Bible Bites (Job): If I was a rich man…

Previous Post: B’reshiyth בְּרֵאשִׁית

SIDE NOTE: I’ve been behind on my reading, which is to say, I haven’t done any reading that I had intended to. It’s not that I feel as if I’ve disappointed my rabid readers *cough*. But I feel like I’ve lost the flow I had intended for this blog and backtracking makes me feel cluttered (which is what I’ve tried to avoid by not having a lot of Widgets). It’s one of those things where I wish I could turn back time or slow down time enough so I could catch up. For, you see, before writing this post I had intended to have read

  1. God’s Undertaker (2007) by John Lennox – which I was foolish enough to procrastinate from buying at my church’s bookstall. Now only Koorong is selling it for under $10 and I haven’t been bothered to travel all the way up there myself. In fact, never have I ever been to Koorong (is usually my first response in that game).
  2. Paradise Lost (1647) by John Milton – which I could have found online but I had wanted to read God’s Undertaker before tackling this beast.

I guess I could set the Publish Date for the subsequent posts to days before this one but that would be cheating, not to mention confusing for you two readers. To fill in my own blank, I would say that if I was a rich man I would probably buy lots and lots of books (and DVDs) so that I would not have the problem of being behind.

Getting to the real blogging at hand, my last post left off with the people of the world scattered and no longer united by language as a result of God’s judgment on the people of Babel. Somewhere around this time, we find a rich man living in the land of Uz. I’m not entirely sure if this land was owned by the descendant of Noah through Shem (Gen 10.23), but it would add some cred to my Bible reading plan if it was 🙂

This man’s name was Job (Hebrew: אִיוֹב‎ ʾ iyov). It’s pronounced like joe-b, and NOT like the word for your occupation. And it seems like he wasn’t a descendant of Abram (I guess he could be considered a Gentile) yet he was faithful to God. He was just that good. And I know the Bible says that no one is good (Romans 3.12 and even Job 15.14) but Job comes very close, even to the extent that he would pre-emptively offer sacrifices as a precaution for the sins of his sons [1.5]. He was at least wise in his wealth.
He was both righteous AND rich.

Despite what happens next, I would have to say that Job is one of my favorite books of the Bible (in fact, it is probably because of what happens next). I find it more personal than other depressing books of the Bible, like Ecclesiastes. The Bible reading plan was set out in a way that allowed me to read small chunks of it daily, but once I started reading I couldn’t stop. The biggest chunk of Job is a debate about the righteousness of our protagonist in the midst of his suffering. And it always gets me that if this righteous man had given-in to his mates’ reasoning that his suffering was the result of his unrighteousness, he would have lied and then had proven his friends to be speaking the truth.

I was surprised to find that this interpretation did not restore Job's original aesthetics. I guess the Bible doesn't tell us, but I'd assume that that was part of his blessings.

And I admire Job, not only for his persistence (even when his friends see it as pride), but in what he asks from God. Even if he dies as a result of it, all he asks is for God to reveal himself so that he would be the one that convicts Job of what he had done wrong to deserve his suffering. The climax is God speaking through a storm, not to give Job the answer he is looking for but glorifying himself… Everyone is silenced, including Job. And God vindicates Job against his terrible friends.

Once again, there are three things that I have found helpful to consider as I read this intense part of God’s story…

Nuggets:

  • God is in control. It’s probably one of the biggest themes of the Bible. God is the one that initiates for Satan to consider Job [1.8]. And it is also God that rescues Job from his suffering. I still consider myself to have a very limited understanding of angels and demons, but I know that Satan cannot do anything outside of the sphere of authority allowed to him by God. God’s power is awesome and awful (too much to handle) at the same time.
  • Sometimes it’s best not to help. I have experienced family having to struggle through a serious illness. It’s not nice to feel powerless to help and this was one of those times when I felt I couldn’t. And I know things could have been made worse if someone were to give reason to their ill-health, such as poor diet and lack of exercise. But sometimes the best thing we could do is to be present for them as we silently grieve. In fact, I had read the majority of Job doing exactly that, being present for someone, in a hospital. There have also been times when I have struggled and know that there isn’t much my friends could have done to help. I have found wisdom in discerning who is the better person to ask. And I have come to really appreciate prayer from my Christian fellows as I trust God to be the ultimate provider of help.
  • Jesus. Job does remind me of Jesus in how both men suffered despite their righteousness. In fact, Jesus’ suffering is what makes him such a great high priest for us (Hebrews 4.15). And I think the Saviour (or Redeemer) that Job was looking for is found in Jesus:

“I know that my Savior lives, and at the end
he will stand on this earth.
My flesh may be destroyed,
yet from this body
I will see God. Yes, I will see him for myself,
and I long for that moment.”

Job 19.25-27

RANT: Two upbeat Christian songs have quoted the book of Job. Reuben Morgan’s My Redeemer Lives and Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name. I know for one Blessed was written after 9/11. I think the meaning behind these songs is important to remember when Christians sing them.

Fun Fact:

I’ve heard it mentioned somewhere that the fairy tale, Cinderella, was inspired by Job (or that it’s a Job-like-story at least). It’s one of those things saying ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ as stories repeat themselves through generations.

Further Reading:

I had started reading this some time ago when it was first published but I am still yet to read it in its entirety. It was written by one of my Biblical Studies teachers in high school. Apart from the great insights, it reminds me of the good times had in that class. The book is called ‘Crying out for Vindication: The Gospel according to Job’ by David R. Jackson. Also, it is somewhat technically dedicated to me as well as I was one of his students 😉

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About patricious

"The only instrument by which I am made a participant in Christ’s righteousness is God’s acting through my faith. I am born into that relationship through faith alone, not through any of its fruits, like mercy and justice and love and patience and kindness and meekness and so on, which turn me into a useful person in the world." John Piper

Posted on November 13, 2010, in Bible and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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