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Job 31:1-33:33 ~ 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Psalm 43:1-5 ~ Proverbs 22:8-9
Old Testament - Great readings in Job today! In chapter 31 Job basically "rests his case." He gives his final plea. This chapter is the last time we'll read this many words from Job. Late in the book we'll get some brief words of repentance from Job after God speaks. In chapter 31 I like how Job lays out his case - and lets everyone know what his retribution should be. He basically gives a series of if / then statements. If I did this, then that should happen to me. This is similar to the book of Exodus' concept of the "law of retaliation", from Exodus chapter 21 verses 23-25: "But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Do you see how Job's logic in chapter 31 is similar to this law of retaliation? You'll recall in our readings from Matthew chapter 5 that Jesus calls us beyond the law of retaliation (which was really a law of "limited-retribution" in its day, limiting people to retaliate only based on actual harm done - meaning, eye for an eye. Not a life for an eye, etc.). Jesus called us beyond this law of retaliation and beyond limited retribution to the highest law of love. Bible.org has an in depth look at Jesus' taking on the law of retaliation in Matthew 5:38-42 at this link. I think at the end of chapter 31 as Job rests his case, the scene may have looked something like this image below... with Elihu chomping at the bit to speak (as we know in chapter 32) in the upper left hand corner of this image...
Before we move onto Elihu - today in Job chapter 31 we read what I think is one of Job's most profound pleadings. It is a 10th century B.C. pleading that is ultimately fulfilled by a little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem who is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Here is Job's prophetic plea in verse 35 - ""If only I had someone who would listen to me and try to see my side!" You and I are so very fortunate that we do not need to make such a plea as this. Jesus is in heaven seated on his throne and will receive our prayers! Jesus listens to us! Jesus sees our side! It is humbling to look back toward the time of Job, and realize that Jesus had not yet walked the earth as a man and taken on the sins of the world on the cross. Jesus had not yet risen from the grave and ascended into heaven. Job was looking for someone to listen to him and to see his side. You and I are blessed immensely in this regard. We do not need to look anywhere else other than to the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
In Job chapters 32 and 33, Elihu becomes angry at Job and his friends and presents his case! Elihu was sitting on the sidelines up until this point and obviously was ready to say a few words! It was amazing to read his words in chapter 32 - it was apparent to me that he was young and energetic and felt he had some very important things to say - and we will hear all that Elihu has to say between now and chapter 37! :) Interestingly, as we get to God speaking to Job and his friends in chapter 38, you'll note God does not condemn Elihu along w/ Job's 3 other friends. The English poet and artist William Blake made this wonderful engraving below in the year 1825 titled "The Wrath of Elihu":
New Testament - I love Paul's words in Second Corinthians verse 3 - "Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts." That is a great concept! We are living letters from Jesus sent out to the world! Have you ever thought of yourself as a letter from Jesus? I have not, but I like it! It's also interesting to realize that the Spirit living within us as Christians professes and gives witness to the glory of God oftentimes without us even realizing it. I heard a quote once that said something like, "Who you are is so strong that I cannot hear a word you are saying." Basically this quote means that the inherent nature of who we are overshadows our very words. It's more important than our words - people notice our inherent nature! Be it good or be it not so good... So, if the Spirit of Jesus is within us I do believe that the Holy Spirit gives witness and gives glory to God to others that we come in contact with - even if we don't say a word! This is the letter that we are from Christ to the world. The letter that is written on our hearts. And of course there is St. Francis of Assisi who said, "preach the Gospel at all times - use words only when necessary." Again, the Spirit of Jesus within us preaches the Gospel to the world even without us consciously saying words. Don't get me wrong - sometimes words are exactly what are needed. But oftentimes our very presence through the Spirit of Jesus living within us is more than enough. So, let us go forth into our world this week as living letters from Jesus to a hurting and dying world that so needs the Good News of the Gospel! Are you a letter from Jesus?!
Psalms - I think Psalm 43 verse 5 starts off with a couple of questions that then answer themselves by the end of the verse - "Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God!" I would agree with what this verse is getting at. If I find myself to be discouraged or sad, it comes as no great surprise to me that I have been putting my hope in things other than God. I have been perhaps even praising false idols. And the sure fire way to be freed from the discouragement or sadness? To put my hope once again in God and God only. And to praise him again! I think this Psalm verse is a great reminder to make sure we are not placing our hope in anything other than God. For anything other than God will only leave us empty in the end.
Proverbs - I love Proverbs 22 verse 9 - "Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor." It reads like an additional Beatitude from the book of Matthew / Sermon on the Mount. And it's so straightforward. Blessed are those who are generous. Why? Because they feed the poor. Doesn't get more straightforward than that! Although, I will say that we can be generous not only with our money, but in so many ways that we live our lives. We can be generous in spirit - to feed the poor in spirit. We can be generous with our time - to feed those who are time-starved. We can be generous with our encouragement - to feed those who are feeling down. We can be generous in our prayers - to feed those who may not yet know how to pray. And yes, of course, we can be generous with our finances - to feed those who are physically hungry. What are some ways that you are generous with the poor?
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!