Faith & Grace Alone: Job & the New Perspective on Paul| Job 9


job-silohette

How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
Though I am innocent, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
Job 9.14-15

Job says he is innocent, but he says he still needs mercy. What does this mean? Perhaps he does see not people in the simplistic way that we often do–or at least as simplistic as we see the ancient Israelites.

Just like in the Christian scheme, I’m starting to think that the ancient Israelites also thought that people were considered righteous only on account of graciously being in covenant with God. All the sacrifices, festivals, laws, etc. were more as signs that they were the people of God; they were not how people became part of that group in the first place. In other words, the sacrifices and laws were outward displays that they were fully righteous before God’s eyes; they weren’t the ways that they “earned” righteousness or forgiveness.
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#Marginalia Weekly Round-Up #6 [Catch-Up]


After a long break, we’re back with this part of the site. Here’s a little catch up list of where we’ve been since we last posted about this.

Marginalia is a section of this blog dedicated to (mostly) short reflections, meditations, questions, and difficulties I have while going through my Bible reading plan. I’m still trying to figure out the best pace at which to post these, so be patient with me. To aid in helping people engage with these posts, every weekend I post a round-up of all of Marginalia posts that appeared during that week. This list is in biblical canonical order.

Job

Job, God, & Satan (Can I get some help from the scholar’s out there?)| Job 1.6-7
God, Social Justice, & Social Welfare | Job 5.15-16
Fragments from a speech by Job| Selections of Job 6 & 7
Job’s Friends are Right! Job’s Friends are Wrong.| Job 8.5-7,20-22
In a sense, God CAN’T favor the righteous| Job 9.1-4

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In a sense, God CAN’T favor the righteous| Job 9.1-4


Then Job answered:

“Indeed I know that this is so;
but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength
—who has resisted him, and succeeded?—
Job 9.1-4

It seems here that Job is no longer clinging to his earlier idea that he is indeed righteous and pure. Instead, he is admitting that his friend is correct: he is sinful and has done wrong things. But, he also points out that God is not a God that would insist that every single little sin and wrong-doing be brought to mind and confessed before relating favorably towards someone.

Job is saying that people are too sinful for God to structure the world in such a way that the righteous are related to in one way and the wicked in another, because everyone belongs fully in that latter camp. There can only be two sets of rules if there are two teams playing the game.

He is in effect saying what Paul says in Romans 3, that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, therefore there is no distinction among people. Ironically, then, Job’s defense here is not necessarily the he is righteous, but rather that he is far too messed up for his friends’ version of reality to be right.

Also of note, the rest of this chapter is more or less Job proclaiming the very things that God uses to rebuke him at the end of the book. Job really does seem to know this stuff.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Job’s Friends are Right! Job’s Friends are Wrong.| Job 8.5-7,20-22


If you will seek God
and make supplication to the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright,
surely then he will rouse himself for you
and restore to you your rightful place.
Though your beginning was small,
your latter days will be very great.
Job 8:5-7

We mock Job’s friends, but what this guy says here is exactly what happens at the end of the book! Its practical, prophetic, and foreshadowing the end. We need to cut these guys a break.

“See, God will not reject a blameless person,
nor take the hand of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”
Job 8.20-22

Okay, though I defended this guy earlier, this here is BS.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God, Social Justice, & Social Welfare | Job 5.15-16


But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth,
from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.

Job 5:15–16

I want to take this to all of my conservative friends. They are right that much of the life circumstances of the poor are often from the “sword” coming from their own mouth. But we also see here that their lot is not only attributed to “the sword of their mouth”, but also “the hand of the mighty”. And either way, regardless of the cause of their situation (and its persistence), the people of God are called to follow God’s lead in a commitment to pursue their freedom from these types of bondage–both within them and without. The good news is that this not only gives them hope, but it also shuts the mouth of injustice itself.

And this doesn’t seem to just be in individual ways, but even in systemic ones. Does it not follow, then, that Christian can (should?) in good conscience see their role as political beings as a means by which to accomplish these systemic ends? Perhaps it’s not just for individual Christians and Churches to “serve the poor”, but Christians utilizing political capital to mobilize government resources to follow God’s lead? Just asking.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Fragments from a speech by Job| Selections of Job 6 & 7


For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
Job 6.4

What a beautiful, yet tragic series of lines.

“Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have gone wrong.
How forceful are honest words!
But your reproof, what does it reprove?
Job 6.24-25

It must not be easy to spend this time of sadness and pain, and also ask for teaching. Yes, he is asking for answers to the wrong questions. But it seems he’s still willing and wanting to listen.

“Remember that my life is a breath;
my eye will never again see good.
The eye that beholds me will see me no more;
while your eyes are upon me, I shall be gone.
As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so those who go down to Sheol do not come up;
they return no more to their houses,
nor do their places know them any more.
Job 7.7-10

Oh, if only he could know about Jesus. On another note, I wonder how this connects to his “my redeemer lives” section later on.

What are human beings, that you make so much of them,
that you set your mind on them,
visit them every morning,
test them every moment?
Job 7.7-17-18

Well that’s interesting. Almost the same lines appear in Psalm 8, except there they are words of praise and worship of God. but here, they seem more like words of accusation, complaint and lament against God.

Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.”
Job 7.7-17-18

But resurrection!

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Job, God, & Satan (Can I get some help from the scholar’s out there?)| Job 1.6-7


One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Job 1:6-7

Anyone out there know how the ancient Israelites would have received these words? I see no other parallel in the OT to something similar to this (maybe the Psalms about God’s combat with the other gods?). I find it so confusing.

The one thing I am confident of, though, is that the conflating that Christians often do with this stuff is out of line. The way that (especially Evangelicals) use these verses to set up a systematic theology of “Satan” is absurd and does damage to the texts. Also, there is no indication that this is the same entity that is the serpent in the garden, nor the “Morning Light”, nor the NT Beelzebul, nor the beast of Revelation. Heck, there’s no clear connection between this particular “Satan” and the NT “Satan”.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God & Job | Job 2.11-13


Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Job 2.11-13

We speak so harshly and sarcastically about these friends. But they really are amazing. And though their view is flawed, they represent the views on suffering that are still most common today. And they are sincerely felt and sincerely held. They are genuinely offering Job what they genuinely feel is the issue. They are being human. But right here, this is amazing. Who of us would do the same thing? As I’ve continued through the book, I’m seeing that we’ve greatly oversimplified and wrongly characterized the “advice” they give Job. Hopefully, in the days to come, we can explore this more through #Marginalia.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God & Job | Job 1.8


The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.”

Job 1.8

We so often forget that this whole thing was God’s idea, and he initiated it. He is the first one to drop Job’s name and suggest this scheme to Satan.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Worship of Job; the Blame of God | Job 1.20-22


Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and theLord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

Job 1.20-22

I mentioned this verse earlier in my post on a theology of angels. It’s one of the most concentrated, powerful, packed lines of Scripture in the Bible. Job suffers and he worships. He ascribes to God the actions of Satan and the text explicitly says he does not sin in doing so. He fully inhabits his mourning and it is sincere and it is real. And yet, just as sincere as is his mourning, his worship is as well.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Today, I’m leaving my job. Monday, a new one begins.


paul-city-bwWhen this is post goes live, I will probably be sitting in my near-empty cubicle at work, furiously trying to finish up the last bits of paperwork that has so consumed the past year and half of my conscious thoughts. Today is my last day of this job.

Back in 2011, I wrote about me getting this new job as a case manager (a.k.a. “social worker”–in Pennsylvania, you can’t call yourself a social worker unless you have a degree in it). It’s been an amazing experience, with some of the most knowledgeable and supportive supervisors and co-workers I’ve ever had the privilege of being around.
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I’ve got a new job in Philadelphia


In May 2009, I decided to drop out of seminary (for many reasons). Then employment drama ensued. I got a job, couldn’t start the job, then got a part-time position at the company, and then was finally able to move into the full-time spot I was originally hired for.

And it’s been wonderful. Over the past year and half, I was able to love my caseload of people and take them from broken and with nothing to on the path towards healing and recovery. I actually got to see change and growth up close–and it changed me.

But, it’s time to move on. As I’ve been praying for for a while, I recently got offered a job that is walking distance from my house. I finally get to realize my desire to not only live and spend my money in the city, but also to earn my money and serve the residents there as well.
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I’ve got a REAL real job.


Many of the long-time readers of this blog have been able to follow the drama that was my post-seminary job situation (I had a job, then I didn’t, then I sort of did). But, as most of my Facebook friends now know, as of Wednesday I finally was able to move into the full-time spot at my work that I was originally hired for about 9 months ago. Hindrances both internal to the company and external led to me only having the part-time evening weekend position at the company. Until now. Now I am officially a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor.

The position is at this amazing company called Project Transition. It is a community-based recovery program for people with moderate to severe mental health and substance abuse issues.

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For those wondering how my job is going . . .


unemployment. . . well, it’s not.

In May, I wrote about my journey in looking for a job.A month and half later(ish) I wrote of having found a job.My start date was July 1st.

But July 1st was the appointed day for another reason: it was the official first day of a new fiscal year for many companies, churches, and governments (federal, state, and local), therefore, of course, it was the day that new 2009 budgets went into effect all across the country.

Well, at least, when those budgets were supposed to go into effect.

The State of Pennsylvania is embroiled in an ever-increasingly heated battle over its State Budget that was supposed to be done and go in effect July 1st.The company I got my job with gets most of its money from the State Health Department, so this poses a problem for them, seeing as the State Health Department has no 2009 money allocated to them by an effective budget to give to my company any money to hire me – so they’re under a hiring freeze.Did that all make sense?

So, in short, I’ve been waiting for over a month for Pennsylvania to pass its own budget, after which I can start my job.Assuming of course that my usual luck doesn’t come into play and my job decides to drop me for some reason.I don’t know.Pray this doesn’t happen.It seems the budget problem is this: there’s a huge gap in the budget between income and expenses.So they either need to get more money or make more cuts.The Governor has suggested a very small increase to the income tax to cover this, but Republicans have cried foul.Democrats have said they’re not “wedded” to the idea of a tax increase and are open to any ideas, but Republicans have been both unable to suggest any new ideas and unwilling to make any cuts in their various localities, insisting further cuts happen at the State level.So, tax increases are being forbidden, no new ideas being brought forth, no new cuts being suggested, and no one willing to budge.Therefore, I have a job, but don’t – all at the same time.

It’s an excellent object lesson in the angst and tension in the Biblical idea of things “already being accomplished, but not yet fully realized”.By the way, last Friday was the last day State employees were actually getting paid.now they’re getting I.O.U.’sUgh.

I am trying to find odd jobs to hold me over, but may be looking for a more stable job here shortly, and eventually if I need to, I may look somewhere else entirely for a “real” job (any ideas or possible work is more than appreciated).I hope I don’t have to move on, for as I have said, this job is my dream position, but if I need to, I need to.

God certainly deals with us strangely, confusingly, and mercifully. So much opportunity in this time of “unemployment” to draw near to my God and serve are currently being wasted day to day due to my inherent lack of discipline. He really desires more of me in this time, and I fear I haven’t taken advantage of these moments to learn my neediness and His presence.Pray I learn these lessons well in the “already but not yet”.

And pray that Pennsylvania passes a flippin’ budget already (and that I still have a job waiting for me when they do)!

The Big News II (I’m not leaving Philly, it seems)


I, Paul Burkhart, now have a real job.

Like, a real real one.

Yesterday, I was accepted for a position at a program called Project Transition as a “Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor” (assuming that my background checks clear, of course. Until then, I can’t actually say I’m “hired” per se, I’m still a “candidate”). In short, this is my dream job. I will have a case load of about 5 individuals recovering from various mental disorders who I will pour into their lives trying to help them reintegrate into society. I will teach classes to everyone in the program on various parts of living life healthily. I will be doing assessments and creating treatment plans for my case load. The people I will work with seem amazing. Benefits kick in after only a month. It’s really good pay (at least for an entry level job). I will even have my own office space (and desk!).

The philosophy of the organization is right in line with mine: that people are not defined by their disease. They are fundamentally healthy individuals struggling with a disorder, rather than the view that would treat them as primarily disordered individuals struggling for health. It was so exciting sitting there as they told me everything about the organization. That reminds me, the interview itself was strange too. It was one of those weird circumstances that seems to surreal and – for lack of a better word – supernatural. In the entire interview I didn’t say more than a couple of sentences. They didn’t really ask me many questions. It was more like “hey, this is who we are. Wanna join us?”. It was so strange. I have the weakest resume one could imagine. I have waiting tables at Applebee’s and tutoring elementary school students on there and that’s it. Hardly the resume to get someone a professional counseling job. But nevertheless, I walked in, and the founder of the organization had made one of his monthly visits to this particular site just to interview me. When I got there, everyone already knew my name and who I was. When the founder had to leave the interview early and leave me with the site coordinators, he had the secretary send down paperwork to hire me, even before the interview was actually over! (Running the risk of sounding overly charismatic or Osteen-ish) I felt like I was walking in “supernatural favor”. Or something like that.

So what does all this mean? Well firstly, even though I loved and adored my time in Richmond the past few weeks and really wanted to move back there, it seems that God has intended for me to have longer-term plans for Philly. This job really is something I’m going to want to stay at for awhile. The people I will be around, the experiences I’ll get, and the real-word education I’ll receive (all while still taking WTS counseling classes) will be invaluable to me. So I’m here to stay, it seems. This would probably have been a problem a couple months ago, but recently Philadelphia has opened up to me (specifically South Philly) and I have met so many people I really want to live life deeply with for a while longer before moving on (not to mention my biggest bromances are here and here. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you, you, and you).

So here’s to God for blessing me far more than I could ever imagine. I pray this drives me further to Him and doesn’t make me feel like I don’t need him now. Because I do. I’ve definitely been seeing that greatly the past few weeks, and this has been the first little ray of light to burst out from the haze I’ve been in.

Philly, here I stay.