Saturday, March 2, 2013

Job 14-15 and Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians 8-10

Job 14 – Job continues with these amazing words: “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me?” (14:1-3) The limits of man in the face of God are so infinite, it seems simply unfair to be so demanding. But denying human accountability to God also undermines the dignity of man – are we so frail and so passing we should not be held to any standard?

It seems clear that Job does not have a belief in any kind of afterlife: “’Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling. But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again” (7-12).

“Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins” (14:14-16).

I am not sure I get Job’s logic here. If there were a life beyond what we have on this earth, surely we might be held more accountable. But he seems to see in life-eternal a hope that God would value us more and in yearning for us, hold out more assistance to us in our journey. 

Job 15 – Eliphaz now speaks: Job’s words seem like “windy opinions” to him – “useless talk” (15:2-3).  They “subvert piety and restrain prayer to God” (15:4).  He challenges Job’s ego: “’Were you the first person ever born? Were you born before the hills were made? Were you listening at God’s secret council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom? What do you know that we don’t? What do you understand that we do not?” (15:7-9)

What can he know that the “gray-haired old men” (15:10) do not? Job should be satisfied with whatever comfort God gives him. “What is man that he can be cleared of guilt, one born of woman, that he be in the right?” (15:14).

The wicked take no comfort from God. They defy Him at every turn but even though they may be prosperous in this life, they will inevitably face ruin: “Their riches will not last, and their wealth will not endure” (15:29). He sees Job as one of the wicked, full of delusions and impious.

Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians
8 – It is not that he sees the Trallians of being unfaithful or renegade-like but he is simply trying to warn them of the dangers that are out there. “So let gentleness be your weapon against them; take a fresh grip on your faith (the very flesh of the Lord) and your love (the life-blood of Jesus Christ), for there must not be any ill-feeling between neighbors” (80).

9 – It becomes plain in this section that Ignatius is warning them against docetist denials of Jesus’ humanity. “Close your ears, then, if anyone preaches to you without speaking of Jesus Christ. Christ was of David’s line. He was the son of Mary; He was verily and indeed born, and ate and drank; He was verily persecuted in the days of Pontius Pilate, and verily and indeed crucified, and gave up the ghost in the sight of all heaven and earth and the powers of the nether world. He was also verily raised up again from the dead, for His Father raised him; and in Jesus Christ will His Father similarly raise us who believe in Him, since apart from His there is no true life for us” (81).

10 – “It is asserted by some who deny God – in other words, who have no faith – that His sufferings were not genuine (though in fact it is themselves in whom there is nothing genuine). If this is so, then why am I now a prisoner? Why am I praying for a combat with the lions? For in that case, I am giving away my life for nothing; and all the things I have ever said about the Lord are untruths” (81).

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