I sometimes suspect that my fascination with Job is owing to a childish melodramatic interest in tragedy, and any pontification offered on the subject, pedantic, and stemming from a perfunctory knowledge of anguish gleaned from a brief but stormy voyage on the sea of despair, circa 1995. It is also no doubt the brooding indulgence of an occasionally melancholic temperament. ( And I am fully aware that my being transfixed by the trial of Job is no different than a silly sentimental school-girl's obsession with the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.)
However, the previously mentioned voyage has marked me forever, for better or worse, and forgive me if I seem to have yet to gain my land legs. And if I am to offer anything of the slightest worth, even interest, on this blog, it had better be something that begs my interest, or you will have wasted just as much time reading it as I will have writing it.
Job appears to have been something of an anomaly, from my limited viewpoint. He was extremely wealthy and absolutely devoted to God. According to my knowledge of human nature, when things go well, our appreciation for God can be likened to our appreciation for an Internet connection. When it works well, you really don't think about it, but when you don't have it. . .
This is interesting also, when you consider that Satan insisted that Job served God for the favors. Was he exhibiting an astounding lack of knowledge of human nature, or was he ignoring it in the interest of an opportunity to inflict misery upon a human? Satan's role in this is obscured by the larger story, but it is somewhat mysterious, starting with his presence among the angels before God. What exactly was he doing there, and why was he allowed?
Perhaps the incongruity of an exchange between God and Satan is what has led some to believe that this "Satan"translated "Adversary" means just and only that and that Satan in this case is not the arch-enemy Lucifer whom God banished, but, in fact, God's prosecutor. The problems with that theory are many and significant, not the least of which is the fact that from this premise you must assume that in this particular case God plays prosecutor (intimating Job had committed an act worthy of prosecution and we are nowhere in the book led to believe that he had), defense attorney (at the end of Job God clearly states that Job had done no wrong throughout the whole ordeal, unlike his friends) and judge. ( God settles the wrong done to Job by his friends and rewards him for his consistent resistance to sin.)
The question remains however, why would God allow Satan in His presence? Perhaps we can simply compare the occasion to Satan's temptation of Christ and let it go at that.
One of the first discomforting things about this exchange is you'll notice God Himself first mentioned Job. Thus leading to the discussion as to Job's motives in eschewing evil. God, in His omniscience, obviously knew the course this discussion would take. Some have suggested it was the result of God's pride in Job, and I don't necessarily dispute that although I think it goes deeper than my dad is better than your dad. God saw that the ordeal would benefit Job, which is even more discomforting. If a man like Job, dedicated and blameless and as upright as he was, was in need of being driven closer to God by such horrible disaster, what awaits a lesser man like me around the next corner? Or does God reserve such bitter medicine only for those He trusts enough to take it and crushes a baby aspirin in a spoonful of grape jelly for the rest of us?
The book of Job and stories like it present a giant stumbling block for some. How could God so cruelly, and so unjustly punish one of His most well-behaved children? The question nagged at one Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin and his long-suffering tiger are laying awake at night, commiserating and pondering over the meaning of the death of a baby raccoon they had found and adopted. Calvin wonders why the little raccoon had to die, and what a rotten, miserable world fate had fashioned for us. The strip ends with Calvin and Hobbes both hiding under the bed and Calvin stating, "Either it's mean, or it's arbitrary, and either way I've got the heebie jeebies." You could take this as Watterson's denial of a loving God or the plaintive question posed by someone who is just trying to make sense of the world sans God.
More later . . .
who knows how much later