Reading 1 - Job 20
Job 20: "Zophar replies to the second test experienced by the patient Job, claiming that any seeming prosperity is shortlived. It is more harsh than the first reply (Job 11). He adds coarseness and rudeness to his previous hostility (Job 20:7,15). Roused by the closing warning of Job (Job 19:28,29; cp Job 20:2,3), his discourse is a covert denunciation of Job as a wicked hypocrite (vv 5,12,19,29), deservedly punished by God. He predicts the violent death of Job and the ultimate manifestation of heaven and earth in witness against him (vv 24-28).
"So Zophar expounds:
Job's rebuke causes Zophar's anger: vv 1-3.
The prosperity of the wicked is shortlived: vv 4-9.
The calamities experienced by the wicked: vv 10-28.
These calamities represent divine judgment: v 29.
"Zophar's reply is a vicious attack on Job personally (vv 6,7,20-29), and typifies the wicked criticism of the Lord Jesus by the Pharisees. The serpent used its tongue to attack Adam and Eve in the beginning, and now the same characteristic is used by Zophar (v 16) against Job. The serpent uses its tongue to track, on the surface of the earth, the scent of mice or various prey. In Zophar's argument, the serpent revived, and endeavoured to track the innocent Job in his sad circumstances. The serpent lives on in all who act similarly" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 2 - Zep 2:4-15
For us, these divine judgments upon the nations (Zep 2:4-15) can be both warning and encouragement: warning, because God is a jealous and holy God, whose longsuffering is not endless; but also encouragement, because His judgments on the nations are the prelude to the kingdom, when "the people of the world learn righteousness" (Isa 26:9).
In this section, four peoples or groups of peoples stand for the Gentiles in their totality:
To the west of Israel were the Philistines (vv 4-7) -- modern Palestine;
To the east, Moab and Ammon (vv 8-11) -- modern Jordan;
To the south, Cush (Ethiopia or southern Arabia) (v 12); and
To the north, Assyria or Babylon (vv 13-15) -- modern Iraq.
These nations encircle Israel, which is of course at the center of God's plan. Their "bounds" -- both as to national boundaries and limits of influence -- are set by God according to His purpose with His people Israel (Acts 17:26; Deu 32:8).
This is a comfort to those who see and understand the Divine Hand in world affairs. God has said, in effect, "This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt" (Job 38:11). Even though around us men's hearts are failing them for fear, if God be for US, then nothing will "harm" US except what HE causes or allows for our betterment.
Reading 3 - 1Jo 2:13,14
"I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1Jo 2:13,14).
The drawing of lines, and the erecting of barriers between the generations, can only injure Christ's body in the long run. We are all "one family" and "one body" -- young, middle-aged, and old together. Each class has a strength peculiarly its own, but each has its special weakness. Young men are wise to seek the help of the old that they may guard against the errors of inexperience. Old men are wise to listen to the young that they may guard against a self-satisfied and crotchety prejudice. This distinction is nicely made by the Apostle John: "I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him (ie, Christ) from the beginning" (1Jo 2:13). (The words "that is" are italicized in the AV; the sense is best when they are omitted.) The old have a great wealth of experience. Their strength is that experience; but their weakness can be a desire to live in the past, and to resist all change.
"I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong" -- strong and energetic in body, the envy of many older ones. But that strength is a two-edged sword; what may be great strength to serve God may also be great strength misdirected to satisfy natural desires.
"... and the word of God abideth in you" -- Youth has keener wit and quicker intelligence; the memory is better; ideas may be grasped and elaborated more readily by the young. But there is, again, the corresponding danger, that the desire for some "new thing" or for notoriety may mean a greater potential for harm.
"... and ye have overcome the wicked one" (1Jo 2:14).
But what may look like an easy battle, at the beginning, against the lusts of the flesh, may only lull the "strong" young brother into a pride and a complacency that can prove fatal. "Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off" (1Ki 20:11).