Friday, March 1, 2013

Job 12-13 and Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians 5-7

Job 10 – Job says he is disgusted with his life and must complain about it. “I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—tell me the charge you are bringing against me’” (10:2).

Job believes God does not “see” with the eyes of men – God is eternal and so mysterious, it is pure pride to claim any kind of “knowledge.”

“You guided my conception and formed me in the womb. You clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit my bones and sinews together. You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love” (10:10-12).

But now “you witness against me. You pour out your growing anger on me” (10:17). He cannot understand how God could be the source of both these blessings and this present curse. He begs God to desist from vexing him. “I have only a few days left, so leave me alone, that I may have a moment of comfort before I leave—never to return—for the land of darkness and utter gloom” (10:20-21).

Job 11 – Zophar now has his say: He censures Job for rattling on and on about his pain. And they don’t know what they should do when they hear Job challenging God. “Should I remain silent while you babble on? When you mock God, shouldn’t someone make you ashamed?” (11:3) “If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter” (11:5-6).

Who could disagree with the WORDS Zophar speaks here? “”’Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld—what do you know?” (11:7-8).

All of this seems reasonable to me; what faithful believer would not try to step in and help a friend deal with suffering without losing trust in God.  Ironically, the matter will be resolved in the end by God coming to Job and speaking to him directly. But while Zophar and the others recognize the complexity of God’s realm, they seem compelled to SOLVE the mystery by placing blame on Job.

“If God comes and puts a person in prison or calls the court to order, who can stop him? For he knows those who are false, and he takes note of all their sins” (11:10-11). “’If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear’” (11:13-15).

Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians
5 – He speaks of “high and heavenly topics” he feels tempted to communicate to them, but worries that “they might well be beyond your power to assimilate” (80).

“Even I myself, for all my chains and for all my ability to comprehend celestial secrets and angelic hierarchies and the dispositions of the heavenly powers, and much else both seen and unseen, am not yet on that account a real disciple. For there is much that we must still fall short of, if we are not to fall short of God” (80).

6 – “I entreat you (not I, though, but the love of Jesus Christ) not to nourish yourselves on anything but Christian fare, and have no truck with the alien herbs of heresy. There are men who in the very act of assuring you of their good faith will mingle poison with Jesus Christ; which is like offering a lethal drug in a cup of honeyed wine, so that the unwitting victim blissfully accepts his own destruction with a fatal relish” (80).

7 – He sees the safety net as being the avoidance of all pride and submission to “Jesus Christ and your bishop and the apostolic institutions” that have been established. These three are seen by Ignatius as the “sanctuary” of the Christian church. “To be inside the sanctuary is to be clean; to be outside it, unclean. . . . nobody’s conscience can be clean if he is acting without the authority of his bishop, clergy and deacons” (80).

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