We will cover some common misconceptions of Job because, "One of the most harmful things in Bible study is to think that you know something." Biases limit our interpretation. You see what you want to see and exclude evidence to the contrary. Sherlock Holmes looks at ALL the facts. That's the key. When we think we know what Job is about, we limit its full meaning and lose the richness and beauty of the book in the process.
So let's debunk some misconceptions you may have.
- Missing the Middle: the misconception that Job is only about the beginning and the end—and you forget the middle. This view says Job is about his suffering and faithfulness, but this excludes 90% of the book. Why does the author spend 30 chapters just to prove that Job's friends are crummy?
- Suffering Fallacy: the misconception that Job is all about suffering and perseverance. But suffering is only talked about for part of a couple chapters (1 and 2). Yes, suffering is important, but it isn't the main act. It doesn't even begin the book. Job 1:1 is about Job and his character, not his suffering. Suffering isn't how the book starts, it's how it develops; it's the window, the vehicle, for the message. When people suffer they start asking bigger questions. And those questions are the key to the book.
- Theodicy Fallacy: the misconception that Job is about the problem of evil, that Job is vindicating God's allowance of evil and suffering in the world. But God never answers this question in the book. In chapter 38 God comes in a whirlwind and then, at the end of the book, Job dies. He never knows the answer. In the end, Job repents of even asking the question (Job 42:6).
- Satan Suggests that God Test Job Fallacy: the misconception that Job is about Satan's dare to God. Satan doesn't suggest it, God does, and that changes everything. This isn't a book about Satan's dare but God's choice to prove something about Himself.
- Job's Counsellors Repeat Themselves Fallacy: Job's friends aren't purely repetitious. Their arguments vary and develop deeper and deeper. They display their worldviews as they unpack their wisdom.
- Job's Counsellors are Stupid Fallacy: They aren't dumb or ignorant. 1) Based on what they say and how they say it, they are brilliant—genius; 2) Job doesn't have friends who are from low places. They are very smart and capable; their arguments are astonishing. They make fun of each other over and over while discussing deep philosophy, while rhyming. To put it in modern terms, they make fun of each other, discuss deep philosophy, on the fly, so it all rhymes like a rap.
- Job's Counsellors Were Always Wrong Fallacy: But the NT quotes Job's counsellors as correct (e.g., 1 Cor 3:15 and Job 23:10). Actually, what they say is right, but how they use it is wrong. (e.g. the wrong application of right doctrine is still wrong.) Using the truth rightly is what we call wisdom. That is the issue. It's not just about the ideas but in putting it all together in right ways. And that is the limitation of human wisdom. You can't put it all together and you can't come to ultimate wisdom.
- Job's Problems Are Solved at the End Fallacy: Yes and no. The ending looks random (God just gives him stuff back again), but then you realize that he dies, and that is the best ending of the book possible (more on that later).
- The Biblical-Theological Disconnect Fallacy: says that Job doesn't have any connections with the rest of the Bible. This is absolutely false. Job will shape the way you read your entire Bible from here on out. It tells you why you need your Bible to begin with. If you had given Job the book of Romans he would've cried for joy. But he must be kept in the dark so we know what questions to ask, questions that Divine Revelation as a whole answers. "But if you do it Jeopardy-style and give him the answers first, then he never would've asked the questions to begin with" (and neither would we).
- The Messianic Connection Fallacy: People argue there isn't much about the Messiah in Job. But Job talks about it directly in chapter 19, and indirectly through irony elsewhere when Job wishes for things (like representation to God, etc.). Job’s wishes form the backbone for the rest of the Bible to flesh out in its theology.