Before Moses or Muhammad, there was a mighty son of the East who lost everything and wanted to appeal in heaven’s court with boldness (“like a prince”).
Jews, Christians and Muslims honor him. Scholars are puzzled by him. Even in his own lifetime, he was a legend and a riddle. He was truly his brother’s keeper, and yet his name means “hated”–he suffered because he was hated, and then he was hated because he suffered. His name has become permanently linked with persecution and perseverance, immortalized in what is possibly the oldest and most ironic book in the Bible (a book that is revolutionary, exotic, and often misunderstood).
Who is he? He’s Job, of course; and in the next several posts, I’m going to dust him off.
When and how did an Arab sheikh get written into the Hebrew scriptures? No one really knows. But Jews love a survivor, they love someone who wrestles with God, and so it was only natural for them to adopt him as one of their own.
What would Job say to us if he were alive today? He might have some choice words, like “Don’t shoot the wounded,” or “Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it.” Or, on second thought, he might bite his tongue and not say anything at all.
The Book of Job is many things to many people. You could unpack it forever. But at it’s heart, the Book of Job is simply a call to humility, and before you get overwhelmed by the tragedy and the big questions, before you get angry at God, remember that it has a happy ending. Job didn’t sit in rags and ashes forever. He didn’t die in torment and despair, like everyone expected him to–in fact, the last days of his life were the greatest!
Job wanted God to reveal Himself, and God graciously did. Job wanted to be vindicated, and he was. He wanted his prophetic words to be recorded forever, and they were.
As much as my heart rebels against this idea, Job was richer for his loss–not because he got double in return (although he did), but because it brought him closer to the Father and made him more like the Son.
To be continued…