Cool Hand Luke: ‘He Beat You With Nothin!’ The Atheist Search for the Origen of Life, Part 6
One Fine December Day in the Ministry

Job 22-24: No Wonder People Say the God of the Old Testament is Mean

These brothers who say how prayer is communication with God and you never get a busy signal, to modest chuckling from the audience?

Job keeps getting a busy signal!! That’s what he can’t understand. He’s heard those talks, most likely, and even joined in applause at the end. But now he keeps getting a busy signal!

He does express confidence in God—if only he could get through to him:

“Would [God] contend with me using his great power? No, surely he would give me a hearing,” he says. (Job 22:6) If only he could get through. Why does he want to get through? Because his life has devolved into a pile of you-know-what, that’s why, and he wants to fill God’s ear about it!

And then Eliphaz comes around—man, these guys are obnoxious! to say:

“Get to know Him, and you will be at peace; Then good things will come your way. . . If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.”

‘Why why why doesn’t God hear me? Job cries. ‘I cry out to him day and night, but all I get is a busy signal!’

‘Well, if you weren’t so wicked, it wouldn’t happen,’ is Eliphaz’s answer, and that of the two other companions.

It is only Eliphaz and crew who feel this way? There was a flood of preachers post-Katrina in New Orleans to say the cities ruination was its own fault. God destroyed New Orleans, Pat Robertson declared, because of abortion and homosexuality. But the mayor, Ray Nagin, disagreed. Sharply. At his own news conference, he set the record straight. God did not destroy his town because of abortion and homosexuality.

He destroyed it because of war in Iraq and disunity among black residents!

The reasons differed, according to individual and political peeves. But the common ground was that God did it!

And here are these three frauds advancing that ‘theology’ with Job—God did it! For what reason? Listen to Eliphaz carry on: (22:6-9)

“You strip people of their garments, leaving them naked. You do not give the tired one a drink of water, And you hold back food from the hungry. The land belongs to the powerful man, And the favored one dwells in it. But you sent away widows empty-handed, And you crushed the arms of fatherless children!”

He’s made the point before, more gently, but been rebuffed. He does not like to be contradicted, and so juices up his charge of what Job ‘must have’ done to be suffering so!

Furthermore, to distill his remarks, ‘God could care less if you’re good—what’s that to him? But he sure does care if you’re bad, ever eager to dish out the punishment in that event. No wonder people say the God of the Old Testament is mean! If we are to listen to Pat Robertson and Ray Nagin, the God of the New Testament is, too! And don’t get me going on how when a tiny child dies, it’s because God needed another flower in his perfect heavenly garden; these preachers make a god-awful mess when they try to extract themselves from the corners their wrong doctrines unfailingly paint them into! (in this case, not only the doctrine that the soul can never die, but that all good souls go straight to heaven upon doing so):

Eliphaz the Temanite said in reply: “Can a man be of use to God? Can anyone with insight be of benefit to him? Does the Almighty care that you are righteous, Or does he gain anything because you follow the course of integrity?” (22:1-3) He could care less, is the charge, whereas Santa Claus at least doesn’t give you coal when you’re ’been nice!’

Job is not going to let these guys gaslight him; that’s why he wants his hearing before God—but he keeps getting a busy signal! If he could only argue out his case, he knows God would listen.

“If only I knew where to find God! I would go to his place of dwelling. I would present my case before him And fill my mouth with arguments; I would learn how he would answer me And take note of what he says to me. Would he contend with me using his great power? No, surely he would give me a hearing. There the upright one could set matters straight with him, And I would be acquitted once and for all by my Judge.” (23:3-7)

“But if I go east, he is not there; And I return and I cannot find him. When he is working on the left, I cannot look upon him; Then he turns to the right, but I still do not see him.” (8-9) A busy signal!

Whereupon Job expands on, not just his own suffering, but all the rotten things God puts up with:

“People move boundary markers; They carry off flocks for their own pasture. They drive away the donkey of fatherless children And seize the widow’s bull as security for a loan. They force the poor off the road; The helpless of the earth must hide from them. The poor forage for food like wild donkeys in the wilderness; They seek food in the desert for their children. They must harvest in another’s field And glean from the vineyard of the wicked. They spend the night naked, without clothing; They have no covering for the cold. They are drenched by the mountain rains; They cling to the rocks for lack of shelter. The fatherless child is snatched away from the breast; And the garments of the poor are taken as security for a loan, Forcing them to go about naked, without clothing, And hungry, as they carry the sheaves of grain. They toil among the terrace walls in the heat of the day; They tread the winepresses, yet they go thirsty. The dying keep groaning in the city; The fatally wounded cry for help, But God does not regard this as improper. (24:2-12)

God will fix it; Job does not doubt he will—but it would sure be nice if He would step on it a little. He will fix it in the long run, but as John Kenneth Galbraith said, ‘In the long run we’re all dead,’ and Job’s faith in a resurrection for himself is not so ironclad as some suppose.

“God will use his strength to do away with the powerful; Though they may rise up, they have no assurance of life. God lets them become confident and secure, But his eyes are on everything they do. They are exalted for a little while, then they are no more. They are brought low and gathered like everyone else; They are cut off like heads of grain.” (24: 22-24)


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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


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