Job Gospel

The Book of Job is not simply a story, but a fable, rich with meaning andlessons to be learned. I found Job to be one of the most interesting accounts inthe Bible, especially because it attempts to rationalize human suffering and theways of the Lord. It seems to me that the idea came first, and a story was foundto fit it, or one was made up, but that the entire reason for the Book of Job tobe included in the Bible is for its purpose in teaching us that we must endurewhat troubles we are given, because it is the Will of God. I have many questionsabout this book, none of which can be easily answered by anyone living today:Who wrote this tale, and how did they know what took place in heaven? Did theyjust see Job suffering his losses, only to regain them tenfold when his faithdid not swerve? These are only a few of my thoughts as I read Job, but overall,I found it a fascinating story that I wanted to explore in detail, and that iswhy I chose to write on it. Job was a righteous man who lived in Uz with hisseven sons and three daughters.

He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousandcamels, five hundred yokes of oxen, five hundred donkeys and many slaves. Eachyear, he held a banquet where Job would have each of his children purified, forfear that they might have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. On the day thatthe angels came to attest before God, God pointed out to the accusing angel(Satan) how righteous and respectful Job was to Him. Satan claimed that Job’sactions and character originated with evil and self-serving motives: Job is sorighteous and respectful because he has no reason to act otherwise, but if Godwere to give him hardship, he would curse the name of the Lord. Satan challengesGod to test Job, and reluctantly, God accepts. Here, we see Satan prodding theLord, who is supposed to be almighty and knowledgable about everything, intotesting one of his faithful servants for no reason other than to prove hisloyalty. This explains why God sometimes strikes down the righteous for noapparent reason, but it also makes us question whether or not God truly has ourbest interest at heart.

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God seems to have the character of a small child here,wanting to uphold his name, to show Satan that he “can too” prove thatJob is faithful. On Earth, Job was stricken with misfortune. All his childrendied of one tragedy or another, his animals were either stolen or struck bylightning. Job did not curse God, he rationalized the act, what God gives, Hecan also take away.

He bragged to Satan about how faithful and righteous hisservant Job was, like the small child we saw him as before. Again, Satan pushedGod on, claiming that Job was still faithful and righteous because he had notbeen affected directly by God’s test. He persuades God to test Job once more.This time, Job’s health is destroyed in a most horrifying form.

Job is coveredin boils from head to toe so badly, that he uses a piece of broken pottery toscratch the dead flesh off with. At this point, Job’s faith in the Lord istested by his wife, who wondered why he is still so faithful to God. As we allknow, the hardest part of faith is to believe when others around you do not, andcan convince you that they are right while you are wrong. Still, Job rebuked hiswife and refused to sin. Job had three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad theShuhite, and Zophar the Namathite. These three friends heard of what happened toJob and came to offer their sympathy and grief. After about a week of prayers,Job finally broke down and cursed the day he was born.

He wondered why lifeshould be given to a person who desires only death, who has ceased to find anyvalue in life, who has lost all hope of escape from continuous terror andtorment. His friends answer him in a series of three rounds, the first being themost significant of the three. Eliphaz answered him first, saying that Jobhelped others with encouraging words but now that the tables are turned, heimpatiently gave up. The righteous living that he had in the past should sustainhim through his trials now. No man is ever capable of a totally righteousrelationship with God, it is a cycle of sin and forgiveness. Job’s resentment ofdiscipline is very unwise, for God will not change your circumstances and astubborn refusal to learn from them will result in death. The source of theproblem is not man’s circumstances, but his heart.

Eliphaz says that Job shouldlook to God for deliverance. God does astonishing things, He helps those who arehurt and oppressed but destroys the corrupt. He tells Job to accept God’sdiscipline, he will learn from it and then God will bless him in many ways. Jobargued that his complaint is justifiable, and if Eliphaz would comprehend hisanguish, then he would understand that what God had done to him was wrong. Jobdoes not accept Eliphaz’s view that he must have sinned and feels that hisspeech was inappropriate for the circumstances. Job wishes God would give himdeath, so he could die with the consolation that he had remained faithful to Godall the way to the end.

What other hope does he have? Why should he wait quietlyfor something to happen, when all his belongings and loved ones had beendestroyed? Job also feels that Eliphaz has failed in his obligations toward himas a friend, because he doubts Job in his time of need. Job asks Eliphaz topoint out his errors, to look at his sincerity and not to accuse him withoutgiving good cause. Job asks why God treats him like an enemy, why He will noteven let sleep ease his pain.

Job asks why God is focusing so much attention onhim. Even if he did sin, it would not have hurt Him. So why not, in that case,show mercy and forgive him? Once he dies, it would be too late to do so.Bildad’s answers him by saying that God does not distort what is right. Job’schildren died because of sin. If Job repents, God will not give him death butblessings beyond imagination.

Repents of what? Job believes he is without sin.Job agrees that God does not pervert justice but does not understand how he candemonstrate his righteousness to Him. Job speaks of God’s power in creation andhow he works in catastrophic events. His works are beyond comprehension. Theseevents are all merely the effects of His presence.

In all, God does as hepleases, and no enemy can oppose Him or even question Him. Because of Hisgreatness, Job is helpless to defend himself and if he tried, he would probablybe destroyed. In His sight, Job could not even utter a word without soundingguilty.

Nonetheless, Job feels that he is blameless and wants to die. God, forsome reason, lets the blameless people suffer just like the wicked. If it is notGod doing it, then who is it? Job’s days are ending and unrealistic thinkingcannot change reality. Anything that he might do to prove himself innocent wouldbe of no value. He cannot approach God in court as he would do a man. Job saysto God that he hates his life, he is going to protest to Him to stop condemninghim until He has shown him his sin. He asks if somehow, God gets enjoyment fromattacking him while at the same time favoring the wicked, for he knows that Jobis innocent and that he is helpless against Him.

The next person to speak to Jobis Zophar, who claims that since Job is so worldly, it is practically impossiblefor him to be righteous, too. The riches of this world corrupt mankind. Zopharwishes that God Himself would show him how wrong Job was.

He asks Job to repentand turn back to God and forsake his sins, for only then will the past betotally forgotten. Job replies by saying that what Zophar has just said, anyonecan know. Job then goes into a long monologue.

He says that he longs for thepast and for the days in which he had an intimate companionship with God. Then,he was continuously blessed by Him, he was held in honor and respect above allother men because he helped the helpless, was righteous, just and opposed thewicked. Job expected prosperity and blessing all the days of his life, he wasthe most respected of all men and now he is mocked by all. All he has left is afew remaining days of pain. Job begs for mercy but God ruthlessly attacks himwith the intent of totally destroying him.

Surely it is unreasonable to destroya person who is already beat and broken. He went to others when they were hurt,yet no one come to his aid. Though he begs for health, all he receives is miseryand horror. Job then goes into an oath of innocence. He never looked lustfullyat a woman, was never deceitful, never committed a sexual sin. He had never beenunjust to his servants, never turned those away who were in need, never lovedmoney or any other form of idolatry. Job challenges God to prove him wrong. Ifever he had committed any sin, then may he be utterly cursed to the highestdegree.

Now, God replies to this through a voice in a whirlwind. He asks who itis that speaks these words that lack knowledge. He tells Job to prepare himselfto answer Him. He asks Job what he knows about the formations of the earth’sfoundations or how he formed and controls the oceans.

He asks if he ever causedthe morning to arrive or controlled the stars and clouds. Surely he must havelived countless years in order to speak with such great knowledge and power,says God. God asked whether he provided for the lion or the raven and kept watchover the mountain goat and deer when they give birth to their offspring. Did hegive the donkey his freedom to roam the barren lands? Does he know why theostrich is such a strange and unusual animal? Does he control the actions of thehawk and the eagle? God asks Job if the thinks that he knows so much that he isable to instruct Him. Job is humbled and silenced by the greatness of God, yetdoes not renounce his former position. God tells Job that if he is going toquestion the way He does things, he had better have the wisdom and might to dobetter than He can. Since he is not God’s equal, he had no right to speak insuch a manner.

Job now realizes that it was not a good idea to challenge God.The only legitimate option was to submit to Him and trust Him to do what isright. Now, Job is ready to withdraw his challenge and repents. God lets Eliphaz,Bildad and Zophar know that he is very angry for having spoken falsely of Him,making Job resent God. The fact that they were all speaking as if they knewexactly what God was doing is another error the friends make, for no one canpresume to know the ways of the Lord. Therefore, to rectify having spoken of Godin this manner, they each must take a certain amount of sacrifices to Job, andJob would offer their sacrifices to God and pray for them. For a nice, happyending, Job was made twice as prosperous as before. His wealth doubled, he hadten more children, and lived 140 more years of his life.

The basic theme of thisbook is to establish an understanding of the relationship between God and Hispeople. God’s wisdom and power are visible everywhere in creation. A willingnessto look and accept what is obvious results in awe for the Creator. The clearpurpose of this tale is to teach humankind that the true path to salvation andfavor from God is an acceptance of whatever miseries and tests placed upon you.We are shown the three wrong stances to take through example of Job’s friendsEliphaz, Bildad, and Zopher, all three of whom place the blame upon Job andpresume to know the ways of God. We are also shown that challanging God to provehis ways is unnaceptable, we are simple human beings and cannot presume to askGod to explain himself to us. All in all, The Book of Job is there to show uswhat not to do, it cautions against ever making God “angry” throughyour thoughts and actions, no matter what is inflicted on you. A trulyfascinating and insightful book into the world of God and religion.

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