Job 38-40

I love it when God shows up, don’t you? If there is anything which will shut up a bunch of silly speculation, it’s God’s own voice permeating the atmosphere!

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…”(38:1). Get ready: this is going to be good.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”(38:4). That’s a good question, isn’t it? Then what about this one? “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?”(38:12)

Then He goes on to ask question after question. “Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?”(39:1).” Who sent out the wild donkey free?”(39:5). “Do you give the horse his might?”(39:19). “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars?”(39:26).

There is but one God, Creator of heaven and earth. He is the designer of the universe and all that is in it. It was His idea to create man in His image.

So when God shows up and starts asking questions, there is nothing to do but agree.

So Job responds appropriately, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I do to reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth.”(40:1). Good going, Job. that’s the right answer. Be quiet and listen.

God continues a little further. He compares Job’s power with that of a hippopotamus.

I think that Job is getting the point. (And we aren’t hearing a peep out of all of the friends).

We’ll wind up this encounter tomorrow. Are you ready?

Acts 15:36-41

Paul is such a zealous man for the gospel. He’s unstoppable and unwavering. When someone has character traits like that, they can truly be annoyed with those who are wishy-washy. We see some of that here.

In Acts 13:13 there’s a seemingly inconsequential verse, but now we see its significance. John Mark, a young Christian, had chosen to go with Paul and Barnabas as they sailed on their first missionary journey. I’m sure that he got caught up in the excitement of a journey, without thinking about the hardships of the travel or the toughness of the mission. But when they were in the middle of their trip, Mark decides he has had enough, and sails back to Jerusalem.

There is no mention of Paul being annoyed at the time, but we see his reaction in this current passage.

After the council meets in Jerusalem, Paul wants to go back to the areas they had visited and strengthen the churches. That’s fine with Barnabas, and he wants to take Mark.

Paul will have none of it, and the two apostles have such a “sharp disagreement” that they separate. (V. 39). That’s heavy. These two men who have worked so well together for the cause of the gospel get into a fight with each other over John Mark and what to do with him.

So Barnabas takes Mark with him and goes to Cyprus. Paul takes Silas and fulfills his mission to Syria and Cilicia.

I have seen several attempts to characterize Paul and Barnabas as to their gifts or personality types. Paul is a true apostle, with only one mission, and that is to fulfill God’s purpose. He is tough and unbending in his approach to this purpose, and has no time for the weak or vacillating character who might hinder the goal.

Barnabas, on the other hand, has been characterized as a true pastor, or shepherd in his nature. He knows that John Mark has fallen short, but he wants to give him a second chance. He is more interested in the person than the mission.

Both gifts are essential for God’s mission to be complete. There are those called to show patience and support for people as they grow. Then there are those who are so focused on the mission that they don’t have time for the weak. It’s interesting  to see these two as they conflict in this passage.

As these men mature in their growth with God, each of them will come more toward the center. I think that Barnabas will get tougher. I know that Paul increases in his patience with others. In II Timothy 4:11, Paul tells Timothy to “Pick up mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”

There is a mellowing of the pointed, unwavering character he once had. Paul now appreciates Mark, and he and Barnabas are probably good friends again.

This is typical. As we grow with God, the edges of our personalities will be sanded down. The harsh will get softer and the soft will get tougher. Even though the original traits are still quite obvious, the life spent with God will reduce the rough edges and cause more of His purposes to be manifest.

God’s purposes always include all of the gifts, because all are needed. After all, He is the one who designed it that way.