While you probably know the plot and storyline of the book of Job, did you know its setting is before priests were involved in religious activities?  In fact, because of the clans named in the text, we are reading one of the oldest stories in the bible, dated from the patriarchal world.[1]

I invite you considered the image or shape of God prior to the ten commandments, the Laws of Leviticus, even prior to an organized human voice for God.  Without those supports, what are the aspects, features, shape, or images you see of God in Job?

A bit of background to help us come together.  Job is a righteous rich husband and father, who because of a bet between God and the evil one, loses his wealth, his children, and his health.  As he is sitting grieving, three friends show up keen to comfort and console their grieving lost friend.  

For 34 chapters, Job’s friends argue for a shape of God that Job refuses.  The friends’ God resembles something like this:  You live according to some hidden God agenda, then God acts as your Amazon Prime, giving you all that you ask for as quick as you ask for it. 

Because Job’s life is a hot mess, the friends are certain Job sinned and God cancelled his Prime account.  Job deeply disagrees, and he beautifully tells us aspects, images, features, and the shape of God.  Job holds to his image of God which includes:

  • Humans cannot stand pure nor righteous before their Maker.
  • Humans are born to suffer as the sparks fly upward (think campfire).
  • Life is a breath, a vapor.
  • God welcomes Job’s questions.
  • God grants life.
  • God has a steadfast love for Job.
  • God fashioned Job from clay and Job will return to dust.
  • God is a Redeemer.
  • God as tester of human nature.

Several God images are based on Job’s understanding of the world around him, the natural setting in which he lives.  God existed before the Bible.  God moved, spoke, loved long before anything was written down.  How did those lovely pre-historical people understand God?  Through nature. 

Image God based on what you know about growing fruits, vegetables, wheat, and corn.  Image your understanding of God based on the winds, the storms, the heat, the cold, the death, and rebirth of nature every day.  Image a God based in steadfast love for you.  That is God for Job.

Towards the end of Job’s story, God shows up asking a long series of tough questions.  I will close with some of these beautiful questions of this Holy Mystery we call God:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of earth?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Where is the way to the dwelling of the light, and where is the place of the darkness?

Has the rain a father?

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that floods of waters may cover you?

Do you give the horse its might?

Is it by your wisdom the hawk soars?

[1] James L. Crenshaw, Job: Introduction from The HarperCollins Study Bible:  New revised standard version, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), 750