Whew! Catching up is hard to do. Time and circumstance tend to converge in such a way that the slightest stumble (or in this case, internet interruption) can set you back for days. Well I’m happy to report that for today at least I am finally caught up on reading through the Literary ESV in thirty days. And that’s a good thing because my free subscription runs out soon. Of course I do have a hard copy on the way but I still have to finish what I started here.
Job encapsulates the penultimate problem which seems to drive theologians and non-theologians alike absolutely batty: the problem with pain as C.S. Lewis called it. Is there ever a point to suffering? Is there ever a purpose to pain?
Job as literature leaves nothing out. It is poetic, didactic, dramatic, narrative, comedic, tragic in fact if you can dream up a literary style the book of Job contains it. In terms of touching real life in a raw and unnerving way – the book of Job is it. All of this for one simple reason; the book of Job is unquestionably real.
We all suffer from time to time, and occasionally we suffer in the midst of righteousness. This theodicy is beyond our standard ability to comprehend and quite frankly any explanation which fails to account for God’s ineffable glory falls far shorter than it should.
One portion of the explanation for the book of Job has to arise from Ephesians 3:10
…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places…
God uses the church to teach the angels (Elect or Evil) about Himself. I think it’s far too simplistic to say that this principle is the only reason for the book of Job, it definitely explains the interactions in heaven between God and Satan in the first two chapters. After that Satan pulls out his trump cards as first Job’s wife and then his best friends (Job 4:12-21 shows the spiritual origin of their speeches) begin to pull Job toward the precipice of cursing God that Satan gambled would happen. Job never curses God but his own theology as well as the theology of his friends is clearly skewed from chapter 3:1 and forward until the very moment that God shows up in Chapter 37.
Your Best Life?
I am always astounded when I read through Job just how much the crowing of his so called friends sounds like the name it and claim it gospel of the good life now preached by the likes of Joel Osteen and his ilk. “If you just come to Jesus everything will be alright and you’ll have a happy life today!” Compare that blather with Eliphaz’ third speech in 22:21. Not only is it flat out scripturally wrong, it does not mesh with the reality of the Christian life.
Tell that to my brethren in China who are imprisoned. Tell it to the two women sentenced to a work camp who were forced to clean a latrine and when they fell in they were locked in to drown in human filth. If your theology doesn’t work in the Sudan as well as America it’s a false theology and you are a heretic.
Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (1 Tim 3:12). Persecution will come from men and Satan. But it will come.
Job doesn’t suffer because he sinned, he sinned because he suffered. His suffering is directly linked to his righteousness! Take a read through Psalm 73 and tell me how Asaph missed his best life now. He didn’t. Because his best life is wrapped up in redemption and an eternity in the presence of the Father.
I am disappointed that the ESVLSB continues the outright stupid assignment of the hippopotamus and the crocodile to the marvelous creatures named Behemoth and Leviathan in chapter 40. Hippos don’t have tails that swing like a cedar. Anyway I was disappointed. I am among those that believe in a young earth and hence I see these animal descriptions as more fitting to what we call dinosaurs. Even if I’m wrong, I wish commentators would at minimum pay attention to the text and stop imposing these foolish animal assignments to creatures which obviously surpass them in splendor.
The Gospel of Isaiah
It’s not a typo. I have long considered Isaiah to be the gospel book of the old testament. More is spoken here of the Messiah it seems than in any other book of the Old Testament. Here the first (in order not chronology) of the prophets pens a masterpiece which until this day I have never deigned to read in one setting. I am glad that I did.
Isaiah is of course a masterpiece of prophecy. The nations of the current day are warned of pending judgment extending to the judgment of the world. Yet interspersed among the many doom prophecies are promises of a deliverer. A Whisper of hope and of salvation – a Messiah of God is coming!
It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly instructive the Psalms are. They relive the history of Israel, they proclaim the present promises of God, they cry out for holiness, yearn for redemption and speak of eternity.