Job Bible Study

Controlled Burn

Have you ever seen a controlled burn? When I was young I would see the charred trees and smoke and feel so sad that trees had to die, and for what? It was hard to imagine that place ever being alive again.
As years went by, and I would drive past the place that was burned, I now saw a flourishing forest. Its new vegetation blooming in beauty and abundance.
I’ve since learned that that is a technique used to strip away old growth to make room and give light to new. Clearing away the overgrowth allowed sun and rain to reach areas that needed it. Beauty came through the ashes even years after.
We are catching Job after a big burn. There a still a few coals smoldering and the smoke is still heavy over him. How much longer do we have to wait to see the beauty of life again? Is that even possible?

S – Scripture: Job 14-16

  • 14:1-2 – “”How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.”
  • 14:7-10 – “Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling. But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they?”
  • 14:13-16 – “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins.”
  • 16:5-6 – “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief. Instead, I suffer if I defend myself, and I suffer no less if I refuse to speak.”
  • 16:17 – “Yet I have done no wrong, and my prayer is pure.”
  • 16:19-21 – “Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high. My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God. I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends.”

20160925_153530_resizedO – Observation:

  • Job’s hope is gone in life and death. He questions how life would be different when there is knowledge of life after death. The struggle would all be worth it then.
  • Job feels trapped between an rock and a hard place. Whether he defends himself or speaks, he will continue to suffer. He asks God to just let him die until his anger passes and then bring him new life. Then God would protect him rather than stake out a wait for him to sin.
  • What we say and do for friends in dire need really matters. We have the opportunity to convict and condemn or uplift and carry through. Our words are powerful in those moments.
  • Job’s only witness is God. His only advocate is in Heaven. He longs for a mediator – someone to be a witness and helper in his case.

A – Application:
Have you ever been caught in a circumstance that you felt you could never get out of? Have you ever felt that happiness was never going to be possible again? Or maybe that God’s goodness had run its course in your life?
I’ve been in that spot. It’s a rough place to be in. I remember going to church and not even be able to sing one of my favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art.” The words:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Those words were more than my heart and faith could even fathom. I would just stand there and cry. Is God ever going to be good in my life again? I wanted to believe it, but I couldn’t see any light in my darkness.

20170628_115137_resizedIt was the week before Easter and had been about three months since my miscarriage. I smack my hand on my head now because I remember, in a common moment of anguish saying, God can’t possibly know what I’m going through, he never lost a child!

Pause – I’m sorry…what was I thinking? What the what?!?

Then the verse was read that Good Friday,

“At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, ema sabachthani?’ which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

The Pastor spoke and mentioned how Jesus used the term, “My God,” instead of “My Father.” He made the point that in that moment, God had turned his face away from his son, he lost him to death. He had abandoned him.

I had never really paid as much attention to God as I had to Jesus’ act on the cross. The torment and anguish in watching his Son suffer and die such a horrific death I can’t even imagine. How agonizing it must have been even though he new the purpose and the outcome. How did he do it?

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

God had gone through what I had. He had lost his child. My heart changed that day. It had a glimmer of hope that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I realized that because of what Jesus did, no matter what happens in this life, I have eternal life through him. I do have life after death. I can have sunny, glorious, and good days after a time of darkness and drought. A fire can allow the production new life and growth.

20170714_132951_resizedWe now have the Advocate that Job longed for. We now have the witness he proclaimed he needed. We can now enter into the presence of God washed clean from all of the dirt, grim and filth that accumulates in this life.

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20

There is hope for a brighter day. I know it’s dark today. I’ve felt the darkness caving in before. But holdfast to this truth: we have the hope of eternal life, God’s promise, as an anchor for our souls in the midst of the tumultuous waters of this life. Tighten your grip and never let go of that, even if it’s all you can do.

And the final verse:

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

It’s good news that Christ will come again and there will be no more tears or pain. We 20170703_175819_resizedwill be reunited with those lost and our hearts will be full and redeemed. How great is our God, that he would allow the pain of fire (the cross) in order to give us new life and life eternal.

P – Prayer:

Thank you for life. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. It brings hope on the dark days that seem to stretch farther and longer and beyond end. My heart goes out to those hurting today. Can you show them your hope today? Can you give them some bit of comfort in those tough hours? You know our hearts and hurts. Start bringing new life to those burned areas of our lives. Make it a beautiful garden. Amen.


Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #7 - Controlled Burn
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
My Advocate is there.

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