Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jun 5, Job 14-16

Today's readings are Job 14-16.

Job is beginning to spiral downward. As he prays to God, he begins to wonder if it would be better for him to die (Job 14:1-12). Maybe God will raise him up again (Job 14:13-14). Job is not necessarily establishing a doctrine of resurrection here as much as he is trying to grapple with the question of why he was created. In Job's mind, God must have some reason for his suffering other than to have created him only for destruction.

Job's plight is causing him to ponder his relationship with God on a deeper level than ever before. Even as we watch him sink into self-pity, his questions become more profound. "Is this all there is?" "Does man just suffer and die?" "What lies beyond?" "Is there life after death?"

To his credit, deep inside, Job has a trust that is not yet shaken. He may not be consciously aware of it. But, it's there. Notice, Job has never considered taking matters into his own hands. He leaves his fate, regardless of how miserable it may be, in the hand of God (Job 14:15-17). He wonders what all suffering people wonder. "Is God even aware of my pain?" Does God care about me and what's happening to me?" "He knows I'm a good person. Why doesn't He do something about all this?"

Job is getting to the point where he would like to have a fresh start in a new life where his pain is ended. Even as he approaches hopelessness, we see him communing more with God and less with his friends. It's a gradual but relentless shift. Perhaps Job is beginning to realize the answers he seeks are not in his friends but in God.

Eliphaz joins Zophar in openly accusing Job of sin (Job 15:5-6). Ironically, the man who errantly claimed to gain wisdom from an angel or a spirit (Job 4:12-16) now accuses Job of thinking he knows more than his friends (Job 15:7-16). Furthermore, his accusation of Job’s self-righteousness and misperceptions of God are amazingly similar to the same struggles Eliphaz has. It was Eliphaz who first self-righteously accused Job of being wrong about God.

Yet, there is some truth in what Eliphaz utters. He correctly believes that all men sin (Job 15:14-16). He has an accurate but incomplete perception of who God is and His holiness (Job 15:17-35). This makes his right-sounding-but-misplaced ramblings easy to accept. Only those who have the full counsel of God would know that Eliphaz, as close to the truth as he is, has missed the mark. Eliphaz does not have the full story of God's redemptive plan nor the full text of the Bible as we do. Our protection against half-truths and good-sounding-but-errant doctrine, doctrine like that of Eliphaz and Job's other two friends, is to be familiar with the word of God, all of it.

Job vents his frustration on his friends and his situation (Job 16:1-7), ultimately pinning his deliverance on the hope of an arbiter (Job 16:18-19). Job confesses that, short of some miraculous help from above, his dilemma is hopeless (Job 16:20-22).

Job is unaware that he is touching on biblical truth. He is beginning to realize that he is unable to save himself. His struggle is far from over. Job still has much to learn, about himself and abut his God. Nevertheless, glimmers of truth continue to appear in his dialogue. Will he heed them? Will he understand them? Will he be willing to set aside his preoccupation with his suffering and grasp the truth of who God is? We’ll see. Perhaps we will learn about ourselves along the way.

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