An adequate reflection on Job 1-2 would take pages. I want to simply note today that though “The Accuser” (Satan) is the instigator of Job’s troubles, we must deal with the uncomfortable fact that all Job’s hardships are due God’s choice and actions. Why do I say this?
First, this Accuser must ask God’s permission to afflict Job (Job 1:8-12, Job 2:4-7). Secondly, even as he afflicts Job, the accuser recognizes that ultimately it is God’s hand still at work (Job 1:11, Job 2:5). Third, Job acknowledges implicitly God’s work when he responds to his wife that he should be willing to accept both good and evil from God (Job 2:10).
This brings up the incredible tension: if God does all of this, then has God done something evil? Job answers clearly that, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). Immediately after we are told Job did not “charge God with wrong.” How can that make sense? To Job and the reader, God has absolute rights as creator and sustainer to give and take away. Yes, God takes everything from Job. Yes, what Job loses reflects the evil of the fall of humanity. No, God in taking away Job’s good gifts, did not do evil.
In the readings ahead, Job and his friends will attempt to make sense of God’s actions. Our readings today tell us important truths that frame the remainder of the book of Job. God did no evil and Job did no evil. Once we understand this, the conversations that lie ahead can be better appreciated.