Daily Bible Study Tips: Nehemiah and Job

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 10
Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Job 38:1-7, 34-41
Job 42:1-6, 10-17 
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Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 10 (omitted verses are lists of names)

When the Jews returned to Judea from Babylon after the Exile, they had some serious rebuilding to do.  Jerusalem had been sacked and the Temple and the city walls razed in conjunction with the deportation in 586 B.C.  After Persia conquered Babylon, Cyrus of Persia issued an edict sending the Jews back to their homeland (Ezra 1:2-4).  The prophets Haggai and Zechariah led the people in rebuilding the Temple; this was completed in 515 B.C.  Nehemiah led the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem.  Finally, Ezra led a law reform (see today's text).  As a result of the lessons they learned in exile, the Jews as a people finally became monotheistic, and the world was close to being prepared for the coming of Christ.  (If you think they already were monotheistic, read II Kings 23.  It's an eye-opener.)

Job 1:1, 2:1-10

Here’s a quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Ashe. 
During his battle with AIDS, from the world over, [Arthur Ashe] received letters from his fans, one of which asked:  'Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?'  To this Arthur Ashe replied: 'The world over -- 50,000,000 children start playing tennis, 5,000,000 learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5,000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to the semi-finals, 2 to the finals, When I was holding a cup I never asked God "Why me?" And today in pain I should not be asking God, "Why me?".'
The first person to make this point was Job.  Note that while Mrs. Job may speak like an impious woman, she is not an unbeliever.  She's confident that Job can end his misery by cursing God.

Job 23:1-9, 16-17

The major points of the book of Job are as follows:
Nevertheless, when something happens to us that we feel we don't deserve, normally we either get angry or we whine and complain.  This is okay.  In fact, there is an enormous scriptural basis for saying that this is okay.  One of your fellow readers said Sunday, "God is big enough for our anger."  God is big enough for our complaints, our whining, our unreasonable demands.  Both Job and the Psalmist have a lot of complaints, but neither one ever doubts God's care or power.  Job says, "Will God get into a wrangle with me?  No, but he will listen."  The Psalmist says in vs. 24 (which I added because I think it's pertinent), "God cares about my afflictions, and he listens."  

Job 38:1-7, 34-41

When I used to question my Dad's decisions, especially if I used the word "Why?", very often he  gave me this answer:  "Because I say so, and I'm Daddy."  That ended the discussion.  It was considered by all parties to be good and sufficient reason.  When Job demanded an answer from God about why such terrible things had happened to him, he got exactly the same response from God that I used to get from my Dad (although, I admit, phrased a little differently). 

Job 42:1-6, 10-17 

A Jewish acquaintance of mine was reading Job.  After Job stays true to God through all his troubles--including the deaths of his children (Job 1:19)--and after he admits that God is entitled to do whatever He wants to do without explaining Himself, God rewards Job with sons and daughters.  My acquaintance allowed to his rabbi that that was just fine for Job, but it seemed like pretty hard cheese for the original sons and daughters.  So the rabbi went and studied that for a bit, and he concluded that while the Hebrew is somewhat ambiguous, it sort of looks like Job got his original sons and daughters back (Job 1:2; 42:13).  My Hebrew isn't good enough to comment on that, but I thought it was interesting, nevertheless.

Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

The woodcut showing Mordecai and Haman is from the family Bible of John O. Spencer and Lydia Bunn, married 18 Nov. 1857 in Hector, Schuyler Co., NY. A complete listing of the posted images from this Bible is given at Ducks in a Row, Inc.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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