Prayer Psalm: 43
Prayer Point: There is someone out there who feels abandoned by God. Pray this psalm on their behalf. It may even be you. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him …”
There are two “I am” statements of Jesus in this passage:
“I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7, 9)
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
What does it mean for us that Jesus is the gate for the sheep?
What makes Jesus the true shepherd of the sheep as opposed to a thief or even a hired hand? The image of a shepherd was used frequently in the Old Testament as a reference to a king, priest or prophet; a leader of the sheep or people of God. If Jesus is the true shepherd, who are the impostors who have come to rob and steal the sheep? What is the mark of a sheep of the true shepherd’s flock? For what reason does God the Father love his Son, Jesus, the true shepherd?
Paul (Saul) has been invited to preach at the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia (a different Antioch than the city they had just come from). What claims does Paul make about Jesus? What does Paul use to support his arguments (notice what he quotes in verses 32-25)? What message does Jesus have for the people in Antioch in Pisidia? What warning does Paul give them? How do the people in the synagogue respond to Paul’s message?
Job 22:1-22, 21-23:7 – “Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied …”
In Chapter 20 Zophar reminds us that the evil cannot prosper. “Nothing is left for him to devour; his prosperity will not endure.” Again, this is what appears to have happened to Job. The upshot: God will punish the wicked by any number of means [they may even end up like you, Job – j.t.] These “friends” of Job may be sincere and are only trying to help him to reach a point of repentance.
Job, in Chapter 21 goes on to refute Zophar: “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes” [remember all ten of Job’s children were killed in one day when the house collapsed around them] Job 21:7-8. And as if to underscore the point: “Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them.” (Job 21:9 NIV) I think Job was quite sensitive to his recent losses. Job later points out that the wicked men make life attractive to the on-looker so that he may want to amend his life in the wrong direction. The wicked appear to prosper and make it all look so easy.
These “friends” are relentless. What does Eliphaz remind Job of in verses 22:1-4? (Eliphaz wants Job to know that God does not need him and perhaps does not even think about him. “What would he (God) gain if your ways were blameless?” (Job 22:3 NIV) Then Eliphaz goes on to list a litany of Job’s sins to support his point.)
What is Eliphaz’ advice to Job beginning in verse 22:21? (Let’s begin with the first word: “Submit”. Eliphaz begins with the assumption that Job is harboring some great sin. He says: “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” (Job 22:21 NIV) There are a couple of things in Eliphaz’ response which deserve closer examination. Eliphaz tells Job to “be at peace” with God. That is profound especially when you consider that well over 2,000 years later Paul the Apostle will make that a cornerstone to the gospel he preaches. We are at war with God and peace is brought (and bought) by the blood of the cross. “…and lay up his words in your heart.” (Job 22:22b) Of course, I picked this out to draw attention to Deuteronomy Chapter 6:5-9 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I [read Moses] give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (NIV) By the time we’re through, we will have memorized those verses in Deuteronomy Chapter 6!)
What is Eliphaz’ suggested course of action for Job? (“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored [another good word to think about – j.t.]; If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. … He will deliver even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” (Job 22:23-25, 30 NIV))
That all sounds reasonable. What could Job possibly have to say about that? Let’s find out! Moving on to Chapter 23.
Job begins almost as if he had not heard Eliphaz. What is Job’s main obstacle? (Job wants a private audience with the LORD where he could present his case personally. “There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge.” (Job 23:7 NIV) Remember a few chapters ago that Job wanted an advocate or an intercessor. Here he would willingly take on that job himself.)