Our whole focus this week continues in the book of Job. There are several cycles of speeches between Job and his three friends in this book:
Cycle 1 (Chapters 3-11) - Job, Eliphaz, Job, Bildad, Job and Zophar
Cycle 2 (Chapters 12-20) - Job, Eliphaz, Job, Bildad, Job and Zophar
Cycle 3 (Chapters 21-31) - Job, Eliphaz, Job, Bildad, Job
Job's three friends never seem to waver from their belief that Job must have sinned to incite God's punishment. They continually berate him for refusing to confess his sins, even though they themselves are at a loss as to what Job has done wrong. In their theology, God always rewards good and punishes evil, with no exceptions. Job meanwhile maintains his innocence. He refuses to curse God or accuse God of injustice but wants an explanation as to why this is happening to him.
We get introduced to another person in chapters 3-37. Elihu almost takes a mediator's path - attempting to hold together an understanding of God's sovereign power and righteousness along with God's gracious mercy. He condemns the approach by Job's other three friends and argues that God's righteousness is being misrepresented and his loving character discredited. Elihu lifts up many of God's attributes: mighty, just, quick to warn and to forgive. He suggests that Job does need to repent - not from a particular sin - but from his arrogance in presuming to understand God.
When I read through the book of Job I realize that we still wrestle in today's society with these same issues - understanding evil and suffering and supposing to know how God operates. It's comforting in some part to realize that these are not new struggles. But they are definitely issues worth reflecting on.
Here is the schedule:
26, Sunday - Job 10-13
27, Monday - Job 14-17
28, Tuesday - Job 18-21
29, Wednesday - Job 22-25
30, Thursday - Job 26-29
1, Friday - Job 30-33
2, Saturday - Job 34-37