Job's Revelation

The consolations of God - Second in a series

The phrase consolations of God is found in the Bible only in the book of Job: Are the consolations of God small with thee? (Job 15:11).

After losing his children, servants, livestock, camels, health and appearance, as Job sat and scraped the boils that covered his body, three friends came to comfort him. Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad sat with him for seven days in silence, mourning his losses.

Then Job spoke: Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. (Job 3:3)

Eliphaz, alarmed for his soul, said, Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? (Job 4:7) He shared a vision he had been given: A spirit had stood before him and said, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust… (Job 4:17-21)

This counsel seems to have assisted Eliphaz in his own relationship with God, as he testified: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole… (Job 5:17-27)

Job objected to Eliphaz's exhortation. Job was a man who knew good from evil and endeavored to do right in all ways. What he had experienced was not a chastisement but a decimation! He needed much more than a clucking disciplinary word from an older friend. But the jabs continued, with Bildad and Zophar joining in.

At one point, Eliphaz reminded Job, What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us? With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father. Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee? (Job 15:9-11)

There, we see the phrase in context. A careful reading of Job 15 makes clear that Eliphaz felt that the vision and insight he shared with Job (see above) ought to have consoled him by ministering to his need for guidance. Job would have realized this, had he not been rebellious, vain and perhaps hiding a sin. Yet, it is not the word or vision that another considered so special in their life that can minister to our specific circumstance. Each of us needs his very own consolation of God.

In the end, Job was led to confess that he had considered himself to be God's equal, even to the point of challenging God's wisdom. He had been a man who thought he could be just or acceptable to God by his lifestyle. Indeed, he had worked hard every day to demonstrate his righteousness to God.

He had wanted God to explain why nearly all his possessions and loved ones were destroyed, but instead he was given a new way of seeing: Then he exclaimed, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42:5) He understood that he had been presumptuous. One cannot approach God as an equal. Isn’t this what Eliphaz tried to say?

After Job’s change of heart, God called on him to intercede for his friends. They had not been loving. Job obeyed and then God restored his life.

The Lord's own exhortation (found in Job 38-41) deeply consoled Job for his immense losses because it led to a repentance that opened his heart to see God in His glory— things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. (Job 42:3) Neither let God's consolations be too small for us nor his exhortations too great.

Are the consolations of God small with thee?

The consolations of God - First in a series

All but the youngest Christian can relate to this question: Are the consolations of God too small for you? (Job 15:11)

The older members in the family know that God often fulfills our expectation with something that seems "second-best." Or, after we have made a mess of our lives or others have done that for us, he provides something new or simply a word of help.

Thus, God's consolation

  • may come following a "No" answer to a prayer for something we desire greatly, or
  • it may be given after we ruin our lives to the point that we cannot have his highest and best, or
  • it may arrive as a way of countering what another person has done to hurt us.

As well, God's consolation is poured out continually in the friction or silence of life according to our need.

In American lore, the "consolation prize" is the lesser award or gift to console the loser who did not win first-place, but this may obscure the true meaning of the word. "Consolation" means pity or mercy. The Lord consoles us, not because we are second-best to him in any way, but because he knows our frame and understands our deep need for encouragement and love, specifically, HIS love. When we KNOW he perfectly understands our exact feelings and circumstances, it is a great relief to our hearts. All will be well, no matter what.

Here begins a series on the consolations of God— It will not be a comprehensive listing!

The Series image in the front page slideshow pictures the Church. Often we find consolation there. All photos in the collage are found on the Wikimedia commons site. Photo credits: Not ashamed; Moravian Church; Romanian Orthodox Church; Christ Church of China; Valinhos congregation

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut 33:27)

God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (Mat 22:32b)

A Call for Thanksgiving

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions

Most Americans look forward to Thanksgiving, but perhaps most do not realize that it is a Protestant permission, in a manner of speaking.

In the early days of the Reformation, Christian leaders met to discuss the formalities of the church and to establish rules for worship. How should the worship service begin? What is the correct posture in church for times of prayer— stand, sit or kneel?

What are the sacraments to be observed, and how ought they to be administered and by whom? Should a man not called into the pastorate be allowed to serve communion? Should any special days be acknowledged in addition to the day of rest, the Sabbath, on Sundays?

Their careful studies and decisions may be read in articles on the internet and in documents such as the Westminster Confession and The Directory of Publick Worship.

In the Directory, a section is devoted to the Observation of Days of Public Thanksgiving. Although the time of reformation proclaimed an end to the feast days of the Roman church that had no basis in Scripture, the reformers saw good purpose in special days being set apart for thanksgiving or for fasting, as occasions may dictate. The Anglican church accepted the concepts of the Reformation.

So, the descendants of the Pilgrims and other early Americans could embrace President George Washington’s call for a Day of Thanksgiving which he issued on October 3, 1789, 230 years ago today. The special day would be celebrated on Thursday, November 26 (1789). You can read Washington’s proclamation here.

The Pilgrims are credited with celebrating the first Thanksgiving:

The American Thanksgiving also has its origin in the faith practices of Puritan New England, where strict Calvinist doctrine sanctioned only the Sabbath, fast days and thanksgivings as religious holidays or “holy days.” To the Puritans, a true “thanksgiving” was a day of prayer and pious humiliation, thanking God for His special Providence. Auspicious events, such as the sudden ending of war, drought or pestilence, might inspire a thanksgiving proclamation. It was like having an extra Sabbath during the week. Fasts and thanksgivings never fell on a Sunday. (ref)

Thus, when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday (holy day), he stood in a long tradition of Americans desiring to thank God for his bountiful care.

He declared this on October 3, 1863, which, after enumerating the blessings of God on America, read, in part:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

Thanksgiving was made a fixed, national holiday to be celebrated the fourth Thursday of November by Congress on October 6, 1941, and the resolution was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt later that year.

Do we celebrate Thanksgiving as a holy day devoted to thanking God for blessing us in America? Even at this late date since the founding of our republic, there is so much to be thankful for.

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Ps 50:14-15)

This is the first in a brief blog series, “Thanksgivings on special occasions.” The series will pick up again in November.

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions blog series slideshow image credits: Pixabay.com - Easter-Andy Frazier, Thanksgiving dinner-free-photos, Christmas tree-Skeeze.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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