Saturday, 28 June 2014

(180) June 29: Job 12-14 & Acts 8:26-40

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

To discover:­
As you read consider how you would describe Job’s feelings.

To ponder:
Job responds rather sarcastically, affirming he has knowledge, and his friends are not saying anything not known to everyone (12v1-3). Although righteous and one who has experienced God’s acceptance of him in answering his prayers, Job is struggling in having become a laughing stock to his friends. Again he notes how the wicked enjoy peace, stating that all creation knows this is God’s doing as he holds the life of every creature in his hands (12v5-12). Yet Job still holds that God is wise in what he does, whilst detailing how he displays his power in what is dark and difficult (12v13-25). So Job knows God cannot be opposed just as his friends do. But he considers them worthless doctors and liars who would have actually shown wisdom in being silent. Indeed, he suggests they are speaking for God deceitfully, perhaps referring to their view that he prospers the righteous and brings hardship on the wicked (the view Job has just countered). He also says they show God favouritism by jumping to his defence, rather than being impartial in considering Job’s case. Therefore, Job thinks God would actually rebuke them if he were to examine them (13v7-12). It’s a reminder that it doesn’t necessarily please God for us to jump to defending him, without properly considering the struggles people have with his ways.
            Job then restates that he is prepared to risk his life in defending himself to God, yet at the same time saying that even if he were killed, he would hope in him. This is striking. At the same time Job can fear God’s holiness, whilst hoping in his justice and mercy. He is therefore confident, that even if slain, he will be delivered because of his godliness. This is not to suggest he considers himself worthy of deliverance. Rather, he is confident that because he loves God, God will act for him. He therefore states that he knows he will be vindicated, and calls people to bring any charges against him. Job has moved through his struggle to a point of faith. He trusts that his unfathomable, mighty, and terrifying God, who does just as he pleases, and who is inflicting him with such horrors, is still actually for him. Through the clarity of the gospel, we are called to this same place of faith amidst the mystery of our suffering. We know that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” because his righteousness has been counted as our own (Rom 8v1). So in God’s eyes we are innocent. We can therefore be confident that he is for us, despite our hardships (Rom 8v31-39).
Job is not however quite this clear. He prays God would “withdraw his hand,” but also that he should respond to him by showing him what offence he has committed. So Job still assumes that although he is blameless, his sufferings must be for some sin somewhere. And so, as he wonders why God is considering him an enemy and chasing down and tormenting one so insignificant, he assumes it must be as punishment for some sin in his youth (13v24-27). So often when Christians suffer, they also assume it is punishment for something in their past or even in their family’s. This is to make the same mistake. Again, “there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
            Now Job again affirms the transient nature of human life, but also its fixity. He recognises that God determines everything, even his degree of purity, and so questions God judging people before their time is actually over. He then reflects that unlike natural life which renews, human life seems to just cease with no rising after death (14v7-12). This reflects the undeveloped understanding of the afterlife in Job’s day. But in what follows, he sees more. He longs to be hidden in the grave, and then remembered after God’s anger has passed. He therefore seems to trust that despite what was assumed in his day, God will call him from the grave, longing for him as one God had made, and that his sin would then be covered over (14v13-17). This is an astonishing affirmation of the hope of the gospel. And in dire and lasting suffering, it alone is the hope we can have.
            However, Job returns to the fact that, but for the eyes of faith, what seems to be the case, is that God erodes hope in this life, as people die and so never know how their sons fare (14v18-22). How futile life is without Christ.
Praying it home:
Praise God for how the certainty of resurrection gives hope within suffering. Pray that those who suffer would hold onto the gospel, and so know their hardships are not punishment, and that they will end with resurrection.

Thinking further:
None today.
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