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?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 12:16:37

I planted some seeds this year. I got carrots.

I guess you will argue that the soil and so on made the plants, and God made that? I would simply ask what your evidence is.

You argument now seems to be 'there are laws of physics ergo there is a God'

That seems a very bold conclusion to leap to based on the evidence available. Surely an extraordinary conclusion requires extraordinary evidence?

Juule Mon 01-Oct-12 12:21:57

You may well get flamed for your opinion of Boscastle floods and imo deservedly so.

My dad went to Boscastle the year before the floods and had nothing but good things to say about the place and the people there. He stayed at the youth Hostel there. Absolutely loved the place and was very upset when seeing pictures of the floods on the tv.
So why was his feelings and impression of the place different from yours and your friends? Could it be that he doesn't fear pagan artifacts etc. And while having his own faith doesn't feel slighted or unnerved by the faiths (or none-faith) of others.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 12:29:25

quote amillionyears

"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. "

Interesting. So you think God's punishment is unfair? There were lots of shops in Bocastle that were not Pagan, I presume? And there is certainly a church, which was flooded to a depth of 6 metres. Why was he so random in his approach?

I also find that response of God puzzling because I am certain there are 'worse' things going on in the world that a couple of shops in a little village "selling pagan things" I understand that there are upwards of a billion people starving in the world. Why do you think God was busy taking a scatter-gun approach to a few shops selling pagan stuff rather than helping the starving, for example?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:33:54

Faith is believing in something that cannot be proved.

You personally did not turn the seeds into carrots.How did you make it go orange for example.And did you make the leaves.

Some of the poeple at Boscastle would probably have had nothing to do with what happened. They may well have been non Christian, and were innocent as to what happened,in that regard.
The person and I got the feelings in the car park and onwards before we saw the shops.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 12:36:48

The worship of other gods is high up on Gods no no list.

I cannot speak on behalf of God,only comment on what I see,and on what I read from the entire bible.
I do not argue with God. I fear God.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 12:46:40

Ok - as I said, you have pointed out that I didn't personally create the carrots.

However, I did create the correct conditons for them to grow, and gave them the right things (fertilizer, sun light and water) Photosynthesis within the leaves took care of the rest.

Not understanding how something happens is not sufficient grounds in my opinion to assume there must be a God, who is by definition much more complicated than a carrot.

With regard to Bocastle, the city I live in also flooded a few years back, and some people did die. Do you think God caused that flood, or simply allowed it to happen without causing it himself? Is it possible God punished my city for the sins of those who drowned? Including the children?

madhairday Mon 01-Oct-12 13:06:03

Oh Machadaynu I wish I had more time but I'm off on a conference, but didn't want to ignore you, as I was the one suggesting you post here - so hello smile

Just a quick vehement disagreement with amillion over both God not loving equally (what?) and the Boscastle floods. Sorry. I'm with machadaynu on the starving millions comparison there.

Can't stop...but will be back on wednesday! Will ponder in that time.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:09:53

Re: the flood - I thought God had promised not to flood people again after he did it the first time?

Genesis 9 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Seems odd to pick on a little village six thousand years later?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 13:10:14

Yes,we can help God with things,but we are never in full control of anything.

God sends the rain,and all weather come to that.

Your last paragraph is causing me to think.

God would have let the rain fall.
It is doubtful whether God punished the city for the sins of those who drowned. He may have punished for the sins of some of the inhabitants,including some who died.I dont know.
It wont be because of the children.I think I am right in saying that they are not classed as adults until 13 years old.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:10:44

helllo madhairday Enjoy the conference smile

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 13:13:17

"a flood to destroy all flesh".
He meant he wouldnt destroy all humankind by floods.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:14:42

Ah well, the child who drowned in 'our' flood was 14. There is a monument for him in the park where I take the kid sometimes; it's very poignant to see something to commemorate the life of a child lost in a flood when you kid is playing on the slide next to it, and the stream that turned into a torrent that engulfed the whole park is babbling along behind.

So could God have wanted to kill him for his sins? What could he possibly have done to anger God so much when, say, Pol Pot lived to be 73?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:18:05

Ah right, so GOd won't send a flood to kill all of us again?

He's fine with killing some people with floods, though? Floods seem such an imprecise method, don't they - for someone who is omnipotent? Why not make those who displease him get a deadly disease, and perhaps get blisters that spell out "Don't mess with God" on their foreheads rather than destroy whole towns because some shops sell pagan stuff? If I hadn't come on here, I'd never even have known there were shops selling pagan stuff in Bocastle - I bet most people still don't know. How is God's vengeance supposed to educate people if they don't know why he did it?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:21:46

Off topic - the current wikipedia entry for Pol Pot (was checking spelling) is reproduced below, in it's entirety. Who knew wikipedia wasn't always reliable?

"Pol Pot was a Cambodian Drug dealer. He loved to ride around in a pink tractor. he also loved butt sex."

Snorbs Mon 01-Oct-12 13:30:59

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.

True enough, although I think Lot's wife got quite a rough deal for what was a ultimately a very minor transgression.

habbibu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:35:33

York must be a bedrock of sin. Or perhaps just on a floodplain?

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 13:37:44

You think Lott's wife got a raw deal, *Snorbs"?

What about the guys in Genesis? In chapter 9, Noah gets drunk and his son Ham happens to see him in his tent, naked. As punishment for this heinous crime, Ham doesn't personally get punished, but his son Canaan and all his descendants became slaves.

In Judaism, Satan isn't a pure evil enemy of God but his agent, an angel with a God given purpose to test us, tempt us, and to prosecute us along with our bad deeds during our judgement. Job's story has interesting philosophical as well as daily life points -- friends are all saying he must be being punished for something until Elihu and later God tell them they're arguments are rubbish fit nicely into today with the common rhetoric to blame people for their own misfortune.

British floods today are more about bad planning and funding for flood defenses. We have the means to protect people but getting the will to do so is often lacking, but as many of the problems around the world.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:13:56

GoodPariseeofDerby the book of Job rather suggests that Satan is God's son.

It seems a little insecure of God to create an angel just to test and tempt us so we can be punished. That sort of 'honeytrap' evidence is not admissible in court precisely because it's not fair nor necessarily an indication of how someone would normally behave.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 14:16:44

Where in Job does it say that Satan is Gods son?

Satan is a fallen angel,but he is the enemy of God.
God tempts no one,or uses anyone to tempt us.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:18:34

I said it implies that Satan is God's son - it's in chapter 1.

1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

There is no mention of any of the other sons again, just Satan.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:21:42

also, if Satan is "the enemy of God" why does God seem quite happy to have a bit if a friendly natter with him in Job 1? God initiates the conversation even. It also seems apparent that God is happy to let Satan try and tempt Job away from God - indeed that's the key premise of the conversation - God facilitating Job being tempted:

1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 01-Oct-12 14:35:47

But all this is Old Testament stuff isn't it? To me that has very little to do with Christianity, which is the actual teachings of Jesus as set out in the Gospels.
God became human as Jesus Christ to show us his true nature, to show us how we should behave. Jesus/God was gentle and just and full of love. That has nothing to do with some old stories from the Old Testament.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:39:50

MoominmammasHandbag well - God is eternal, so it's the same God ion both books. Unless there is a missing book where God says "Do you know what, I messed up for those few thousand years - ignore all that" then I think it's fair to look at those books to see what God is like as much as any other. I don' think you can justifiably say Jesus - the son of GOd prophecised about in the OT - is nothing to do with it.

Of course if God did mess up in the OT then it rather calls his judgement into question ....

Why do you think he didn't show his "true nature" and how to behave earlier?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:46:29

"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?"

Yes he loves some people more then others, he loves those who strive for him, as in he loves their actions and their thoughts more, the same way if a child is doing good actions you love those actions more then a child who is doing bad actions, but you still love the children equally.

even if your life is comfortable we all have our tests, and some tests may seem small to others but to us it is a big deal. So we cant really say your test is worse so god loves you more, it is about how difficult that test is to you, even if we have comfortable life we all face illness, death of relatives, children paying up, PND, mental health issues, marriage problems and issues, friendship issues, etc

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