JOB 8-11:20; 1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-28; PSALM 38:1-22; PROVERBS 21:28-29
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We continue with the story of Job, and today, we find Bildad, one of Job’s friends trying to console him with encouraging words. Job has lost everything already, and sounds almost resigned to his fate. It is quite interesting how accepting he appears to be with respect to the misery that he is mired in.
It would be almost natural to bear some sort of a grudge toward a God who appears to not care for a devotee of Job’s caliber—a man so righteous and upright that even God himself had pointed to Job as an example of exemplary mettle. And yet, Job cannot bring himself to speak out against God. He certainly pities himself, but is far from pointing fingers at God. He says, instead, referring to God in these verses:
32 “He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,
that we might confront each other in court.
33 If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together,
34 someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.
35 Then I would speak up without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot.
This is a man in great distress and utter sorrow. Job says this of himself:
18 “Why then did you bring me out of the womb?
I wish I had died before any eye saw me.
19 If only I had never come into being,
or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!
Zophar is another of Job’s friends who tries to console him by suggesting that it isn’t too late for Job to make amends to the Almighty—perhaps there is some hidden sin in Job that needs addressing? So much for supportive friends! It is to be seen what might happen to Job in the days to come.
In the meantime, we’ll turn to our reading in the first book of Corinthians, and find Paul offering a summary of the gospel message, regardless of who preaches it. Just to be clear, he seems to say, let’s not forget what exactly this gospel message is.
In case there are any doubts, this is what it is: 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
He then goes on to say what he has frequently said at other times: that he is the least among the apostles—a trademark of the immense humility that Paul is endowed with.
He says, 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
Following this, Paul also wishes to refute some apparent theories that must have been circulating at the time concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul says this about the fundamental belief that is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
He says, 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
And in case there is still any doubt, Paul goes on to say this: 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Turning now to our reading from the psalms, we find in Psalm 38, an uncanny echo of Job in David’s words:
9 All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.
11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.
Like David, and Job before him, even we might have cause to feel this way about our life at times. There is a strange comfort in knowing that these emotions are timeless and universal, and very much human and natural. It is even more comforting to know that in the final analysis, both these men—Job and David—despite the terrible conditions that they were ensconced in, were able to come out of their dark and difficult situations not just unharmed, but having had every material blessing restored to them manifold.
Such are the mercies of the Almighty toward them that love him! It is possible that at some time we might have also cried out like David, or will cry out like he did in his darkest hour:
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.
19 Many have become my enemies without cause;
those who hate me without reason are numerous.
20 Those who repay my good with evil
lodge accusations against me,
though I seek only to do what is good.
21 LORD, do not forsake me;
do not be far from me, my God.
22 Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Savior.
Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs which are worthy of record and rumination:
28 A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.
29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.