Having lost everything dear to him, Job is further tested by being covered in sores. We get the iconic image of him sitting in ashes, scraping his sores with pottery.
The heaven of Job is such a strange pantomime. The characters of God and Satan are like those Warner Brothers cartoons where bugs bunny goes to the afterlife.
I developed plans as a youth to write a musical of Job, where God and Satan were depicted by hand puppets in like a punch and Judy show. Its like Uz, Job’s mysterious home town, is Oz, a dreamscape of the actual world.
Ray Minniecon, the indigenous pastor at our church memorably taught it as an indigenous story. There are none of the chosen people in it, is about non Jewish spirituality. Job has abundant blessing and is righteous and known by God. Everything good and dear to him is taken away from him one day, and replaced by disease.
This is the chapter where Job’s 3 friends arrive, who will discuss his situation, and his wife who tells him to curse God and die.
It hooks you in by setting up this extreme case. I react, ‘I’ve got problems, but not compared to job’ and the majority of readers are in that boat, it instantly challenges your frustrations with life, your anger at God or the universe. The psalms give you permission to vent to God (though they ask a despairing ‘why?’ rather than actually curse God).
This chapter of Job sets up a doubt about my perspective on my problems. I may not have job security, my kids may have all sorts of issues, but at least they are alive and I’m not homeless and covered with sores, eh?