Job and Friends
The third and final dimension to consider is the earthly one. The lion’s share of Job takes place on this plane. The heavenly court provides the setting for the heavenly dimension. The dust of the ground provides the setting for the earthly. Job takes a seat in the mud. He is an earth-bound creature and as such he must process, grieve, revolt, and engage his situation on that level. His friends come and take a sit next to him. They too are earth dwellers. Their perspective is also creaturely. This dynamic is so important to understand. Both Job and his buddies are oblivious of what has occurred in the earthly realm. Borrowing from Ecclesiastes, their entire discussion takes place “under the sun.”
The five men (including Elihu) in this story all possess a theocentric worldview. Their thoughts are clearly informed by faith in the unseen. Nevertheless their discussion is limited to their earthly capacities, perspective, and experience. The book of Job is a brilliant portrayal of human beings grappling to understand things outside their purview. There are important implications here for the life of faith. We live out our lives on the soil of this earth. All of our experiences and the way we process them are necessarily shackled to the earth. We are always in the position of Job and his friends. We are unaware of all that is happening. We are limited in our perspective and understanding. In short, the book of Job teaches us the significant limitations of a creature. It teaches us to know our place. It teaches us humility.
As rebellious human beings we balk at and kick against our creaturely limits. Sin in its essence is attempting to transgress our creatureliness. Being a creature is freedom for the creature. It is what we are made to be. It is liberating to live within our God-given parameters. It is freedom to leave off trying to exceed our limits. We are to leave omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and sovereignty to God. When we relinquish the illusion of control, comprehensive knowledge, and limitless power we are free, free to be a creature fashioned by God. The book of Job tells us we cannot know and understand everything. This is a good thing. It is God’s prerogative to know all things. It is ours to know few things. It is the vocation of the creature to be limited in his knowledge. The glory of God is his infinitude. The glory of the creature is his finitude.
Another take away from the earthly dimension of this book is a profound truth about God. God cares about the thoughts and conversations of his people. Chapters 4-37 matter to God. His omniscience and wisdom does not keep him from listening and caring about his creatures. He sees every flaw in our thinking and yet engages us with concern and patience. Our level of understanding and accuracy in thinking are not prerequisites for meaningful interaction with our Creator. He meets us where we are. He communicates with us there. He comes down. This is humility. We see this condescending glory all over the Christ. It is evident in his lowly birth, his human interaction and conversation, and his cross. Job’s God comes down again in the person of Jesus.