"When we last talked, Job, I got off the track once again, but I think we are actually making progress. You are so distressed, Job, because you believe in the living God, a God who has not merely retired from the world, like the gods of the Epicureans who spend all their time trying to keep their atoms together. You believe that God is intimately involved with you. But it is this realization that presents the intellectual conundrum for you, that makes your 2nd person outburst to God in 7:12-21 so powerful for me. Here is your dilemma: (1) you believe in a good God; (2) you believe in an all-powerful God; (3) but disaster, huge and horrible and irreversible disaster, has come upon you and there just isn't any explantion for it. You haven't deserved it. You haven't somehow cherished "secret sin" that was found out by God. You feel you are the victim of a divine plot (and you will be right about this!), and that this plot must be the action of a most perverse, cruel and irrational deity. But you cannot simply say that this is the kind of God who rules the world. You want, no you need to believe that at the heart of the universe is a good and personal power, a power that treasures justice as much as the most righteous creatures do, a power that cherishes the values by which you have lived your life. Such a god MUST BE THERE for you, Job. Isn't that true? Haven't I gotten it right?
But that is where your immense misery comes in, doesn't it? God has seemingly done this to you without prior or subsequent explanation. And, now I think I see how your mind works, Job. At first you seemingly accepted your fate in 1:20-21. You intoned the safe words of the tradition, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord." You even did so a few verses later when your wife asked you about your integrity [I will get to her a little later, Job]. But then, in ch. 3, you simply exploded in your rage and pessimism and pain. Such a reversal in a mere five verses is unprecedented in Scripture, but I think that what happened is that when your friends were sitting around, not saying a word (2:11-13), that the silence worked into your soul and the deafening injustice of what befell you finally dawned on you. No one explained the meaning of their silence, but I think you interpreted it to mean that your friends had no answers to your plight. Of course you would discover later that they had lots of answers to give you, but maybe the utter shock of seeing you so reduced to the bare essentials of life undid them temporarily and gave you the freedom to open up long tamped-down feelings in your heart. The explosion of ch. 3 is the result.
And I think I can defend the interpretation in this last paragraph even more, Job. Remember when you exploded with that wrenching outburst in ch.3? You stuck in that curious verse near the end where you said, "For I was terrified of something and it arrived; the very thing I feared has come upon me (3:25)." Remember saying that, Job? I have it on tape if you don't recall. It was when you were coming to the end of your first rumination, where you had taken as it were an intellectual tour of Sheol and its pleasantness (3:11ff.) but then had returned in language of brutal brevity to your current situation (3:24-26). As your mental process allowed you to return to your pain, you said these words. They slipped out, didn't they Job? You really didn't mean to say them, did you? Because if you think about them for a while, what they suggest is that even while you were all 'tam and yashar' (perfect and upright) in chs. 1 and 2, you were worried about something.
You were worried that it was all going to end some day. You were worried that something would happen, that you would be visited by some force or power and all your finely arranged life would come crashing down in a heap. Maybe you even had a dream about it, since you are so eager to say that God now torments you in your dreams (7:14). Did you dream of a great fall, Job, even while things were so incredibly good for you? And, if you did, what did you do with that dream, with that idea? Did you share it with anyone? Did anyone possess your fears along with you, Job? Or, were you just a seeming one-dimensional businessman--profits were the bottom line? Were you a soulless man, a man who suppressed the unpleasant thoughts and dreams and just had to keep buying more cattle? But, no, you had to be more than that. You were a judge, one who seemingly dispensed impartial justice to the approval of all. But that is the way you tell the story in Job 29; Eliphaz has quite a different take on it in Job 22, doesn't he?
So, you feared that something like this might happen. But, as I think about it, Job, it probably is true that every rich guy, and we have a lot of them in America these days, worries about losing it all. I would love to read a book about that--big guys fears about losing it all. There isn't a book like that on the market. There are books about everything else, Job, but why not a book on what the big guys really fear? Maybe those fears have to be buried deep in their hearts because if they came out, well, the fears might just realize themselves in their lives. We are pitiful creatures, aren't we Job, not even able to identify or own up to our fears.
Well, we are out of time, Job, and I see you are getting a little tired, so let's pause for a while until the next talk.