30 August 2010

Aug 30

Reference links:
Old Testament

A whole day of Elihu. Goody goody gumdrops. But I will be strong and see if I can find anything of value from his repetitive and rather predictable speech.

For the most part, Elihu sticks to the standard line that God will punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Not in some abstract future but in ways that are observable in this life. At one point, he says something almost insightful,
“Why don’t people say to God, ‘I have sinned,
but I will sin no more’?
Or ‘I don’t know what evil I have done—tell me.
If I have done wrong, I will stop at once’?
Why does this only earn a label of "almost insightful"? Well, back in chapter 7, Job said,
If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
O watcher of all humanity?
And in chapter 10 he said,
I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me—
tell me the charge you are bringing against me.
And in chapter 13 he said,
Or let me speak to you, and you reply.
Tell me, what have I done wrong?
And I am sure there are more examples. Point being, Elihu obviously was not listening to what Job was saying (or he forgot since, admittedly, Job said a lot, but he made this point over and over again).

So let's see if we can find something else to redeem Elihu's speech. This part is pretty reasonable,
If you sin, how does that affect God?
Even if you sin again and again,
what effect will it have on him?
If you are good, is this some great gift to him?
What could you possibly give him?
No, your sins affect only people like yourself,
and your good deeds also affect only humans.
That's pretty good, but Elihu does not seem to follow that train of thought very far. Instead, he just declares once again that eventually the good will be rewarded and the wicked punished.

Elihu ends on a particular unfortunate note. He gives examples of God's greatness, but they are all examples of natural weather phenomena that are fairly well understood these days. Oops.

New Testament

Paul claims that if anyone rejects the gospel, it is because Satan has veiled them. I was under the impression that it was God who prevented some people from believing. Perhaps, as in Job, God and Satan are in cahoots again.

Paul also talks about the suffering of those who follow the way of Jesus. This presents an interesting contrast to our readings in Job. In Job, the obvious, common sense answer to the problem of suffering is that the wicked suffer and the righteous prosper. The purpose of Job is to refute this simplistic message.

In this passage, Paul makes it clear that suffering, at least the kind of suffering he is experiencing, is actually a consequence of being righteous. Thus, Paul comes to a different answer on the problem of suffering. Some people suffer because they are righteous but in a world of evil. However, Paul is clearly not trying to address all kinds of suffering in this passage.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs are not particularly interesting.