When you think about the story of Job, what interpretation do you give it? More than likely the one you will think of is that it is the story of a man’s patience in the face of adversity. Too an extent, I’d agree with you. A few days ago, I’d probably have agreed with you one hundred percent. Then something happened that opened my eyes to what is really going on in the story; something so obvious that nobody bothers to really let the message sink in.
Okay, first the thing that happened. I watched a video of a lecture given by an admitted Satanist. I only watched a limited portion of it because it was largely unwatchable, but also because I did not feel like inviting in something I didn’t want to invite in. At this moment in time, I don’t feel strong enough to to deal with that crap and emerge victorious. In any event, the bit of the video I did watch had the lecturer mentioning that demons torment people for two reasons. The first is because people inadvertently invite them in (this is also true for UFO experiences according to my research). The second is because demons get extra credit for causing a righteous person to succumb and let them in.
Now look at the story of Job again. The standard opinion at the time the story is set in was that bad things happened because you were guilty of some sin or another. That is reason one above: the person invited something bad in and therefore something bad happened. What actually happened, as we are privy to in the conversation between God and Satan, is that reason two as outlined about was the case. But Job’s friends had never heard of this. They simply assumed that he had to be guilty of something for everything to suddenly go bad on him. They were so sure, one of them even began to make up false stories about Job being corrupt.
Does that sound familiar? We see it a lot among the people with right-wing political/religious leanings. They see a person living on the street, or on welfare, or food stamps, or simply going through a run of bad luck, and they automatically assume that it is because the person is lazy and doesn’t want to work. They feel justified in heaping scorn, ridicule and accusations on top of the person’s suffering. In other words, they behave just like Job’s callow friends.
And, herein lies a second part to today’s lesson. If a person really is being punished by God for some sort of transgression, is it a all right for other people who consider themselves righteous to kick them when when they’re down? Genesis 4 gives the answer to that dilemma: Cain has killed Abel, and God has issued his punishment. Cain will become a wanderer. Cain is concerned that the people of the land will kill him on sight. God therefore puts his mark upon Cain and issues the edict that anyone killing Cain will be in big trouble. Cain’s death will be avenged sevenfold. So, no, it is not all right to add to a person’s misery even if they are being punished for their own actions. When you are acting on the mere assumption that the person is guilty of an action that you have pulled out of your own prejudice, then you, yourself, are the guilty one. You are guilty of bearing false witness against an innocent person, and then, additionally, of imposing punishment on them on your own authority – not an authority that God has given to you.
So, what we can glean from the story of Job is that exceptionally good people are sometimes attacked by evil simply because evil wants to be able to boast about bringing down a big fish. We can also glean that ninety-nine percent of people who look down and blame people who are suffering through rough times are ignorant and arrogant, and that in adding to that person’s misery, they are committing a grave sin. You will remember how, after Job was restored, Job was the one who had to pray to God on their behalf. God was not at all happy with Job’s friends for condemning an innocent man, and increasing his suffering through unfounded allegations.
That is the true message and meaning of the Book of Job.