Reflection on the Lectionary: Job 38:1-11
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: Job 38:1-11
(June 21, 2009)

In this passage, God answers Jobís demand for an explanation for Jobís suffering. God, in challenging Jobís right to question Godís judgment, asks Job, ďWhere were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?Ē God then describes the other wonders of creation for which God presumably deserves credit. Some might find Godís response to Job unsatisfactory. Is it?
God has allowed Job, a righteous man, to suffer grievously. At first glance, it seems that Godís rhetorical questions to Job constitute an inadequate defense of Godís behavior. Godís creating the world does not give God license to treat the worldís inhabitants with cruelty or injustice.
For many of us, Godís creativity inspires awe and wonder. It is this awe and wonder that encourages us to show respect for Godís creation and to participate with God in creating a better world, a world in which everyone lives in peace and harmony (Isaiah 11:6-9). Many people think we should abide by Godís laws to avoid everlasting punishment. But abiding by Godís will out of fear does not generate a desire to help those in need.
Some skeptics might point to the Big Bang and evolution as adequate explanations for the creation of the universe. I donít reject either theory. However, neither theory explains the spark of life that animates us, nor does either theory explain the existence of subjective, conscious experience. If we attribute the spark of life and consciousness to God, then it is reasonable to believe that God cares about what God has created. And that becomes a basis for compassion, concern, and respect.
This analysis does not appear to account for Godís treatment of Job, because Job had good grounds for claiming that he was treated unjustly. Jack Miles argues in God: a Biography that God changed after interacting with Job. God, who permitted Satan to afflict Job, would acknowledge his obligation to act justly, and indeed he restored Jobís health, wealth, and family. This view allows reconciliation between the evident mistreatment of Job and a conviction that the God to whom we pray is a benevolent deity. 

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