Today’s Reading: Job 13-18
Today’s Reflection: Job 13:15
Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.
The first half of this text, in the King James Version (Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him), is one of the most quoted scriptures in my personal experience. It seems I heard it used almost every weekend at church growing up. But I’ve never heard anyone quote the FULL text, and perhaps reading it you can understand why. Perhaps you can even understand why Job’s friends were so perturbed and frustrated with him. Who are you—who is anyone, really—to argue their ways before God?
It is a good question. Isn’t this disrespectful behavior for a created being towards his creator? Isn’t demanding to be heard or demanding an explanation for one’s circumstances a challenge to God’s divine authority? How different is this to Lucifer’s challenge to God’s authority, an act which led to him becoming the adversary Satan? But consider:
Was Abraham being disrespectful to God when he challenged the threat to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33)? Abraham even went so far to say to God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
Was Moses being disrespectful when he challenged God’s decision to wipe out Israel and replace them with a new people descended from Moses? How impertinent of him to dare to remind God of the covenant He made with Abraham generations before he even lived (Exodus 32:9-14).
But God judged these men righteous in his sight, as he declared Job to be more honourable than his friends. Clearly there is a great deal of difference between disagreement and disrespect. It is possible to respect and honour God and still challenge what He is saying or doing. In fact, given the examples of Abraham and Moses here at times God seems to actually want people to challenge Him. The secret to achieving this balance is in the first half of today’s text.
“Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
Job’s starting point is I can trust God, I can believe in God, I put my hope in God, I leave my life confidently in God’s hands. Having said this, if I don’t understand what you’re doing, you’re going to hear about it. I’m going to pray about it, plead about it, poor over the scriptures about it until I hear you speak about it or see you act on it.
So very different from Lucifer, who challenged God’s authority but left respect for God behind, Job is challenging God in the context of trusting in God. And we should all be able to understand this. We’ve all had situations where an authority figure has done something we question or don’t understand. It doesn’t mean we stop respecting or trusting that person, or that we sever the relationship, but if it is a healthy relationship we can bring those questions to that person and know we’ll be heard. And ultimately if the answer isn’t what we want to hear we can continue to trust that person’s authority.
So respect isn’t just blindly accepting everything God says or does, but involves striving and struggling for understanding while never letting go of God’s guiding hand.
Genesis 32:24-28 – 24)And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25) When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26) Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27) And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28) Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”