The Book of Job: The Happy Ending

This past week I’ve been looking at the last chapters of the Book of Job.  As I said before, these passages have always bothered me because they don’t make sense.  Why would a loving and compassionate God show up and affirm that Job did not bring his suffering on himself and then tell him to sit down and get in line because he’s just a … Continue reading The Book of Job: The Happy Ending

Book of Job – Looking at our animal friends

A couple of days ago, I started writing about the ending chapters of the Book of Job.  As I said then, the end of Job has always bothered me.  It doesn’t make sense that this man would lose everything have God show up and go, “who do you think you are?” and then Job would be satisfied and comforted.  It doesn’t make sense for God … Continue reading Book of Job – Looking at our animal friends

Book of Job: It’s a guessing game

A couple of years ago I started blogging about the Book of Job, thinking I would blog through the whole thing.  Thankfully, God called me off that task because I now think that I was headed in the wrong direction.  However, I have always been puzzled by God’s words to Job and Job’s response to them.  They just never made sense to me.  Job didn’t … Continue reading Book of Job: It’s a guessing game

Book of Job Chapter 3: Ever Wanted to Die?

Chapter 1 here

Chapter 2 here

At the start of Chapter 3 of The Book of Job, we find Job, having sat in silence with his 3 friends for 7 days, ready to talk. (Text of Chapter 3 here.) What comes out of his mouth is one of the more heartbreaking of the laments found in scriptures. Job does not curse God or Satan or even his misfortune. Rather, it is his very existence which is the subject of his lament.

One of the notable things about Chapter 3 is that it is where the Book of Job ceases to be a narrative story and becomes an extended series of poems. We are of course reading a translation which can make it hard for us to appreciate the poetry involved. In addition, Hebrew poetry uses something called parallelism where an idea is stated and then restated. This can happen between lines, within lines, between stanzas or withing stanzas. For example, verse 17: “There the wicked cease from troubling, there the weary are at rest” is an example of parallelism within a line. We can see it in the repetition of the sentence structure and the repetition of the first word of each phrase. There is also a pairing relationship between the wicked and the weary and ceasing from trouble and being at rest (ceasing to be troubled).

People with more patience and attention to detail than I have/can spend oodles of time teasing out these structures and themes. For the rest of us, however, the result is often that the text becomes repetative and we can get so caught up in the flow that we lose track of what is going on. Like I said, I am not a good detail person, so having to wade through a bunch of lines which repeat themselves with variations over and over again is not my cup of tea. I have found it helpful to look at these sections as what they are: poems. I try to break the poem into thematic sections which are usually composed of the same or similar number of lines. For this chapter, it looks like this: Continue reading “Book of Job Chapter 3: Ever Wanted to Die?”

Book of Job Chapter 2: Lowering the Boom

Well, I figured I would pick up my slow-mo study of the Book of Job again tonight. (Here’s my take on Chapter 1.) Tonight we’ll look at Chapter 2. (Text of Chapter 2 here.)

Chapter 2 starts with a repeat of the scene from Chapter 1 with a gathering before God at which Satan appears. Once again, God points out Job’s integrity – this time in the face of enormous suffering.

One of the challenges of the Book of Job is God’s complicity in Job’s suffering. As I said in my comments on Chapter 1, God not only allows Satan to visit tragedy on Job, but He actually offers Job up as a target for this treatment. This doesn’t sit well at all with our understanding of God as a protective force for His people. This difficult state of affairs continues in Chapter 2. Here we find an oddly worded sentence which points both to the fact that God is manipulating Satan and that He is willing to take responsibility for causing Job’s suffering. Verse 3 says, “you incited me against him to ruin him without cause”. The Netbible translates “incite me” as “stirred me up”. This is a rather odd thing to say as it was God who actually provoked Satan’s desire to ruin (lit “swallow up”) Job. But, like a manager who allows an employee to think their new assignment was their own idea, God allows Satan to think that he rather than God is in control of this situation. The other odd thing about the sentence is the imprecise pronouns which obscure who is bringing about ruin. God does not say, “you incited me against him so that you could ruin him without cause.” Rather, by simply saying “to ruin him”, God leaves open the possibility that it is not Satan, but God who has brought Job to ruin. In which case, Satan is merely the tool by which God has done this work. Satan, of course misses this distinction (as do most of us, come to think of it).

Now, I do know that I am treading in some ugly territory here. Continue reading “Book of Job Chapter 2: Lowering the Boom”

Chapter 1: Job gets screwed

I am studying the book of Job for a bit, so I figured I would share what I am seeing as I go through it here. Please know that this is not going to be a comprehensive study of Job, and that my ideas are just my ideas. I do have some odd ideas about things but they work for me. Perhaps there will be something of use which you can take away as well.

We start with what I think is one of the most confounding parts of this book. In Chapter 1 we have Job who is an upstanding man, successful, and God fearing. And God hands him over to Satan for no discernible reason. I believe that we have so sanitized our reading of scriptures that we frequently pass over the most awful, problematic things with nary a glance. It’s like acknowledging how bad and just WRONG some parts of the stories in scriptures are poses a threat to our faith. However, if part of our faith includes a trust in a good and loving God, than part of our faith must include taking what is plainly wrong to God for an explanation. And I’m so sorry, but on its face, God handing Job over to Satan to be crushed and ruined for no reason other than to prove his faithfulness is just wrong. WRONG.

So, we dig a bit deeper and take it to God and a slightly different picture emerges. Continue reading “Chapter 1: Job gets screwed”