Thoughts on Job 1-21

12/7/2014

Before I went to church this morning, I woke up a little early. I had wanted to read Job last night, but I decided instead to start a new Bible reading plan in chronological order, because I really don’t know my Bible very well. I’ve only been okay with Jesus for about 8 months, since he saved me. Although I was raised Methodist on and off again, I don’t know basically anything; save a handful of verses  I clung too during my clinical depression years.

I did about 3 days worth of reading (if we’re talking 365 days/year) in one sitting, and got through Genesis 13 before I finally graduated to Job. I first really read this book while I was in Chile when a friend recommended some verses. However, I never really read it will open eyes until this morning, because I could totally relate to some of the stuff Job is going through. It makes a lot of sense to me given my personal health history and really crappy things that have been scattered throughout this semester here and there.

For that reason and knowing that the holiday season is daunting for many families, I have decided to write a little on this book; given my notes and personal reflections. If you can’t tell already, I’m no biblical scholar, but I have survived a lot of crappy things, and there is a lot to say about Job. I’ve gotten to Job 20, so I’m going to do my best to summarize all that I have of that from the beginning of the book, and I will go in chronological order (Chapter 1-Chapter 21), with personal comments and thoughts throughout. As per usual, if this isn’t your cup of tea, you don’t have to read it. Let’s get started.

Chapter 1

We begin with Job. The Bible says that not only was Job “blameless and upright”, but that he “feared God” (obedience) and “turned away from evil” (practice) (1:1). Not only was Job well established as a patriarch (power/influence)(1:2), he was also the richest man in his region, which comes off as large (1:3), being “the greatest of all the people of the east”. Job is so rich that his seven sons hold a feast one apiece each of the days of the week during feast time, and they invite all their family and sisters to eat with them on rotation (1:4). Job is continuously praying for his children, to guard their hearts from sin and the wrath of God (1:5).

Now, Satan comes before the Lord as if another one of the men he has called before him (1:6). The Lord asks Satan where he has come from, and although God is omnipotent and all powerful, Satan answers that he has returned from traversing the Earth. Although it is impossible to understand what God or Satan might have meant by these words as a human, it comes off as a warning to me at least, and almost foreshadows (like reality foreshadows) the things that will come to pass to Job.

The Lord has given Job many blessings, and asks Satan if he has considered Job to tempt, given the basis of his strong faith in the Lord. Like the voice of doubt falls upon human ears, Satan answers, insinuating that the only reason Job has such faith in God is because he has not been tried and due to the blessings the Lord has given him (1:9-11). The Lord agrees to let Satan tempt Job, for purposes that are his business alone and there are countless, terribly written books over (never gonna cut it; I promise). The Lord stipulates that Satan not curse Job in his treachery, that he is free to take all else (1:12). That part reminds me a lot of when the Lord casts Adam and Eve out of the garden with skins of clothing as protection. With that, Satan sets out to test Job.

This is the part that is regrettably realistic. In Job 1:13-15, only one servant escapes to tell Job how most of his livestock (oxen and donkeys; more precious) had been utterly slaughtered by the swords of another people, the Sabeans. Furthermore, only one servant comes to tell Job “while he was still speaking” [the first servant]  and even more of his livestock (sheep) and (most of) his servants had been burned by “the fire of God” (idk what that is), having escaped from that chaos (1:16). At the same time, a third servant comes, interrupting as before, and tells Job that the Chaldeans have killed a lot of his remaining servants who were with the camels they conveniently stole (1:17). Finally, what is most terrible comes in the news of his fourth servant, who tells him that all of his children have died, having been crushed by the wind that toppled their eldest brother’s house as they sat feasting.

Impressively, Job keeps it relatively together. He rises up, tearing his robe and shaving his head in mourning, and fell on the ground to praise God, and blessing his name as almighty (1:21). Verse 1:22 clarifies that Job has yet to trespass against the Lord.

Chapter 2

Again, Satan comes before the Lord under the guise of other men (2:1). The Lord, recognizing him immediately, once more asked where he had been, and it is the same response as before; tricking people throughout the earth (2:2-3). At this point, God asks Satan about Job, and maintains that he is a man of integrity despite Satan’s temptations (2:3). Again, like the voice of Doubt, Satan answes that Job most prizes his life above the Lord (2:4), and that as soon as the Lord threatens it, he will curse the name of the Lord (2:5). Allowing Satan his treachery, the Lord condones him to tempt him for his own reasons (2:6). The most important thing that I see in Job Chapter two are a few words in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation at the end of Job 2:3 in God’s defense of Job’s integrity: “although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason”. To me, this really emphasizes how sound God’s judgment is and reinforces the idea that God uses calamity for teaching, for his own reasons and not those that we would understand. I believe that the Bible is written in a way that humans can understand, but that humans are infinitely blinded to the immensity of God, who is infinite. “Without reason” therefore signifies a lot, coming from the Creator, and it gives those two words a sense of vindication and omnipotence.

Anyways, Satan curses Job with sores in every part of his body, from “the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:6). In financial ruin and tumultuous health, Job sits in the ashes and picks at his wounds with a shard of broken pottery (2:8). To me, this is an infinitely said image; it signifies utter ruin and despair. His wife mocks him and goads him in her bitterness, telling him to “Curse God and die” (2:9). Continuously brave despite absolute affliction, Job says “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak” (in my head, it’s more like “HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND??”), and continues to praise God. At this point, Job is still blameless (2:10).

This is where it gets a little more dicey. Instead of taking his complaints directly to God, Job’s three friends, who had heard of “all the evil that had come upon him” arranged an “appointment together” to show him sympathy and comfort him (2:11). I don’t know whether the word appointment is meant to seem ironic, but it certainly does to me. I know from my experience lately that seeking other people’s advice is bad news when you have yet to listen to God. Personally, seeking “advice” is generally a spell for disaster unless I am very specific and ask for verses or something like that; I believe that honesty and criticism have to be very specific to be kind most of the time and to ensure that you aren’t making things worse. Although all people can listen, not everyone has the experiences that would make giving any words as encouragement actually valuable, given the situation, and from my experiences with depression and other forms of turmoil, there is nothing worse than having someone listen only to prescribe things that aren’t relevant or necessary (bonus points if you haven’t asked). I see that same sentiment in 2:12, when Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar “saw him from a distance” and “did not recognize him”. To me this insinuates that their judgment was impaired (vision) by not becoming close to him and that they allowed that understanding to affect how they saw God working in his situation (or truly, didn’t). As was customary, they mourned (2:12). However, they never spoke to him during the seven days they mourned with him whatsoever, because they “saw his suffering was very great” (2:13). Honestly, that seems like a really bad idea to me, but I have no idea what the traditions of advice-giving and communication styles were in moments of grief back then, where they were. When I have ever been in moments of great grief or despair, words don’t always help, but withholding words wounds terribly.

Chapter 3

At this point, having no good counsel, Job gives himself to Despair, cursing the day he was born and his existence as a whole (Chapter 3 as a whole). From 3:10-14, he is completely selfish, using first person and cursing the day God chose to give him life, and saying that he would have rather have never been given life (which sounds a lot like abortion to me). From 3:14-15, he pretends that he has never known any privilege, comparing his suffering to the sufferings of kings and princes, which were much closer to his financial security level pre-disaster than any of the servants that are mentioned in this book, from what I can tell. It’s woe-as-me, but with money. The self-pity is super strong in 2:24, in which he insinuates he knows hunger well (#feasts?). We are not really told all that much about his financial situation in the present moment as he says these things, but he carries on as if he had never had a cent to his name, let alone a great deal of the east as his personal property.

Chapter 4 & 5

I really hate reading the parts where his friends talk; it’s almost triggering for me. His friend Eliphaz is such an idiot, it makes me mad to read it, seriously. If I had to summarize his argument during chapters 4 and 5 (twice what Job spoke originally), I would call it “Life leads to ruin”. I will give you the highlights of the most annoying parts:

  • 4:2 – “yet who can keep from speaking?” Well, Eliphaz, I’d say probably someone who genuinely wants to listen; trust me, I suck at listening.
  • 4:3-6 – Good idea Eliphaz, focus on Job’s works and justify those instead of the God he was serving during all of it. Remember, the more you focus on the word “you”, the more that helps.
  • 4:7 – I hate to break it to you Eliphaz because a lot of it was after your time, but “the innocent that perished” include Jesus, all the saints and martyrs for the most part, and basically anyone God chose to have perish; regardless of your crappy explanation.
  • 4:8-11 – This seems like it is a bunch of empty words completely for the effect. Literary craftsmanship and spoken irony, I guess.
  • 4:11-16 – I’m going to be 100% honest, if I was Job I would kinda think Eliphaz was making this part up entirely to get attention, given the fact that when the whatever spirit that came upon him, he “did not discern it’s appearance” (vision and wisdom).
  • 4:17 – Yeah I still think you are making it up, Eliphaz. The false philosophy about “Can a mortal man be right before God?” is not something you should need to ask if you seriously trust that God can make all things right whenever he so chooses. I don’t care that you are wrong Eliphaz; that is beside the point and not my jurisdiction. However, you are a hypocrite because you don’t even believe your own words; practicing what you preach goes both ways.
  • 4:18-21 – Please shut up, Eliphaz.
  • (Nope, it continues; gonna spare y’all most of my rage over his empty words)
  • 5:7 – Job was not a “man born into trouble”, he was blessed by a God that gives and takes away, Eliphaz. Stop your false philosophy; its utter garbage.
  • 5:8 – “As for me, I would seek God”. Hold up Eliphaz, why are you still talking? Doesn’t that contradict your “helpfulness” to seek God while still talking, even if it not currently you in this situation? But yeah, continue to compare what you would do if it was you, you do know quite a lot, clearly it just springs right out of you.
  • 5:15-16 – How is this part related to Job, or any of what you have just said, Eliphaz?? Do you keep this in your drawer of spare “answers” that aren’t really yours to give? Sheesh.
  • 5:17 – Yes, call Job’s doubt a blessing. Keep talking over it; we both know it “helps” (I just can’t you guys).
  • 5:19 – Six is the number of the Enemy according to many Christian scholars because it signifies incompletion (All Creation = 7 days). If in 7 days (completion à salvation) “no evil shall touch” Job, are you saying that because you need to process it aloud to hear your own voice say it, or because he needs to hear that given to him in a spirit of encouragement? Job seems to have it way more together in his misery, because at least he doesn’t doubt what he knows (logos, prior knowledge) about God; he doubts how God is providing for him in the situation.
  • 5:19+ – The rest of this is completely irrelevant.

Chapter 6 &7

At this point, Job copies a lot of what Eliphaz does, in the way that he speaks and listens; his soliloquy (complaint) is even twice as long, like Eliphaz. He tries to justify a lot of his bitterness through rambling, and as a whole, I don’t believe he as all that much substance through any of it. The most important part to me is 6:29, when he says “my vindication is at stake”. I don’t know whether it was just in keeping bad company, but Job has now switched the focus from God to justifying himself (through his actions). Let’s see how that works out. It comes off and pretty privileged and prideful, given Job’s past riches and glory.

Chapter 8

Bildad is his second friend to speak, and it’s almost worse. The theme of his rant from what I can tell is “Bad works lead to ruin”, which has nothing to do with how any of this started, given that Job was “blameless” before God. In 8:6-9, Bildad focuses on contraction and encouraging Job’s clinging to what he “rightful”-ly deserves (8:6 “rightful habitation). This clearly doesn’t help Job focus on God any better; it further simplifies God not just to Ruler of All of Life, but Ruler of All of Life that can be bought and subdued by Pretty Works. Barf.

Chapter 9

Having been told nothing helpful, Job says “Truly, I know it is so” (9:2), and asks “how can a man be right before God?” Personally, I think he’s in a whole much larger than he realizes by asking friends that won’t even listen to him in the first place. It’s not just a waste of his time, it’s dangerous. At the end of Chapter 9 and reciting what he does know of God in honesty and brokenness, Job stipulates that if God would stop punishing him, “Then I would speak without fear of him / for I am not so in myself” (9:35). Job recognizes that it is not his intention to curse God or hold strong to a spirit of Doubt, but he stipulates that God must first bless him for him to have faith in God’s goodness. Not too smart.

Chapter 10

Job is speaking to God more directly now, and is able to get a lot closer towards doubting his Doubt. In 10:3-7, he gives a plea to God, trying to discern whether or not he still cares for him (despite that he still has his life). From 10:9-17, he externally processes much of his doubt, and it is a beautiful ping pong match (reality) between things he knows are true and things he is still afraid to trust in. In 10:18-22, he has a lot of self-control, and finally asks God “why?” several times; which was something he needed to ask from the start to get clarity; skip your demented “friends” Job, God will answer if you let him.

Chapter 11

This part is where it really starts to sting. Zophar, Job’s third “friend” decides to mock him and attempt to “shame” him (11:1-3). Now Job is already in a place of doubt, but Zophar takes it a dastardly step forward, saying that he “deserves worse” and verbally abusing him as if it will draw out the kind of piety that will tell Job “the secrets of wisdom (11:6)!” The rest of the tone of this passage seems entirely competitive and judgmental to my eyes. Zophar mostly insinuates that Job is stupid (11:12) and worthless (11:11), and that he cannot “know” God (11:18). What is most troublesome about this section is that Zophar makes it seems as if there are other humans (from what I can tell and potentially personal biases I may be reading in, so be it) like himself that are more qualified to know God’s works, goodness, and love. Not the case. Humans are humans, and from what I can tell, Zophar is also human.

Chapter 12

Job is not having it; he’s already hurt. He defends himself from his “friends”, saying “I am not inferior to you” (12:3), after he mocks their “wisdom”, saying it will die “with you” (12:2)(the holy wisdom of God endures all things; think Solomon ). From 12:4-6, he acknowledges his shame and self-doubt, calling himself a “laughing stock”, but moves forward, calling upon God’s omnipotence in all 12:7-25, and giving him all authority and glory.

Chapter 13

This part is really important, and it is impressive and bold. Here are some highlights:

  • 13:2 – Job reinforces that he is “not inferior” aloud to their faces
  • 13:4 – Job says that they “whitewash with lies” which to me sounds a lot like sugarcoating and concealing for personal gain (#falseprophets)
  • 13:4 – He calls them “worthless”; having spoken with God and rekindled his faith
  • 13:5 – He tells them that if they would “keep silent…silence would be your wisdom” (#burn)
  • 13:6 – He makes himself vulnerable: “the pleading of my lips” (need)
  • 13:7-8 – He calls them out on their deceit and wrongdoing
  • 13:9 – He casually brings up Judgment Day, and asks if they will be able to deceive God like they do other people
  • 13:10 – He reminds them that by showing “partiality”, they are setting themselves up for God’s judgment and wrath
  • 13:12 – This is one of my favorite verses in all of it: “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes / Your defenses are defenses of clay”
  • 13:13 – He asks for silence they didn’t give
  • 13:14-28 – He finishes calling them out; saying that at least he is somewhat prepared to argue against God, much more so than they, according to Job.

Chapter 14

Job is still hopeless and bitter, and shortsighted. He feels like God has abandoned him with bad company, and that God is not there with him in the drama of their demented counsel. He starts pitying himself again (14:22): “he mourns for only himself”.

Chapter 15

Eliphaz decides to bicker about how much more authority they all have than Job to whine. He even does it in the words of a toddler “I will show you…” (15:17)! He decides that in order to knock Job into his rightful place, he should make a giant crapstorm about how he is “not the first man who was born” and younger than the “gray haired and aged among” them (15:7; 15:10). Then, like a pious man, Eliphaz basically curses Job over everything and abandons him to “emptiness” (15:25-35; 31).

Chapter 16

They are still bickering, but this time Job puts more faith in God in Heaven, and less faith in his actions (16:19-22).

Chapter 17

Job calls out to God, and clarifies a lot through finding mutual cynicism between him and his “friends”, although it’s pretty ugly to read.

Chapter 18

Bildad acts offended as if Job has assaulted them for no reason, putting most verbal emphasis over “we” (18:1-4) and making even sharper divisions between they and Job than before, calling him “unrighteous” (18:21).

Chapter 19

Job clings bitterly to his redemption, and rambles to get there. We see hope in 19:25-29, “my Redeemer lives” (amen).

Chapter 20

Zophar is is listening to his own ego and the Enemy to fight Job at this point. His “thoughts” answer him, as does “a spirit” he attributes to God (I doubt it, giving that he is acting rashly and preparing to deliver some really cruel words)(20:2-3).

At this point, Zophar accuses Job of “stealing a house he did not build” out of “discontentment”, and says that he will “receive the wicked man’s portion” by God (20:19, 20:20, 20:29).

Chapter 21

Job answers them with the faith they never gave; “let this be your comfort” (21:2). He asks for patience (21:3), and promises to clarify. He says that his complaint is not with man (12:4), but with God, insinuating they have no grounds to be offended. He attacks the “knowledge” of these wise men, saying that their argument is that God punishes for bad works and shoddy faith (21:7-19). He insinuates that they too are not above God (21:20-26) and accuses them of malevolent intentions (21:27-33), and wraps up by saying “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? / There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (12:34).

We’ve gotten through Job 1-21, and as soon as I have time, I’ll finish the latter half (22-42). Keep in mind that these are my opinions and personal reflections on scripture; if there is any truth in them then you should know that it isn’t mine. I believe that all truth comes from God, and he reveals it as he wills. I can’t explain God, but I can talk about experiences that I have that mirror experiences like Job’s, knowing that the Bible is the human-digestible truth of God, who is infinite. We may be made in his image, but we are not him, and that is the whole point of Job’s life struggles: being still and letting God do his thing while he is under attack and completely distressed. Lately, I see a lot of Job’s complaining in myself, and as I read the rest of Job sometime soon, I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out exactly where I’m at with all the complaining in comparison. I believe that we have the Bible so that we can have a reference for the living God that is all around us and cross-reference for the discernment of whether or not our judgment is off, and for that reason I know it was necessary for me to write this and figure out where I stand in a typed verbal processing.

The goal for me and from what I can tell, a lot of other Christians is to be honest with where we stand as broken, and trust that God redeems. I know that I suck in various ways, but I’m thankful that Jesus doesn’t count any of it against me because I believe in him and his power to redeem all of Creation; post-garden. I know that there is much to be said on this and other parts of the Bible, but considering God is infinite, I bet you $5 and my salvation that the rest of his love is just as infinite; actually Jesus did that for me, and he would be the one to reimburse you. As Christians, we don’t gamble but we place bets that are supported by a living God who intervenes out of his goodness and no other reason; not because of our actions, not because of any goodness of ours (we haven’t got any).

Wherever this finds you, all the best. I love talking about scripture because there is so much there, it was one of the best immediate things of getting saved; having no limits in pursuing the truth (God is infinite, as is his truth). This is my blog, and these are my thoughts, and I make no claims to the contrary, and thank God. In other news, whoever has met me in person and would like to chat scripture should really hit me up; we’d have a lovely time.

As always,

Haley

12/7/2014
Before I went to church this morning, I woke up a little early. I had wanted to read Job last night, but I decided instead to start a new Bible reading plan in chronological order, because I really don’t know my Bible very well. I’ve only been okay with Jesus for about 8 months, since he saved me. Although I was raised Methodist on and off again, I don’t know basically anything; save a handful of verses I clung too during my clinical depression years.
I did about 3 days worth of reading (if we’re talking 365 days/year) in one sitting, and got through Genesis 13 before I finally graduated to Job. I first really read this book while I was in Chile when a friend recommended some verses. However, I never really read it will open eyes until this morning, because I could totally relate to some of the stuff Job is going through. It makes a lot of sense to me given my personal health history and really crappy things that have been scattered throughout this semester here and there.
For that reason and knowing that the holiday season is daunting for many families, I have decided to write a little on this book; given my notes and personal reflections. If you can’t tell already, I’m no biblical scholar, but I have survived a lot of crappy things, and there is a lot to say about Job. I’ve gotten to Job 20, so I’m going to do my best to summarize all that I have of that from the beginning of the book, and I will go in chronological order (Chapter 1-Chapter 21), with personal comments and thoughts throughout. As per usual, if this isn’t your cup of tea, you don’t have to read it. Let’s get started.
Chapter 1
We begin with Job. The Bible says that not only was Job “blameless and upright”, but that he “feared God” (obedience) and “turned away from evil” (practice) (1:1). Not only was Job well established as a patriarch (power/influence)(1:2), he was also the richest man in his region, which comes off as large (1:3), being “the greatest of all the people of the east”. Job is so rich that his seven sons hold a feast one apiece each of the days of the week during feast time, and they invite all their family and sisters to eat with them on rotation (1:4). Job is continuously praying for his children, to guard their hearts from sin and the wrath of God (1:5).
Now, Satan comes before the Lord as if another one of the men he has called before him (1:6). The Lord asks Satan where he has come from, and although God is omnipotent and all powerful, Satan answers that he has returned from traversing the Earth. Although it is impossible to understand what God or Satan might have meant by these words as a human, it comes off as a warning to me at least, and almost foreshadows (like reality foreshadows) the things that will come to pass to Job.
The Lord has given Job many blessings, and asks Satan if he has considered Job to tempt, given the basis of his strong faith in the Lord. Like the voice of doubt falls upon human ears, Satan answers, insinuating that the only reason Job has such faith in God is because he has not been tried and due to the blessings the Lord has given him (1:9-11). The Lord agrees to let Satan tempt Job, for purposes that are his business alone and there are countless, terribly written books over (never gonna cut it; I promise). The Lord stipulates that Satan not curse Job in his treachery, that he is free to take all else (1:12). That part reminds me a lot of when the Lord casts Adam and Eve out of the garden with skins of clothing as protection. With that, Satan sets out to test Job.
This is the part that is regrettably realistic. In Job 1:13-15, only one servant escapes to tell Job how most of his livestock (oxen and donkeys; more precious) had been utterly slaughtered by the swords of another people, the Sabeans. Furthermore, only one servant comes to tell Job “while he was still speaking” [the first servant] and even more of his livestock (sheep) and (most of) his servants had been burned by “the fire of God” (idk what that is), having escaped from that chaos (1:16). At the same time, a third servant comes, interrupting as before, and tells Job that the Chaldeans have killed a lot of his remaining servants who were with the camels they conveniently stole (1:17). Finally, what is most terrible comes in the news of his fourth servant, who tells him that all of his children have died, having been crushed by the wind that toppled their eldest brother’s house as they sat feasting.
Impressively, Job keeps it relatively together. He rises up, tearing his robe and shaving his head in mourning, and fell on the ground to praise God, and blessing his name as almighty (1:21). Verse 1:22 clarifies that Job has yet to trespass against the Lord.
Chapter 2
Again, Satan comes before the Lord under the guise of other men (2:1). The Lord, recognizing him immediately, once more asked where he had been, and it is the same response as before; tricking people throughout the earth (2:2-3). At this point, God asks Satan about Job, and maintains that he is a man of integrity despite Satan’s temptations (2:3). Again, like the voice of Doubt, Satan answes that Job most prizes his life above the Lord (2:4), and that as soon as the Lord threatens it, he will curse the name of the Lord (2:5). Allowing Satan his treachery, the Lord condones him to tempt him for his own reasons (2:6). The most important thing that I see in Job Chapter two are a few words in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation at the end of Job 2:3 in God’s defense of Job’s integrity: “although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason”. To me, this really emphasizes how sound God’s judgment is and reinforces the idea that God uses calamity for teaching, for his own reasons and not those that we would understand. I believe that the Bible is written in a way that humans can understand, but that humans are infinitely blinded to the immensity of God, who is infinite. “Without reason” therefore signifies a lot, coming from the Creator, and it gives those two words a sense of vindication and omnipotence.
Anyways, Satan curses Job with sores in every part of his body, from “the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:6). In financial ruin and tumultuous health, Job sits in the ashes and picks at his wounds with a shard of broken pottery (2:8). To me, this is an infinitely said image; it signifies utter ruin and despair. His wife mocks him and goads him in her bitterness, telling him to “Curse God and die” (2:9). Continuously brave despite absolute affliction, Job says “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak” (in my head, it’s more like “HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND??”), and continues to praise God. At this point, Job is still blameless (2:10).
This is where it gets a little more dicey. Instead of taking his complaints directly to God, Job’s three friends, who had heard of “all the evil that had come upon him” arranged an “appointment together” to show him sympathy and comfort him (2:11). I don’t know whether the word appointment is meant to seem ironic, but it certainly does to me. I know from my experience lately that seeking other people’s advice is bad news when you have yet to listen to God. Personally, seeking “advice” is generally a spell for disaster unless I am very specific and ask for verses or something like that; I believe that honesty and criticism have to be very specific to be kind most of the time and to ensure that you aren’t making things worse. Although all people can listen, not everyone has the experiences that would make giving any words as encouragement actually valuable, given the situation, and from my experiences with depression and other forms of turmoil, there is nothing worse than having someone listen only to prescribe things that aren’t relevant or necessary (bonus points if you haven’t asked). I see that same sentiment in 2:12, when Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar “saw him from a distance” and “did not recognize him”. To me this insinuates that their judgment was impaired (vision) by not becoming close to him and that they allowed that understanding to affect how they saw God working in his situation (or truly, didn’t). As was customary, they mourned (2:12). However, they never spoke to him during the seven days they mourned with him whatsoever, because they “saw his suffering was very great” (2:13). Honestly, that seems like a really bad idea to me, but I have no idea what the traditions of advice-giving and communication styles were in moments of grief back then, where they were. When I have ever been in moments of great grief or despair, words don’t always help, but withholding words wounds terribly.
Chapter 3
At this point, having no good counsel, Job gives himself to Despair, cursing the day he was born and his existence as a whole (Chapter 3 as a whole). From 3:10-14, he is completely selfish, using first person and cursing the day God chose to give him life, and saying that he would have rather have never been given life (which sounds a lot like abortion to me). From 3:14-15, he pretends that he has never known any privilege, comparing his suffering to the sufferings of kings and princes, which were much closer to his financial security level pre-disaster than any of the servants that are mentioned in this book, from what I can tell. It’s woe-as-me, but with money. The self-pity is super strong in 2:24, in which he insinuates he knows hunger well (#feasts?). We are not really told all that much about his financial situation in the present moment as he says these things, but he carries on as if he had never had a cent to his name, let alone a great deal of the east as his personal property.
Chapter 4 & 5
I really hate reading the parts where his friends talk; it’s almost triggering for me. His friend Eliphaz is such an idiot, it makes me mad to read it, seriously. If I had to summarize his argument during chapters 4 and 5 (twice what Job spoke originally), I would call it “Life leads to ruin”. I will give you the highlights of the most annoying parts:
• 4:2 – “yet who can keep from speaking?” Well, Eliphaz, I’d say probably someone who genuinely wants to listen; trust me, I suck at listening.
• 4:3-6 – Good idea Eliphaz, focus on Job’s works and justify those instead of the God he was serving during all of it. Remember, the more you focus on the word “you”, the more that helps.
• 4:7 – I hate to break it to you Eliphaz because a lot of it was after your time, but “the innocent that perished” include Jesus, all the saints and martyrs for the most part, and basically anyone God chose to have perish; regardless of your crappy explanation.
• 4:8-11 – This seems like it is a bunch of empty words completely for the effect. Literary craftsmanship and spoken irony, I guess.
• 4:11-16 – I’m going to be 100% honest, if I was Job I would kinda think Eliphaz was making this part up entirely to get attention, given the fact that when the whatever spirit that came upon him, he “did not discern it’s appearance” (vision and wisdom).
• 4:17 – Yeah I still think you are making it up, Eliphaz. The false philosophy about “Can a mortal man be right before God?” is not something you should need to ask if you seriously trust that God can make all things right whenever he so chooses. I don’t care that you are wrong Eliphaz; that is beside the point and not my jurisdiction. However, you are a hypocrite because you don’t even believe your own words; practicing what you preach goes both ways.
• 4:18-21 – Please shut up, Eliphaz.
• (Nope, it continues; gonna spare y’all most of my rage over his empty words)
• 5:7 – Job was not a “man born into trouble”, he was blessed by a God that gives and takes away, Eliphaz. Stop your false philosophy; its utter garbage.
• 5:8 – “As for me, I would seek God”. Hold up Eliphaz, why are you still talking? Doesn’t that contradict your “helpfulness” to seek God while still talking, even if it not currently you in this situation? But yeah, continue to compare what you would do if it was you, you do know quite a lot, clearly it just springs right out of you.
• 5:15-16 – How is this part related to Job, or any of what you have just said, Eliphaz?? Do you keep this in your drawer of spare “answers” that aren’t really yours to give? Sheesh.
• 5:17 – Yes, call Job’s doubt a blessing. Keep talking over it; we both know it “helps” (I just can’t you guys).
• 5:19 – Six is the number of the Enemy according to many Christian scholars because it signifies incompletion (All Creation = 7 days). If in 7 days (completion  salvation) “no evil shall touch” Job, are you saying that because you need to process it aloud to hear your own voice say it, or because he needs to hear that given to him in a spirit of encouragement? Job seems to have it way more together in his misery, because at least he doesn’t doubt what he knows (logos, prior knowledge) about God; he doubts how God is providing for him in the situation.
• 5:19+ – The rest of this is completely irrelevant.
Chapter 6 &7
At this point, Job copies a lot of what Eliphaz does, in the way that he speaks and listens; his soliloquy (complaint) is even twice as long, like Eliphaz. He tries to justify a lot of his bitterness through rambling, and as a whole, I don’t believe he as all that much substance through any of it. The most important part to me is 6:29, when he says “my vindication is at stake”. I don’t know whether it was just in keeping bad company, but Job has now switched the focus from God to justifying himself (through his actions). Let’s see how that works out. It comes off and pretty privileged and prideful, given Job’s past riches and glory.
Chapter 8
Bildad is his second friend to speak, and it’s almost worse. The theme of his rant from what I can tell is “Bad works lead to ruin”, which has nothing to do with how any of this started, given that Job was “blameless” before God. In 8:6-9, Bildad focuses on contraction and encouraging Job’s clinging to what he “rightful”-ly deserves (8:6 “rightful habitation). This clearly doesn’t help Job focus on God any better; it further simplifies God not just to Ruler of All of Life, but Ruler of All of Life that can be bought and subdued by Pretty Works. Barf.
Chapter 9
Having been told nothing helpful, Job says “Truly, I know it is so” (9:2), and asks “how can a man be right before God?” Personally, I think he’s in a whole much larger than he realizes by asking friends that won’t even listen to him in the first place. It’s not just a waste of his time, it’s dangerous. At the end of Chapter 9 and reciting what he does know of God in honesty and brokenness, Job stipulates that if God would stop punishing him, “Then I would speak without fear of him / for I am not so in myself” (9:35). Job recognizes that it is not his intention to curse God or hold strong to a spirit of Doubt, but he stipulates that God must first bless him for him to have faith in God’s goodness. Not too smart.
Chapter 10
Job is speaking to God more directly now, and is able to get a lot closer towards doubting his Doubt. In 10:3-7, he gives a plea to God, trying to discern whether or not he still cares for him (despite that he still has his life). From 10:9-17, he externally processes much of his doubt, and it is a beautiful ping pong match (reality) between things he knows are true and things he is still afraid to trust in. In 10:18-22, he has a lot of self-control, and finally asks God “why?” several times; which was something he needed to ask from the start to get clarity; skip your demented “friends” Job, God will answer if you let him.
Chapter 11
This part is where it really starts to sting. Zophar, Job’s third “friend” decides to mock him and attempt to “shame” him (11:1-3). Now Job is already in a place of doubt, but Zophar takes it a dastardly step forward, saying that he “deserves worse” and verbally abusing him as if it will draw out the kind of piety that will tell Job “the secrets of wisdom (11:6)!” The rest of the tone of this passage seems entirely competitive and judgmental to my eyes. Zophar mostly insinuates that Job is stupid (11:12) and worthless (11:11), and that he cannot “know” God (11:18). What is most troublesome about this section is that Zophar makes it seems as if there are other humans (from what I can tell and potentially personal biases I may be reading in, so be it) like himself that are more qualified to know God’s works, goodness, and love. Not the case. Humans are humans, and from what I can tell, Zophar is also human.
Chapter 12
Job is not having it; he’s already hurt. He defends himself from his “friends”, saying “I am not inferior to you” (12:3), after he mocks their “wisdom”, saying it will die “with you” (12:2)(the holy wisdom of God endures all things; think Solomon ). From 12:4-6, he acknowledges his shame and self-doubt, calling himself a “laughing stock”, but moves forward, calling upon God’s omnipotence in all 12:7-25, and giving him all authority and glory.
Chapter 13
This part is really important, and it is impressive and bold. Here are some highlights:
• 13:2 – Job reinforces that he is “not inferior” aloud to their faces
• 13:4 – Job says that they “whitewash with lies” which to me sounds a lot like sugarcoating and concealing for personal gain (#falseprophets)
• 13:4 – He calls them “worthless”; having spoken with God and rekindled his faith
• 13:5 – He tells them that if they would “keep silent…silence would be your wisdom” (#burn)
• 13:6 – He makes himself vulnerable: “the pleading of my lips” (need)
• 13:7-8 – He calls them out on their deceit and wrongdoing
• 13:9 – He casually brings up Judgment Day, and asks if they will be able to deceive God like they do other people
• 13:10 – He reminds them that by showing “partiality”, they are setting themselves up for God’s judgment and wrath
• 13:12 – This is one of my favorite verses in all of it: “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes / Your defenses are defenses of clay”
• 13:13 – He asks for silence they didn’t give
• 13:14-28 – He finishes calling them out; saying that at least he is somewhat prepared to argue against God, much more so than they, according to Job.
Chapter 14
Job is still hopeless and bitter, and shortsighted. He feels like God has abandoned him with bad company, and that God is not there with him in the drama of their demented counsel. He starts pitying himself again (14:22): “he mourns for only himself”.
Chapter 15
Eliphaz decides to bicker about how much more authority they all have than Job to whine. He even does it in the words of a toddler “I will show you…” (15:17)! He decides that in order to knock Job into his rightful place, he should make a giant crapstorm about how he is “not the first man who was born” and younger than the “gray haired and aged among” them (15:7; 15:10). Then, like a pious man, Eliphaz basically curses Job over everything and abandons him to “emptiness” (15:25-35; 31).
Chapter 16
They are still bickering, but this time Job puts more faith in God in Heaven, and less faith in his actions (16:19-22).
Chapter 17
Job calls out to God, and clarifies a lot through finding mutual cynicism between him and his “friends”, although it’s pretty ugly to read.
Chapter 18
Bildad acts offended as if Job has assaulted them for no reason, putting most verbal emphasis over “we” (18:1-4) and making even sharper divisions between they and Job than before, calling him “unrighteous” (18:21).
Chapter 19
Job clings bitterly to his redemption, and rambles to get there. We see hope in 19:25-29, “my Redeemer lives” (amen).
Chapter 20
Zophar is is listening to his own ego and the Enemy to fight Job at this point. His “thoughts” answer him, as does “a spirit” he attributes to God (I doubt it, giving that he is acting rashly and preparing to deliver some really cruel words)(20:2-3).
At this point, Zophar accuses Job of “stealing a house he did not build” out of “discontentment”, and says that he will “receive the wicked man’s portion” by God (20:19, 20:20, 20:29).
Chapter 21
Job answers them with the faith they never gave; “let this be your comfort” (21:2). He asks for patience (21:3), and promises to clarify. He says that his complaint is not with man (12:4), but with God, insinuating they have no grounds to be offended. He attacks the “knowledge” of these wise men, saying that their argument is that God punishes for bad works and shoddy faith (21:7-19). He insinuates that they too are not above God (21:20-26) and accuses them of malevolent intentions (21:27-33), and wraps up by saying “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? / There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (12:34).
We’ve gotten through Job 1-21, and as soon as I have time, I’ll finish the latter half (22-42). Keep in mind that these are my opinions and personal reflections on scripture; if there is any truth in them then you should know that it isn’t mine. I believe that all truth comes from God, and he reveals it as he wills. I can’t explain God, but I can talk about experiences that I have that mirror experiences like Job’s, knowing that the Bible is the human-digestible truth of God, who is infinite. We may be made in his image, but we are not him, and that is the whole point of Job’s life struggles: being still and letting God do his thing while he is under attack and completely distressed. Lately, I see a lot of Job’s complaining in myself, and as I read the rest of Job sometime soon, I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out exactly where I’m at with all the complaining in comparison. I believe that we have the Bible so that we can have a reference for the living God that is all around us and cross-reference for the discernment of whether or not our judgment is off, and for that reason I know it was necessary for me to write this and figure out where I stand in a typed verbal processing.
The goal for me and from what I can tell, a lot of other Christians is to be honest with where we stand as broken, and trust that God redeems. I know that I suck in various ways, but I’m thankful that Jesus doesn’t count any of it against me because I believe in him and his power to redeem all of Creation; post-garden. I know that there is much to be said on this and other parts of the Bible, but considering God is infinite, I bet you $5 and my salvation that the rest of his love is just as infinite; actually Jesus did that for me, and he would be the one to reimburse you. As Christians, we don’t gamble but we place bets that are supported by a living God who intervenes out of his goodness and no other reason; not because of our actions, not because of any goodness of ours (we haven’t got any).
Wherever this finds you, all the best. I love talking about scripture because there is so much there, it was one of the best immediate things of getting saved; having no limits in pursuing the truth (God is infinite, as is his truth). This is my blog, and these are my thoughts, and I make no claims to the contrary, and thank God. In other news, whoever has met me in person and would like to chat scripture should really hit me up; we’d have a lovely time.
As always,
Haley

 

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haleylol

I am a teacher-to-be who loves people. I am not afraid of many things. I like to explain my thoughts logically on a very birds-eye view level--I was born thinking that way. I follow Jesus Christ, and I accept only that label to describe my identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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