For some reason the Bible in a year reading plan that I am following jumps from Genesis, one of the history/law books of the Old Testament, to Job, one of the wisdom books. I assume the reason for this is that the editors decided that as Job is about a person who lived during the events recorded in Genesis, it would be good for the book to go alongside it. *
A difficult read
To say I found reading Job easy would be an understatement. The basic premise of this book is to discuss the question of why bad things happen to good people. Job, is a good person. Not only does he do good himself but also offers the odd sacrifice and apology to God for his offspring too. A sort of biblical version of fining the parents if the children play truant.
But dealing with the question of why bad things happen is hard going. And I am grossly simplifying the whole who is good and what is bad discussion here. But in the context of this book a good person is someone who follows God and the bad things are all to do with material possessions and physical health (both to Job and his family).
It’s all God’s fault
One of the problems with this book is that the answer to the question is that God lets them. With Job this is indirect. Satan turns up in heaven and gets God to allow him to take away all Job has. Satan believes that Job only follows God because things are good. This line of thought doesn’t work, it only leads to Job not understanding why these things have happened.
Job believed that if you were good, you’d be rewarded with good things. Many of us today feel the same way, whether this is our biblical theology, our belief in karma or the yin and yang in the circle of life.
And I wonder if this is why I struggled? I don’t see that working out in life. It would seem that equally good and bad people receive pretty much good or bad things. I see people who have never had the chance to be good receiving bad things, and those who live long evil lives, dying with a financial legacy that leaves their families set up for generations.
What I am left with is that sometimes it makes no difference if you are good or bad. And this is what Job was struggling with. In the end Job had everything and more returned to him. But life isn’t always like that. So I’m left with pondering a bigger picture if I am to believe in a ‘just’ God / universe.
I believe that the book of Job is a narrative created to explore its topic. It uses highly poetic language, ancient art if you like, to try and grasp its huge subject. And perhaps it is through art, in its varied expressions, that we continue to grapple with such a difficult issue.
And something a little lighter
I have to thank Eddie for finding this. It’s easier to watch this than read the 42 chapters of Job, and a lot more fun too. But perhaps doesn’t quite grapple with the issue… or then again does it? ‘Bring it.’
*And if you assumed this post was a review of my job I am sorry