October 21, 2012
Job 38: 1-7, 34-41
Our reading consists of two passages from God’s long “answer” to Job (Chapters 38-40).
I would not myself call this an answer: God arrives in a whirlwind and at once sets about yelling at Job. Most of his angry scolding consists of rhetorical questions, of which we hear a few. God doesn’t come off looking very good here. “Gird up your loins like a man,” he says to Job, “and I will question you,” as though a macho man could withstand the blasts of God!
All of God’s questions to Job are in verse, and some parts about his creation and care for the world are quite beautiful. You will notice the first part of our reading constitutes a creation story. The creation stories in Genesis are not the only ones in the Bible. There are a number of mini creation accounts such as this one. See for instance, Zechariah 12:1, or Proverbs 3:19-20.
Our reading opens with a respectful description of the human high priest, by law always chosen from the family of Levi but brought to his ministry by a divine calling. The human priest then offers sacrifices for the forgiveness of his own sins. But when Jesus Christ became high priest, there was no reason to offer sacrifices for his sins. Not only had he been made perfect by his suffering, but he had been ordained by God into the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a priest and the king of Salem. (“Salem,” another name for Jerusalem, means “peace.”) He blessed and ministered to Abraham, and Abraham gave him a tithe (tenth) of his wealth (Genesis 14:17-20). Melchizadek appears nowhere else in the Old Testament except in Psalm 110. Hebrews threats this mysterious figure as a sort of messiah who has established a new priestly order independent of the Levi family. Thus Jesus is qualified to be high priest, though born in the family of Judah. Moreover, his appointment was made by God.