1. Hmmm . . .
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    04 Jul '05 05:55
    In the “A Modern Parable” thread, Kirksey commented that he would be interested in a discussion of God’s being complicit in Job’s sufferings. So, Kirk, this thread is for you…

    *****************************

    The Basic Story

    There was a man in the land of Uz named Job. That man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. (Job 1:1; Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, Jewish Publication Society, 1985; all passages here are from this translation, except as noted.) [Note: the Hebrew word translated as “fear” is yira, which, according to Jewish commentators means something like “tremulous awe,” not “fright.] Job is also mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14 and 14:20, along with Noah and Daniel, for their righteousness.

    “The Talmud cites no less than eight opinions about when Job lived, ranging from that of the time of Jacob to that of the Babylonian exiles’ return to the Holy Land. There is also an opinion that Job did not actually exist at all, and the story is a parable.” (The Stone Edition Tanach, Mesorah Publications, 1996; this is an Orthodox Jewish Hebrew/English version.)

    One day the divine beings presented themselves before Hashem, and the Adversary came along with them I have substituted “Hashem,” literally “the Name,” for the divine name YHVH, according to the Stone Edition Tanach. “The Adversary” is ha Shatan, “the satan,” in Hebrew. According to the Harper-Collins Study Bible (NRSV): “The article with the word Satan indicates that an office is involved, something like a CIA agent. The Accuser is therefore in the Lord’s imperial service. The word occurs elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible only in Zech 3.1-3.2; 1Chr 21.1”

    Hashem said to the Adversary, “Where have you been?” The Adversary answered Hashem, “I have been roaming all over the earth.” Hashem said to the Adversary, “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!” The Adversary answered Hashem, “Does Job not have good reason to fear God? Why, it is you who have fenced him round, him and his household and all that he has. You have blessed his efforts so that his possessions spread out in the land. But lay Your hand upon all that he has and he will surely blaspheme You to Your face.” Hashem replied to the Adversary, “ See, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on him.” The Adversary departed from the presence of Hashem. (1:6-12)

    A series of catastrophes then occurs, including the death of Job’s sons and daughters when a house collapses on them.

    For all that, Job did not sin nor did he cast reproach upon God. (1:22)

    The Adversary reports to God again:

    Hashem said to the Adversary, “Where have you been?” The Adversary answered Hashem, “I have been roaming all over the earth.” Hashem said to the Adversary, “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. He still keeps his integrity; so you have incited me against him to destroy him for no good reason.” The Adversary answered Hashem, “Skin for skin—all that a man has he will give up for his life. But lay a hand on his bones and flesh, and he will surely blaspheme You to Your face.” So Hashem said to the Adversary, “See, he is in your power; only spare his life.” The Adversary departed from the presence of Hashem and inflicted a severe inflammation on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (2:2-7)

    Nevertheless, For all that, Job said nothing sinful. (2:10)

    Job, in his suffering, is visited by three “friends” who argue that there must be a reason why God would have inflicted Job so. The following are a few brief commentaries by rabbis on the general thrust of the friends’ arguments (from the Stone Tanach):

    Eliphaz: “He contends that suffering is not haphazard. Rather than railing about his fate, Job should examine his deeds and try to discover why God punished him,” i.e., Job must have sinned even if he doesn’t know it.

    Bildad: Job should just repent. “If [he] would repent, the blessings [God] would bestow upon [him] would overshadow even those of the past.” (Ramban) In 18:4, “Addressing Job, Bildad asks sarcastically whether Job expects God (‘the Rock&rsquo😉 and the world to change as a consequence of his complaints.” (Rashi)

    Zophar: “Zophar berates Job for thinking himself ‘virtuous in God’s eyes,’ since no mortal can fathom God’s doctrine. If all were known, Job would realize that he deserved to be punished even more.”

    The “friends” make several more accusations and arguments against job as the narrative proceeds. Then the young Elihu speaks; his basic argument is: “God inflicts illness to make the victim consider his mortality and mend his ways, thereby saving his life in the process.” (Rashi) Also: “God is not responsible to a Higher Authority and has no need to pervert justice to destroy a man. Why should God deal with man unjustly? He could simply take back the soul that He granted man.” (Rashi) And: “Everything that He has brought upon [Job] is with a precise, deliberate purpose.” (Ramban) “Elihu pleads with Job to submit to God’s judgment and stop blaming Him for his plight.” (Metzudos)

    The God replied to Job out of the tempest and said:

    Who is this who darkens counsel,
    Speaking without knowledge?
    Gird your loins like a man;
    I will ask and you will inform me

    Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
    Speak if you have understanding.


    And so on. In his final statement, Job says to God:

    I know that you can do everything,
    that nothing you propose is impossible for You.
    Who is this who obscures counsel without knowledge?
    Indeed, I spoke without understanding
    of things beyond me which I did not know.
    Hear now, and I will speak;
    I will ask and You will inform me.
    I had heard You with my ears,
    but now I see You with my eyes;
    therefore, I recant and relent,
    being but dust and ashes.


    God then rebukes the three friends because they have not “spoken the truth about Me as did My servant Job.” God then restores Job and his wealth. His brothers and sisters and former friends have a meal with him, and console and comfort him …for all the misfortune that Hashem had brought upon him.

    **********************************

    Some Possible Questions

    (1) Considering God’s consultations with the Adversary, was God in fact the one who, using another’s agency, caused all Job’s suffering?

    (2) If God was complicit, what was God’s purpose in causing Job’s sufferings? After all, the text seems very clear that Job was a sinless man.

    (3) Considering the story as a parable, what might the point (or the points) of the story be?

    (4) What, if anything, does the story say about God’s justness?

    I’ll let you guys run with it for a while, if you want.

    BTW, Has anyone read Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People, which is essentially an exploration of Job?
  2. Arizona, USA
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    04 Jul '05 06:54
    Originally posted by vistesd
    ...Has anyone read Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People...
    Have heard of it, have not read it.

    Another explanation for why good things sometimes happen to bad people and bad things sometimes happen to good people is that there are no personal deities intervening in things happening on the surface of this planet.
  3. Standard memberKellyJay
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    04 Jul '05 07:44
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac
    Have heard of it, have not read it.

    Another explanation for why good things sometimes happen to bad people and bad things sometimes happen to good people is that there are no personal deities intervening in things happening on the surface of this planet.
    Why do you say that?
    Kelly
  4. Not Kansas
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    04 Jul '05 08:11
    I subscribe to the "sometimes bad things happen to good people" theory as well.
    Doesn't need a god, but friends can help.
  5. Donationkirksey957
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    04 Jul '05 14:23
    Thanks, Stephen!

    There is a line in the book which goes something like this: "Man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly up." To me this speaks of the universality of suffering. I think it needs to be pointed out that there is indeed suffering that is "self-induced" and there is suffering that is beyond our knowledge and culpability.

    It seems to me that if there is a purpose to suffering it is to experience/find God within the "whirlwind." There also seems to be an element of submission before God as the proper stance to learning of God and even finding God.
  6. Standard memberKellyJay
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    04 Jul '05 15:51
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    Thanks, Stephen!

    There is a line in the book which goes something like this: "Man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly up." To me this speaks of the universality of suffering. I think it needs to be pointed out that there is indeed suffering that is "self-induced" and there is suffering that is beyond our knowledge and culpability.
    ...[text shortened]... n element of submission before God as the proper stance to learning of God and even finding God.
    There are good and bad things that happen to us all, just as the
    sun and rain fall on us all. That is why we should not think just
    because things are going good God is pleased with us, any more
    than things are going ill for us that God is displeased with us.
    Kelly

    Matthew 5:45
    45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
  7. Arizona, USA
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    04 Jul '05 18:33
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    ...any more than things are going ill for us that God is displeased with us...
    And yet I watched part of Rev. Joyce Meyer's sermon broadcast on TBN yesterday, and one of the things she emphasized is that we [meaning the believers in her audience] don't have to worry when we go to sleep at night, because God is watching over us and will not let harm come to us.

    My thought was: does she really think that everybody in human history who has died in their sleep was a nonbeliever?
  8. Standard memberKellyJay
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    04 Jul '05 19:02
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac
    And yet I watched part of Rev. Joyce Meyer's sermon broadcast on TBN yesterday, and one of the things she emphasized is that we [meaning the believers in her audience] don't have to worry when we go to sleep at night, because God is watching over us and will not let harm come to us.

    My thought was: does she really think that everybody in human history who has died in their sleep was a nonbeliever?
    Yea, I have heard that teaching before. I also agree with it, that God
    is with us and will never leave us. That does not mean that we cannot
    have kids that get sick and die, it does not mean that a drunk driver
    will not end the lives of half of a family. The point I'd stress is that
    even in the middle of all the dark things that can happen, God is
    with us and will strenghten us under all that can happen here. To
    teach that nothing bad will happen, is either a lie, or just plain bad
    teaching which can be taken to exstremes as people tend to do.

    I recall a couple that lost a baby to a health issue, the pastors (plural)
    of their church said, that the baby died because of the parents lack
    of faith. The church instead of comforting them, nearly destroyed
    them. We are to be here for each other, we are not going to be
    spared sorrow, pain, or suffering, but we have someone who will in
    the midst of all the pain and sorrow be with us, strenghten us, and
    at times will also act for us too. To say nothing bad will happen will
    destroy one's faith as soon as something bad does come and bad
    things come to all people like the scripture says, just like the sun
    shine, it gets us all.
    Kelly
  9. Standard memberKellyJay
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    04 Jul '05 19:021 edit
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac
    And yet I watched part of Rev. Joyce Meyer's sermon broadcast on TBN yesterday, and one of the things she emphasized is that we [meaning the believers in her audience] don't have to worry when we go to sleep at night, because God is wa ...[text shortened]... dy in human history who has died in their sleep was a nonbeliever?
    For some reason, there were two of my last post. So this is just an
    edit to get rid of this one.
    Kelly
  10. Arizona, USA
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    04 Jul '05 19:15
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    ... That does not mean that we cannot have kids that get sick and die, it does not mean that a drunk driver will not end the lives of half of a family...
    When a believer gets into his or her vehicle and sends up a prayer specifically asking God to keep him or her safe on the upcoming drive, is God always faithful to answer that prayer?

    If your answer is 'no,' then of what value is such a prayer? Is it a statistical thing? Maybe when drivers do that prayer, God causes/allows a collision to happen once in million trips, but when drivers fail to do that prayer, God causes/allows a collision to happen once in 100,000 trips?
  11. Standard memberKellyJay
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    04 Jul '05 19:33
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac
    When a believer gets into his or her vehicle and sends up a prayer specifically asking God to keep him or her safe on the upcoming drive, is God always faithful to answer that prayer?

    If your answer is 'no,' then of what value is such a prayer? Is it a statistical thing? Maybe when drivers do that prayer, God causes/allows a collision to happen once ...[text shortened]... n drivers fail to do that prayer, God causes/allows a collision to happen once in 100,000 trips?
    I believe God answers prayers, and works out all things for our good,
    even those things that others want to use against us for evil. I do not
    know why God does what he does, nor do I know why things happen
    the way they happen either. I just know that we are here, things
    happen that are common to all men, and that is the way it is, for
    those that have God in their lives and those that don't. I do not know
    how people go through somethings without God.
    Kelly
  12. Arizona, USA
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    04 Jul '05 20:132 edits
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    I believe God answers prayers, and works out all things for our good...
    First off, I thank you for taking the time to engage me on this issue. 🙂

    A question: are you using the phrase 'God answers prayers' in the wishy-washy sense that some believers are using it when they make the claim, "God answers all prayers, but sometimes the answer is 'No.'"?

    Also (and I am probably getting into territory that someone like bbarr could handle far better than I), if a certain future event would maximize the quantity of goodness in the world, do you believe that God always arranges for that event to come to pass, or does He only do so if at least one believer asks him in prayer to make the event happen? As a variation on this question, does God sometimes only answer prayer when multiple believers ask Him to do the same thing? I am thinking of the Wednesday night prayer meetings I went to so many hundreds of times as a youth, in which congregants stood up to speak a 'prayer request' and then the minister and congregation prayed on the behalf of the one who made the request. It was as though God wouldn't bother to respond if only the one person making a prayer request had instead prayed silently to God in the privacy of his own home; to the contrary he needed to get others in the church to gang up on God to make something positive happen.
  13. Donationkirksey957
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    04 Jul '05 21:05
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac
    And yet I watched part of Rev. Joyce Meyer's sermon broadcast on TBN yesterday, and one of the things she emphasized is that we [meaning the believers in her audience] don't have to worry when we go to sleep at night, because God is watching over us and will not let harm come to us.

    My thought was: does she really think that everybody in human history who has died in their sleep was a nonbeliever?
    I don't think she has spent a lot of time in the Book of Job. But your post had me thinking some more about the role of Job and his tormentors. Does not suffering on some level serve a purpose of initiating us into life? Initially the idea for this thread had the notion that there were some parallels between the fall of mankind in Genesis and the suffering of Job. I suggested that "paradise" was not reality as such and that being cast out of the Garden was more akin to the nature of reality.

    For me personally I can't begin to tell you that suffering has been the transforming fire of my life and can, in hindsight, be grateful on some level for it. When I see people who do not have a capacity to experience growth in their suffering, I regret that they are short-changing this gift.
  14. Felicific Forest
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    04 Jul '05 21:50
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Yea, I have heard that teaching before. I also agree with it, that God
    is with us and will never leave us. That does not mean that we cannot
    have kids that get sick and die, it does not mean that a drunk driver
    will not end the lives of half of a family. The point I'd stress is that
    even in the middle of all the dark things that can happen, God is
    wit ...[text shortened]... s come to all people like the scripture says, just like the sun
    shine, it gets us all.
    Kelly
    KellyJay: "I recall a couple that lost a baby to a health issue, the pastors (plural) of their church said, that the baby died because of the parents lack of faith. The church instead of comforting them, nearly destroyed them."

    Reading this I can't help thinking how necessary it is to have a Magisterium of the Faith, like the Roman Catholic-Church has, which watches over the purity of the Faith. The interpretations of the Gospel which are practised by some churches are sometimes so distorted, sometimes so far away from and sometimes absolutely contrary to the message Christ is communicating, it makes me angry and sad at the same time.

  15. Donationkirksey957
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    04 Jul '05 22:02
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    KellyJay: "I recall a couple that lost a baby to a health issue, the pastors (plural) of their church said, that the baby died because of the parents lack of faith. The church instead of comforting them, nearly destroyed them."

    Reading this I can't help thinking how necessary it is to have a Magisterium of the Faith, like the Roman Catholic-Church has, ...[text shortened]... contrary to the message Christ is communicating, it makes me angry and sad at the same time.

    Ivanhoe, I am wondering if, in addition to a magesterium, you would agree that having a capacity to understand suffering from personal experience should be a prerequisite for a pastoral calling.
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