Thursday, June 4, 2009

On the Book of Job: Part III

So what are we to learn from the story of Job?

The text declares Job as a righteous man and that he has nothing to do with evil. He is wise, kind, and generous to those around him. He prayed constantly for his sons and daughters for the sins they may have unwittingly committed, and gave burnt offerings on their behalf. Even though he was blameless, everything he owned, and the sons and daughters he loved, were ripped away from him. His wife in essence blames Job for their loss, and even though his friends come to comfort him, they also blame Job. But even in the worst of his pain, he worshiped God and praised him.

However, Job eventually realizes what is happening to him. Even though the Bible declares Job is blameless, Job makes the correct assumption that, "though I am blameless, God will declare me guilty." In other words, Job realizes that he is powerless against God, who decides that he should be guilty of something.

When God finally reveals himself to Job, he addresses none of the concerns or questions that Job has. He doesn't ask Job if he's alright. He doesn't give comfort to Job. He doesn't heal Job's boils. He doesn't provide water to drink. He offers nothing. Instead, God proceeds to give Job a guilt trip. God goes on self-absorbed ego trip, drunk with power, and begins to assault Job with questions and demands for Job to display the awesome power that God can. Of course, God knows that Job can't possibly answer or perform the miracles he asks for, but he demands these things anyway.

The amazing aspect of this display of God's power, is that God seems to enjoy beating Job down and humiliating him. Even after Job offers to repent in ashes for questioning God's presence, God continues to pummel Job, demanding that he rival God's power. But the irony of this tirade against Job is that Job never once questioned God's power, only where God was during his suffering. Furthermore, the only one to defend God throughout Job's suffering was Job, himself. Yet God sees fit to take Job to the woodshed, anyway.

Job knew that he hadn't sinned against God and dared to ask, "I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be." In other words, "Have I sinned against you, God? Why do you hate me to the point so that you make me my own worst enemy? I'm begging you to forgive me; but you refuse to. Why?"

We ultimately realize that Job was caught in the middle of a cosmic game of cat and mouse between God and Satan. As chapter 2, verse 3 tells us, "...thou [Satan] movedst me [God] against him [Job], to destroy him without cause." God had been tempted by Satan to move against Job to "destroy him without cause"? I thought the Bible clearly teaches that God cannot be tempted? In short, God gives in to Satan's wiles to destroy a just man without any reason.

In the final chapter, verse 11, we learn that God restores Job's wealth even more than it was before his troubles began. We also learn that God gives Job 7 new sons and 3 new daughters, as if this would somehow wipe Job's memory of the first smile of his firstborn child. Job's friends, brothers, sisters, and even mere acquaintances go to Job's house to eat and drink with him, and to comfort him from the "evil that the Lord had brought upon him." Evil that was visited upon a blameless man from a "just" and "holy" god.

In closing, I have a question for Christians who believe that the Book of Job is a beautiful passage of God's divine love and providence to his faithful:

If this is the god you serve - a god who can be swayed by evil to allow a righteous and just man to be destroyed - how then can you be assured of Heaven?

8 comments:

freed said...

I enjoyed your 3 posts on the book of Job and appreciate that you were not snarky in your assessments and understanding of it.

You asked...
If this is the god you serve - a god who can be swayed by evil to allow a righteous and just man to be destroyed - how then can you be assured of Heaven?.


I do not see how the story of Job has any bearing on a Christian's assurance of Heaven. God didn't allow Satan to kill Job and Job didn't lose his assurance of Heaven.

The relationship between God and Job was tested and it stood the test. Through this experience Job learned to appreciate God's gifts to him even more (42:1-6)

Today a Christian is assured salvation through trust in Jesus with the promise that nothing can take that away from us.

Sorry, but I have to repeat that I do not see how the story of Job has any bearing on a Christian's assurance of Heaven.

Matt said...

Freed,

Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is "the same yesterday, and today, and for ever," and James 1:13 tells us that "God cannot be tempted with evil."

If this is the case, and God can be influenced by Satan to punish a righteous man without cause, then this would prove that Jesus is not eternally the same. If so, then your hope for eternal life is nullified.

freed said...

I'm reading from the NKJV Bible.

In Job 2:3 God said to Satan "...although you incited Me against him,...". The word "tempted" is not used.

TEMPTED means to
entice
give rise to a desire
induce to action
seduce

INCITED means to
Urge on, cause to act
provoke
give an incentive for action

Satan did not tempt God but he did incite Him.

Satan planned and implemented Job's suffering. God allowed Satan to test Job - for a time - but God Himself delivered Job and restored him and blessed him.

The end result was that it was finally clear to everyone that God was sovereign.

No other book in the Bible includes such graphic detail of the problems and questions that believers wrestle with and skeptics ask - so says my Bible commentary.

You were searching for an accusation against God, but you were wrong and you have totally misunderstood God's purposes in the book of Job. I say that in all kindness.

Matt said...

Freed,

The Hebrew word for "incite" is cuwth, which as this link to Strong's concordance says, is exactly what you said - to entice, persuade, or provoke.

Two other examples of this word can be found in the OT. In 1 Chronicles 21:1 (NKJV) we read:

"Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel."

The word "moved" fits the description of "cuwth".

We also read in Deuteronomy 13:6:

"If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers,"

The word "entices" also matches the description of "cuwth", which is also your description of "tempted".

All these words mean the same thing according Strong's concordance of the Hebrew language. There is no distinction between "to entice" or "to provoke".

freed said...

I'm going to admit that I don't know how to use Strong's Concordance, but when I went to the link you provided I entered the two words, incite and tempt and got two entirely different descriptions which were very close to what I had originally submitted.

So, you have not demonstrated to me that my post was wrong. Unless you want to give me a lesson on how to use Strong's Concordance or the Lexicon or whatever it is, then I stand by what I originally posted. You've proved nothing.

Matt said...

"So, you have not demonstrated to me that my post was wrong. Unless you want to give me a lesson on how to use Strong's Concordance or the Lexicon or whatever it is, then I stand by what I originally posted. You've proved nothing."

I love it!

You stated earlier, "TEMPTED means to entice give rise to a desire
induce to action seduce," and when I give you the Hebrew word that is used in this Job 2:3 which means the exact same thing, you sidestep it as if it doesn't exist.

Why is that?

Strong's concordance is used by most Christians to cross-reference verses and words with their Greek and Hebrew origins.

It's not necessary to give you a lesson on how to use the concordance. It's just like using dictionary, encyclopedia, or a thesaurus.

freed said...

I didn't side step anything. Re-read what I said. At Strong's I got two entirely different descriptions than what you posted. Not different from what I originally posted.

What do you think I side stepped?

Matt said...

Ok, help me understand here.

In your first post you drew a distinction between the words "tempted" and "incite" by stating:

"TEMPTED means to entice, give rise to a desire, induce to action, seduce"

INCITED means to Urge on, cause to act, provoke, give an incentive for action."

I then responded by giving the Hebrew word used in Job 2:3 for "incited" cuwth, which means, to seduce, entice, move, persuade, provoke, remove, set on, stir up, take away.

Your description of "TEMPTED" matches "cuwth". I even gave you the link to the Hebrew translation. As a matter of fact, let's put all three together after the other to observe which verbs they have in common:

cuwth: to seduce, entice, move, persuade, provoke, remove, set on, stir up, take away.

tempt: to entice, give rise to a desire, induce to action, seduce.

incite: to urge on, cause to act, provoke, give an incentive for action.

There is no distinction between these words. They're interchangeable.

How did you not sidestep this?