Friday, 27 June 2014

(179) June 28: Job 9-11 & Acts 8:1-25

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

To discover:­­
As you read note what is so frustrating Job.

To ponder:
In 9v1-20 Job’s struggle is that he has no-where to turn. He accepts God doesn’t reject the blameless, but recognizes that in reality no mortal can be truly regarded as having done right before God. So even if he wanted to argue his case, he knows he wouldn’t be able to answer God. First, because God is wise. Job could never therefore defeat God’s reasoning. Second, because God is powerful as creator, doing just as he pleases. Moreover, as his acts are unfathomable, innumerable and unperceivable, no-one can question what he does. Indeed, as he doesn’t restrain his anger, one dare not question him (Rahab is a sea monster mythology held God battled at creation, 9v13). Rather than argue, Job therefore concludes all he can do is plead for mercy. Indeed, he reasons that if he did actually summon God to hear his case, God would not, and might even punish him. What follows suggests he may have in mind punishment for the sin of talking back to God and questioning his right to do as he pleases (see Rom 9v20-21). God is mighty and so cannot be overpowered. And he is just and so his justice cannot be questioned. Even if totally innocent, Job therefore says that to even query God’s action to him would end up making him guilty and so condemned. As we will see towards the end of the book, this recognition that God has every right to do as he pleases is commendable. However, it should not be held with the sort of bitterness Job might be displaying.
            Job continues to affirm his blamelessness, but seems to adopt a degree of fatalism. He disagrees with Bildad’s view that God rewards the blameless, noting instead that God destroys them alongside the wicked, showing little concern for the innocent, and causing injustice when a land is conquered (9v21-24). The idea of “mocking” is probably used simply to portray apparent disregard, without suggesting God is capricious. Here, Job’s reflections remain correct. God governs everything, so he must in some way be behind these calamities (see Lam 3v33-38). And our feelings on seeing them echo Job’s. Life seems unjust. But we are learning God has his reasons.
            From 9v26 Job again reflects on the speedy passing of life, acknowledging he is unable to rustle up a smile because he continues to dread his sufferings. He concludes that God must have found him guilty in some way, even though he considers himself innocent. Even if he made himself as pure as possible, he therefore feels that God would still act against him (9v30-31). Yet unable to argue his case, Job recognizes that he needs someone to arbitrate, to lay his hand on both parties as if to pacify them. Only by this means does Job feel he could speak up without fear. One cannot but think of Christ our mediator. We should still seek to remain free from sin in our attitude to God. However, as those who can come to God in full assurance, we need not fear speaking our mind.
            Job speaks up nevertheless, airing his complaint. Rather than being condemned, he wants to be told what charges are against him, and whether it pleases God to oppress him by seeking out his faults although innocent, whilst “smiling” on what the wicked do. He is utterly bewildered at the seeming injustice of it all, asking why God would destroy one he himself formed and watched over (10v8-12). Job seems to be sharing his friends’ assumption that his sufferings must be for some sin. And so, knowing he is blameless as human beings go, he concludes God must have been watching for the minor sins even the upright commit, and so punishing him for those (10v6, 14). 10v16-17 suggests he therefore feels that even if he were to hold his head high in knowing his innocence, God would be ready to pounce on any pride and punish him. So Job asks why God had him born, again wishing he had died in the womb. And he begs God to give him a moment’s joy before he dies.
            Zophar, the third friend, now answers in some anger (11v1-3). He rebukes Job for protesting his innocence, assuming Job must have sinned so greatly that God had even forgotten some of it. He states that because God is limitless, he cannot be opposed if he convenes a court against someone, because he sees all evil. Zophar implies Job must therefore have committed some hidden sin that God has found out. He even suggests Job is “witless” and lacking the wisdom to see his own sin (11v12 with 6). He therefore urges Job to repent and devote his heart to God, with the promise of restoration and rest without fear.
Praying it home:
Praise God for his awesome power and wisdom. Pray that you would come before him with a right and reverent attitude.

Thinking further:
None today.
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