Is Job’s story fictitious or real?

Biblical information is as significant as applicable to living principles. Job’s narrative is captured in the Old Testament Bible and also embraces the story of Israel, whose writings were initiated by Moses. However, historians project Job as having existed before Moses. However, the story of the Israelites does not start with Moses. This makes it unreasonable to assume that anything of Israel, when not in the purview of Moses is outside Israel.

The fact that Job appears as not linking with common Biblical narrations, does not suggest that Job was not an Israelite. His genealogy may not have been captured in Mosaic and Judaic narratives, but being an Israelite. Accessing information has become easier. Information is becoming more and more accessible, without strenuous effort. The first appearance of Job’s name is in Genesis 46:13. “The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah, Job, and Shimron” (NKJV)

This confirms that Job lived before Moses, as Issachar is one of the children of Jacob. Job was a God-fearing man, according to the narrative of that story. The author of that Book is attributed to Job. But there is no reason to suggest the impossibility of another God-fearing individual, having written the book after having observed Job’s experiences. The Biblical narrative reveals that God started working earnestly with humanity through Abraham.

The idea of God-fearing is projected as having exclusively started with Abraham. Deliverance started with Abraham, through whom all nations would later be conjoined. Job’s story should not be regarded as outside Abraham’s promises. Abraham was awarded the title of being the Father of many nations, comprising those who would access God’s blessings.

In Job, God was dealing with one of Abraham’s descendants, Jacob. That story is as real as the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are real. Other adventurous stories by Jacob’s descendants are not explicitly shown in the Old Testament Bible. But God was working with the Children of Israel one way or the other. Their experiences are not divorced from the generality of humanity throughout the ages.

God’s promises started with the Children of Israel, originally known as having been twelve. Joseph was associated with experiences that led him to slavery, before delivering his siblings from a devastating famine. The genealogy of the other eleven children may not be documented but had peculiarly been used by God, elsewhere.

Job’s story confirms the reality of that possibility. He had friends, who must have been familiar with the “God of Abraham. Eliphaz the Temanite, is highlighted as having been related to Job as a cousin, being a descendant of Esau. He engages in theological debate with Job. Eliphaz was not an Israelite but also a descendant of Abraham (Jeremiah 49:7). Eliphaz used his hereditary gift of wisdom, in debating with Job. This is also confirmed by the prophet Obadia:

“Will I not in that day,” says the Lord, “Even destroy the wise men from Edom,
And understanding from the mountains of Esau?”
(Obadiah 1:8 NKJV).

Eliphaz the Temanite was Job’s chief comforter. Bildad was also a descendant of Abraham, through another wife of Abraham, Keturah, who begot a son, Shuah, from whom Bildad emerged. Abraham married another wife, after Saraha’s death. Her name was Keturah from whom Bildad, emerged as another distant cousin of Job.

Zophar was another character involved in the discourse during Job’s predicament. Zophar was a Naamathithe. He may have been related to Bildad or Eliphaz. The three comprised those who sought to convince Job that he had committed sins for which he was unwilling to repent. Job’s friends were more tormentors than comforters.

Elihu came later appearing as rescuing Job from his tormentors, who had assumed to be helping Job. Elihu came from Job’s region, suggesting that Elihu may have been closely related to Job, or possibly being another distant cousin. This also attests to the truth that among the people with whom we share life, are those who either inspire or subject us to depression.

Those Biblical accounts are rehearsed in our daily lives. Many people identify with Job, even in this life, while others identify with Job’s tormentors. Their recordings were provided to either inspire or encourage those in similar circumstances. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Nothing is new or ancient about such conditions, except the historical recordings.

To Job, there was nothing new or old when God worked with his grandfather, Abraham. Life is a journey, requiring each Christian to regard him/herself as not different from Abraham. God requires only one thing from every Christian: willingness to surrender everything of this world.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 NKJV).

Job’s story did not start and end with Job. It is characteristic of every Christian, as long as identifies with Abraham. Many people commonly identify with those who tormented Job.  The life of a Christian is not necessarily to duplicate others, but what God expect of one.

Christians converge in the area of serving fellow humans. Nothing is stranger than considering oneself as better as or worse than other Christians. This reveals ignorance of what Christianity implies, in God’s eyes. What does Paul mean by saying: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus?”

Anything against Paul’s assertion contradicts Christianity. Disentangling Christians from the prevailing conditions remains sticky. One cannot escape the ferocity of those convinced of the prevailing status quo. For instance, one cannot escape the ferocity of the Uzumba people when telling them that ZANU PF has contributed to their suffering.

The slavery of humanity is self-induced being a condition of the mind, when evading freedom. The idea of worshipping reveals a condition of slavery. Worshipping other people grants comfort to most people. The idea of worship is embedded in most people’s minds, making it impossible for them to be creative, except for worshipping others.

Free thinking automatically attracts being considered egotistical. Humility becomes mistaken for abnegation, rather than renunciation of pride. Proud people cannot relinquish dogma, whereas humble people are willing to consider other people’s viewpoints.

This world criminalizes critical thinking. Conformity is mistaken for Godliness. Like Eliphaz and his friends, such people assume they are superior. The genuine question that comes is how then can one be in a position to help fellow Christians? Jesus taught what appears to be inapplicable in our current civilization.

One becomes a Christian only when applying what Jesus taught, more than asserting authority over other people. Unless understood in the context of what Jesus taught, the principle of Christianity can easily attract Jesus’ condemnation.

 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12 NKJV).

Eliphaz and his friends did not have the privilege of accessing Jesus’ teachings. They would have probably avoided tormenting Job, unnecessarily. Christianity does not necessarily grant a license to superintend over other Christians. They regard each other as equals, where there would be neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female.

The greatest obstacle lies in not appreciating the significance of being God’s child. Authoritarians attempted to correct Jesus according to customs. Tradition takes away common sense. Jesus’ parents were oblivious to the folly of attempting to correct God’s child:

And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in their company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.

Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them (Luke 2:42-50 NKJV).

Jesus’ parents could not figure out how their son could also be God’s child. The same applies to those unable to understand their Christian children. How God decides to work with His children has got nothing to do with those of this world. Eliphaz and his friends had considered themselves wise, but it had to be God’s mercy for them to escape God’s fury.

Showing a brother what Jesus taught, is not exercising authority. Every Christian must be a brother’s keeper. However, the question of handling God’s communication is none of other people’s business. Each person is answerable to God, as expounded by Paul:

“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master, he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God can make him stand.

“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end, Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother?

“Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:1-13 NKJV).

Like Jesus, each is expected to carry their respective crosses. The most important thing is that each Christian is expected to carry his/her cross and be answerable to God without anyone in between. Each person is allocated his/her assignment, according to God’s prerogative.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-28 NKJV).

The test of Abraham was similar to Job’s test. All prophets carried their varying tests. The test of David was peculiar, but being tormented similarly to how others were expected to respond. Life is short, requiring quick decisions by those having become God’s children. There is nothing fictitious about Job’s story, just as there is nothing fictitious about the entire Bible story.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99

 

 

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