Happy Ending…I Guess???

Near the end of the book of Job God finally speaks. After reading Job’s friends give him some pretty bad advice, and after listening to Job lament the fact that he was even born (and who could blame him), God speaks. And when God speaks, He puts Job in his place; and Job responds rightly. Job repents of his self-righteousness. Job acknowledges that God is God and that Job is…well, not even close. Then at the end of the book, Job gets all of his possessions back. He gets his camels and donkeys and servants back. He is even allowed to have ten more children; the same number that were killed when all of the tragedy struck his life. The Bible says that Job lived another 140 years, sort of a “happy ever after” ending.

So part of me wants to smile, close the bible and say, “see, God made everything better.” But in a very real way, that seems like a very shallow way to conclude the book of Job in my mind. Job endured suffering unlike anything any of us will ever experience and God makes no apologies for what He put Job through. God doesn’t say, “Job, I love you and I’m sorry for putting you through this but millions and millions of people later will read your story and be encouraged by it”. At least we don’t have any record of God saying that. I’m left with a somewhat mysterious view of God from the book of Job. If all I had for a Bible was Job, I’d have my doubts about Job’s God. But of course, I have much, much more. I have creation and the sacrificial system and the cross and the resurrection. So, even though I leave Job with a slightly unsettling feeling, I am not unsettled about God. How about you?

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  • First of all Job is probably the MOST mysterious book in the Hebrew bible. It is like no other book. It also has the most untranslatable garbled verses in the Hebrew bible…many translations are pure guesses. Second, Chapters 1 and 2 ending in Chapter 24 is most likely a folktale borrowed from other cultures. There is a palpable discrepancy between the simple folktale world of the frame-story and the poetic heart of the book. The frame-story is merely a pretext to introduce the text proper.
    GOD DOES NOT ANSWER JOB ABOUT WHY HE IS SUFFERING!!!

    “see, God made everything better.” You have got to be kidding me. You can never replace a dead son with another son. God kills Job’s children just to win a bet with Satan?
    Give me a break!!! Actually it should be translated “Adversary” from the Hebrew “hasatan” Kind of an intelligence agent of the “sons of God”.

    Suffering?
    At this point I have two thoughts. One, some things God cannot do,such as stop cancer or suffering. But He can give strength and peace in the hardship. Two, as in Ecclesiastes a lot of bad things happen in this world. It does not make sense. The solution is to enjoy it while we can, because it is fleeting. And work to make the world the most pleasing place it can be for ourselves and help others as well to enjoy the fruits of the land.
    Mark Hofmann

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