Alongside studying the Bible with the help of the NIV Application Commentary series - a very fine help to understanding the Bible, divided up for sustainable everyday use - I'm also reading the Bible through in the year which I've done before. Really good discipline, I think, not least in understanding one part of the Bible in terms of another - so the book fo Romans, which is where I am at the moment, draws heavily from Old Testament themes and quotations.
So, just about to get to the book of Job. Basic synopsis: Job is a God fearing and wealthy man with a large family. At the prompting of Satan, his wealth, health and family are taken away. A group of friends come to join him, arguing that his turn of fortune must relate to some wickedness he has committed. God intervenes directly at the end to establish His sovereignty, that good can come out of suffering and this is not necessarily a sign of God's displeasure.
So, a number of important theological points emerge. Also, this is a jolly good case study in pastoral care: on arrival at Job's home to support him, the friends simply sat with him for seven days and nights. Fair enough, it was Job who spoke first, but one might consider that it was less than wise for the friends to try to impose their worldview on Job in the midst of him suffering, however sure they might have been in the correctness of their position.
So far so good. So, why is it that I'm facing up to reading the book with a sense of weary resignation? With all the enthusiasm I have going to the dentist knowing that teeth are about to be pulled out? Because of the sheer length of the book, that's why. Job stretches over 42 chapters, 36 of which are given over to endless speeches by Job and his friends. Reading the Bible through the year - bit of Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day - means about 2 chapters from the Old Testament each day, so this is 21 days, or 3 weeks - 3 weeks!!!! - to get through it!
I'm sure I'm missing something here, but I'm hard pressed to see what it is. I think I need to bite the bullet at some stage and go through Job as I've been going through other books in the Bible, then I might appreciate hidden depths which would not be there if the whole book were summarised to about 6 chapters, which as things stand at the moment would seem to make sense. But not just yet, Joshua is next on the list, then I want to consider Luke and Acts one straight after the other. Is this 'unpleasant task evasion'? Yes, probably.
Any thoughts on this matter gratefully received, particularly any fans of Job who think the 42 chapters are justified please do contribute. I'd love to change my mind on this matter, I really would!
Anyway, pleased to say that Wendy - who wrote this blog post - and Daniel are due to join me this coming Saturday, day here, then brief holiday in Zanzibar before they return to the UK. So I'm sure that this visit will give rise to some good blog material! Also, I'm looking to have an 'at home' - ie. drop round some time between 11am and 5pm. for coffee / snack lunch / tea - on Saturday August 8th in honour of the passing of my first half century. If you're reading this and would like to come, very welcome, let me know and I'll give you directions. Meanwhile, thank you for reading, will be back again soon!