Interpreting Lessons in the Book of Job
Sacred texts play a large role in scoping how we view the world around us. The sacred text that millions of people around the world read, in many ways, defines how we view the world around us. This sacred text is presented in the form of religious scripture. Religious scripture aims to teach us lessons to help guide us in how we live. Religious scripture, though a guide in the daily lives of many, is usually open for individual interpretation. For example, reading The Book of Job, a story of God testing the faith of one of his most loyal followers, will leave the reader confused about what the purpose of the story really is. The Book of Job gives us wisdom on how we should carry ourselves and our relationship with God. The purpose of the story told in The Book of Job is to show that God deserves our love and praise in all circumstances in life, show that suffering can strengthen the souls of individuals, and that bad things are destined to happen to all of us regardless of how we live our lives.
The theme of God always deserving our praise is extremely apparent in The Book of Job as God wreaks havoc on Jobs life through the adversary. The Book of Job aims to teach readers that we must praise the Lords name regardless of our own personal situation. In The Book of Job, the adversary says “But lay a hand upon all that he has and he will surely blaspheme you to your face” (Ketuvim, The Book of Job, 1506). The adversary comes to God with a test for one of his most loyal followers to see if he would remain loyal to him even if he lost many of his possessions. The adversary believes that Job is only loyal to God because he has such a great life. He believes that if that life is taken away from him, he will no longer praise God’s name. The adversary believes that Job will not only not praise God’s name, but he will blaspheme him and talk bad about him. God is unfazed as he believes that Job will surely still fear him and shun evil. God takes the adversary up on his challenge and allows him to take away the possessions that Job has. Job responds to this by saying “the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (1507). Job knows that God is capable of both taking and giving and though he lost what he had, God is capable of giving those things back. God bestows blessings upon his followers and takes those same blessings away. It is important to remain faithful and understand that through God, both good and bad things will happen. Job knows that if you only stick with God when things are good, then you are a blasphemer – someone who speaks irreverently of God. Though Job lost a lot of what he had, in the end his faith in God remained unchanged. Job said “Indeed, I spoke without understanding Of things beyond me, which I did not know” (1561). Job’s faith in God slipped after enduring immense suffering, but in the end, he returned to the light and praised God’s name. He then grasped the true power of the Lord and understood that he must always fully put his faith in God, no matter what the situation is. Because of this revelation, he was able to find his place as a loyal servant to the Lord. Similar to how Job praised God, it is important for people to praise God at all points in life as God is able to guide you through any situation.
Another idea present in The Book of Job is that suffering can strengthen the souls of individuals. The story aims to show us that through suffering, individuals can become stronger both physically and spiritually – in their relationship with god. This is evident when the Lord gives Job everything he had back and even more after he had gone through immense suffering and remained strong in his belief towards God. “The Lord restored Job’s fortunes when he prayed on behalf of his friends, and the Lord gave Job twice what he had before” (1562). When Job showed his loyalty towards God after everything he had been through, God rewarded him with even more than he had before. Job became stronger after being at his weakest point through his relationship with the Lord. Job also became stronger physically after his suffering. “Job lived one-hundred and forty years to see four generations of sons and grandsons” (1562). Job was blessed to be able to live a long, happy life even after the torment he was put through. The experiences that Job went through in losing both his possessions and health to the adversary led him to a true realization of the power that God possesses. This is evident when Job said, “I know that you can do everything, that nothing you propose is impossible for You […] I heard you with my ears, But now I see you with my eyes” (1561). Job gained a true understanding of the abilities that God has after his experiences. Job lost his faith for a brief moment but he regained it. His faith in God became even stronger than it was before. When Job says he can now see God with his eyes, he means that he now truly understands what it means to have a strong faith in the Lord. Job was able to comeback from his lowest point in life stronger, physically, in his possessions, and in the people surrounding him.
The idea that bad things are destined to happen to us regardless of how we live our lives is present in The Book of Job. Bad experiences are bound to happen to people, no matter how they live their lives and how strong their relationships with God are. God knows that Job is a devoted follower of his as he says “’Have you noticed my servant Job? There is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil’” (1506). In talking to the adversary, God acknowledges that Job is an upstanding man and a loyal follower. Regardless of this, he still accepts the Adversary’s challenge and agrees to allow him to take away his possessions. Jobs faith in God couldn’t protect him from the devastation that would follow. He had no choice and his fate was completely unavoidable. Job knows that no human is able to control what God has planned as he says “Man cannot win a suit against God. If he insisted on a trial with Him, He would not answer one charge in a thousand” (1516). Job knows that God is in complete control and trying to stop him is useless. God will not respond to any human if they try to stop him. God is the ultimate being and should be respected as such, there is no other being on God’s level. Job understands that God both gives and takes away. This means that believing in God does not mean that he will only bring good into your life. He says to his wife “’You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we only accept good from God and not evil?’” (1507). God is capable to bestowing blessing upon his children and he is just as capable of taking those blessings away. God is in control of Job’s life and Job must not say anything sinful. Job had lost both his possessions and his health but he knew that God was in control and that the only way for him to continue would be to keep his faith. Job had lived his life in accordance to God’s rules yet horrible things were still happing to him. He was not deserving of the devastation that he was enduring yet he understood that the Lord does not only bestow good upon his followers.
Sacred text aims to teach us lessons about how we should live our lives. The sacred text of The Book of Job is presented in the form of religious scripture. Religious scripture is open to interpretation by the reader. The Book of Job, like other religious scripture, offers us wisdom on how we should live and understand our relationship with God. The reader must finish reading the text with an understanding that God deserves our unwavering praise at all times in life, that suffering can lead to a stronger soul, and that bad things are always going to happen to people regardless of how they live their lives. God always deserves our praise regardless of what we are going through because we are destined to have highs and lows in life and we must stick by him through it all. We are all destined to go through bad times in life. The only way we can get through the bad in life is through God. God will always see us through the bad and restore goodness to our lives if we remain faithful to him. The suffering that God puts us through will lead to us bettering ourselves and will see us even more happy than we were before. By going through bad times, people learn to truly appreciate the good times and the many blessings that they have been given by the Lord. Bad things are always going to happen to people, regardless of how good of a person they are. Having a strong faith in God doesn’t prevent bad things from happening to people, it just assures that you will be able to survive anything that is put in your way. Having faith in God gives you the tools to survive whatever bad comes into your life. It is imperative to have unwavering faith in the Lord in order to ensure that you can find your way through the darkness that is destined to plague your life at certain points. The lessons that are present in The Book of Job presents the readers with principles to help in guiding how they live their everyday lives.