JOB GETS HIS DAY IN COURT
*Good morning. Today we continue looking at the Book of Job. We have dealt with the theology of the three "friends" of Job, along with Elihu, who thinks he is the spokesperson for the Lord, and we have discovered Job's response. Job allows them to have their say, disputes what they have to say, and continues to desire an audience with God. Well, he gets his wish.
"Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me." (Job 38:1-3)
Before we start on God's response to Job let's remember how this story all began. Remember in the beginning that God considered Job to be "blameless and upright." Job feared the Lord. Satan persuaded the Lord to play a little game just to see if Job would remain "righteous" if everything were to be taken from him. Again I remind you, Satan is never portrayed as the bad guy in this story. In fact, after the second chapter Satan is never mentioned again. Job, never blames any of what has befallen him on Satan, but questions God's reasoning in all that has happened. With the language that Job uses it is as though Job wants to put God on trial. God appears to Job in what is called a theophany (God takes on human persona). Finally, Job will get his answers! Umm...well...Not really.
How does God respond to Job? Basically what God says is: "Who is this that's whining like a baby?" Oh, Boy! Can you tell this isn't about to go well? Instead of Job putting God on trial, God puts Job on trial. Instead of Job getting answers God demands answers from Job. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set..." (Job 38:4-6a) God wants to know what Job knows about the creation of the world. Or, in other words, "Job what do you know about being God?" From the very beginning Job is humbled. This is what happens when a man of the world meets the God of the universe.
Now, before we get back to Job and God, or God and Job, I want to look at some of the things God says. Isn't it interesting that God describes the creation of the world in carpentry terms? God is clearly not interested in being "biblically correct" by staying true to the Genesis account where every thing came into being with a spoken word. God continues to "badger" his witness by asking things such as: "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail..."(Job 38:22) "Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are?" (Job 38:34-35) I would encourage you to read all of chapters 38-39. The visuals are incredible.
"Then the Lord said to Job: "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him! Then Job answered the Lord: 'I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth." (Job 40:1-4)
Job admits that he spoke way too soon. Job is put in his place, but God is not done with him. God continues for another two chapters asking Job such things as: "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?" (Job 41:1) I can just hear poor 'ole Job declare: "Alright! I get it already! Enough! You are God and I am not!!!"
In the end Job repents and comes away with a fresh view of God: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6) This is where the conversation between Job and the Lord ends. We are then given an epilogue: "After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz (remember him?) the Temanite, 'I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." (Job 42:7) This lets us know that God did not speak through the three friends who tried to help Job understand why he was suffering. God did not sanction their sermons. What about Job? How did things end for Job?
"After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before...The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first." (Job 42:10,12)
One thing is for sure, even though God was not easy on Job (to say the least) God never abandoned Job. Everything and more was restored. Now, here's the thing that we need to realize: God never answered the question "why?" Job was never given a reason for his suffering. We may go through life without all the answers to all our questions. What mattered most here was the fact that Job had a better understanding of God and had a more positive relationship with God in the end. Job never gave up on God. When trouble comes our way we can just turn away from God and say something like: "I no longer believe there is a God!" or we can take our chance (as Job) and bring God "to court." Why did I say this? Because, as long as we are willing to ask God why, we are saying that we know God can. And we are willing to be confronted by the God of the universe.
This is not an easy book to digest. Later, we will read the Book of Proverbs that basically says that if you do right you will (in the words of Star Trek) "live long and prosper." The Book of Job seems to dispute that theology. Did Job live long? Yes! Did Job prosper? Yes, in the end he did, but he suffered beyond what any human being can stand to suffer. Also, this book portrays God in an interesting way. The Lord never confessed to Job just what went on around the throne. Now, for something very interesting:
"And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah..."(Job 42:13-14a)
What is interesting here is that his daughters name are given, while the sons' are not. We are also told that these daughters were the most beautiful women in the land and they were given an inheritance. For daughters to be given an inheritance (unless there were no sons) was very unusual. Of course, this also indicates that all was well with Job and his wife. (nothing was ever said about his wife after she advised him to "curse God and die." Were these children born to the same woman? We don't really know)
"After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years." (Job 42:16) Psalms 90:10 says that the customary life span is seventy years ("or eighty if we have strength") Therefore, Job's years of life ( after the calamities were ended) were doubled.
Well, there is so much more to say about Job. Perhaps one day I'll write a book. I think that would be fun. Tomorrow we will begin looking at the Psalms. We will not cover all of them, but will take an in-depth look at the Psalms as a whole, while focusing on particular ones. It will be fun. I hope you can join me. -Pastor Rick