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WEEK 38, DAY 6

Job 35-36 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 12 Read Text

“Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

Job 35-36
Elihu answers a question Job didn’t really ask (but the prodigal son’s older brother did—see Luke 15): How am I better off than if I had sinned? His answer: our righteousness or wickedness doesn’t affect God, only ourselves and other people. God stands above it all; God despises no one (36:5), but invites all to listen and serve him (36:11). Listening and responding versus ignoring and cherishing anger (36:13) are what distinguishes the wicked from the righteous.

Elihu warns against the temptation to scoff (36:18), which has been Job’s primary concern all along. God is great; his years unsearchable (36:26); he controls even the weather (36:27-33).

2 Corinthians 12
There has been a great deal of speculation on Paul’s thorn in the flesh (v 7-8). Whatever the specifics, it leads to a wonderful sound bite from God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for [my] power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). More synchronicity with Job.

Whatever it is, the thorn was “to keep me from being too elated” based on spiritual experiences that “no mortal is permitted to repeat.” Paul’s boasting-yet-not-boasting, being a “fool,” continues as he comments on competitors for the Corinthians’ faith and discipleship.

The key point: “Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up.”

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WEEK 38, DAY 5

Job 33-34 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 11 Read Text

“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Job 33-34
Elihu—with the impetuosity of youth?—is unafraid to criticize both Job and his friends; assertive about his own wisdom. He is not accusing Job of wickedness (33:7, 33:32), but does he get Job right?

Elihu’s attitude is a version of Job’s: God is never in the wrong (34:10, 12). He questions Job’s claims of innocence (34:5), and his having the boldness to contend against God (33:13). Elihu emphasizes God’s omnipotence and claims that “Job speaks without knowledge, his words are without insight.” Elihu is not saying that Job is wicked, but that he has not gone far enough to accept God as God.

2 Corinthians 11
Paul is determined not to burden anyone as he offers the truth in Christ, in contrast to “false apostles, deceitful workers” (v. 13). He asserts the often-quoted, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (v. 14). He is concerned that the Corinthians will “put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or give you a slap in the face” (v. 20).

As he does in other letters, Paul here “boasts” as “a fool” about the hardships he has endured, and the list is extensive!

WEEK 38, DAY 4

Job 31-32 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 10 Read Text

“I gave you my attention, but there was in fact no one that confuted Job, no one among you that answered his words.”

Job 31-32
Job concludes his final speech by listing sins he has avoided—he wants to be “weighed in a just balance” (31:6). He has not been deceitful; been enticed by a woman; rejected the cause of his slaves; withheld from the poor or widow; raised his hand against the orphan. Job has not trusted in gold; been enticed by idolatry; rejoiced at the ruin of his enemies; concealed his transgressions; abused his land.

The others have nothing more to say, so the younger Elihu takes a turn. He has a different approach than the first three; he is bursting to speak out—and to do so impartially.

2 Corinthians 10
Paul here makes a fascinating assertion that “the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds” (v. 4). A great deal has been inferred from this; what do we think about it?

For Paul, sharing the gospel is a battle; he seeks to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (v. 5).

Some appear to have asserted a discrepancy between Paul on paper and in person. Paul wants to boast only in the Lord, noting that “it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends” (v. 17).

WEEK 38, DAY 3

Job 29-30 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 9 Read Text

“And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”

Job 29-30
Job reflects back on “the months of old” (29:2). He was respected; he helped the poor and the widow; he “broke the fangs of the unrighteous” (29:17). He was content, and a respected leader.

All that has changed. Now he is mocked and avoided. The description of his present state is just as gripping and evocative as his memory of his past, and the two could not be more different. He asserts that God has turned cruel (30:21). After having been kind to the poor and needy, “when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came” (30:26).

2 Corinthians 9
It’s time for the Corinthians to put their money where their beliefs are. “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (v. 6). But their gifts must be voluntary: “God loves a cheerful giver” (v. 7).

The Corinthians will be “enriched in every way” for their “great generosity” (v.11). It’s not just about supplying the needs of others, it’s also about “many thanksgivings to God” (v. 12). While confessing the gospel glorifies God, so does being generous. After all, all we have is God’s “indescribable gift!”

WEEK 38, DAY 2

Job 27-28 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 8 Read Text

“I will teach you concerning the hand of God; that which is with the Almighty I will not conceal.”

Job 27-28
Job continues his final discourse with a stern defense of his integrity. He has no regrets about his conduct.

Job’s describes the wicked: they do not “take delight in the Almighty,” or “call upon God at all times.” Clearly Job is not among that group.

Job then launches into gorgeous poetry that could be straight from Proverbs. There is a mine for silver and gold—miners bring hidden things to light—“But where shall wisdom be found?” (28:12). Mortals don’t know; Gold cannot buy it; Death has only heard rumors. Only God “knows its place” (28:23). It is “the fear of the Lord” (v. 28).

2 Corinthians 8
Paul sees financial giving to help others as a privilege (v. 4). Do we?

The Macedonians have been generous; Paul invites the Corinthians to join them. This invitation is a test: has the generosity of Jesus, who “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (v. 9) sunk in deeply enough to prompt the Corinthians to be generous themselves?

How about us? Paul is asking only for “a fair balance” (v. 13). He wants the Corinthians to “show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you” (v. 24).

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WEEK 38, DAY 1

Job 25-26 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 7 Read Text

“I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.”

Job 25-26
Bildad briefly reiterates the argument that everyone’s a sinner in comparison with God. Ho hum.

Job replies with his “final answer”: the speech he begins in Chapter 26 continues through Chapter 31, and concludes Job’s words (until, at the very end, he unforgettably responds to God and solves the mystery of the book; stay tuned!).

Job begins this discourse with more sarcasm directed at his accusers. Then a powerful evocation of God’s omnipotence, building to 26:14, “These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways; and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”

2 Corinthians 7
Paul’s take on the reaction in Corinth to his previous letter is fascinating. First, he rejoices “not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance” (v. 9). Contrasting “godly” with “worldly” grief (I’d say repentance vs. remorse), he maintains that the former “leads to salvation and brings no regret,” but “worldly grief produces death” (v. 10).

Second, Paul asserts that his letter “was not on account of the one who did the wrong, nor on account of the one who was wronged, but in order that your zeal for us might be made known to you before God” (v. 12). Interesting motive!

WEEK 37, DAY 6

Job 23-24 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 6 Read Text

“Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling!”

Job 23-24
Job is having none of his friends’ pigeon-holing; his concern is God.

Unlike his friends, Job is not scoffing, or accusing—but he is asking, candidly: what’s going on? Job wants his day in court. He knows God will listen.

But God is elusive to Job at the moment: yet one more thing Job must endure.

Job shares none of the simplistic, sanctimonious illusions that his friends rely on. He describes in unvarnished terms deeds of the wicked and the plight of the poor. “If it is not so, who will prove me a liar, and show that there is nothing in what I say?” (24:25).

2 Corinthians 6
More echoes of Job as Paul stresses the urgency of his mission. He wants to put “no obstacle in anyone’s way,” and is therefore willing to endure anything—quite a list (v. 4-10)!—with his heart wide open, if it means that the Corinthians will seize the opportunity to open their hearts as well.

“Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever?” (v. 15b). This transformative life Paul has discovered and now advocates means such big changes that he likens it to moving from idolatry to worship of God. The idea of being separated out, which has always characterized Israel, Paul now appropriates for believers.

WEEK 37, DAY 5

Job 21-22 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 5 Read Text

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Job 21-22
Job, still impatient (“after I have spoken, mock on”), sees through his friends’ easy, erroneous conclusions (“There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood”). Zophir’s assertions about the wicked aren’t borne out by reality. Not only is Job himself in a bad way (“Look at me, and be appalled”), but there are plenty of cases where the wicked seem to be doing just fine.

Eliphaz pipes back up, scoffing, and asks a question sarcastically (v. 4) that will come to be answered in the affirmative (stay tuned). He makes outrageous, baseless accusations—trying to cram Job into his preconceptions with great sanctimony!

2 Corinthians 5
Many famous sound bites in this formidable chapter: v. 4’s “swallowed up by life”; v. 7’s “we walk by faith, not by sight”; v. 14’s “one has died for all, therefore all have died”; v. 15’s “that those who live might live no longer for themselves”; v. 17’s “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation”; v. 20’s “we are ambassadors for Christ”; v. 21’s “he made him to be sin who knew no sin”! Paul’s dilemma—wanting to go home to Jesus, but loving his earthly ministry of reconciliation—is solved by recognizing that pleasing Christ is the point, wherever that leads.

WEEK 37, DAY 4

Job 19-20 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 4 Read Text

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

Job 19-20
Job 19—halfway to chapter 38, where God begins to speak—is arguably the climax of the book. It is an agonized and unyielding statement of faith, a portion of which (19:25-26) is a riveting solo in Handel’s Messiah.

Impatient with the words of his accusers, Job remains unwavering in his conviction that his situation is all God’s doing, and the situation, as he details it, is unbearable.

But Job wants to be absolutely clear on one point: he still trusts God.

Zophar, agitated, accurately notes “a spirit beyond my understanding answers me.” He elaborately makes the case that the wicked will suffer, and come to nothing.

2 Corinthians 4
A day of extraordinary synchronicity between our readings! These two passages are separated by eons—further from each other than Paul is from us. Yet they both reverberate with the same solid faith. Paul’s “For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake” (v. 11) could be describing Job; his words at v. 14 are a direct echo of Job’s above. If only Paul had been with Job (instead of those accusatory friends) to deliver the good news of v. 17-18! Kindred spirits, centuries apart, proclaiming their trust in God in the face of the direst circumstances.

WEEK 37, DAY 3

Job 17-18 Read Text; 2 Corinthians 3 Read Text

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Job 17-18
Job is (understandably) at the end of his rope. He recognizes that everything, including the false accusations, is God’s doing (17:4), though this doesn’t make him feel kindly toward his “friends.”

Job assesses his situation. It’s dire. In addition, his friends are saying up is down. But what good is death? Where then is hope?

Bildad chimes in again. He doesn’t appreciate Job’s (accurate) assessment and accusation. Echoing Eliphaz, he launches into a lengthy description of the wicked and the consequences of wickedness. He is implying that Job’s predicament indicates that he is ungodly; that he does not know God.

2 Corinthians 3
The Corinthian believers themselves are a recommendation letter for Paul, “written on our hearts, to be known and read by all” (v. 2-3). But whatever competence Paul can boast of is wholly God’s doing—it is God who has made him the minister of “a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (v. 6).

Paul continues with evocative imagery to contrast the old covenant with the new. While not everyone is open to this new reality, those who are “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (v.18).

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