Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Job 22-31
Job 22-31: The third cycle of speeches:
Eliphaz (Job 22);
Job's reply (Job 23; 24);
Job's reply (Job 26); and
Job's monologues (Job 27 -- 31).
Job's final speech in the second cycle (Job 20) had demolished
the foundation of his friends' arguments concerning retribution. At the same
time there had been awakened in Job himself a profounder knowledge and keener
faith, a conviction concerning divine justice that carried with it future
assurance, the inevitability of God's intervention to right his wrongs -- and
under the power of this conviction, Job's turmoil lessened and his serenity
Their thesis gone, it was inevitable that the three friends
should be driven from the field of argument. In this final debate, we notice how
they were quickly silenced. A desperate last defense by Eliphaz, filled with
wild, unsupportable accusations; a reply from Job that easily refuted them; a
few words (mostly heard before) mumbled by Bildad, a brief reply by Job; and
Zophar... failing to come forward at all. He had twice been mauled by Job, and
twice was enough. For him, finally, discretion was the better part of valor.
With Zophar's failure to come forward, Job was left the master
of the field, to wind up the debate with a series of monologues.
Reading 2 - Hag 1:2-8
"These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD'S
house to be built' (Hag 1:2).
The people seem to have been waiting for some indication from
God that they should resume building, but in the meantime they were busy
building their own houses and had forgotten God's previous commands to rebuild
the temple. They were very practical when it came to building homes for
themselves. They saw the need and proceeded to do something about it. But when
it came to building a house that would honor Yahweh, enable them to worship Him
as He had commanded, and exalt His reputation in their land, they were waiting.
Seventeen years had passed. It was time to finish the unfinished temple
structure, but the people put it on hold while they gave priority to what was
more important to them.
" 'Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your
paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?... Give careful thought to your
ways... Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so
that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,' says the LORD" (vv
"The doctrine of Purgatory is false. So is that of the larger
hope. Akin to these untruths is the notion that we can idle away our Master's
time without imperilling our salvation. Whilst contemptuously thrusting aside
the first two errors, let us not nurse the last. They are equally bad and fatal.
Unbelief -- a refusal to take God at His word -- is at the bottom of them all.
Each is a repetition of the old, old story: 'Ye shall not surely die.' We
require to be very much on our guard against these and similar truth-hating,
ease-loving, duty-procrastinating doctrines. Now is the day of salvation -- the
day for work and for exhibiting faithfulness -- and we shall have no other. No
work -- no wage: this is the inexorable decree of the Scriptures. Are we
disposed to idleness? -- to look on with folded arms whilst others toil?
"Are we merely living on the labor of others? -- allowing day
after day to pass without the slightest effort to further the interests of our
absent Master? If so, let us bestir ourselves ere it is too late. Night, when no
man can work, is approaching for us all. In the hour of death, and much more in
the hour of judgment, the sluggards of Christ's household will bewail their
folly. 'Woe to the christian brother (said Bro Thomas) who presents himself at
the tribunal of Christ with nothing else to offer but a hidden truth.' Are we
drones? Then let the shameful end of the slothful servant in the parable of our
Lord sober and energize us (Mat 25:26). Let us unstop our ears to the voice
which speaks so solemnly from heaven: 'Behold I come quickly, and my reward is
with me, to give every man according as his work shall be' " (AT Jannaway).
Reading 3 - 1Jo 5:2
"This is how we know that we love the children of God: by
loving God and carrying out his commands" (1Jo 5:2).
"A brother among the children of Sodom, whether these bear the
name or not, might have the experience of Lot 'whose righteous soul was vexed
from day to day.' His love would be undrawn out. His soul would be stirred
within him disagreeably, in accordance with the characteristic of divinely
approved men, who 'cannot bear them that are evil' (Rev 2:2) and despise vile
men, honouring them that fear the Lord (Psa 15:4); but by John's rule, he would
be able to comfort himself in the drought and in bitterness. He knows within
himself that God is his chief delight, and the commandments of God the subject
of his supreme regard. He can therefore say to himself, 'Though my antipathies
are stirred; though my soul eats in bitterness; though my love is rarely called
out, I know that I love the children of God, because I love God and keep His
commandments. I have only to meet them to have my soul awakened to the fullness
of love, and borne aloft with exceeding joy' " (Robert Roberts, "Seasons of