Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Until My Change Comes

I'm not saying it's impossible or impractical to study Job 12-14. You could break it down verse by verse, divide it into sections, key messages, and themes, and even compare the translation issues of some of the more problematic Hebrew phrases. I did those things in spots, but then I found myself just wanting to read this response by Job from beginning to end. It is, after all, poetry. 

And here in these three chapters, Job expresses some gems of the human struggle. He opens by waxing, "duh." He wonders about justice. He observes that the rest of nature knows what mankind can't admit. He has an out-of-body (or even out-of-universe) experience where he watches all of man's existence swirl about according to the conduction of God's will. He asks his friends to shut up and stop playing God's advocate. He once again approaches the throne of God, hoping for an answer. And he ponders his own death, hoping for something more.

This portion of Job, like Ecclesiastes, begs the question of what lies beyond the veil of death. Both Job and Solomon express a yearning, ignorant and uninformed, for something more meaningful than experience, something better than the now, something untouched by death. Solomon died without knowing what that was. But Job . . .

Look, we all know this story ends well for Job, and that's because he became a living picture of the resurrection. The heart of the book chronicles Job's deathly suffering,  but it ends with a brand new wonderful life. What a wonderful picture! Of course, it was also just a picture. He still died. And death is not cool.

That's the lesson Job learns and teaches in this book, one delivered powerfully in these three chapters. With death in the picture, life is programmed to degenerate into a big pile of stink. That's just the way it is. As wonderful as Job's life was, as faithful as he was, he probably never before came to terms with the fact that the closing curtain is putrid, unforgiving, and relentless. It may have been a great play, but the afterparty is gonna suck.

We have to long for something more. The man who had everything, the man who lost everything . . . they both agree that there simply must be something more. And the beauty that they are only now appreciating (hopefully) is that there most certainly is.

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