Thursday, February 19, 2015

Job, Day 4 Readings

Elihu Argues that Job Cannot Speak for God and God Speaks Directly to Job  

Today's first reading suddenly introduces a new character in Job, young Elihu.  Elihu arrives and criticizes all of the arguments that have come before with one basic challenge -- what human can so completely speak for God?  Can Job's friends be sure that they understand God's view of justice and decisions about right and wrong?  Can Job be so sure that he knows his own righteousness?

On the other hand, Elihu also agrees with Job too.  While he questions how Job thinks he can comprehend the actions of God, he argues that God does indeed intervene and try to offer salvation for people -- redemption, in Job's earlier words in chapter 19.

Read Job 33:1-33  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

The second reading provides God's dramatic entry into the conversation.  Earlier, Job demanded the right to make his case directly to God (in language that imagined a court case with God as both judge and defendant).  Now, God answers Job's challenge.  The answer, however, does not speak directly to Job's arguments.  Instead, God challenges Job's understanding of the universe, asking "Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth?"  The implication is clear: Job does not understand all that he thinks he does.  In the matter of suffering, it suggests that humans lack all sorts of abilities to fully understand the cause and effect -- we cannot fully know the innocence or guilt of others; perhaps we also cannot know if what we describe as suffering is seen by God as suffering (perhaps it is what might be called "a blessing in disguise").

Read Job 38:1-30  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

Reading the Bible in Its Entirety

If you are planning to read the Bible in its entirety, you should read Job 26-33 today.