TODAY’S READING: Job 5–8
I am often amused by those who underline in their Bible or quote authoritatively expressions from Job’s friends. Certainly, there is truth in their harangues, but it is twisted truth. Wisdom requires us to exegete context and even pre-suppositional logic. The same is true for our approach to the Scriptures broadly. The context for the Bible is a missionary hearted God determined to be glorified by every people group on earth. Every truth of every line of every chapter of every book of the Bible must be approached from that pre-suppositional starting point.
Eliphaz makes a brave run at truth in Job 5, but he fails for he has lost the big plot: God allows bad things to happen to good people so that God will be glorified by all men everywhere, by all peoples through all time. Job (6:15–20) finds his friend’s half-truths as unhelpful and disappointing as a river bed without water, such as the Tema of Job 6:19, which incidentally was located in modern day Saudi Arabia. These rivers, dry when needed most, are also a source of despair to the travelers of Yemen (v. 19). Tema sat at the center of Arabian trade routes and members of many nations competed there to control the market for incense. The peoples of the earth are never far from the heart and Scripture of God.
Job turns the wonder of Psalm 8:4 (“What is man that you would honor him…”) into the worry of that responsibility (7:18). It would be nice to have honor without assignment, but God never blesses without expecting us to pass blessing on. Echoing Genesis 12, Job was blessed to be a blessing, even to those not within his family or nation, and he was un-blessed to do the same. Job’s un-blessing was intended to display God’s glory broadly. Whenever we shirk responsibility for the unreached, whenever we do not pass on blessings, something shifts off center within us. We don’t know what that is at first, but we know something is wrong. If God’s Spirit lives within us, God’s missionary Spirit, and we are not acting missionally, we are spirit-sideways, and we feel it before we understand it.
If you are unsettled, if there is something in your soul that is not quite aligned and you sincerely can’t think of any sin of commission or omission, if you are asking in honesty with Job, “Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself?”, perhaps the answer is centered on the mission of God—or the lack of it. Maybe what you have done to God is kept His blessings away from all nations by hoarding them to yourself. Perhaps the Watcher of men is watching you to see if you will bless the nations. I wouldn’t want to risk the terrors of God (Job 6:4) because I didn’t collaborate with His passion to bless all the nations of the earth.
 In this devotional, I will often refer to peoples and places by their current geographical names and contexts, knowing that this is anachronistic as various peoples have lived in these places over time. For example, Temites do not necessarily equate directly to Saudi Arabians, nor Job (from Uz, likely in Edom, located in what we now call Jordan) to current Jordanians. My point is to emphasize that God intends to receive global, not parochial, glory.