This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Job 7 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
7Job continued, “Human life on earth is like serving in the army;
yes, we drudge through our days like a hired worker,
2 like a slave longing for shade,
like a worker thinking only of his wages.
3 So I am assigned months of meaninglessness;
troubled nights are my lot.
4 When I lie down, I ask,
‘When can I get up?’
But the night is long, and I keep tossing
to and fro until daybreak.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt,
my skin forms scabs that ooze pus.
6 My days pass more swiftly than a weaver’s shuttle
and come to their end without hope.
7 “Remember that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never again see good times.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no more;
while your eyes are on me, I will be gone.
9 Like a cloud dissolving and disappearing,
so he who descends to Sh’ol won’t come back up.
10 He will not return again to his house,
and his home will know him no more.
11 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth
but will speak in my anguish of spirit
and complain in my bitterness of soul.
12 Am I the sea, or some sea monster,
that you put a guard over me?
13 When I think that my bed will comfort me,
that my couch will relieve my complaint,
14 then you terrify me with dreams
and frighten me with visions.
15 I would rather be strangled;
death would be better than these bones of mine.
16 I hate it! I won’t live forever,
so leave me alone, for my life means nothing.
17 “What are mere mortals, that you make so much of them?
Why do you keep them on your mind?
18 Why examine them every morning
and test them every moment?
19 Won’t you ever take your eyes off of me,
at least long enough for me to swallow my spit?
20 “Suppose I do sin — how do I harm you,
you scrutinizer of humanity?
Why have you made me your target,
so that I am a burden to you?
21 Why don’t you pardon my offense
and take away my guilt?
For soon I will lie down in the dust;
you will seek me, but I will be gone.”
Job speaks for all human beings whose lives have become unbearable, in his case due to poverty, bereavement and disease. Those who are relatively fortunate in life may think these are the ravings of a madman, but the 20% of humanity that live in abject poverty, will recognise them as realistic.
For those who share degrading pain a distant God becomes a pitiless eye in the sky that notes their faults rather than their suffering. The celestial scrutinizer leaves them without the privacy to spit.
All of this points to a need to break through the bonds of bad theology either by rejecting God altogether or by discovering the true God whom bad theology has concealed. The appeal of the heavenly tyrant to generations of believers is obvious and still today many hold to this image – in spite of Jesus. In fact the most popular theory of Jesus’ cross turns God into a vengeful maniac who demands the death of his Son to satisfy his offended honour. It’s small wonder that worshipping this tyrant turns fortunate people into bullies and leaves unfortunate people in despair.
Christian faith expanded Jewish faith by holding to Jesus as God’s means of descent to share our lives and the Spirit as God’s means of lifting us up to share God’s life. But long before Christian faith, the author of Job could see the defects of the faith he’d received and was able to expose them clearly and passionately in his drama. Whether or not he had personal experience of deprivation the language he gives to Job has the smell of reality-“The eye that sees me now will see me no more”, ” my flesh is clothed with worms and dirt”, “suppose I do sin, how do I harm you, scrutinizer of humanity?”. In comparison with him, as we’ll see, his comfortable comforters are a bit antiseptic.
How could we speak about God to any of the children abused in Rotherham, where the adult world refused to come to their side? What does God know about being raped? Job can help us answer these questions.