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Scottish Community Centre

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Vancouver, BC

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What is God Really Like? Job 15-21
Written by John Tsang   
Sunday, 22 May 2016 19:04


In the second cycle of speeches (Job 15-21), Job’s three friends are far from done with him so they begin again in the same order, this time with increased energy and with ratcheted intensity. Job’s friends are holding on to their view that suffering comes to the wicked. Job, on the other hand, is adamant that he is innocent. In this second cycle we think about the substance of their arguments. What is God really like? Is God punitive? Does God really punish the wicked and reward the faithful? If God does punish the wicked, why does it appear that He gives it out to some and not others? Is God the direct cause of Job’s suffering? Are Job’s friends’ portrayal of God right? Is Job’s portrayal of God right? Or, are they both wrong?


There is a caricature (especially by those who are militant atheist) that the God of the Christian faith is constantly looking for those who violate His laws so that He can punish them. This alone is enough for certain people to want nothing to do with a God like that. Quite frankly, neither do I! The God I believe in and revealed in Scripture is not like that at all. God is not punitive; He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:8-10). The God of Holy Scripture is not looking for every mistake that I commit knowingly or unknowingly so that he can have the satisfaction of punishing me.


Last Updated on Sunday, 22 May 2016 19:21
Counsel that only Satisfies the Counselor – Job 4-14
Written by John Tsang   
Monday, 16 May 2016 19:28


After Job's raw, primal, and passionate lament in chapter 3, we enter into the first of three cycles of speeches between Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Job.


Eliphaz began his counsel in a way that I might have, he asked for an opportunity to speak and requested Job's patience. Then Eliphaz appealed to Job's own words of strength and support that he gave to those who went through similar troubled times (4:3-6). Eliphaz was rather astute and it was a sincere gentle opening remark. Then Eliphaz's second assertion was an application of Retribution Theology - the view that God rewards those who follow His ways and punish those who do not. "Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? Those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it." (4:7-8) In other words, Job, what you are experiencing is brought on by your own actions. But we, the reader, know that this is not true from the opening chapters. God permitted the accuser to cause havoc in Job's life, his plight was not a result of any intentional sinful lifestyle or act on Job’s part.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 08:59
When the Silence of Suffering is Shattered – Job 3:1-26
Written by John Tsang   
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 21:10


After the opening chapters of Job, we enter into the long middle section of the book which consists of three cycles of speeches between Job and his three friends. We will not hear from God until the end (Chpt 38-41). In this middle portion, God is present, observing, waiting, listening, and hoping. It appears that God is not in a hurry to rush in and save Job from his suffering. So we are invited into Job's pain, darkness, and loneliness. First there were the seven days of silence as a result of the shock, disbelief, and denial. Days of realizing that a tragedy has struck in which time stands still, the mind wanders all over the place, and words cannot keep up with the tornado of thoughts. Silence is the only thing adequate.


Then comes the breaking of that silence in chapter 3. Job opened his mouth and his words were marked with anger, lament, and complaint; much like the tone of Lament or Imprecatory Psalms. Job cursed the day that he was born and he cursed the day that he was conceived (Job 3:3-4). Jeremiah must have had access to the book of Job or vice versa. The prophet, in similar words said:

14 Cursed be the day I was born!

May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!

15 Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,

who made him very glad, saying,

“A child is born to you—a son!” (Jer 24:14-15)


Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 21:18
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