The readings have a theme which links them, and that is one of hope. Job is a man whose whole life, physical and spiritual seemed to be under attack, and his friends (or Job’s Comforters as they’ve become known) were not a lot of use to him, in fact it’s his frustration with the way they have offered him nothing but misery that prompts his outburst of faith that we’ve just heard. His so-called friends might be nothing but a burden to him, but God would triumph through his life, and whatever happened to him, Job would rather put his trust in his God.
"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"
Paul’s message to the Thessalonians is not as easy to get to grips with, but do look at it again. It’s actually something which I guess most of us could relate to – the evil that’s in the world and Paul’s faith that God would ultimately triumph over ‘the man of lawlessness’ which we might think of as the power of evil or to personalise it, Satan, the Devil or however you want to describe all that is at war with God.
All the Eastern faiths believed in a power of evil and a power of good, and some kind of a battle between god and evil. The Jews were no different, calling the power of evil Belial. Christians took this over with the concept of the Antichrist. But whatever this power is called, the belief was that its time was limited and God would destroy it.
Paul infers that those who do not follow God will be tempted to follow this evil path instead.
Now, whether you believe in an Antichrist, the Devil or Satan in a personal sense is not the point here, because these are pictures that would be more familiar to Paul’s readers than ourselves, but I’m guessing that most of us here would agree that there is evil in this world, expressed mainly through the lives of human beings. We might even say, as I would that we’ve seen evil (or a total absence of love) in someone’s eyes.
But, says Paul, God is in control. Job would agree. The "man of lawlessness" that Paul talks of may have his day, but soon will be his last, and we need to be sure whose side we’re on. Hold on to the faith, say both Job and Paul!
"He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ"
There is evil in this world. There is persecution, oppression,
cruelty and abuse, by individuals and governments. There are still
wars because human beings have never learned. The pressures on our
young people are greater than ever to distance themselves from God
and all that is good. But God, Job reminds us, will triumph, as
Jesus did on the Cross.