I have all but abandoned my “Exile/Restoration” thesis at least for the time being. Such a thesis cannot be worked out through a surface – albeit careful – reading of the book of Job. It would require indepth study of word patterns and usage and struggle to answer many other questions I cannot raise as I blow in and out of Job in my through the bible in 90 days challenge. (Reminder: that is 90 days less the weekends.)
Job’s friends live in a world where the theological assumption is that blessings come to the righteous and cursings come to those who sinned. So Job’s friends insist that somewhere along the way Job must have sinned.
I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity, I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live. – Job 25:5-6
I think Job’s friends are mistaken to assume that bad things happen only to those who sin. But Job is mistaken to assume that God is arbitrary as we saw in Job 21 (Day 37). But Job goes further, as we saw, to suggest that if God knew of Job’s righteousness that God would cease to let these bad things happen to him. In other words, Job thinks he could get a trial with God and defend his case. He thinks he could correct God.
What’s obvious throughout the dialogue is that neither Job nor his friends are aware of the accuser in the heavens which occasioned Job’s trials.
But the question everyone wants to know is did Job fail the test?
This is a difficult question to answer. When God steps in and gives Job the trial he was looking for God’s who dialogue was a rebuke to Job (Job 38-41). This would seem to indicate that Job failed the test. But in the epilogue God restores Job’s fortune with dividends. This would suggest that Job passed the test. What was the test anyways? The test was whether or not Job loved God because of what God did for him, or just because God was God. Satan’s charge was that of God’s blessings were removed and Job was struck, that Job would curse God and die (Job 1:11).
So Job passed that test. Job refused to curse God. But even though Job claimed to be righteous throughout the dialogue, he clearly was not. His pride and arrogance were supreme puke worthy. He made judgements about God and even exhorted himself above God by assuming that he could correct God’s mistake.
Job’s friends correctly go about to set Job straight, but in so doing they falsely assumed that if bad things happen to “good people”, sin must be involved.
So both Job and his friends are in the wrong. But now I have some questions:
1. Job did not speak of what was right about God throughout the dialogue, but it is Job’s friends who were interested in defending God’s righteous character against Job who are said to “have not spoken what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7).
2. Job is depicted in the closing verses of the book as filling a priestly roll. I wonder how this fact could play into everything that has gone before.
3. Whatever happened to “the Satan”? He has literally fallen out of the book. He disappears.
4. Job receives new children, but like every parent knows, nothing can replace your kids. In testing Job God allowed his children to be killed. For that matter God allowed Job’s servants to be killed as well. Should we feel for them? Or should we ignore these terrible things simply to focus on the greater good of Job’s test?
And none of this is to mention the bigger questions of “natural disasters and the will of God”, wrestling with the questions of theodicy – how can God be righteous if there is evil in the world – which is the very question Job and his friends were debating. Not to mention the issue of how much of God’s hand was into what happened? Did God cause it, did he allow it, isn’t allowing it as bad as causing it et cetera?
I don’t know, but I agree with my friend Crystal. I would like to be of such character that God would look upon me and say: “have you considered my servant Derek”.
Related to this Crystal has written an interesting and imaginative post on what Peter and Job have in common. Check it out.