TODAY’S READING: Job 25–28
The wisdom of the day in the time of Job was pretty pessimistic concerning the ability of man to interact with or understand God. Bildad bluntly calls man a maggot and, intriguingly, “the son of man” he terms a worm (Job 25:5-6). Ancient wisdom considered life after death to be a dark and miserable watery place under the earth, which they called Sheol. In Mesopotamian understanding the deities Nergal and Ereshkigal hung the dead on butchers’ hooks. In Syria-Palestine the deity Mot was hungry to eat the living. Because there was no hope after death, long life became desirable, and the heroes (the righteous) of the Old Testament were the long-lived rich, those who experienced good things because they hung on to their integrity as long as they lived (27:6).
Into this somewhat dark picture are gleams of prophetic gospel hope. Job says: “By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways” (26:13). Looking back to Eve’s promise and looking forward to the promise of the Spirit, Job’s heart knows there is more, so much more to understand. Job does not reject the wisdom tradition entirely but seeks a more complete and nuanced application. Something in Job’s spirit wonders if God can be known and if in knowing Him, life on earth is revealed as more complex than “good things happen to the good, and bad things to the bad.”
Job wonders aloud if some things only make sense to God (28:23–24) and infers that the wisest thing we can do is trust that God is wise. Job stands on the edges of the ways of a magnificent God and concludes: “God understands [wisdom’s] way, and He knows its place…. Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (vv. 23, 28).
We all stand in a world—no matter our nation—confused about death. We are surrounded by men and women who either fear, misunderstand, or deny the afterlife. Not much has changed in the last 5,000 years. We can stand with Job, further along thanks to the cross, in understanding the ways of God, in hope. We can endure bad things because we know that in this life bad things happen to good people. We can endure unimaginable things because we know that there is a better life to come.
It is incumbent on those so enlightened to spread the good news. There are yet 7,000 unreached peoples (3.15 billion people) still deathly afraid of their Nergal, Ereshkigal, or Mot. Let’s publish the good news of a God who loves us and wants to commune with us forever. He wants a feast for us and prepares a table for us—and He has no desire to eat us.
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 925.