“The Dark Side of the Moon”
HOST: Michael Whitworth
The story of Job can be divided into four main sections. The first 2 chapters are the story’s prologue. In it, we learn that Job is righteous and loves God. But at Satan’s instigation, catastrophe visits Job. He loses all his livestock and his 10 children. His world crashes down on him. In Job 2, he is struck with painful boils or lesions on his skin. His wife tells him he might as well turn his back on God and die.
In the last section, Job 42, we see a great reversal occur in which Job receives back double the livestock he lost, as well as 10 new children. These 3 chapters, Job 1-2, 42, are really all that some people know about Job.
But the book’s “meat” is found in Job 3-41. In Job 3-37, Job engages in a contentious discourse with his three friends, as well as the young man Elihu. In Job 38, God shows up to set the record straight, but mysteriously does not answer Job’s most fundamental questions that the patriarch has been asking since Job 3.
What we are left with is a book that has been hailed antiquity’s greatest literary achievement on the subject of pain and suffering. The story of Job is intimately associated with the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Or in Job’s case, “Why do the worst things happen to the best people?”
Authorship & Date
The book of Job has no known author, nor do we know when it was written. An early Jewish tradition said that Moses wrote the book, and since the story took place seemingly in very ancient times, this seem plausible. But others argue that the Book of Job was written in Solomon’s day or even later. I personally don’t know a reason why the book’s interpretation is affected by when it was written down in the form available to us now. It’s perhaps best to leave the question of who wrote it and when as open ended.
Keys to Reading
- Remember that Job never had any idea about the heavenly events recounted in Job 1-2. As the audience to this drama, only we are privy to what happened “off stage.”
- Job’s entire story hinges on a question Satan asks God in 1:8. Does Job serve God for nothing? The rest of the story is essentially a raw, penetrating, disturbingly-honest search for the answer to this question. And to his credit, God spares no expense in getting to the bottom of it all.
- Be very careful about considering everything you read in Job to be divine truth. As a general rule, what Job’s friends have to say must be rejected as inaccurate.
- Along these lines, we should take a lesson from Job’s friends. When they first arrived at the end of Job 2, they sat with him a week and said nothing, sharing in his pain. They ceased being a comforting presence when they opened their mouth.
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