Job 1-2:10 Job gets smacked down hard.

Reading: Job 1 – 2:10

Job has long been a difficult book for me to read. There are so many things about this book that tends to make me angry. Sometimes it is what is inside the book, sometimes it is what is not included in the book, and most of the time it is somebody who quotes the book.

I cannot read the first chapter without hearing somebody say something about the “Hedge of protection”. The person who says that goes on to talk about some strange view that Satan cannot touch us without God’s permission. The problem with this is that it is very difficult for me to put myself in Job’s place. Job was the richest guy anybody knew. He was the huge landowner and one of the main employers in the area. When Satan goes and destroys all that Job has, everything includes Job’s children and Job’s employees. God might have protected Job but God failed to protect all the people who made their living by working for Job. If I were in the story, I would have been slaughtered by the Chaldeans when they took the Camels.

It gets even more difficult for me because I am uncomfortable with the picture of a God who places so much value on an argument that God is willing to kill scores of people. Job 2:3 has God speaking to Satan saying: “Look at Job, he’s a good guy, even after you got me to destroy him without any cause. (ah ha! I win, I was right, you were wrong.)” God seems more petty than loving in this story. If God is anything, God is not a just God.

When I react less emotionally, I soon see that that all these people who were killed never were part of the story. The discussions are rather philosophical, whether the discussions in heaven or on Earth. Satan and God talk about the nature of humanity, and how humanity reacts to the good and bad that comes to them in their lives. Job and his friends talk about what meaning (if any) suffering plays in our daily life. This little story is a set up for detailed discussion of a much more abstract concept.

The first discussion is about the nature of humanity: “Are the people who are devout, just, and wealthy good because they have received good things, or is there a goodness something that is intrinsically part of them? Satan accuses Job, and by extension, all humanity of being merely selfish, and only being good because they expect to be rewarded by God. Job shows that he is a man of such character that he blessed God when all was going right, and when everything goes wrong he’s the type who would bless God until he dies.

The story ends up defending humanity. We don’t pray because God prospers us, we pray because we believe in God. Most people are careful to treat others fairly, and even get angry when we see somebody cheated. Most people would not steal, and if they take something by accident, will go out of their way to return, or purchase it. This desire for justice is not dependent upon a desire for reward, nor a fear of punishment; it is part of how people deal with the world. Job did not become less righteous because he lost his property; humanity can be motivated by something higher than selfishness.

Continued with Job 2:11-13

Charlie Brown's baseball team discusses Job

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2 comments on “Job 1-2:10 Job gets smacked down hard.

  1. Trevor says:

    What’s wrong? The Book of Job is all about the fact that God is on another level that we can’t judge or mess with. Why does God kill all those people? Because He can, since He’s God, and He sets the times that we all die. Everyone who’s died He’s killed. Who cares?! Everyone who’s alive He made alive! He’s God – that’s His right. It’s His right to do whatever He wants. We have no place determining His righteousness, since we’re the pots and He’s the potter. Job is walking blamelessly, but his heart was not right from the start. He was being good for the sake of earning righteousness from God- not for the sake of pleasing God. When God wrecked his life, he started thinking God was evil. He eventually wanted to plead his case with God, even though he knew he would end up sounding like a fool. His mistake is his audacity to insist that God should do good things to him. God has no obligation to anyone. Everything He gives is a gift. We should appreciate what He gives us – even if it’s just a few mere scraps. We don’t ‘deserve’ anything. That’s the point. We should just do what He wants us to do, be thankful for what He gives us, and be happy serving Him all of these meaningless days under the sun, until we die. We should above all be thankful that He sent Jesus to die for us, that we may have an eternal and ever-meaningful existence in the Kingdom of Heaven. The one thing we shouldn’t do, is complain about God or His decisions. We can be sad or whatever, but we must realize that He always does the right thing, even if it seems cruel. When we whine, we’re basically little brats throwing temper tantrums at their parents – except with God. When you look at all the constant crying in Exodus, it’s basically that. The point is that God has everything under control, and if you keep whining and being self righteous, God will give you that quail until it’s coming out of your nostrils, with a side of plague, because you insulted the ultimate sovereign, and counted His love and grace not enough for you.

    • Your reading is that Elihu’s answer was the correct one? I’m not personally convinced of this — though, that is one way of understanding why both Job and God (and the 3 friends) ignored Elihu’s monologue.

      Another interpretation is that the angry, and rather rude youth wasn’t even worth acknowledging. At least the other 3 friends spent a week in the dust with their friend — and, Job was willing to intercede on their behalf.

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