The Book of Job

(709 Posts)
Machadaynu Sun 30-Sep-12 20:20:50

I mentioned my thoughts on The Book of Job in the 'Back to Church' thread, and it was suggested that I start a new thread about it. So here it is.

The story of the book of Job is (to quote myself from the other thread):

God is chatting to Satan and mentions how Job is his best follower and would never lose faith. Satan essentially has a bet with God that Job would turn on God if his life wasn't so great. God, for some reason, accepts this deal with the proviso that Satan doesn't kill Job. It's not explained why God is chewing the fat with Satan rather than, say, destroying him completely, what with God being omnipotent and Satan being pure evil.

Anyway, Satan sends all sorts of illness to Job, kills all his animals, destroys his farm and kills his entire family. God, being omniscient, knew this would happen when he took on the bet - he knew Job would suffer, and he knew Job would remain true to him. Quite why he needed to prove this to Satan (pure evil, remember) is something of a mystery.

In the end God gives Job twice as many animals as before, and 10 new children, including 3 daughters that were prettier than the ones God allowed Satan to kill.

Christians see this as a story of how faith is rewarded (even if you're only suffering because God is trying to prove a point to Satan) I see it as a story of how God will use us as he sees fit, is insecure and vain and is apparently either unable, or unwilling, to resist being influenced by Satan.

I contrast God's treatment of Job, his wife and children - all "God's children" used as pawns in a game, and suffering terribly for it - and wonder what we'd make of a human father treating his children in such a way. I expect the MN opinion would be rather damning to say the least. Yet when God does it, it becomes an inspiring story, and God is love, apparently.

Christians, I am told, see the book as a lesson in why the righteous suffer. The answer, it seems, is that their all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent holy father is sometimes prone to abandoning people to the worst excesses of Satan to try and prove some kind of point to God knows who.

Seems odd to me. God does not show love in that story. God shows himself to be deeply unpleasant. Or not God.

What are your views on Job?

amillionyears Sun 30-Sep-12 21:30:39

Hi,Machadaynu
To me,the book says several things.
Yes,God can do what he likes with us.
Also God is in charge of everyone and everything.God will destroy the evil one in his time.
The book also reminds Christians that yes,some Christians will suffer for their faith. To me,one of the worst examples is John The Baptist.He had his head cut off.
The book is really talking to all Christians down through the ages.And yes,Job was used as a pawn.
What I found amusing,if that is the right word,is that God kept Job's wife alive,and from what I can remember,Job wasnt overly fond of her.

nightlurker Sun 30-Sep-12 21:39:29

I don't believe that God makes deals with the devil to prove a point, so I am very reluctant to say the story is strictly factual. Additionally, how would the writer know such a thing?

I do believe there was a man who had a horrible stroke of luck, but never abandoned God, and then was rewarded with far more than he lost. The book of Job was probably based on his true story, but the writer took several creative liberties in recreating it. I suspect it was meant to demonstrate two things. One, that a hard life doesn't mean God is unhappy with you, and two, that there will be a reward for doing what's right (even if it's not in this life).

amillionyears Sun 30-Sep-12 21:42:10

The bible is inspired by God.
There are a few places,which dont make gramatical sense because there are a few words missing here and there,but apart from that,I believe it.

mummysmellsofsick Sun 30-Sep-12 21:43:01

Marking place. Don't know it well enough to comment but answer to Job is right here next to me on my to read pile.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 00:44:52

amillionyears you agree that God can do what he likes with us. What this story shows that sometimes "what he likes" is to abandon us to an unpleasant situation for reasons that are - at best - very vague indeed. I still don't know what the benefit of allowing Job to suffer was - and don't just think of it from Job's perspective - imagine being one of his kids or servants killed as part of this lesson for Job.

If this story is true, then God's later claim to love us all equally with a perfect love cannot be true. No loving parent would allow this.

You also say God will "destroy the evil one in his time" (incidentally Job Ch 1 implies that Satan is one of several sons God has. Oh, and that Job is perfect, despite the whole 'tree of knowledge' incident in Eden that apparently made us all imperfect.)

I wonder why he hasn't done so yet? Why, if you are going to create one perfect world for your perfect creation to live in, allow it to be ruined (to the extent that soon after making it you get fed up and drown everything, and then for some reason you have to murder your own son ) from almost day one until the end of life on earth, if you have the power to destroy evil and make it all perfect as you intended?

nightlurker I like that you are applying your own morals to God and finding that his actions as described in his own Holy Book do not fit what one would expect of a God. If you do that to the rest of the book, you won't have much left that isn't some variation of 'be excellent to each other' (to quote Bill and Ted)

What I find interesting is that you are seemingly happy to ascribe the whole death/illness/starvation thing to 'bad luck', but that when he recovered from all this and got more things, it was as "a reward" That seems a very one-sided view of God; that bad things happen because of luck, or otherwise, but good things are from God. If he has the power to do good things, does he not also have the power to stop bad things - and is it loving not to use that power?

If God is there to do the good, he also there to stop the bad. Why doesn't he,if he loves us all and is omnipotent?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 07:48:26

One of the "benefits" of allowing Job to suffer,was to teach the rest of us.We are still talking about him,approx 2000 years later.I doubt anyone will be talking about anyone on MN 150 years later,but we never know I suppose.

I dont agree that God loves us all equally.

Job wasnt perfect,he was the best person of that time.

The bible says God is waiting for a certain amount of Chrisitians,before he does all the end of time stuff.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 08:36:31

amillionyears

Bullet points as I'm in a rush - sorry!

God says he does love us all equally (although his actions don't back this up)

Job 1 vers 1 says "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one who feared God and eschewed evil." The bible says Job was perfect.

The benefit of Job suffering only works as a concept if we do learn stuff from it, but what we a re supposed to learn isn't clear at all - hence the thread. It just teaches me that God is either not omnipotent, not pleasant, or both. And it wasn't just Job who suffered - his kids burned to death!

Juule Mon 01-Oct-12 08:37:15

"I dont agree that God loves us all equally"

Really? I've not heard that before. So he has his favourites?
This is not getting better is it?

I think that it's correct to say that we are still talking about Job thousands of years later but I'm not sure that's a good thing for religion as I think there might be more people like op who begin to look at the idea of god as being very unpleasant.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 09:13:04

Machadaynu,where in the bible does it say that God loves us all equally?

The bible says Job was blameless,so I suppose that could be intrepretted as perfect? Not sure,because he hadnt lived the rest of his life at that point,but he did probably live the rest of his life blameless.
God is omnipotent.

The disciple John is described as "the disciple that Jesus loved".

I think most Christians would say there are parts of the bible where God does things we dont like.

God is slow to anger,but when he does act,yes he does act.
And it can be very destructive indeed.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 10:26:42

amillionyears The OT states that GOd created each of us in his own image - this implies that we are equal. Further than that, 1 John 4 says:

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The bible is quite clear that God's loving act (arranging for his perfect son to be murdered) was done for all us of, because he loves all of us. God's love is described in detail in the bit of 1 Corinthians 13 that seems to be read at every wedding:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

You cannot say you love everyone, define love like that, and then claim to love people unequally.

Different translations of the bible describe Job as 'blameless' and 'perfect' If he was indeed perfect, one wonders why God didn't just kill him instead of Jesus?

I sense that you are moving toward saying that God's anger is justified (although I wonder why he doesn't claim the credit for killing people any more?) but I don't think it can ever be justified.

Remember that God is omniscient - he knows everything.

Then imagine you had a child who, like most children, likes sweets, and you live next door to a sweet shop. The sweet shop owner, being eccentric, gives your child unrestrained, free access to all the sweets, meaning your child has rotten teeth, never eats a proper meal and is frequently sick. Would you

a) have a word with the shop keeper and tell them they are not allowed to give your child sweets
b) monitor, mentor, distract your child more closely so they weren't constantly tempted by the free sweets
c) get angry with the child and punish them severely for eating the sweets, claim you cannot bear the sight of them when they have been eating sweets, and, ultimately, condemn them to eternal torment if they don't stop eating them on the grounds that choosing not to eat sweets is an opportunity for the child to show how much they love you, and the punishment they will otherwise receive is an opportunity for others to learn?

I would like to think that a loving parent would chose a combination of A and B. God chooses C. Is his anger justified, when he has always known what will happen and can easily remove the temptation?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 10:42:33

When God created us in his own image,I take that to mean a physical likeness.
No human being comes close to God in an ability sense,except Jesus.
The love bits,points 4-8,is what our love should be like.

God is very big on timing.
Jesus is not Job.Jesus is Gods son.Jesus was raised from the dead.

As Christians,we are supposed to become mature and complete,lacking in nothing.
God never tempts anyone.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 10:53:07

So are you suggesting that God has higher demands of us that he himself manages? That we should love like that, but God doesn't?

That gives a whole new meaning to John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

God tempted Abraham in Genesis 22:

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

He also allows us to be tempted (which is why we have to ask not to be lead in temptation in the prayer Jesus gave us) but seemingly this part of the prayer, prayed by millions of Christians daily has rarely been answered.

Allowing temptation to take place when you can stop it because you're omnipotent, and when the person being tempted has asked you to stop it is not loving. Again, let's look at a human example - if your child was overweight but had no self-control, so instead asked you to stop leaving cakes and biscuits in cupboards (s)he could easily get to, and you ignored that request, would that be considered good parenting? God goes further than no removing the temptation - he punishes us for succumbing to it. Loving?

Juule Mon 01-Oct-12 11:02:13

The parent in machadaynu's example wasn't tempting the child. Just standing back and doing nothing to help and then punishing. Not very loving.
Reminds me of the quote :
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." ( Edmund Burke)
Or are gods exempt?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 11:11:12

In Islam we believe god tests those he loves the most. We belive that every suffering and hurt is the removal of sins from us in this world, so we have less to account for in the next. So there is good in our suffering.

For us life is a test, we are not automatically given perfection but if we remain steadfast and strive and have the right intentions then we will be given perfection in the next life.

I am not that familiar with the islamic version regarding the prophet Ayub as, so cannot comment.

In the Quran shaytaan refuses to bow before Adam as and says he is better then him. He goes against gods command. He asks why he should bow to a creature that will be ungrateful and cause chaos. God replies that his faithful servants are better then shaytaan, so shaytaan promises to hide on the path of people and show they are worthless.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 11:13:47

The temptations are shaytaan. You forgot the bit where he rewards us for not giving in to temptation. In Islam we believe if you have an intention to do a.good.action but.you don't do it you are still rewarded, and if you have an intention to do a bad action but don't do it you are rewarded for not going through with it.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:19:31

nailik by "God tests those he loves most" do you mean

a) your God loves some people more than others and
b) he chooses to make the lives of those whom he prefers miserable?

Does he do that to all of the ones he likes best, or just some of them? If your life is comfortable and enjoyable, does that indicate that God doesn't like you much?

Why would a loving, all-powerful God choose to remove 'sin' by making peeople miserable when he could remove it by sneezing, or whatever way he chooses?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 11:28:26

Machadaynu,God loves higher than we can ever manage.

'No one,when temped,should say "I am being tempted by God";for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.But one is tempted by ones own desire,being lured and enticed by it;'

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:31:32

amillionyears

If God "loves us higher than wee can ever manage" then why does his 'love' look rather more like what we would call 'neglect' if a human behaved in the same way?

What is loving about murdering people? What is loving about telling someone they have to kill their own son - especially if you don't mean it? What is loving about drowning almost everyone - especially when you knew you'd regret it and did it anyway? What is loving about allowing those you claim to love to suffer eternal torment if they don't do as you ask?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 11:41:26

I dont think you can call what God does neglect of his people.

He does do justice.His justice.There are punishments in the bible.Great big ones for some of the people who had repeatedly be warned and carried on sinning time and time again.
I do think the teaching of the bible has been watered down in the last few decades,
Mentioning Hell,Devil,etc has somewhat gone out of fashion,and I dont think it does the public any favours.
They exist and have always existed.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 11:42:34

You keep comparing God to humans.It doesnt work.
God is not a human.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:49:05

Of course you can compare God to humans - we're superficially similar - we both (I think) have a sense of justice, of love, of logic, of fairness ... We are in his image.

I can compare a Formula 1 car to a scooter in the same way. Sure, one is much faster, expensive and complicated than the other, but they are both wheeled devices that make moving easier.

How are we supposed to have a relationship with God if his ways are so alien to us - so different from our own experience, which is all we have , that wer cannot make any sort of comparison?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 11:50:27

With regard to God warning people and then punishing them, do you think he does that now? Can you tell me of one example of an event in the last 50 years where you think God punished people?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:10:17

Machadaynu,humans cannot turn seeds into plants and flowers.
We cannot make new stars,or do virtually anything to do with the sky,planets etc.

To get a relationship with God you need to seek him.Seek and you will find.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:16:03

The next bit I may well get flamed for.

Boscastle floods.
Happened approx 7 years ago,in an August I think.
Myself and another person happened to visit Boscastle,Cornwall 12 months the previous August.
When we got out of the car in the car park,we felt a weird feeling.We both felt it.We paid our pay and display and started to walk into the village/town.
We still felt weird.We then began to notice about 4 different shops selling pagan? things. We carried on walking intending to walk out to the harbour/sea. But we stopped.We both felt uncomfortable and turned back.
12 months later,the village was flooded. I dont think anyone died as far as I can remember.

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