Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A question of God's goodness-Job 1-11

Sorry to be away from you for a few days.  Patty and I are spending a few days away and the place that we are staying does not have an internet connection.  Can you imagine that in 2011, how ancient?  I am writing to you today from a friendly Panera's (and the coffee is good!)  Please keep Virginia Swellick in your prayers.  I have talked to her by phone and she is suffering from very severe infection that may well hospitalize her.  She is very fearful and unsure.  Your prayers might make the difference.

Job is a remarkable book.  One of the mistakes I used to make in reading the bible was to think of it chronologically, but that is a mistake.  Job is perhaps the oldest book in the Bible.  Some experts think that it was written well before Moses and perhaps nearer to the time of Abraham.  Some believe that the reference to Jobab in Genesis 10:29 might have been Job.  Most think the writing was after Abraham because of Job's 3 friends. Zophar was a descendent of Huz who was a nephew of Abraham.  Eliphaz was a son of Esau and Bildad was a grandson of Abram through Suah.  Anyway, Job is considered one of the books of wisdom and is an example of poetry and great literature of old testament times.

Is it an allegory....a tale told to teach us?  You decide!  It opens with God having a discussion with a group of his angels, including Satan.  Job is an example of a righteous man who is blameless before his friends.   This is not sinless since no man is sinless, but Job is a man of impeccable character.  No human being can find fault with him.  Satan is the accuser, a role that he often plays in human affairs.  He says that Job is only blameless because of the great blessings that surround him.  Perhaps the misfortunes that befall Job are intended to be a lesson to the angels.  God removes his hand of protection and great calamity befalls him.  His children are killed, his possessions are taken and great bodily pain becomes his lot.  He suffers from running sores, nightmares, depression, failing vision, fever, agonizing pain and much more......for months.  His wife declares him to be of no value...."curse God and die".  He maintains his integrity..."naked I cam into the world and naked I shall go".  "The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  "Shall we accept good and not adversity?"

Job's best friends come to comfort him.  They sit for 7 days and 7 nights without comment.  Presence is a powerful healer.  Then comes the well intentioned by foolish words.  Eliphz says that there must be some secret sin that God is seeking to reveal.  This must be God's correction.  Bildad reminds Job that this is cause and effect in action. This calamity has been caused by some error in Job.  Zophar tells Job to quit whining.  He no doubt deserves even more for his sin than he has received.

In every case, Job's friends believe that Job has brought this calamity on himself.  We often err in this same way.  God protects the innocent, he blesses those who bless him.  But we are confronted with the eternal question, "why do bad things happen to good people?"  Why, God?  Why?  We have all asked this question and it is the question that is an integral part of the story of Job.  And while there are many more chapters to this story, part of what Job is revealing to us in his comments to his friends is that he is beginning to understand that God is not subject to our understanding.  His ways are higher than our ways.  He is God and we are not.

We cannot be righteous before God and we cannot fully know what his purpose is in our lives.  We must trust that God's righteousness and justice will accomplish all that he desire in us and around us.  As Job has confessed, he (and we) need a mediator to carry our case to the God of the Universe.  How fortunate for us that we have such a mediator in Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will continue to read this story and see what else God may choose to reveal to us.  Hope you are having a most blessed day.

1 comment:

  1. I think there were 2 things that really came out to me in this passage of Job.

    Job 10: 8-16
    8 Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. 9 Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? 10 Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? 11 You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. 12 You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. 13 Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose. 14 If I sin, you watch me and do not acquit me of my iniquity. 15 If I am guilty, woe to me! If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head, for I am filled with disgrace and look on my affliction. 16 And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion and again work wonders against me.

    Job realizes that God is the Alpha and the Omega, he has made me from clay and will one day return me there. Who is he that he might try to stand against God and His will?

    I find it interesting as well, that Job seems to think of time differently, giving his day of birth almost physical manifestation as he cries out in his woes in Job 3: 3-6

    3 "Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, 'A man is conceived.' 4 Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. 5 Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Let clouds dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. 6 That night-let thick darkness seize it! Let it not rejoice among the days of the year; let it not come into the number of the months.