THE SINNER’S FRIEND
Spirit of the living God, I pray that you will grant me a right faith, a sure hope, and a perfect love.
Read JOB 12
12 Then Job replied:
2 “Doubtless you are the only people who matter,
and wisdom will die with you!
3 But I have a mind as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know all these things?
4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
though I called on God and he answered—
a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed,
and those who provoke God are secure—
those God has in his hand.[a]
7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.
11 Does not the ear test words
as the tongue tastes food?
12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?
Does not long life bring understanding?
13 “To God belong wisdom and power;
counsel and understanding are his.
14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;
those he imprisons cannot be released.
15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;
if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
16 To him belong strength and insight;
both deceived and deceiver are his.
17 He leads rulers away stripped
and makes fools of judges.
18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings
and ties a loincloth[b] around their waist.
19 He leads priests away stripped
and overthrows officials long established.
20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers
and takes away the discernment of elders.
21 He pours contempt on nobles
and disarms the mighty.
22 He reveals the deep things of darkness
and brings utter darkness into the light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;
he makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in darkness with no light;
he makes them stagger like drunkards.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we shall gain the victory.’1
Job begins his response to his friends with a simple defense of his own position. Of course, he has considered the obvious, conventional wisdom that they have doled out to him. It is not uncommon to be reminded of such things when we are unwell or suffering chronic problems. Job, however, is not being arrogant. He claims no superiority, only equality (‘I am not inferior to you,’ v 3). For us, knowing who we are in Christ is a vital part of handling long-term struggles of all kinds. Job also claims a degree of acceptance with God that must have surprised his friends (v 4), but we know, from the first two chapters of his book, that he is right. This confidence marks a new start in Job’s defense.
He notices (v 5) that people who are having an easy time in life do not always have much room for those whose situation is tough. This was the case with his friends. Not so with Jesus, who was so concerned about those in need and the disadvantaged that he was called a friend of sinners. Could you be? Jesus didn’t lecture them, he loved and lifted them.
‘To God belong wisdom and power;’ declares Job in verse 13. He has resolved to trust when he cannot fathom the works of God in his life. He has decided that no human counselor, not even kings nor priests (vs 17–19), can truly grasp the power and ways of God in their fullness. His words here foreshadow the end of the book, when his many requests to know the reason for his suffering are answered only by God’s question, ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?’2 What a mystery!
Take a moment to praise God for his amazing wisdom and power and ask him to help you trust where you cannot understand his ways.
Dear God, keep me humble and always open to learn more of you and your ways. May my sharing with others be grace-filled.
1 Ps 60:11,12 2 Job 38:4
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