Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity.
Job 40:1-42:17 The Lord reminds Job, "I am powerful, I have created the order by which all elements, animals, and people live. I am the giver of all, the One who knows all. Can any human do what I do."
Job replies, "I know you can do everything, that nothing is impossible for you. Hear me now."
What Job wishes for the Lord to hear is "I thought I knew you, but I lacked knowledge. Now that I see you clearly, I recant and repent."
After this comment by Job, the Lord will say to Eliphaz "I'm angry with you and your friends who have not spoken the truth about me as did Job."
The test is over. Job is returned to his life as it had been.
When Job emerges from his tragedy, he able to pray for his friends--I presume this means the ones who had been badgering him and trying to correct him throughout the book.
He died old--at 140, twice the length of what was expected in Psalm 90:10.
Many commentators think that this section was added by a different source from most of the book of Job. These verses seem to be a reaffirmation of the Deuteronomic theory of blessings as rewards for right behavior in contrast to verses 1-6 in this chapter.
Modern commentators try to reconcile both understandings by saying that whichever we hold, that God is present in our bad times and our good. We may make bad choices or bad things may happen despite our good ones, but God is still with us. And, our recognition of God's presence can help us through our difficult times.
Aside: Allen & Williamson in Preaching the Old Testament remind us that Job 42:6 is difficult to interpret:
Some scholars think that Job recognizes that both the Deuteronomic viewpoint on blessing and curse (represented in the book of Job by the friends) and Job's persistent demands to understand this notion in another framework of meaning comes up short. Having been addressed directly by the awesome God, Job recognizes that chaos is innately a part of creation and neither chaos nor prosperity can be neatly explained. While chaos is powerful, God's speeches in chapters 38 through 41 assure Job that it will not destroy the patterns of life through which God supports the world.2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Paul tells us: At one time, we viewed Christ from a human point of view. We now know better. His death changed what we knew about him, and it changes what we know about ourselves and each other. We don't live just for ourselves; we live for him who died and was raised--raised for all.
Paul is telling us about a great do-over:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!At the beginning of chapter 5, Paul contrasts the earthly tent we live in with the building we have from God, an eternal heavenly dwelling. He then shifts terminology from tent to body. While we are in living in this body, we are not in the home we will have with God. Paul asserts that we need to think ahead while we are still in this body because we will be judged by Christ and receive recompense.
God has acted. God promises to act: Christians look forward to the coming of Christ. Christians have been changed by the coming of Christ.
Paul, as usual, moves from the each to the all. "Since everyone is to be judged, we need to persuade everybody," he argues. "Everything we do is for you. Everything we do is because of the love of Christ. Christ died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them."
Paul himself had once viewed the followers of Jesus as troublemakers. He had tried to stop them until he himself was stopped by the risen Christ. Paul now sees everyone not just in the flesh but as a new creation.
Everything is new. God took action, reconciling us to God and also giving us the ministry of reconciliation.
Reconciliation--getting things back to the way they should have been before we disrupted them.
Reconciliation implies that we weren't always right and that other people didn't always do right to us. You don't need forgiveness if you have never sinned. But we did. And they did. And God reconciled the world through Christ, that is God forgave our trespasses. And didn't stop with our forgiveness. God entrusted the message of reconciliation to us.
Paul wrote to those fractious Corinthians, "In Christ, there is a new creation." They can start over. And this time they can do it right. At the first creation, God pronounced each part good.
And while it started off good, our human ancestors did mess up quite a bit.
But, remember, "In Christ, there is a new creation."
Paul goes on to tell them--and through them, us--what our assigned task in this new creation is to be. We are ambassadors for Christ. Ambassadors--we travel, reach out, communicate. God appeal is made through us--in our travel, reaching out, and communicating, we are charged with transmission of what God wants them to know.
Paul had explained the meaning to the Corinthians, and now they were to live it out so others would also know it.
Since the first creations, humans had given in to sin. Now, it's time to defeat it.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Note: We are not being called to be self-righteous but rather to be part of and communicators of God's righteousness.
Although this psalm is directed to a bride who is marrying the king, we can read it as being directed to any bride, "Forget your people and your father's house." That is, we can read it that way, but it's really hard today to imagine that any bride should be asked to break off any family contact and instead submit to her husband's authority--even if the exchange would result in lots of gifts and extravagant clothes.
I find more palatable the interpretation that God calls people to leave the comfortable and familiar to go to the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Think of foreign missions, but don't restrict mission work to other countries. After all, there's plenty of unfamiliar places within easy driving distance of where we go to church--or, pretty likely, within walking distance.
I'm looking at verse 16 now, "In the place of ancestors, you ... shall have sons..." In the church we attend, we may hear, or say, "That's not the way we do it." Yet, it may be time to rethink the way we are used to and consider whether a new way might suit God better.
Aside: Why do Americans need a prayer addressed to a king? I suppose Christians can overcome any problem with this verse by thinking that the ancient psalmist was anticipating the birth of Christ the King. In any case, the king is this psalm has important characteristics that all persons in power should attempt to emulate: love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness.
The mouth of a loose woman is a pit;
he with whom the Lord is angry falls into it.
Prayer for Today: God, remind us that you travel with us when we leave the comfortable and the familiar to try new places and to meet new people. Remind us of the ways you intend for us to behave in any place, familiar or unfamiliar. Amen.