Sunday, April 2, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - April 2, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 25:31-46

Numbers 32-34

Job 2

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Once again, I'd like to continue in the Book of Job for my comments for today. Some of the things I shared yesterday are more fully developed in the reading today:

Job 2:7-10 "So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."

I once heard a preacher talking on the subject of receiving "evil" from God. Of course, we all know that God never sends us anything - nor ever allows evil to come to us.

Romans 8:28  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

So, what does Job mean when he tells his wife that we should be equally gracious and trusting of God when He sends us good, or evil? While it is true that God never allows or sends us anything that is evil, that doesn't mean that every experience feels good to us. 

As an example, consider the experience of martyrdom. Some who have loved and followed God have faced a martyr's death. Certainly dying a martyr's death doesn't seem "good" from the perspective of the one going through that experience! Yet, it is "good" in that the blood of the martyrs is "seed". In other words, God wouldn't allow His child to die without any good coming from it. He only allows it if the witness of it will serve to bring someone else to Christ.

The "evil" which Job is talking about was those difficult and even painful experiences which God allows or brings upon us, because He knows that they will have a good outcome or that they have a good purpose.

But what we don't often realize is that "good" and "evil" are like two trains which run on parallel tracks. And they often "arrive" at the same time. Job was experiencing the "evil" of having lost everything - including his health and his children. Yet, the good in the situation was that Job was honored to defend the Character of God. He stood trustingly as a demonstration of faithfulness to God, amidst the worst-case-scenario level of a trial.

So clear was Job's vision of Who God is that he trusted God's Goodness implicitly, even in the face of all the "evil" he was experiencing. This is  why Job could say, " Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," Job 13:15.   

We need to know and trust God to this level also. To that end, consider  the story of Jacob wrestling all night with the angel. The angel of Yahweh didn't just randomly come along and jump on the first bystander he happened to find. God had sent the angel on a Divine Mission - to seek out Jacob, specifically.

But Jacob didn't discern who had come to him that night. Perhaps he feared it was his angry brother, Esau, who had come to do him harm. Jacob fought, wrestling as if his life depended on it.

When Jacob finally realized that he was wrestling with an angel of God, the angel asked him his name. Now this is interesting...  Again, the angel was sent to Jacob specifically, so it isn't like the angel of Yahweh didn't know this man's name. Why does the angel ask his name?

When Jacob spoke his name, it wasn't about telling his name to the angel. It was a confession! Jacob is Ya'acob in Hebrew. Using the Strong's Concordance, we can see that Ya'acob is "heel catcher" or "supplanter". His name is from the root a'acab from which comes the Hebrew word acob, "deceiver". In fact, this is the heart condition of all of us. The word "acob" is translated as "deceitful" in the following verse:

Jeremiah 17:9  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"

In giving the angel his name, Jacob was admitting the truth about himself. He was a deceiver. In fact, this is also the truth about us all. Naturally, we are all like Jacob, with deceitful and wicked hearts. But that night, God had come to give Jacob exactly what he needed to be transformed. It would appear to Jacob to be a "good" gift and an "evil" gift. Yet, again, both were exactly what Jacob needed to receive so that he could cease from being Jacob, and become Israel. Israel means "as a prince you have prevailed with God."

The Good gift was the blessing of Yahweh, which Jacob sought, and received:

Genesis 32:26-30  "And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he (Jacob) said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed... And he blessed him there.  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."  

The "Evil" gift was that the angel touched Jacob's thigh (Genesis 32:25) causing him to become permanently crippled. From that moment on, Jacob had a new name, the blessing of Yahweh, and he walked with a limp. Why did God have the angel do this? It kept Jacob humble and dependent upon God. It caused him to always remember the blessing of God which was upon his life.

Good and evil are like two trains that run on parallel tracks and usually arrive at the same time.  This is why Job wisely asked:

"Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10

We need to  trust God's Leading in our lives. He always only brings what is really for Good (Romans 8:28). But it may not always seem that way to us at the time. In fact, we often miss the blessings of God because we're so busy complaining about the discomfort of a trial, that we fail to see the blessing in the situation. God is working to grow and develop our characters. We, like Jacob, are to be "as princes who prevail with God." And for that to happen in us, we must say (and mean) like Job, that we will equally accept both the "good" and "evil" which comes from His Hand.