July 3rd, 2008


An observation, which leads to questions which have no answer

I was reading a book last week (Skinwalkers, Tony Hillerman) and something in it gave me a strange epiphany.

There is a piece of the God of Job in the words of Jesus.

The God of Job, for those who aren't versed in Christian/Jewish theology is a difficult aspect of the divine. It's a God who, on a bet, destroys a man. Kills his cattle, destroys his home, slaughters his children; and their families just to test him.

Job wasn't some foul sinner.

Job 1:5

And it was so, when the days of feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

An upright man, who worries that his sons might be committing sins inadvertently, and makes amends on their behalf.

Job 1:9/1:11-12

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath [is] in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

And Satan (who is a loyal servant of God's, not his dire opponent: that interpretation of him comes later) goes out and kills the children, and the animals (well, to be fair, some were stolen away).

Job's response... he worships God. From this book we get that most difficult of fatalistic comforts, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh, Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

And it goes on, with Satan upping the ante, and God calling the bet, until Job is siting in the ashes of him home, afflicted with boils and flies, mourning in sackcloth.

His friends come, and they argue. Job knows God is answerable to none. He rails against the injustice of it: He doesn't blame God, per se, he merely wishes he had never been born.

When one of his friends tells him to plead his case (if he is blameless) Job (rightly) says there is no way, for the awe, and dread of God will overwhelm him. Despite this, Job does appeal to the Almighty for explanation.

And God does appear, and Job is overwhelmed. No answer does God make to the question of, "Why, what did I do" but to say,

Job 38:1-7

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Who [is] this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

And He goes on, at length of the wonder and power and majesty and ineffable nature of Himself.

Which is the only answer Job gets. A more poetic form of, "I am that I am."

We are taught the God of the New Testament, of the Covenant of the Cross is better than this, that he is all loving, and forgiving.

Which brings me to my epiphany... the one which set me, as I ate my breakfast repeating a passage of the Lord's Prayer to myself; said to be the very words of Jesus, and wondering at "and lead us not into temptation."

Think on that sentence for a moment. Just by itself, forget the rest of the prayer which surrounds it. Ponder what it says about God.

Because it's not, "Keep us from", nor is it, "Strengthen us against." No it asks God to refrain from actively leading us into it.

Lead us not into temptation.

So many questions arise from that phrase.

Lead us not into temptation.