I was speaking with a friend recently about typical opinion that the God of the New Testament is a God of grace as shown in Jesus Christ, while the God of the Old Testament is a God of rules and wrath as shown through the Law and Prophets. I mentioned that some find it easy and some difficult to hold this opinion while simultaneously stating that God never changes. And my friend pointed me to the reading for today.
Job is the oldest writing we have of all the biblical texts, predating even Genesis in its writing though not its content. And in this, the oldest writing we have, we find a God who is not bound by rules and wrath. In fact, the God of Job seems to be neither a God of wrath nor a God of grace. This is what makes Job such a confusing book for modern readers.
God seems to act like the gods of Roman and Greek myth, whimsical in His rulings, unpredictable in His decisions. Job’s misfortunes are not the result of his unrighteousness but rather his righteousness. God releases Satan on him not to teach him a lesson but to test his faith. This is deeply disturbing for we who want a fair, predictable, dare i say controllable, God.
I believe the problem with this passage is that no story is just a passage. Our tendency to read the bible in short, impatient dribbles leads us to this confusion. the book of Job is just that – a book – and we need to read the entire book to understand any small part of it. And once we read the entire book, we can begin to understand that these chapters are just the setup for the true lessons.
So let’s keep reading together, and once we get to the end, we can talk about the whole story as one lesson.