Monday, August 26, 2013

Job: Attempts to Justify God Can End up in Bad Theology - I

The case of Job and his three friends reveals that even attempts to justify God can end up in bad theology and actions that are gravely displeasing to Him. God is just, of course; but, suffering doesn't always mean "punishment for sin". Jesus made that clear to His disciples when He said that the man who was born blind was born so, not because of his sin or anybody's sin, but in order that God's works may be revealed in him (John 9:3). It would have been better for Job's friends to shut their mouths about what they didn't know instead of imagining stuff and trying to find explanation for something that was difficult in such situations. We are called to mourn with those who mourn (Rom.12:15); that is much better in most cases. Only someone who has gone through the pain that Job went through could grasp the agony that is present in each word he utters. But, it is written for us so that we can understand the patience of Job.

Chs 1-11 (First Round)
  • Job is introduced by the author as blameless and righteous before God; but, Satan wants a trial of faith. (Chs1-2). Satan believes that Job will curse God if God will hurt him. God allows Satan to hurt Job.
  • Job's agony is so great that he wishes he was not born. He finds no purpose in suffering. (Ch3)
  • Eliphaz tries to interpret Job's suffering as divine chastisement and finds in it a hope for the future. He cites his experience with some spirit who rhetorically reveals that man cannot be righteous before God - the argument seems to veer in support of sin as originating from human weakness or finitude. (Chs4-5)
  • Job is discouraged that his friends can't relate to his experience of pain; instead of comforting him; they try to theorize things. He cries out to God for relief. (Chs6-7)
  • Bildad tries to argue that God cannot be unjust - history teaches that; tradition attests to that.(Ch8)
  • Job asks, "But how can a mortal be just before God?" He still can't understand why he's going through all this. He asks God to leave him alone before he dies. (Chs9-10)
  • Zophar is vexed because Job can't see it and keeps babbling his pain. There is some sense in all this, he thinks. However, God is so great and man so small that it's difficult to know the reason behind everything that is happening. But, Job can be sure that God is exacting of him less than his guilt deserves. He encourages Job to repent.

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