“But honey, you must have, you know that’s the way God works. He doesn’t punish us unless we’ve done something wrong. If we have faith, He will be faithful to us.”
“What are you talking about? You’ve been with me! You know I love God and have done nothing that would displease Him!”
“Well I haven’t been with you all the time, so clearly during one of those times you must have done something.”
“No! Stop! I won’t listen to this from you too, of all people, my beloved. I know plenty of good people whose children have died of sickness, and God Himself knows there are horrible men who live up on the hill closer to the temple doors! I mean, they spit at us!”
“I know, but they have a right to because they are more beloved by God than us, that’s what the temple teaches, that’s what our history teaches us.”
“No! I refuse to believe it! I’ve tolerated it up until now because I had no reason to doubt it, or more like it never affected me directly, but I won’t stand for it anymore, I’m going to prove it to them if it’s the last thing I do.
“Now, it can’t be simply me ranting and raving at the city gates, the people in power would just throw me in jail for being a false prophet.”
“Wait… now you’re a prophet!? Honey, what has gotten into you? Just listen to yourself! This is crazy, just go to the temple and sacrifice some doves for forgiveness…”
“Forgiveness!? Forgiveness for what!? I. Haven’t. Done. Anything. Wrong. This is what I’ve been trying to tell you. Why won’t you believe me? No, I have to do something, I have to prove that I’m innocent, and I have to convince everyone that this whole system of good deeds and bad deeds just isn’t realistic. I know it’s what our ancestors taught us, but how long can we hold onto something that is simply, and blatantly, wrong?”
“But it’s not wrong, they always discover something in the person’s life to justify why God punished them.”
“That’s crap and you know it. They make this stuff up. You knew Levana, she was you’re friend, do you really believe that she cheated on her husband!?”
“Well… she didn’t seem like the type, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t!”
“Ugh! Come on! I have to think of something, some way to change the way people view God or we are all going to end up in exile or worse!”
“Oh, so now you do believe that if we don’t follow your understanding of God, something bad will happen!?”
“No… well that is how I meant it, but dangit it’s so hard to stop thinking that way. What I mean is that we must be falling further and further from God, because I refuse to believe this is how He acts toward us, His beloved children.
“No, no, no… I need something… something big enough to turn heads, but not so easy to track to me, or to get rid of…
“Wait… I think I have something… I’ll write something, it’ll be perfect. No one will know who wrote it, so they can’t just get rid of it, and if I make enough copies of it, they won’t be able to suppress them all. Yes!”
“WHAT!? Do you have any idea how expensive writing is? The parchment alone would cost us a week’s worth of food!? I swear if you do this I’m leaving you, I’ll go live with mother; this is insane. You sinned, just admit it, and don’t ruin our lives!”
“My life is already ruined! According to the temple God hates me for something I didn’t do! What could be worse than that!?”
“AARGH!! I give up! Do what you want, squander our livelihood! But don’t bring me down with you! I’m out of here!”
“Fine! Whatever, it won’t matter in the end anyway. Once she reads it, once everyone sees the truth they’ll all come back apologizing to me. Now, I have to find someone who can write and who won’t just run to the temple and snitch on me…”
It’s a little known fact that the Jewish theological concept of retributive justice was ever questioned. It’s more commonly known today as “the prosperity gospel” as it focuses more on the rewards of behaving, rather than on the punishments of misbehaving. The writer of Job wrote it in protest against such theology, hoping to change forever the way that the world viewed God, but it didn’t have quite the impact they were hoping for. People today still hold it, but they stopped reading the Old Testament through its lense. It makes all the difference, and it allows us to reconcile the seeming contradictions between the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the God of Jesus Christ. Simply wait and see.