Abusing the Poor

“Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty,
and why do those who know him never see his days?

Some move landmarks;
they seize flocks and pasture them.

They drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

They thrust the poor off the road;
the poor of the earth all hide themselves. Job 24:1-4.

While Job’s detractors try to ferret out his secret sin, he points out the obvious things that REAL wicked people appear to get away with. And it is interesting that both God and Job are sensitive to the plight of the poor. They both lump neglect of the poor with adultery and murder.

Here in America, we tend to excuse ourselves from helping the poor because they live in the land of opportunity. And it is true that if you are poor in America, you do have some explaining to do. But therein is the problem: ignorance of how the world works is the seed bed of poverty.

We who know how to plant and reap should share our wisdom with the ignorant. Knowledge really is power, and we possess great wealth that costs so little to give away.

Down But Not Defeated

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;

on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.

But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.” Job 23:8-12.

Job yearns to see God, and to make his case for restoration. This is not the attitude of a guilty man. His critics have torn his good name apart, but Job will have none of it.

To have done right, and have it all fall apart, is a test of our faithfulness. And that is God’s point in allowing the test. He trusts Job to pass it.

Expect the devil to pile on when you are down. He wants you dead! And he wants you to stop believing, more than anything. That is the time to stand up to him and declare that God is faithful, and that you are actually the victor, and not the victim.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:17-19.

The Lying Witness

“Is not your evil abundant?
There is no end to your iniquities.

For you have exacted pledges of your brothers for nothing
and stripped the naked of their clothing.

You have given no water to the weary to drink,
and you have withheld bread from the hungry.

The man with power possessed the land,
and the favored man lived in it.

You have sent widows away empty,
and the arms of the fatherless were crushed.” Job 22:5-9.

Either this man is lying or God is. God already declared Job to be blameless in all his ways. Satan is not content to take your money, your family and your health. He will destroy the very memory of you with his lies.

Jesus also endured this indignity, though He was the sinless son of God.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

The Wicked Prosper

Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?

Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes.

Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.

Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and does not miscarry.

They send out their little boys like a flock,
and their children dance.

They sing to the tambourine and the lyre
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.

They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.

They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’

Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
The counsel of the wicked is far from me.” Job 21:7-16

When you are down, you notice everyone who is up. Job’s exaggerated claims about how well it goes for the wicked says more about how angry he is about his own situation. And his three visitors aren’t helping.

Likewise, when you are blessed and happy, it is amazing what a fountain of advice you are to the foolish or lazy. To you, it’s all a matter of following instructions.

Today I look back on how we’ve lived and I believe we made a lot of good choices, and some bad ones. It’s tempting to connect the dots between some of the bad results and all of those choices. Surely, we must have done something wrong. If only. Meanwhile, you see people who did wrong who are getting better results.

Discouragement is a choice. So is envy. We must wait on the goodness of God during the days of trouble. It is He from whom all goodness comes, whenever it comes.

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

“Therefore my thoughts answer me,
because of my haste within me.

I hear censure that insults me,
and out of my understanding a spirit answers me.

Do you not know this from of old,
since man was placed on earth,

that the exulting of the wicked is short,
and the joy of the godless but for a moment?

Though his height mount up to the heavens,
and his head reach to the clouds,

he will perish forever like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’” Job 20:1-7.

Job is holding fast to his integrity and it is making Zophar furious. He wants Job to grovel and repent. Why is this? Does he think he is defending God’s honor? Does he think Job is just digging deeper into his sin?

Whatever it is, it reminds me of the back and forth recriminations between today’s political factions. Each wants to be right, and no one wants to put down the sword. There warfare is against flesh and blood instead of against the ruler of the darkness of this world.