Let’s Read the Bible: Job 1-5
Welcome back! I apologize for the delay, but in all honesty, this is a tough one to get through. Today, I will discuss Job 1-5. A lot happens in Job, so I will try to be brief.
Job 1: Job is a stand-up guy who loves God. God and Satan wager that Satan can make Job forsake God. Satan literally burns Job’s world down.
- Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1).
- Job had 7 sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 5 female donkeys, and “very many servants,” a.k.a. slaves. This made him the “greatest of all the people of the east.” (Job 1:2-3). I guess even God accepted the subjugation of human beings and slave labor. But I thought he loves us all? If he does, we haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet.
- Job’s kids liked to party and each day of the week, they had a feast at each of the brothers’ houses. (Job 1:4).
- Since having fun is against the unspoken rules that God has laid before him, Job consecrates and burns “offerings” for each of his 10 kids at the end of each week. (Job 1:5). Job says that he does this to absolve his children’s sins so that they are not punished.
- God and his sons have a meeting and there is a special guest . . . Satan! God asks him where he is coming from and Satan replies that he’s just been walking around on earth. (Job 1:6-7). So much for omniscience.
- God asks Satan if he’s noticed that Job is the perfect guy. Satan asks God if Job fears him for no reason. He explains that because God has blessed Job, he has only reaped the benefits—and not the wrath—of God. Satan wants to show God that if he, Satan, takes away all of Job’s blessings, he will curse God to his face!
- Never one to back down from a challenge, God tells Satan that Job and everything he has is in Satan’s hands. (Job 1:9-12).
- Poor Job. He has done everything right, but because Satan seems to influence even God’s behavior, implying to me that God is not infallible, he decides that winning a bet with Satan is more important than being loyal to the man he described as God-fearing, “blameless and upright.”
- Satan proceeded to burn all of Job’s slaves, crops, and livestock. He also sent outsiders (the Sabeans and Fhaldeans) to slaughter slaves with swords. While Job’s kids were having a party, they were killed by a wind storm.
- Of course, Satan did not cop to what he had done. Rather, he sent messengers to tell the news of what had just happened to Job.
- Job was having a shitty day.
Job 2: Satan takes Job’s health.
- The “sons of God” presented themselves before God again. As usual, Satan tagged along. (Job 2:1).
- Again, God asked Satan where he was coming from. (Job 2:2). So much for omniscience . . . again.
- God asks Satan what he thinks about how loyal Job has been. Satan basically says to God, “Everything you took from Job were things he would have given to save his life, but if you let me wreck his body, he’ll curse you for sure!” (Job 2:4-5).
- God gives Satan his permission to do what he wants with Job, no matter how awful, so long as Satan does not kill Job. (Job 2:6).
- Satan wasted no time and “struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” (Job 2:7).
- Job grabbed a piece of broken pottery to “scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.” (Job 2:8). Are you feeling for Job yet?
- Job’s wife confronts him and says, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9). She is not very supportive in his plight. Typical. Women are devoid of sense and are inherently evil after all.
- Job lashed back and said, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?” Job never cursed God. (Job 2:10). This sentence is especially interesting to me. Technically, God is not the one dealing out the evil. Satan is. But to me, the real evil does lie with God, not Satan.
- It is easy to create scapegoats, but God’s acquiescence to Satan’s challenge is the source of Job’s misery. What do you call people who make bets at your expense? Assholes. What do you call a God who makes bets at your expense? Lord.
- Three of Job’s friends had heard about the “evil that had come upon him,” so they set an appointment to get together and give Job their sympathy and comfort. (Job 2:11).
- When they saw him, they did not even recognize him. He looked so bad that they screamed and cried, tore their clothes off and “sprinkled dust on their heads towards heaven.” (Job 2:12). They sat with him for seven days and seven nights in silence. (Job 2:13).
Job 3: Job curses the day he was born.
- After a week of sitting and suffering, Job curses the day he was born. (Job 3:1-2).
- He asks why he did not die at birth. (Job 3:11). He asks why he was not a “hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?” (Job 3:16).
- He explains that if he had died (or never saw the light), he would be in a place where “the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.” (Job 3:17).
- “There the prisoners are at ease together; they hear not the voice of the taskmaster.” (Job 3:18). He continues: “The small and the great are there, and the slave is free from his master.” (Job 3:19).
- Job is likely talking about heaven here. He only refers to this place as “there,” but we know that prisoners and slaves are free of their oppressors “there.” For Job, the greatest gift God could give him is to allow him to die and enter the kingdom of heaven. But God specifically told Satan not to let Job die. How delightfully horrific.
Job 4: Job’s friend, Eliphaz, jumps in and tells Job about when he was visited by a ghost.
- Eliphaz tells Job he can seek confidence in his fear of God and integrity in hope. That if he was wicked, God would have struck him down by now. (Job 4:5-9).
- Job’s friend asks him, “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:7-8). Takeaway: You reap what you sow. Karma is a bitch.
- Then, Eliphaz tells Job that he was visited in the night by a “spirit.” (Job 4:13-21).
- He could not discern what the figure looked like but then he heard a voice. The voice asked, “Can mortal man be in the right favor before God? Can a man be pure before his maker?” (Job 4:17). The spirit explains to Eliphaz that God does not trust his servants or his angels. (Job 4:18). But, those who God does not look favorably on die; and when they die, they die without wisdom (I assume the wisdom of God). (Job 4:21). Eliphaz repeats the words of the spirit to Job verbatim. He later admitted that he had been recording this encounter on his iPhone.
- Eliphaz seems to be saying to Job, “Hey man, if you were not in good favor with God, he would have just killed you by now.” Eliphaz wants Job to know that he should feel lucky that God is keeping him around for this suffering. And if you don’t believe him, you can ask the elusive spirit he saw in his bedroom. (Between you and me, I think Eliphaz just had a hit off a burning bush and imagined the whole thing.)
Job 5: Eliphaz continues to “comfort” Job.
- Eliphaz begins by telling Job that a man makes his own troubles and there must have been something Job did to cause God to curse him. (Job 5:1-7). This seems harsh and unfair. But who am I to judge?
- Eliphaz then tries to soften the blow and encourages Job to seek God because God does so many wonderful things like send rain. (Job 5:8-10). God also “catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.” (Job 5:13). Whoa! If this does not scream anti-intellectualism, I do not know what does.
- This verse says that God punishes wise people and schemers. Republican politicians, you may not be wise, but you are schemers . . . Beware of God’s wrath!
- We learn that God “saves the needy from the sword,” therefore, the poor have hope. (Job 5:15-16). And that when God wounds, he heals; he protects you from evil. (Job 5:18-20). Do what? Protect you from evil? Job has been put at the mercy of evil incarnate at the amusement of God. Now I know Eliphaz was smoking a burning bush.
- Eliphaz finishes by telling Job that all of this suffering is for his own good. (Job 5:23-27). “Just hang in there, bro.”
Next reading: Job 6-9! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.