John T. Willis

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Job Loses His Health

The second scene involving Job depicts Job's loss of his health--portrayed in Job 2:1-10. This little paragraph falls naturally into three parts.

I. The Second Heavenly Council. Job 2:1-6.
*This section is very similar to Job 1:6-12, and thus does not need to be repeated. However, there are a few significant details which call for discussion because new events in Job's life "move forward" and "change" the situation.
A. In Yahweh's initiative question to [the] Satan: "Have you considered by servant Job?", Yahweh gives an additional statement: "He [Job] still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason."
1. The question: "Have you considered my servant Job" intentionally IRRITATES Satan. Satan "pulled out all the stops" AGAINST Job, AND YET, Job did not budge--Job persisted.
2. Yahweh's additional statement reinforces previous observations: SATAN [not Yahweh] is the one who incited God AGAINST Job, AND SATAN's purpose or intention was to DESTROY Job--and Satan had no reason to do this--except that Satan WANTED to harm or destroy or overthrow Job. If Yahweh ACTS in these events, Yahweh's intention is not to DESTROY Job or acts AGAINST Job.
3. The statement: "YOU [Satan] incited ME [Yahweh]" obviously does NOT state or even imply that Satan has power over God. Instead, Satan can do nothing without God's first permission to act.
B. Satan's response this time is that human beings, including Job, will do ANYTHING to save their lives. SO, it is not big deal for a person to lose his or her "possessions" as long as they are still in tact. "Skin for skin" is a trading term. Probably the thought is: a person is willing to trade ANYTHING "up to" an equivalent skin, up to his life.
C. Satan then proposes that Job will curse or reject God if God "touches" [attacks, harms, overthrows] Job's "bone and flesh," his very being. Note that Satan tries to leave the impression that GOD will "touch" or harm Job.
D. Yahweh agrees with Satan's proposal. But Yahweh makes two significant changes in his response to Satan.
1. Yahweh ALLOWS Satan to have the power which Yahweh gives to him ["YOUR" power]. Yahweh said the same thing in Job 1:12.
2. Yahweh will NOT ALLOW Satan to put Job to death. THIS is important, because the composer of Job emphasizes that Satan has God's given power, but ONLY within God's stated LIMITS.

II. Satan afflicts Job. Job 2:7-8.
A. Satan, out of his own decision and volition, DECIDES that the most powerful "touch" on Job is to "inflict loathsome sores on Job from top to bottom." Job is so miserable that he scrapes himself and sits among the ashes.
B. Scholars propose a wide variety of "diseases" or "maladies" that Job had: leprosy, elephantiasis, the Oriental sore or Biskra button, extensive erythema, smallpox. pemphicus foliaceus, chronic eczema, etc., etc. Such an academic pursuit makes me think of trying to determine "the fish" that swallowed Jonah--and here, too, there all kinds of proposal. Here, I am going to take a stab at a proposal: Job's affliction is a harsh, unique, otherwise unknown malady that Satan concocted JUST TO harm Job. Whatever this disease was, it is horrible, painful, destructive.

III. Two Individuals Respond to Job's Malady: First, Job's Wife; then, Job Himself. Job 2:9-10.
A. Job's Wife--Job's wife begs Job to curse God and die. This SOUNDS very harsh and very ungodly. In my opinion, not so. I think Job's wife is expressing GREAT LOVE for Job in this set of circumstances. Here are some thoughts:
1. How long was it between that Job initially receive his affliction and the time that Job's wife proposed that Job curse God and die? Of course, we do not know. But, my guess is that Job suffered under this affliction for many weeks or even many months before Job's wife finally begged Job to curse God and die.
2. If YOU have ever sat beside the bed of a suffering loved one for weeks and months, and just cannot take it any more to let your loved one continue to suffer, YOU can identify with Job's wife. I have seen husbands and wives, children, parents, friends, and others say to each other and to the doctors and nurses: It would be much better if this suffering person were dead. Then, that person could have a little peace. It LOOKS LIKE that the LOVING THING to do is not something that we desire, but seems to be best.
B. Job.
1. Job replies that his wife SPEAKS LIKE a FOOL. "Fool" here does not mean "stupid" or "ignorant." As we have already discussed, this is the antithesis of "wise." "Fool" means "NOT to fear God," while "wise" means "to fear God."
2. Much like Job's response to the losses of his "possessions," Job says that a servant of God must be willing to RECEIVE bad things as well as good. Think of the reality of life. Is this not correct? Everything and anything we HAVE is BECAUSE we RECEIVE it. We LOVE to "receive" the good, but maybe we also need the bad.
3. The last line of Job 2:10 is significantly different from the comment of the composer of the book of Job in Job 1:22.
a. Job 1:22 makes two statements about Job: "In all this Job did not sin [I think--in his heart] or charge God with wrongdoing" [I think--in his outward actions].
b. BUT, Job 2:10 says ONLY: "In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Yes, Job did not SAY anything wrong in his response to Satan's assault. BUT, what was Job now thinking in his heart? The Talmud says: "Job did not sin with his lips; but in his heart he did" (b. Baba Bathra 16a]. Others think this difference is an exaggeration, and that Job 2:10 actually MEANS the same thing as Job 1:22. Of course, one cannot know for sure!!! Scholars will take opposite views. In the flow of the book of Job, it seems to me that NOW, Job is beginning to DOUBT whether God is actually faithful to Job. [As we move on through the Book of Job, we will keep returning to this issue].

Before leaving this important paragraph in the book of Job, allow me to make a parting observation:

God is the ONLY SOURCE of all power. Any power that any human being or any animal or any heavenly being is a gift of God. God COULD FORCE all his creatures to do what God FORCE each one does. BUT, according to the Bible, God has DECIDED to ALLOW all his creatures to make decisions within God's limits.

Here is a simple example. An individual decides to murder another human being. God COULD prevent that person from committing murder. BUT, often, God ALLOWS a murderer to kill another person. Is God responsible? I think not. Is GOD responsible for Job's losses of "possession" and/or "health"? I think not. This is the work of [the] Satan. BUT--Job will soon ACCUSE GOD for doing these very things. This is KEY to understanding the message of the Book of Job.

How do YOU respond to Job 2:1-10? Share your thoughts to others. Let me hear from YOU. I need all the help I can get.

John Willis


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