Throughout the book, Job has very little to cling to besides a hope for the end of his current suffering. Each of his three friends expounds on hope, drawing three similar but increasingly brutal conclusions. Eliphaz realizes Job is basically a righteous man, so he encourages Job to take hope in the person he already is; somehow his own righteousness will manage to save him. Bildad adds to Eliphaz’s conclusion, claiming that wicked men cannot hope; they are left with only despair. Zophar, the most unabashedly honest of the three men, believes hope exists only for the righteous; and since Job is obviously a sinful man, he is hopeless until he changes. Fortunately, all three “wise” men are ultimately wrong. Hope is a product of trusting God and is not based on anyone’s actions, wicked or otherwise.
12 In responding to his friends’ collective accusation of his guilt, Job finally spoke.
2 Job (sarcastically to his friends): Surely, surely, my discerning friends, you are the ones!
And when you pass away, the sum total of all wisdom will perish from the earth.
3 I have a mind as good as yours.
Don’t think I am so far beneath you!
After all, who doesn’t know all about these things?
Who isn’t acquainted with the pedestrian platitudes you’ve trotted out?
4 As for me—the one who called upon God and whom God answered—
now, I am pitiful, laughable, a just and upright joke.
5 Those who have it easy may easily scorn the unfortunate;
they have their contempt already prepared for those whose feet slip.
6 Ironically, there is peace inside the tents of the raiders,
and those who upset God seem to live safe and secure;
They carry their gods around in their hands.
7 However, call on the animals to teach you;
the birds that sail through the air are not afraid to tell you the truth.
8 Engage the earth in conversation; it’s happy to share what it knows.
Even the fish of the sea are wise enough to explain it to you.
9 In fact, which part of creation isn’t aware,
which doesn’t know the Eternal’s hand has done this?
10 His hand cradles the life of every creature on the face of the earth;
His breath fills the nostrils of humans everywhere.
11 Listen! Aren’t we made to be discriminating:
our ears testing wisdom, our mouths tasting food?
Shouldn’t wisdom come with old age? Not necessarily. Only God has wisdom; we merely fool ourselves into thinking we are wise.
12 But you tell me, “With age comes wisdom,
and a long life grants understanding.”
13 With God is the sum total of all wisdom and of all power;
His is the greatest of plans and the deepest of comprehensions.
14 So, then, what God tears down cannot be built back up;
the man He shuts up cannot be released.
15 If God withholds the rains and stops the streams from flowing, the earth suffers drought;
if He unleashes too much, the lands are ravaged by flood.
16 He is strong, and sound wisdom belongs to Him:
whether one deceives or is deceived, he is under God’s control.
17 He leads the counselors off as captives, barefoot and stripped;
He makes a mockery of judges.
18 He strips off the royal sashes of kings
and ties them at the waist, making them slaves as well.
19 He leads the priests away barefoot
and defeats the long-incumbent men of power.
20 He robs trusted advisors of speech;
He steals discretion from elders.
21 He heaps contempt on rulers,
and loosens the bind of alliances among world powers.
22 Aspects of His deep wisdom that were hidden away,
He shows in plain sight;
darkness is brought into the light.
23 He builds the strength of nations, only to crush them—
increases their population across the earth, only to scatter them again.
24 He divests each nation’s leaders of understanding,
and causes them to wander aimlessly with nowhere to go,
25 Until finally they grope in the dark, the light having departed,
and He lets them stumble and stagger like drunks.
13 Job: Look. I’ve seen it all with my eyes,
heard and understood it with my ears.
2 What you know, I know, too;
don’t think I am so far beneath you!
3 Let our differences be clear; I am ready to speak to the Highest One,[a]
eagerly wanting to argue my case with God.
4 But you! You smear me with lies as if to help,
but as healers you are worthless.
5 Would that you were totally silent.
At least that would make you seem wise.
6 Please, just listen while I reason this out;
lean in to hear how my lips will plead.
7 Will you try to defend God’s cause by telling lies?
Be deceitful on His behalf?
8 Will you show partiality for Him?
Argue on His behalf?
9 How would you fare
if He searched your soul?
Do you think you might deceive Him
as you would any other person?
10 No. He would bring charges against you
even if you secretly show partiality.
11 Aren’t you horrified at the weight of His majesty?
Isn’t the dread of Him enough to drop you where you stand?
12 All your quoted proverbs turn to ash;
your clever comebacks crumble like brittle towers of clay.
Job will take his chances before God. He still trusts Him, even if God chooses to take his life.
13 So keep your mouths shut around me, and let me speak to God.
And whatever may come, let it come.
14 Why should I lay my body at the mercy of the words of my own mouth
or risk my life with only my own hands to defend me?
15 Look, He may well kill me,
but I will hope in Him.
Still I will be ready to argue my case before His very face.
16 In fact, this will become my salvation,
for the godless wouldn’t even dare to approach Him.
17 So then here is my account. Listen carefully!
Give me a chance to share my side of the story with you.
18 My case is prepared, and I am confident
I will be found righteous.
19 And yet who will meet me in court to argue the other side?
If I am out-argued, then I will stay mute until I die.
20 Lord, I ask only two concessions in this case;
if You grant them, I will not hide from Your face.
21 First, remove Your damaging hand from me;
second don’t intimidate me anymore with your terrifying presence.
22 Then send me Your summons, and I will reply,
or better yet, I will speak first and then You answer me.
23 How many counts do You have against me?
How many sins must I account for?
Spell out the nature of Your indictment against my rebellious ways.
24 Why do You hide Your face from me;
why is my name now “nemesis”[b] to You?
25 Would You waste Your energy to terrify a windblown leaf,
or chase down the dry chaff as it tumbles in the breeze?
26 For I see bitter accusations against me written in Your own hand;
You call me to account for the guilt of my youth.
27 You fasten shackles at my ankles but still keep close watch on where I walk,
marking the places where my feet may plant themselves.
28 This is how a person wastes away to nothing,
like something rotten, like moth-eaten clothing.
14 Job: Humankind, born of woman,
has a few brief years with much suffering.
2 Like a short-lived bloom,
he springs up only to wither;
like the brief shade gained by a fast-moving cloud,
he passes swiftly.
3 Lord, is this why You turn Your gaze on such a creature:
to bring me,[c] a mere human being, alongside You for judgment?
4 Who can take what is impure and defiled
to fashion something pure and pristine?
No one! We are, after all, so different in nature.
5 Since a person’s life is fixed,
and You are the One who determines the number of his months,
And You set a limit on the length of her life,
and since they are incapable of exceeding Your decree,
6 The least You can do is turn Your gaze away from him until they pass,
so that he can enjoy his day like a hired worker.
7 You know, at least there is a kind of hope for a tree:
if it gets cut down, it may yet sprout again out of the roots.
And very likely then, its tender shoots will not die.
8 Its roots may age deep under the ground,
and the stump appear dead in the dry earth,
9 But even then it needs only the merest whiff of water
to bud again and put forth shoots like a newly planted sapling.
10 But not so with humankind.
The noblest of human beings dies and lies flat.
Humans die, and where do they go?
11 Just as water evaporates from the sea,
And riverbeds go parched and dry,
12 so humankind lies down and does not rise again.
Until the day when the skies are done away with,
humankind will neither awaken nor rouse from slumber.
13 O that You would merely hide me in the land of the dead
and keep me in secret till Your wrath is gone,
until a time You decide when You might think upon me.
14 If one dies, can he live again?
Through these days of toil and struggle,
I will patiently wait until my situation changes.
15 You will call out, and I will answer You then;
and You will long for me,
the work of Your hands, again.
16 For then You would still count each of my steps
but not focus on my faults.
17 My sins would be sealed up as in a bag,
and my crimes You would carefully cover up.
18 And yet while every crack in me is closely watched,
the mountain will slide and erode as the avalanche steals its cliffs away.
19 The water grinds at the surface of stones,
and the floodwater[d] steals the soil away.
This is how You wreck the hope of humankind.
20 You continually overwhelm him, and he dies;
You alter his appearance and send him away.
21 If his children rise to honor, he does not know of it;
if they sink to humiliation, he is unaware of it.
22 He knows only this:
His body feels agony and his soul grieves.
15 Eliphaz reiterated his points.
2 Eliphaz: Does a wise man reply with windy knowledge
and fill up his belly with the hot east wind?
3 Does a wise man reason with impotent chatter,
with bankrupt words of no account?
4 Indeed, Job, you have ignored your responsibility to revere God
and depreciated your own thoughts toward God;
5 For your faults inform your speech,
and your language is tricky.
6 Your own mouth condemns you, not I;
your own lips volunteer as witnesses against you.
7 Were you the firstborn among men?
Were you introduced to the earth before the hills were conceived?
8 Were you allowed to listen in on the deliberations in God’s assembly?
Do you imagine all knowledge to be confined to you and you only?
9 What do you know that we don’t know?
Do you have an understanding that has somehow eluded us?
10 We have gray hairs and elders among us
weighed down with years,
heavier than your father.
11 Do you find God’s many comforts too meager
and His gentle speech to you too mild?
12 What has stripped you of your reason, carried away your heart?
Why do your eyes flash with anger—
13 So much so that you unleash your spirit
and spray out such speeches against God?
14 What is humankind, that people would be considered pure?
And among those born of women,
who could possibly be innocent?
15 Look, if God refuses to trust even His holy attendants,
if even the heavens above are impure in His eyes,
16 Then how much less regard must He show for humankind, who is base and corrupt,
or for Adam’s children who drink sin like water.
Genesis 6:1–4 tells the strange story of God’s own heavenly messengers procreating with beautiful human women. Such a union was obviously forbidden, possibly because it endowed the children with eternal life, based on God’s response to the situation—limiting the lifespan of humans to 120 years. As Job has revealed, these heavenly messengers are with God all the time. They do His bidding. No one could possibly know His rules better than they do or have more motivation to follow them, yet they still chose to disobey God. Eliphaz’s point is clear: no human could possibly claim to be above the temptation to sin when God’s heavenly envoys are not.
17 Eliphaz: I will tell it like it is, so listen.
I’ll recount what I have seen:
18 The very things that knowledgeable men have declared
and which they do not hide that they heard from their fathers
19 To whom the land was granted long ago
when no foreigners were among them.
20 The wicked man endures misery his whole life long;
and many years of sorrow are stored up for the ruthless.
21 His ears are assailed by the sounds of terror;
but when he is finally at peace, the destroyer seizes him.
22 Unsure that he will ever escape darkness,
he lives ever-conscious of the sword.
23 He wanders aimlessly in search of food.
“Where is it?” he asks.[e]
He knows all the while that the great day of darkness is imminent.
24 He is addled by strain and anxiety, terrified;
he will be overwhelmed as if by a king about to descend upon his enemy in war.
25 For he raises his fist to God
and acts arrogantly like a hero against the Highest One.[f]
26 He runs at Him, headlong, headstrong,
and leads his charge behind the thick protection of a massive shield.
27 Strong and healthy, he has nourished himself well and prospered
until his face and his thighs are pleasantly fat.
28 He lodges in evacuated towns in empty houses unfit for habitation,
in buildings condemned to rubble and ruin.
29 He will never be rich; his wealth will not last,
nor will he have possessions enough for any to put down roots.
30 He will not manage to escape from darkness,
as it scorches like tender branches that wilt in the flame;
He will blow away like the breath of his mouth.
31 Don’t let him fool himself;
if he trusts in the emptiness of his vanity,
emptiness will be his reward.
32 Before his time is up, it will all be finished
and the branches of his trees will never leaf out.
33 He will be like the vine that drops its immature grapes,
the olive tree that sheds its own blossoms.
34 O the gathering of the godless is unfruitful,
and fire consumes the tents of those who pervert justice by giving bribes.
35 Their intercourse yields only the conception of misconduct,
the birth of sinfulness,
and their wombs carry only lies to term.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58
Resurrection is central to the gospel. In fact, without the bodily resurrection of Jesus there is no good news at all. For in Jesus, God personifies His redeeming work and demonstrates the scope of that redemption. He is a God who brings life from death, peace from war, prosperity from adversity, and bounty from famine. The resurrection of Jesus marks a new era of God’s dealing with the world. He intends nothing less than the total reclamation of His good creation damaged by human folly, sin, and death.
29 You have probably heard that some people are undergoing ritual cleansings of baptism[a] for the dead. Why are they doing that? If the dead are not going to be raised, then why are people being baptized for them? 30 Why are we putting our lives on the line all the time if there’s no resurrection? 31 I die every day! I swear that it’s true! That’s something you take pride in, brothers and sisters, as I do in Jesus the Anointed, our Lord. 32 But if I have fought against the wild beasts in Ephesus for some human cause, then what good has that done me? If the dead are not raised, then there’s nothing more to do than—as the saying goes—eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.[b]
33 But don’t be so naïve—there’s another saying you know well—Bad company corrupts good habits. 34 Come to your senses, live justly, and stop sinning. It’s true that some have no knowledge of God. I am saying this to shame you into better habits.
35 Now I know what some of you are thinking: “Just how are the dead going to be raised? What kind of bodies will they have when they come back to life?” 36 Don’t be a fool! The seed you plant doesn’t produce life unless it dies. Right? 37 The seed doesn’t have the same look, the same body, if you will, of what it will have once it starts to grow. It starts out a single, naked seed—whether wheat or some other grain, it doesn’t matter— 38 and God gives to that seed a body just as He has desired. For each of the different kinds of seeds God prepares a unique body. 39 Or look at it this way: not all flesh is the same. Right? There is skin flesh on humans, furry flesh on animals, feathery flesh on birds, and scaly flesh on fish. 40 Likewise there are bodies made for the heavens and bodies made for the earth. The heavenly bodies have a different kind of glory or luminescence compared to bodies below. 41 Even among the heavenly bodies, there is a different level of brilliance: the sun shines differently than the moon, the moon differently than the stars, and the stars themselves differ in their brightness.
42 It’s like this with the resurrection of those who have died. The body planted in the earth decays. But the body raised from the earth cannot decay. 43 The body is planted in disgrace and weakness. But the body is raised in splendor and power. 44 The body planted in the earth was animated by the physical, material realm. But the body raised from the earth will be animated by the spiritual. Since there is a physical, material body, there will also be a spiritual body. 45 That’s why it was written, “The first man Adam became a living soul”; the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. 46 Everything has an order. The body is not animated first by the spiritual but the physical; then the spiritual becomes its life-giving source. 47 The first man, Adam, came from the earth and was made from dust; the second man, Jesus, has come from heaven. 48 The earth man shares his earth nature with all those made of earth; likewise the heavenly man shares His heavenly nature with all those made of heaven. 49 Just as we have carried the image of the earth man in our bodies, we will[c] also carry the image of the heavenly man in our new bodies at the resurrection.
Redemption is not merely forgiveness of sin’s guilt so our souls can go to heaven someday. Our true hope is to be free from physical death just as Jesus was raised from the dead. Accordingly, this hope of bodily resurrection stands against the expectation that souls escape from their mortal bodies (as if your soul is the real “you” and your body is a disposable external space suit) and merely float up to heaven. Rather, Paul presents resurrection as a new creation; and this restored bodily existence affirms and fulfills the original intent of creation. Believers don’t have to wait until the future to experience this Spirit-enabled life because living in obedience to God through the Spirit is a foretaste of the total experience that will come when all is restored later.
50 Now listen to this: brothers and sisters, this present body is not able to inherit the kingdom of God any more than decay can inherit that which lasts forever. 51 Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery—something you may have trouble understanding: we will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. 52 It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! 53 We’ll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. 54 And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says:
56 Sin came into this world, and death’s sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. 57 Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.
58 My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted—be unshakable—do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God.
For the worship leader, Jeduthun.[a] A song of David.
1 I promised, “I’ll be careful on life’s journey
not to sin with my words;
I’ll seal my lips
when wicked people are around.”
2 I kept my mouth shut;
I had nothing to say—not even anything good—
which came to grieve me more and more.
3 I felt my heart become hot inside me
as I thought on these things; a fire ignited and burned.
Then I said,
4 “Eternal One, let me understand my end
and how brief my earthly existence is;
help me realize my life is fleeting.
5 You have determined the length of my days,
and my life is nothing compared to You.
Even the longest life is only a breath.”
6 In truth, each of us journeys through life like a shadow.
We busy ourselves accomplishing nothing, piling up assets we can never keep;
We can’t even know who will end up with those things.
7 In light of all this, Lord, what am I really waiting for?
You are my hope.
8 Keep me from all the wrong I would do;
don’t let the foolish laugh at me.
9 I am quiet; I keep my mouth closed
because this has come from You.
10 Take Your curse from me;
I can’t endure Your punishment.
11 You discipline us for our sins.
Like a moth, You consume everything we treasure;
it’s evident we are merely a breath.
12 Hear me, O Eternal One;
listen to my pleading,
and don’t ignore my tears
Because I am estranged from You—
a wanderer like my fathers before me.
13 Look away from me so I might have a chance to recover my joy and smile again
before I lay this life down and am no more.
30 No one is wise enough or smart enough,
and no plan is good enough to stand up to the Eternal.
31 No matter how well you arm for battle,
victory is determined by Him.