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time clock January 6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Job 4, 5, 6, 7

Timely Words

Perhaps you meant well. You came to visit someone who was sick or in trouble. You thought your words would comfort him or her, but you spoke the wrong words at the wrong time. Has this ever happened to you? You might make two responses at times like this:

•  You want to kick yourself for being so insensitive by speaking harsh words.

•  You defend yourself. You are like a stubborn donkey; you kick back and bray when you should shut up.

Let us hope that your response is the first response. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” (NIV). This verse means that we must choose the appropriate words for the appropriate times. Then what we say will be effective, a great encouragement and a beautiful expression of love. How will we know when and what words to speak? We will know by prayer and by sensitive observation and listening.

Job was a patriarch, apparently living just before Abraham (more...). God allowed Satan to afflict him to tempt him to curse the Almighty. After losing all his wealth, his family and servants, Job was afflicted with boils, a disease which was miserable for him. There were no doctors or remedies of which we are aware. He had great physical suffering and anguish. Three of his friends came to comfort him. After sitting in silence for seven days and then listening to Job express his agony and despair, one of Job's friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, could keep quiet no longer. He had a word to speak which he thought came from some heavenly being.

Dreams were very significant in the days of the patriarchs (the first fathers of faith). At that time the Bible had not yet been written down and God was known to speak through dreams. But how could Job's friend be sure it was God speaking? Are all dreams from God? No. You may recall from yesterday's lesson, Satan, a beautiful creation of God who rebelled and turned evil, asked permission of God to afflict Job so that he would curse Him and thereby embarrass Him. Satan is a deceiver. Apparently, he appeared to Eliphaz in a dream, scaring him half to death, and whispered to Eliphaz when he was asleep: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17, NIV). The supernatural being did nothing to calm Eliphaz's fear, as angels of God who appeared to men often did (Genesis 15:1; Matthew 1:20).

What did Eliphaz say? After complimenting Job on his kindness, integrity and righteousness (always a good start to soften someone up), Eliphaz said in Job 4:7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?” (NIV). In other words, the implication was that Job must not be innocent or God would not punish him. God only punishes the guilty. Eliphaz continued his case in Job 5:17: “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” (NIV). Eliphaz implied that the reason Job was suffering was that God was disciplining him. While these two thoughts are often true in people's lives, they are not always true.

What was Job's response? In his grave illness Job replied

If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas-- no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God's terrors are marshaled against me, (Job 6:1-4, NIV).

Job realized the words he spoke were spoken out of pain. Job continued to say that he could not even eat food; it made him ill (Job 6:7). Job desired loyalty from his friends. Job said, “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty,” (Job 6:14, NIV). His friends should be as a refreshing stream of encouragement to Job, but Job says, “Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid,” (Job 6:21, NIV). Isn't this what happens to us? We speak words of advice because we don't know what else to do. Sometimes we even speak hurtful words because we are afraid the same circumstances may fall on us if we fail to rebuke “a sinner,” Job is being honest with them (6:28-30). Job sees no sin in expressing lament over his calamity.

Is it wrong to lament misfortunes? Some Christians think so, but consider some famous Bible characters who lamented their situations: David lamented the loss of Jonathan and King Saul when they died; Jonah lamented his rebellious behavior while in the belly of the great fish; Jeremiah lamented the pitiful state of Israel when she was sent into captivity; Habakkuk lamented the state of Judah when she was taken into exile; Jesus took up a lament regarding Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37). Is it wrong to lament misfortunes? No, we are made in the image of God, which means we each have a mind, will, and emotions. Our LORD wants us to be honest with him and others.

Lessons to live by:

• Are you suffering? God can bring you comfort or help you through it. He can give you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)  

•  Be kind when others are suffering trouble. Remember even unfaithful sounding words could be words spoken out of pain.

•  Sympathize; don't criticize.

•  Listen; don't lecture.

• It is not wrong to express our grief; it is part of our God-given nature.

•  Choose your words carefully and speak them at the right time. Otherwise, have the wisdom to remain silent and pray.

Today's Bible Memory Verse:

Proverbs 25:11 “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (NIV)

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

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