Job 11: Who is A Serious Man?
JOB ARTWORK USED BY PERMISSION COURTESY OF KINGSTONE COMICS (https://kingstone.co/)
“Would you discover the mystery of God?
Would you discover the limit of the Almighty?
Higher than heaven—what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth
And broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 JPS)
Zophar the Naamathite would seem to be a decent oratory poet.
By the way, if you read Plato’s Republic, this era of literature, hundreds of years before Jesus, was very similar. Conversations between people were the stuff of these writings. Action-smaction, they loved these dialogues in writings.
Here Zophar the Naamathite reminds Job of the limitless mysteries of God, calls him to repent of sin, and the God who has already overlooked Job’s iniquities will faithfully do it again, but beware of persisting in foolishness, this kind of prideful arrogant refusual to admit guilt, and God will not be so patient!
My wife and I watched A Serious Man recently. Here is the official movie description: “Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a physics professor at a 1960s university, but his life is coming apart at the seams. His wife (Sari Lennick) is leaving him, his jobless brother (Richard Kind) has moved in, and someone is trying to sabotage his chances for tenure. Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis, but whether anyone can help him overcome his many afflictions remains to be seen.”
MY DESCRIPTION OF "A SERIOUS MAN"
Ethan and Joel Coen have directed a modern day Job story. College professor and family man Larry Gopnik wants to know “what’s going on?” as he watches his life fall apart. His wife is leaving him, his jobless brother moves in, someone is trying to sabatoge his tenure. His teenage children are dealing with their own issues, and a fable story at the beginning of the movie a generation before leads us to wonder if they’ve all been cursed. When Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis, we see the futility of their so-called religous wisdom in bombastic stories and silence. When Larry visits the office of the oldest rabbi, he can see him briefly in the paneled office, seated and seemingly asleep. When Larry is told the rabbi is too busy to see him, he says, “He doesn’t look busy.” The assistant says, “He’s thinking.”
What is the rabbi really thinking about all this? What does God think about Larry’s life? What’s going on? Larry wants to know! His refrain through the movie is, “I haven’t done anything!” When his wife wants to leave him, he says, “I haven’t done anything.” When he’s blamed for something he says, “I haven’t done anything.” Like Job, he insists he is innocent. Exasperated he says, “I’m . . . I’ve tried to be a serious man.” Of course as with most Coen movies, I laugh at human nature, cringe, and when the movie ends scratch my head and rarely forget the movie. The movie that keeps coming back to mind, that asks questions it doesn’t always answer, that gets you discussing it with others is the movie that is biblical in the sense that the Bible at its best and discerned at its best calls us to question our lives.
The Bible calls us to ask, “What’s going on?”
The Bible story of Job calls us to ask of our lives, “Have we really done anything?” There’s a double edge to this comment of course, “I haven’t done anything.” Passivity has led to some of our problems. Excuses for our prideful refusal of responsibility continues to impact us. Focus on ourselves and trying to be serious men and women brings more and not less calamity upon us.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.