Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wisdom from the mouths of babes and Jesus as Mr. Clean

Day 23: Job 36, 37 & Matthew 15:1-20

Today’s scriptures continue with wisdom from the mouths of babes in Job and Mr. Clean type statements from Jesus. All of these passages allow us a glimpse into God’s true character.

Job 36:

Elihu is still speaking words of wisdom and at this point begins to praise God openly reminding Job and the others of God’s endurance and mighty power. He claims wisdom, whether this is the spirit of wisdom that earlier was said to only come from God, or youthful self-assurance we are not told. However, Elihu continues to warn Job against assigning blame to God for the current circumstances by God being cruel or unjust toward Job.
We all need friends who remind us of God’s presence and power in our lives, especially when we are suffering or questioning the current path we walk. Who is that person for you?

Job 37:

Here Elihu speaks of the kind of awe inspiring power God alone holds over the world which God creates. He also foreshadows God speaking directly to Job later in this book.
People thought of the sky as a hard substance, like a shield placed over the earth to separate earth and heaven. Only God could cause the clouds, rain, snow, wind, storms to cross the barrier of the sky and effect the earth. In verse 13 Elihu offers up some possible reasons for God correcting through all kind of means including weather. He says “whether for correction or for his land or for love God causes it to happen.” These thoughts offer a different perspective on the relationship God has with God’s creation. There are reasons for such things occurring and they fall within the category of care, not cruelty.

Matthew 15:1-20

Jesus is once again in a religious debate with the leaders of the day. They want to know why Jesus’ disciples do not wash before eating. Two thing to remember here. One, this is after the feeding of the 5,000 on a hillside and washing was most likely the last thing on their minds. And two, washing was not for hygiene as we think of it. This washing was a ritual washing, a washing that signified your purity to those around you.
Jesus calls them out on making this “tradition” equal to or even above the law. There is no law that says you must ritually wash before eating, but it had become a culturized norm. Jesus then goes on to speak about the laws order to care for, honor, thy father and mother. He says there are people being held in high esteem by the local religious leaders for promising their inheritance to the religious community and therefore not spending their resources to care for their elderly parents who now needed assistance.
Then we have the defiling argument. Jesus points out that it is not what goes into a person that defile, but rather what comes out. This is bawdy talk, of gut and bowls, but it makes Jesus’ point very clear. The detestable things that come out of a person’s gut/heart are evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. This is a typical list of sinful behavior use in ancient moral discourse. Jesus’ point is why focus on the ritual of washing hands, when it is the hearts of humanity that harbor evil.
What is it that defiles from within today? What am I worrying about on the outside rather than looking inside to “clean up?”

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