Pondering Job in a Pandemic – Chapter 18

Today is Easter Sunday and a most unusual Easter Sunday at that. it is also day 18 of our national lockdown in New Zealand. As a result this will be the third Sunday when we will meet as a church online rather than in one another’s physical presence. As far as I know this will be the first Easter Sunday in my entire life when I have not met physically with a congregation of God’s people.

Even more, we are in the middle of week three. By all accounts of those who have experienced similar circumstances, week three is the hardest and the longer things continue like this the more frustrated and anxious people will begin to feel.

Things could be much worse in New Zealand to be sure. Yet things are still difficult and will inevitably continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

In Job 18, Bildad steps back to the mic. If there was any hope in Job that Bildad might change the course of discussion, his hopes were immediately dashed. Bildad continues the exact line of thinking and accusation seen thus far – Job, all of this is happening to you by the hand of God because you have sinned. This is your just punishment! You are surrounded by darkness and terror, your strength is taken away from you all because of your own doing.

Considering Bildad’s words on this day – Easter – my mind immediately runs to Matthew.

Matthew 20:17-19 – “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.””

Matthew 26:26-29 – “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.””

Matthew 26:38-46 – “Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.””

You may also want to read Matthew 27…

What would Bildad have said to Jesus? It seems plausible, he would have given Jesus the same “counsel” he was here giving Job. Jesus, the righteous don’t suffer so. Jesus, the innocent don’t experience such torture, such rejection, such ridicule, such death.

Yet Jesus did, though He was perfectly righteous, perfectly innocent. All of the darkness, terror, suffering, ridicule, mocking and death he experienced, he experienced as One Who was innocent in every way. The judgement due to our sin was thrust upon Him. The suffering that was our suffering was cast upon Him. The mocking that was our mocking was aimed at Him.

Even more Jesus suffered more than Job and more than any of God’s people have or will ever suffer. Jesus was truly rejected by HIs Father so that all those who come to Him in faith will never experience rejection by God.

Like Job we will suffer in this life. We follow a Suffering Servant. Unlike Jesus we will never suffer alone. Knowing Jesus as our Saviour means, our suffering is never an expression of God’s judgement but always an expression of His sanctifying love towards us.

Soli Deo Gloria

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