Discouraging words

Job Sees The Light - Fifth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Job 4:1-2 May I say something that makes you uncomfortable?

Job 4:3-6 Satan is working through Eliphaz to focus Job on himself. The more he can inspire Job to ponder his own righteousness, the less he will be open to the wisdom which God has for him.

Job 4:7-9 In a general sense, what Eliphaz says is true though examples could be noted to deny his words. For example, Abel had done no wrong but was murdered by his brother, and some evil people are never brought to justice before they die, as a study of history will show.

Job 4:10-11 There is a lion whose power only Christ can break— Satan, the “roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8) And he seems to never lack for prey.

Job 4:12-15 In fact, Eliphaz was the prey of a Satanic emissary. He describes a haunting experience that occurred while he slept. Demons favor such tactics as harassing victims while they are semi-conscious.

Tragically, in this day many people are seeking out visitations from spirits through “New Age” techniques such as deep meditation or guided hypnosis. The fallen angels, disguising themselves as angels of light, are delighted to reveal themselves to this credulous souls. Unless the person disavows such occult practices by personal knowledge of Jesus Christ’s power, he or she will never be free of the spirits so contacted.

Job 4:16-19 One psychological technique Satan and his hosts use to turn man from God is to suggest to him that God is not concerned with or about man. It is one of their “flaming arrows” against which man must take up the shield of faith. (Eph 6:16) They can impress this thought on him while he is fully awake, but when they do so in ghostly form at night it shows their penchant for imitation of God who at times sends dreams and visions.

This demon’s message to Eliphaz is that mortals have no hope of measuring up to God’s standards, and since God has condemned his angels (or some of them), how much more will he condemn man who is so inferior to angels?

Job 4:20-21 Anyone who believes life ends at death will certainly die without wisdom.

Weary in well doing, or worse

MALACHI -Fourteenth in a series

Is there ever any excuse for a Christian to feel worn out and resentful of or impatient with the Lord? The Jews under Malachi's frown felt they had that right.

Malachi 3:13-14 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?
Some commentators state that their failure to tithe or to bring offerings (keeping his ordinance) reflected their inner feelings that such obedience did not pay. It was a wasted effort, never rewarded or noted by God. So why do it?

It may be that they had worldly —not godly— sorrow (2 Cor 7:10); yes, they walked mournfully (vs 14) but in their hearts they had not truly repented of any sin.

The deeper problem was that these unrepentant Jews had lost confidence in the God of their fathers, who explained himself in their Scriptures. Since the Temple services were not exemplary, nothing seemed true; God was not real to them.

But for any who embrace the Bible, there is no cause to grow weary in well doing (Gal 6:9). Though the days of trials are long, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, yet there is often a need to rebuke the devil. Our discouragements are not from the trials but from our sinking hearts. We must be determined to keep our trust in God— whether we live or die (Phil 1:21), when we are disciplined (Heb 12:6), when we are persecuted for our faith (Mat 5:10), when our faith is tested (Jas 1:12), when we cannot see our way and feel forsaken (2 Cor 5:7), when we are purged to bear more fruit (Jhn 15:2), and to learn compassion (2 Cor 1:4).

Now, in verse 15, Malachi reemerges as the speaker as in Mal 2:10 (see post 10), confirming the testimony of the Lord who has accused Israel of faithlessness.
Malachi 3:15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

Some of those in his hearing became ashamed and repentant, and sought out like-minded believers:
Malachi 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

There are varying interpretations of vs 16. For example, Dr. Thomas Constable* views the "book of remembrance" as a covenant renewal document bearing the signatures of the faithful:

Upon hearing the Lord's rebuke through His prophet, some of Malachi's hearers who genuinely feared the Lord got together. Evidently they discussed Malachi's message and agreed among themselves that they needed to repent. They even wrote down their commitment on a scroll. (ref)

Matthew Henry* states:

A book of remembrance was written before him. Not that the Eternal Mind needs to be reminded of things by books and writings, but it is an expression after the manner of men, intimating that their pious affections and performances are kept in remembrance as punctually and particularly as if they were written in a book, as if journals were kept of all their conferences. Great kings had books of remembrance written, and read before them, in which were entered all the services done them, when, and by whom (as Esther 2:23). God, in like manner, remembers the services of his people, that, in the review of them, he may say, Well done; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord... Never was any good word spoken of God, or for God, from an honest heart, but it was registered, that it might be recompensed in the resurrection of the just, and in no wise lose its reward. (ref)

John Calvin* states similarly:

He shows by the issue itself why a book of remembrance was written— that God in due time would again undertake to defend and cherish his Church. Though then for a time many troubles were to be sustained by the godly, yet the Prophet shows that they did not in vain serve God; for facts would at length prove that their obedience has not been overlooked. But the two things which he mentions ought to be noticed; for a book of remembrance is first written before God, and then God executes what is written in the book. When therefore we seem to serve God in vain, let us know that the obedience we render to him will come to an account, and that he is a just Judge, though he may not immediately stretch forth his hand to us… (ref)

I have included these special notes from historic commentaries to encourage any who may be weary.

Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
In what manner will the Lord spare those who serve him? In what day will he make up his jewels?

Malachi 3:18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
To whom is it spoken Then shall ye return, … Who will return and where is the place of return?

Briefly, the righteous will return, that is, come around to a time yet future, and in that day will see that God has rewarded in kind the proud doer and the humble believer. And in a further day hidden in eternity, the ones who sought to be God's servants will become jewels in his treasure box, pleasurable to behold, spared from Judgment.

*Thomas Constable is Sr. Professor Emeritus of Bible Exposition Dallas (Texas) Theological Seminary; *Matthew Henry was a 17th century Presbyterian minister in Great Britain; *John Calvin was 16th century French theologian and pastor of the Reformation era.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

Hochosterwitz 01052004 04