I write this acknowledging that the nature of my work (church pastor) allows me to put in a lot of time reading the Bible; I am, in fact, expected to do that. Even so, it can be overwhelming.
My current daily devotional reading is in Leviticus. I read a chapter and write my reflections/responses in a journal. So I began Wednesday with my Leviticus reading. That was still fresh in my mind as I shifted to my sermon prep work. The text for the sermon is Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council. Finally, after I had worked on the sermon for several hours, I did some reading on the book of Judges because I am thinking of preaching from Judges in August.
Judges – Acts – Leviticus; they were each competing for my thought and attention. And, I have not even mentioned Job. These days, with all the reading I am doing on that Biblical book, Job is constantly on my mind. So, as I headed for home, my brain felt as if it were swimming, tossed wildly in large waves. In some ways this experience was exhilarating. It was also exhausting. Overall I appreciate the experience.
I am specifically grateful for the way the different texts informed each other. I believe all scripture is inspired word of God (as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16). I also believe God’s Spirit is at work in my mind and heart as I read. So, a passage from my devotional reading (Leviticus 20:26) ended as a part of my sermon on Acts 15. And, this morning, as I read the section on Job in Norman Gottwald’s book The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction I found information that will be helpful in my work on the book of Judges.
All of this leads me to an obvious but refreshing conclusion. Job fits in the Bible, and the rest of scripture has something to say in what we learn in Job. Often when I am leading a Bible study group, I challenge the participants to imagine that the only Bible they have is the particular books we are studying (be it Genesis, Job, Matthew, Revelation or whatever). Reading in this way, I ask the group to talk about God as that particular book describes God and presents God.
Here, I offer the opposite insight. When studying Job or any other book, we do well to consider the message of the rest of the Bible. It will enrich our understanding both of Job and of God. Job is such a unique book; it is hard to locate it in a genre category (Gottwald, p.576). At the same time, Job takes its place in God’s Holy Word. Therefore, in concert with the rest of the Bible we meet God in the pages of Job, and the message there informs our faith.