Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blogging the Bible: Overview of Job

I needed some time to get my feet set with Job. I don’t know Job all that well. I’ve read through it several times, but like many of you, I haven’t studied it in depth. I had to do a little reading, and put together some resources before I was ready to give thoughtful insights. With that done, lets dive into the book.

Here is the story in short. In the land of Uz there lived a man named Job. He feared God and lived a blameless life. He had a big, thriving family, tons of assets, and the honor of everyone, but what made him special, was that he was incredibly intentional about honoring God with everything that he had. Then one day Satan comes and presents himself to God, and in essence says, I own the world. God challenges Satan’s conclusion, pointing out how faithful Job was and how he kept himself from evil. Satan’s take is, “Job only honors you because he’s blessed b you. You let me take it all away, and Job will turn on you”. So God say’s, “we’ll see”, and allows Satan to destroy everything that Job had: his children are killed, his wealth is stolen or destroyed. He loses it all in a flash. But Job was faithful to God. He responds by worshiping.

A little later, Satan shows up, and God again points out Job’s faithfulness. Satan’s take is, “let me hurt him, and then we’ll find out’. So God allowed Satan to afflict Job, the only thing he cant do is kill him. Satan infects Job with a horrible disease that covered him with boils. Job sits in the ashes of his home and scraped his skin within broken pottery, but still remained faithful, even rebuking his wife when she tells him to “curse God and die”. 

From there on, the story moves into a series of back and forth speeches between Job and three friends who come to ‘comfort him’, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, eventually another player comes on the scene, and then, God speaks and settles the debate.

In all this, the book of Job is addressing the problem of suffering and evil. “The bible, notes D.A. Carson, deals with the reality of evil in many different ways. Sometimes justice is done, and is seen to be done, in this life. Especially in the New Testament, the final recompense for evil is bound up with judgment to come. Sometimes suffering has a humbling role, as it challenges our endless hubris. War, pestilence, and famine are sometimes God’s terrible weapons of judgment. These and many more themes are developed in the Bible.” The book of Job contributes to this subject by making us wrestle with the question, why do the innocent suffer?

The assertion of the book of Job is that Job is an innocent. In the opening words of the book we are told that Job “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Furthermore, while he had vast holdings, he didn’t take anything for granted. When his children held feasts, he would send and have them purified, and he would “sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This wasn’t a sometimes thing “This was Job's regular custom.”

At the same time, the book also asks, at least in part, why does one choose to worship God? For God’s sake, or for what he gives. Satan’s assertion is that Job worships for the wrong reason.
The end of the story doesn’t give us a complete answer. In essence, it says, God is sovereign. You don’t know everything. You think you do, but you don’t. In some ways, we feel left empty, because we want all our questions answered. That doesn’t happen. Instead we’re challenged to accept that God is sovereign, and as has been pointed out by someone, if you have a God that is so great and powerful that you can be mad because he didn’t act, you also have to admit that this God is also so great and powerful that he might know more than you can fathom, and have greater purposes at work.

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