Bible reading for February 10 -- 11
Feb 10 -- Job 9 and Romans 13
Feb 11 -- Job 10 and Romans 14
"Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times." (Job 9:2-3)
OVERWHELMED. In chapters nine and ten Job is overwhelmed by the thought of the immensity and power of the God to whom he is complaining. If he were to have a righteous cause, as he feels he does (9:2, 15, 20-21; 10:15), how could he ever defend himself before an all-powerful God? Or should he appeal to God's mercy (9:15) or fake happiness (9:27)? Who can argue with such a God? But Job wants to be heard, to be understood, to know that God knows the injustice that Job feels. He is so aware of the great gulf between himself and God, but he remembers God's kindness and love toward him, which now seem only a memory (10:11-13). Job again wonders why he was born only to end life in such a miserable way (10:18-19).
JOB IS RIGHT, AND WRONG. Job is expressing his lament, and in his deeply-felt pain what he says is a mix of truth and error. Christopher Ash writes, "It is possible to be wrong and to be right at the same time. God will say that Job has spoken rightly about him (42:7). And yet Job says a great many things about God that are not right. How are we to reconcile this apparent contradiction? When we listen to Job's speeches, we need to bear in mind the distinction between Job's perception and Job's heart. His heart is the heart of a believer, which is why the Lord commends and affirms him at the end. But his perceptions are partial and flawed. We hear in these speeches the honest grapplings of a real believer with a heart for God as he sees what he thought was a secure worldview crumble around him. This is why we will hear Job say some things that are plain wrong, and yet we hear him say them from a heart that is deeply right." (Job: The Widsom of the Cross, p 139)
JUST GET OVER IT? Job is a long book, written in poetic form so that it might be felt in the heart as well as perceived in the mind. And it's long. The enduring problems of pain and loss in this life are not quickly handled or easily resolved. Processing the pain -- whether our own or with others -- involves more than clever sayings, sound-bites, memes, distractions, or inspirational cards. In pastoral ministry I discovered that one of the deepest hurts people feel is the loss (mostly felt by women) of a child, perhaps in stillbirth, miscarriage, or the untimely death of a child. Couples would ask, "When will we get over this? Will we get past this?" And the worst counsel you can give in such cases is, "you just need to get over it." Now, it is possible to be mired in self-pity. There is a time to get up and get going again, even though with a limp (Heb 12:12-13). Yet there are many things in this life that we don't just get over. But we do have a great hope...
IS THERE SOMEONE ELSE? In his speech Job raises an interesting dilemma with God: "For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both" (Job 9:32-33). And again, "Have you eyes of flesh? Do you see as man sees? Are your days as the days of man, or your years as a man's years..." (10:4-5). In other words, is there any kind of intermediary between God and man, who knows what it's like to suffer misery as a human and yet can reason with the infinite God? Is there someone like God, but with skin on? Job may not see it clearly yet, but we can see where this is going!
"The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." (Romans 13:12)
LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW (ch 13-14). In chapter thirteen Paul teaches believers to be submitted to the ruling authorities (vv 1-7). The only biblical caveats to this are, when the state commands us to do something that is in violation of God's law, or when it prohibits us from obeying God's law (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). The guiding principle in this section of the epistle is the primacy of love in all things (vv 8-14). In chapter fourteen the way of love, especially toward weaker brethren, is summarized as, "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" (14:13). We should go out of our way not to look down upon, nor reprove, a brother or sister who has a conviction on a matter that is different than our own. We may in fact be right in our conviction, but it is unloving to brandish our conviction to the harm of others (14:15). "So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding" (14:19). As Christians we should seek to know what is pleasing to God and to live by those convictions. We live by faith not by our doubts. If we have doubts about the moral rightness of something, it would be best for us to refrain from doing it. I recommend Dr. Constable's notes on these two chapters in the NET Bible, at netbible.org.
Image credit: photo by Fabian Albert on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.