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Posts Tagged ‘Zophar’


Job 2:11-13Great Suffering

Monday, November 5, 2018

Written on June 14 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

At first glance, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar seem to be Job’s intimate friends.  When they arrive and see that Job is greatly changed and greatly affected by his new circumstances, they do not accuse Job or offer him platitudes; rather, they join him in grief and abide with him in his great suffering.  Once we begin to read the speeches these three offer, we change our thinking.  They urge Job to confess the hidden sin which they believe is the root cause of his pain . . . even though Job has nothing to confess.  This is when we realize that these three acquaintances are not able to think much beyond their immediate world and code.  They cannot really accompany Job in his great pain.

This week, the first Mass readings have been taken from Second Corinthians and Paul has been reminding his sisters and brothers in Christ that for your sake [Christ] became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich (8:9) We are rich enough, according to this thinking, that we can afford to love even our enemies . . . and it is our willingness to enter into suffering with Christ that brings us this wealth.

In the Gospels this week, we have been reading a similar message from Matthew 5: Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.  Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn you back on one who wants to borrow . . . You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’.  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.  These are difficult reversals to understand, thorny inversions to believe . . . these are hard lessons to model and to live.  Yet they are the fabric of Christian life.

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar do their best to comprehend and even help Job but they cannot really abide with him because they do not understand the underpinning creed that suffering through and with and in Christ brings about true and lasting serenity.  They do not realize that suffering is not always a curse . . . and that great suffering may even be a blessing from God.


A re-post from October 3, 2011.

Image from: http://calvarybiblefellowshipmass.org/2011/08/27/1-year-bible-reading-08-28-09-03-11/

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Job 24: Violence on Earth

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on Job’s desire to sit with the Creator in order to engage in an intimate conversation. In an age when suffering is connected with sin, Job suffers doubly, having to endure pain while at the same time defending his innocence to his family and friends. Yet he persists, remains faithful, and recognizes the small pearls of hope that come to him. When God has tested me, I shall come out like gold.

Today we watch as Job asks:

Why doesn’t God set a time for judging,
    a day of justice for those who serve him?

He observes a litany of violence taking place around him.

People move property lines to get more land;
    they steal sheep and put them with their own flocks.
They take donkeys that belong to orphans,
    and keep a widow’s ox till she pays her debts.
They prevent the poor from getting their rights
    and force the needy to run and hide. So the poor, like wild donkeys,
    search for food in the dry wilderness.

Evil people make slaves of fatherless infants
    and take the children of the poor in payment for debts.

The litany continues until Job’s friend Zophar intercedes with his own assertions and questions.

For a while the wicked prosper,
    but then they wither like weeds,
    like stalks of grain that have been cut down.
Can anyone deny that this is so?
Can anyone prove that my words are not true?

As Job struggles to understand the conflict between good and evil, so do we. We may be like Zophar who accepts the assumption that all evildoers suffer in God’s time rather than our own. Or we may be more like Job who wants a conversation with the Almighty as he looks for authentic answers to his questions. Zophar seems content with allowing evil to proceed unchecked and unchallenged while Job goes deeper. Perhaps this is because Job, the innocent, faithful, hopeful one, suffers while Zophar continues in a comfortable world that makes sense to him.

The lesson we might take away today is this . . . even if we cannot change the evil around us, we might still question God. Even if we do not engender or encourage the violence that surrounds us, we might still commit our own small acts of mercy and justice. And even if we cannot make sense of the world’s great economy and plan, we might keep in mind that all belongs to and is of God.

In La Biblia de América, Chapters 23 & 24 of Job bear a title that translates to: Between Desire and Fear of the Encounter. Not only do these words describe the viewpoints we see today, they also present us with significant questions . . . Are we content to remain in our comfort zone of knowing, or are we willing to step into the world’s violence to represent a path of peace? Do we look for an intimate encounter with God despite the suffering we see and experience, or do we fear this marvelous gift of intimacy with God? What is it we seek?

Job asks: Why doesn’t God set a time for judging, a day of justice for those who serve him?

Perhaps that time is now.


Tomorrow, Bildad asks, how can a mortal be righteous before God?

When we compare various translations with the citations from THE GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION above, we open a dialog with God. 

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Image from: https://www.sapiens.org/evolution/human-violence-evolution/

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Monday, March 12, 2012 – Job 12 – The Undisturbed

The undisturbed esteem my downfall a disgrace . . . yet the tents of robbers are prosperous, and those who provoke God are secure.  I imagine that each of us has wondered at one or another how it is that the sleek and flourishing experience success while the downtrodden suffer endlessly. 

Job tells us that the beasts of the earth and sea and sky understand that God is in charge.  They do not credit themselves with victory in life but rather understand that the world is ordered from a point outside their control.  In his journey of sorrow and pain Job will learn that the trust he has placed in God is warranted; and he suggests that we take a lesson from these creatures: But now ask the beasts to teach you, and the birds of the air to tell you; or the reptiles on earth to instruct you, and the fish of the sea to inform you.  Which of these does not know that the hand of God has done this?  In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all mankind.  Job continues to delineate God’s power in clear terms.  There is no power greater than God’s; there is no understanding more deep, no prudence more sensible.  As followers of Christ we especially know that there is no love more forgiving and more enduring than God’s. 

In his reply to Zophar, Job attempts to describe the enormity and omnipotence of God.  And in speaking to his friend Job assure himself – and us – that even though he suffers innocently he is not forgotten by his all-knowing and all-powerful creator.  Job knows that with patience and an open heart, he will gain the insight of a life lived well: So with old age comes wisdom, and with length of days understanding.  These are gifts from God that we receive through suffering . . . and this is something that those who live undisturbed lives will never learn.

Job is not the only one in scripture to warn us about the opposing worlds of the troubled and the undisturbed.  Paul writes to Timothy: Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.  (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

The prophet Jeremiah also understands the irony of justice in the world. He recounts the Lord’s words: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season . .  . [The wicked] grow powerful and rich, fat and sleek.  They go their wicked way; justice they do not defend by advancing the claim of the fatherless or judging the cause of the poor.  (Jeremiah 17:5-6 and 5:27)

In the book of Wisdom it is the wicked who say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.  He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord.  To us he is a censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us.  (Wisdom 2:12-14)

Scripture is full of advice about how to behave and how to align our lives; but the story of Job is one we will want to hold close, especially when we undergo trials while the successful and cozened lead seemingly charmed lives.  Job’s story – and in particular this response to Zophar – tell us that the dichotomy between the just and the unjust is real.  It is a trial to be borne.  It is a misery to be endured.  Yet through this suffering we receive a gift that the undisturbed will never have.  It is the gift of fully knowing and experiencing God’s great and abiding love.

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