The Second Chapter of Job
One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 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.” 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. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish person would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
October 7, 2018
United Parish of Auburndale
A Reflection on the Second Chapter of Job
This week we sense something of the loathsome sores inflicted on Job by those in authority over him. I am reminded of a statement shared by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, citing Sarah Grimke, when she said “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” The foot of the devil is on Job’s neck. The foot of patriarchy remains on the neck of women. The rejection of Dr, Ford’s claims of assault by Judge Kavanaugh followed by mockery from our president and then betrayal by those senators who had the power to at least tend the loathsome wounds is appalling and disheartening. BUT, we do not loose heart! God is larger than one little devilish story. The Spirit of the God I know leads all people to freedom! So what can we do now?
This week Republican Senator Lisa Markowski voted against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an Associate Supreme Court Justice. A tremendous risk. She told reporters,
“I think we are at a place where we need to begin to think about the credibility and integrity of our institutions.”
What is integrity?
The Hebrew word “tummah” in the second chapter of Job is rendered “integrity” in English. It comes from “tome” which means “whole.” So to have integrity is to remain whole, undivided. Even though Job’s circumstances deteriorate, he remains whole. Even though Job’s outlook is grim, he is undivided. Job rejects situational ethics announcing “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God and not receive the bad?”
Are we fair-weather friends with God?
Are we fair-weather faithful, praising when things go well and cursing when they do not?
Do we abandon principles when it is expedient to do so? Let us ask Senator Susan Collins or Senator John Manchin who approved Judge Kavanaugh.
This week on my commute, traffic slowed to a crawl and I noticed a woman running along the right-hand, brake-down lane of highway 128. She eventually crossed over to the left hand lane a short distance in front of me and dropped to her knees, looking under a car. Had she lost something valuable? My car inched closer and I could see some mass underneath the car, perhaps the size of a kitchen garbage bag…or a dog. Her urgency suggested it was an animal as she summoned the car to stop in front of me. If this had happened in front of you, what would you have done?
- You might have gotten out to help her IF you did not have another pressing engagement.
- You might have gotten out of your car on the highway IF you could overcome your fear of getting hit or scolded by passing traffic.
- You might have gotten out to help IF there were kids of grandchildren in the car who might appreciate the life-lesson about caring for others.
A person of integrity is consistent. If she values life, she always runs to give aid, no matter the consequences. Tummah: Wholeness. Integrity.
A Jordan’s Furniture store commercial promotes this new fabric “Sunbrella.” It resists stain and fade.
The spokesperson moves a radish into plain view and then lowers a shiny chef’s knife across the red root. It is red on the surface but white on the inside. Then he slides over a carrot. He slices it. Orange all the way through. I guess the point is that Sunbrella fabric resists stain and fade because the color runs so deep, from the edge to the center.
The knife falls, revealing the carrot’s character.
The knife falls on Job, revealing his integrity.
The knife has fallen on members of the U.S. senate, revealing their character, their integrity.
Maybe this knife has fallen on us as well. What are we learning about the depth of our commitment? What does all of this reveal about our own natures which we might want to improve? Jesus once argued that some religious people love to talk about morality and ethics, but look closely at their lives. They are like tombs—beautiful on the outside but filthy on the inside. Radishes. His point, of course, was that a little bit of effort and a lot of faith might bring the outside and the inside into alignment. Carrot.
Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “I believe Judge Kavanaugh is a good man, but in my conscience, because that is how I have to vote, I could not conclude that he is the right man for this position at this time.”
Indeed THAT is exactly how we must vote, with conscience. That is how we must speak and act, not fearful of what people will think of us, but with integrity, from our God-given, grace-filled core.
I can’t say with confidence that the Lord and Satan are actually conspiring with a chef’s knife, hacking away at our lives to test our integrity. But I will say with more certainty that the strength that resides within Lisa Murkowski also resides within you. It was in Jesus, or he would never have allowed his life to be taken. It was in Jesus, and it was in Job—a character meant to show us how to live with conscience. With integrity. Whole.