Sunday, September 29, 2013

Job Responds

The last three posts have been about Job, one of the poetry books in the Bible. The last one had to do with one of Job's friends, Eliphaz, reacting to Job's opening statements.

To summarize: Job said he despaired of his life and wished he'd never been born. Eliphaz responded with, essetially, a little bit of trouble comes your way and you whine about it. You should be confident in your piety. If trouble has come upon you you must have sinned. Confess your sin and throw yourself on the mercy of God. Now it's Job's turn to respond. We find this in chapter 6-7. First, he states his understanding of the situation.
If only my anguish could be weighedand all my misery be placed on the scales!It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—no wonder my words have been impetuous.The arrows of the Almighty are in me,my spirit drinks in their poison;God's terrors are marshaled against me.
So Job is going along with the prevailing wisdom of the day and say that all things come from God. The good comes from God, and the bad comes from God. That's what he's said so far. Let's see what he has to say next.
What strength do I have, that I should still hope?What prospects, that I should be patient?Do I have the strength of stone?Is my flesh bronze?Do I have any power to help myself,now that success has been driven from me?
Job is answering Eliphaz's admonition to be patient in his suffering. But he goes on to say more about his friend.
A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends,even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams,as the streams that overflowwhen darkened by thawing iceand swollen with melting snow,but that cease to flow in the dry season,and in the heat vanish from their channels.
That's a lengthy discussion (which goes on even further in the book) of his friends, those intermittent streams that drive caravans away. They are undependable. Yes, Job goes on.
Now you too have proved to be of no help;you see something dreadful and are afraid.Have I ever said, 'Give something on my behalf,pay a ransom for me from your wealth,deliver me from the hand of the enemy,ransom me from the clutches of the ruthless'?
So Job clearly wasn't happy with Eliphaz. He repeats his complaints about his current situation. But up until now, he hasn't said what's really on his mind. So far the conversation could be summed up as follows:
Job: I hurt; I wish I was dead.
Eliphaz: Quit whining; just repent of your sins.
Job: You're no help.

But toward the end of Chapter 7, Job gets back to his complaint to God.
What is man that you make so much of him,that you give him so much attention,that you examine him every morningand test him every moment?Will you never look away from me,or let me alone even for an instant?If I have sinned, what have I done to you,O watcher of men?Why have you made me your target?Have I become a burden to you?Why do you not pardon my offensesand forgive my sins?
This is somewhat of a mixed message from Job to God. He says "If I have sinned..." then later adds "Why do you not...forgive my sins?" I have often thought that Job believed himself to be free from sins, and thus he couldn't understand why he had lost God's favor (evidenced by his calamities). But on reading this, he seems to have asked for forgiveness, but hasn't see a change in his circumstances. He still sits there with sores all over his body; he's in excruciating pain.

I need to think on this some more. Or perhaps the exact message God is trying to get across to me will be found in the remaining chapters.

1 comment:

vero said...

The contradictions in Job's statements and stances throughout the book is a good point to make. I think in the statements you draw attention to here, it is good to take human nature into account and the the responses of his friends.

In Job's eyes he has not sinned. The book basically states that. However, Job's pious actions was induced by his fear. He made offerings for himself and his children. His offerings were not based on the true convictions of God's nature and character.

So, when calamity struck him, and the words of his friends stating that calamity was evidence of sin, Job naturally began to question his on righteousness. Therefore, when he says, "If I have sinned . . ." and when he asked for forgiveness, these actions demonstrate the heart of a man willing to accept the perpetration of unknown sin.

He was trying to cover his bases. He did not curse or deny God, but he did absolutely begin questioning his own righteousness.