Thursday, September 25, 2014

Job 14:16-22 comments: God prevails over us all

16 ¶  For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? 17  My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity. 18  And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. 19  The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man. 20  Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. 21  His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. 22  But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

See the question in verse 16 that contains a colon making everything in that sentence after the colon fold back on the first part of the question? Apparently, with every step Job says that he must have sinned and God carefully regarded every step and every sin. The indictment, the list of charges, against him is hidden from him. What has he done?

God causes earthquakes, a sudden catastrophe. He is the cause of the natural process of erosion, understood here long before formal science considered it. It can be assumed that part of Solomon’s great understanding and wisdom included a knowledge of natural forces and events.

1Kings 4:29 ¶  And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30  And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31  For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. 32  And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 33  And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 34  And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

Job ponders that with all of the natural forces and events that God causes and shapes, happening quickly or taking a long time, He also brings man to his earthly ruin. God prevails over man and man grows old and dies. His children come to honor or dishonor and he doesn’t know about it because he is gone from the land of the living. And dying is often a painful and harsh business so much so that a villain in a movie once commented, “everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die.” Job has pointed out that growing old and dying is a sorrowful business. Solomon gave a poetic account of what it is like to grow old referencing poor eyesight, loss of hearing, loss of sexual desire, of rising up early because you can’t sleep, fear of even short heights, grayheadedness, physical weakness, death, a funeral, and the grave.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 ¶  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2  While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3  In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4  And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5  Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6  Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

These things Job talks about are the natural issues of life. I don’t think you should feel guilty for acknowledging the suffering you experience in old age. This doesn’t mean you don’t have faith or trust in God. Your mourning for dead loved ones, even for their passing at an advanced age, does not mean you are a weak Christian. It means you are human. God has made us this way and we are bound by the limits of our flesh. I hope that you don’t have Job’s dismal outlook but then I also hope that you do not suffer the loss of all your children, the substance that supports you, and your health as Job has, either.

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