Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blog through the Bible: Claims of innocence and a desire to die

The next reading of the blog through the bible is Job 6-10. I know I'm running behind. I ran low on gas last week, and this is what got dropped. I will be picking up the pace this week. I hope....

The debate between Job and his friends continues in chapters 6-7, where Job responds to Eliphaz, and basically says, God has destroyed my life; I wish he’d finish me off. Either console me or tell me what I did wrong. I’m just an insignificant nobody, so why are you making me suffer so much?

Notice that the response begins with Job insisting he has every reason to lament, because of the great pain and vexation that has been laid on him, its pain that “would be heavier than the sand of the sea”. But at the same time, Job doesn’t pretend that God is not sovereign, and in control. D.A. Carson notes that Job doesn’t flinch from the obvious “in God’s universe, God himself must somehow be behind these calamities. Notice what he says. “The arrows of the Almighty are in me”. “The terrors of God are arrayed against me. Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass, or the ox low over his fodder?” Jobs says, “I’ve got every reason to complain”.

Second, note that at this point, Job just wants is all to be over.Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!” He sees not as a sad end, but as a comfort and mercy. “This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” He sees this as a way of taking away the pain before he breaks. He doesn’t want to turn from God. As a committed follower of God, he doesn’t want to fold.

Third, note that Job doesn’t think that he will have his wealth restored. Eliphaz says, repent and God will give it all back. Job says, no, I cant and wont presume this, and I won’t act like this (11-13).

Fourth, note how he rebukes his friends. He calls them out. “"He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed, as torrential streams that pass away,” his take is that when you are in a jam, your friends should be there for you. But, they, he says, “are as treacherous as torrential streams. They are ashamed because they were confident; they come there and are disappointed. For you have now become nothing; you see my calamity and are afraid”. Their problem, says Job, is that their categories (be good get rewarded, be bad, get the judgment from on high) have fallen apart, and now, they have to defend their assumptions, or their path to blessing is no longer clear. This, Job says, has them afraid.

Fifth, notice that Job moves on to a mournful cry. Show me where I’ve blown it! he says, I’ve been upright. Show me where I went wrong. "Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray. How forceful are upright words! But what does reproof from you reprove? He continues to declare his innocence and the injustice of this suffering. Furthermore he says, “I won’t fake it. I will not lie to your face”. His vindication is at stake, and he can only say, “Let not injustice be done”.

Sixth, notice that Job turns his attention to directly addressing God in chapter 7, in an tortured prayer, but it is a prayer that is meant for his friends as well.

Seventh, see how Job begs for an end. He reminds God of how brief human life is, and how short it is. Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand? In other words “life sucks, and then you die”. He paints a bitter picture of life, and makes clear he wants to die. Then he says, in light of this, let me have my say…"Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul”. His compliant, “Am I monster that needs to be guarded. Why am I being tortures with scary dreams and visions?” I loathe my life, I will not live forever, my days are a breath, leave me alone “I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones.”

Eight, see Job question God as to why he is interested in him. Why does God pay attention to mere mortals? What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment? How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit? In essence he says, “Why Me?”

Ninth. See that Job does not claim to be sinless. He says if. He’s acknowledging that while he can’t think of any, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. But he asks, why has that brought so much wrath? “If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be."

Eliphaz’s basic argument was, Job must have done something to get this kind of horrible judgment. Jobs basic argument is, your condemning me, but I’m innocent. You think I must have done something wrong. You hope I did something wrong because that means that I earned the wrath, and that you can point to a cause and effect pattern, but I didn’t, and you cant point to that. Then, he cries out to God and says, “Why me?” I don’t deserve this. HE comes close to saying God is treating him unjustly, but he doesn’t. He maintains his dignity. The tensions rising, what's the next move?

Here are three quick thoughts of application. First, don't be so sure you know everything, the friends think that they know what's happening, and they don't. How often are we the same way? Second, understand that God is sovereign. we get a birds eye view here, but in our own lives we don't. Remember that when things are hard, he is sovereign. Third, call out to God in everything. While Job hopes to die, he still cries out to God for His actions in Jobs life.

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