ODJ: a bigger picture

January 2, 2015 

READ: Job 40:1-14 

I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say (v.5).more›

My daughter posed an excellent question to me: What’s the connection between Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job? The first two seem so . . . contradictory. And the book of Job is a saga all on its own!

Philip Yancey points out the irony of Ecclesiastes following Proverbs in the Bible. Proverbs portrays life as it ought to be: do good things and prosper. Do bad things and suffer. Ecclesiastes, conversely, reads almost like a biblical Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh): Oh well, what’s the use? We’ll all end up dead anyway.

Job brings perspective to those viewpoints. Industrious and moral, Job lived well and life had been good. But then disaster struck. His friends insisted that only the wicked suffer (therefore, Job was wicked). His wife advised him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). They were so wrong.

These three books work together. Proverbs is not a book of promises, but of instruction in how to live wisely. Ecclesiastes describes the folly of living for this life only. Job shows us that there is much more to life—and to God—than meets the eye. Many things remain beyond our understanding.

In the span of four chapters (Job 38-41), God gave Job a litany of unanswerable questions, prompting Job’s stark admission: “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers?” (40:4). He then concluded: “I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me” (42:3).

It’s good to make wise choices, and Proverbs can help us to do that. It’s also good to understand life on this earth, and Ecclesiastes helps us to see that. Job shows us a glimpse of the mystery behind the curtain. God is there, and He is great. He’s also good. —Tim Gustafson

365-day plan› Genesis 2:15-3:24

Read Psalm 103 and see the themes of injustice, human weakness and God’s goodness that the ancient songwriter addressed. 
What big questions do you want God to answer? What do you think He might be teaching you these days?