Scripture to meditate on:
“Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?
Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?
There are those who move boundary stones;
they pasture flocks they have stolen.
They drive away the orphan’s donkey
and take the widow’s ox in pledge.
They thrust the needy from the path
and force all the poor of the land into hiding.
Like wild donkeys in the desert,
the poor go about their labor of foraging food;
the wasteland provides food for their children.
They gather fodder in the fields
and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.
Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked;
they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.
They are drenched by mountain rains
and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.
The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;
the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.
Lacking clothes, they go about naked;
they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.
They crush olives among the terraces;
they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.
The groans of the dying rise from the city,
and the souls of the wounded cry out for help.
But God charges no one with wrongdoing.
“There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways
or stay in its paths.
When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up,
kills the poor and needy,
and in the night steals forth like a thief.
The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’
and he keeps his face concealed.
In the dark, thieves break into houses,
but by day they shut themselves in;
they want nothing to do with the light.
For all of them, midnight is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
“Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;
their portion of the land is cursed,
so that no one goes to the vineyards.
As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow,
so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.
The womb forgets them,
the worm feasts on them;
the wicked are no longer remembered
but are broken like a tree.
They prey on the barren and childless woman,
and to the widow they show no kindness.
But God drags away the mighty by his power;
though they become established, they have no assurance of life.
He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.
For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.
“If this is not so, who can prove me false
and reduce my words to nothing?” – Job 24
How is God working in His world? This has been one of the central themes as we’ve eavesdropped on the debate between Job and his friends the last three weeks.
The idea that evildoers should be immediately punished and those who keep their noses clean are entitled to rewards seems to be deeply ingrained in our human psyche. Job’s friends aren’t the only ones who believe this is how the world “should” work. So do those who were traveling with Jesus.
Jesus knew this idea was entrenched in the thinking of the religious leaders of his own time. The story of the Prodigal Son is really a story of two brothers. Both of them are distant from the heart of their father, but in very different ways.
The younger son, literally traveled away from his father’s heart; flaunting the family expectations, insulting community standards and wasting the proceeds of his father’s estate on wine, women and song. But the elder son, the one who stayed at home, and meticulously lived up to expectations, was just as distant from his father.
We see this near the end of the parable when the resentful elder son confronts the father for his mercy in welcoming the younger home. The elder son, like the friends of Job, assume if you live a good life, you should –get– a good life. This resentment demonstrates the son’s belief that his father’s riches are his due, what he is –owed– for his good behavior.
This is the case Job’s friends are also attempting to argue. That Job’s misfortune is likewise his due for some hidden evil. But the parables of Jesus demonstrate the God’s redemption and his blessings are not manipulated by the acts of men. In the end, it is the well-behaved elder brother, and not the profligate younger prodigal who is left out of the celebration.
“Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?” – Job 24:1
Questions to ponder:
- Have you ever been guilty of thinking you could ‘earn’ the blessings of your Heavenly Father?
- Is it possible to be faithful to religious practice and still be far from the heart of God?