Very often, when Christians proselytize the "good news" to us infidels, they often highlight the "love" of God: This omniscient, omni-benevolent deity, it seems, is all filled to the brim with love, so much so that he was very much inclined to send his son, Jebus, to this accursed planet so that a couple of Pharisees can engineer his death at the hands of the Romans.
While few can dispute with the emotional quality of such a "personal sacrifice", all too often, these Christians fail to realize that God of the Old Testament variety (Of course, Christians will tell you that the OT counts for squat because Jebus was the architect of a then-nascent Jebus-loving movement, but then again these Christians fail to explain why they still lug their OT or combined NT & OT bibles around; and they get all feisty when you catch them quoting scriptures from the Old Testament. Bumper.) is hardly a God of love: Morose, vindictive & often wrathful, the bible is replete with stories of God's "exemplary" love towards Man.
The story of Job illustrates God's love for mankind succinctly: Piety and love is, in the eyes of the OT God, nothing more than a cheap bet with the Devil.
God's Bet with Satan
The book of Job of the Old Testament begins with Job, a holy man of sorts. He is described as a typical bourgeois clansman: Well off financially, with 7 sons and 3 daughters (No birth control, folks!), plus a couple of thousand of a variety of cattle, donkeys and camels.
An insanely pious man, he regularly sacrifices burnt offerings (Meat, not vegetables, is the best choice. God hates vegetarians!) as penance after each family feasting or food orgy in a bid to forestall the sins of his children.
His piety unquestioned by God, Satan hence engaged in a little taunt against the All-Almighty Lord of the Cosmos: Fine, God, he's the best of the lot you say? Inflict a deluge of nasty disasters upon him, and see him curse your name in vain!
Incredibly, the God of the Cosmos fell for it, hook, line and sinker!
Job Chapter 1:6-12:
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.With these words, our good Lord literally handed over Job's welfare straight into the welcoming arms of Lucifer.
Having secured Job's vulnerability from the hands of the Almighty God with a glib tongue, Job's fate was sealed.
In one fateful, single day, Job lost all his cattle, camels, servants and lastly, his own sons and daughters:
Job Chapter 1: 13-22 describes the mass orgy of disasters:
13 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
And if Job thought that God's "test" for him wasn't enough (After all, he was under severe stress and duress, and at this point he still resisted the temptation to curse the Cosmic Godfather and even managed to praise him, due his foolish piety. Poor Bastard), the worst was yet to come.
Bodily Torture Awaits for Pious Job; Wife Tells Him to Blaspheme and Die
Lucifer and a cohort of angels met God for a second round of crisis talks: God was understandably delighted that after the fire-and-brimstone treatment inflicted upon the pious Job, Job was still as besotted with him as ever. Ha! What have I told you, you ignoranamus of a Devilish Fool! I told you so!
Alas, for all his purported wisdom, God was indeed not so wise: Satan goads God further; inflict disease and pain upon the beleaguered man of Gawd, & watch him spew a torrent of abuse at the Cosmic Godfather!
Once again, God relents, much to the chagrin of the victim (and the perplexed reader, me!).
As described in Job Chapter 2:1-10:
1 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
3 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."
4 "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."
6 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life."
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
9 His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"
10 He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
The Moral of The Story: God Loves A Good Bet, Followed by Torture
The story ends with God compensating him for his loss: The birth of a new set of 7 sons and 3 daughters (his wife survived the Lord's folly), his property and a further 140 yrs of life.
The story of Job is often cited by Christians not as a prime example of God's willful and careless behavior, but more as an example of how God "tests" the faiths of his minions with trials and tribulations. Such a barbaric twist in an otherwise atrocious story seems a tad difficult to stomach, until you stop for a moment and realize that Christians who perpetrate such nonsense are always trying to explain away natural disaster upon natural disaster when faced with the usual "why did God inflict shit" question.
The Bible: A Disturbing Book?
-It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me,
it is the parts that I do understand.