20 September 2007

Job 40: 1-14

"And the Lord said to Job: 'Shall a fault-finder contend with the Almighty? Anyone who argues with God must respond'. Then Job answered the Lord: 'See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you...?' Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: 'Gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you declare to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?'" (v.1-9)


The book of Job is a poetic story that comes from a culture absolutely different to ours. So we need to put ourselves in Job's shoes in every sense, in order to understand his position as well as the subject that is addressed - 'Why do people suffer?' 

The story tells of good old Job, who comes up against suffering on a large scale. His three friends try to be logical about this and assume that, in their ideology of cause and effect, he must have done something wrong to deserve this. 

There follows a third speaker who is dismayed at these conversations; and then God has the last word - and that is what today's passage is about. 

For many who would be first time hearers of this story, death was the end of everything. There was no future and so relenting and repaying had to be done in this life. Someone who acted badly would have to pay for their deeds in some way - or be punished. 

But why should good people suffer? The gist of God's summing up of the situation in chapter 40 is that the chances are that Job could not run the world any better than the Almighty. And in any case God does not have power to enforce his will. 

Through these pages it is hoped that the reader comes to see that the great Creator is bound by the rules of his Creation, and works in partnership with all Creation to bring about his purposes. A world where goodness was always rewarded and evil punished would rule out the nature of God's unlimited love. Grace is what gives meaning to all life

To Ponder

If goodness only was rewarded, how much love would any of us receive?

Have you ever argued with God in prayer? What happened?

Bible notes author

Revd Wes Blakey

Revd Wes Blakey is a native of the north east of England. He served in circuits in Lancashire and Newcastle upon Tyne before being appointed to Chair of Nottingham & Derby District.