31 Job: I have made a sacred pledge with my eyes.
How then could I stare at a young woman with desire?
2 And what share has God set aside for us from above?
What is the heritage we can expect from the lofty God, the Highest One?[a]
3 Has it not been made clear these many years?
Is there not supposed to be punishment poured out on the wicked
and disaster on those wrongdoers?
4 Does God not see the paths of my choosing;
does He not count every single step I take?
In this speech, Job is actually recording his deposition; he is calling God to come answer the charges he is laying out. Using a rigid format, Job explains away eight areas of potential sin in his life. So certain is Job that he is innocent of wickedness, he actually pronounces curses upon himself if the all-knowing God finds him guilty of any of the sins. This ethereal courtroom procedure would be like any human going to a court to explain how he did not violate the law of the land and prefacing his testimony with a proposed sentence of the death penalty if the judgment goes against him. Job will soon learn that it is never appropriate to assume he knows more about justice than God, the very author of justice.
Job: 5 If I have walked alongside lies
or if my feet have rushed toward deception,
6 Then let God weigh me on a truly balanced set of scales.
He will know and see my integrity.
7 If my steps have veered off God’s prescribed path
or if my heart has followed any of the evil my eyes have seen
or if my hands are soiled,
8 Then let me sow, but then let another one eat the produce!
Let my sprouts be pulled up by their roots!
9 If my heart has been seduced by another woman
or if I have waited by a friend’s door for a liaison with his wife,
10 Then let my wife be taken by another,
to grind his grain or do whatever he pleases,
And let other men kneel down over her
11 because adultery is such a lewd, scandalous act,
an offense punishable by the court,
12 For it is a fire that burns until the destruction is complete.
Had I done it, it would have undone all that I had gained.
13 If I have refused justice to my servants—either male or female—
when they have had cause for dispute with me,
14 Then what ought I do when God stands to judge me?
How will I answer when He calls me to account for my actions?
15 Did not God, who made me in my mother’s womb, make my servants as well?
Is He not the same One who made us each in our own mother’s womb?
16 If I have stood between the poor and the object of their desire,
if I have caused a widow to lose her love of life,
17 If I have eaten my food alone
and not shared it with the hungry orphan
18 (Indeed, from as far back as I can remember, I have cared for them all—
from my youth, been a father to the orphan;
from my own birth, cared for the widow),
19 If I have idly watched anyone die from exposure simply due to a lack of clothing
or seen the poor without any kind of covering,
20 If ever people in such conditions did not physically bless and thank me
for warming them up with the fleeces of my own sheep,
21 If I ever used my civic strength to condemn the fatherless
simply because I knew I had allies in the courts;
22 Then let my arm be pulled from its socket!
Let my forearm be snapped off at the elbow for raising it against the orphan!
23 See, I have always dreaded the kind of disaster wrought by God;
I was never able to withstand His majesty.
24 If I have put my confidence in my stash of gold,
if I have trusted in a metal so well-refined,
25 If I have exulted in my immense wealth
(for I had accumulated so much),
26 If I saw the sun in its radiant glory
or the moon sliding across the sky in its splendor,
27 If such sights secretly seduced my heart
and made my hand throw kisses to the false gods of sun and moon,
28 Then these things, too, would have been punishable offenses
because they would have shown me untrue to the God above.
29 Have I gloated at my enemy’s downfall
or been excited when he encountered evil?
30 No. I have not permitted my mouth to sin
by uttering a curse against his very life.
31 Have my guests ever left my dwelling saying,
“Anyone still hungry? Who didn’t get enough to eat?”
32 Have I ever left the foreigner to sleep outside?
No. My door was always open to the traveler.
33 If I have covered my sin as people do
or attempted to hide my wrongdoing in the recesses of my heart
34 (Because of my fear of the opinions of the crowd
or my fright at the disdain of my family)
And kept silent hiding indoors away from all possible discovery of flaws;
35 (if only someone were listening!)
Now, here to these oaths, these curses,
I make my signature!
Let the Highest One answer me!
Let my adversary put his case in writing!
36 If He does, I would place it on my shoulder for all to see;
I would put it on my head and wear it like a crown.
37 I would offer Him an account of the steps I’ve taken along my life’s path
and approach Him directly like a prince.
38 If my land cries out against me,
if my furrows gather together to weep over my mistreatment of them,
39 If I have eaten the fruit of the land
without payment to those who tend it
or exasperated the lives of its tenants, the farmers, in pursuit of greater harvest, or in poor management of them;
40 Then let thistles grow instead of wheat
and stinkweed instead of barley.
This concludes the words of Job.
32 At that point, Job’s three friends stopped responding to him because Job was quite certain of his own righteousness. 2 But someone else was there. His name was Elihu (Barachel’s son from Buz, of the family of Ram), and he was burning with anger toward Job because Job defended his righteousness rather than God’s. 3 And Elihu was also angry with Job’s three friends because they found no decent rebuttal to Job yet condemned him nonetheless. 4 Elihu had withheld his words from Job because he was younger than all four of them and knew it was improper to speak until each of them was heard, 5-6 but when Elihu (Barachel’s son from Buz) realized the three men’s words were spent, his anger inflamed him.
Elihu: I am a young man,
and you are my wise elders,
So I have been here shyly creeping about in the background,
timid about sharing my opinion with you.
7 I thought to myself, “Age should speak first;
those advanced in years will teach wisdom.”
8 But alas, it turns out it is the spirit in a man, not age,
and the breath of the Highest One[b] within him that lends understanding.
9 In fact, sometimes it is neither the great who are wise
nor the elderly who have an understanding of justice.
10 And so I say, “Listen to me, Job,
and I, even I, will explain what I know.”
11 (turning to the three friends) After all, I waited while each of you three spoke;
I lent my ear to your insights
while you searched for what to say, looking for the right words.
12 I paid you my utmost attention, but hear this!
Not one of you countered Job with a decent argument;
not one rebutted his statements of the case.
13 And don’t you dare fall back on the easy reply:
“We have found wisdom;
let God rebuke him, not just any old human!”
14 I will answer him differently,
for he has not assembled his words against me.
I will not answer him with your overly personalized and insufficient arguments.
15 They are all undone, unhinged, embarrassed!
They have no response!
Their faculty of speech has apparently failed them!
16 Should I wait a bit longer to make sure they are all done speaking,
for when they stand silent and appear to have nothing to say?
17 So now it is my turn.
I will tell you what I think.
I will impart what I know.
Due to the abundance of grapes and the absence of refrigeration, wine was a staple drink in the ancient Near East. The process of making wine was basically the same one used today, although the equipment was different. Grapes were grown, gathered, pressed, fermented, and stored. For the fermentation process, wineskins (usually made of goat hide) were used instead of today’s barrels. Wineskins were the perfect choice because they could expand as the grape juice released its gases during the fermentation process, much as the human stomach expands as it digests food, as Elihu points out. It was imperative that new wineskins were used for each batch of wine because each skin could only expand so far; a second round of fermentation in an old skin would rupture the skin and spill the wine—a truth Jesus makes famous in Luke 5:37. After fermentation, the wine was stored in amphora jars with vented tops, so any gases could be released and the wine still be contained or even transported.
18 After all, I am filled to the brim with words,
and my gut reaction is to speak.
19 My insides are like fresh wine sealed up and needing to breathe.
Like a new wineskin, I am on the brink of bursting from the pressure.
20 Let me speak. Then I will find relief.
Yes, I will open my mouth and answer.
21 You will have to pardon me
if I do not impede my words with deference to any of you
or flatter you with honorable titles.
22 After all, I am not very skilled with flattery anyway;
I have reason to believe that, if I were to engage in such senseless rhetoric,
My Maker would whisk me away from here
because this matter is so serious.
33 Elihu: So now, Job, listen closely to my words;
lend an ear to my speeches.
2 Wait for it! I am about ready to part my lips;
even now, my tongue begins to stir within my mouth.
3 My words emerge from a heart of integrity;
my lips express their knowledge with sincerity.
4 God’s Spirit has fashioned me
and the breath of the Highest One[c] imparts life to me.
5 So refute me if you can;
go ahead and make your preparations and assume your position.
6 But remember I am just like you; we are both God’s vessels,
both pinched from the clay and formed by Him.
7 Look, there is no reason for you to be afraid of me;
my hand will not feel all that heavy on you.
8 Job, now you have said—and I heard it—
I heard the words sounded out:
9 “I am pure, without sin;
innocent indeed, and there is no wrongdoing within me!
10 But oh! God has come up with reasons to accuse me;
now He considers me His enemy.
11 He locks my feet in the shackles;
He watches all my paths, dogs my every step.”
12 But listen! You are wrong in all this
because God is greater than a mere man.
13 Why do you argue with Him,
complaining that He refuses to account for all of His actions?
14 For God does speak in one way and even another way—
yet no one may be able to perceive what He says.
15 One kind of answer God gives
comes in the form of a dream—in a night-vision—
When deep slumber comes to people
who have lain down to sleep in their beds.
16 Yes, this is often when He opens the ears of humanity,
and seals their life-corrections in the terrors of the night
17 So that He can turn one away from his evil deeds
and put down the arrogance of the proud.
18 He does all of this so that He might hold back one soul from the pit
and protect one life from passing over to the land of death.[d]
19 Or another kind of answer God gives comes thus:
one may be corrected through a bed of pain;
his bones may hold him in an unceasing trial,
20 In which his food becomes repulsive,
and he doesn’t hunger for even his favorite meals.
21 His body wastes away almost to nothing,
and bones, once hidden, stick out gruesomely.
22 Thus he is sobered as his soul approaches the rim of the pit,
as his life hears the whispers of the coming messengers of death.
23 If there is a heavenly messenger at one’s side, a mediator,
even just one out of the thousand in his regime of God’s messengers,
to proclaim what is right for that person according to God,
24 And to be gracious to him and to say,
“Spare this one from descending into the pit;
I have found a ransom that will save his life!
25 Then his skin will be renewed, as smooth and fresh as a child’s,
and he will be restored to the vim and vigor of his youth.”
26 He will make his appeal to God, and God will grant acceptance;
he will see God’s face and shout with joy,
knowing God has restored his right standing.
27 Then he comes to his fellow humans and sings out,
“I sinned and perverted what I knew to be right,
but God has not repaid me what I deserved.
28 He has instead paid that ransom
and spared me from descending into the pit
and my life now sees the light.”
29 Look! God does all of these things two,
even three times with a person,
30 In order to guide his soul back from the rim of the pit
so the light of life might shine on him.
31 Lend your ear, Job, and listen well to me;
remain silent, and I will do the talking.
32 If you have anything to say to me, say it. Make your answer to me;
go ahead and speak, because I do desire to see you justified to God.
33 But if not, then listen well to me;
stay quiet, and I will teach you wisdom.
2 Corinthians 3
3 Are we back to page one? Do we need to gather some recommendations to prove our validity to you? Or do we need to take your letter of commendation to others to gain credibility? 2 You are our letter, every word burned onto our[a] hearts to be read by everyone. 3 You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart.
4 This is the kind of confidence we have in and through the Anointed toward our God. 5 Don’t be mistaken; in and of ourselves we know we have little to offer, but any competence or value we have comes from God. 6 Now God has equipped us to be capable servants of the new covenant, not by authority of the written law which only brings death, but by the Spirit who brings life.
Apparently Paul is responding to repeated questions from the church in Corinth requiring him to justify his actions and explain his words. But instead of addressing each separately, Paul suggests a new course of action: let my record be based on the fruit in your lives. The Corinthians had experienced the promised effects of the new covenant—transformed hearts through the Spirit—as prophesied by Jeremiah (31) and Ezekiel (36–37). If the Corinthians agree the Spirit is working in them, then they have to agree that Paul’s ministry to them is productive.
How do we stand up to the same test? If our lives were judged based on the fruit of the seeds we have planted and nurtured in the lives of others, would we be proud or mortified?
7 Now consider this: if the ministry of death, which was chiseled in stone, came with so much glory that the Israelites could not bear to look at Moses’ face even as that glory was fading, 8 imagine the kind of greater glory that will accompany the ministry of the Spirit. 9 If glory ushered in the ministry that offers condemnation, how much more glory will attend the ministry that promises to restore and set the world right? 10 In fact, what seemed to have great glory will appear entirely inglorious in the light of the greater glory of the new covenant. 11 If something that fades away possesses glory, how much more intense is the glory of what remains?
12 In light of this hope that we have, we act with great confidence and speak with great courage. 13 We do not act like Moses who covered his face with a veil so the children of Israel would not stare as the glory of God faded from his face.[b] 14 Their minds became as hard as stones; for up to this day when they read the old covenant, the same veil continues to hide that glory; this veil is lifted only through the Anointed One. 15 Even today a veil covers their hearts when the words of Moses are read; 16 but in the moment when one turns toward the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 By “the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. 18 Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.
1 Plead for me; clear my name, O God. Prove me innocent
before immoral people;
Save me from their lies,
their unjust thoughts and deeds.
2 You are the True God—my shelter, my protector, the one whom I lean on.
Why have You turned away from me? Rejected me?
Why must I go around, overwrought, mourning,
suffering under the weight of my enemies?
3 O my God, shine Your light and truth
to help me see clearly,
To lead me to Your holy mountain,
to Your home.
4 Then I will go to God’s altar with nothing to hide.
I will go to God, my rapture;
I will sing praises to You and play my strings,
unloading my cares, unleashing my joys, to You, God, my God.
5 O my soul, why are you so overwrought?
Why are you so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will hope in God again.
I will believe and praise the One
who saves me and is my life,
My Savior and my God.
8 Those who sow injustice reap disaster,
and their methods of oppression will fail.
9 Generous people are genuinely blessed
because they share their food with the poor.