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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, October 17, 2021

October 14, 2021
  • Job 36:1-7
  • Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37b
  • Hebrews 5:1-10
  • Mark 10:35-45

When I was in senior year of high school, I was on the verge of abandoning my faith.  I was angry with God. I thought He had misled me and was patently unjust. I felt like life was empty and wanton and therefore so must be life’s author. One of the passages I found to be no consolation was this week's passage from Job. Being older, perhaps a bit wiser and no longer a nihilistic teenager, I realize I misread the passage, or at least I think I did.

Job has until this point had a rotten go of things. Satan saw Job and told God that he is only faithful because he is fortunate. God believing in the integrity of his faithful servant slowly allows Satan, step by step, to absolutely destroy his life, so that he can prove himself to be truly moral. Satan then went about doing it with glee. As Job’s life deteriorates his friends come to console him, but also to question his innocence, but Job maintains both that he is innocent, and that God is just. He nevertheless demands to have a hearing before God and to get an explanation for his suffering. This week's reading is the opening of God’s reply.

In my youth it sounded like a careless and proud God browbeating a humble and honest man.  However, this ignores some things I have learned or realized about the book of Job since then.

  1. The Book of Job is almost untranslatable and is therefore one of the most difficult books for modern audiences to read.
  1. It ignores the key framing of the Book, namely that God truly believes in and trusts Job and is willing to defend his honor and thereby the honor of Man when it is slandered by Satan.
  1. I was reading from an exclusively mortal and temporal mindset and was looking to find God guilty and was not taking his speech seriously.

With that in mind, how could God answer otherwise. How could God in His ineffable fullness explain Himself to as finite mortal? When the historical process of Revelation takes millennia for God to reveal Himself, how much could one monologue do? And how could that possibly truly console Job?

It is human to be depressed and dissatisfied with the state of the world, that is fair. There is much to be dissatisfied with and to not wrestle with these questions intellectually and spiritually or to try to answer them prematurely is sheer negligence; to steal a phrase from Camus it is “philosophical suicide.” But often, when trying to come to an easy answer for the question of theodicy we envision God as some moral accountant, this seems to me to be a psychological and spiritual trap. Firstly, it is guaranteed to bring nothing but the coldest comfort to anyone, furthermore I believe it to be a misunderstanding and mismeasurement of God.  It is my belief that while these questions are perennial and central to human existence, they by necessity have no human answer, and that God knows that, and is simply illustrating that.  God answers in a manner that sound rough not to denigrate humanity, but out of a sincere respect and love for it and its finitude.

.  – Ben Watts

  • How do you envision God’s providence?
  • How do we live keeping faith in active tension with feelings of injustice?
  • How do we value purely human emotions or values in a religious context and tradition centered around God?


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