There’s nothing like misery and an approaching mortality to energize the philosophic side of mankind. The questions that Job wrestles with in today’s reading seek answers to fundamental questions like: “Why am I here and what makes me important to God?”, “Why is there something so fundamentally wrong with life here on the earth?”, and “Why won’t God rescue me — now?” Not that those questions are answered in today’s reading; for now we have to simply be satisfied with the fact that they have been asked.
Ask deeply — Which, however, is something to comment on here. I’ve occasionally gotten into conversations with atheists and sometimes agnostics who with not just a little intellectual pride offer up the question of suffering and evil in the world, as if I’d never considered it and as it the Bible never addressed it. Quite to the contrary, however, the Bible brings up this thorny set of questions here in Job and in other places (though not in quite as much depth as Job). The Bible doesn’t shy away from difficult questions; and adult believers have usually wrestled with these tough questions themselves personally and come out on the other side still believers and much more appreciative of God’s nature. If you have a hard question, please don’t assume that there is no answer, just because you haven’t found it yet. Ask deeply, think deeply, look deeply into God’s word.
What is man? — Job asks this question (7:17-19), and it’s a good one. What’s so special about us; why does God pay such attention to us; why does it matter to Him about the outcomes of our trials or temptations? Man is not like the rest of the natural creation, who were given mere life and instinct. Man was given (Gen. 1) the image of God — not with two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth — we are essentially spirit beings given material bodies to inhabit and manipulate; and there’s something about bearing His image which causes God to take a special interest in us. There’s much more to contemplate here including what bearing God’s image may imply and what bearing the image of God might help us understand about God Himself.
Trusting spider webs — Although Job’s misguided friends are often wrong about both Job and God, there are certainly grains of truth among the many clumps of error. And one of those truths is what the godless trust in, spider webs. Now, you may have a touch (or maybe a heaping portion) of arachnophobia, so you might avoid webs like the plague, but even spider haters will have notice that their webs are pretty insubstantial — they were made for catching flies and other light-weight insects, not human beings. And the point here is that relying on things that the godless rely on — wealth, beauty, intelligence, and athleticism, for example — have as much ability to help in times of God’s judgment as a spider web has to stop a freight train. What spider webs do you rely on?
Where’s an umpire, when you need one? — By Job’s own admission he is giving full vent to his grief and because he feels he is feeling unfairly treated, Job is simply saying that he wishes that there were someone he could appeal to. In saying all this, he knows that there is no one greater than the LORD (Job 9:1ff); he is simply venting in frustration because there is no higher court to which one may appeal and perhaps get a different verdict. And you’ve probably felt this way before, most of us do, “If only I could get another opinion, I’m sure they’d agree with me that God’s made a mistake, and God would change His mind.” One of the most common ways to justify our not-so-proper actions has always been to point out that others, maybe the majority would agree with us. Morality by polls, right and wrong by survey, religion by democracy, and the answer to “my unfair circumstances” can be reversed by experts, psychologists, and popular opinion. If you don’t like what God’s doing or saying or allowing, you just out-vote him. Do you try to out-vote God? God is the majority by Himself, we do well to remember this.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.