Thursday, February 4, 2010

JOB: A Portrait of Poverty & Power

(I am reading through the Bible again this year. For the fifth time I decided to read it chronologically. And when I finish a book, I'm going to write a "portrait," if you will, of what God showed me.)

Job is such a fascinating book (it should be read more often!) and most likely the oldest book of the Bible. In the plan that I am reading, it comes in right after the Tower of Babel, Genesis 11. I am amazed that even before Abraham, God was pursuing men and making His name known.

The word poverty comes to mind when I think of Job. Poor materially and poor in spirit. Such desolation in his life and yet confident in his righteousness before God. His life was shattered and still, "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." (1.22) His suffering was very great . . . Job grieved in a pile of ashes and yet still worshipped God. Lesson learned: I do not know what is going on "behind the scenes" and I cannot see God's greater plan. Who am I to blame God or question what He is doing? Yes, I can (and should) cry out to Him but I need not assume that He is punishing me or for some reason overlooked me. He is still God, regardless, and I should be a "poor" woman before Him.

Another lesson learned is from Job's wife, unfortunately. She is nameless and there are only two significant verses about her in the entire book: "[Job's] wife said to him, 'Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!' He replied, 'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?' In all this, Job did not sin in what he said." (2.9-10) Heaven forbid that I should be remembered as a wife in this way! Instead of grieving with Job (this woman just lost her ten children!) and clinging to God with him, she encourages her husband to curse God and give up. And Job calls her foolish which the NIV note says "denotes moral deficiency." Oh God! Please help me not to be a wife like Job's wife!

The final portrait I see: God's incredible power. And, specifically, His power displayed through His creation.

earth. morning stars. angels. sea. clouds. dawn. springs of the sea. recesses of the deep. gates of death. abode of light. darkness. storehouses of snow. storehouses of hail. lightning. east winds. rain. thunderstorm. desert. dew. ice. frost. Pleiades & Orion & the Bear. laws of the heavens. lioness & lions. raven. mountain goats. doe & fawn. wild donkey. wild ox. ostrich. stork. horse. hawk. eagle. behemoth. leviathan.

God speaks in only 4 chapters of 42 . . . in the midst of a storm . . . and those 4 chapters overwhelm all of the rest. He questions Job 67 times. "Who is it that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?" (38.2) "Who endowed the heart with wisdom and gave understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?" (38.36-37) "Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?" (39.26-27) "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his?" (40.8-9)

Yes, Job was righteous. Yes, Job did not sin. BUT . . . God says: "Who are you to accuse me?" And Job aptly replies, "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you and you shall answer me.' My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (42.2-6)

Certainly a fitting, awe-inspired response.
A place of appropriate poverty before an all-powerful God.
Seeing God . . . despising yourself . . . and repenting in dust & ashes.
This is how I see Job.

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