Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 164

Job 15–17, Romans 11–13

Bible text(s)

The Second Dialogue


1-2Empty words, Job! Empty words!

3No wise person would talk as you do

or defend himself with such meaningless words.

4If you had your way, no one would fear God;

no one would pray to him.

5Your wickedness is evident by what you say;

you are trying to hide behind clever words.

6There is no need for me to condemn you;

you are condemned by every word you speak.

7Do you think you were the first person born?

Were you there when God made the mountains?

8Did you overhear the plans God made?

Does human wisdom belong to you alone?

9There is nothing you know that we don't know.

10We learnt our wisdom from grey-haired people —

those born before your father.

11God offers you comfort; why still reject it?

We have spoken for him with calm, even words.

12But you are excited and glare at us in anger.

13You are angry with God and denounce him.

14Can any human being be really pure?

Can anyone be right with God?

15Why, God does not trust even his angels;

even they are not pure in his sight.

16And people drink evil as if it were water;

yes, they are corrupt; they are worthless.

17Now listen, Job, to what I know.

18Those who are wise have taught me truths

which they learnt from their ancestors,

and they kept no secrets hidden.

19Their land was free from foreigners;

there was no one to lead them away from God.

20The wicked who oppress others

will be in torment as long as they live.

21Voices of terror will scream in their ears,

and robbers attack when they think they are safe.

22They have no hope of escaping from darkness,

for somewhere a sword is waiting to kill them,

23and vultures are waiting to eat their corpses.

They know their future is dark;

24disaster, like a powerful king,

is waiting to attack them.

25That is the fate of those

who shake their fists at God

and defy the Almighty.

26-27They are proud and rebellious;

they stubbornly hold up their shields

and rush to fight against God.

28They are the ones who captured cities

and seized houses whose owners had fled,

but war will destroy those cities and houses.

29They will not remain rich for long;

nothing they own will last.

Even their shadows will vanish,

30and they will not escape from darkness.

They will be like trees

whose branches are burnt by fire,

whose blossoms are blown away by the wind.

31If they are foolish enough to trust in evil,

then evil will be their reward.

32Before their time is up they will wither,

wither like a branch and never be green again.

33They will be like vines that lose their unripe grapes;

like olive trees that drop their blossoms.

34There will be no descendants for godless people,

and fire will destroy the homes built by bribery.

35These are the ones who plan trouble and do evil;

their hearts are always full of deceit.


1-2I have heard words like that before;

the comfort you give is only torment.

3Are you going to keep on talking for ever?

Do you always have to have the last word?

4If you were in my place and I in yours,

I could say everything you are saying.

I could shake my head wisely

and drown you with a flood of words.

5I could strengthen you with advice

and keep talking to comfort you.

6But nothing I say helps,

and being silent does not calm my pain.

7You have worn me out, God;

you have let my family be killed.

8You have seized me; you are my enemy.

I am skin and bones,

and people take that as proof of my guilt.

9In anger God tears me limb from limb;

he glares at me with hate.

10People sneer at me;

they crowd round me and slap my face.

11God has handed me over to evil people.

12I was living in peace,

but God took me by the throat

and battered me and crushed me.

God uses me for target practice

13and shoots arrows at me from every side —

arrows that pierce and wound me;

and even then he shows no pity.

14He wounds me again and again;

he attacks like a soldier gone mad with hate.

15I mourn and wear clothes made of sackcloth,

and I sit here in the dust defeated.

16I have cried until my face is red,

and my eyes are swollen and circled with shadows,

17but I am not guilty of any violence,

and my prayer to God is sincere.

18O Earth, don't hide the wrongs done to me!

Don't let my call for justice be silenced!

19There is someone in heaven

to stand up for me and take my side.

20My friends scorn me;

my eyes pour out tears to God.

21I want someone to plead with God for me,

as one pleads for a friend.

22My years are passing now,

and I walk the road of no return.

1The end of my life is near. I can hardly breathe;

there is nothing left for me but the grave.

2I watch how bitterly everyone mocks me.

3I am being honest, God. Accept my word.

There is no one else to support what I say.

4You have closed their minds to reason;

don't let them triumph over me now.

5In the old proverb someone betrays his friends for money,

and his children suffer for it.

6And now people use this proverb against me;

they come and spit in my face.

7My grief has almost made me blind;

my arms and legs are as thin as shadows.

8Those who claim to be honest are shocked,

and they all condemn me as godless.

9Those who claim to be respectable

are more and more convinced they are right.

10But if all of them came and stood before me,

I would not find even one of them wise.

11My days have passed; my plans have failed;

my hope is gone.

12But my friends say night is daylight;

they say that light is near,

but I know I remain in darkness.

13My only hope is the world of the dead,

where I will lie down to sleep in the dark.

14I will call the grave my father,

and the worms that eat me

I will call my mother and my sisters.

15Where is there any hope for me?

Who sees any?

16Hope will not go with me

when I go down to the world of the dead.

God's Mercy on Israel

1I ask, then: did God reject his own people? Certainly not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people, whom he chose from the beginning. You know what the scripture says in the passage where Elijah pleads with God against Israel: 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.” 4What answer did God give him? “I have kept for myself 7,000 men who have not worshipped the false god Baal.” 5It is the same way now: there is a small number left of those whom God has chosen because of his grace. 6His choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God's choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.

7What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God's call. 8As the scripture says, “God made their minds and hearts dull; to this very day they cannot see or hear.” 9And David says:

“May they be caught and trapped at their feasts;

may they fall, may they be punished!

10May their eyes be blinded so that they cannot see;

and make them bend under their troubles at all times.”

11I ask, then: when the Jews stumbled, did they fall to their ruin? By no means! Because they sinned, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make the Jews jealous of them. 12The sin of the Jews brought rich blessings to the world, and their spiritual poverty brought rich blessings to the Gentiles. Then, how much greater the blessings will be when the complete number of Jews is included!

The Salvation of the Gentiles

13I am speaking now to you Gentiles: as long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I will take pride in my work. 14Perhaps I can make the people of my own race jealous, and so be able to save some of them. 15For when they were rejected, the human race was changed from God's enemies into his friends. What will it be, then, when they are accepted? It will be life for the dead!

16If the first piece of bread is given to God, then the whole loaf is his also; and if the roots of a tree are offered to God, the branches are his also. 17Some of the branches of the cultivated olive tree have been broken off, and a branch of a wild olive tree has been joined to it. You Gentiles are like that wild olive tree, and now you share the strong spiritual life of the Jews. 18So then, you must not despise those who were broken off like branches. How can you be proud? You are just a branch; you don't support the roots — the roots support you.

19But you will say, “Yes, but the branches were broken off to make room for me.” 20That is true. They were broken off because they did not believe, while you remain in place because you do believe. But do not be proud of it; instead, be afraid. 21God did not spare the Jews, who are like natural branches; do you think he will spare you? 22Here we see how kind and how severe God is. He is severe towards those who have fallen, but kind to you — if you continue in his kindness. But if you do not, you too will be broken off. 23And if the Jews abandon their unbelief, they will be put back in the place where they were; for God is able to do that. 24You Gentiles are like the branch of a wild olive tree that is broken off and then, contrary to nature, is joined to a cultivated olive tree. The Jews are like this cultivated tree; and it will be much easier for God to join these broken-off branches to their own tree again.

God's Mercy on All

25There is a secret truth, my brothers and sisters, which I want you to know, for it will keep you from thinking how wise you are. It is that the stubbornness of the people of Israel is not permanent, but will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to God. 26And this is how all Israel will be saved. As the scripture says:

“The Saviour will come from Zion

and remove all wickedness from the descendants of Jacob.

27I will make this covenant with them

when I take away their sins.”

28Because they reject the Good News, the Jews are God's enemies for the sake of you Gentiles. But because of God's choice, they are his friends because of their ancestors. 29For God does not change his mind about whom he chooses and blesses. 30As for you Gentiles, you disobeyed God in the past; but now you have received God's mercy because the Jews were disobedient. 31In the same way, because of the mercy that you have received, the Jews now disobey God, in order that they also may now receive God's mercy. 32For God has made all people prisoners of disobedience, so that he might show mercy to them all.

Praise to God

33How great are God's riches! How deep are his wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain his decisions? Who can understand his ways? 34As the scripture says:

“Who knows the mind of the Lord?

Who is able to give him advice?

35Who has ever given him anything,

so that he had to pay it back?”

36For all things were created by him, and all things exist through him and for him. To God be the glory for ever! Amen.

Life in God's Service

1So then, my brothers and sisters, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God — what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.

3And because of God's gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 4We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. 5In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. 6So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God's message, we should do it according to the faith that we have; 7if it is to serve, we should serve; if it is to teach, we should teach; 8if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully.

9Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. 10Love one another warmly as Christian brothers and sisters, and be eager to show respect for one another. 11Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. 12Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. 13Share your belongings with your needy fellow-Christians, and open your homes to strangers.

14Ask God to bless those who persecute you — yes, ask him to bless, not to curse. 15Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. 16Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.

17If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. 18Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. 19Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God's anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.” 20Instead, as the scripture says: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by doing this you will make them burn with shame.” 21Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.

Duties towards the State Authorities

1Everyone must obey the state authorities, because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. 2Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgement on himself. 3For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil. Would you like to be unafraid of those in authority? Then do what is good, and they will praise you, 4because they are God's servants working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of them, because their power to punish is real. They are God's servants and carry out God's punishment on those who do evil. 5For this reason you must obey the authorities — not just because of God's punishment, but also as a matter of conscience.

6That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfil their duties. 7Pay, then, what you owe them; pay them your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honour for them all.

Duties towards One Another

8Be under obligation to no one — the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. 9The commandments, “Do not commit adultery; do not commit murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else” — all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” 10If you love someone, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.

11You must do this, because you know that the time has come for you to wake up from your sleep. For the moment when we will be saved is closer now than it was when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over, day is almost here. Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark, and let us take up weapons for fighting in the light. 13Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day — no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. 14But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.

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