Mystery and Faith (Pt.2)
Passage: Genesis 3:1–37:24
The Big Picture: Job’s theological message is that people should respond to innocent, unexplained suffering by trusting God because he is supremely wise, sovereign, just, and good. Because of his omnipotent work of creating and sustaining the order of the cosmos, YHWH alone is its sovereign and benevolent lord who relates to finite human beings only on the basis of his own sovereign grace and our joyous trust in him.
- Job’s plaintive outrage and his miserable comforters (3–31)
- Job’s friends offer glib answers and a condemning spirit. They have no category for guiltless suffering
The heart of their theological position is summed up by Eliphaz’s question: “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (4:7–8). Consequently, the three friends cruelly abuse Job by unbendingly adhering to a general rule (“retribution theology”) and then rigidly and heartlessly applying that rule to him.
- Job responds with self-justification and hard questions
He is guilty of nothing that can justify such suffering. The readers know this to be true: Job is suffering because God is demonstrating his servant’s spiritual integrity to Satan, not because Job is being punished.
- Job’s friends have a tight theology with no loose ends.
- Job’s speeches are the anguish of a man who knows God is just, but who cannot make sense of that belief in the light of his own experience. Yet Job is absolutely confident in his final vindication—by God himself.
- The final lengthy speech of Job (26:1–31:40) reiterates many of the themes already developed, but it reaches a new intensity of bitterness. Job is not looking for a merely intellectual answer, a merely theological argument. He wants personal vindication by God himself. He wants God to appear and give an account of what He is doing.
- The three miserable comforters thought they were defending God, but God eventually charges them with saying the wrong things about him. Job defends his own integrity so virulently that he steps over the line now and then and actually charges God with injustice, yet God insists that his servant Job has spoken what is right.
Job and Elihu (Job 32–37) Elihu speaks accurately and transitionally as a precursor and foil to God.
- Elihu begins with a lengthy apology for speaking to his seniors
- Elihu rebukes Job for impugning God’s justice
- Job is not right because God is greater than any mortal (33:12).
- God speaks more often and in more ways than Job acknowledges.
- Whatever else may be said about the problem of evil and suffering, the justice of God must be the “given”
**This series owes a plagiarizing debt to Andy Naselli’s “From Typology to Doxology: Paul’s Use of Isaiah and Job in Romans 11:34-35”; and Don Carson’s “How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil”