We have moved to www.martinamcgowan.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

Facing Trials: Job [9]

Job's friends have been unsuccessful in lifting him from the doldrums of depression. We move on the the second cycle of conversation.

Text: Job 15 – 21 For their whole lives, Job's friends have lived comfortable with the belief that suffering and sin, prosperity and righteousness went together. But now, because of their false doctrine, they are unable to help their friend. All they have done so far is to make Job feel worse.

In the second cycle of talks, the friends begin trying to pin specific sins on Job. They are looking for proof to back up their earlier accusations that Job has sinned in some way, and is being punished.

Eliphaz accuses Job of being conceited and thinking that he knows everything. ''What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have?" (Job 15:9)

Bildad chides Job for thinking himself better than his friends (Job 18:3).

And Zophar indirectly accuses him of stealing. Without naming Job, he states, “For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build'' (Job 20:19).

All three men issue severe warnings about what happens to the wicked. In the words of Bildad, “Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls'' (Job 18:12).

As is often the case with people who have things going their way, the friends have now turned to a condescending manner to the sufferer.

Though they do not come right out and say it, they consider themselves better and morally superior to poor Job.

Sadly, the words of Job's friends only serve to make his agony increase. In answering them, Job laments their lack of help. If he were in their shoes, Job states, he would not just shake his head in disgust. He would "encourage" and "comfort" his friends (Job 16:4-5).

After telling them what ''miserable comforters"  they are (Job 16:2), Job also demonstrates how foolish their ideas are.

Job points out that, contrary to their theories and empty words, the wicked often do prosper. (Job 21:7-8, 12-14)

In the midst of all this arguing, bitterness and confusion, Job gives his most desperate plea for compassion.

First he relates how everyone has turned on him (Job 19:16-19; 21-22)

Following these anguished words, Job suddenly changes his line of thought. He makes a strange request:

Oh, that my words were recorded,

that they were written on a scroll,

that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,

or engraved in rock forever! (19:23-24)

Job knows that what he is about to say is worth preserving on parchment, even etched in stone.

In this darkest hour Job is about to exclaim the brightest hope. Standing as one of the grandest statements of faith ever uttered and glistening like cool water in a desert, this outburst expresses Job's faith in the resurrection:

I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him

with my own eyes--

I, and not another,

How my heart yearns within me! (Job19:25-27)

What will be said about us when we leave this earth? Many a tombstone gives a lasting statement of faith in our Savior.

Many have tried to diminish this great confession of faith by contending that Job is merely hoping someone will come to prove his case against his friends, or even against God. But Job is saying a great deal more than that.

Notice how he equates his "Redeemer'' with God. Some day God himself will come and redeem Job, that is, save him or defend him. And, not only will God redeem Job from false accusations, but from death itself.

How can this be? How can Job be so sure that even after he dies he will see God, his Redeemer, with his own eyes? Because Job believes.

Of course Job's understanding of the resurrection is not as complete as that of Christians living in the New Testament era. Nevertheless, his faith rests in this same Redeemer. Such a faith comes from neither experience nor human reason.

Faith is, well......faith.


No comments: