Job, chapters 33-37

“But take care that rage does not lead you into spitefulness […] Beware that you do not turn to wrongdoing, choosing this instead of affliction.”
~Job 36:18, 21

Job’s young wise friend Elihu had a profound understanding of human nature.
Instead of questioning Job’s loyalty toward God, he analyzed the resentment Job seemed to be harboring against their Creator.
In his confusion and pain, Job had blindly gone along with his critics’ assumption that his suffering originated in God (Job 34:5).
This led him to adopt a defensive attitude instead of a humble one (Eccl. 7:7).
Elihu saw through this and patiently corrected Job, admonishing him of the dangers of such an attitude.
The Supreme Judge “never violates his justice and abundant righteousness,” (Job 37:23).
When facing trials in which it is difficult to distinguish right from wrong, it is important ‘not to become wise in my own eyes,’ (Prov. 3:7).
A human’s line of reasoning cannot be above God’s (Job 36:26).
Therefore, it would be completely illogical to lose faith in Him or to lose patience with his congregation.
Such an attitude might lead me to indifferently commit sins which I might then try to justify.
While it may not always be easy to explain my own suffering, Jehovah promises to ‘rescue me during my affliction, […] to draw me away from the brink of distress to a broad space, free of restriction’ (Job 36:15, 16).
Only with God’s blessing could someone ever find such a place, free of all suffering.
“Therefore, people should fear him. For he does not favor any who think that they are wise,” (Job 37:24).

Job, chapters 1-5

“Let the day perish on which I was born, […]
Let that day be darkness.”

~Job 3:3,4

After losing his life’s work, his livelihood, his family and his health, Job had more than plenty reasons to be depressed (Job 1:13-19; 2:7,9).
His false friend, Eliphaz, wrongfully attributed Job’s depression to a lack of faith.
“Does your reverence for God not give you confidence?” he asked accusingly (Job 4:6).
But Job’s depression did not stem from an unfulfilled spiritual need (Job 2:3,6,9,10).
His trials were beyond what any man can emotionally bear while still holding on to a certain sense of sanity.
This is why he sat mourning on ashes, unrecognizable (Job 2:8,12).
It is normal for serious problems to affect our emotional health and attitude, whatever their nature may be.
When a friend confides in us that they are depressed, it is important not to make it an issue of faith, because we may end up sounding like Eliphaz giving wrong counsel to Job.
If we are not careful with our choice of words and assumptions, we may make a bad situation much, much worse.
It is important, therefore, to imitate Jehovah’s kindness and really take the time to listen and observe before applying any type of counsel to those who are brokenhearted (Ps.34:18; Jas.1:19).

Ezra, chapters 1-5

“So they set the altar up on its former site, despite their fear of the peoples of the surrounding lands, and they began offering up burnt sacrifices to Jehovah on it […]”
~Ezra 3:3

When remnants of the tribe of Judah were sent back to their motherland to rebuild Jerusalem, it was not without opposition.
Their neighbors in Samaria, to the north, were particularly aggressive in their effort to stop the reconstruction (Ezra 4:1-6).
However, the Jews were ready to embrace their religious customs despite their fear.
We may have the legal right to practice our beliefs, but often we must do so in divided households or among neighbors who openly criticize us.
In other places, our brothers’ practices are openly being shut down by government entities.
God’s people have successfully faced religious oppression time after time, so it is possible to stand up to one’s fear of man and do what is right.

Numbers, chapters 33-36

‘They may marry whomever they wish. However, they should marry someone from a family of the tribe of their father.” […]
The daughters of Zelophehad did just as Jehovah had commanded Moses. […] so that their inheritance would remain in the tribe of their father’s family.
~Numbers 36:6,10,12

When looking up information on Zelophehad, what we know about him mostly comes from the story about what his five daughters did after he passed away (Insight on the Scriptures, vol. II, pp. 1228-1229).

He was a descendant of Manasseh, having died during the forty years in which Israel wandered the desert, and he never had any sons (Nu. 26:29-33; 27:3).

Had he had at least one son, his family line would have most likely blended into the Scriptures along with the names of Jacob’s many other descendants.

Originally, the promised land was to be distributed from fathers to sons.

But when Zelophehad’s daughters asked, “Why should the name of our father be lost from his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers,” Jehovah replied through Moses:

“The daughters of Ze·lo′phe·had are correct. You should by all means give them the possession as an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer their father’s inheritance to them,” (Nu. 27:4-7).

Zelophehad had no way of knowing that after his death, his name would not only remain, but be used as a reference in matters concerning the just distribution of inheritances and as an example of pious obedience and loyalty.

Who knows what personal sacrifices his five daughters had to make in order to obey Jehovah’s new law concerning the marriage and inheritance of brother-less women.

Did they already have boyfriends or their own personal plans for the future?

At least one of them, perhaps Mahlah, had to be old enough to take the initiative and guide the others before the entire assembly (Nu. 27:2).

In any case, by marrying men within their own tribe, they demonstrated a respect toward God that was obviously influenced by their upbringing.

Zelophehad must have been an excellent father. He would have been very proud of his daughters.

We have no way of knowing the extent to which our actions influence the future, so even when we feel irrelevant, it is important to try wholeheartedly to carry out our roles the best we can.