Poor Job. You think you have it bad, Job’s got you beat.
As if Job doesn’t have enough going wrong for him (oxen and donkeys stolen by Sabeans, fire burning up sheep and servants, Chaldeans stealing camels and killing servants, house falling on sons and daughters, painful sores on his body, you and your suffering is merely a pawn on a bet between God and the Devil.) he’s also got spectacularly unhelpful friends.
Job’s friends are Eliphaz the Temanite (I keep wanting to type Termanite), Bildad the Shulhite, Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu the “I Showed Up Out Of Nowhere For My Speech in 32 - 37” Buzite. And they start off okay, sitting for a week on the ground with Job, not saying anything, just being physically present there, strong Friend Shoulders to cry on. Except for Elihu, since he’s not there, he’s apparently he’s not THAT great of a friend, heh.
But then they open their mouths and it’s all over.
The jist of their advice is “What’d you do to bring this on yourself? Come on, you can tell us. Better yet, tell God, confess what you did and repent. Because there’s no way all this would happen to someone who didn’t deserve it.”
Spectacularly unhelpful. Judgmental doofuses. The modern day equivalent would be something like, “It’s my Christian duty to tell you you’re dressing like a whore.”
(Have to give Stella credit for that one, she said it first. Not that I was dressing like a whore, we were totally talking about something else, ha ha ha.)
So they go around and around until God shows up in Chapter 38. God does a few chapters of neatly dodging the obvious question of Why Is This Shit Happening To Me by talking about I’m The Creator And The Point Is Not About Asking Why Because Life Is Complicated And Not About Easy Answers, The Point Is How Will You Respond When The Shit Rolls Down Because If You’re Gonna Abandon Your Faith Over This, Is Wasn’t Really Faith To Begin With. Faith Is About Staying Strong In Good Times AND Bad.
Now, what’s interesting is that a lot of websites like to say Job Chapter 38, verse 4 is sarcasm. God is asking Job “Where were you when laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand.” (verse 4)
It’s my belief that that’s actually not sarcasm, that’s a genuine question God wants to know, because He knows that Job’s answer has to be “I wasn’t there. Oops.” And then will realize that Job’s got no business demanding answers from his Creator.
Chapter 38, verse 5 is a bit more snarky, “Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!”
But quite honestly, I’m not comfortable with a sarcastic God. Are you? It makes me uneasy. I mean, just look at the Old Testament to see what an angry God looks like. It aint pretty. So a sarcastic God kinda scares me. I’m pretty sure this is the only place in the Bible where He gets His sarcasm on.
So I look at this line as God demanding answers. "Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!" "Um, well, uh, you, did, God."
It's possible you think I'm stretching. However, what IS sarcasm is back in Job 12, verse 2, snapping at Zophar, “Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you!”
At the end, Job apologizes for questioning God, and takes back all the questions he asked before. And God yells at the Doofus friends, and tells them they’ve gotta go make burnt offerings, and “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Chapter 42 v.8)
So ultimately, the moral of this Sarcastic Lesson is #1 – Sarcasm is an effective weapon against Doofus Friends, #2 – if you ARE going to be a Doofus Friend, be a Elihu, because he totally disappears from the narrative when God shows up, and thus escapes God’s lecture and potential wrath.
This concludes our Sarcasm In The Bible series. I SO hope you enjoyed it. Really. I mean, I hope the joy just FLOWS out of your eyeballs and puddles onto your computer keyboard when you're reading this.