are subject to His wrath. It is imperative that His children give Him the proper praise even when there may be upheavals in their lives. God is mighty beyond words. He has complete control over all of His creation.

As he continued, Elihu further described the control that God has over the universe. Weather and nature obey His directions. Man has no control or power over any of the forces of nature. God causes all things for His own good. Since He and His creation are so great and hard to understand, it is necessary for lowly man to submit to and fear Him.

#chronological-bible-study

Jan. 22. Job Summarizes His Defense

Job 29:1-31:40

We were introduced to Job at the beginning of this account as a man who was “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” As time unfolded, upon losing his children, earthly possessions and health, he was confronted by three friends who instead of comforting him accused him of being a wicked person receiving just rewards for his sins.

Job reflected upon the life that he had once enjoyed. He remembered that God was responsible for his prosperity as He had watched over him in his prominence in his community. Young, old and nobles alike respected his presence and counsel. Great men are a blessing to the poor and downtrodden as well as those of their own economic and social levels. Those also were attributes of the righteous Job. No one could ask nor expect a better life than he was enjoying. He expected his life to continue unchanged until death. We should always expect the unexpected to happen and be able to adjust to whatever changes may occur. “So I dwelt as a king in the army…”

BUT (a mighty word with only three letters) the unexpected did happen to Job. As he turned from reflecting upon what had been before, he observed that instead of being respected and honored by the elite of his day, even the sons of outcasts were taunting and ridiculing him. The same people with whom he had shown compassion had in turn begun to look upon him with disdain. His mind was in turmoil and his body was weakened by the sores that covered it. Neither day nor night brought relief from his pain and suffering. Job directly addressed God, who seemingly had ignored his cries. He reminded Him of his compassion for the troubled and poor and that in his own despair, instead of compassion, he had only seen evil.

Job enumerated a long list of offences that were prevalent among the wicked and stated that if he had been guilty of any of them, he would be willing to receive judgment for those offences. He was confident that he was free of all of those sins and that God who sees and knows all would vindicate him. With those statements, he ended his defense against the charges of his friends.

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Jan. 21. Bildad Speaks Again; Job’s Defense

Job 25:1-28:28

Bildad spoke briefly regarding the majesty and power of God contrasted to the lowliness of man before being interrupted by Job. In his mind nothing that they had said had given any relief to him in his weaknesses.

Job continued by describing the real power, majesty and glory of God and the many mighty forces of nature that were created and are controlled by Him. Even those are only the edges and a faint whisper of God’s thunderous power.

As his friends had repeatedly berated him for his wickedness, Job strongly defended his integrity before them and God. He stated that as long as breath remained in him, he would speak no wickedness nor deceit. Neither would he concede that they had been right in their judgment against him. He repeated some of the things that they had said as truth, but that they had been misapplied toward him. A wicked man may appear to be prosperous, but his end is condemnation.

Man in his ingenuity has developed various methods of mining for precious metals, gems and other treasures buried inside the earth. Over the thousands of years of his existence, he has invented many wonderful machines, including useful and worthless gadgets. He may credit his own great wisdom for those enormous accomplishments. However, what are wisdom and understanding? Can they be found in people, places or things? One must look to God, not to man for their definition. God’s wisdom was responsible for the earth’s creation and all that is in it. Man’s wisdom and understanding are defined thusly, “Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding .”

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Jan. 20. Job Replies to Eliphaz’s new Accusation

Job 22:1-24:25

As one might say today, Eliphaz threw the book at Job. Nothing that man can do will add to the glory of God. All that a man can do is for his own good. Previously, his friends had accused Job of unspecified sins. Eliphaz turned from vague accusations to specific charges. He stated that Job had falsely obligated people; taken clothing from the needy and failed to provide food, water and aid to the hungry, weary, widows and orphans. Those were and are grievous sins against society. Man’s actions cannot be hidden from God even though one may think that clouds and darkness will conceal them. Eliphaz questioned Job if he would continue in his old ways of sin. He then began to urge Job to repent and return to the Lord. If he would repent, he would see the many blessings that God provides.

“But I didn’t do it!” could have been Job’s reply. One can imagine how Job felt as he had been accused of sins that he did not commit. All of us have probably been in that position at some time during our lives. After Eliphaz had finished speaking, Job spoke again. He began with the desire to find God. His wish to speak face to face with God had not been realized. He was confident of his innocence and had faith that he would be justified. However, he was terrified at the thought of being in the presence of the Almighty but he wanted to understand why in his righteousness he was suffering.

Job continued his line of thought by enumerating a large number of transgressions that were being committed by wicked men, but seemingly being overlooked by the Lord. In his mind, they should have received swift punishment for their deeds, but it did not happen. He concluded that even though the wicked seem to prosper and escape retribution for their deeds, God knows and will eventually bring them to justice.

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Jan. 19. Bildad, Zophar and Job Continue to Speak

Job 18:1-21:34

Bildad rebuked Job for his many words of denial. In his eyes, Job had rejected their counsel as foolishness. However, even they were serving Satan by adding to Job’s mental misery. He then renewed and repeated the charges that he and the other two friends had leveled against the suffering Job. Truly, the punishment of the wicked as Bildad described it is certain and universal as it includes all sinners from the far east to the far west. He continued to ignore the fact that many times innocent people do suffer hardships and afflictions.

“But I don’t know a thing in this whole wide world That’s worse than being alone.” Those words from a popular hymn describe the feeling that Job expressed as he replied to the scathing words of his “friend” Bildad. As a once respected patriarch, he lamented his position as being alienated from God, family, servants and friends. Even in his lamentation, Job remained hopeful that his innocence would result in the Redeemer eventually rescuing him from his torment. He had faith in a future new body with God. In closing his reply, he warned his friends of the danger of their being punished for their persecution of him.

“This is the portion from God for a wicked man, The heritage appointed to him by God.” Even without openly calling Job a wicked man, Zophar strongly intimated in his reply to him that his misery was the direct result of his wickedness. The wicked may seem to prosper, but that prosperity will eventually be cut off short and he will be soon forgotten. Sin has a sweet taste, but as sweet food turns sour in the stomach, the results of sin turn sour and become as poison as a viper’s venom. In the end, there is no permanent joy in a sinful life—only misery. Zophar refused to accept Job’s belief that a Redeemer would rescue him, but instead God had rejected him and that the heavens would reveal his iniquity.

Job asked his friends to listen carefully and to let him speak. After that, they could continue if they wished. He began by pointing out that the wicked do often live long and powerful lives. Everything that they do seems to prosper and that they live a life of pleasure. When the time of death comes, they die without prolonged suffering. They accomplish all of those without knowing God in their lives. Job inferred that conversely the opposite could also be true for the righteous—that they could suffer hardships and go to an early grave. It is all in the hand of God (Mt. 5:45). One’s wealth and status do not determine his final destiny. He also refuted their idea of the wicked being punished in this life, as he stated, “For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; They shall be brought out on the day of wrath.”

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