My Bible reading has brought me recently to the book of Job. Not exactly light reading, if you know what I mean. Job is not the first place you would go in the Bible if you are looking for encouragement, though reading about what happened to Job can remind us to be thankful that things in our life are not as bad as they could be.
For those who analyze the Bible from a literary standpoint, Job is among the best of the biblical books in terms of literary excellence. I hadn’t looked at Job in depth for quite some time, but as I get back into it, it is obvious why literary critics have respect for the book. The language is elegant and vivid, and the similes and metaphors are unique and creative. On an existential level, the book is profound and brutally authentic.
One might even get the impression that the book of Job is so authentic that it was a strange book for God to have included in the Bible. Job pulls no punches as he questions and criticizes God. He doesn’t spout off shallow clichés to make God look good. Through Job’s mouth God lays bare some of the most challenging and persistent objections to His justice and goodness, objections that resound for contemporary readers (though the book may actually be the oldest in all the Scripture). God’s answer to Job, which comes as a barrage of questions that highlight His transcendence (Job 38–44), is powerful but less direct than we might like. If God wanted to hide from His critics, it might have been easier for Him just to strike Job from the record.
But God doesn’t need to hide from His critics, and maybe that’s exactly why the book of Job is in the Bible. The book of Job shows that God is not intimidated by our questions and our doubts, no matter how strong and straightforward they might be. And in the end, the book’s inclusion in the canon of Scripture is a clue that the God of the Bible is real. Job questioned, doubted, and even became angry with God, and God did not run away from Job’s challenges, but broadcasted them. And that kind of confidence and willingness to relate to humans is exactly what we would expect from a God who cares deeply for us, even though He is infinitely greater than us.