|Love Amid the Ashes, Treasures of His Love Series #1|
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Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job's life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family?
Through painstaking research and a writer's creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau's tribe and Jacob's daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.
Love Amid the Ashes Discussion Questions / Bible Study: Mesu Andrews
Bible Study Questions
Love Amid the Ashes
By Mesu Andrews
1. Though the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived centuries before the written law of Moses came to be, many of the rules of sacrifice and worship were already being practiced. Why were the first animals killed in Genesis 3:21? Why did Job offer sacrifices for his children in Job 1:5?
2. Though God chose Abraham’s seed (and specifically those in Isaac and Jacob’s line) to become the covenant bearers, we see others in Scripture who worship God Most High. Job and his three friends were thought to be among these God fearers from a lineage other than Jacob’s. Can you fit together the puzzle of their genealogies?
• Who is Bildad the Shuhite’s father, listed in Genesis 25:1–2?
• Who is Job’s father, listed in Genesis 36:33?
• In 1 Chronicles 1:35–36, we see Esau’s legacy, with two of Job’s friends listed. One name is easily distinguishable—Eliphaz. How is Eliphaz’s third son, Job’s friend Zophar, listed?
Why do you think God included Job’s story in Scripture, even though Job and his friends weren’t of the “chosen” line?
3. Job 2:13 says that Job’s friends sat on the ground with him in silence for seven days and seven nights, “because they saw how great his suffering was.” How does Scripture tell us to comfort one another (see Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor. 1:4; 2:7; 8:13–14)?
4. Eliphaz values the mystical world and gives advice based on spiritual revelation (Job 4:12–17). Bildad values the wisdom of his elders and the proven success of tradition (8:8–19). Zophar leans on his intellect to govern life decisions (11:5–9). But none of Job’s friends address God directly. Only Job, in his desperation, speaks to God, while the three friends speak about God. Read Job 13:15–21 and try to decipher Job’s reasoning for pouring out his heart to God.
5. The young disciple Elihu sits quietly until the older men have finished speaking. Why does he wait to speak, and what realization finally gives him the courage to break his silence (see Job 32:6–9)?
6. Elihu addresses Job’s complaint that God does not speak to mere human beings. Elihu emphatically states that God does speak, but humans may not hear Him. What are the three ways Elihu mentions in Job 33:14–28 in which God may speak but we are slow to recognize His voice?
• vs. 15–18
• vs. 19–22
• vs. 23–28
7. Elihu seeks to answer Job’s question, “Why do we suffer?” What are some of the reasons he gives in the following verses?
8. God interrupts Elihu’s discourse with a thunderous voice from the storm. Instead of making statements or declarations, God answers with questions. In these other instances in which God answers with a question, contemplate why He might choose to do so.
• Jacob—Genesis 32:22–29
• Moses—Exodus 4:1–2
• Mary Magdalene—John 20:11–16
9. In Job 40:8, God asks Job, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Yet in Job 42:7–8, when God rebukes Job’s friends, He says, “You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” Though Job had tried to justify himself again and again, the Lord still declares that Job spoke rightly of Him. See Romans 3:3–4 and Psalm 51:4 to form your right opinion of God.
10. When God speaks of the behemoth in Job 40:15–24, He may be offering Job an illustration of the right way to respond to adversity. Hardships arise in our lives from two sources:
• as discipline from a loving heavenly Father (v. 19)
• as a natural consequence of living in a sin-sick world (v. 23)
In the New Testament, we have been promised that our present suffering—whether due to discipline or the fallenness of this world—will someday come to an end (see Rom. 8:18–22; Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19). How does God’s illustration of the behemoth and our eventual freedom from suffering change the way you approach a current difficult issue?
11. Job asks “Why?” repeatedly during his affliction, and his friends seek to answer that question. However, none of their lengthy discourses satisfy Job. Reread God’s reply in Job 38–41. Does God ever answer Job’s question of “Why?” Is Job satisfied with God’s answer? Why or why not?
12. As we discovered in Job 36:16, one of God’s purposes for suffering is to woo us into a deeper, more personal relationship with Him. Does that happen for Job (see 42:5–6)?
13. Job learns three important concepts that he recites back to God. What are they?
• 42:2—God can . . .
• 42:3—“Surely I spoke . . .”
• 42:4—“You said . . .”
14. Job 42 tells us that after Job prays for his friends, the Lord makes him prosperous again and blesses Job with ten more children. It does not, however, specifically state that Job’s health was completely restored. Why does God allow some people to continue to endure physical suffering, or bear the scars of past suffering, when He could heal them (see Gen. 32:22–32; Jonah 4:5–8; John 20:24–31; 2 Cor. 12:7)?
Reading Group Guide for
Love Amid the Ashes
By Mesu Andrews
1. Was Isaac kind or cruel when he issued the command that Dinah marry a man in Esau’s clan? Why?
2. When do you think Sitis’s rebellion against El Shaddai began—as a child, when her parents died; when Bildad forced her to marry a disciple of the House of Shem; when she experienced multiple miscarriages; or when Job destroyed the Chaldean temple? And what do you believe prompted her rebellion?
3. After encountering Zophar at Elath, Job challenges Dinah to treasure God’s forgiveness like a gift, protecting it when others try to steal it away or replace it with shame. In what ways have you seen this truth lived out?
4. What character traits and spiritual qualities enable Job to respond to the tragedies with both sorrow and praise?
5. What character traits and spiritual qualities enable Dinah to respond to the circumstances that face her and Nogahla in Uz?
6. Why is it so difficult for Sitis to see Sayyid’s true character and evil intentions?
7. Nogahla shares two theories on forgiveness: 1) once an olive tree begins growing, it’s hard to kill, just as a person who has forgiven once can more readily do so again, and 2) just as a person needs a bath repeatedly, so we also need to forgive repeatedly. Which of her examples have you found to be more accurate in your own life?
8. When Sitis comes to Dinah, revealing Sayyid’s plan to withhold bread from both her and Job, Dinah uses several forms of effective ministry: listening and letting Sitis cry uninterrupted, praying silently rather than giving advice, and asking well-conceived questions at the proper moment. Which of these strategies is most difficult for you when a hurting friend needs your help?
9. What kind of lies does Sitis believe in order to succumb to Sayyid’s control? What truths set her free to receive God’s forgiveness?
10. How are Job’s friends and relatives so easily deceived by Sayyid?
11. Eliphaz’s speeches are bent toward spiritualizing every situation. Bildad believes tradition is the answer to every woe. Zophar values the power of the intellect. However, all three seem equally uncomfortable when Job speaks directly to God with unrestrained honesty. Whose personality do you most resemble, and what is positive and negative about each?
12. Job vows to his relatives that he is innocent of wrongdoing and that God has wronged him. Is that true? Is it possible for God to act unjustly? Who was the only sinless man on earth?
13. Job teaches Dinah that if God has forgiven her, she never needs to be ashamed before men; however, in his anger and resentment, Job uses this golden truth against his friends. Can you think of instances in which God’s truth (Scripture) might have been misinterpreted? How can we safeguard against that?
14. Has it ever occurred to you that God may have allowed your pain in order to build a deeper, more intimate relationship with you? How does that make you feel? Does that change your concept of suffering? Of God?
15. When we realize the totality of God’s immeasurable power, is it hard to believe there is no evil in such absolute power? Why or why not?
16. Job’s deliverance came when his focus changed from his own righteousness to what?
17. Do you think Job struggled with the decision to pray for his friends? Why or why not?
18. In the story, both Job and Dinah imagine their self-perceived failings make them unlovable, and they build a wall of self-protection around their hearts. Job later identifies his fear of rejection as pride. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
19. Has God ever used a recurring theme in your life—like the hoopoe bird—to remind you of His faithfulness?
20. As you look back at some of the painful periods in your life, can you see some good things God might have brought to bear through it, as He did through Joseph’s slavery, Dinah’s broken heart, and Job’s tragedies?