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?

crescentmoon Thu 25-Oct-12 13:31:13

but following on from the previous post thats as far as we are allowed to go on Muhammad (pbuh) - we can pray for him as much as we like but we cannot overstep and ask him to intercede for us with God.

When muhammad (pbuh) began preaching to the pagan arabs about abrahamic monotheism and reciting the verses of the Qur'an as they were revealed to him they were extremely skeptical. on hearing the stories told of the various jewish prophets: Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Job, David the pagan arabs declared that these were mere folk tales and stories of old men. folk tales and stories of old men - the same statements made against religion today were made in the 7th century.

"When Our verses are recited to them, they say, “We have heard; if we wish, we can compose a discourse like this. It is nothing but the tales of the ancient people." (chapter 8, verse 31)

"This is what has been promised to us and to our fathers before. It is nothing but the tales of the ancients.” (chapter 23, verse 83)

"The disbelievers said, “This is nothing but a lie he (the messenger) has fabricated and some other people have helped him in it.” Thus they came up with sheer injustice and falsehood. And they said, “(These are) the tales of the ancients he (the messenger) has caused to be written, and they are read out to him at morn and eve.” (Chapter 25, verse 4-5)

they also derided the prophet (pbuh) for his simple living and humbleness. they said to him 'where are your special powers? where are your miracles? if you preach to us about God and these other great prophets, why isnt a grand sign sent to you?'. the Quran does not ascribe divinity, independent powers, will to perform miracles or knowledge of the unseen to Muhammad (pbuh). instead it repeatedly says that muhammad is a plain warner and his duty is to convey the message.

here are some verses:

"The disbelievers say, “Why is it that no sign has been sent down to him from his Lord?” You are but a warner; and for every people there is a guide." (Chapter 13, verse 7)

"And they say, “Why is it that no signs (miracles) have been sent down to him from his Lord?” Say, “Signs are only with God, and I am only a plain warner.” Is it not sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book that is being recited to them? Surely in it there is mercy and advice for a people who believe. " (Chapter 29, verse 50-51)

"Say: "I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your God is one God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner." (Chapter 18, verse 110)

"Say, “I have no power to bring a benefit or a harm to myself, except that which God wills. If I had the knowledge of the Unseen, I would have accumulated a lot of good things, and no evil would have ever touched me. I am but a warner, and a herald of good news for a people who believe.” (Chapter 7, verse 188)

and my favourite one...

"They said, “We shall never believe in you unless you cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth. Or you have a garden of date palms and grapes, then you bring forth rivers from their midst in abundance. Or you cause the sky to fall upon us in pieces, as you claimed, or you bring Allah and angels before us face to face. Or you have a house made of gold. Or you ascend to the sky, and we will not believe in your ascension unless you send down to us a book we may read.” Say, “I proclaim the Purity of my Lord. I am nothing but human, a messenger.” Nothing prevented people from believing, when guidance came to them, except that they said, “Has Allah sent a man as a messenger?” (Chapter 17, verse 90-94)

so the pagan arabs of that time were thinking is it just a book you bring to us Muhammad? where are the miracles of Moses or Abraham?

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 13:58:49

Sounds to me like the pagan Arabs were about right - obviously you believe otherwise, there must be some reason for this?

headinhands Thu 25-Oct-12 18:38:07

Isn't what those verses portray just healthy skepticism? Wouldn't you think the same about Yahweh/biblical claims?

nightlurker Fri 26-Oct-12 18:09:17

I think what Muhammad taught makes sense. I do believe that God gives signs, but, except in rare cases, I don't believe that God gives signs to people who don't exercise a lot of faith in him first - because this life is the time to learn faith. I do believe he touches hearts and subtly leads people to truth, at their own pace.

headinhands Fri 26-Oct-12 19:04:54

Why is this life the time to 'learn faith'? Will we need it in the next?
If god is actively touching hearts and leading his believers how come there are so many different views within each religion even to the point of war? Wouldn't there be some consistency? Why would he lead his believers to hold so many different and opposing views?

crescentmoon Sat 27-Oct-12 10:56:45

yesterday was the day of Eid and i was quite busy. iv still got alot on the rest of the weekend so il get stuck into your questions after the 3 days of Eid are finished. as you said grimma obviously i believe otherwise, but that would take a while to write so il leave it to when I'll have a long period of no interruption.

but just to post more on the skepticism, the pagan arabs Muhammad (pbuh) preached to also did not believe in any life after death. they thought they were born, the lived, they died, end of. and the Qur'an records their words, just as with the earlier verses...

"They say: "Shall we indeed be returned to (our) former state of life? Even after we are crumbled bones?" (Chapter 79, verse 10-11)

"Is it when we have died and become dust and bones, that we shall be raised again, And even our fathers of aforetime?” " (chapter 37, verse 16-17)

and again, more verses along the theme of muhammad (pbuh) as a human with no claim to divinity within himself...

""Say, “I do not say to you that I have the treasures of God, nor do I have the knowledge of the Unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me.”
Quran 6:50

"Say: I am not the first of the messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner."
Quran 46:9

"And Muhammad is no more than a messenger like the messengers that have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to God in the least, and God will reward the grateful."
Quran 3:144

have a good weekend all, until monday!

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 12:00:22

nailak, and OP, your view is also the trad Xtian view.

St Teresa of Avila once spoke to God on this topic - she got locutions...(direct speech from God).

'It's all going square again. Why, oh why?'

'I always treat my friends this way!'

'That's why you have so few!'

I love this story, but Carmelites also believe - and I too go with this - that it's a privilege to share in Christ's agony. (Warning - what follows will strike some as morbid and it certainly isn't rational, but when is love rational?) I have a friend who is severely asthmatic, and she told me she got through the bad nights by thinking that Christ's death was really suffocation, so it came to her as a privilege to share that.

Look at it this way. If one of my children or Dh is very sick, part of the misery is that I can't share the pain with them, take a little of it on myself. When we offer our suffering freely to Christ, we are getting to share his pain, including the utter and complete misery induced by its injustice.

Surely everyone feels a little of this confronted with unjust death and pain? Survivor guilt, almost? When I visited Auschwitz, I almost felt ashamed to be alive.

Clearly, this isn't a rational response, but nor is suffering, and nor is love.

madhairday Sat 27-Oct-12 12:42:03

I think that works for me kind of the other way too, sieglinde. I have lung disease and it helps me not so much to think that I am sharing in Christ's agony but that he is sharing in mine. He knows what it is like to not be able to breathe, to struggle for every breath, be wracked with pain. He suffered it all, took on every suffering and pain imaginable. To know he got in it with us says an awful lot to me. But yes there's something in sharing in it too.

hih I wasn't ignoring you, been in bed ill all week and just up to facing puter screens again smile Will have a think through wehn my brain is less addled and fuzzy grin

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 13:12:51

Yes, absolutely, madhairday. The whole point of the incarnation and the atonement is a God who doesn't just sit on a cloud looking on at human suffering with an interested experession.

Jesus was not only crucified - a terrible, agonising and intentionally humiliating death.

He was captured, bound, sold, betrayed by his friends, laughed at and bullied, scourged almost to death - this was a normal part of Roman crucifixion - picked on, picked at, and treated with tyrannical injustice by the authorities, including the religious authorities, rejected by his own community, and made to live a life of scrambling, desperate poverty.

He lived in an outlying province of a great and brutal empire, a province slated to be ethnically cleansed of his own ethnicity shortly after his death, a province where the rulers probably didn't understand a word of his mother tongue. He lived in a backward part even of that, Galilee, which had a rough regional accent that other Jews found difficult (like Glaswegian). He wasn't a Roman citizen and so had few legal rights.

He lived among revolutionaries so violent that they later made it a condition of loyalty that their followers cut off one of their fingers. He was so totally NOT a natural messianic candidate for his people that most of them didn't believe in it (which is why the idea that he never existed but was invented is ridiculous). And yet everyone who met him seems to have been touched by him. He sided with outsiders against the majority, with those shunned by others, and he may have said the first kind words some of them ever heard. Can we do that, when we suffer?

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