Bible Study: Job Chapters 1-5
Back on track for what we *should* have been reading…last night we read Job. I was actually pretty excited to read this one, as the introduction to Job described it as “an exquisite dramatic poem” addressing the problems of the innocent suffering, and of their retribution.
Tonight’s readings, chapters 1-5 of 42 total chapters, laid the groundwork for the story of Job. Job, the protagonist of the story, is blessed with many gifts – family, harvest, animals – and is devout to the Lord. One day, Satan, in speaking to the Lord, says that Job only revers God because his life is good. God gives Satan permission to take away the good in Job’s life…and see what happens.
1. Job 1: 4-5. Job reminded me of Abram, who went through great length to support his kin. Each time Job’s sons & daughters finished a night of partying, Job would give offerings to atone for any sins on their behalf. Amazing father!
2. Job 1: 7-22. It was interesting that Satan was there, in person, to speak to the Lord. I admit, we were let down that God gave him permission to wreck havoc on Job’s life to prove that Job would still revere God! Job’s strength in his faith was so strong – it sets such an example. Even after nearly everything – everything – in his life was taken away, his response was, “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord”. Such conviction, even in the throes of adversary.
3. Job 2: 1-10. Satan, frustrated that Job doesn’t turn against the Lord, goes after Job himself and takes away his health. Job’s wife loses faith, but Job tells her, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”. This really resonated – so many times, we hear of people talk about the blessings the receive (we, too, feel so blessed!) and thank God for them, but not be open and accepting of the adversity that happens. It’s too easy to blame and question – Why me, Why did You do this, How could You, etc. Job, though, never questions the Lord. Again, am so impressed with his solid faith.
4. Job 3: 1-26. My heart went out to Job. I can only imagine the pain – mentally and physically – that he was in and was going through. Verses 25 & 26 especially broke my heart: “For what I fear overtakes me, and what I shrink from comes upon me. I have no peace nor ease; I have no rest, for trouble comes!”. What a horrible, scary, sad life to lead! It made me think of so many of the mentally ill in our society today – the ones who have so many demons in their heads that they fight and struggle with on a constant basis. It’s not a life one could even wish on an enemy.
5. Job 4&5. Initially, I felt that Eliphaz, a friend of Job’s who came to him in his time of need, was truly a friend. He initially (seems) to remind him that he – Job – helped many when they faltered, and needed to now swallow his own pill…always easier said than done. Then, starting around 4:7 his “friend” asks him, “what innocent person perishes? Since when are the upright destroyed?”. It’s as if he is implying that Job deserves the anguish cast upon him. It again is repeated in 5:6 with “For mischief comes not out of the earth, nor does trouble spring out of the ground”. Eliphaz is making it clear that he feels that Job must have done something in order to deserve the pain being sent his way. This made me sad…to be honest, partly because we found ourselves doing that at times. It’s so easy to say to yourself, “well, it’s not like xxxx didn’t have it coming”, or “I’m sure they deserved it”. That makes you neither a friend nor a good person – and closes you off to the outside circumstances that are surrounding someone in need. On a personal note, I found myself relating to this again when I think of the homeless. It’s all to easy to throw a glance or ignore them on the corner when you see them…and to think, “there’s shelters out there for you” or “just go get a job”. We know nothing of their circumstance – nothing of the afflictions that are around them – and make the same assumption the Eliphaz made of Job…that they must have done something to end up where they are. For me, this was really important to read about – it’s a reminder to us all.
…I was never great at understanding the symbolism or deeper meaning in stories and poems (the Old Man and the Sea? – it’s just about a guy fishing, right?), so I personally struggled a bit with some of the poetic-in-nature versus in the reading…especially Eliphaz’s first speech. Am thankful to have a teaching Bible which helps break it down.
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