Job comes to a close with a final few words from God to Job, followed by a contrite response from Job to God and then the concluding chapter where Job is defended by God to Job’s three friends and then the epilogue where Job is essentially given a new life. It’s simple to say that God just replaced everything that Job lost, but what Job lost at the outset cannot be replaced – just somethings and someones new coming in their place. There is a shower of blessings much like the waterfalls pictured here. These waterfalls are at Falls Park in Sioux Falls where we were yesterday reconnecting with friends from when we had lived there previously. It was a blessing to hear about ways that God is at work, but especially listening to the stories from one friend sharing about their work in Honduras over the last several years. Relationships are being built that continue year to year even as homes and other buildings for the village are being built. I loved hearing the ways that justice was rolling down in beautiful ways.
At the same time, I continued to hold Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando, New York, Cincinnati, Ferguson, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Santa Barbara…(the list could unfortunately just keep going and that’s only speaking of things that have happened here in the US – country after country could be listed as well – Syria, Iraq, Turkey, France…). As we read over those places, each circumstance is different – some are more “racial” and some more “religious” – but ultimately there are common roots of hatred, bigotry, violence, easy access to guns, woundedness, that are the roots underneath it all.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook this morning about how we can go and spray all the weeds we want, but more weeds will grow up in their place unless we get at the root system. He noted that we have been doing a lot of weed spraying but not a lot of root pulling. This is so true – we are not going to get to a place where solutions are found and lived out until we come to a place where we are digging in and pulling the roots out.
There is a passage in Amos 5 that is often quoted – 5:24 – But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. This is a statement we can make and a prayer we can offer but we cannot ignore the context of what comes before. Right before, we have a long passage of condemnation from God through the prophet to the people – the darkness of the day of the Lord….“I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.”. It is not until after these words that we come to the passage about justice rolling down.
What I hear in that is a message for us today – we can raise all the festivals we want, offer up all the worship we want, bring forth to the Lord so much of the things of our lives, but God’s message is that ultimately what needs to happen is that justice rolls down like an ever-flowing stream that brings something new and something blessed and something beautiful.
We cannot erase the wrongs that have been done in the past and will continue to be done. We will not bring those five police officers back from the dead, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling will not take new breaths. Their families and loved ones will never be able to replace them nor heal the wounds that have been forever opened. But there can be something new that comes, new blessings that can flow down like mighty waters, but it takes us getting down in the dirt, digging our fingers into the ground, and pulling the roots out so that something new can grow.