Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Book of Job: Part I

When I considered myself a faithful Christian, my favorite book in the Bible was the Book of Job. I liked the story of Job because it appealed to the spiritual part of me, but mostly because it appealed to the scientific part of me. I've always been curious about the world around us, particularly the night sky. It is in Job 38:31-33 that God reveals Job's ignorance to him when God asked Job:

"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth"

When I read these words, I used to get choked up. It was in these verses, that God revealed my ignorance to me. Truly, I had taken my first steps in understanding God's dominion over the sky that I adored so much.

Or had I?

The Book of Job begins by giving a succinct description of Job as an upright man and had wanted to have nothing to with evil. He had a large family of 7 sons and 3 daughters, and God had blessed him with great wealth because of Job's loyalty and obedience. Job enjoyed the best life in the land of Uz, but horror, bloodshed, and agony was about to visit Job and turn his world inside out as the Bible says, "without any reason or cause."

One day as God was doing the things that only one of unlimited capacity can do, Satan arrived among an escort of angels. Upon arrival, God asked Satan, "Where have you come from?" to which Satan replied, "Coming from to and fro on the earth, walking up and down on it." God then asks Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" to which Satan replied, "Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."

God then informed Satan that he could do whatever he wanted to Job, but he couldn't lay a hand on him.

Satan departed from God's presence and struck everything that Job owned. One after another, servants of Job rush to him, citing the terrible events that had unfolded. First, his cattle were stolen and his servants were killed by a group of Sabeans, save the one who lived to tell Job. While the servant was still speaking, a shepherd of Job's rushed to him, informing him that the fire of God fell from the sky, consuming all of his sheep and the remaining shepherds.

Yet, while the shepherd was still speaking, another servant came to Job, and told him that 3 groups of Chaldeans stole his camels and killed his servants, save the one who lived to tell the tale. No sooner had he finished telling his story, did another servant come to Job and told him that his sons had been killed while they were enjoying dinner and wine with their sisters.

Place yourself in Job's shoes for a moment, and try to imagine what he must have been feeling. Everything he had ever worked for is gone. His sons are dead, his cattle, sheep, and camels were stolen. Any normal human being would have found the nearest blade to fall on it. But Job fell to his knees, worshipped God, and blessed him.

And through it all, Job sinned not once against God nor blamed God.

Continued in part 2

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