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February 1, (Day # 32) – To Comfort, or to Crush?

Today in our readings we come to Job 19-21. In chapter 19, Job responds to Bildad’s charges in the preceding chapter by asking his friends, “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?” (verse 2). He says that “ten times, they have reproached” him (verse 3), and that if what they have said about him “is true,” then God has “wrongly” singled him out and “drawn His net about him” (verses 4-6). Job contends that his wrong doing is not their concern but “his alone” (verse 4). Several things are important here. First, our words toward others can truly be hurtful. To this point, Job’s friends were not comforting him at all – they were “crushing” him with their words. Christians especially need to be mindful of everything they say – especially mindful in things we say about other people. Our words have the power to comfort or to crush. It’s important to be people of a good report. Second, we need to understand that our sin is, in fact, the concern of others – because our sin affects other people – sometimes even innocent people. We need to recognize the far-reaching and damaging effects of sin. Finally, we reiterate that real empathy for the afflicted is heartfelt – it should move us to compassion – not criticism. Job’s three friends have done nothing but criticize him. We sometimes say, “With friends like that, who …?” In spite of Job’s severe afflictions, here he asserts confidently, “I know that my Redeemer lives … and I will see God. How my heart yearns within me”! (cf. 19:25-27). In chapter 20, we see that Zophar speaks again, and all we can say is this: What kind of comfort did he offer Job? Job may be wondering if his three friends know anything at all about the application of righteousness. In chapter 21, he observed - as we often do - how the wicked say to God, “Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve Him?” (Job 21:14-15). Such contempt for God boggles my mind. As he concludes chapter 21, Job says that his friends have consoled him with “nonsense and falsehood” (verse 34). Clearly, Job has lost confidence in his friends.

Psalm 18, which Jonah partially quoted out of his desperation within the belly of the great fish, also provides great comfort to me when I am afraid or when I experience doubts in my life. In such times, our lives seem to fall into great turmoil, and suddenly, everything seems upside-down and inside-out. We become separated from all our peace and lose all recognition of our bearings. Then, nothing makes sense to us. I don’t know how anyone can live separated from fellowship with our Creator. But thank God that He is faithful and merciful - He alone has the capacity to be what we need - a Rock and a Fortress - and to fulfill what we need - to provide a refuge and to deliver strength and salvation. His faithful love, compassion, and mercies are “new every morning.” Apart from them, we would be utterly destroyed and “consumed” (cf., Lamentations 3:22-23). He alone is worthy!

In Matthew 21:1-17, we read about Christ’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (cf., Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9). It is both interesting and significant that the crowds which went before Him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (verse 9), but the “whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’” (verse 10). Outside of the city, they knew Him. Within the city, they knew Him not. What a contrast! They were too busy, too preoccupied, too business-oriented, and too self-concerned to know Him. He entered the temple where He drove out “all who were buying and selling there” (verse 13). And yet, “the blind and the lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them” (verse 14), but the so-called religious leaders were all “indignant” (verse 15). What an illustration of, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not received Him” (cf., John 1:11). Can you imagine coming home … to rejection by your own family?

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