We can learn a lot from Job , but in the first five chapters of that historical drama, we only find a man in deep anguish. He is not sure what to make of things apart from having faith that God knows what He is doing. How much wisdom flows from his answer to the messengers that brought him news of his loss of all his livestock and his children: "Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away, blessed be the Name of Yahweh."
Satan wasn't convinced at this saint's resolve! He further challenged Yahweh to put Job to the ultimate test. Job didn't fare well, grumbling about having to live in such bodily pain. Like Jonah many years later, he wished he were dead! He extols the state of being dead, perhaps reflecting an understanding of Sheol (the place of the dead, Greek: Hades). Whatever the case, his moans echo what logic and good old "common sense" tells us all: everybody is going to die, and "obviously" a state of "rest" is better than suffering.
That is where my approach of starting at the "middle verse(s)" of each days readings brings me:
- The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
We all have seen the "R.I.P" on stereotypical tombstones. Most of us are aware that those letters stand for "Rest In Peace." Even those who do not believe in God usually concede that after one dies, there is no more suffering. Though the picture we see later, in the New Testament , shows a picture to the contrary, it is not a contradiction. What is discussed between Yahweh and Satan is revealed truth, but the words of all others within the drama reflect a mix of truth and error that must be measured from the teaching material. In this case, Job speaks a general understanding of death: it is inescapable. Both the rich and the poor, the servant and the master, everybody who has lived or will live, will face death.
For the believer, this passage into the other realm truly brings peace. To others, who have "gone their own way," running from God, the "rest" will not be so peaceful. The two ways lead to opposite addresses. To those who are at peace with God (reconciled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ ) will find rest beyond the grave.