Job is an honest and upright man. He follows the laws and decrees of Moses and he is a God-fearing man. He is also a self-made man. Everything that he owns came from the work he derived from his own two hands. From his honest labor, and smart decisions, Job has come to own a large track of land. Upon this land, he raises and breeds livestock. These animals consist of no less than seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen, and five hundred donkeys. To attend his flocks and herds, Job has hired a large number of servants. Job is admired by the community for his wealth and for shunning deeds and practices of evil men.
At home, he is a wealthy man as well. Besides his loyal and beautiful wife, he has seven dedicated sons and three faithful daughters. They all manage to get along and are able to do so quite well, though there is the occasional dispute which all families have. This household wealth Job attributes wholly to God. Who else could create such a miracle? None of them, however, are aware of the fate that is about to be bestowed upon them. Before the trial began, Harahel was responsible for roaming the Earth and to judge the heart of Job. In court, Harahel reports everything he observed when he visited Job.
Mihr speaks up and asks, “Is Job an upright man, standing on a firm moral ground, and shuns evil?”
“From what I have observed,” replies Harahel, “Job is as you have described. He is upright, shuns evil upon hearing of it, and he fears God. But I am forced to question if he is truly blameless. Though he fears God, does he do so for nothing? Look at his social standing. He is a wealthy man with eleven thousand heads of livestock and plenty of servants to help him. He is respected in the community. His family does not go hungry and he is content. When one is content, it is easy for that person to follow God’s laws and decrees. In addition to this, look at what he has to lose if he does not fear God.”
“Just because Job is financially set, it does not speak of his character or of his heart. It is the content of those two features that the true measure of the man should be taken, not the measure of his personal wealth.”
“True, but property and wealth have the tendency to change a man. In some occasions, it can even corrupt him. How do we know that such an occasion hasn’t happened to Job?”
“If this is true, than what do you suggest be done?”
“What I suggest is that we remove Job from his position of wealth and standing.”
“And how do you propose such a deed be done?”
“I do not suggest that we remove him from the community. This is due to the fact that his wealth and social standing will continue to stand. What needs to be done is to destroy both.”
Mihr is stunned. “You can’t be serious.”
“But I am. What other way can his wealth and standing be nullified? If we cause his wealth to deteriorate slowly, he will not curse the name of God for he will not perceive it as the act of God but just the flow of the economy. With his social standing, he is thought of to highly by his neighbors and is to up right to turn them away with his actions. We couldn’t turn the community’s hearts to stone; that would be unfair. His wealth needs to be destroyed in order for the trial to work. My proposal is the most effective manner of doing so.”
“I disagree and I will not give my approval for the execution of such a plan.”
“Then it appears that we are at a stalemate. To settle our dispute, I defer to God to pass final judgement on this subject.”
After a moments pause, an answer comes from God. The Voice of God emanates from deep within the pillar of mist. It is distant, but firm. The answer in which God decrees affirms Harahel decision.
“When you say that he should be removed from his wealth,” Mihr says, “does that extend to his family as well?”
“Yes it does,” replies Harahel.
“What do you suggest happen to his family?”
“His family will die.”
“What will happen to their souls?” Mihr says concerned.
“Do not worry. Upon my visit, I looked into the hearts of his family and they were just as pure as their father. Upon their death, they will pass through the Gates of Glory and enter Heaven.”
“I am going to have to object.”
“Object if you must, but the decision on this matter has already been made. The power and authority to act in this matter has already been granted to me and I have made my decision. It will stand. If it is a consolation, I only have the authority to affect his possessions. The man himself will not be touched.”
Before Mihr is able to raise an objection, Harahel waves his hand and the deed is done. This leads to the death or theft of all Jobs oxen and donkeys by a wave of Sabean attacks from the north. This Sabean raid also leads to the slaughter of most of the hired help that tended to the animals.
Following the raid, balls of fire descend from the skies, consuming all that they touch. This rain of fire destroys Job’s sheep that were roaming the fields as well as most of the shepherds that were tending to them. Finally, from the east, three raids from the Chaldeans laid claim to the camels, killing a few in the process and putting the blade to their handlers.
The final blow in this series of tragedies comes with the death of Job’s children. Located at the house of the oldest son, all ten children, accompanied by their respective spouses and children, were enjoying a meal together and giving thanks when a great wind came, accompanied by a terrible storm. The storm was so violent that it caused the entire house to shake and collapse. None of the inhabitance survived.
Upon hearing of these tragedies, Job is devastated. He becomes so overwhelmed with grief that he bursts into tears on the spot and starts to wail inconsolably. He rips at his clothes and drops to the ground as if he was a diseased and withering flower. The worst pain of all is the loss of his family. It is a wound so deep that it is crippling. Whatever property he lost is insignificant to this personal tragedy and Job had to be carried back to his house by his neighbors. It isn’t until several hours later that Job manages to regain enough of himself to begin praying.
“Oh, Heavenly Father,” Job says. “Please forgive this tired old man and his ways. What plans you have for me will be beyond my control or comprehension. All that I ask is for forgiveness and the strength to pull through this tragedy.”
In the Hall of Tribulation, all of the angels watch intently as the events unfold before them as they view it on a cloud of mist between the benches. Even though these events occur over most of the day on Earth, it lasts for several minutes within the Hall. Through their observation, they witness Job retaining his faith, in intact, despite the great personal loss he has just sustained.
“Well,” Mihr proclaims. “Despite the great misfortune in which he received, Job’s faith in God still remains strong. He also doesn’t want retribution or to seek vengeance. Though in despair, he still remains an upright and God fearing man. He still shuns the acts of evil men and the deeds in which they perform.”
“True,” says Harahel. “He remains faithful and does not desire to curse God’s name. He doesn’t even wish harm against those who have wronged him. But despite this fact, his soul is yet to be fully tested.”
“What else can he be put through that would cause him to curse the name of God?”
“In addition to the sorrow that is burdening his heart, I propose that his flesh be attacked as well; a physical torment that would prevent him from being able to walk or even sleep.”
“And what do you plan to achieve with this?”
“Nothing questions a person’s objectives and purpose more than having to exist in constant pain. In ravaging both body and soul, we would be able to fully test the man’s faith and determine if he will curse the name of God or question the All Mighty’s judgement.”
Mihr thinks for a moment before he gives his response. “If you desire to attack the flesh, than Job’s body must remain intact without ruptures, loss of tissue, or appearance of cannibalistic growth. When experiencing this ordeal, his life must also be spared.”
They both turn to the pillar of mist that represents the presence of God and Harahel asks, “Do you approve of our arrangement, Father?”
“Yes,” replies the Voice of God.
Mihr turns to Harahel and says, “You may proceed.”
Harahel moves his hand. Upon completion of the movement, Job receives painful sores all over his body. Not an inch of flesh is spared from these sores.
When Job receives these sores, he is out getting some fresh air with the aid of a cane. When the sores develop, he is still in deep mourning over the losses in which he received. The sores cause him to collapse onto a nearby rock and once again require assistance in order to return to his house.
After hearing about his afflictions, Job’s friends Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite come to pay him a visit. They hope that they could bring some sort of comfort to him during his time of need. After arriving in Uz and seeing their friend in such an emaciated state, all three friends are brought to tears.
For seven straight days and the accompanied nights, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar stay by the side of Job, none of them speaking. With the completion of these seven days and the emergence of the eighth, it is Job who breaks the silence.
“My friends. Why are you still here?” When he speaks, it is as if Job is speaking out of a daze in which he has just woken up from.
“Job,” they proclaim. “We are your friends and you are in need. We are here to give you our support.”
“Then you have wasted your time. Stop squandering your time and go home. Just let me be.”
“Why? We spent seven days and nights by your side. Why would we desert you now?”
“Because I want to be left in peace. My life has become utter misery. My heart has been ripped out of my chest and fed to the dogs like scraps. And to top it off, the empty shell that is my body has become a blemish upon the Earth. I curse the day of my birth for I wish that I have never been born.”
“Oh, Job,” proclaims Eliphaz. “You should not speak like that. The relationship between you and God is a sacred one and it should be cherished above all else.”
“It is because I cherish my relationship with God that I wish for death. For, through my death, I would not defile God or his name. But I can’t help but wonder why. Why am I afflicted with so much suffering? What sin have I committed that warrants my current condition? What crime did I enter and law I violated that warrants my current affliction?”
“Why do you say such things?” Bildad asks. “Why do you say such offal and horrible things? Please, my friend, do not give up on God. And do not give up on your faith.”
“I have not given up on my faith dear Bildad,” Job retorts. “And I haven’t given up on God. I still hold God the Creator up above all else and all the wonders that he has bestowed upon us. But I am forced to ask why the innocent and the blameless are punished and harmed in the ways that they are whereas the wicked live in ease and splendor. Though I am innocent, I am left here filled with shame.”
“You are not meant to understand,” replies Zopher. “God is beyond the understanding of all creatures, like the actions of man are beyond the understanding of the cockroach. Don’t lose hope in God my dear friend. And don’t lose hope in yourself.”
“My hope still remains in God and that hope will forever remain strong,” Job proclaims. “My hope remains in God for He is truly all powerful. Where my hope has faltered is with the three of you. You claim that you came here to comfort me, but you mock me instead. I asked you to leave, to let me be. But yet, you insisted on staying, much to my chagrin. You claimed to be my friends, but you have proven to be my enemies.
“Oh, God. What have I done to offend you? What sin have I committed that led you to act against me? Please Lord, tell me so that I can amend my ways. Oh God, why are you acting as my enemy? I have been your faithful servant. Tell me and I would act.”
“Still your tongue Job,” Eliphaz says. “You are speaking wickedly. Please Job, stop doing so. You don’t mean what you are saying. What you are saying is only because of your distress. Your mouth is speaking in place of your heart. It is causing you to act in a way that is not yourself. It is leading you down a troubled path. You are beginning to believe that you are superior to other men. Such believe has caused other men to fall.”
“Fools!” Job says. “You are all fools! You only say what you say because it is easy for you to do so. You are not afflicted as I am. My children have died and my health is failing and you three have the gall to mock me. Leave me and get out of my sight.
“Oh, God. Why do I have such fools for friends? And why are you attacking me? I have done nothing wrong but yet you set out to destroy my heart. Why? Why have you shunned me?
“I followed your laws but you still seek to destroy me. Why have you bestowed such an attack on me and been so relentless? I was once respected by my peers and held in such high regard. But now, everyone looks down upon me with disgust, like I was a leper. Even my own friends have betrayed me and treat me with disgust.”
“Why are you speaking so?” asks Bildad. “Should the world stop just because you are in pain? Such arrogance will only bring trouble and despair.”
“Despair?” Job says scoffing. “How can I be in any more despair? I have lost everything important to me and my friends have come to mock me. I have become an object of ridicule to my friends who I once held dear. I am being punished by God, reducing me to a figure of distain. And this distain has even come from those who surround me.”
“Stop speaking so wickedly my friend,” replies Zophar. “Your condition is clouding your judgement. Please remember, God strikes down the wicked.”
“I question God’s judgement,” Job says. “If God strikes down the wicked, then why do they prosper? They go about their deeds with wicked thoughts and actions, but they do not suffer God’s wrath. Their deeds go unpunished and I lay here suffering. If I am wicked, then why punish the children instead of the man?
“My children have done nothing wrong that disserved their death. They had their arguments and their fights, but such behavior is natural among siblings. If I have wronged, why did they have to pay? Where is God’s mercy in situations when such atrocities occur?”
“But you brought this upon yourself Job,” Eliphaz replies. “The torment you are suffering occurred because of your wicked deeds. Only if you embrace God, then you will receive great wealth and treasure.”
“Ha!” Job replies. “You make it sound like I no longer fear God. I still fear God with every inch and every fiber in my body. But I am forced to wonder where God is to punish the evil and crooked people of the world and why He punishes the upright and righteous instead.”
“What is your reasoning for this, my friend?” Bildad asks.
“My reasoning?” Job asks. “I am a righteous man, for I have lived a pure life, sustaining from committing any possible sin. I followed all of the orders and decrees in which the Lord has given to me. I helped those who were in need and I looked after the helpless. But yet, God has turned his back on me! He has stricken me down like I was a sick dog and he has filled by heart, along with my life, with pain and sorrow. What sins have I committed?”
After hearing this, all three men fall silent. It is at this point, noticing that all of the older men have had their say, Elihu, son of Barakel, speaks. “If you would be so kind, I would like to speak. Job, you claim that you are a righteous and upright man who is pure of heart. But as I listened to your conversation, I couldn’t help but notice something in which you managed to overlook. During the course of your conversation, you committed a sin.
“The sin you committed was that of arrogance and pride. You put your needs and importance before that of God. I do not doubt the fact that you are what you state yourself to be; that of a God-fearing man. But that doesn’t forgive the fact that you did sin and you must accept this guilt.
“So when you asked, ‘what sin am I guilty of?’, it was that of arrogance and pride. And God does punish the wicked; if not in this life, then in the next. Their punishment will be not to enjoy the pleasure of being close to the presence of God. They will not be allowed to bask in His light, His knowledge, and His warmth. So this is your folly, Job. You denied the grace, knowledge, and power of God. You put yourself first, not God and that’s why you suffered.
“When you spoke out of arrogance, it was the responsibility of your friends to point this out to you. That should have been the first thing that they pointed out to you when they where trying to amend your ways. Though it was not intentional, your friends failed you.”
It is at this point that something changes within Elihu. He appears to have gained a presence that he didn’t have before. This presence fills the room and spills throughout the rest of the house and along with the surrounding countryside. Elihu’s posture changes and his eyes appear to glow. He then rises of out his chair and takes his feet. Once he speaks again, this change can also be heard in his voice, taking a much deeper tone. When Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Job see this change and hear this new voice, they do not fail to recognize that it belongs to God.
“Job,” says the Voice of God through Elihu’s mouth. “With everything that you have just said, I ask you this simple question, what do you truly know? Do you understand what the meaning is of the world that I have created? And do you know what its underlying purpose is? Do you know why the bees fly or what causes the birds to migrate? Do you understand why the earth shakes or why the seasons come when they do?
“Job. I created the universe and everything within it. No detail was, or ever will be, beyond my control, no matter how minor or arbitrary it may appear to your eyes and mind. If any person has the power and capability to stop any of my creations, then that person can no longer answer to me and become his own master.”
Upon hearing this, and witnessing all that he has, Job becomes shaken and scared. Not knowing what should be done, he does the first thing that comes to mind; he crawls out of bed and drops to his knees, without any form of style or grace. Upon dropping to his knees, the sores located there rupture and bleed. But Job ignores this. It is even doubtful that it registers. The only thing that matters now is to humble himself before the power and presence of God. And as he does so, he bows down before Him, extending his arms straight before him.
“Dear Lord,” Job proclaims without taking his eyes away from the floor. “Please forgive me. My deeds and actions are beyond excuse. I have no defense. My pride has blinded me to your mighty grace and power.”
“Job,” God replies. “Rise to your feet and approach.”
Job does as he has been bidden. Who is he to protest the command and authority of God, especially after the way he has acted? But as he approaches the body of Elihu, now the representative body of God, Job does not take his eyes away from the floor. He doesn’t have the courage to look anywhere else. Upon reaching his destination, Job once again returns to his knees.
“Look at me,” proclaims the Voice of God.
Job is at first reluctant. He believes that he doesn’t disserve to look upon his creator. But through Elihu, God puts a hand underneath Job’s chin and raises his face. Once his face has been lifted, Job looks directly into the eyes of God. Tear tracts are present on Job’s cheeks and fresh tears roll out once he meets God’s eyes.
“Please, forgive me my Lord,” Job says in a soft, stammering voice.
A smile comes across Elihu’s face. “My child, you have already been forgiven.”
At hearing this, Job begins to weep aloud. He than doubles over and starts to kiss the symbolic feet of God. As Job does this, God turns his attention to Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite and frowns.
“As for you three,” the Voice of God says. “You have disappointed me. You have failed to speak of me as Job has done. Though you spoke my name, it was without praise. You must repent. Sacrifice seven of your bulls and seven of your rams in a smoke offering. As you take these actions, it will be Job who will pray on your behalf.”
“Yes, my Lord,” the three men say in unison as they get to their knees and bow.
And that’s what they did. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams each as Job goes to the local temple and prays for his friends. As he prays, he does so with all of his heart and soul. Because of what he said to his friends and the way that he treated them, Job does what he can to make it up to them.
Once these deeds have been completed, God has Job prosper once again. His physical affliction is healed and his wealth is restored. But unlike before, Job is granted twice as much riches. He is given fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand oxen, and one thousand donkeys along with twice as much land to attend to. Friends and family from all around came to his place and dined with him. They also give Job money, taken directly from their own pockets. Job is once again blessed with a loving family of seven sons and three daughters.
And there isn’t a day that goes by where Job doesn’t think about the ten children that he lost. To honor the children that he lost, Job names his new children after those who have fallen. In addition to this, he includes his daughters in his will and they will acquire an inheritance along with his sons.
From the time of his affliction to the time of his redemption, several months have passed in the life of Job, but only five hours have passed in the Hall. The trial is over and all of those who are in attendance are either leaving or are preparing to leave. The light that is being admitted from the pillar of mist has returned to its soft, dull glow, indicating that the presence of God has departed. As Harahel leaves the courtroom, Samael is quick to go to his side.
“You did a good job today, Harahel,” Samael says.
“Did I?” replies Harahel. “Then how come it doesn’t feel right.”
“That feeling is natural. Everyone who sits in that chair feels that way in the beginning.”
“That is not much of a conciliation prize.” As Harahel says this, they head out through the courtroom doors.
“That’s part of the job. Regardless of how you feel, you performed a service in which only a few people are capable of handling. The whole point of sitting in that chair is to argue against God’s faithful. That’s why the concept behind that chair exists.”
“It still tares me up inside. I don’t think that I could do that again.”
“That is a shame. You did well in there and I don’t want to see that go to waste.”
“I don’t see it as being wasted, so there’s nothing to be concerned about.”
“I can’t force you to stay if you don’t wish to do so. I’m going to ask you one more time, do you really wish to quit?”
“Then I’m going to wish you good luck on your future endeavors.”
At that, the two angels turn to each other, shake hands, and go their separate ways.
(c) 2009 Bradley P. Thomas