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?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:49:21

"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."

This is where Islam differs from christianity. In Islam you cannot compare God to humans, he is out of our comprehension, we use metaphors to help us understand that which is relevant to us, but he is not like us, he speaks without needing to move the air to make vibrations, he listens without ears, he is not comparable to us, he has no direction, he is out of time and space, he is not matter like us.

MoominmammasHandbag Mon 01-Oct-12 14:49:22

I just think he was...I don't know....misreported, misinterpreted, wrongly portrayed by a lot of people who were trying to justify their own power as kings or judges or priests or whatever. I think that's why he came as Jesus and lived as an ordainary humble man to show us his true character. Jesus never wanted us to be frightened of him. He never punished anyone. He saw the best in everyone.
Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of the Old Testament is very beautiful, but I don't believe much of it has anything to do with God.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:50:44

"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?"

God warned us by sending his books and his messengers as.

I cannot comment on an event when God punished people, as it is out of my certainty. I cannot know for sure.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:53:58

God let satan tempt all of us, not just job/ayub as.

In Islam Shaytaan is not a fallen angel btw. Angels dont have free will.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 14:54:27

nailak by saying that God is not like us and explaining why, you make a comparison. That's my point - we see everything via the lens of being human, even things that aren't human. 'Human' is a reference point, even if you use it just to say 'it's nothing like that'

The 'tests' things doesn't make sense. We all suffer some things of course - we all have relative die, as you say. However, some nice people have horrible lives and their parents die, and some horrible people have comfortable lives and their parents die. Why do some people just have the 'test' of their relatives dying, and others have other tests on top?

I'm not sure if you are saying God loves some people more than others, or he loves us all the same but loves the actions of some more?

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 14:58:55

i am saying he loves the actions of some more.

I am saying two people when faced with the same situation it will be harder for one then the other.

I agree being human is the reference point. and I agree we use human analogies to try and explain God, however this is just an attempt, He is not like us.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 15:01:52

So are you saying that if someone had a really nice life - born in sanitary conditions, always having a roof over their head, never hungry or scared etc, then they will have more turmoil caused by other things that occur to them in life than will someone born and raised in a slum?

So for example, the former might get lots of angst when choosing where to take their third holiday of the year, but the latter will not have to cope with that?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 15:07:44

My Job 1:6 says the heavenly beings came to present themselves,...
which I take to mean the angels,
and mine says "and Satan also came among them"
Satan is not a son of God.

God can use anybody for his purpose,presumably he has the ability to also use Satan.Not sure.

To me,the bible has a beginning,a middle ,and an end.
The middle part being the Jesus part,and the end part being the end of times.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 15:14:22

If God is omnipotent he can use Satan, yes.

I thought you said he didn't use anyone or anything to tempt people, though?

"God tempts no one,or uses anyone to tempt us. "

So he can't have been using Satan - he just gave him free-reign.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 15:33:11

God tempts no one.

God gave Satan free reign up to the point of not killing Job.Satan was not allowed to kill Job.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 15:45:35

Satan was not allowed to kill Job, no.

But he was allowed to kill his children and servants. DO they not matter?

He was also - very clearly - trying to tempt Job into renouncing his faith. That was the whole point of the deal with God: God was complicit in Job being tempted.

nightlurker Mon 01-Oct-12 15:58:18

The topic on God's love makes me think of this youtube video.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:00:27

Yes they matter,but God allowed it.
God can do whatever he wants to.

No,Job was not being tempted to renounce his faith.
The point of the book is to say that as Christians,no matter how well behaved we are, we may well have to suffer to the point of losing our blood.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:13:31

It's pretty clear to me that God allows Satan to tempt Job to renounce his faith.

Have you read Job 2?

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 16:14:43

Shaytaan has free will.

Like humans have free will.

Meaning we are accountable for our actions to the extent which we perceive choice.

Muslims believe that shaytaan does tempt us. That he has been tempting humans since her tempted Adam and Hawwa as. We are told in Quran that he will be tempting us.

as for killing people, death does not mean someone does not matter. Like I said Idon't know the story, however there is life after death, so when you dont view death as the end you can see how letting someone die does not equate to that person does not matter.

"He [Satan] said: Give me respite until the day they are raised up. [Allah] said: You are among those allowed respite. He [Satan]said: Because You have thrown me out (Of the Way), lo !, I will sit waiting for them, on Your straight path, then I will come in from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left and you will not find most of them Gratitude (for Your Mercies)

shaytaan was ungrateful as he was jealous of the position that God had given Adam as, and he did not want to bow to him, as he felt man was not worthy. Allah said test them and you will see the faithful are worthy.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:17:35

I am going to have to agree to differ with you,Machadaynu on that point.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:21:24

Me and the bible saying God does allow the devil to tempt us, and you saying he doesn't? smile

Don't forget the serpent in the garden of Eden tempted Eve, or the very specific claim that Jesus (fully human apparently) went in to the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan who even took him up a hill to show him all the lands that he would give him if he worshipped him.

God allows and encourages temptation. To claim otherwise is to reject the bible.

nailak Mon 01-Oct-12 16:22:56

"So for example, the former might get lots of angst when choosing where to take their third holiday of the year, but the latter will not have to cope with that?" I dont believe that will be anyones hardest problem, like i said everyone has deaths, illness, relationship issues, issues with kids etc.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:27:16

Quite - I questioned this further though. We all have those sorts of problems from time to time - but some people have them whilst living a life of luxury, and others have them living with a crippling illness in a shanty town.

You seem to be suggesting that the sum total of their 'suffering' is about the same though because some people find stuff harder to deal with than others.

This doesn't seem to be my experience of life so far, though.

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:32:10

My post 11.28am
The bible reference ,if you want to read it in full ,is from James 1 versus 12-16

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those that love him. No one,when tempted,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 one's own desire,being lured and enticed by it;then,when that desire has conceived,it gives birth to sin,and that sin,when it is fully grown,gives birth to death. Do not be deceived,my beloved.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:36:19

That says God doesn't tempt anyone - not that he doesn't allow and facilitate others to tempt people, which is what you have been claiming.

Genesis 22:1 states though that God tempted Abraham
"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."

as does 2 Samuel 24:1
"Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”"

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:36:23

op,have you been tempted and succumbed to something in the past.
You dont have to answer that if you dont want to.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:39:52

amillionyears of course I have. I was tempted to have some cake I didn't need last night. I was tempted to pocket the pound note I found in a deserted aisle of WH Smith when I was 8. I was tempted to have a one-night stand with the attractive friend of a friend's gf (I was single). I need to get loo roll on the way home, and I may be tempted to get some beer too. If I have a bath later, I will certainly be tempted to take a long time over it.

We're all tempted all the time, and we all succumb to it. We normally call it 'making decisions' though, don't we?

amillionyears Mon 01-Oct-12 16:41:07

Genesis 22:1
Ah,I get where you are coming from now.
My version says,
"After these things,God tested Abraham"

Yes God does test us.
That is a different thing entirely to temptation,though I can understand why you may get the 2 things confused. I myself used to as well.

The bible I use is an NRSV bible,because I found it was the best for me to understand and learn from.

Machadaynu Mon 01-Oct-12 16:45:12

Ooh now that is a fine line you are drawing.

So God tests us. Ok.

How does he do that? I'd suggest it's by offering us choices, to see which one we choose - eat the apple or don't eat the apple. Kill your son, don't kill your son.

Obviously if there is no temptation to choose the other option, there is no test as such.

God wouldn't 'test' someone by saying 'If you are really loyal to me and love me you will never ever eat a pound of warm donkey poo' would he? - there is no temptation to do that anyway.

In order for God to test us in a meaningful way, he has to offer us a tempting choice, surely?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now