Posted: 18 Feb 2011 11:00 PM PST
OUR TWO PASSAGES ARE linked in a subtle way.
Job's response to Bildad (Job 19) is striking in its intensity. It is almost as if he is willing to spell out the tensions and paradoxes in his own position. There are four essential planks to it. First, Job continues to berate his miserable comforters for their utter lack of support. Even if he had "gone astray" (Job 19:4), it is not their business to humiliate him. Second, Job puts into concrete form what he has been hinting at all along: if he is suffering unjustly, and if God is in charge, then God has wronged him (Job 19:6). Once again, a string of verses colorfully describes the way God has torn him down, blocked his way, shrouded his paths in darkness. Third, Job provides some graphic descriptions of his suffering. His breath is offensive to his wife; he is loathsome to his own brothers (Job 19:17). In a culture where youth should respect their seniors, he finds that even little boys scorn him. His health has vanished; his closest friends display no pity or compassion. But fourth, the most paradoxical component is that Job still trusts God. In a passage renowned for its exegetical difficulties (Job 19:25–27), Job affirms that he knows his "kinsman-redeemer" lives: this is the word that is used of Boaz in the book of Ruth (Ruth 2:20), and probably here carries the overtone of "defender." Despite the evidence of his current sufferings he affirms that God his defender lives, and "that in the end he will stand upon the earth" (in light of the next verse, this may be an eschatological reference, or it may refer to the end of Job's suffering with God standing on Job's grave). Job himself will see God with his own eyes, and for this his heart yearns within him.
The integrity and faithfulness of the man is astounding. He refuses to "confess" where there is nothing to confess, but he never stops acknowledging that God alone is God. Satan is losing his bet.
Interestingly, Paul, too, calls the Corinthian Christians to a certain kind of integrity (1 Cor. 6). The sad dimension of this chapter is that at least some of the Corinthians were compromising their integrity for no greater reason than the usual temptations plus a subliminal desire to act like the surrounding culture. They were not at all facing the kinds of pressures that confronted Job. They needed to learn that lawsuits between Christian brothers, trying to win against another, already signaled defeat (1 Cor. 6:7); that Christian freedom is never an excuse for license, since believers pursue what is beneficial and they know that their bodies belong to another (1 Cor. 6:12–20). These things Job already knew.
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