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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Six, Yea Seven

In Job five, we find Eliphaz opining about the “six-yea-seven” things from which the Lord will deliver His people. I do not believe Eliphaz was speaking from any kind of Holy Spirit inspiration. Yet, it is interesting that he placed the “scourge of the tongue” right in there with famine, dearth, early death, war and the danger of the beasts of Job’s day. I don’t think we have to be inspired with revelation to understand that the tongues of wicked men are often our greatest enemies. The tongue of wickedness is a worse enemy than famine, war or dearth (all of which can make us poor and destitute), because the tongue is not just destructive of health or safety; it can be damaging to a Christian’s good reputation. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches! (I read that in a book!) Here’s Eliphaz on “six, yea, seven”:

For he maketh sore, and bindeth up;

He woundeth, and his hands make whole.

He will deliver thee in six troubles;

Yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.

In famine he will redeem thee from death;

And in war from the power of the sword.

Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue;

Neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.

At destruction and dearth thou shalt laugh;

Neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.

For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field;

And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.

And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace;

And thou shalt visit thy fold, and shalt miss nothing.

Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great,

And thine offspring as the grass of the earth.

Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age.

In fact, it’s interesting to notice that other “six-yea-seven” passage over in Proverbs 6:16-19—the one that chronicles the things the Lord hates— has at least three things that derive from wicked tongues: a lying tongue, a false witness and one who sows discord. 

These six things the Lord hates,

Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look,

A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

No wonder, marvel or surprise at all that James, thus, says, in 3:6-8: 

And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison.

It’s also pretty interesting that James, in this short paragraph about the tongue, credits its danger directly to hell. He’s very clear in the assertion that the devil can use my tongue to accomplish his purposes. The tongue is a great and lively tool. We can restore the tool to its Owner and Maker or we can let it be taken by the thief and deceiver. Awareness of our jobs in tongue-taming is a great step toward true success. Master the tongue and avoid the arson of the wicked one. Recognize the disastrous effects that come on the righteous from someone’s wild tongue as a pretty direct attack from Satan—and get your shield up (Ephesians 6:17)! The darts are appropriately termed “fiery.”

(Both James and Job figured out the tongue. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1:22). James, according to good history,  gave his earthly life to gain the reward, by repeating a brave confession of Jesus as the Christ.” I pray I can figure it out, too. Tongue-taming is a life-long challenge.)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Book Does End…

Someone reminded me this morning about  how people came to visit Job– to get Job to repent of sins that he did not have…sins that he had not committed. She said this: “The book does end.”  I’m not sure but what I found more comfort in that little Biblical edification than any in recent times. 

I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to get people to repent or repenting myself of the sins that easily beset me. I’ve discussed repentance a hundred times with people who were learning the gospel for the first time. I’ve talked about repentance with couples who were putting marriages back together. I have often struggled with personal sin and gone through the heart process of repentance. I do that personal struggle thing pretty much all the time. But I’ve never spent much time thinking about people who were being encouraged to repent of sins that had not been committed. When I think about Job, I understand that’s a real phenomenon and the book of Job draws my attention to that brand of persecution. Just a few thoughts that come to my mind:

  1. If people say, in any situation, “There’s no innocent party in this,” look at the book of Job. Although he was a man, and thus a sinner, he was completely innocent of the devil’s specific work that brought dire consequences in many innocent lives when “there was a day” (Job 1:6). Sometimes (not always), when sin’s consequences are wreaking havoc, absolutely, positively there are innocent parties.  
  2. Even though Job was innocent in the matter, there were no Job supporters, encouragers, and helpers that we read about. Sometimes, that may still be the case. But there was an Advocate still on the throne in heaven. Job was forced to look to that one Advocate “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). I love that he said that. I always want to say that to the one sure Advocate of the righteous.
  3. I’m quite sure that there were people all around who did not know the full story of the “why” of Job’s suffering. (Even Job himself did not know.) Job was a well-known servant of God and surely there were people who were aghast at his condition— the ashes, the potsherd, the mourning—people who just did not know the back-story of his innocence or who simply didn’t want to/need to know it or become involved. Surely that’s often the case today.  
  4. Job made mistakes as he was suffering. He misunderstood his own suffering. In 12:6-9 he thought God was just letting wickedness have its day. Surely there are still those who wonder how long God will wait before revealing and punishing evil. God had to “reel in”the heart of Job and show His sovereignty and ask Job some questions (Job 38-42). But that did not mean Job was responsible for the devastation in his world. It meant he reacted to the devastation with doubt and despair, emotions that even faithful human beings sometimes experience.  
  5. The book did have an end. There is great comfort in that, if you are being falsely accused. Although, I know I do not have the wisdom of Solomon or the discernment that it takes to always see the innocent suffering ones, I am going to try to remember Job and refuse to be the Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz who assume the worst and assign blame to the innocent. 

Are there innocent parties in tragic sin situations? Absolutely. There is no generically innocent man or woman before God.  That’s why Calvary occurred. Praise God for Calvary. But it is also true that there are many righteous people who may find themselves in horrific situations caused by the specific sins of other people; not their own. There are absolutely innocent parties who suffer in catastrophic situations caused by sin in lives around them. But, even the sinner who has caused pain and suffering can be forgiven by the precious blood without which we all find ourselves in hopelessness. That’s the best news about the devil and sin. Christ has won the ultimate victory. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: November is Joshua!

4697e86328742c9afc704fd54142bb90It’s November…time to start digging into the life of Joshua, a man who paid dearly for the faithlessness of his brethren. I think we are going to be reminded of a great personal responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ to be growing constantly stronger for Him. When we fail within our own hearts to trust Him, difficult consequences will inevitably befall those around us.

But, for today, let’s spend one final moment with Job. A couple of questions have surfaced in the last few days of our study. I’m sure you’ve researched these on your own, but let’s briefly mention them here as well.

  1. Who wrote the book of Job? The short answer is that no one knows. A couple of guesses are that Job himself wrote it or that Moses may have penned it. We’ll just have to ask that when we get to heaven. Always remember, though, that our knowledge (or not) of the human author has nothing to do with our faith in the book’s divine origin. The account of Job is mentioned as being historically accurate and significant by other Bible writers, specifically Ezekiel and James.
  2. Who are the “sons of God” mentioned in verse six of chapter one; those who “came to present themselves to God”? Most scholars believe this assembly to refer to the angels. In I Kings 22: 6-23, the prophet Micaiah describes a strikingly similar event  in heaven and calls those in attendance the “Host of heaven.”

I hope you got to listen to the podcast. Just skimming the surface of this challenging book, we found profundity in every chapter. It taught us much about the character of God, but perhaps even more about human nature as it faces suffering. Since all of us will experience smaller doses of the pain endured by Job, may we take to heart his advice when we start to ask the difficult question, “Why?”

Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth…

I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted (Job 40:4; 42;2).

When we begin to question God in the dark days  of life, may we bring to mind chapters 38-41 of this great book and realize that, like Job, we may be swimming into waters that are too deep for us. May we lay our hands on our mouths in awe and silence and  be grateful for the power of the One who is still in control.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: You Don’t Have to Know Why.

df939c9928d5eb676a2802dbce31d63fThe study of Job has been, even though I’ve done multiple read-throughs in the past, once again, riveting. I’ve never before studied by marking his questions and I’ve never been so convinced that the most powerful thing with which we walk away is that he never knew the answers to most of them. Job suffered as we likely never will—in intensity and duration; yet he never knew that he was the pawn in an attempt by Satan to trump God. But, in the end, he had to just put his hand over His own mouth and stop talking. He had waded into waters that were too deep for Him. He knew that he had to hush–and let God be God.

Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?I lay my hand on my mouth….Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

Here are the categorizations of verses that we discussed this week on the podcast. I hope they will be one small tool in helping us all realize that we don’t always need to know all the answers. We just need to know the One who does.

  1. The Question of great faith: Job 2:10.
  2. Questions of hopelessness:  Job 3:11-12,16,20-23 and 10:18.
  3. Questions defending his own “right” to complain: Job 6: 5-6,11-13 and 21:4.
  4. Questions for relationship clarification (“You are not my spiritual advisors.”): Job 6:22-23,25-26.
  5. Questions from intense suffering: Job 7:1,4,12.
  6. Questions asserting his own insignificance (Who am I to be the focus of these trials?”):Job 7:17-21 and 10:20.
  7. Questions asserting his inability to “win” in any match with God: Job 9:2,12,14,19,24,29.
  8. Logical questions; reasoning with God: Job 10: 3-10.
  9. Questions rebuking his friends: Job 12:3,9,11; 13:7-11,14,19,23-25; 16:3,6; 19:2,3,22 and 26:1-4.
  10. Questions about the brevity of life: Job 14:3,4,10.
  11. Questions regarding loneliness: Job 17:3,15,16.
  12. Questions about the prosperity of the wicked: Job 21:7,15-18,21-22,28-31,34; 24:1,25; and 27:8-12.
  13. Questions about God’s nature: Job 23:6,13 and 26:14.
  14. Questions about the source of wisdom: Job 28:12,20.
  15. Questions about mockers: Job 30:2,24-25.
  16. Questions about his own innocence: Job 31:1-4,14-15.
  17. Final questions that settle matters: 40:4 and 42:3.