Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Job 36-37 and Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 2-4

Job 36 – Elihu speaks again. He speaks to “justify my Maker” (36:3) as a “man of sound opinions” (36:4).  He, like the other “friends” refuses to let Job imply that God is not a God of justice or a God who cares for the poor. These are opinions all who love God will defend. The “fates” that men endure are fates that flow from God’s justice, he says. “If they will serve obediently, they shall spend their days in happiness. . . but if they are not obedient, they shall perish by the sword” (36:11-12). These are rationales all of us who love God will probably believe at some point in our lives, but Job’s story will be the challenge.

“God is all-powerful. Who is a teacher like him? No one can tell him what to do, or say to him, ‘You have done wrong.’ Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise” (36:22-24).

What Elihu says is true on many levels. “”God is greater than we can know; the number of His years cannot be counted. He forms the droplets of water, which cluster into rain; they pour down on all mankind” (36:27-28).

Job 37 – Still more from Elihu: “My heart pounds as I think of this. It trembles within me. Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice as it rolls from his mouth” (37:1-2). God works wonders through his Voice. “He works wonders that we cannot understand” (37:5). He commands the snow and the rain; his breath forms the ice.

“Can you help him stretch out the heavens. . . Inform us, then, what we may say to Him: We cannot argue because [we are in] darkness” (37:18-19).

“Shaddai—we cannot attain to Him; He is great in power and justice” (37:23).

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
2 – Jesus submitted himself to these things “for our sakes, [so] that salvation might be ours” (101). And he did really suffer. “His Passion was no unreal illusion, as some skeptics aver who are all unreality themselves. The fate of those wretches will match their belief, for one day they will similarly become phantoms without substance themselves” (101).

3 – “For my own part, I know and believe that He was in actual human flesh, even after His resurrection. When He appeared to Peter and his companions, He said to them, ‘Take hold of me; touch me, and see that I am no bodiless phantom’. And they touched Him then and there, and believed, for they had had contact with the flesh-and-blood reality of Him. That was how they came by their contempt for death, and proved themselves superior to it” (101).

4 – He encourages them to avoid contact with those who do not believe these things. Pray for them, but do not talk to them. “After all, if everything our Lord did was only illusion, then these chains of mine must be illusory too! Also, to what end have I given myself up to perish by fire or sword or savage beasts?” (102)

“[I]t is only in the name of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of sharing His sufferings, that I could face all this; for He, the perfect Man, gives me strength to do so” (102).

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