Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Job 34-35 and Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans - Introduction through 1

Job 34 – Elihu continues: The reason God gives us is meant to weigh arguments so that we can decide what is just and unjust. Job has declared that he is right and that God has deprived him of justice (34:5). But while he differs somewhat in how he thinks he’s come to truth, he essentially agrees that God does “repay people according to their deeds. He treats people as they deserve” (34:11).

“If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust” (34:14:15).

God rewards those who do good; He punishes those who do evil. “Why don’t people say to God, ‘I have sinned, but I will sin no more’? Or ‘I don’t know what evil I have done – tell me. If I have done wrong, I will stop at once’? Must God tailor his justice to your demands?” (34:31-33).

He thinks Job deserves “the maximum penalty” because of the way he’s denied responsibility for his fate. “[Y]ou have added rebellion to your sin; you show no respect, and you speak many angry words against God” (34:36-37).

Job 35 – Elihu continues to insist that it is crazy for Job to claim righteousness before God. “Look up into the sky and see the clouds high above you. If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him?” (35:5-6). Nothing man does has any effect on God; only other people are effected by the deeds we do.

While it sometimes seems that each of the men who speak their minds in this great wisdom book are inconsistent or ironically consistent with those they feel they are in disagreement with, the things they discuss  are the same things people have been pondering since the beginning of human history. We are DIFFERENT from other animals on this earth – maybe by only a tiny fraction but that fraction creates and rather fathomless divide that we have been struggling with forever.

God is not affected by Job’s evil or his goodness. It is other men who bear the impact of Job’s actions. Job “mouths empty words, and piles up words without knowledge” (35:16). But surely God has heard him – He has heard Job’s case.

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
Introduction: The letter that Ignatius writes to the church at Smyrna is mostly concerned with the dangers Docetist thinking presented to the faith community. He saw it as being a real problem in their city. But it is also just the danger of separatism and church disputes that worry him. He probably looked to the authority of church officials as being the only conceivable way to deal with what he saw as heresies.

1 – Ignatius opens his letter with praise for the wisdom of the Smyrneans. They hold firm to all the key articles of faith with respect to the material reality of Jesus as man: his being “truly of David’s line in His manhood” and “truly pierced by nails in His human flesh” (101).

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