In chapter 13, after strongly rebuking his friends, Job turns his attention directly to God. He is at a loss to understand why all this calamity has come on him. In chapter 14 he talks to God about the frailness of humanity and seems to prepare himself to die, perhaps even yearning for it.
Be sure to read MacArthur’s notes for today’s readings. He jumps ahead to some of the later chapters as he explains that Job’s problem was not the belief that he was righteous, as his friends thought, but his over-familiarity in demanding an answer to why he was suffering such hardship.
We, too, can be tempted to demand answers to our “whys.” While I don’t believe God is put-off by sincere questions from his hurting children, we need to remember that He is God and we are not! Isaiah 55.8-9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
In chapter 40 we will see Job’s reaction after God responded to all his why’s. He said, “I lay my hand over my mouth” (Job 40.4).
Solomon has been king for some time and God had blessed him and the nation of Israel beyond imagination. Can you imagine a time in history when the blessings of God were so great that silver was accounted for nothing? And, in fact, the gold that Solomon acquired was measured in “talents.” A talent was 100 pounds and would probably be worth over $5,000,000.00 today.
And it wasn’t just the monetary blessings, God had blessed Solomon with great wisdom—so much so—that the Queen of Sheba traveled 1200 miles at a time when there were no jets, no trains, not even cars, only camels, horses and carts—just to see if it was true!
But then to see how the sinful nature of man can allow even the blessings of God to become a snare. Solomon began to accumulate wealth in a way that he had been forbidden to do. It’s not that it’s wrong to “save” or to have money in the bank, or even to have material goods. Remember, God gave Joseph the wisdom to set aside stores of food to last Egypt through 7 years of famine and enough to sell to people from other nations.
But when we quit relying on God and begin to rely on the “strength of horses” and how many “talents of gold” we have stored up, we are setting ourselves up for a fall. Today we may not rely on horses and we may or may not have much gold, but we can easily rely on our retirement plans, our 401Ks, the Social Security System or the government, when God wants us to rely on Him. He is to be our source and our trust is to be in Him, no matter what means He uses to meet our needs.
And what about much learning? Is there danger in education?
Even great wisdom, if it’s the world’s wisdom instead of God’s, can be a stumbling block. Romans 1 tells us:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (vv. 20-22).
That is the state of much of our educational system today.
Once we begin to focus on things other than God, we can easily be drawn into greater and greater sin. In tomorrow’s reading we’ll see the downward spiral of sin in Solomon’s life.
Have you ever felt like the psalmist—so overwhelmed with problems that you felt like you were “up to your neck in them”? Here the psalmist was even falsely blamed for being the source of the problems. Tomorrow we will see that in spite of it all, the writer kept his eyes on God knowing that He would vindicate him in due time.
Verse 18, “A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, and becomes surety for his friend.”
The word “understanding” is often used in Proverbs and means “the ability to process information.”
This verse is about “co-signing.” So we could paraphrase it, “A man without the ability to process information co-signs for a friend.”
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?
Besides not being the wise thing for us as the co-signer, it is usually the wrong thing to do where the other person is concerned. There is often a reason they are unable to purchase something on their own: their age, their income, or past decisions, for example. Too many times we are getting in the way of God’s work in their lives and allowing them to get in over their heads.
There may be a few exceptions, but I have found they are few and far between.
In chapter 11 Jesus had performed the great miracle of raising Lazarus after he had been dead for four days. It caused some to believe and others to plot to kill him (11.45, 53). The same is true today. While God’s handiwork is everywhere, those who choose not to believe are not only not persuaded, but angry at the suggestion He is at work!
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What does it mean that God visits the iniquity or the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and forth generation? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for their parents sins?
Verse 14.18 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.”
What does that mean? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for them?
Let’s look at another passage of Scripture:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezek. 18.20).
Scripture never contradicts Scripture. So we need to dig a little deeper to understand our passage from Numbers.
It’s my understanding that when the word translated “visited” is used it refers to physical consequences. And children do, often, suffer physical consequences for their parents’ sins.
They may be exposed to horrible lifestyles, suffer physical or sexual abuse, live in poverty, or be neglected in many ways.
Other choices and lifestyles affect children, too. For instance, when parents choose to divorce, the children are tossed back and forth between two households, sometimes put in the middle of arguments, and have limited time with one or both parents. Continue reading →
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant …”
How is your parenting? Are you parenting with a true servant heart? Are you raising children who will have servant hearts when they become husbands, wives, parents, employees or bosses?
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They said to Him, “We are able.”
23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
What a picture this passage is of our sinful, selfish nature apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Later we will see the change in the Disciples after the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them and the other believers for the first time.
But now the Disciples, who have been with Him for a large portion of His ministry, listening to Him teach and learning from Him, are still focused on themselves. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, grown men, either convince or allow their mother to come and ask Jesus if they can be His two top advisers when He starts to rule.
It’s obvious they still don’t understand the kind of a kingdom He has come to establish. The Jews expected their Messiah to come and overthrow the oppressive Roman government, but Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom.
The rest of the Disciples weren’t much better, “And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers” (v. 24). The text continues:
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (vv. 25-28).
I have to wonder if there wasn’t a bit of a sigh, a “Don’t you guys get it?” But instead, He explained how godly, Christian leadership should look.
No matter what we are called to do in the body of Christ, whether in our personal and public ministries, or in our personal, familial and secular lives, we are called to have servant hearts. That means we are to have servant attitudes in our marriages, with our children, with our extended families, in our neighborhoods, in the work place, and in the church.
How might that look in our parenting, for example? It does not mean we wait on them hand and foot and neglect teaching them responsibility. It means we cultivate a desire to teach them respect, responsibility, and obedience, not out of a desire to make our own lives easier or to look like successful parents to others, but out of our desire to see them grow up to be godly men and women.
Serving our children includes godly, loving discipline and doing it consistently, even when we’re tired and would rather keep watching TV. It means disciplining when you have worked all day and feel guilty about it, because you know it’s what they need!
Spoiling them, catering to their every whim, giving them every toy or gadget, always letting them do what they want, is not being a loving servant to them. When our children grow up thinking they are the center of the universe and “deserve” everything they can get, we have done them a huge disservice! In fact, we have sinned against them! Ask yourself, “Am I raising the kind of son or daughter I’d want to be married to, have working for me, or have as my boss?” Continue reading →