Runners of the Bible: The Postman on the Highway

(Guest Devotion by Tim Smith)

Guest In Job 9:25, there’s a Hebrew word that different Bible’s translated differently. The word in Hebrew is pronounced rāṣ, which in english can be translated into three different words: runner, courier, or post.

In modern times a talented runner and a postman are two very different things, but in the ancient world they were one in the same. Postmen in ancient cultures would travel either by horse or by foot on the earliest forms of “highways” to deliver mail. About a century after Job was written, the Persian Postmen mastered this form of traveling. For that time period “there [was] nothing which accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers.”

I share this information to express that when the author of Job writes, “My days are swifter than a runner” (v. 25), the author is attempting to describe the fastest form of transportation he understands.

In the book “SPEED,” by Psychology Stephanie Brown PhD, she explains that modern people are increasingly becoming more and more addicted to living life faster and faster. Meaning, as the speed of transportation has changed from Biblical Times to Modern Times, so has the speed at which it feels our lives move.

Job 9:25 in modern times is best to be understood as, “My days are more hurried than the expressway, they move away without a glimpse of joy.” With that understanding of the text, we now understand the incredible stress that comes when our lives move at such incredible speed. Dr. Brown writes it like this: the way in which some people live their lives “is outstripping [their] ability to manage, to fulfill all of their responsibility, and even to cope…an impossible bind that leads to chronic stress and a sense of failure. You do not have the ability to be on 24/7 like a computer, but you believe you should be able to keep going, and that you will be able to do so if you only try harder. And so you push yourself incessantly.” The view that we should only try to move harder and faster, is precisely what the friends of Job were saying to him, what many of us say to our loved ones, and what we often say to ourselves. What is the answer to this problem that both Job faced then and we still do now.


Job 9 continues with what the author believes might be, it reads: “God is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together” (v. 32-33). Living in the time after Job, we believe that a mediator has come.

First in the form of Christ, then another in the form of the Holy Spirit. As Job’s life continually moves faster with hardships, he is learning the need that is provided through the Spirit of God. “A Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their work. Let us make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish” (Hebrews 4:9-11). Sabbath-rest is not about doing religious rituals or activities at church on Sunday morning. Sabbath-rest is about leaning into the Holy Spirit and following an Old Testament command fasting moving people desperately need: “Be still” (Psalm 46:10). 

As a runner, I know all too well that there is strength in moving fast. It creates endurance, power, and agility. Also as a runner, I know all too well that there is a weakness in moving too fast. It creates unneeded pain, injury, and stress. When our lives move at increasing paces without ever slowing down and resting the results are the same unneeded pain, injury, and stress. When we practice the discipline of stillness, we may just find what Evangelist Manie Ferguson wrote in 1897: 

Joys are flowing like a river since the Comforter has come. He abides with us forever, making the trusting heart his home. Blessed quietness! Holy quietness! What assurance in my soul! On the stormy sea, Jesus speaks to me, and the billows cease to roll.”

Many might think that with all there is to do and get done there is no time for resting or for breaks. Maybe Sabbath-rest is precisely what we need to have substance in order to handle all that needs to be done. “Make every effort to enter that rest, be still.” (Hebrews 4:11 and Psalm 46:10).


About the Author: While studying Theology at Olivet Nazarene University, Tim Smith also competed in Cross Country and Track & Field with events from the mile run to the half marathon. He is passionate about helping people see the narrative of the Biblical stories and find deeper meaning within the text. He began serving in ministry back in 2013 as a 3rd and 4th Grade Sunday School Teacher and most recently accepted a role as a Youth and Young Adult Minister in Tennessee. Him and his wife and looking forward to furthering their careers, ministries, and education in the Nashville area. 

Tim will be continuing this series, “Runners of the Bible” in the coming weeks! 

Be safe. Be wise. Be Jesus this week.


Endnotes:

  1.  The History of Herodotus Book VIII: Urania (1890): Par. 98.
  2.  Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster–And Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down by Stephanie Brown PhD, 2014: p. 5.
  3. “Blessed Quietness by Manie Payne Ferguson, ca. 1897, in Sing to the Lord Hymnal, 1993, 313.

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