Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Know God - Job 41:25

By reason of breakings
they purify themselves.
Job 41:25
Stick with me for an extra minute or two today. I think you'll like this!
I pull verses from a number of places. Some touch my heart immediately. Others -- like today's -- are a complete mystery! Here's was my process in trying to figure this verse out ...
First, other translations weren't much help. Combining different versions, they read ...
1) At the crashing, thrashing, consternation, and/or breaking ...
2) some group of people -- identified as either broken down, afraid ... or ... the strong, the mighty, other gods, or angels --
3) retreat, cower, run away, stand there perplexed, are beside themselves, keep themselves free, and/or purify themselves.
Let's try a little more context ...
In perhaps the oldest book in scripture, Job's life has been turned upside-down by tragedy. Job and his friends keep asking God questions -- mainly, "WHY?!" Instead of answering directly, God asks Job a series of questions. Chapter 41 is one of God's final questions.
In this question God talks about a beast that is mightier than man -- some translations call him Leviathan (a mythical sea creature), others envision him as a real creature (we'll use the New Living Translation's crocodile) -- and the chapter goes essentially like this (today's verse -- in this and other translations -- in bold) ...
1 [THE LORD SAY,] "Can you catch a crocodile with a hook or put a noose around its jaw? 3 Will it beg you for mercy or implore you for pity?
4 Will it agree to work for you? Can you make it be your slave for life? 5 Can you make it a pet like a bird, or give it to your little girls to play with?
7 Will its hide be hurt by darts, or its head by a harpoon? 8 If you lay a hand on it, you will never forget the battle that follows ...!
10 And since no one dares to disturb the crocodile, who would dare to stand up to Me?
12 "I want to emphasize the tremendous strength in the crocodile's limbs ... 13 [And] who can ... penetrate its double layer of armor -- [called it's] hide? 14 [And] who could pry open its jaws? 18 "When it sneezes, it flashes light! 21 Its breath would kindle coals. 24 Its heart is as hard as rock. 25 When it rises, the mighty are afraid, gripped by terror. [Indeed, the mighty -- even gods and angels -- cower before its tail-thrashing turbulence.] 34 Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts."
But ... says (or implies) God, I am king of the king of beasts. If you won't confront a crocodile (much less a sea monster), would you actually dare to confront me? Indeed, "11 Who will confront me and remain safe ? Everything under heaven is mine."
And Job responds, "42:6 [Oops.] I take back everything I said. 2 I know you can do anything. 6 I [will just] sit [here now] in dust and ashes to show my repentance."
Because our God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, we try to tame him like a basset hound puppy in a nickle pet store. But in so doing, we make our God much too small. He is mightier -- by far -- than a mortal crocodile. He is God. He doesn't submit to our human interpretations of justice. He is Justice. He is Truth. He is Love. He is God. 
God's message to Job is: Even if you don't understand, just bow before me. Just trust.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who loved to watch The Crocodile Hunter
(you always wondered how that guy didn't get killed
... and then he did get killed.
I want a God who is stronger than the crocodile
... and stronger than death.)

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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