Monday, 21 October 2013

An Exposition of the Book of Job: To Speak Well of God - Mr J Pople


"Have you considered my servant Job?"

The Biblical drama of Job is haunting. A blameless man is tormented by 'the Satan': stripped of wealth, status, possessions, health and children -- all with God's permission! Who is this Satan? More chilling still, who is this God? And why, despite this cataclysmic carnage, does the drama focus on the resulting argument between Job and his 3 friends?

The ending of the drama seems no clearer. When God reveals Himself, what is He saying? Finally, God restores Job. Yet does this truly repair His permitted destruction of him?

With its distinctive identification of the Satan, this interpretation offers unique insights into the classic interactions between God, Satan and the Righteous Man; revealing the Messianic message encoded within. Most importantly it lends reason to persevere in faith, as Job did; and speak well of God.

I offer a synopsis below. My attempt is to make this synopsis free of any interpretation ans simply a presentation of the prima fascia facts.

Prologue (chapters 1-2, prose): God invites a character termed "the Satan" to consider the piety of his servant Job. The Satan counters that God fails to realize Job is only pious because he is well blessed in riches and, were he deprived, he would curse Him. God meets the Satan's demands by Himself destroying Job's fortunes, children and ultimately health. Yet Job does not curse God; the Satan loses the barter.

Debate (chapters 3-31, poetry): Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar come to sympathize but, ultimately, they chastise Job. A debate ensues where each speaker attacks Job in turn, calling him to repent of the sins they believe must have triggered his destruction, and Job replies in self-defense.

 Fourteen speeches and rebuttals are voiced, with the debate growing ever more heated and culminating in lengthy speeches from Job appealing to God to appear so that his (Job's) righteousness can be revealed.
Intervention (chapters 32-41, poetry): Instead, a young witness, Elihu, speaks out. He too is critical of Job, yet limits his criticism to Job's recent words, not lifestyle, all the while defending God as righteous.

Then God speaks (His longest speeches in the Bible!). He first presents a tour of creation, focusing especially on wild animals, observing that He can control them where Job cannot. When Job briefly responds, God rebukes him and launches a second speech focused wholly on His ability to control two beasts whose descriptions seem other-worldly. Job's latter response states he has 'seen God' and avers a new life direction.
Epilogue (chapter 42, prose):

God rebukes the three friends for not speaking correctly about Him; praises Job for succeeding in that regard; and directs Job to intercede in prayer for his friends for God to forgive them. God then restores Job: he receives double of his previous blessings yet, while he receives twice as many flocks and herds as previously, he is only blessed to receive as many children as before.