I was surprised when a letter was read from his church minister in support of the driver, saying what a good man he was. I didn’t find the Court proceedings satisfying. I wasn’t sure the Judge had all the facts. I couldn’t understand how a minister would give the impression that this was a good man.
As children we have a sense of what is fair and unfair. As adults we seek justice. And, if we believe in God, we expect God to be just.
In this way Satan is putting God and his policy of blessing the righteous on trial. The scholar John Walton writes, “Though Job and his friends may believe he is on trial, the prologue shows that this is a misunderstanding. Rather, it is God’s policies that have been called into question, and he therefore takes the role of defendant. Job becomes deeply enmeshed in this trial and is central to it, but he is not on trial.
God permits Satan to test Job by removing his blessings and allowing him to suffer. One moment Job is rich, with a happy family and with standing in his community. The next moment all is stripped from him. If all that mattered to Job were the benefits God provided surely, he would now curse God. But Job responded in a surprising way, worshipping God and saying , ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:21–22)
Despite his great loss, Job did not bring a charge against God. He did not ask, why me? He did not raise his fists at God in anger. He did not lay the blame at God’s feet. Job had a deep faith; an inward perspective, a relationship with God which Satan didn’t anticipate.
Charles Swindol says of Job, A vertical perspective will keep us from horizontal panic. A vertical perspective – that is our relationship with God, will impact upon the way we respond to what happens on the earthly horizontal plane. There was something in Job’s trust of God that gave him strength and perspective when everything was falling apart around him.
Satan’s first attempt to break Job failed, so he tried again, this time striking Job with a painful affliction. But again, Job holds fast to God saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him!” (Job 13:15–16) Satan had hoped to embarrass God in his own heavenly court by proving God wrong. He had expected Job to curse God. But Job’s relationship with God did not depend on God making him prosperous.
In a sense each of us puts God on trial when out of suffering we ask, why me, what did I do to deserve this? John Walton wrote, When we ask "why me?" we are in effect asking, “How does God work?” We may start out asking why we deserved this, but ultimately the question we arrive at is “What kind of God are you?” … eventually we arrive at the place where it is no longer us, but God who is on trial.
This heavenly courtroom scene is very puzzling and raises many questions for us. At the end of the book God will respond to Job but here at the opening of the book the scene is set. However the question of suffering is yet to be explored. Join us in coming weeks to look at this more deeply.
For reflection: Have you ever put God on trial asking him to give a reason for your suffering? How did your relationship with God change through this?
Rev John Malcolm