Job Chapters 8-14: Job vs his friends - Round one, part two!

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Bible Studies and Highlights in the Book of Job

Job Chapters 8-14: Job vs his friends - Round one, part two!

by I Gordon


In the last study we saw Job pleading for some compassion and kindness from his friends. A fair enough request given his current situation you would think. So far we have only heard from the first friend, Eliphaz. He relayed his experience with a 'spirit' whose message, Eliphaz thought, would really speak to Job. It didn't. In this study we shall hear from two more 'friends' - Bildad and Zophar. We shall also see Job's response. We shall look at a few chapters so we'll focus on the 'highlights' (or in some cases 'low-lights') from chapters 8-14. We'll start with Bildad and see if he has taken Job's plea on board and can speak with grace and truth into the life of Job.

Bildad's intro - Job, You are a wind bag!

Job 8:1-7 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: (2) How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind . (3) Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? (4) When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. (5) But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, (6 ) if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place. (7) Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.

'You, my friend, are full of hot air!' That is fairly much how Bildad begins his reply to Job. So much for Job's plea for a little kindness! Bildad has heard Job's words but had not felt his pain. In fact, in gets even worse because after saying that about Job, Bildad then proceeds to state that God is just and when Job's children sinned, God dealt with them by taking their lives! Oh thanks a lot Bildad... Your contribution has been really helpful! Bildad's central message is the same in essence to that of Eliphaz - 'God is just, so if bad things happen then you are being judged for your sin.' With that as his basis, he then tells Job that if he was to look to God and be pure and upright, then God will restore him. Now God will restore Job. I've read the end of the story and it does end well! So Bildad's comment in verse 7 is true, but not for the reasons he thinks.

The precarious position of the unbeliever

Job 8:8-20 'Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, (9) for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. (10) Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding? (11) Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? (12) While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. (13) Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. (14) What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider's web. (15) He leans on his web, but it gives way; he clings to it, but it does not hold. (16) He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden; (17) it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks and looks for a place among the stones. (18) But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says, 'I never saw you.' (19) Surely its life withers away, and from the soil other plants grow.

Bildad now instructs Job to learn from history. Bildad believes that history teaches that the wicked are cut off and do not last. They are like a reed without water according to Bildad. There is a wee problem with this. While certainly true in view of eternity, does history actually teach that the wicked are judged in this life? Often, as several Psalms attest to, the wicked actually seem to prosper and the righteous are those with trying circumstances. Yet the precarious position of the wicked is expressed well in this passage. They are seen as frantically trying to hold onto something as flimsy as a spiders web [1] . Bildad also pictures them like a plant trying to entwine its roots around rocks and stones in an ultimately futile attempt to secure its place on this earth. What sad but true imagery Bildad uses here! It doesn't actually relate to Job but leaving that aside for a moment, we can still agree with the truth that he speaks concerning the fragility of the life of unbelievers.

Job's reply: How can anyone be righteous before God?

Job 9:1-11 Then Job replied: (2)' Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can a mortal be righteous before God? (3) Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. (4) His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? (5) He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. (6) He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. (7) He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. (8) He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. (10) He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. (11) When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.'

Job agrees with much of what Bildad has said (though possibly not the part about Job's words being nothing but wind!) Job's question though is how can a human being be righteous before God? It is an important question! Job says that even if we wanted to argue and dispute with God, we would not be able to answer one thing He said! Now this is true, and Job is on the right track, but as we proceed in our study of this book we shall hear Job slowly change his tune on this as he becomes more and more sure of his own self-righteousness. This is not good. Have you argued with God? Did it get you anywhere? Maybe you thought that you were being treated unfairly? Maybe you believed that God was not giving you the things you deserve? All of our arguing with the Lord is, at the end of the day, simply unbelief concerning His power and intentions toward us. [2]

We see also in this passage that Job had a good understanding of the Lord as the creator of Heaven and Earth. He knew about the constellations in the heavens and God's ways in creation on this earth. But did Job know of God's mercy and faithfulness? I think that is part of what he still needed (and would) learn. Job says at the end of this section that God could pass right by him and he wouldn't see or even perceive Him. It is like this in the midst of a trial! This is normal. It often seems that God is far away. We do not perceive that He is right there in it all! [3] Job would learn this. One day we will all see it.

Oh if only there was a mediator between us!

Job 9:27-35 if I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile, (28) I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent. (29) Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain? (30) Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with washing soda, (31) you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me. (32) He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. (33) If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, (34) someone to remove God's rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. (35) Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.'

Job continues with his thought of 'who can be righteous before God' and determines that he certainly can't be! But the reasoning for this isn't that Job sees himself as sinful. No... Job's thoughts concerning God are slowly but surely slipping towards God being an unjust judge who would nit-pick if needed to find something and hold Job accountable. Job also sees God as someone far away, removed and unmoved by the extreme difficulties he has experienced. Job wishes that there could be a mediator between them - someone who knew what he was going through... someone that had access to God and could speak on his behalf. But alas... such an arbitrator cannot be found. But this of course what we have in Jesus! A mediator who CAN sympathise with us in our weakness and does stand before God on our behalf! Look at what the New Testament says:

1Ti 2:3-6 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, (4) who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (6) who gave himself as a ransom for all men --the testimony given in its proper time.

Heb 4:14-16 'Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. (16) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The downward slide continues... 'God - You did this!'

Job 10:1-9 'I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. (2) I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. (3) Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked? (4) Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? (5) Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a man, (6) that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin - (7) though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? (8) Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? (9) Remember that you moulded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?'

Job 10:16-17 'If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. (17) You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave.

The slide of Job proceeds where he now wants to talk back to an unjust God in his 'bitterness of soul'. Job even sees God as gaining 'pleasure' by oppressing him! The enemy must be smiling about now. Satan was given the right to afflict Job physically, but it seems that his whispers and lies are starting to make inroads mentally as well. Gone are the days when Job would say 'The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.' To Job, God is like a lion prowling around, stalking him, and waiting for the moment when he'll come suddenly in power against His prey. Does that sound familiar? The imagery of a lion stalking its prey certainly is biblical - but it's not God doing the stalking!

1Pe 5:8 'Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.'

Unfortunately Job was not familiar with the heavenly conversations that led to his troubles so he now blames God for the destruction, death and devastation that Satan, the prowling lion, had caused. [4]

Light from Zophar? Hmmm... don't hold your breath on that one!

Job 11:1-6 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered, (2) "Shall a multitude of words go unanswered, and a talkative man be acquitted? (3) Shall all your boasts silence men? And shall you scoff and none rebuke? (4) For you have said, 'My teaching is pure, and I am innocent in your eyes.' (5) " But would that God might speak, and open His lips against you, (6) and show you the secrets of wisdom! For sound wisdom has two sides. Know then that God forgets a part of your iniquity.

Zophar, being the youngest of Job's friends, speaks last. He has less depth and seems, well, irritated by Job! Zophar wishes that God would speak so that He may give Job a blast or two! But, because God is remaining tight lipped, he decides to speak for God and give Job a good old tongue lashing himself! Well... Zophar will eventually get his wish and God will speak, but he should be careful what he wishes for as he may well find out God is none too impressed with his words either! Basically Zophar sees Job as a talkative proud mocker who sees himself as totally innocent and with pure God-given wisdom! And Zophar doesn't like it. Zophar does make an interesting comment however. He says that wisdom has secrets and two-sides. This is true. In any trial there are always two sides - the human side and the divine side. Unfortunately we are well skilled at seeing the former and very slow at learning the latter! We are good at making 'wise' judgements based on what we see but are often blind to what God is seeking to achieve in the difficulty. [5] This takes diligence on our part in seeking the wisdom that comes from above. Job 11:14-17 'If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; (15) Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, and you would be steadfast and not fearing. (16) For you would forget your trouble, as waters that have passed by, you would remember it. (17) "Your life would be brighter than noonday; Darkness would be like the morning.

Zophar offers Job some advice: Repent and turn away from your sin and you shall shine like the noonday sun! Not bad advice for the wicked but like the other 'friends' Zophar can see no further than that difficulty comes because of sin. So... question time. What other reasons and purposes does God have for trials? Check the fine print for a few thoughts. [6]

Time for a little sarcasm from Job!

Job 12:1-6 Then Job replied: (2) ' doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! (3) But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things? (4) I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called upon God and he answered-- a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! (5) Men at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. (6) The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure-- those who carry their god in their hands'.

Job's reply makes me chuckle. 'Doubtless you are the people and wisdom will die with you!' The problem is that Job's friends were always on the attack and so he was always defensive, having to justify himself. The end result is that neither learned anything really. [7] Job just sees himself as righteous and blameless and his friends see him as hiding some secret sin that led to all this judgement. His friends have not been able to teach him about God's grace or purposes for difficulties (because, I assume, they didn't know about it) so Job slowly becomes more assured of his own righteousness. The Apostle Paul was a righteous man under the law. Yet he came to the point where he saw his true heart and cried out 'what a wretched man that I am!' Job is nowhere near this point yet. He will get there... but only through the intervention of God!

Job does make an interesting comment in verse 5 saying ' He who is at ease holds calamity in contempt. (NASB)' That is, for those who seemingly have life easy, they cannot see the purposes of trials and difficulties and despise such things. You could put Prosperity teachers into this camp. But God does not despise difficulties, nor does He hold them in contempt. He sees their value when man sees none.

God reveals mysteries in the darkness

Job 12:13-22 "With Him are wisdom and might; To Him belong counsel and understanding. (14) "Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt; He imprisons a man, and there can be no release... (20) He deprives the trusted ones of speech and takes away the discernment of the elders. (21) He pours contempt on nobles and loosens the belt of the strong. (22) He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deep darkness into light.'

There are two points that stood out to me in Job's speech here. Firstly, Job notes that God imprisons a man and there can be no release. Have you been there? Have you been in a trying situation where you have wanted to get out, yet try as you might (and pray as you might), the doors seem firmly shut around you? We like to think of God as one who opens doors that no man can shut. We like open doors! But He also shuts doors that no man can open (Rev 3:7) - until He Himself opens that door! Job knew all about this. Maybe you do too. Well if that all sounds a little gloomy for you, take a little bit of heart from what Job said next for there is often a reward for enduring such times and trials. Job says that God reveals mysteries from the darkness! There are rewards that God will only give through such times. [8] Isa 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. [9] Even if no one else really knows what you go through, you can be assured that God watches and He is a rewarder of those that He asks to go through the darkness.

Now here's a thought - show your wisdom by shutting your mouth!

Job 13:1-5 'My eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and understood it. (2) What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. (3) But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God. (4) You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! (5) If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.'

Job declares that what he wants is to speak with God, not these friends. He realises that they can't help him and it is the Lord that he needs to present his case to. He says that if his friends want to actually show some wisdom they should keep their mouths shut! There is a lot of truth in that! James says the same thing: ' My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.' Jas 1:19-20: The Bible actually declares that 'even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.' [10] (Prov. 17:28) It is better to say nothing than to say something based on no evidence as Job's friends were doing here. It is for this reason that Job said that he was being 'smeared with lies' and that they were all 'worthless physicians!' Have you ever gone to the doctor and had a wrong diagnosis? A remedy based on a wrong diagnosis can often do more harm than good! [11]

Let the court case begin...

Job 13:9-24 'Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men? (10) He would surely rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality... (12) Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defences are defences of clay... (15) Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. (16) Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him! (17) Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say. (18) Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. (19) Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die... (21) Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. (22) Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply. (23) How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. (24) Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?'

Job continues by attempting to turn the focus back on his accusers (aka 'friends'). 'Would you stand if God examined you?' Job asks. 'If you had to come into the courts of God, could you deceive Him as you deceive men?' The fact is that it is easy to look good before men, but God looks at the heart, the inward desires, and who we are when no one else is looking on. True character, as D.L Moody once said, 'is what you are in the dark.' Job considers their 'wise words' to be nothing more than 'proverbs of ashes'. They have no substance and no goodness left in them! Yet in the midst of his lament, Job provides us with another gem: 'though he slays me, yet I will trust in Him.' It is a moment of great faith. Though his thoughts do waver under these trying circumstances, this is a high. And Job will find, as Proverbs tells us, that:

'When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.' (Prov. 14:32)

But Job wants to come into the courts of God and present his case. Listen to his words - ' Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can anyone bring charges against me?' This theme will develop and grow. What do you think about that statement of Job's? If he did so, would he be vindicated? Can anyone bring a charge against him? I'll let J. Vernon McGee answer this in the fine print as he has some good words to say! [12]

Three important questions!

Job 14:1-24 "Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil. (2) Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain. (3) You also open Your eyes on him And bring him into judgment with Yourself. (4) Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one! (5) Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; and his limits You have set so that he cannot pass... (7) For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. (8) "Though its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the dry soil, (9) at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (10) "But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he... (13) "Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, That You would set a limit for me and remember me! (14) "If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes.

In the last chapter of the first round of this debate, Job's thoughts turn to life and, especially, death. Through his current situation, Job was forced to contemplate the brevity of life. While there are many good points in this chapter (and I encourage you to read it all), I want to focus on three questions that Job asks. The world in general would be a lot better off if people spent more time thinking about these questions! Here they are:

Q1: Who can make the clean out of the unclean? (vs4)

Q2: When man dies, where is he? (vs. 10)

Q3: Will we live again after death? (vs.14)

The first question is who can make the clean out of the unclean? Every person born into this world is the product of two parents with a fallen nature. And thus, we are all born with the same nature. We are all unclean. What hope is there then? Who could make us clean? Job says 'no one'. But there is one. God Himself, and only God, can make the clean out of the unclean. He does it with every person who is born again, for He, in a great mystery, makes a 'new creation' in the heart of man.

The second question is when a man dies, where is he? This troubled Job. He can see from nature that even a tree that is cut down has hope that it can grow again. But what of man? This is a question that has plagued mankind since the death of the first human born to Adam and Eve. What happens to the dead?

The third question is will we live again after death? Is there a place where man still exists after death? Can a man come back to life after he has died? Such questions, especially at the time of Job, were a mystery. In fact the Old Testament as a whole doesn't reveal a lot of information on this (though there is some, and later in chapter 19 Job himself will have a profound revelation on this very question!). But full light on this topic was left for the coming of the Messiah Jesus. Then such important questions were answered!

2Ti 1:9-11 Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, (10) but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (11) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.

Jesus 'abolished death' and through the gospel 'life and immortality' was brought to light. We don't have to be in the dark anymore! There is life after death. There is no 'death' for those in Christ... only a passing from this life to the next. Jesus Himself said that "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

So thus closes round one. A clear points decision to Job at this stage. Round two is about to begin!

[1]  In his famous sermon, 'Sinners in the hands of an angry God' Jonathon Edwards used the following text to explain the same thing. Deut. 32:35 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." He pictured sinners as leaning out over the edge of hell with only the good pleasure of God holding them from slipping in. We don't normally think of the position of unbelievers like this but it is true. Man does all he can to establish himself on this earth for as long as he can. But in reality, without God's help that hold can slip at any time.

[2]  Beware of a bitter spirit that has to blame someone else for the difficulties you are facing. This is common for the fallen human heart unfortunately. Sometimes it is directed at other people. Sometimes it is directed at God. Instead of blame and bitterness, ask the Lord to give you a thankful spirit based on what the Lord is able to do in you through this time. Look at what God was able to do in Job, and for Job, through this great difficulty.

[3]  This of course is the basis for the well known 'Footprints in the sand' poem:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: "LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied: "My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

[4]  Having said that, (as mentioned earlier), God has to allow Satan to do these things. There is another reason why Job didn't direct his accusations and bitterness against Satan and it is this - it is quite possible that Job had no idea who Satan was or even that he existed! Remember that Job is likely to have lived around the time of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Nothing had been revealed about Satan at that point. The serpent was seen tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden (so they must have been aware that there was a deceiver) but little else is disclosed about the enemy. The name Satan is only in three Old Testament books - Job, 1 Chronicles and Zechariah. We are given a HUGE insight into Satan's character, motives and operations through the heavenly scenes given in the book of Job but this was not known to Job when he was going through these trials. So, hence, neither Job nor any of his friends mention Satan or any enemy as being a possible source for the destruction Job has faced. Apart from the book of Job, it is not until the New Testament that clearer light is given into the person of Satan.

[5]  I often think 'what does God think about our prayers?' For example, when a person you know comes into difficulty, the church or home group starts praying for their deliverance straight away - 'Lord heal Bob', 'Lord deliver Mary', 'Father take away Jeff's runny nose'... It is hard not to pray like that for often that is all we know. But often it is these very things (well, forget about the runny nose!) that God WANTS to use for His purpose. And a quick deliverance so that everything can be plain sailing again ISN'T what God is normally after. CS Lewis said it well in 'The problem of pain':

'God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.'

[6]  Firstly, character development:
Rom 5:3-5 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; (4) and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; (5) and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Secondly, to learn to take Christ as your life:
Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (13) I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Thirdly, to refine your faith leading to praise from God:
1Pet. 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (7) These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Fourthly, eternal glory and rewards!:
2Co 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

[7]  I'm currently having a wee 'debate' with an Atheist who emailed in and by-golly it's hard not to end up with sarcasm and put downs! But such arguments get nowhere! It's good to defend the faith but only to the extent that it does not get personal but when the other party doesn't want to hear then it becomes a waste of time. Job and his friends were quickly moving into that category! His friends came to 'sympathise and comfort him' (Job 2:11) yet it has just descended into attack and counter-attack with little help for either side!

[8]  For me personally, I see my study on Nehemiah a bit like this. It was the first study that I ever wrote up. I had been sick for a long period at that time and (while I don't want to talk up my own study!) I felt like God gave me insights into the battle that was going on in that book (and through it my own life). Yet it was the difficult circumstances at the time in my life that propelled me to seek God and look into these things. So I often think of the Nehemiah study as my own little 'treasure in darkness'.

[9]  Not really taken in context. Well, not at all taken in context! But there is a spiritual truth in this verse that is proven in many stories from the start to the end of this book, the Bible! And maybe, just maybe, in your life too!

[10]  Some biblical advice on how to look wise... When someone speaks to you just squint your eyes slightly, nod a little and say things like 'hmmm... interesting...' and generally act like you are in deep contemplative thought and, with this being the important part, don't actually say anything at all. Bingo! Mark Twain actually said something similar to this -

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." : )

[11]  A family friend once became really ill and went to his doctor. The doctor told him that it was just a bout of the flu and gave him some medication to take home and rest. The problem was that it wasn't anything close to the flu and my friend got worse and worse. But thinking it was the flu he was didn't want to go to hospital or take it any further for he thought it would just come right. Eventually, not far from death, he was taken to hospital and a true diagnosis was eventually made of a poisoned shoulder that would have killed him. Get the diagnosis wrong and the treatment/advice can prove fatal. Job's friends had the diagnosis completely wrong and Job knew it - They were worthless physicians!

[12]  It is true that no one can bring a charge against those 'in Christ' because they stand in the righteousness of Christ! (Rom 8:33-34) Precious thought! But what if you tried to come and stand before God in your own righteousness like Job is contending? McGee writes: ' My friend, the minute you go into the presence of God to start defending yourself, you will lose your case. When you stand before Him you can only plead guilty because He knows you. You can't go into the presence of God with an attorney who by some clever routine can clear you of the accusation. No attorney can annul God's statement that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, that there is none righteous, no, not one, and that the soul that sins shall die. God just doesn't change that at all. No smart lawyer can get you out of that. Nor are you going to stand before some softhearted and softheaded judge. You are going to stand before the God of this universe who is the moral Ruler. No one can maintain a case before Him. The thing to do is to go in and plead guilty and cast yourself upon the mercy of the court. You will find that God has a mercy seat. It is a mercy seat because the blood of Jesus Christ is on it. Christ paid the price for your sin. My friend, that is the only way you can escape the penalty.'