The problem of justice

We come back to look at justice in the book of Job.  The problem of justice seems, at least at first glance, to be one of the primary challenges in the book.  Job is a just man — and that’s one of the reasons such calamities befall him!    Job’s wife perceives such calamity, coming from God, as unjust treatment of a good man, and so calls for curses upon a monstrously unjust God.  Job’s friends perceive such calamity, coming from a indisputably just God, as necessarily befalling an unjust man.  They spend their arguments asserting the justice of God and the consequent necessity of Job seeing, and acknowledging, some great sin.  Job believes in God’s justice, but he also believes in his own righteousness — not claiming total innocence, but claiming that he is innocent of such sin as would warrant such calamitous response.  So he doesn’t know how to resolve the tension he feels; at times he overwhelmed with the sense that God is unfair, but he is unwilling to end it there, and so remains in inward turmoil.

Note that under all three attitudes — Job’s wife, Job’s friends, and Job himself (Elihu we’ll look at later) — share this one, unchallenged assumption:  the world is meant to operate according to the principle that the righteous are rewarded, and the wicked punished.  Straightforward (it seems) justice.  A principle of retribution.  Job’s wife embraces the principle, and castigates God for violating it.  Job’s friends embrace the principle, and castigate Job for protesting his innocence in the face of the punishment only the wicked receive.  Job embraces the principle, but at the same time embraces his own righteousness and that of God, and so is left in frustrated incoherence when seeking to understand what is happening.

And all of them are wrong.

It is up to God to speak the missing truth.

More later.

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