24 August 2010

Aug 24

Reference links:
Old Testament

Job's response to the latest commentary from his friends is a lecture on God's wisdom and power and against those who would presume to know the mind of God (laced with entertaining sarcasm). The most powerful statement comes near the middle of the reading:
Are you defending God with lies?
Do you make your dishonest arguments for his sake?
Will you slant your testimony in his favor?
Will you argue God’s case for him?
What will happen when he finds out what you are doing?
Can you fool him as easily as you fool people?
No, you will be in trouble with him
if you secretly slant your testimony in his favor.
Doesn’t his majesty terrify you?
Doesn’t your fear of him overwhelm you?
Your platitudes are as valuable as ashes.
Your defense is as fragile as a clay pot.
Job is saying that God does not need the defense of humans. Furthermore, God finds testimony that, by human terms, is in his favor to be just as indefensible as false testimony against him.

I like this passage. I have always been annoyed that the attitude that it is better to have a view of God that is naive, ignorant, and clearly ignores reality than it is to have what is, if there is a God, an equally wrong view of God that asserts that he does not exist. Is God so petty that would prefer someone who spreads hatred and intolerance in the names of God and Jesus rather than doing good with no belief in God? The opinion of the author of Job is that those who misrepresent God will be in trouble with God, whether that misrepresentation is positive or negative.

After Job finishes, Eliphaz responds a second time. He unfairly accuses Job of having no fear or reverence of God despite the fact that one of Job's key points revolved around proper respect for God's majesty. I think, perhaps, that Eliphaz is actually projecting his own feelings onto God. Eliphaz resents that Job is not accepting his opinion.

Eliphaz again tries to give the easy answers: God brings pain and ruin to the wicked. The wicked will constantly feel terror, will be ruined, will be cut down in the prime of life, will lose their homes. The problem with this feeble defense, as the author of Job clearly knows, is that none of this is true. Those who are not godly live long, successful, and probably often happy lives. There are truly bad people who are never brought to justice, who never even have their evil discovered. As before, Eliphaz's easy answers are tempting, but ultimately the data does not support them.

New Testament

Discussion of the post-resurrection body. I don't particularly care. The only interesting fragment is this verse which could be used in making a case that Paul believed that Jesus would return soon:
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!

Psalms and Proverbs
No human wisdom or understanding or plan
can stand against the Lord.
Seems appropriate given our reading in Job. I think that one could make a compelling Biblical case that, if there is a God, any human knowledge of him is incomplete and approximate, even knowledge gained from the Bible itself.