HEBREW BIBLE LESSON Job 1:1 and 2:1-10
EPISTLE LESSON Hebrews 1:1-4 and 2:5-12
MESSAGE: “He Still Sets the Table for Us”
I have always had a special place in my heart for the book of Job. I know, Paul wrote to Timothy that, “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” but some verses, some passages, some books speak to us individually, perhaps because we all have our own personal circumstances. There are two reasons why I especially like Job, which scholars say is most probably the oldest book in our Bible. The first reason is that the book refutes the notion that when we have troubles it is because we brought them upon ourselves. Sometimes we do bring trouble on ourselves – we make mistakes, sometimes we intentionally do things that have serious consequences. But the reader knows from the first chapters of the book, that Job’s troubles were not because he was a bad, silly or foolish man. His troubles came precisely because he was blameless(C) and upright;(D) he feared God(E) and shunned evil.(F) He was a man of integrity which got him the unenviable position of become a test case between God and Satan.
Satan’s position was that if Job weren’t wealthy, healthy, happy and strong, he wouldn’t be such a fan of God, that if he lost his family, his farm and his fitness, he would curse God and die. And God said something like, I’ll take that bet. Just don’t kill him. Job didn’t do anything wrong. In fact he was doing things right. There’s a message here for us. When we see someone in need, someone in trouble, someone sick, or hungry, or homeless, while they may have had a hand in creating their situation, we cannot jump to the conclusion that anyone’s troubles are their own fault and they do not deserve for us to go out of our way to help.
The second thing I truly love about the Book of Job is that it teaches me that God can handle it when we yell at him. People talk about the patience of Job. In one sense perhaps he was patient – he never did give up, curse God and die as his wife encouraged him to do. Take the time to read the story and you will discover that Job is anything but patient with God. In chapter 3 he curses the day he was born. Skip down to chapter 29 and you’ll hear him pine for the good old days when he enjoyed God’s favor. In chapter 30 he rages at God: “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
I stand up, but you merely look at me. 21 You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.” He bitterly bemoans his situation and then in the next chapter makes his case for not being responsible for his situation. He fairly yells at God for allowing all his suffering. One might think that Almighty God would just stretch out his hand and swat Job away for his impudence and insolence. If God had done that, he could have made an example of Job: Don’t you dare question God! But God doesn’t do that. It’s the patience of God we see, not the patience of Job. God simply, but clearly points out that Job doesn’t know everything that God knows. Job gets it, and is appropriately contrite for his presumption that he had either the right or the knowledge to criticize God.
There is a great deal of wisdom in this unique book in our Old Testament. It’s very easy to pass judgment on people, especially if we haven’t passed through their experience. People who have lost a loved one, suffered a major illness, lost their job through it being made redundant or lost a position of responsibility, often go through a valley of bereavement which can’t be understood second-hand. The Book of Job reminds us that human suffering is not necessarily chosen by the victims. There is still evil at work in the world.
Pair that together with the letter to the Hebrews in which we read that 11 “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” (Hebrews 2:11-12).
We are brothers and sisters of Christ, which makes us brothers and sisters with each other. Not forgetting that occasionally we experience a little sibling rivalry, part of the intent of the author of this letter is to remind us of our relationships with Christ and with each other. In the work of the cross and the power of resurrection, Jesus has completed the atonement (at-one-ment) of earthlings and God. This makes us brothers and sisters with Christ and with one another. He has elevated us to the same status as himself, each one of us a much-loved child of God.
The letter to the Hebrews tells us it is about more than friendship. We are brothers and sisters with those who are in Christ, children of God together; we are family of God in heaven who is big enough to handle our troubles, our doubts, our tantrums and outbursts.
So now the question for today becomes what does this all tell us about how to live together as the beloved brothers and sisters of Christ.
We are brothers and sisters of all of God’s children in the world, not just of citizens of the United States, not just one color, race or political persuasion. We are brothers and sisters of all of God’s children in the world, not just the well-to-do, not just the well-educated, not just those with whom we agree. And what does God’s word require of us? To “act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [y]our God.
The Table around which we are about to gather is the Lord’s Table. It is not my table. It is not North Kent’s table, nor even is it the table of the Presbyterian church. It is the Lord’s Table. Christ is the one who determines the guest list. He invites all who trust in him to come to the Table, to remember who he is and what he has done for us, and what he expects of us in return - to “act justly towards all of God’s children, and to love mercy, forgiving others as God in Christ has forgiven us, and to walk humbly with [y]our God each and every day.