Monday, February 17, 2014

Journal Entry: Job and the Bible

Friday, January 11, 2013 Journal Entry on Job

                To my understanding, the reason God eventually rebukes Job toward the end of the book is because Job demanded to hear God’s explanation for why He did/allowed these things to happen to him. The summary of God’s answer is basically that no, he didn’t deserve to know the answer – God is not accountable to any man. He doesn’t have to tell us anything. It might be an unsatisfying answer for us when we’re in a state of confusion as was Job, but it’s not an unfair answer. It’s true, God is not obligated to do anything for us that He hasn’t already promised us. And the only way we can know if He’s promised us something is if it’s in His word. That’s why I found this interesting:

Job 31:35-37
Oh, that the Almighty would answer me,
That my Prosecutor had written a book!
36 Surely I would carry it on my shoulder,
And bind it on me like a crown;
37 I would declare to Him the number of my steps;
Like a prince I would approach Him.

                There’s some dramatic irony in this. Allow me to combine two verses to make my point. In the New Testament, we find out that “In Christ we are free to boldly approach the throne of God, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16). See how this is foreshadowed in verse 37b? And this passage jumped out at me because of v. 35b, which is further dramatic irony: Job lived at a time when no other books of the Bible had been written (although there may have been source material present, but who knows if Job would have had access to it?), shortly after Babel. Job had no Bible to tell him about God. He would have had, perhaps, the preaching of Noah and Shem and so forth, who likely were alive at the time, but his knowledge of God a la progressive revelation would not have been as complete as the canon of Scripture is today, with 66 books and 700,000+ words of theological wisdom. In other words, Job’s faith was a lot more ‘basic’ than ours, in that a lot of his religiosity, assuming there was no direct revelation given to him, would have had to have been developed through his own personal philosophy.

                I believe it’s possible to come to the right conclusions about who God is and how we should behave given just nature and conscience, and very careful and thorough theological philosophizing. But few take the time, and if we do, have the wrong assumptions or make errors in our reasoning. The fact that Job describes, in verse 1 of the same chapter, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” a self-realization of his sin that very nearly describes Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 2,000 years later, that reveals that sin lies not in just doing the wrong thing, but in thinking the wrong thing (Jesus revealed—or emphasized, shall I say, in light of this?—that sin was a condition of the heart, and that evil actions are the result of evil desires), is a hugely impressive thing to me. I’m not glorifying myself, here, but I recognize a parallel in what I concluded when I first read the expansion of “thou shalt not commit adultery,” in the Pentateuch, in the back pews of the First Baptist Church of [redacted] when I was in middle school. I concluded that adultery meant “sex with anyone who’s not your wife,” and from that basis, concluded that sex with one’s girlfriend is also wrong, as is homosexuality and all other sorts. I also realized that oral sex was still sex, despite no over-the-top-obvious passage in the Bible specifying that. It was kinda self-evident. But why should it be? My theory is this—saved or not, I believe the Holy Spirit illuminated the passages to me. I think that the reason Job had so many accurate ideas about God and sin was because (no surprise there)—he really was saved, and that the Holy Spirit was influencing his mind so that he would naturally come to the right conclusion, absent a direct revelation from God. See, God takes care of His children. He gives them what they need.

                Also note how emphatically Job expresses that he would cherish such a revelation from God. We should reflect on his experience by not taking our access to God’s written Word for granted, and “carry it on our shoulders, and bind it like a crown to our heads.” Let the Bible always be with us, and personal study of the Scriptures always be before us. We have a tremendous gift and not one to esteem lightly. Have you rejoiced recently over the answers God’s given you? We have a lot to be thankful for: we can know God! It’s amazing and it makes me far less willing to put my Bible down. When you love someone, you don’t want to be away from them—you want to be as near to them as possible. That is what meditating on God’s Word can does for us. Let Job’s strong yearning for the Bible you have be a motivation to you to cherish it and read it so you can “boldly approach the throne of God.”  

~ Rak Chazak

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