Questions & Observations
At first I thought I wouldn’t have many questions with this reading other than to highlight a couple points about Job’s ranting to God. But, I found that in his anger, he makes such good points that we can easily relate and pose great subjects for our discussion. He gets down to the rift between being human and struggling to obey God. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts and enrich this study!
Q. (Job 12:5-6): I think I understand what Job is trying to say in verse 5: Those who are living without despair think they have all the answers and advice for those living in despair. But, I don’t understand verse 6.
A. Job is attacking God for what he perceives as a lack of justice. He is arguing that though he, a righteous man, is unjustly punished, the real evildoers are “getting away with it.” I think we understand this verse very well, it is one of the most common refrains when we are going through suffering: we tell God that we feel that we don’t deserve it, and that since we’re better than (say) hardened criminals or those Wall Street fat cats, shouldn’t they be the ones getting punished? It’s the flip side of the theodicy argument: too often we feel that bad things are NOT happening to bad people, at least as we see it.
Q. (12:7-9): Job is saying those that do not judge — animals — can testify that his devastation is not a punishment for anything he has done wrong. Right?
A. I think Job is pointing to nature to make his case that God does as he pleases.
Q. (12:13): At first I just quickly read over this verse. Then, I read it again and soaked it in letting the following verses support it. I see two things in this verse: He is all-powerful, no question; and we cannot understand his reasoning. Should we elaborate about this now or will it be expanded on later?
A. Let’s hold onto this thought, since it will really come into play around chapter 38.
Q. (13:1-12): To me, Job is saying here, if you have a gripe with God, you should go directly to Him and not rely on others for clarification because they cannot speak for God. I feel that Job is questioning his friends’ relationships with God. Job is putting the question to His friends that if they were so close to God, they would not be accusing Job of hiding this alleged sin from God. Do I have this right?
A. Seems right to me. He is certainly saying that they presume to speak for God, but Job doesn’t want to hear from them (especially since he doesn’t really like what they are saying), rather, he wants God to speak to him directly. Classic example of a person not being careful what they wish for, which I think you’ll see.
O. (13:16): Job is saying that because he has a relationship with God that he is able to confront God. To me, this is the way God wants us to be: acknowledge Him, grow close to Him through understanding Him, and glorify Him.
O. (13:20-25): Job can speak so candidly here 1) because of his loyalty to God, he probably feels like he deserves to be heard and 2) because of his anger. When I am angry or hurt, the tough questions roll out. I can’t hold them back.
Q. (13:26-14:6): Job seems to say “God you have us trapped. You have put us here with your rules. So can you just leave us alone while we live out our prescribed lives?” (14:1): Being a human, sinning is imminent, so why is God picking out all of our faults when we can’t help but sin?
A. Why does any parent insist on disciplining a rebellious teenager, even when the teenager says, “just leave me alone”? It’s because the parent knows the danger in the behavior of the child, even when the child doesn’t see it or want to acknowledge it. Ultimately, God’s anger at our sin is out of love for us; He desires that we would make wise choices and follow after the way that He wants to guide us in living (we will see this concept develop over the remainder of the Bible).
Another way to look at it is to think of the concept of what kind of God our Lord would be if He let sin slide; that God adopted what we might call a “boys will be boys” attitude. Such a god would not be worthy of worship (and is not the God described in scripture). To ignore or even cause injustice (especially as it relates to our personal lives and our families) would mean that God was not ultimately good. If, God forbid, we had a family member murdered, we would not think much of a human criminal justice system that said, “but you only did it once” to the person responsible and let them go free. If you were part of the family that lost a family member, you would rightly say, “Once is more than enough!” It would be a miscarriage of justice (even by human standards) for sin like that to be ignored or marginalized. Is it any wonder that a God that is not only just, but actually DEFINES just, cannot turn a blind eye to sin? Though it may be in our nature, that does not make us any less responsible for our sinful decisions. Thus, we see the paramount reason for our need for Jesus Christ: because God’s justice will not ignore our sin, and God’s love cannot ignore His children. The cross where Jesus died can be seen as the union where God’s desire to be just AND to love His children come together to set all things right.
That last sentence was an awesome explanation!
Q. (14:13): Job’s cup is definitely not half full here. He has nothing good to say to God. He seems to have lost hope. I can’t imagine being in his shoes and the anger he must feel. How can you love and praise God when you are so angry with Him?
A. Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer that question because (thank God) my life has been greatly blessed, and I’ve never been that angry with God. I guess the answer, which may sound flippant, is to choose to. I believe that our love for God is, by God’s very design, a choice, and one that God goes to incredible lengths to respect. I believe that God understands our anger, and the difficulty of expressing our love to Him when we are angry. He will wait patiently, as the father character in the story of the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15. But in the end, we must hope that the anger fades, and we can make our peace and return to right relationship with God. Let’s see how Job does this as the story continues.
Q. (14:20-22): This sounds like the ultimate accusation from Job to God. This is one that I hadn’t thought of: How do You create us, just to let us whither and die, not even giving us the satisfaction of seeing or children grow. When we are gone, we are gone. In this day, there was no promise of eternal life, right?
A. That’s a matter of some debate, but my understanding of Jewish theology moves more towards concepts of resurrection and eternal life as we move closer to the present day (so, say in the Prophets or Nehemiah, which were written much more recently than Job). Yet here again, we are created beings, and not the Creator. We must be very careful about making any sort of demand to the one who created us. Ultimately, God alone has the final say in the span our of life, but the decisions He makes about life and death are just one more area where we as Christians must trust that He is working out things for the best, even if His reasons for doing so are clouded behind the veil of our own death. We may not be able to see any reason for God’s decisions until we have crossed to the other side.