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30 August 2017 Bible Reading

Today’s Bible reading includes the well-known image of the “treasure in clay vessels” found in 2 Corinthians 4:7. In ancient times, sacred scrolls or valuable documents were rolled up and placed inside a jar of clay and then hidden for safe keeping. The Dead Sea Scrolls were kept in such jars of clay. Pottery jars could be beautiful or purely functional, but they had one thing in common: they were breakable. Contents could not be forever housed in jars of clay. Clay jars were temporary holding places. According to 2 Corinthians 4:7, we are like “jars of clay” with a “treasure” inside. This means that our physical bodies are like those jars. Our bodies are temporary housing places for the treasure God has given us, namely, “the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The knowledge of the gospel is a rich truth, indeed.

Job 34-36
34 Moreover Elihu answered,
2 “Hear my words, you wise men.
Give ear to me, you who have knowledge.
3 For the ear tries words,
as the palate tastes food.
4 Let us choose for us that which is right.
Let us know among ourselves what is good.
5 For Job has said, ‘I am righteous,
God has taken away my right:
6 Notwithstanding my right I am considered a liar.
My wound is incurable, though I am without disobedience.’
7 What man is like Job,
who drinks scorn like water,
8 Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity,
and walks with wicked men?
9 For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing
that he should delight himself with God.’
10 “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding:
far be it from God, that he should do wickedness,
from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.
11 For the work of a man he will render to him,
and cause every man to find according to his ways.
12 Yes surely, God will not do wickedly,
neither will the Almighty pervert justice.
13 Who put him in charge of the earth?
or who has appointed him over the whole world?
14 If he set his heart on himself,
If he gathered to himself his spirit and his breath,
15 all flesh would perish together,
and man would turn again to dust.
16 “If now you have understanding, hear this.
Listen to the voice of my words.
17 Shall even one who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty?—
18 Who says to a king, ‘Vile!’
or to nobles, ‘Wicked!’?
19 Who doesn’t respect the persons of princes,
nor respects the rich more than the poor;
for they all are the work of his hands.
20 In a moment they die, even at midnight.
The people are shaken and pass away.
The mighty are taken away without a hand.
21 “For his eyes are on the ways of a man.
He sees all his goings.
22 There is no darkness, nor thick gloom,
where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
23 For he doesn’t need to consider a man further,
that he should go before God in judgment.
24 He breaks in pieces mighty men in ways past finding out,
and sets others in their place.
25 Therefore he takes knowledge of their works.
He overturns them in the night, so that they are destroyed.
26 He strikes them as wicked men
in the open sight of others;
27 because they turned aside from following him,
and wouldn’t pay attention to any of his ways,
28 so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to him.
He heard the cry of the afflicted.
29 When he gives quietness, who then can condemn?
When he hides his face, who then can see him?
Alike whether to a nation, or to a man,
30 that the godless man may not reign,
that there be no one to ensnare the people.
31 “For has any said to God,
‘I am guilty, but I will not offend any more.
32 Teach me that which I don’t see.
If I have done iniquity, I will do it no more’?
33 Shall his recompense be as you desire, that you refuse it?
For you must choose, and not I.
Therefore speak what you know.
34 Men of understanding will tell me,
yes, every wise man who hears me:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge.
His words are without wisdom.’
36 I wish that Job were tried to the end,
because of his answering like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin.
He claps his hands among us,
and multiplies his words against God.”
35 Moreover Elihu answered,
2 “Do you think this to be your right,
or do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s,’
3 That you ask, ‘What advantage will it be to you?
What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?’
4 I will answer you,
and your companions with you.
5 Look to the heavens, and see.
See the skies, which are higher than you.
6 If you have sinned, what effect do you have against him?
If your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give him?
Or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness may hurt a man as you are,
and your righteousness may profit a son of man.
9 “By reason of the multitude of oppressions they cry out.
They cry for help by reason of the arm of the mighty.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than the animals of the earth,
and makes us wiser than the birds of the sky?’
12 There they cry, but no one gives answer,
because of the pride of evil men.
13 Surely God will not hear an empty cry,
neither will the Almighty regard it.
14 How much less when you say you don’t see him.
The cause is before him, and you wait for him!
15 But now, because he has not visited in his anger,
neither does he greatly regard arrogance.
16 Therefore Job opens his mouth with empty talk,
and he multiplies words without knowledge.”
36 Elihu also continued, and said,
2 “Bear with me a little, and I will show you;
for I still have something to say on God’s behalf.
3 I will get my knowledge from afar,
and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
4 For truly my words are not false.
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
5 “Behold, God is mighty, and doesn’t despise anyone.
He is mighty in strength of understanding.
6 He doesn’t preserve the life of the wicked,
but gives to the afflicted their right.
7 He doesn’t withdraw his eyes from the righteous,
but with kings on the throne,
he sets them forever, and they are exalted.
8 If they are bound in fetters,
and are taken in the cords of afflictions,
9 then he shows them their work,
and their transgressions, that they have behaved themselves proudly.
10 He also opens their ears to instruction,
and commands that they return from iniquity.
11 If they listen and serve him,
they shall spend their days in prosperity,
and their years in pleasures.
12 But if they don’t listen, they shall perish by the sword;
they shall die without knowledge.
13 “But those who are godless in heart lay up anger.
They don’t cry for help when he binds them.
14 They die in youth.
Their life perishes among the unclean.
15 He delivers the afflicted by their affliction,
and opens their ear in oppression.
16 Yes, he would have allured you out of distress,
into a wide place, where there is no restriction.
That which is set on your table would be full of fatness.
17 “But you are full of the judgment of the wicked.
Judgment and justice take hold of you.
18 Don’t let riches entice you to wrath,
neither let the great size of a bribe turn you aside.
19 Would your wealth sustain you in distress,
or all the might of your strength?
20 Don’t desire the night,
when people are cut off in their place.
21 Take heed, don’t regard iniquity;
for you have chosen this rather than affliction.
22 Behold, God is exalted in his power.
Who is a teacher like him?
23 Who has prescribed his way for him?
Or who can say, ‘You have committed unrighteousness?’
24 “Remember that you magnify his work,
whereof men have sung.
25 All men have looked on it.
Man sees it afar off.
26 Behold, God is great, and we don’t know him.
The number of his years is unsearchable.
27 For he draws up the drops of water,
which distill in rain from his vapor,
28 Which the skies pour down
and which drop on man abundantly.
29 Yes, can any understand the spreading of the clouds,
and the thunderings of his pavilion?
30 Behold, he spreads his light around him.
He covers the bottom of the sea.
31 For by these he judges the people.
He gives food in abundance.
32 He covers his hands with the lightning,
and commands it to strike the mark.
33 Its noise tells about him,
and the livestock also concerning the storm that comes up.

2 Corinthians 4:1-12
4 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we don’t faint. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who perish; 4 in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. 5 For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake; 6 seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves. 8 We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; 9 pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death works in us, but life in you.

Psalm 44:1-8
For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah. A contemplative psalm.
44 We have heard with our ears, God;
our fathers have told us,
what work you did in their days,
in the days of old.
2 You drove out the nations with your hand,
but you planted them.
You afflicted the peoples,
but you spread them abroad.
3 For they didn’t get the land in possession by their own sword,
neither did their own arm save them;
but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your face,
because you were favorable to them.
4 You are my King, God.
Command victories for Jacob!
5 Through you, will we push down our adversaries.
Through your name, will we tread them under who rise up against us.
6 For I will not trust in my bow,
neither shall my sword save me.
7 But you have saved us from our adversaries,
and have shamed those who hate us.
8 In God we have made our boast all day long,
we will give thanks to your name forever.

Proverbs 22:10-12
10 Drive out the mocker, and strife will go out;
yes, quarrels and insults will stop.
11 He who loves purity of heart and speaks gracefully
is the king’s friend.
12 Yahweh’s eyes watch over knowledge;
but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

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