Saturday, March 07, 2009

Job Wants You to Argue

Another way of thinking about the book of Job that fits with some of the observations I've posted here recently:

Job goes through a maturing process arguing with his companions. Eventually, as he argues and pleads his case in faith, he is welcomed by God into the whirlwind, to speak in his presence, and God promises to hear his prayers.

But not only must Job argue, but the reader is expected argue. A good seventy-five percent of the book of Job is bad advice. God says at the end that Eliphaz and his two buddies were wrong and Job was right. This means that there is a good bit of sifting and arguing for the reader to do. Part of the point of Job is for the reader (or hearer) to emerge more mature, to emerge in dust and ashes like Job, and emerge from the arguments better prepared to intercede for others.

And perhaps this points to the mystery of Elihu. There is no mention of Elihu in Yahweh's judgment. He is not judged to be right or wrong, and Job does not even respond to him. This leaves an argument for the reader to take up. The implicit invitation of the book of Job is an invitation to argue with the book, to argue and ask questions of Elihu, to plead with God for an answer, to ask for wisdom and grace and understanding.

The book of Job not only narrates the process of a man becoming a prophet who stands and pleads with God, the book of Job continues to be an invitation to all who read it to that same maturity and glory. It is an invitation to walk through the shadow of death with Job into the light of the presence, the light of resurrection life, where prophets see God and intercede for the world.

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