TODAY’S READING: Job 29–31
Job, battling against the prevailing wisdom of his time and his own fears, has inklings that there must be more. He frets about the passing of time. The inexorable march toward death scares him as it does so many of us who claim we believe in eternal life. More terrifyingly, life as it continues is becoming more troublesome and difficult, and Job pines for the good old days: “Just as I was in the days of my prime, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent” (Job 29:4).
Not only does later life involve more pain and suffering, for Job it also involved taunting and mocking (30:9). There is the certainty that death approaches [“For I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.” (v. 23)] and the terrified uncertainty of what that means [“For destruction from God is a terror to me, and because of His magnificence I cannot endure.” (31:23)]. Almost plaintively, Job lists all that he has done right, starting with making a covenant with his eyes (v. 1), and includes a litany of other right acts he has performed. Again, we see a searching longing for more than what is offered.
And there is. The gospel always offers more. Jesus always offers us more.
The different fears and hopes of different cultures help us appreciate the full gospel. Because Greek and Roman tradition is so influential in Western thinking and theology, those from the West tend to focus on the forensic view of the gospel: We were guilty, and Jesus declared us innocent. Those from Africa, Asia, and Latin America who deal daily with destructive demons appreciate the power dimension of the gospel: Fear bound us, and Jesus gives us power over Satan. Those from cultures like Job (i.e. Semitic cultures) are thankful for the relational components of the gospel: Shame ostracized us, and Jesus gives us honor.
Job’s words are at an end, but God’s words are just beginning. When we come to the end of ourselves and when guilt, fear, and shame overcome us, we stand with Job at the mere edges of God’s grace. There is more, impossibly more, than we could ask or think. Let us sally forth from that discovery to the gates of hell and proclaim the good news globally—innocence for guilt, power for fear, and honor for shame.