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Chinese3/19/2006English
經文:約伯記三至四章
鑰節:「必死的人豈能比上帝公義麼?人豈能比造他的主潔淨麼?」(4:17)
提要

        當約伯三位最親愛的朋友聽到了他的不幸和憂傷,便帶著一顆至誠的心,跑來為他悲傷,並安慰他(2:11)。他們不僅地位尊貴,而且十分富有,又是當時極富重望的知識份子,像約伯過去一樣。當他們來到時,約伯似乎已經受到不幸的打擊,好幾週了。可是他的朋友,並沒有心理預備,很難接受他們的老友約伯,原是快樂、健康、繁昌的,如今卻落在這樣可怕的境地。那原來甚有名望,且在社會中備受尊敬的人,竟變成最落魄的被棄者。朋友們固然為約伯大感哀痛,卻未發一言,只是滿懷憂懼地和他一同坐在地上。

        看來奇怪,這些知己的老友,一週過去了,仍然沒有交談一句話。也許是一種古老的東方傳統,弔喪者來安慰喪家時(約伯喪失了所有的十個孩子),皆不發一言,等傷心的人先開口說話。最後,約伯打破了沈寂。他的話表達了心中久積的情緒。其實他不是對別人講說,而是自言自語。許多日子難忍的痛苦受罪,使他感到疲憊,並對自己的存在哀傷。他從前滿有希望的樣子,轉為絕望和痛苦。他一步步陷入愈來愈深的沮喪之中。他不僅希望死亡,而且咒詛他自己成孕和出生的日子(參耶20:14~18)

        約伯感到這世界若是能被巨大的海獸搞的亂七八糟,也許更好。總比世界保持自然秩序,以致於他母親能夠受孕生他來得強(3:7~10)。海怪是一種像龍樣的動物,有人猜想,牠就是一種恐龍(41章)。不管牠是什麼,海怪似乎是一個敵對宇宙秩序的巨大力量。(海怪一詞的英文是Leviathan,和合本譯為鱷魚)

        約伯陷於自憐的深淵,而且心懷疑慮地問:「為什麼?」上帝遺棄他了嗎?即或他懷疑上帝仍然在看顧他,卻從未懷疑上帝是最高的主宰。自始至終,約伯始終未照他妻子提議、和撒但預期的咒詛上帝(2:5)。使約伯痛苦難當的是上帝沒有快些出面救他。但,上帝絕對不會放棄祂忠心的僕人。如果約伯在他難以置信的恐慌中,仍然存有希望;今天的我們更沒有理由放鬆盼望。

        約伯三位朋友第一位說話的,是以利法(似乎是最年長的)。他的意見是哲學性的,他的話也確實包含了一些真理,表達了他那時代正統宗教之見解。他對約伯表示同情,但是他的真正想法不久就跑出來了。他認為約伯受苦,必是生活中隱藏的大罪造成的結果,因為「誰曾無辜滅絕呢?」,而且「耕罪孽,種毒害的人,都照樣收割」(4:7、8)。這些說法有其真理,但卻不宜用在約伯的景況上。他們對約伯說話的樣子,好像認為他的病那麼重,顯然是必死無疑了。但是上帝對約伯的生命,卻另有計畫。

        約伯和以利法背景相同,因此他的想法也必類似。無怪乎他的苦難,對他來說如此神秘;他無法解釋這事。他無法像後世讀者那樣,了解靈界中正在發展的情節。以利法這一觀點,一直延續到新約時代。有人問我們的主耶穌:「是誰犯了罪?是這人呢,還是他的父母,致使他生來瞎眼?」耶穌回答說:「都不是……是要在他身上顯出上帝的作為來。」(約9:2、3)忠貞的基督徒可以有把握,痛苦再大也必有結束的一刻,到時上帝將得著榮耀。不管我們生活上的環境如何,總要為榮耀上帝而活。

        以利法告訴約伯,他受到了上帝的啟示,肯定了人性的墮落。他故意問約伯,人能比上帝更為公義嗎?可能是以此暗示,約伯的罪便是自以為義及論斷上帝。可是,讀者都知道,這並不是約伯的情形。就算約伯會在他可怕的遭遇中喪命,他仍可能保持明智(4:21),因為他從未失去對主的敬畏(敬與愛)。

禱告

        哦主,我們以一首聖詩的句子禱告:「我見四周,變遷毀壞;唯主不變,與人同在!」奉耶穌基督的名禱告,阿們。

English

Scriptures:Read Job 3 &4
Key Verse:"Can a mortal be more righteous than Cod? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?"(Job 4:17)
Overview

        When Job's three dearest friends heard of his misfortune and affliction, they came with sincere hearts to console and comfort him (2:11). They were not only very important and wealthy, but they were the intelligentsia of their day, the noted wise men, like Job had once been. By the time they arrived, many weeks may have passed since Job's initial attacks of misfortune. His friends, however, were unprepared to see their once happy, healthy, and prosperous friend Job in such a terrible state. He who was once the most prestigious and well respected man in the community had become the most wretched outcast. His friends openly expressed their shock and grief, but without speaking a word they approached Job horrified and sat with him on the ground.

        It seems strange that these good old friends did not speak together until one week had past. It may well have been an ancient eastern custom that when mourners came to console one who had lost a loved one (Job had lost all ten of his children), they remained in silence until the bereaved person spoke first. Finally, when Job broke the silence, his words expressed all the thoughts he had been keeping inside of him. Rather than addressing the men, he appears to be speaking with himself. The many days of torturous pain and suffering had left him feeling tired and miserable about his very existence. His once hopeful attitude had turned into despair and bitterness. He gradually sank deeper and deeper into depression. He not only wished he were dead, but he cursed the days of both his conception and birth. (c.f. Jer. 20:14-18)

        Job felt it would have been better had the world been in a state of chaos, like that which the creature Leviathan could bring about, than for the natural order of the world to remain, thus allowing His mother to conceive and give birth to him (3:7-10). Leviathan appears to have been a large dragon-like creature, and some have suggested it could have been a type of dinosaur (chapter 41). Whatever it was, Leviathan seems to symbolize a great strength in opposition to the cosmic order.

        Job was engulfed in self-pity and occupied with pondering the question, "Why?" Had his God forsaken him? Even though he doubted that God still cared for him, he never doubted that God was sovereignly in control. Through it all, Job never cursed God as his wife had suggested and Satan had predicted (2:5). It was in Job's hopeless state of deep despair that God would soon reach out to restore him. No, God would never abandon his faithful servant. We can learn that if there was still hope for Job, in his inconceivably horrible situation, we today should never have reason to loose hope.

        The first of Job's three friends to speak was Eliphaz (likely the eldest). His approach was philosophical, and his words did contain some truth, expressing the orthodox religious views of his day. He began by relating his sympathy for Job, but his real thoughts soon came through as he implied that Job's suffering must have come as a result of some great hidden sin in his life, for "who ever perished being innocent?", and "those who plow iniquity... reap the same." These are true statements, but they did not apply to Job's situation. They spoke to Job as though his death was imminent and the logical conclusion, considering his disease; but the Lord had other plans for Job's life.

        Job himself came from the same background as Eliphaz and must have thought the same way. No wonder his suffering was such a mystery to him; he could not explain it. He did not have the advantage of the reader in understanding what was going on in the spiritual realm. This same view of Eliphaz continued down into New Testament times. Our Lord Jesus was asked, ".. .'who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'Neither... but that the works of God should be revealed in him'" (John 9:2, 3). Faithful believers in the Lord can have confidence that their times of suffering will ultimately end with the Lord receiving glory. No matter what the circumstances of our life might be, we are to live to bring glory to God.

        Eliphaz told Job that he had received a divine revelation which affirmed the depraved nature of mankind. With rhetorical questions, he asked Job if a man could be more righteous than God. He may have been insinuating that Job's sin was self-righteousness and bringing judgment upon God. The reader, however, is aware that this was not the case with Job. Even if Job were to die in his terrible condition, he still would remain wise (4:21), for he never lost his fear of the Lord (respect and love).

Prayer

        O Lord, we pray the words of the old hymn, "Change and decay in all around I see. O Thou who changest not, abide with me."


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