During the BINY class today (1/28), I remembered a conversation I had with one of my F3 brothers when my stepmother passed away. My stepmother made the tragic decision to take her own life in April 2015. It was and still is a challenging situation for my family, especially my father and me. One F3 brother, probably trying to console me, said that her death was part of “God’s plan” and that we just need to understand his plan. I remember how much that bothered me. The notion that God wanted my stepmother to take her life did not sit well with me. Thankfully I don’t agree with this person that this is how God works in our lives, but I’m amazed that people think this. I hear the phrase “it’s all part of God’s plan” all the time, but I can’t recall someone taking it to this extreme.
On to my thoughts about the readings.
Job 7: Before I delve in to my thoughts on this reading, I want to share a quote from some notes that Deacon Gene gave me from the EFM program from Sewanee. To give some context, the notes are addressing the challenge from the satan:
Do people fear God and act righteously only to obtain blessing from God?-this is at the heart of the satan’s question. Will a person remain loyal to God if there is no reward? This is a challenge that God cannot leave unanswered. If the entire structure of the relationship between humanity and God is based only on human desire for reward, then God is the victim of blackmail. YHWH has commanded unconditional worship and obedience. Any suggestion that YHWH must reward obedience injects a monstrous condition into the divine-human relationship. (p. 607; emphasis in original)
I don’t really have a lot to say on this quote, just an interesting tidbit to have in here for possible future purposes.
Now for thoughts on chapter 7. In the first part Job compares being human to slavery, clearly still angry and frustrated about his current predicament. He now starts to directly challenge and question God: “The eye that sees me now will no longer look on me; your eyes will be on me, and I won’t exist” (7:8; p. 789 OT). It’s almost like Job is trying to make God mad enough that God will strike him down. He then tells God that he wants to be left alone, saying he prefers death over living this type of life with a God who does these things. Yikes! The chapter ends with Job continuing to question God and his motives for doing this to Job.
Job 8: Job’s second friend, Bildad, responds to his latest comments. Bildad very much encourages Job to repent and plead with God so he can become better. He even says that the death of his children was clearly because of their sins. To sweeten it, Bildad even says that if Job does this, then his life will be even better than it was before. Bildad also tells Job that if he were to ask his ancestors, he would realize that Bildad is correct and this is what Job should do. Bildad uses examples from nature to further support his point, comparing a withering plant to one who rejects God and a healthy plant to those who repent and follow God. He ends his argument with the following statement: “Surely God won’t reject integrity, won’t strengthen the hand of the wicked. He will still fill your mouth with joy, your lips with a victorious shout” (8:20-21). This statement continues to show how Bildad believes that those who accept God will be ok.
Job 9: Job acknowledges that Bildad has a good point. He points out that God is too powerful for anyone to resist him and still prosper. He then gives some examples of God’s destructive power, not necessarily trying to put God in the best light. Job then argues that none can really question God and that all must bow to him. This leads to him saying this: “Yet I myself will answer him; I’ll choose my words in a contest with him” (9:14). Job seeks vindication, but won’t appeal to God for mercy because he does not believe that he has done anything wrong. He also seems to suggest that God is indeed very powerful, but when it comes to actual justice, perhaps he isn’t the one to go to. Job then states that he now believes God doesn’t see a difference between the wicked and the innocent; they are all the same to him. He is determined to be wicked towards all humans, at least according to Job. He then blames God for the state of the world. It seems to me that he is arguing that if God is actually in charge of everything and is the reason why all things happen, then he is at fault for all of the sins of the world. I think this is right? Job seeks a mediator between him and God so that he can argue his innocence without fear of reprisal.
Psalm 79: Either this psalm was written during the time of exile or it was written to describe the time of exile, but the purpose is to ask God if he will ever return to protect his people. It’s interesting reading this while also reading Job because in this psalm it’s clear that the people feel that the exile has happened because they did something bad (which is how it was presented in all the books). Based on what I read today, Job is questioning that mindset.
Psalm 80: Another psalm clearly written during the time of the exile or at least about the time of the exile because similar to Ps 79, the psalmist asks God when he will come back to protect and save his people.
Psalm 81: This psalm starts with praise to God, but then shifts to God speaking to the people. He makes it clear that all the people had to do was follow what he told them and all would’ve been fine. Yet, since they decided to go their own way, he stepped to the side and let it happen.