Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Satan before the Lord, by Corrado Giaquinto c.1750, Vatican Museums

And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
Job 1:7

This exchange, between God and Satan is repeated again, almost verbatim, in Job 2:2. I love the tone of it, sounding as it does like two mates meeting up at a bar or something. "What's up, Satan? Where've you been?", "Ah, just hanging out, here and there, you know." God then goes on to brag about my servant Job, and on both occasions Satan challenges him to test Job's loyalty. Between them they make the poor guy's life miserable, each to prove his point. It's not exactly the behaviour one would expect or wish for in a deity, someone in whom you have entrusted your own will and life. But maybe that's the point: we are all flawed, apparently even God Himself, all susceptible to vanity. God is made by man, in the image of himself, after all.

To clarify that statement, I firmly believe that God, as a force, power, influence, preceded all life on earth, and in that sense is omnipresent.1 But for us to understand God we make up our own story. After all, we can only comprehend the world, material or otherwise, through our own experiences, even the wildest of imaginations being thus bounded. The gods of all legends, Greek, Babylonian, Norse, Indian, or anywhere else have distinctively human characteristics, including envy, jealousy, hubris, vanity, and so on. Perhaps such legends help us to understand why we have those undesirable traits ourselves. As humans we need our God to be a little bit human too. We need to relate in order to feel a connection, in order to trust. The book of Job offers us perhaps the most casual look at God behind the scenes, as it were. Amidst God's striving to save humanity from itself, to be perfect as God is perfect—the theme of the rest of the Old Testament—I find these moments very relatable, very grounding. For that alone I enjoy this otherwise baffling book.

1 The book Godhead: the Brain's Big Bang by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell, does an excellent job of describing and making sense of this idea.