Tag Archives: suffering

‘The Long Silence’

billions before the throneAt the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne.

Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them.  But some groups near the front talked heatedly – - not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.

 

‘Can God judge us?  How can he know about suffering?’ snapped a pert young brunette.  She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.  ’We endured terror… beatings… torture… death!’

In another group a Black man lowered his collar.  ’What about this?’ he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. ‘Lynched…for no crime but being black!’

In another crowd, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. ‘Why should I suffer’ she murmured, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’

Far out across the plain there were hundreds of such groups.  Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was to live in Heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred.  What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in their world?  For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered the most.  A Jew, a Black man, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child.  In the centre of the plain whey consulted with each other.  At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.

Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured.  Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth – - as a man!

‘Let him be born a Jew.  Let the legitimacey of his birth be doubted.  Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured.

‘At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone.  Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.’

As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.

And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No-one uttered another word.  No-one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.

Selah.

The issue of evil and suffering here on earth has puzzled humanity in every millenia of our existence.  As early as Job, with the Epicurean Paradox, and as recently as CS Lewis- questions, discussions and solutions abound, even confound. The brutal death of Jesus provides the basis and resolution for such discussion.  

The playlet above is found in a fabulous section on ‘suffering and glory’ in a lengthy classic by John R. W. Stott entitled “The Cross of Christ” an InterVarsity Press publication 1986.

B90X2012 “Servant Song #4″

The Fourth Song is the most well-known of the Servant Songs comes to us from Isaiah 52:13-53:12.  The most graphic and appalling of descriptions regarding who the servant is and what the purpose of his mission on the planet is.  The fourth song is the most elaborate and poignant of them all.  It is the zenith of Isaiah’s message and discussion about who God is and what he is about.  It is as though we forgot the message and Isaiah needed to remind us with suddenness and intrusiveness.  Almost as if he is screaming at us, “Don’t you get the picture.  Let me draw it out for you one more time.”  The irony of it all- the servant is exalted yet abused and quiet. Buried within the Song is kind of a macro view of birth to death.

Vv. 52:13- 53:1 God is speaking

Vv. 53:2-6 Israel is speaking

Vv. 53:7-12 God is speaking

Notice in this whole section who says nothing.

Servant Song #1 was a picture of a king, #2 had hints of a prophet, and in this one we have the qualifications of a priest (52:15).

In the Ancient Near East (ANE), one would cover their mouths with their hand as they approach another king.  Here is 52:15, we see that the Servant is the King of kings, all, including kings, will shut their mouths because of who this servant is!  What a picture.

I love the flow at the end of the song- The dead (9) is alive (11), the condemned (8) is righteous (11), and the helpless (7) is the victor (12)!!  That is us friends.  The whole reason for Jesus coming to the planet.  The story of redemption and presence in our lives.

B90X Jan 3, 2012 “Something about Job”

Some people don’t like Job.  Yes, its true.  I have heard them say it.  So this blog will hopefully clear up something about the complexity of the book.

Overwhelmed by suffering, Job was not comforted, but condemned by his friends.  Each of their views represents a well-known way to understand suffering.  God proves that each explanation given by Job’s friends has less than the whole answer.

First, let me say that reading through the Bible Chronologically is going to be very cool.  Already, after jumping from Genesis 11 to Job 1 there was a mercurial excitement, not the predictable sameness we are so used to when beginning the Pentateuch.

Men with profound erudition have been able to boil down the seemingly endless prolix narrative of Job.  It all just gets jumbled and pointless after awhile, so let me share a little something I came across:

The only way any of Job’s friends help is by silencing their diatribes for seven days.  Allowing Job to have plenty of time to think through his mourning and crank up the pity-party.

Eliphaz explains Job’s pain by intimating that his suffering is because he sinned. His advice to Job is to go to God and lay his cause before God (5:8).  Job retorts with demands that Eliphaz take back his accusations (6:29).  In the end, God rebukes Eliphaz (42:7).

Bildad thinks that Job is hiding his sin and won’t admit it, so Job must suffer.  He encourages Job to give up and confess (8:2).  Bildad wants Job to confront God and ask what charges God has against Job (10:2).  Like Eliphaz, God rebukes Bildad (42:7).

Zophar is the more Pharisaical, religious one, he thinks Job deserves even more suffering than he has already experienced.  He advices Job to get rid of his sins (11:13, 14).  Job stands firm and doesn’t fall into Zophar’s super-pious hubris, and knows that he will be justified (13:18).  He too is lumped with Job’s other friends who have no valuable advise (42:7).

The youngster, Elihu, is the only one who gets close to getting it right, albeit wrong.  He thinks God is using the suffering to mold and train Job.  He is just a bit off, yet instructs Job to be silent and he will be taught wisdom (33:33).  Because God doesn’t deal directly with Elihu, we are left to wonder if his analysis is correct.

In the end, we hear from God himself.  Job is confronted by God and is told to be content without knowing why he is suffering.  There is no reason given for the suffering and asks Job how long he wants to argue with the Almighty (40:2).  Job realizes he was talking about things he did  not understand (42:3-5).

Day 38 (Job 25:1-41:34)

Job cries out to God.

Good Eventide Lords and Ladies~

 Just to clear up one point of confusion– the main point to Fellowship February is to strengthen the level of community at CRBC.  The idea is to spend time with someone, couple, or family from CRBC in order to create a higher level of friendship, love, and comradery. 

 A have to confess, I got to chapter 32 of Job and completely changed my mind about the book.  I was not to keen on it early on.  Probably the bad press Job’s three friends dish out.  Job’s friend Elihu is cut from a different bolt of cloth.  Then when Ch. 38 rolled around, I felt the size of a pea.  Jeepers.  What a mighty God we serve, eh?
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