Dec 12: Job 14 | Hab 1 | 1 Pet 2

Reading 1 - Job 14:4

"Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!" (Job 14:4).

"O that a clean might come out of an unclean..." (cp RV mg). If only man did not inherit by birth the impulse to sin...

While it is true that cleanness cannot come from the unclean -- Haggai makes this point (Hag 2:13) -- Job was incorrect to suppose that man cannot be cleansed by God. This is the work of Jesus, but was available to all by faith (Gen 15:6). However, it is righteousness that is imputed -- not cleanness. Maybe Job should have used a Biblical word rather than one of his own making.

Reading 2 - Hab 1:2

"How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?" (Hab 1:2).

"Habakkuk is a book in which a man, the prophet, asked questions and received answers. Note, for example, Hab 1:2, which voices the prophet's initial question. Then turn to Hab 3:19, which gives his final affirmation after having received answers. The contrast between these verses is startling. It is a contrast between a wail of despair and a shout of confidence. GC Morgan observed, 'From the affirmation of faith's agnosticism we come to the affirmation of agnosticism's faith.'

"This is the story of Habakkuk. At the beginning we hear a believer questioning God. The prophet's problem was why God was not doing what He promised to do, specifically delivering His people from the violence with which the Babylonians were threatening them. Every believer faces the same problem sooner or later. Circumstances challenge the promises of God, and we wonder why God does not do something about the situation. Habakkuk wondered how God could use a more wicked nation, Babylon, to disciple the wicked Judahites.

"The key verse, Hab 2:4, is similar to the constricted part of an hour-glass. Everything that precedes it leads up to it, and everything that follows it results from it. It is like a doorway through which everything in the book passes" (Thomas Constable, "Expository Notes").

Reading 3 - 1Pe 2:18-25

"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1Pe 2:18-25).

The exhortations to slaves about serving their masters well (vv 18-20) has as its foundation and rationale... the atonement (vv 21-25)!

"No subject has occasioned more tears, and more rage, than the meaning of the Lord's sacrifice. Christ died, in love and obedience, for us. Oh, some would hack with semantic knives at every nuance, every syllable of God's resonating words on this subject. Would God we would struggle, with equal determination, to learn its meaning for our daily living, for how we treat other people. And this, in the end, is the greatest source of heartache for each of us: the multiplicity of ways in which we fail to live the atonement, HIS atonement. Peter writes, with all the hollow-eyed wisdom of a man who has persevered through his own moral frailties, in his first letter, to a demoralized and disoriented brotherhood. He writes of the Lord's death, knowing he himself will die soon. And he teaches us, this man who denied Jesus as he walked through the valley of death, that the Lord's dying must be our own, every day...

"I must serve my employer as if I am working for God. And the common injustices and indignities I suffer must be filtered through, and borne in light of, the suffering and death of my Lord. It is not always so with me. What a shock the full force of these words can be for us all. We 'do the atonement' in our cubicles, transport trailers, construction sites and executive suites. How intrusive and invasive Scripture is. It leaves no area of our lives unsinged; there are no private matters its searing edge will not cut and wound. These are hard words for people raised in the obsessive privacy of Western life. God does not 'mind His own business', but walks right into every locked room in our hearts and looks steadily into our reddened faces. Surely, none of us has escaped that feeling. Your place of labour is an atonement workshop" (Dev Ramcharan).


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