The saving redemption (Lam 3:58-3:60)

Resh

“You have taken up

My cause!

O Yahweh!

You have redeemed

My life!

You have seen

The wrong

Done to me!

O Yahweh!

Judge my cause!

You have seen

All their malice!

You have seen

All their plots

Against me!”

This personalized lament continued, but this time on a positive note. Yahweh has taken up his cause. He has redeemed his life. He has seen the wrong things that were done to him. Yahweh was going to judge his case, since he saw all the malice that other people have done against him with their various plots. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Resh in this acrostic poem.

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The prosperous wicked people (Jer 12:1-12:3)

“Yahweh!

You will be in the right

When I complain to you.

But let me plead my case

Before you?

Why does the way of the guilty prosper?

Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

You plant them.

They take root.

They grow.

They bring forth fruit.

You are near in their mouths.

Yet you are far from their hearts.

Yahweh!

You know me!

You see me!

You test me!

My heart is with you.

Pull them out

Like sheep for the slaughter!

Set them apart

For the day of slaughter.”

Jeremiah wanted to know why the wicked ones prospered. Much like Job, and the sapiential literature, this was the question of why do bad or evil people succeed? Jeremiah pleaded his case before Yahweh. Yahweh was the one who planted them and gave them roots. Thus they have grown and born fruit. They say the right things, but their hearts are not in it. Jeremiah complained that Yahweh knew what kind of person he was, since Yahweh knew, saw, and tested him. His heart was with Yahweh. Now he wanted these wicked guilty people to be pulled out and put to slaughter like sheep. Jeremiah was not happy about these prosperous wicked people.

The powerful judgment of Yahweh (Isa 3:13-3:15)

“Yahweh rises to argue his case.

He stands to judge the people.

Yahweh enters into judgment

With the elders,

With the princes of his people.

‘You have devoured the vineyard.

The spoil of the poor

Is in your houses.

What do you mean

By crushing my people?

Why are you grinding

The face of the poor?’

Says Yahweh,

God of hosts.”

Isaiah says that Yahweh has presented his case. He has judged his people, especially the elders and the princes, who have devoured the vineyards. They have taken the spoils or goods of their own poor people into their own homes. They are crushing the people and grinding the faces of the poor. This clearly is an oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah.

Job wants to meet God (Job 23:1-23:7)

“Then Job answered.

‘Today also my complaint is bitter.

His hand is heavy,

Despite my groaning.

O that I knew where I might find him!

O that I might come even to his dwelling!

I would lay my case before him.

I would fill my mouth with arguments.

I would learn what he would answer me.

I would understand what he would say to me.

Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?

No!

But he would give heed to me.              

There an upright man could reason with him.

I should be acquitted forever by my judge.’”

Job was still bitter. Despite all his complaints, he still wanted to find God. He wanted to meet him face to face in his house. Then he would lay out his cause with many arguments. However, he would learn and understand by listening. He believed that he, the upright man, would get a fair hearing. In the end, he would be acquitted by God, if only he could present his case.

Job wants God to listen to him (Job 13:17-13:28)

“Listen carefully to my words!

Let my declaration be in your ears!

I have indeed prepared my case.

I know that I shall be vindicated.

Who is there that will contend with me?

Then I would be silent and die.

Only grant two things to me!

Then I will not hide myself from your face.

Withdraw your hand far from me!

Do not let dread of you terrify me!

Then call!

I will answer.

Let me speak!

You reply to me.

How many are my iniquities?

How many are my sins?

Make me know my transgression and my sin.

Why do you hide your face?

Why do you count me as your enemy?

Will you frighten a windblown leaf?

Will you pursue dry chaff?

You write bitter things against me.

You make me reap the iniquities of my youth.

You put my feet in the stocks.

You watch all my paths.

You set a bound to the soles of my feet.

One wastes away like a rotten thing.

One wastes away like a garment that is moth-eaten.”

Job pleads his case before God. He wanted him to listen carefully to his words. He has prepared his case well. He knew that he would be vindicated. He wanted to know who would oppose him. He wanted God not to hide his face and he would not hide his face. He wanted to go face to face with God. He wanted God not to scare him, but to call him. He wanted to reply to the many sins and iniquities of his youth. He wanted to know why God had him as an enemy. Why were bitter things written about him? This is almost saying that God had a face with a voice, and was able to hear and write things down with his hands. In this anthropomorphic view of God, he has a human face, ears, voice, and hands. God wanted him to be chained in a stockade, to waste away like a rotten garment that was moth-eaten. Certainly this was colorful language to use against a vindictive God.

Job attacks his friends (Job 13:1-13:12)

“Look!

M eye has seen all this.

My ear has heard and understood it.

What you know,

I also know.

I am not inferior to you.

But I would speak to the Almighty Shaddai.

I desire to argue my case with God.

As for you,

You whitewash with lies.

All of you are worthless physicians.

If you would only keep silent,

That would be your wisdom!

Hear now my reasoning!

Listen to the pleadings of my lips!

Will you speak falsely for God?

Will you speak deceitfully for him?

Will you show partiality toward him?

Will you plead the case for God?

Will it be well with you when he searches you out?

Can you deceive God?

As one person deceives another?

God will surely rebuke you,

If in secret you show partiality.

Will not his majesty terrify you?

Will the dread of him fall upon you?

Your maxims are proverbs of ashes.

Your defenses are defenses of clay.”

Once again, Job made a strong defense of himself. He had eyes and ears. He was not inferior to his friends as they had made him out to be. He wanted to argue his case before the almighty Shaddai, but all he had were his friends. He turned on them saying that they were liars and worthless physicians. They would have shown their wisdom by keeping silent. He wanted them to listen to him. Why did they speak falsely and deceitfully for God? Did they think that they could deceive God like any other person? Are they not afraid of this majesty? Their thoughts are like proverbs of ashes and clay. Job had finally turned on them in earnest.