Wednesday, September 14, 2016

14 September 2016
Then Job answered the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has... Now therefore…go to my servant Job…my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has done.” Job 42:1-8 (NRSV)
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. Acts 16:16-18 (NRSV)
Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. John 12:23-26 (NRSV)

            Good morning, welcome. Today we come to the end of Job; these 17 verses literally overflow with insights very much in need today. God has thoroughly grilled Job; vs.1-6 are Job’s final answer. Listen to what he says: ‘I know your purpose cannot be thwarted’; ‘I spoke of things I did not understand’; ‘I knew about you, now I know you’, and in knowing ‘I repent in dust and ashes’. Job has come face to face with God and is forever changed.
            Hear now what God says to Job’s friends-you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has done. Go to Job; he will pray for you. Job and his friends will be reconciled, God will forgive them. Finally, God restores Job’s fortunes after he prayed for his friends. Don’t miss this, this is important. Job’s friends have been making all sorts of false accusations against him and misrepresenting God. What is God’s response? Pray for your enemies and I will restore you all. Reconcile with your brothers first; then you will be reconciled with me.
            Do you see the reversals at work here-between Job and God; Job and his friends; his friends and God; Job before and Job after? Don’t miss the final verse-Job died old and full of days. There is a double meaning here-abundant and not cut short. This is yet another passage that lends itself well to thoughtful meditation, which I encourage you all to do. One word of caution-it is all too easy to see how others do not speak what is right about God, and all too difficult to see it in ourselves.
            Paul, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be having much difficulty speaking for God. The Greek text here seems to imply the girl’s powers were somehow tied to the Oracle of Delphi. Luke tells us the girl could predict the future; she made her owners lots of money. She recognized Paul and Silas and the Gospel message they were proclaiming. Some commentators believe Paul exorcised her to disassociate her from the gospel; since Paul would later say in his letter to the Philippians what matters is that Christ is proclaimed, I tend to think this was more about power. Paul was demonstrating his God was superior to the Philippian gods; we will see more of God’s power tomorrow.
            In the Gospel reading we are moving into some very deep water. That John mentions Jesus’ Greek visitors seems to point to Jesus’ death being for ‘the whole world’-exactly what the Pharisees said yesterday. Jesus says His death will bring life and warns His followers must be willing to surrender their lives as well. The choice is clear. Following Jesus is not just adopting a new set of beliefs or rituals; it requires an entirely new life. The old and the new cannot coexist. This is total, radical transformation-the new creation of 2 Cor.5:17. Jesus uses strong language to emphasize the fact that no compromise is permitted; this is an all or nothing surrender.
            There is a duality of sorts at work here-the seed dies once but the life it produces goes on. I think the parallel for us is we make the one decision resulting in salvation and new life which then requires a series of decisions for that new life to grow. It is not so much a turning away but a turning towards-the mind taking on a new order matching the new life by focusing on new things.
            Our final thought for today is this-God never did explain Himself to Job. What He did do was offer-and require-reconciliation. This is His offer and His requirement for us as well. Who can you offer reconciliation to today?
May the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship if the Holy Spirit be with you all this day. JRG


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