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Pray When it Doesn’t Make Sense

After Job’s so-called friends fail so miserably to comfort him in his time of need, after they criticize and malign him, God steps in. God puts them in their place for what they said and affirms that Job has spoken truth.

Then God tells the friends to prepare a sacrifice and to ask Job to pray for them.

Picture the situation. Job’s life is in shambles. He is destitute and in pain, despising life itself. The only people who will even talk to him, attack him and his character, pulling him down even further. Then they have the audacity to ask him to pray for them!

If you were Job, how would you respond?

God accepts Job’s prayers—and then restores his fortunes twofold. Click To Tweet

Praying for them would be a hard thing to do; it would be far easier to give them the payback they deserve, but not Job. In the midst of his torment, he prays for his misguided friends even though they seem to be in a much better state than he is.

God accepts Job’s prayers—and then restores his fortunes twofold.

What if Job had refused to pray for his friends, might God’s response have been different?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 40-42, and today’s post is on Job 42:7-10.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Women in the Bible: Tamar

A Women Takes Extreme Action to Get What Is Due Her

Tamar is a victim who takes extreme action to vindicate herself. She’s the daughter-in-law of Judah. She suffers at his hand, responds with guile, and has twins with him. Later she is one of four women mentioned in Jesus’s family tree. Talk about a messed-up situation. Here’s her story:

Tamar marries Judah’s oldest son. He’s evil and dies. She’s passed on to his brother to produce offspring in his stead. The brother doesn’t cooperate, and God kills him. Judah promises Tamar his third son when he’s old enough and sends her back to live with her parents to wait.

He has no intention of following through. He lies to her.

Discover how Tamar receives the justice she deserves. Click To Tweet

Once she realizes this, she dresses like a hooker, and waits where she knows Judah will be. Not knowing who she is, he sleeps with her, and she gets pregnant. He uses her.

When Judah finds out his daughter-in-law is pregnant, he condemns her to die.

Then she reveals who the father is. Judah confesses his role, and he professes his daughter-in-law as righteous. They, along with their son Perez, are part of Jesus’ genealogy.

Tamar’s drastic steps ensure she will have a family and be cared for; God ensures she has a legacy.

The story of Tamar concludes in Matthew 1:3. She’s also celebrated when the elders bless Ruth in Ruth 4:12.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 36-38 and today’s post is on Genesis 38:24-26.]


Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Does God Accept Your Prayers?

Job Prays for His Misguided Friends Who Criticize Him, and God Accepts His Prayers

The book of Job is dialogue sandwiched between the story’s prelude and epilogue. The prelude, or premise, is that Job will remain devout to God regardless of how Satan might afflict him (Job 1-2).

In the epilogue, or conclusion, God repudiates the assertions of Job’s friends, affirms Job, and blesses him twofold (Job 42:7-16).

The intervening verses present chapter-long discourses from Job’s friends and Job’s equally long rebuttals. Then God speaks (Job 40:6-41:34). The story could end there, with God having the final word.

Instead God deals with our story’s main characters, too. He’s mad at three of Job’s friends, his primary detractors. (The fourth friend escapes mention, receiving neither criticism nor affirmation.) God instructs the trio to offer a sacrifice in Job’s presence.

Then Job will pray for them. When he does, God will accept Job’s intercession for these men and not punish them, as they deserve (Job 42:7-9).

Notice that God does not command Job to pray. What if Job decides he won’t intercede for his friends? After how they’ve failed to support him, he would be justified in snubbing them and letting God deal with them as they deserve.

Yet God knows Job. He knows Job’s heart. He knows Job will pray for these men even though they let him down.

May our hearts be so attuned to God that he will say 'yes' before we even say 'please.' Click To Tweet

And God says he will accept Job’s prayer.

Before Job even utters the words, God decides to honor what his follower will pray. What an affirmation of Job’s godly character and God’s esteem for him.

Imagine God saying that about you or me. Knowing our overall character, he acknowledges he will answer our prayers before we say one word.

May our relationship with God be like Job’s, with hearts so attuned to God that he will say “yes” before we even say “please.”

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 40-42, and today’s post is on Job 42:7-9.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

3 People Given a New Name by God

In the book of Genesis, God gives a new name to three people.

In doing so, God is effectively saying, I’m giving you a new identity. You may see yourself according to what your parents called you at birth, but I see you differently. I’m giving you a new name and a new future.

  • Abram becomes Abraham
  • Sarai becomes Sarah
  • Jacob becomes Israel

The Amplified Bible tells us the meaning for five of these names:

Abram/Abraham

Abram means “high, exalted father,” whereas Abraham means “father of a multitude” (Genesis 17:5).

Sarai/Sarah

The meaning of Sarai is not given, but Sarah means “Princess” (Genesis 17:15).

Jacob/Israel

Jacob means “supplanter” (one who usurps or replaces another), whereas Israel means “contender with God” (Genesis 32:28).

The Value of a New Name

Consider their original name given to them at birth. Contrast this to their new name given to them by God. How is God reorienting their perspective? Read about them in the Bible to see how they live up to the new identity God gave them. Their new was transformative.

Would you like God to give you a new name? Click To Tweet

There is power in a name.

Would you like God to give you a new name? Just ask him and then listen for his answer. Now adjust your perspective to live up to his new identity for you.

If you do, it will change the rest of your life.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 15-17 and today’s post is on Genesis 17:5.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Sometimes It’s Best to Say Nothing

When Job’s Friends Try to Comfort Him, Their Words Only Deepen His Distress

The Bible tells the story of Job, how Satan took everything from him: his possessions, his children, and his health. Left in deep pain with an unsupportive wife, four of Job’s friends come to offer comfort, but they fail. They should say nothing.

Most of the book of Job records the back and forth dialogue between Job and his friends.

They give pompous speeches as Job struggles with his tenuous grasp of his faith in God. His friends do not help him feel better (Job 16:2-3). A reoccurring theme throughout the book of Job is that his friends’ words are unhelpful and received as torment (Job 9:3, 11:2, 16:2, 19:2, 21:3, 26:2).

Job grows exasperated with their failed attempts to offer support. He wishes his friends would just keep quiet (Job 13:13). He says that by speaking no words, they would actually better display their wisdom (Job 13:5).

Though this might be a bit of hyperbole on Job’s part, he offers us some wise advice.

Job’s friends could have helped him more by simply being present and saying nothing. Click To Tweet

Often words are inadequate, and sometimes words hurt more than they help. Job didn’t need his friends to try to explain his situation, offer a theological response, or interject their own personal experiences. They could have helped him more by simply being present and saying nothing.

Offering others our presence may be exactly what they need, but we can mess that up when we attempt to offer them our words too. Anyone can go and just be with a friend in need.

The best friends know when to talk and when to be quiet. And the best gift is often the gift of silence, to say nothing.

Just ask Job.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 13-16, and today’s post focuses on Job 13:5.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Four Lessons from Job about Devotion to God

Job Professes His Spiritual Practices

The words of Job’s friend Eliphaz fail to comfort him. Instead they stir up anger. With a friend who speaks like Eliphaz I’d be angry too. In Job’s reply to his so-called friend, he professes what he has done to align himself with God. He claims his practices prove his devotion to his Lord.

Job Follows God

Job says that he follows closely behind God. It’s as if he walks in God’s shadow, placing each step in the footprint of his Lord. With intention he trails after God, focusing on staying right behind him.

Job Resists Distractions

Job follows God with unswerving dedication. He keeps his eyes fixed on God, walking in his path. Job does not look to his left or to his right. He tunes out worldly distractions so he can remain steadfast in keeping aligned with God, going everywhere that God goes.

Job Obeys God’s Commands

Next Job says that he keeps the commands of God. He listens to what God says and follows his words with unswerving commitment. It’s as if Job pauses in expectation for God to speak. Then he immediately obeys him, doing everything he says to do.

Job Treasures God’s Words

Job ends his testimony saying that he values God’s words more than food. Though we might think this refers to the written Word of God, the Bible, it does not. Job likely lives in a time before the Scriptures existed. This means Job treasures the spoken words of God.

Job would rather feed his soul by listening to God then feed his body by eating food. For Job to hear God speak, Job must remain in close relationship with him.

There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. Click To Tweet

The Outcome of Job’s Devotion

Job is a man who carefully follows God with singular focus, obeying him and valuing everything he says. It’s an example of godly devotion we will do well to follow.

You’d think that for Job’s dedication, God would bless him and keep him from discomfort. Yet for this time in Job’s life, he is in much distress and God’s blessings are absent in his life. Though a positive and pleasant outcome await Job, it’s far removed from his present life.

This is a hard reality to accept and to comprehend. Yet there are two things we must remember. First, God is Sovereign and can do whatever he wants.

We must accept this truth even if we don’t like it.

Second, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. In the end, we, like Job, will see God’s blessing and reward. Until then we should follow Job’s example of devotion to our Lord.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 21-24, and today’s post is on Job 23:11-12.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Are Our Beliefs Flawless or Flawed?

If We Claim to Know the Truth, That Implies Every Other Perspective Is Wrong

The book of Job is mostly dialogue between Job and his four “friends,” with God having the final word—as he should. The words of Job’s four friends aren’t much help.

At one point in Zophar’s monologue he claims that Job said his beliefs are flawless and he is pure before God. No one stands pure before God, just as no one is flawless in what they believe.

However, today many people carry this same assumption about themselves: that their beliefs are flawless. Yes, we must seek truth in our pursuit of God, but we must hold it loosely. After all, we might be wrong.

Unfortunately, not many people see it this way. They see their viewpoints as unassailable and without fault. This implies that all other perspectives are in error. These other people are, therefore, wrong in what they believe.

When it comes to matters of faith, it seems no one stands in complete agreement with anyone else. Though some may hold views closely aligned with what others say, 100 percent harmony doesn’t happen. Or if it does, it doesn’t last long. Inevitably differences of opinion will occur.

That’s a huge factor as to why we have 43,000 denominations in our world today. When people disagree, they draw lines. They push away those with different beliefs, even those with slightly different views.

No one’s beliefs are flawless, and that includes our own. Click To Tweet

Our Beliefs are Flawed

Yet no one’s beliefs are flawless, and that includes our own.

Instead of arrogantly assuming our beliefs are faultless, we should instead adopt the humble viewpoint that our beliefs are flawed: mine, yours, everyone’s. It’s as if we’re seeing through a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

What we know now, what we think we know now, we see in part. And for now, that needs to be enough. Later, we’ll see in full, but that won’t occur while we’re on this planet. It will happen later.

For now we must humbly accept the reality that our theology is incomplete, that no matter how sincere, our beliefs are flawed.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Job 9-12, and today’s post is on Job 11:4.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Conflict or Coexistence?

Mankind and the Animal Kingdom

God created people and animals, the Animal Kingdom (Genesis 1:26). At first, everything was great. Then Adan and Eve did what God told them not to do. They sinned. He kicked them out of the Garden of Eden.

Things went downhill from there. More people and more sin. A lot more sin. Finally God had enough. He wanted to start over, to wipe the slate clean.

He sent a flood to destroy all the people, except for Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. All the other people, along with all the animals die—because of humanity’s sin.

This, of course, is not fair to the animals. They didn’t do anything wrong, but they’re taken out because of man’s mistakes.

There is an interesting parallel in this today. Man’s behavior is again threatening the lives of animals. This time man’s mistakes result in excessive economic gain and greedy prosperity at the expense of animal habitat.

God did give the earth to man, but to take care of it, not to exploit it.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 6-8 and today’s post is on Genesis 6:5-8.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Is it Okay to Contend with God?

Job and His Friends Contend with God

Job’s life has crumbled. His wife turned on him. And his friends don’t help. After listening to their back-and-forth dialogue that accomplishes nothing, God interjects. At last he speaks.

At one point God says, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?” (Job 40:2). In this rhetorical question, two thoughts stand out. The first is the idea of contending with God, and the second is correcting him.

God enjoys it when we ask questions, just like Job. For in asking questions, we seek him. Click To Tweet

Contend with God

Though we could view God’s question as implying that he doesn’t want us to contend with him, I don’t think this is what he means.

One understanding of the word contend is to debate. Another is struggle. When it comes to God, these are strong words. It seems foolish for us to debate God, to struggle with him. God is sovereign. And we are far less than sovereign. Who are we to question him?

Yet I can’t think of any place in the Bible where God punishes his people for contending with him when they do so with respect. I can’t find a single verse that commands us not to question God or debate his ways.

In fact, I think God enjoys it when we ask questions—serious, soul-wrenching questions, just like Job.

For in asking questions, we seek him. And that’s what he wants.

Correct God

However, there’s a right way to contend with God and a wrong way. The wrong way is when we think we know better than him, when we try to correct him and tell him he made a mistake.

When we do this, we forget God is sovereign, and we try to elevate ourselves over him. This is foolish. And it separates us from God. This isn’t what he wants from us.

The Bible says, be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). In parallel fashion, we can also say, contend with God and don’t correct him. That gives us the balance we need. God enjoys our sincere questions, but we must never forget he is our sovereign Creator and we are the created.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Job 40-42, and today’s post is on Job 40:2.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Does Silence Scare You?

We Need to Learn to Worship God in Silence, Doing Nothing but Standing in Awe of Him

The Book of Revelation is an amazing book. However, I fear that many people miss the point of it. The intent of Revelation isn’t to give us a detailed map of the future. Instead, Revelation provides us with a grand overview of God’s ultimate power and amazing plan for the future, our future.

The goal in reading Revelation isn’t to formulate a timeline, detail the future, or argue about the end times. The grand revelation of Revelation is to comprehend the power, the grandeur, and the glory of God.

So it is with today’s text. John writes that when the angel opens the seventh seal there is silence in heaven for half an hour.

Silence.

Total quiet.

Nothing.

How do you deal with silence? How much silence can you withstand before you go crazy? If you’re like most people, your answer is only a few seconds.

Imagine being in the presence of God. The setting overwhelms. God sits on his throne surrounded by his people and spiritual beings. An angel brakes a seal to open a sacred scroll. Silence fills the space in awe over God’s presence, power, and plan.

The only response is to do nothing, to stand quietly, and to not say a thing. To bask in God’s essence.

Nothing happens for thirty minutes. That’s 1,800 seconds.

Tick, tick, tick. That’s three seconds. Can you stand the silence? Do you feel the pressure to say something or for someone else to break the quiet?

Now wait 1,797 seconds more. That’s a lot of quiet. That’s a quiet that honors God. It’s a quiet that God deserves. It’s one way we can worship God. 

By sitting in silence, in the presence of his glory, we can worship God. Click To Tweet

No music, no song, and no singing. Just silence. By doing nothing we can worship God. By sitting in silence in the presence of his glory, we honor him.

Does silence scare you? It shouldn’t. When done right, it shows God our adoration.

Maybe we should worship God in our silence more often. We can start right now.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Revelation 4-8, and today’s post is on Revelation 8:1.]


Read more in Peter’s devotional Bible study, A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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