While preparing for my book of Job messages, I found some interesting info and insights in this book that helped me along the way. First, the interesting bits.
The book of Job so fascinated John Calvin that 159 of his 700 sermons centred on it. p. 47
I mentioned Job here and there and this is the first time I’ve really based two messages on Job and realized its not enough.
When Robert Schuller compiled the Possibility Thinker’s Bible, he found only fourteen verses to highlight in the book of Job) p. 48
Now that is an interesting observation … and now the insights …
“If the Book of Job reaches across two and a half milenium to teach anything to men and women who consider themselves normal, decent human beings, it is this: Human beings are sure to wander in ignorance and to fall into error, and it is better – more righteous in the eyes of God – for them to react by questioning rather than accepting. Confronted with inexplicable injustice, it is better to be irate than resigned. … I started my journey into this book with doubt in my faith and have come out with faith in my doubt.” ~ William Safire summary of the book of Job in The First Dissident (quoted by Yancey p. 60)
The book of Job represents a step beyond the “contract faith” assumed in most of the Old Testament: Do good and get blessed, do bad and get punished. p. 47
For a significant episode of my Christian journey it was very much a “contract faith” model. The turning point came especially when my mom was admitted to hospital during my first year in seminary, that I believe put me in a situation where for all honesty’s sake I seriously rethought what kind of “faith” Christians are called to respond to God.
The second important episode is when May Chin & I (as well as many in my previous church) journeyed with a 20+ year old sister bed-ridden in coma state for 18 months with prayer. That was a time when I was introduced to Philip Yancey’s crucial books Where is God when it hurts? & Disappointment with God. I was also writing a theology paper on theodicy (the problem of evil) during this time of intense involvement ministering to her and learning to walk with her family. I didn’t do well in the paper, a lot of emotional involvement went through the reflection process.
Seen as a whole, the book of Job is about faith,the story of one man selected to undergo a staggering ordeal by trial. His response presents a message that applies not just to suffering people, but to every person who lives on planet earth. p. 49
I saw all sorts of responses ranging from prophecies of miraculous healing to severe spiritual warfare often sincere attempts (which viewed “faith” more as believing she’s walk out of hospital.) One unforgettable one after she died 18 months after being in a coma state, is how one person who persistently prayed for her healing couldn’t accept this fact and in contrast how her mother stuck with her belief in God.
It helps to think of Job as a mystery play, a “whodunit” detective story… we learn in advance (cf. Chapters 1-2) who did what in the play, and we understand that the personal drama on earth has its origin in a cosmic drama in heaven – the contest over Job’s faith. Will Job believe in God or deny God?p. 49
The book does not provide answers to the problem of pain — “Where is God when it hurts? — for the prologue has already dispensed with that issue. The point is faith: Where is Job? How is he responding? p. 53
Will we believe in God or deny God? This existential questions forces us to look beyond the more rational-laden “Why God?” I’ve learned that we will ask the “Why?” questions and I suppose that’s just part and parcel of our human quest for meaning. But the “Will we …?” question keeps me connected to personal God – my creator (whom I believe is truly interested in our well-being in totality), and it gently nudges me to the “What’s next …?” questions.
The core plot: the best man on earth suffers the worst calamities, which poses a test of faith in its most extreme form. p. 53