Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A stream of nonsense

I'm presently preparing a course on the "Wisdom Books" (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs).

True wisdom humbles us. And the Wisdom Books humble Bible college teachers with a sequence of apparently impenetrable mysteries!

Here's one thought from Job. The structure of Job is crucial. We are let in on the secret at the beginning. Job suffers because he is to be a test case for the power of true faith and true religion. There is a contest in the heavenly courts. Job, on earth, is the focus to prove who is right - are Satan's accusations true? Or will God's people love him regardless of what it costs them?

When we read Job, we know that that is the true meaning of Job's sufferings. But Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, have no idea. They had no such revelation before they entered it all.

There then ensues page after page of back-and-forth philosophical discussion between those four on the meaning and reason for Job's sufferings. And none of them even gets close. It's a stream of nonsense. A lot of talk which gets quite heated - accusations fly back and forth. But all, as the reader who began at chapters one knows, garbage.

And therein lies today's lesson. There's a lot of talk in the world. We get quite worked up as we pursue the arguments. But when we talk about matters that we do not know about, especially unseen spiritual matters, the likelihood is that it's absolute nonsense from start to finish. The truth, were it known, would expose our bold exclamations as laughable folly.

The Bible gives us light, and on matters where it reveals truth, we should hold it fast and not let a single letter fall. But otherwise, it's quite wise to just shut up (Proverbs 17:28).

God's answer to Job's questions is also enlightening in this regard. Neither does God tell Job why he is suffering. Rather, he shows him that he is not only ignorant of this, but very many other things too. Man thinks he's cornered almost all knowledge now. God, rather than explaining to him the supposed last piece of the jigsaw, instead shows him that he's missing virtually all the other pieces too. I personally find that quite refreshing as I read. Why, God? Why is it like this? Why can't I understand any of it? Well will I understand? Answer: that's not the only thing you can't understand, my son - there's a million other things besides, and then some. So in this, as in every other thing, just trust me, because I know it best.

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