As I suggested yesterday, Jesus’ testing in the wilderness gave him ample time to ponder famous stories of testing from Scripture. And I wonder if His thoughts on these time-honored tales changed at all, as he pondered them from the perspective of a finite human, starving and dehydrated in the midst of His own time of testing.
Perhaps most notably, I picture him reflecting on, and wrestling with, the stories of Job and Abraham.
In Job, God allows Satan to take away Job’s wealth and his health – just to see if Job’s faith is genuine, or if he’s a fairweather follower.
To make matters much, much worse, He even lets Satan kill Job’s 10 children.
The 1 John 4:8 ‘God is love’ God did that? Really?
Apparently. Or maybe I should say, ‘Allegedly.’
Some people speculate that Job may be an Old Testament version of a parable, rather than a historical account. And that makes a lot of sense, considering its out-of-sequence placement in the Bible – the story takes place during the Genesis era, but is grouped with the books of wisdom (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.) which were written much later.
The notion that Satan – assuming that the Satan of this story is the same Prince of Darkness we read about elsewhere in Scripture – is welcome in heaven at the beginning of the story is also pretty strange, if viewed as historical fact.
But let’s set that context aside for now, and take Job at face value, to see what light it can shed on the subject of testing. And the story says that God let Satan kill Job’s kids, just to test his faith.
Job questions God, but he never curses or denounces Him – and by doing so, he passes the test. So God, it appears, is OK with our questions. Wrestling with God seems to be quite acceptable, which is very good news.
In the epilogue of the book, all of Job’s stuff is replaced and then some – including his kids. Job 42:10-17 tells us that in the post-testing period of his life, Job and Mrs. Job have the same number of children as they had before.
And this makes everything all right, right? Because children are pretty much interchangeable, right? When it comes to kids, it’s all about the numbers, isn’t it?
I realize that the point the book of Job is to underscore the reality that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and we’re not supposed to understand a lot of what He does.
We’re supposed to trust Him regardless of circumstances. But when it comes to the way this story discusses Job’s children, that is a difficult test.
The testing of Abraham disturbs me for similar reasons.
But let’s talk about that tomorrow. For now …
Peace be with you.