The Point of the Book of Job

Our creativity is a clue to the purpose of creation.

Job – Epilogue

God gave us a wonderful clue about Himself and His purposes when He created us in His image. And of all the ways we’re created in His image, one stands out – our creativity. We are like the Creator in that we’re creative. This is one of the great differences between us and the animals.  No animal is one-percent as creative as a small child. A child’s playtime is an explosion of creativity.

And therein lies a great lesson. Because we’re creative, we pretend things. Part of that pretending is to write plays, novels, and other things that create pretend “universes.” The universes we create are nothing compared to the universe God created, but we still get to have purposes in our little pretend universes that are vastly different from what the characters we create might want (or even understand). This helps us see that a creator’s priorities are different from a created being’s priorities. So, could the development of one main character outweigh the importance of everything else?

It does in David Copperfield. In the same way, God could prioritize Job’s character development over everything else – even life or death issues.

This isn’t easy to get comfortable with. The universe isn’t a novel or a play, and it’s almost insulting to compare God’s purposes to Charles Dickens’s. Novels and plays are created for an audience; our universe has a much grander purpose. Still, a creator’s purposes can be very different from those of the created beings, and the dramas we create help us see that.

The problem people have with the book of Job is that God’s purposes don’t seem to make sense. Now we see one possible purpose that does. The one that we understand probably isn’t the main purpose, but it’s still one that makes sense. Almost everything God does seems to push character development.

But that means our spiritual lives are more important than our physical lives.”

Bingo, but even that understates it. If the pain and tragedy in Job is beyond understanding, you can forget about trying to make sense of the cross. At least Job’s suffering is in the same universe as his character development. Christ’s suffering isn’t. So, could our character development have significance that transcends our world?

Sure. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Obviously, this is way beyond our comprehension. That’s why the book of Job is so wonderful; it gives us one glimpse of God’s priorities that we can wrap our minds around. It’s only a tiny slice but, like seeing the tip of an iceberg, we realize there’s something really big just outside our view.

It is both the scariest and the most comforting thing in the whole world.

We start Luke next week.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.