Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jun 7, Job 21-23

Today's readings are Job 21-23.

Job has a thought-provoking response to his friends' accusations. According to them, the wicked always get their due and Job is now getting his. Job observes that the reverse is closer to reality. The wicked seem to very seldom get their due. In many cases, they appear to prosper while good people suffer (Job 21:7-34). Job wonders what good it is to be aligned with God if godly people receive chastisement and evil people go unpunished.

This is the dichotomy of living in a fallen world. We would all like to believe that the good guy always wins in the end, that clean and moral living are rewarded while evil intent and practice will lose. But, if we allow ourselves to believe that living upright in an immoral world will net worldly benefits, we will end up frustrated and confused, assuming like Job's friends that bad things only happen to bad people. If our perspective is on a worldly reward, we may wind up feeling shortchanged and deprived of what we are convinced we are due. Job expresses this succinctly in Job 21:15. His question is, "What do I get out of this?" Living for God has an eternal reward, not necessarily a temporal one.

Eliphaz makes a final attempt to convince Job to repent.  He goes into full assault mode, accusing Job of being exceptionally wicked (Job 22:1-11). Furthermore, Eliphaz believes Job is unappreciative or unaware of God’s amazing attributes (Job 22:13-18).  He pleads with Job one more time to repent (Job 22:21-30). There is a hint of accusation in Eliphaz’s final counsel to his friend - perhaps Job’s motivation in serving God was for material gain? Job should understand that God is all he needs (Job 22:22-24). There’s also the insinuation that Job has been falsely pious (Job 22:29-30). Ironically, Job's piety is exactly what God proclaimed when He pointed Job out to Satan (Job 1:8).

Job 23 portrays Job sinking into self-pity and asserting his own righteousness. His desire is to confront God face-to-face (Job 23:3-7). Job sounds confident God will find him guiltless and recognizes God's sovereignty, but he does not feel the presence of God nor does he see God’s hand working in any of this dilemma (Job 23:8-12). Job’s fear of God and what He may do is beginning to increase and interfere with Job's confidence (Job 23:13-17).

Another of Job’s struggles is revealed here. He doesn’t feel God’s presence, causing him to assume God is absent. Job believes his feelings are an indicator of what God is doing in his life. Eliphaz was the counselor who over-spiritualized the advice he gave to Job. Now Job is making the same mistake. Furthermore, God’s sovereignty is no longer a comfort to Job. It has become a terror.

Isn't that the case for many people? They recognize God's sovereignty. But not knowing how that sovereignty may play out, they get apprehensive about what He may do, what His plan for His children may look like.  None of us want to suffer. We want to avoid suffering. As a result, the fear of suffering, or, as in Job's case, the fear of more suffering, can cloud our perspective on who God is and how He operates in our lives.

These lessons on suffering and trust in God are hard. Hopefully, they help us grow in our faith. This can happen, but only if we are willing to walk through our trials with our trust in Him being greater than our fear of the path He places us upon.

It will be interesting to watch this play out in Job's situation. 

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