Job 21-23: A Perfect Man?

I can’t blog about Job without delving into one of those “can’t touch this” topics that I usually push to the back burner.  How does a thinking Christian reconcile Romans 3:23 with the book of Job?

Romans 3:23 says:

23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)

And the beginning of Job, which says that Job was perfect:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name [was] Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. (KJV)

Job himself has spent many of the previous chapters defending himself and his righteousness.  From chapter 23,

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;  I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

Job’s friends keep assuming that he must have committed a grievous sin to have been visited with so much punishment from God.  I think that’s a reasonable assumption…except that we were told in Chapter 1 that he WAS perfect.  Have  you completely “kept to his way without turning aside” in  your life?  Me, neither.  I fall into that “Romans 3:23” category, for sure!

The book of Job is confusing to me because I thought that Jesus was the only one who walked this earth who was without sin.  Yet here we have, in Job, a story of a man who is tam and yashar (perfect and upright) who becomes a litmus test of true righteousness.

Could it be that Job, rather than a historical book, could be a prophetic book or a multi-chapter parable?  My favorite part of Job happens in Chapter 37 when God finally answers Job’s questions…using the Socratic method!  God uses the classical model of education to get Job thinking (or, rather, the classical model of education is patterned after God’s way of educating Job!).  I’m not sure how to interpret these first chapters of Job because they scrape against what I’ve always been taught: that Jesus is the only one without sin.  Yet here we have Job loudly protesting his innocence….and God actually placing what amounts to a bet with Satan that upright and perfect Job will continue to be morally perfect even in the face of calamity.

I confess a little impatience here.  I want to fast forward through all these protests and arguments between Job and his friend and get to the good stuff: God’s response.

Actually, that is typical of every detail of my life.  I am an “answers” sort of girl…when, in real life, the journey is what matters.  The journey is where we often find God even before we find the answers to our questions.

So I will continue to read these protests and arguments and will ask God to help me see their significance and application in my own journey.  Maybe I’ll find some answers about Job’s perfection — or imperfection — along the way.

One thought on “Job 21-23: A Perfect Man?

  1. Perhaps he did sin occasionally and his ‘perfection’ comes through animal sacrifice/atonement? No idea. I know what you mean though about the confusion/contradiction.

    I also find myself trying not to ‘skim’ over some parts. Mostly because I don’t know whether to agree or disagree with some of the arguments his friends make?

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