Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bible In a Year - Job 14 to 16 (#7)

Resurrection: Why Man Is Like a Tree Stump
[Job 14.] Job spends a chapter thinking about death, which he has been asking for up to now. He also gives his own version of Thomas Hobbes' saying that life is nasty, brutish, and short: "Man... is short-lived and full of turmoil. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain" (Job 14.1-2). At the same time, he holds out a faint hope that there must be something beyond this life. This isn't a full-fledged understanding of the resurrection or heaven or anything, but Job does wonder out loud, "There is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail... If a man dies, will he live again?... You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands" (Job 14.7-15).

"Heretic!": A Look At Theologians Behaving Badly
[Job 15.] Eliphaz and I would get along - but I'm not sure that's a good thing, necessarily. The truth is that I see eye to eye with Eliphaz and his buddies: I identify with their zeal, and I see my own faults in them. They just see things and they react. Eliphaz sees Job's slips, and points them out by asking "Why do your eyes flash, that you should... allow such words to go out of your mouth?" It's almost like he never even heard Job's lengthy, exalted description of the Lord in chapter 12; all he hears is "The tents of the destroyers prosper, and those who provoke God are secure," and he jumps to the conclusion that Job is saying God is corrupt. Calling someone a heretic is not wrong. But Eliphaz' example shows us that you can't level that charge at someone without listening really carefully to what they have to say. Eliphaz is actually not wrong in his theology here, and if Job was saying what he thought Job was saying, there would be no problem. But he's just not listening to Job very well.

Graphic Violence: Man Set Up As Human Bullseye
[Job 16.] Man - Job must feel like the loneliest, most pitiful guy in the world. He calls God his adversary who "gnashes at me with His teeth" and "glares at me," and at the same time He has "grasped me by the neck and shaken me to pieces." In one of the more gruesome mental images of God's judgment in the Bible, Job imagines himself as a human bullseye on the target board and God as the militant archer: "He has also set me up as His target. His arrows  surround me - without mercy, He splits my kidneys open; He pours out my gall on the ground; He breaks through me with breach after breach." But Job still maintains that there is no violence on his hands, and his prayer is pure. He is not suffering for having done something wrong.

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