The Book of Job is one of the most puzzling books of the Hebrew Bible. If we take Yahweh’s speeches from the whirlwind seriously, then there is no humanly comprehensible reason for the suffering of innocents and the righteous. The good suffer, the bad flourish, and we must accept this without question. Does this mean that Job was right and God is wrong?
One way out of this puzzle, generally called the problem of theodicy (if God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing, then why do the innocent suffer?), is to read the Book of Job from the perspective of the New Testament. This is what G. K. Chesterton does, seeing the suffering of the most innocent and righteous of men as a preface to Christ.
Though God rewards Job at the Book’s conclusion with seven new sons and three new daughters even more beautiful than before, as well as doubling his flocks and oxen, most scholars agree that the section, 42:10-17 was an addition by later redactors to encourage the faithful. The Book really ends with Job despising himself for his arrogance in questioning God (42.6). Or at least that is one translation.
The patience of Job?
To read the Book of Job from the perspective of the New Testament is to miss what is so challenging about it. Job’s harsh criticism of God is not answered by God, at least not in any way the pious reader might expect. Says Job
The good and the guilty He destroys alike. If some scourge brings sudden death, He mocks the guiltless for their melting hearts; some land falls under a tyrant’s sway—He veils its judges’ faces, if not He, then who? (9:22-24)
Job goes on like this chapter after chapter. Whoever wrote about the patience of Job was crazy. Job wants to take God to court and find him guilty (9:32-10:5).