James 5:7-11, my passage for tomorrow morning's sermon, mentions Job in verse 11.
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (ESV)
Now, I haven't studied the commentaries on Job recently, and I don't mean to speak authoritatively on the issues I raise, but I just want to make an interesting observation and ask of possibilities.
As an historical figure Job is curious. His life circumstances seem odd, not just because of The Satan and God and their strange and revealed cooperation, but also because of how the things that happen seem so artificial. For instance Job loses so much, but after it all he ends up exactly twice as much as before.
Because of this perceived artificiality (does God ever really double the pleasure like this in real life?), some have determined Job wasn't a real guy after all. His life is fiction in order to make a point, or something like that. Others put on their armor and defend Job as no less historical than their grand-mother. To say otherwise makes you a liberal.
The question that popped into my head tonight is, Why can't we see Job as a God-intended living metaphor? In other words, maybe we aren't supposed to see Job as "this life" literal (It could happen to you!), but metaphorical literal, like how God used Ezekiel. God cast Ezekiel in many different "living metaphor" roles in his ministry where he acted out in his life the realities of God's people and exile. He would rip a hole in his wall, or lay on his side for so many days, or eat a scrumptious feces loaf. In Ezekiel the living metaphor is obvious. In Job, could it be the same thing, but not so explicit?
As far as I know, I may be the only person to think this, or the last person to think of this. Whatever. But I think makes sense of Job because we don't have to wonder why God only did these things to one guy. Also, we can still believe that Job is a real guy which is important, I think. And in Job's life we see on display what God wants us to know about suffering and the riches of God, which we know are ultimately found in Christ.
A little thinking outloud, pre-sermon. Thanks for listening. I need sleep.