Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jun 4, Job 11-13

Today's readings are Job 11-13.

In Job 11, Zophar responds to Job. He openly accuses Job of sinning. (Job 11:14). Zophar is not sure of what sin Job has committed. He's just confident that Job has committed some sin, whatever it was. There's enough truth in Zophar's rant that it sounds good at first hearing but, Zophar, like Eliphaz and Bildad, espouses a theme. His advice is, “Just stop sinning, and you’ll be okay (Job 11:13-20).

Job’s three counselors sincerely want to help him but see his suffering through their own filters, their own spiritual perspectives. Eliphaz tends to over-spiritualize, so his counsel comes from a “feeling” he’s had or a “word” he’s received. Bildad reveres tradition, so he comes up with a traditional solution. A friend like Bildad may tell us to “Go to confession.” Or he may say “Just read your Bible more.” Zophar sees everything in black and white. “If you sin, God’s going to make you pay! This shouldn’t surprise you.” Zophar may even go so far as to say, “God is sovereign over everything you do. Get over it!”

Eliphaz lacks an understanding of the authority of the word, depending on his own interpretation of the Bible rather than an intimate study of it. Bildad relies more on tradition than on the word. Zophar knows the word of God but applies it without compassion or love. We all know people like them and probably have friends who are similar. They all know enough about the Bible to speak intelligently but not enough to be genuinely helpful.

Job begins to respond to all three of his counselors in Job 12:1-6, maintaining that he is at least as smart as they are. There is truth in most of what Job says. God’s sovereign presence is evident in creation (Jos 12:7-25). Job is equal to them in his knowledge of the character and nature of God (Job 13:1-2), but he contends his argument is with God and he would like to speak directly to Him about his situation (Job 13:3). Meanwhile, they should be quiet and consider their own status before God because they are treating him unjustly (Job 13:4-12).

Even as he declares his hope and trust in God, Job prays for God to cease wrongly tormenting him (Job 13:13-27).

Notice how it seems judgment is rising up in all parties here? Job's friends are judging him. Job is judging his friends. He is also judging God. Theirs is the fallen human tendency to start pointing fingers when things go bad.

One of Job’s struggles is that he has not yet exhibited an understanding of God's process of sanctification. He just wants his suffering to end. There's nothing wrong with wanting a trial to end. However, Job in his struggle is beginning to accuse God of being unjust. For our own sake, we should not be too hasty in judging Job and allowing ourselves to fall into the same trap he and his friends have fallen into, accusing others while not taking our own lack of holiness into consideration.

There is much more to learn about and from Job in the coming chapters. We are watching a necessary process work itself out in Job's heart. It takes time and patience to grasp how God moves in our lives, particularly when we’re going through challenging times. Job is no different. He is a good man who has come upon a difficult season. His hardship doesn’t mean he’s done anything wrong; it reveals that he still has some things to learn about God. Job has been declared upright and blameless, but his heart still needs work.

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