Trial…testing…and a promised freedom (in a ‘spacious place’).

3 02 2011

 DAY THIRTY-FOUR : Job 30 v. 1 – 32 v. 22; Matthew 22 v. 15 – 46; Psalm 18 v. 16 – 24

JOB – today, we get LOTS more from Job and are introduced to Elihu, a youngster with a lot to say !
Job laments his suffering again, but then presents himself as if in court, appearing in his own trial, pleading his innocence. He asks God to show him where he may have 
(i) looked lustfully at a woman
(ii) turned to deceit and lies
(iii) treated a servant badly
(iv) failed to give to the poor (food, clothing)
(v) put gold and material possessions above God
(vi) enjoyed revenge and rejoiced in the suffering of the wicked
(vii) tried to hide his sinfulness, deny his guilt
then he deserves what’s coming (or even come) to him.
But Job hasn’t lived like this. He has tried to do the opposite of ALL the above.
He pleads his case well.
Even if He’s silent this far, the Judge is listening !!

ELIHU – Job’s first three ‘friends’ are speechless now, so here comes a younger man, Elihu (meaning ‘He is my God’). Elihu is amazed at Job’s audacity, challenging God, and is horrified that the three friends arguments have been so weak that they haven’t affected Job’s attitude. Elihu makes four speeches, and seeks to show that God may use suffering for other ends than simply punishment for sin.
Ch 32 v. 8 : The ‘ruach’ Spirit-Breath of God brings understanding

MATTHEW – the pressure is building upon Jesus. In these verses today He is challenged about taxes, about marriage at the resurrection, about the greatest commandment and Jesus challenges them (the Pharisees) on their understanding of the Messiah / Christ.

TAXES – in the presence of the Herodians (presumably therefore a mix of religious and secular leaders – the Pharisees using their influence upon the local government to catch Jesus out – crafty !!), Jesus shows great wisdom in His answer about whether it’s right to pay taxes to Caesar. Many would have expected a Messiah who would oust the Roman occupiers, and purify the land. Jesus shows He’s not that kind of Messiah, but one who calls people to “render to God what is God’s” – that takes some inner soul searching and personal commitment. In the meantime, be a good citizen !

MARRIAGE – we are told that the Sadducees didn’t even believe in a resurrection, so their trick question is double-loaded. Jesus talks of a resurrection to come, and that there will be no ‘marrying or being given in marriage’ in heaven (we will be like the angels of heaven), so there’s no complexity for those who have been married more than once. There may be much more we’d like to ask about what it’s going to be like, but that wasn’t the Sadducees’ issue. They go away ‘astonished’ at His teaching – He can’t be caught out.

COMMANDMENT – So the Pharisees chip in again, worried about the way Jesus may appear to use scripture, they ask Him for the greatest commandment. Jesus underlines the first and most important commandment and adds a second strand, loving neighbour as self. Everything else, Jesus says, flows from this commandment to love….
LOVING GOD WITH EVERYTHING WE HAVE
LOVING OTHERS
LOVING SELF.

And Jesus is keen to know who they think the Christ will be – and is keen to point out that the Christ won’t merely be a ‘son of David’, a human deliverer, liberator, but the “Lord”……made them think…..makes us think, too !

PSALM – “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

Oh, Lord, for that broad, open place of space and safety,
where all feels secure and at peace,
an idyll, a paradise,
where all trials, temptations and tests are over,
and we dwell secure,
enfolded in Your loving presence.
At one with You.
At one with others.
At one with myself.
SHALOM.

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