DayBreaks for 6/04/19: In the Beginning
From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:
Do you know which book of the Bible is widely considered to be the oldest? You might be tempted to think it is Genesis, because it deals with beginnings…and next to John chapter 1, it takes us back to the oldest events that ever took place in the time and space of this world. But that doesn’t mean it was the first of the books which was written. Moses wrote Genesis, and Moses lived somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 B.C.
In answer to my earlier question, most scholars (I do not count myself as such, so I’ll take their word for it!) believe that the book of Job is the oldest book we have in Scripture. No one really knows for sure how old the book is, or when or where Job lived, although guesses on all three accounts have been ventured. But there is generally unanimous agreement – there is no older book in Scripture.
What’s the big deal about that? In and of itself, nothing. But when one considers the subject matter of the book, it becomes rich with meaning. In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted: “It is fascinating to think that as we open this text we may be faced with the earliest of all written accounts of a human being’s relationship with Yahweh, the one true God.” I would hasten to add to Mason’s comment by noting that it is intriguing that it deals with pain and suffering the believer faces in his/her relationship with God.
In the beginning (in the sense of being the oldest book in Scripture), we see a man of like passions unto us – and we can immediately identify with him. He’s a man who works, has a family, a home, friends – and who faces struggles and disasters on a scale that perhaps (hopefully) none of us will ever experience. We get to watch this ancient saint wrestle with his faith, his friend’s understandings of God and causation, and even with God Himself.
Mason also noted: “Many reject Jesus, but no one rejects Job. Rather, the world respects Job, and not with the grudging respect accorded Christ, but with a deep affinity untinged by reserve or fear. In the eyes of the world Job is less a saint than a comrade in arms.”
I accept Jesus as the Lord, but I struggle to understand him. It is, in some ways, difficult to identify closely with a sinless God in human skin. But Job? Now that’s another story…I can identify with him much more easily.
What should we make of all this? For me, it says that I need to live my life as an open book, revealing myself not as a prince on a white horse, but as a battered and bruised human. When I do that, I can point others to God because they will first of all be able to identify with me. If we as Christians portray ourselves as “holier than thou” and better than others, will people identify with us? No. They will resent us. This is perhaps the greatest danger of hypocrisy – that others won’t be able to identify with us, and through hearing about what Jesus has done to remove our sin and guilt (though we are still masters at sinning!), they won’t give us the time of day.
So the earliest book deals with pain and suffering and relationship to God. How fascinating that the newest book in Scripture (Revelation) deals with the removal of all that suffering – but with an even deeper relationship to God, all accomplished through the blood of Jesus!
Prayer: While we thank You for Jesus and what You have revealed of Yourself through Him, I also thank You for stories of sinners like me, who find even in the midst of the greatest struggles in life, that a relationship with You is not only possible, but is the only thing that survives in the end. Help us be open books to those around us, that people may read of Jesus in our lives and deeds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>