Tuesday, 1 July 2014

(183) July 2: Job 21-22 & Acts 10:1-23

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.


To discover:­
As you read consider what Job is trying to stress.

To ponder:
Job asks for “consolation” from his friends by asking them to break from their mocking just for a moment, in order to listen to him. He defends his impatience by the fact that he is not addressing man. Presumably his point is that God is fully able in both his power and wisdom to act justly in this life, but puts this off, making Job’s impatience justified. Job says his friends should join in his “astonishment” and “terror” at this (21v5-6), because it means that despite the fact that the wicked reject God, refusing to serve or pray to him, they nevertheless experience happiness and prosperity with their families, homes and livestock, before dying in peace (21v7-15). Of course this is not always the case, but it often is. And it is a critical argument for Job, overturning the contrasting assumptions of his three friends. 21v16 is uncertain, but may mean that Job has nevertheless kept himself from the counsel of the wicked (see Ps 1) because he has known their prosperity is ultimately in God’s hands and so could be removed by him. This truth would only exacerbate his present frustration at God having removed all he had despite him keeping from their counsel. It is particularly hard when we purposefully choose God over the ways of others, only to find them prospering and ourselves struggling.
            21v17-21 rhetorically bring the answer that the wicked do not often suffer under God’s anger in the ways outlined. Moreover, the idea that their sons do is no comfort because the wicked don’t care about the family they leave behind and should suffer for their own sins anyway. Yet Job still notes that no-one can instruct God on what he does as he judges even the highest beings. Nevertheless, from the human perspective those ways seem arbitrary in that one dies in prosperity and another in bitterness, and both are then buried in the ground. So it seems that the prospering wicked have it better than the bitter righteous like Job. And here it is no comfort to say the wicked have no legacy (21v27-28) as they are spared calamity and rebuke during their life. So Job’s reflections here cry out for a final accounting for how people live, which Jesus so clearly taught. Without it, there really is no justice to life.
            Eliphaz responds for a third time and more forcefully. By stating God is not benefited by any wisdom or righteousness in Job, he wrongly suggests God is so removed that he is unconcerned by such things. Eliphaz then recounts what he assumes Job has done as an explanation for his sufferings (22v4-11). He goes on to charge Job with assuming God cannot see what he has done in order to judge him, and so walking as evil men had done in the past (22v13-15). Moreover, echoing Job’s own words, Eliphaz says he himself stands apart from the ways of the wicked knowing God can remove all they have, to the joy of the righteous (22v16-18, see 21v14-20). By this means Eliphaz urges Job to do the same, implying God sees his sins and this is why he is suffering. He therefore calls him to repent and so “submit” to God by heeding Eliphaz’s instruction. And he promises Job will then be restored to prosperity, renewed into blamelessness, and rejoice in God answering his prayers and delivering the needy through Job’s righteous acts (22v21-30). Because we have seen God remove these things despite Job’s uprightness, we know these are promises Eliphaz can’t make, warning us against giving those who suffer false hope for this life.
           
Praying it home:
Praise God that his final justice grants us patience with the injustices of this life. Pray for that patience in those you know who suffer.

Thinking further:
We are half way through the year. Congratulations! Keep going.
                                                          
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