“Be watchful and control yourself. Your enemy the devil is like a roaming lion. He prowls around looking for someone to swallow up.” 1 Peter 5:8 (NIRV)
What’s Going On?
We turn a huge corner in our reading this week as we begin a new section known as The Writings, or the books of poetry and literature, Job – Song of Solomon. No one knows who the author of Job was, but it’s important to notice that the book is placed in this new section because it is obviously meant to be read as a literary work because of its complex and highly organized structure.
The last few books that we’ve read appear to have been written during the time period of the exile and the return. During the era of the exile, the displaced Jews began to gather together and try to identify their new role in a foreign land. They no longer have the Temple. They no longer have the priests making intercessory sacrifice for them. Synagogues began to appear as places for the Jews to gather, discuss, and study their own history and try to understand how the Law now applies to them.
Many believe that the book of Job was also written during the time of Exile. Job appears to be written by someone who questions ‘What is the relationship between sin and suffering?’ After all, they had just witnessed Israel’s sin bring about great suffering. Although the book was possibly written during this time period, it is written about a man named Job who would have lived long, long before this, probably during the same time period as the book of Genesis. This assumption is based on the fact that there is no mention of Abraham and his decedents and no mention of Moses or the Law, so it is likely that the time period for Job predates them. His story is placed here, however, because it IS a book of poetry, but is serves a double purpose by placing it right after the books of the History and continuing the act of reflection.
The book of Job can be difficult reading because it deals with the battle between good and evil and appears to show God and Satan playing a high stakes game of winner-takes-all over a wager that a man named Job is only able to worship God because he is blessed. Would he still praise God when he had lost everything? The reader can’t help but question justice, fairness, and the suffering of the innocent. Job’s friends do a pretty good job of offering worldly wisdom and explaining the suffering in the only way that makes sense to them – Job must have sinned. Just when we begin to understand the relationship between God and Man, now we are introduced to the adversary who plays a mean hand of poker and has no qualms playing dirty. The way his story is told is similar to, and very likely predates, great literary masterpieces such as Dante’s Devine Comedy/ The Inferno, Goethe’s Faust, and Milton’s Paradise Lost/Paradise Regainedall of which wrestle with this same idea of good vs evil. Hint – in this one, Good wins! The real moral of the story is that Job trusted God completely.
When and Where Are We?
Likely during the era of the Patriarchs about 2000 B.C. in the Land of Uz, east of the Jordan River
- Job – a righteous man who is tested, loses everything, questions why, and then encounters God personally, prays for his misguided friends and then is blessed abundantly for his unwavering faith.
- Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu – the friends who try to reason out the cause of Job’s suffering, but miss the mark by offering religion over relationship, cliché, worldly wisdom, and youthful optimism.
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Sunday: Job 1-6
- Monday: Job 7-12
- Tuesday: Job 13-18
- Wednesday: Job 19-24
- Thursday: Job 25-30
- Friday: Job 31-36
- Saturday: Job 37-42
NOTE: Next week we will be taking a break. If you are caught up with the reading, enjoy taking a week off! If you are behind, use this week to go back and try to get caught up.