Job’s Dialogue with God

Job came from the land of Uz. He is probably Jobab mentioned as a younger son of Joktan in Genesis 10:26. If so he was a descendant of Noah via Shem who lived before the tower of Babel and before Abraham.

Uz was his grand father’s nephew, or some sort of second cousin twice removed (Uz appears in Genesis 10:23). Lands were named after tribal leaders.

Uz was located somewhere where the Sahara Desert is now found in North Africa. At the time, this land provided pastures for the herds of camels, sheep, oxen and donkeys which Job owned. He was a rich man.

In Job 6:15-17 Job makes reference to intermittent streams that flow from thawing ice and become torrents from melting snow. At the end of the Ice Age the climate of the Sahara was very different to what it is now. This shows how ancient the Book of Job really is. It may date from the earliest written texts of about 3200 BC.

The Book of Job gives a unique insight into life during the early Neolithic among the Semites and their strong faith in God prior to the time of the Patriarchs of Israel.

The story recounts a tale of woe: Job’s extensive herds of oxen, donkeys, sheep and camels were carried off in tribal raids and his servants were killed; then his brother’s house collapses on his sons and daughters killing them as they were feasting; finally Job is afflicted with an unsightly disease of sores. Satan who appears in the story says to God that Job will curse Him to His face when his own body is struck. Job’s wife says to him, “Curse God and die.”

The rough time that Job is experiencing gets even rougher when his friends pass judgment upon him saying he only has himself to blame for the suffering in his life. Job will not concede that this is the case. Job will not admit guilt and holds onto his integrity.

The book of Job is mainly about understanding God’s justice, but it is also the context of one of the most ancient references to God as Creator. At this time people thought that God clothed Himself with the clouds of the storm, throwing lightning to the earth like spears and spoke with the voice of thunder. This is voiced by Elihu in his discourse in Job chapter 37.

god speaks to job from the storm and out of the thunder

God answered Job from out of the storm. This is a paraphrase of Job:38-42: God thunders:

Who is this that darkens my counsel with words devoid of understanding? Stand up and brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?  Tell me if you know all this?  What is the way to the abode of light?  And where does darkness reside?

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?  Can you loose the cords of Orion?  Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the Bear with its cubs?  Do you know the laws of the heavens?  Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

God mocks Job and asks him, were you born when I created all these things? He goes on, who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?

The Lord finishes his discourse saying, will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him.

Then Job answered the Lord: I am unworthy – how can I reply to you?  I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

It ends with the Lord saying that Job’s three friends had not spoken of Him what is right, while Job had. Job is ordered to make sacrifices on their behalf to obtain forgiveness. After this Job is restored to health and prosperity, coming to own twice what he had before, and has seven more sons and three daughters.

The book of Job is an extraordinary book of drama, poetry, observations of nature and truth about God and the human condition.

I wish to conclude with the thought that none of us were there.  Nobody witnessed creation nor saw the Beginning.  But someone was there; God was present, the Creator of the universe.  He alone knows how creation happened.  He alone has power to create.  He brought matter out of nothing and created life from non-life.  

God alone saw creation as it unfurled. We cannot comprehend the fundamental things unless God reveals His purposes to us. Humility is the condition required for the gaining of knowledge and the understanding of things. To find wisdom let us seek it with the One who does know the answers to our questions.

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