Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Job 22-23 and Ignatius' Epistle to the Romans 5-7

Job 22 – Eliphaz now talks: He seems to say the Almighty gains nothing by the conduct of the virtuous man. But then he goes on to accuse Job of iniquity, the kind of iniquity that some think the rich are always guilty of. Job was, after all, a very wealthy man before he was struck down:

“You exact pledges from your fellows without reason, and leave them naked, stripped of their clothes; you do not give the thirsty water to drink; you deny bread to the hungry. You probably think the land belongs to the powerful and only the privileged have a right to it” (22:6-7). These are all ridiculous charges.

He also accuses Job of thinking that just because God is remote – high above the dense clouds – that He cannot see what Job is doing. His advice is advice Job has always lived by: “Be close to Him and wholehearted; good things will come to you thereby. Accept instruction from His mouth; lay up His words in your heart” (22:21-22). If he just turns to God, he will be restored.

Job 23 – But the intense pains of present, unexplainable suffering cannot be alleviated by advice from the mouths of others, even when it is “good advice” – it requires the living presence of the Lord, our God. Job responds: “If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his court. I would lay out my case and present my arguments. Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me” (23:3-5).

But how can one approach the “throne of God,” the place of His presence? “I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed” (23:8-9).

If He would only test Job, he feels he would be found “pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food” (23:10-12). But the idea of facing God terrifies him. “When I think of it, terror grips me. God has made me sick at heart; the Almighty has terrified me. Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere” (23:15-17).

Ignatius to the Romans
5 – He tells them that the entire trip to Rome has been a great struggle with a detachment of soldiers he calls “savage leopards” (86). The only advantage of their ill-treatment is that he has perhaps made “some progress in discipleship” (86). He looks forward to the real lions. “All I pray is that I may find them swift. I am going to make overtures to them, so that, unlike some other wretches whom they have been too spiritless to touch, they may devour me with all speed” (87).

6 – There is no earthly reward better than that offered by martyrdom. “[S]o far as I am concerned, to die in Jesus Christ is better than to be monarch of earth’s widest bounds. He who died for us is all that I seek; He who rose again for us is my whole desire. The pangs of birth are upon me; have patience with me, my brothers and do not shut me out from life, do not wish me to be stillborn” (87).

“Suffer me to attain to light, light pure and undefiled; for only when I am come thither shall I be truly a man” (87).

7 – It is the devil’s hope that his resolve may be undermined. “Pray let none of you lend him any assistance, but take my part instead, for it is the part of God. Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips, and the world in your heart” (87).

“Here and now, as I write in the fullness of life, I am yearning for death with all the passion of a lover. Earthly longings have been crucified; in me there is left no spark of desire for mundane things, but only a murmur of living water that whispers within me, ‘Come to the Father’. There is no pleasure for me in any meats that perish, or in the delights of this life; I am fain for the bread of God, even the flesh of Jesus Christ, who is the seed of David; and for my drink I crave that Blood of His which is love imperishable” (87).

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