New month….new Egypt….new wisdom

1 02 2011

DAY THIRTY-TWO : Job 22 v. 1 – 24 v. 25; Matthew 21 v. 18 – 32; Proverbs 3 v. 21 – 35

FEBRUARY SHOOTS OF FAITH

WHAHAY – we’ve made it into our second month (1/12 of the way through the Bible !!). January is often a hard and cold month, dark and even depressing. February can feel like one shorter step towards Springtime. Better days are coming !

JOB – we’re into the third (and final) round of exchanges between Job and his ‘friends’.
Eliphaz speaks, and is harsh in his condemnation of Job. The ‘friends’ want Job to blame his suffering on his sinfulness, getting him to repent, so Eliphaz now lists supposed sins Job has committed, and encourages him that everything will be well for him again if he turns back to God.
I did laugh at the line
22 v. 24 : “and if you assign your nuggets to the dust……then the Almighty will be your gold.”
The ‘friends’ often speak words that have some truth about them, it’s just that their concept of God and of how He works, their concept of a spiritual battle, is limited and therefore incomplete.

Job’s reply continues the line that all he wants is to bring his complaint to God, but his suffering has been accompanied by feeling he’s lost God, and can’t find Him. There’s a sort of “where is God when you need Him” cry in Job’s voice today. A cry which many may echo today. There is an assurance within Job that when he reconnects with God, God will hear Him out and there will be answers, but it’s taking time….
“I would state my case before Him…I would find out what He would answer me, and consider what He would say.”
There’s pain in Job’s words when he says he gets no glimpse of God in any direction (N.E.S.W.), which reminded me of the confidence of the psalmist (Ps 139 v. 7ff) who writes the opposite, that he cannot flee from the Spirit’s presence wherever he goes.
The sense of being punished and abandoned by God alongside the devastation of the loss of all his family, shows how low Job is feeling, yet still he desires God’s presence.
I found the second half of ch.  24 a bit difficult. It sounds like Job is agreeing with the simplistic ideas about God’s rewards /punishments, as Job talks of the suffering which will surely come to the wicked. Maybe he’s stating how he’d like things to be, or maybe his faith is in a God who will, in the end, bring His justice to bear.

MATTHEW – It amazes me that after a quiet night in Bethany, Jesus is up early to return to Jerusalem. He knows things are really coming to a head, now, and is on his way back to the temple, where He caused such a stir yesterday !



The Withered Fig-Tree
– a reminder of the fate of all that bear no fruit, and an opportunity to stir faith in His disciples
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Jesus’s words can sound like the pantomime genie who grants wishes, but we know it’s something we can only understand as we grow in our discipleship (cp John 15, where, in a whole chapter about abiding / dwelling in Christ, and He dwelling in us, Jesus promises that whatever we ask for in His name, we will receive).

Jesus sets before us the possibility of a relationship with God which Job is aching for.

Jesus’s authority questioned – as is His custom, Jesus answers a question with a question of His own. Sometimes Jesus’s questions are designed to make the hearers dig deeper inside themselves. Here, Jesus’s question reveals the battle between faith and fear in the religious leaders. Their fear of the people (and desire to control), prevents their faith in the ministry of John the Baptist (and subsequently Jesus, Himself). Jesus leaves them to continue their thinking, refusing to answer their question.

Parable of two sons – what matters is actually doing God’s will, not simply saying we will. As a challenge to the religious leaders, Jesus reminds them that there are tax collectors and prostitutes who are entering the kingdom ahead of them – wow, they will have felt stung by those words ! Indeed, sinners repenting and experiencing faith in God, are signs of the kingdom which the religious leaders are refusing to believe.

PROVERBS – reflects some of the theology we’ve been experiencing in Job. God’s desire, His wisdom is to bless the righteous, to be their protection and peace, even in the face of disaster and evil.

My re-created thoughts :

As we journey into our second month of reading
The Bible In A Year,
I thank God for this Year of the Bible,
for the passion for God’s Word which we see growing
in the people around us;
for the opportunities to talk of God’s Word at home,
in schools, in workplaces, in the community;
for the power of God’s Word for our lives,
transforming and renewing us daily.
Prayers especially today for the more than 1 million people
expected to protest in Cairo, for democracy to bring a new
freedom to the people of Egypt.
I’m fascinated by this focus on Egypt at a time in our readings
when we’ve left Joseph and family there (end of Genesis) and
anticipate Moses bringing freedom to God’s people (Exodus).
MAY GOD BLESS EGYPT TODAY, AND BREATHE HIS SPIRIT OF FREEDOM OVER ALL EGYPTIANS.
MAY THE STRUGGLE FOR A FREER EGYPT NOT BRING FURTHER BLOODSHED OR LOSS OF LIFE.
Amen.

 

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