You Don’t Understand. I Don’t Understand
As you have become aware already, Job Chapters 4-27 contain three rounds of speeches, disputes or dialogues between Job and his three ‘friends’. Our two chapters today are part of the second round of these exchanges.
In the preceding chapter (15), Eliphaz accuses Job, first of condemning himself in his words (vv. 1-6), then of deluding himself (vv. 7-11), then that he is condemned before God (vv. 12-16), and finally he instructs him about the end of evil people (vv.17-35). Chapters 16 and 17 are Job’s reply to these accusations.
Commentators have observed that there are two major points of interest in the Book of Job. One is expressed by the Satan in 1:9-11: “Does someone love God for who He is or merely because of the benefits someone gets from Him?” The other is, “Where is real wisdom to be found and will a mere human being with limited capacities and insights be prepared to trust God when he or she cannot understand what is happening in their life?”
In these two chapters Job responds to Eliphaz by acknowledging that God is the One responsible for his afflictions but that he cannot understand why his circumstances are as they are. He maintains his innocence therefore his only hope lies in a heavenly advocate who will speak for him in the presence of God (16:18-21). In 17:11-16 he confesses that because he can see no sign that he will be vindicated his hope is hardly any sort of hope at all.
This is the painful struggle of a good man who cannot understand why bad things are happening to him. He is not aware of the scene described in Chapters 1 and 2. We who know what lies behind the events of Job’s life want to say, “Hang on Job, there is more going on here than you understand. Trust God. It will be alright in the end.” But we cannot tell him that. He must pass through the experience and learn the purpose of God later. There is a lesson there for us.
Who Is the True Apostle and What Is the True Apostolic Message?
2 Corinthians 2
This letter is probably the fourth Paul has written to this church trying to deal with the issues that have come to be controversial for him and the believers in Corinth (see 1 Cor. 5:9, I Corinthians itself, and the reference in 2 Cor. 2:3-4 to a ‘sorrowful’ letter). This letter has as its background criticisms made of him in the church, both for the things that he has said and done or not done in Corinth, and of the general character of his ministry. These can be seen in 1 Corinthians.
The first 14 verses of Chapter 2 are part of an argument that begins at verse 12 in Chapter 1. Pauls’ change of plans was not an example of his untrustworthiness but rather an expression of his concern for them and for the progress of the Gospel amongst them.
He explains how, though there were opportunities for ministry for him in Troas, his concern for the Corinthians led him to travel into Macedonia to find Titus so as to learn about their progress. His delight in hearing Titus’ news of their response to what he had said to them can be seen in chapter 7:5-16. Though he delays until Chapter 7:5 a reference to Titus’ report he begins in 2:14 to give a moving account of the character of his apostolic ministry that runs from 2:14 through to Chapter 7:4.
His contrast of himself to the “many” in verse 17 is a reference to those who followed him to Corinth and accused him of incompetence and lack of spiritual power. His description of something like a General’s triumphant victory procession in Rome is the picture he uses to speak of the power of Jesus being expressed through someone as weak as himself. The word of the Gospel which he carries delivers those who believe and condemns those who will not. No human being is really sufficient for such a ministry but he functions as one commissioned by God and thus a living witness of the power of God in an earthen vessel.
None of us are sufficient of ourselves to be carriers of the word of life and death. However, as we make known the saving work of God in Jesus we share a message which saves or condemns.
May God help us to be faithful in our witness as Paul was.