bible blog 1411

 

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This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readngs along with a headline from world news:

David Haines

David Haines of Perth with his son, now for years old.

SCOTTISH AID WORKER THREATENED WITH DECAPITATION 

JOB 17

17 My hopes have died,
my time is up,
    and the grave is ready.
All I can see are angry crowds,
    making fun of me.
If you, Lord, don’t help,
who will pay the price
    for my release?
My friends won’t really listen,
    all because of you,
and so you must be the one
    to prove them wrong.
They have condemned me,
just to benefit themselves;
    now blind their children.

You, God, are the reason
    I am insulted and spit on.
I am almost blind with grief;
    my body is a mere shadow.

11 My life is drawing to an end;
    hope has disappeared.
12 But all my friends can do
    is offer empty hopes.[b]
13 I could tell the world below
    to prepare me a bed.
14 Then I could greet the grave worm
    as my father
and say to the worms,
    “Hello, mother and sisters!”

15 But what kind of hope is that?
16 Will it keep me company
    in the world of the dead?

Job holds God to account for the misfortunes which have destroyed his family and his health. He believes God is the creator and therefore is responsibile for the state of the world. His religious friends have tried to find excuses for God and have cautioned him against such free speech. 

Here we can see more of the author’s skill. He gives Job more complaints but even his anger reveals his trust in  God. He has no worldly comfort or support; he is sure that God has allowed his misery; yet he appeals to God. Forces of destruction hold him captive; only God can pay the rpice for his release.

This language reminds me today of those who are held captive by Islamic State, who have publicly decapitated two of their prisoners. Their hostages must feel lke Job, abandoned, surrounded by enemies, threatened with death. Who will pay the price for their freedom?

Job is convinced that somehow God can pay the price that will free him from suffering. Later in the drama (chap. 19:26) Job states that “the one who pays my ramsom price is alive”, Although these words and their context are obscure, they do express trust in God as the one who pays that price. Christain commemtators have to very careful with passages from the Hebrew Bible that seem to point towards Jesus as revelation of God. But it’s wothwhile pointing out that the Christian concept of God in Christ as “redeemer” is derived from the Hebrew concept of the “One who pays the ramsom” to free someone from slavery. The author of Job would have understood that only God can pay the price to rescue his creatures from the powers of destruction.

But perhaps the author would have insisted that any redemption had to be real; a merely spiritual redemption beyond this life, would be a cop-out. How could the Creator do himself justice by a redemption OUT of his creation, rather than IN it? I’m sure that God will give resurrection life to the poor murdered captives of Islamic State, but is that all of redemption? If the world process itself is doomed to futility, can we still talk meaningfully of a creator God? Without a concrete hope for this life, we are left with the sad comedy of Job’s resignation:

 I could tell the world below
    to prepare me a bed.
14 Then I could greet the grave
    as my father
and say to the worms,
    “Hello, mother and sisters!

 

 

 

 

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