VI. Message

VI. Message

It is easy to express the negative message of this book. The idea that Job's sufferings are due to sin, as claimed by the three comforters, is held up to ridicule by the writer who has already indicated in the prologue that Job was “blameless and upright.” God also rejects this assessment in the epilogue (42:7). Elihu moves slightly beyond these three and suggests that there is a remedial purpose to Job's sufferings. Such an explanation, valid perhaps in some situations, is not appropriate for Job's sufferings.

What is the positive message of the book? One would expect the answer to be found at the end of the book and in the mouth of the most credible character of the book. If so, the answer is most likely to be found in the speeches of the Lord. But establishing the location of that answer is easier than determining its nature. The speeches of the Lord with their zoological and meteorological questions are difficult and seemingly unrelated to Job's sufferings. This has caused some to insist that the answer is not verbal but personal—the theophany itself. It is enough that God appeared to Job. Others have noted that the concern of these speeches is not with the “why” of Job's suffering, but with the “how” of those sufferings. Suffering, no matter how extreme, does not warrant the attitude displayed by Job, thus it is that Job repents, following the Lord's speeches (42:6).

Given the interrogative nature of the Lord's speeches, they perhaps need to be viewed as educative. Job had hoped to question the Lord, but instead he is questioned. Job sees the complexity of the world and the immensity of God's task and realizes that he has been too preoccupied with himself and has spoken from ignorance. His rebellion is replaced by submission and his despair by faith.