Daily Meditations

The Lord’s Prayer (Part VIII)

Even before the revelation of Christ we find in scripture one striking example of a man who was strictly speaking a pagan, but was on the verge of this knowledge of God in terms of sonship and fatherhood; it is Job. He is termed a pagan because he does not belong to the race of Abraham, he is not one of the inheritors of the promises to Abraham. He is one of the most striking figures of the Old Testament because of his contest with God. The three men who argue with him know God as their overlord: God is entitled to do what he has done to Job, God is right in whatever he does because he is the Lord of all things. And that is just the point which Job cannot accept, because he knows God differently. In his spiritual experience he knows already that God is not simply the overlord that is above all. He cannot accept him as one wielding arbitrary power, as an almighty being who can and has a right to do anything he chooses. Since, however, God has not yet said anything about himself, all this is a hope, a prophetic vision and not yet the very revelation of God in his fatherhood.

When the Lord appears to Job and answers his questions, he speaks in terms of the pagan revelation, which is typified by the words of the Psalm: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork’ (Ps 19: 1). Job understands, because, as Paul says, repeating Jeremiah (31: 33), ‘The Law of God is written in our hearts’ (Rom 2: 15). God confronts Job with a vision of all the created world and reasons with him; then, in spite of the fact that Job is apparently found wrong, God declares that he is more right than his gainsayers, than those who regard God as an earthly overlord. Although he fell short of a real knowledge of the divine fatherhood he had gone beyond what his friends knew about God.

One may say that in the Old Testament we find in Job the first prophetic vision of the fatherhood of God and of that salvation of mankind that can be achieved only by someone who is the equal of both God and man. When Job turns accusingly towards God, and says, ‘Neither is there any daysman (mediator) betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both’ (Job 9: 33), we see in him one who has outgrown the understanding of his contemporaries, but who has as yet no ground to affirm his faith and his knowledge, because God has not yet spoken through Christ.

The mystery of sonship and the mystery of fatherhood are correlative: you cannot know the father, unless you know the son, neither can you know the son, unless you are the father; there is no knowledge from without. Our relationship with God is based on an act of faith, supplemented by God’s response that brings this act of faith to fruition. The way in which we become members of Christ is an act of faith, fulfilled by God in baptism. In a way which is known only to God and to those who have been called and renewed, we become, by participation, what Christ is by birth. It is only by becoming members of Christ that we become sons of God.

What we must not forget is that the fatherhood of God is more than an attitude of warmth and affection, it is more real and more sharply true: God becomes in Christ, the father of those who become members of the body of Christ, but one does not get linked with Christ by any kind of loose sentimentality: it is an ascetical effort which may take a lifetime and cost far more than one guessed at the start.

~Archbishop Anthony Bloom, Living Prayer