In Job 6:2-3 Job protests, “If only there was a way to quantify my suffering, you’d see there’s a reason for my rash words.” But in Job 6:3-4 he makes the same mistake as Eliphaz, ascribing the suffering to God rather than Satan.
Job repeats his earlier lament in Job 6:8-13, rather clarifies it. Instead of wishing that hadn’t been born, he simply longs that God would finish what, in Job’s view, He has started. Just crush me, he says, for what hope could I possibly have now?
Job’s despair is great and clear, yet his friend Eliphaz has only responded with implied condemnation rather than compassion. Jon’s plea here is again for compassion, though indirectly. In Job 6:14-17 he directly rebukes them for withhodling kindness.
He pleas in Job 6:24-27, continuing his rebuke, tell me what I’ve done wrong? Eliphaz has said that surely he must have sinned to have brought such suffering upon himself, but he hasn’t named the sin nor accused Job of anything. Job says “what does reproof from you reprove?”
He challenges them in Job6:28-30, “look at me, … let no injustice be done … is there any injustice on my tongue?”
Eliphaz assumed there must be sin, and therefore accused Job. Yet he had found no evidence other than suffering. Often times as disciples or as parents, we can see a situation and think (what have they done.” and go after them as if already guilty. But until we the facts of sin, we should hold our tongues.
Compassion should rule the day, not judgement.
Interesting to me that Eliphaz accuses Job of ‘impatience’. He lost everything of value to him, save is wife, and he has sat in silence for a week. Doesn’t sound like impatience to me.
The gist of Job 4 and the intro of Job 5 is that calamity doesn’t come without sin, the just aren’t punished, so surely Job has sinned. We know from our insight in Job 1-2 that Job was upright, called out by God as an example of righteousness. Yet God allowed Satan to attack him.
So this was not of Job’s doing, and we see this in our lives as well. Hardship comes upon many people, most people frankly, and often it is not deserved. Callous religious folks will tell you it’s due to a lacking in your faith or behavior, but the facts do not bear this out. People suffer and much of the time it is due to nothing in their control. To say otherwise is heartless and does injustice to their pain.
Eliphaz councils Job to seek God in his pain (Job 5:8-16), wise words, but there is an undercurrent of cynicism there (or maybe it’s my own cynicism). He seems to be saying, “Go to God, you’ll see, He’ll set you straight.” as opposed to “Go to God for comfort.” His words speak of God’s opposition to sinners and protection of the right and humble, implying that Job is certainly in the former since he was not protected.
In fact, in Job 5:17-27 he goes on about how God takes care of those he loves, even telling Job that folks with God laugh at destruction (v.22) and their offspring will be many (v.25), a bit callous to say to a man who has just seen destruction and the ruin of his offspring.
As I said earlier, there are religious ‘councilors’ that will try to tell you amid great tragedy and pain all the reasons that you have brought this on when there is no evidice to support it (notice that Eliphaz doesn’t accuse Job of anything specifically, just implies that there must be something). Run from them. Seek those who will not shy away from confronting your sin when needed, but will comfort, care for and bandage your soul when wounded by the storms of life common to us all.
Jesus cared for the afflicted, over and over and mostly without comment on the reasons for their suffering. He simply cared for them.
Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Job 3:1 starts “After this …”. The ‘this’ was 7 days and nights of just sitting. Sitting in his funk, in his sores, with his friends there, just sitting.
He waits a week to start his lament. I doubt it’d taken me that long.
Then, in Job 3:1-10, he doesn’t simply lament all that has happened to him in recent days, no, so great is his sorrow that he laments that he was even born. All the good, all the joy, all the blessings in his life added together, and any that may someday come, are not enough to offset the pain in his heart right now. He curses the day that brought him into being and that ultimately lead to where he is now.
In Job 3:11-20 he wonders why, why was I brought into existence for this? Wouldn’t it have been better to skip straight to death. In death evil is silenced and the weary and oppressed are at rest. There both the small and great have the same fate, a fate preferable to that which has now.
Why bother, he asks in Job 3:21-26, to give one in misery the light of day, when all he longs for is for his days to be done? Of what use is the day?
I can imagine that many in Colorado feel this today, as any victim of any tragedy would. The pain is so raw, so real, so great that there seems that there can be no escape. Daylight or night, it comes, no matter where they turn it is there, they want to run but know that it will still envelope them everywhere. While I can imagine such despair, I cannot imagine what it’s like to live under it.
You can feel the depth of Job’s pain here, and it makes me mindful to never trivialize or dismiss the pain of one who’s suffering.
I decided to try to put my summary comments in italics to distinguish it from my comments. Thoughts? Beuler? 😀
Verse 1 says “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.” (It says it in Chapter 1 too). The ‘son’s of God’ came ‘presenting themselves’, wow. but the implication here, and in verse 2, is that Satan is a party crasher here. He didn’t belong with the Son’s of God. Or is that just my assumption? Am I reading into this?
And God say, “Hey, have you checked out Job? You attacked Him without reason, yet he remains true.” You can almost hear the “I told you so.”
Satan challenges God that he wasn’t allowed to go far enough. Surely, he’ll curse God if his life was threatened. Fair enough, God allows Satan to attack Job himself, but no to death. God’s confidence in Job remains high, and Job, though crushed, refuses to curse God.
Blaming or cursing God was not an option for Job. I don’t think it was because he wasn’t hurting or even that he didn’t have questions, but that God was God, He is greater and his ways are greater. Whatever is happening, God knows and Job could trust him in it.
What is interesting here is that Job’s suffering came, not from his sin or even the sin of others around him, but from God settling a bet with Satan. I’m certain that God knew what was going to happen here, but He wanted to prove to Satan that there were men who were faithful to Him regardless of circumstances. Satan accused God of gaming the system to produce followers, and God used Job to prove him wrong.
On one had it seems a bit unfair or cold, like Job is a pawn in this chess match between God and Satan. But that gives Satan too much credit. Satan likes to see himself as a worthy opponent to God, but he is not. Job here isn’t simply a pawn, he is God’s chosen instrument to humble and silence Satan. Looked at in that light, what an honor.
God is accomplishing His glory in our pain. Will we chose to at least accept that true and even embrace it that it may be accomplished even more? Not easy, for sure, and it may even seem unfair, but to God be the glory, bot ourselves.
His friends arrive an he is so stricken, they don’t recognize him and no one can bring them to say anything for 7 days. For a full week, they simply sit with job and mourn with him.
Sometimes, all we can do for one another is simply be there, and that alone is of great comfort in the face of great suffering. Sometimes, as Job’s friends will prove, words simply make things worse.
I’m going to try to make these QT posts a bit easier to follow without looking up each scipture reference. These always made sense to me as I wrote them, but looking back they are a bit like listening to one half of a phone call. I’d like these to be more readable, but I’m not sure I’ll succeed or not. Let me know how I’m doing, assuming I still have readers.
Job 1:1-5 – Job’s Character and Wealth
The Bible calls Job ‘blameless and upright’. Was originally going to say that might be what the world would say, but I remembered that later (verse 8) God describes Job in that way. Still, we know that no one is good, not even one as it says in Romans 3 (itself a reference to Psalm 14, Psalm 53 and Ecclesiastes 7), so we know that Job is not perfect. He was devoted to God to the point that God took notice.
Interesting to me that his sons, in these few sentences, are portrayed as partiers and not necessarily concerned with God. Hard to be dogmatic, but it says not that they followed God or sacrificed to HIm for their sins, but that Job himself would sacrifice on their behalf, sort of just in case they had sinned.
Job 1:6-22 – Satan’s attack
Satan and God meet and talk. The idea of Satan and God casually meeting and talking about the happenings on Earth is sobering and disturbing. I tend to think of God in a bit too much of a Deist way. He set the Earth in motion and is watching from afar, but not too active in it. I then apply the same to Satan, minimizing his work in the Earth to the point that it doesn’t matter.
The picture we see here is that both are intimately familiar with the details of what happens here. God pointed Job out as an example of one committed to him, a bit like a Father bragging on his son. Satan knows exactly who he is and you can almost hear how ticked off he is that he hasn’t been able to lay a hand on Job.
The interesting, and encouraging, thing here is that Satan is limited by what God allows him to do. Job was protected, and not until God gave Satan (limited) permission to attack him. God is in control, nothing happens that He is not aware of and approved of. God is pictured here as calm and secure while Satan is anxious and frustrated, eager to act but limited. Satan is frustrated because of the limits God as placed in front of him, but God isn’t frustrated or anxious at all. Even when God gives Satan permission to attack Job, you don’t see a bit of anxiety on God’s part. He knows Job’s faith and you get the impression here that this is to teach Satan a lesson more than Job.
But notice how swift and complete Satan’s actions are. Immediately, Job is confronted,one after another with calamity. his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his camels, nearly all his servants (Satan conveniently left one alive from each tragedy so Job would get the message) and even his children, all killed.
Job’s famous response – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – shows what God already knew – that Job had his priorities on straight. His stuff, even his family, was not the most important. God was.
Do I have such a priority? Am I easily flummoxed by the minor calamities in my life, or do I rest in God, mo matter what may come?
In my last post I said I read Ruth 4, but I don’t think I did.
In Ruth 4:1-6 we see Boaz meet the unnamed redeemer in public. He asks him to sit and also brings in 10 elders of the city to be witnesses of the conversation. I don’t fully understand the conversation here, but I get the idea that Boaz knows the situation well and likely the individual. He knows that he will want to claim them, perhaps to increase his own wealth or prominence, but not out of concern for Ruth & Naomi. After all, if he had been concerned, wouldn’t he have stepped up before now.
His self focused motives are further indicated by how once the full extent of what he will be required to do is revealed and how it will impact his own inheritance, he backs away.
Boaz shows himself shrewd here. He knows the person he’s dealing with and he knows the situation well and he works it with the goal of protecting and providing for Ruth and Naomi.
Look then at the results. In Ruth 4:14 Naomi, who was self described up front as bitter, is now praised and called blessed by the women of the town. And Ruth becomes the Great grandmother of David, the most famous King of Israel and ultimately the ancestor of Jesus.
What did Ruth do to accomplish this? She stepped out in faith and remained true to Naomi. She stepped out in faith again when approaching Boaz. Boaz did all the heavy lifting here, he accomplished her redemption when she could not. Her redeemer wasn’t willing to redeem, but Boaz was and made sure that it happened.
And so it is with us, we humbly approach the Lord in faith in our time of need and he acts on our behalf. The law that we hoped could redeem us could not, but Jesus made sure that we were redeemed. He, like Boaz, did the heavy lifting, we did nothing.
Ruth 3:4 – Can you imagine telling your daughter to go lie won at the feet of a man she has just met for the night?
I have to admit, I don’t understand the cultural goings on here in Ruth 3. She seems to demand of him that he care for her in Ruth 3:9, and he agrees, conditionally. She spends the night with Boaz, innocently at his feet, and sneaks off in the morning before first light. It would appear to the casual observer that sin is afoot, and even today we would assume that a woman who goes out to meet a man and doesn’t return until morning was up to no good. Yet both Boaz and Ruth praise her for her actions. Certainly they were noble, yet they have the appearance of impropriety.
I suppose she went out at some personal risk, but did so in faith that Boaz was the honorable man he seemed to be. He could have taken advantage of her or dismissed her as an unclean outsider, but he did not. instead, he praises her faith and promises to redeem her.
Isn’t this like how we approach Jesus? We come, unworthy, unclean and with nothing but the faith that he will redeem us. He has no obligation to do so, and we have nothing appealing to offer. We approach the perfect, holy God of all creation in our rags and sin, risking His rebuke in hope for that which we cannot get on our own – redemption. And we find in Jesus, like Ruth did in Boaz, our hope fulfilled.
Some thoughts on Ruth 2:
Ruth sets out to glean, but not until she asks permission from Naomi. She gleans behind the reapers, so after they have harvested what they want, she gathers what’s left behind. She’s determined to provide, but respectful of both Naomi and the land owners.
She sets out at some personal risk. Boaz’s and Naomi’s comments indicate that some of the men in the fields would not be so kind to a lone woman working in their midst. yet she still goes out.
Boaz, even before he knows who she is, has heard of her and is impressed with her loyalty and work for Naomi. Once he knows who she is, he guarantees her protection and makes sure that she has grain to glean.
She is surprised that Boaz would take notice of her.
Naomi calls Boaz one of their ‘redeemers’.
I see a parallel between Ruth / Boaz and Jesus’ parallel of the sheep and the goats. Boaz recognizes Ruth’s work when Ruth doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal, much like Jesus’ recognizing the sheep for their work for the poor that they didn’t think was a big deal. Neither Ruth or the sheep did what they did out of duty. They did it because it was who they had become. The sheep had been adopted by the shepherd and had become like them, Ruth now adopted in to Naomi’s family, belonged to her and identified herself with Naomi. As we saw in Ruth 1, it wasn’t a matter of duty or obligation but of identity, and her work to care for the two of them was done in the same way. It wasn’t any thing extraordinary, it was simply who she was.
Then, much like shepherd rewards the sheep, Boaz rewards her for her work by protecting her and providing for her. Not as a payment any more than the shepherd was paying the sheep in Jesus’ parable, but because that is who Boaz was as well. He owed her nothing, yet gave her much because of who he was, exactly like Jesus does for us because of who He is. All that the good that we might do, as impressive as it may be even to the Lord, does nothing to earn us any blessings. We receive because of who he is instead.
Ruth 1:1 – I never noticed before that Naomi’s family was from Bethlehem.
Ruth 1:13-14 – Naomi’s grief is great, saying that “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” and she urges her daughter’s in law to go back home and start over. Her world has fallen apart, long from home and having lost her husband an sons. Her argument sounds fine – go back and start over, you are young and I have nothing left to give – and Orpah relents and returns home.
Ruth 1:15-18 – But Ruth isn’t having any of it. Though Naomi is likely right, the odds are more in her favor if she returns home, she refuses to abandon Naomi in her grief. I have to believe that although Naomi knew it was right to urge them to go, she is relieved to have Ruth stay and not be alone. What could motivate Ruth to stay with Naomi and return to Judah with her? There isn’t really anything of benefit for Ruth in going, the only reason i can see is that Ruth refused to abandon Naomi in her vulnerable state. She knew that Naomi needed her and she wouldn’t leave her alone.
Ruth 1:21 – After 10 years, she returns to Bethlehem and is recognized, yet she is not the same. Naomi means ‘pleasant’ and based on the loyalty of her daughters in law, she seems to have lived up to that name. But she may have left ‘pleasant’, but she’s returned ‘bitter’ and asks to be called such (Mara). She says that she has come back empty, but she forgets the blessing that is Ruth, who remained y her side.
Isn’t that how we act? trouble comes and we think all is lost, there is nothing left. Yet God is still with us, Jesus is still interceding and if we payed attention,we’d see many more blessings around us.
Another thing to consider is Ruth. She’s just made a long journey with a self described bitter woman. A bitter woman is no fun to be around, yet Ruth commits herself and remains true. Upon arriving, Naomi essentially dismisses Ruth’s loyalty saying that she has returned empty.
Yet Ruth remains.
It occurs to me that we are Naomi and Ruth is Jesus. We complain about our circumstances and lament our fate, ignoring Jesus’ faithfulness. Yet Jesus remains, supporting us, encouraging us,steadfast beside us, waiting for us to notice Him there.
Hebrews 13:2 – Back when I was in college, I spent an internship in NYC. Some brothers win the church affiliated with mine took me in and allowed me to stay with them for the 3 months I was there (that’s a story in itself). One of my roommates was named Angel. He told me about how months earlier a young man who had just been baptized came to him in service and thanked him for the talk they had and how it had been instrumental in his decision to follow Jesus. Angel was sure he had never met him before, it must have been someone else. But the man insisted that on a certain subway several nights before he had run into him and sat down and talked about his decision, talking through it. Angel had never been on that train before, in fact I think he had been working that night. The man was certain it was Angel, however, an not someone else.
They concluded that it must have been an actual Angel that had met him.
Hebrews 13:5-6 –
be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
I think many disciples of Jesus get far too worked up about what man can do to them. They are fearful of their finances or their job security or who might get elected next more than they are aware of Him who has claimed them. Our lives and our speech should point to the everlasting security of the Lord in all things more than the things of the Earth that we believe may or may not bring security now.
Hebrews 13:10 – “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” What a bold statement to make to an audience of Jews, and what a conclusion tucked into a simple sentence in the middle of these closing paragraphs. Those who cling to the old ways have no right to the blessings of Christ that we Christians enjoy.
Hebrews 13:14 – As I read earlier of those in the OT who looked ahead to the promised messiah but never saw what we have, I felt a bit of sadness for hem. Yet in this verse I see that we share in their view ahead of things promised but not yet seen. One day, both they and us will see in full.