In the second half of Job’s response to Bildad he rails against God more than his friend.
The opening sections contrast the tenderness and love with which Job was created by God with the lousy life he is having.
While the discussion of justice in Job is sophisticated, his take on the afterlife seems rudimentary from my perspective.
He believes that after death he’ll go to ““. The Jewish Sheol idea, not like heaven as we understand it
My favourite image in the last chapter was of his days going too fast, they ‘skim past like boats of papyrus’. It reminded me of making paper boats after rain when I was young and watching them zoom down the gutter at the side of the road with the storm water and disappear down drain.
It made me wonder though, why if he was suffering so badly, he wouldn’t LIKE the idea that his days went quickly. It’s preferable, isn’t it?
But this explains that his days on earth are all he thinks he has. He ends the chapter praying that God will leave him alone so he can have ‘a moment’s joy’ before death.
This theology makes you realise why their expectation of earthly blessing is so important to them. If God takes that away, they have no blessing, they never experience it.
Compare the greed of today’s prosperity theologians, who promise God’s blessing of wealth during our time on earth AND after you die. Having your cake and eating it too.
With such a gloomy view of the afterlife, no wonder Job is so emotional.
God sort of reveals himself on a need to know basis. We still only understand him in part, as Paul says. But job knows even less than us.
It’s interesting: what is the bare minimum revelation God gives to mankind, what are the essentials?
Remember, Job isn’t being portrayed as one of the chosen, he’s outside the covenant of Abraham.
He knows there is an all powerful creator, God the father. He knows that we are known by God, and that ethical living matters to the creator. He knows God can forgive.
Doesn’t seem to have a strong sense of original sin or afterlife.
Australian Aboriginal peoples, disconnected from the scriptures for 60000 years, got to similar places, though I think they had a good idea of an afterlife. The word for caterpillar is a traditional child’s name, for example, because apparently they thought of butterflies as a metaphor for the spirit of people who have departed.
Job has got to the same place as the psalmists and the prophets; of realising that a simple theory of reward for righteousness does not stand up to empirical experience. So he is seeking more. He’s longed for a Messiah figure but not revisited his attitude to the afterlife yet.
I don’t exactly know where I’m going with this, but it’s interesting.
After ending yesterday’s notes sarcastically, I did actually find Job comforting yesterday when I was notified that I didn’t get even an interview for one of the three jobs I applied for so far. God’s promises are great, abundant, tender and as strong as solid rock; but that job is not one of them.