Job 38-42– God speaks and restores Job

Reading: Job 38-42

God’s speech, at first glance, seems to be accusing Job of speaking without knowing anything.  The whole speech is not any more applicable to Job than it is to Job’s friends.  This speech is also no more applicable to Job than it is to anybody who discusses Theology.  God is much more than any of us can know.

Those of us who read Job have an advantage over Job and Job’s friends.  Job’s friends assumed that God called disaster on Job to punish Job — the narrative tells us that Job’s suffering was intended to test whether Job was truly faithful to God, or merely comfortable in is position.  In God’s speech, God does not even address the question of why Job is suffering, simply that us human’s don’t know a lot of things about the universe that we live in.

We don’t know what Leviathan or Behemoth are, there have been many attempts to name animals that never quite fit their descriptions.  One of my favorite explanations is that they are not literal creatures, but metaphors.  For many pre-modern commentators, Leviathan was a sea monster, and Behemoth was a land-monster.  By extension, they are destructive, they kill and destroy completely at random.  When a ship sinks, whatever force of nature does not ask whether the sailors deserve to be sent to the bottom of the ocean.   When a tornado destroys homes or in rare cases an entire town, the storm does not consider whether the people in its path are good or evil.

For Job’s friends, Job was guilty because he suffered a disaster.  God mentioned several things that are outside of human control, some of these things are the cause of disasters.  We don’t understand why suffering comes, and we don’t know what motives God has for allowing suffering.  We do know that we live in a world that includes suffering.

For those of us who hear news of earthquakes, or tornadoes, or any other disaster, and feel that we can interpret these as signs of God’s anger:  We sit with Job’s friends.  We know nothing, and if we speak we speak out of our ignorance.  For those of us who are suffering, and who ask why:  When God appears to Job, why is not answered.

In all of this, God finally commends Job.  He says of Job that Job spoke rightly, while Job’s friends did not.  Job asks God to forgive his friends, because God will not hear their prayers.  The book concludes with Job having more children, and more wealth than he did before.

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