A Few Thoughts on Job

Posted By on January 31, 2010

This will be brief (I know, you’re amazed).

Basically, the message of Job is fairly simple, but some would say not very comforting. When Job and God have their conversation at the end of the book, God’s answer to his (and the reader’s) implicit question of why the righteous have suffered is that “I don’t owe you an answer, Job.” And, frankly, God doesn’t owe us answers. People are fond of calling the first two chapters of the book a “wager” between God and the satan. I disagree. One could very well view it as a vindication of Job — after all, we find out that God was RIGHT when he told the satan that Job would not curse him. Job never does. As to why God didn’t just tell the satan to get lost, in one sense the satan was just doing his job (you have to understand that the satan is *not* the cosmic evil enemy of God in Job 1-2).1 In another sense, God could have told him he was done for the day, but he doesn’t — and that goes back to God not owing humans an answer.† That is where faith comes in. We (with Job!) need to believe that God is as sovereign as he is good as he is wise. In other words, we aren’t at the pay grade that allows us to know this kind of information. Some things belong to the province of deity, not to us. More broadly, we of course know God honored Job’s faith and restored his health and what he had lost. But the text doesn’t say Job forgot the anguish of what happened to him. How could he if he’s human?

So how does this fit with my Haiti piece? On one hand, it has nothing to do with it, in that the “why” question is often inscrutable to us. God may steer circumstances through the exertion of his influence and power so that we can “figure out” why things happened the way they did. But even if that is the case, our grasp of how the events of our suffering really ripple outward are vast and beyond our vision. One person’s suffering, if responded to in faith, can influence hundreds, thousands, or perhaps millions. We can’t possible see that. And if they influence no one, if we believe the gospel, God will reward and bless that sufferer (to quote Paul) beyond anything that eye hath seen or ear heard in the next life. Finally, on the other hand, the question is relevant if by it we mean, “what can Job teach us about the suffering in Haiti?” It can teach us that God doesn’t owe us answer and we should trust him, opening ourselves to suffering as an opportunity for him to use it to influence others away from evil and toward the gospel. In other words, while it is a human thing to want to know why, and I’m sure from scriptural examples that God doesn’t mind asking (and venting — think of David!), the spiritual thing to do is submit to the future that God is working toward, which includes his ability to take suffering and turn it on its head.

  1. I can’t recall if I’ve blogged on that before, but it’s one of the things many people learn after taking a few weeks of Hebrew once you hit the definite article.† If some of you want a post on that, let me know.

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14 Responses to “A Few Thoughts on Job”

  1. Jonnathan Molina says:

    MIchael Heiser wrote: I canít recall if Iíve blogged on that before, but itís one of the things many people learn after taking a few weeks of Hebrew once you hit the definite article. If some of you want a post on that, let me know. ?

    Uh…YES! :)

  2. Chris says:

    But it is ‘the’ adversary and not just ‘an’ adversary right? So why wouldn’t we understand it to be the one we’ve come to call ‘satan’?

  3. aeneas says:

    Agreed. I think we need more about the satan.

  4. Nobunaga says:

    I have a Jewish friend who does not understand why Christians make a big fuss about the devil/satan, this was the only concrete verse i could go to in Job to site a DIRECT mention of him, i’m speaking about the Old Testament exclusively here though. I sort of did see his point from the Jewish perspective, without the New Testament revelation it would be a more elusive subject.

    So yeah more info please

  5. Eli Evans says:

    Worth noting as well is Luke 13:1-5. Some people ask Jesus about a recent disaster, and he replies: Do you think they were worse than anyone else? No, and (by the way) you’d better repent yourself, or you’ll perish as well.

  6. Chris says:

    @Nobunaga – Do they know the OT well? It would seem even the elusive dealings with him in the OT can be put together to make a very solid case…

  7. David Medici says:

    Dr. Heiser, I would very much like to read the post on the definite article used with “satan”. Can you provide the link?

  8. Robert McLaurine says:

    Gotta hear more about Job 1-2, please.

  9. Nobunaga says:


    Yes they know it better than me (not saying much) but different interpretation, think the new post pretty much clears it up why they think that way.

  10. rode says:

    Dr. Heiser, if i remember correctly, isn’t that topic in your “myth book”?
    by the way….when can we expect it to be completed and published?!

  11. MSH says:

    @rode: send me an email about this; I just posted an updated file today.

  12. rode says:

    Dr. Heiser, i sent you an email …thanks

  13. Dr, Heiser, I would love to know more about this. From a personal position alone (world events aside), this goes far to help with issues in my life, for which there appears to be no reason, at least not at first blush. It is so ‘human’ to ask the “why me” question for why most things happen to us. It helps to know that Adonai owes us no answer, should He decide it. Thank for all that you do. It is much appreciated. Understanding the literally meaning of words helps much in attempting to understand what is being conveyed by the text. law

  14. MSH says:

    @Lyn (Linda) Walters:

    you’re welcome!

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