Job – a timely word for those who feel in exile

– Rebekah and Derek Maul

I know today is supposed to be “Five Photo Friday”, but instead I’m going to take a little bit of a “side trip” and invite you to follow along with a Bible study.

To be precise, it’s “Job.” Job is one of those books a lot of people scratch their heads about and say, “leave well enough alone.” But after one lesson I’m already hooked, and I’d like to share some of my reflections here.

My wife Rebekah is offering the study via video, over the next six weeks (for those who don’t know, she is senior pastor at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church). I’m including the link to Week One here and at the end of this post.

Job is an appropriate focus during this time of COVID-19 because many people feel frustrated, and defeated, and are suffering in ways that don’t even begin to make sense. We want to look to our faith for answers, and still things just don’t seam to add up.

Enter Job, stage left. Right on cue.

And it really is “stage left.” Because this story is most certainly a parable rather than a history, and once we begin to understand it in that way then some of the strange interactions that play out between characters like God and satan begin to make more sense.

Exile

Job was written, most authorities agree, during a time when the Hebrew people were in exile. They didn’t even have access to the temple in Jerusalem. In consequence, even worship felt distant and unfulfilling. Sound familiar?

– image from the web

The main character (someone who has is described as having an authentic and genuine relationship with God) is not even Jewish. This is a reminder to the Children of Israel that God is not hemmed in by the restrictions of our narrow protocols, preferences, prejudices, and religious structures.

  • “Imagine,” the storyteller invites the audience, “God shooting the breeze with the angles; and then along comes Satan.
  • “‘What’s going on?’ God asks.
  • “‘Not much, just prowling around the earth.’
  • “‘Ever notice my man Job?’ God boasts. ‘Now there is one righteous dude…’
  • “‘Only because you have made his life so easy!’ Satan replies. ‘Let’s see what happens in response to some struggle…'”

And so it goes. We know the story. Job – just like the Hebrew people – loses everything. First his wealth, then his family, finally his good health.

Now everything is in place for what turns out to be an extended dialogue about what it means to be faithful, and righteous, and blessed. Job’s wife comes onto the stage, then his friends, and eventually God.

  • What does it mean to be faithful?
  • What does it mean to be righteous?
  • What does it mean to be blessed?

This play, this parable, this teaching tool is directed at people who not only were physically removed they were in spiritual exile too. So Job has a lot to say to us today.

Here is the first lesson from Rebekah – “JOB, the Introduction”. Number Two will drop 7:00 Monday evening if you want to listen along “with” her Bible study group. I will try to share something every week.

It really is an interesting story – DEREK

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Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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