Last year I posted a few times about the book of Job while I was preparing to teach it. In the providence of God, things worked out differently, but I hope to return to it soon. During my studies I was in correspondence with Joel Wingo at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murietta, who teaches Job there.
He’s given me the chance to interview him on Job, and has gone far beyond what I expected in terms of answers. I will post the entirety of his interview in a few posts over the next week or so.
I expect this interview on Job to be a helpful resource and encouragement.
Interview on Job
Tell us a little about yourself, your family and history at Calvary Chapel Bible College?
My wife’s name is Ashley, and we have four children: Jude (8), Zara (6), Cruz (5), and Ever (4).
I grew up in Mexico, where my parents work as Bible translators. I arrived as a student at Calvary Chapel Bible College in January of 2001, so now I am in my thirteenth year here. I serve as the Registrar, which means I look after course registration, grading and record keeping, and a few other things. I usually teach two classes per semester as well.
My first class was Outreach Spanish, which I taught for four semesters. My first Bible class was Deuteronomy. I’ve also taught History of Redemption, Inductive Bible Study, Teaching Methods of Jesus, Theology, Life of Christ, and the Gospel of Luke.
I started teaching Job in 2006 and I’ve taught through it seven times since then.
The Book of Job
What first led you to study and teach Job?
Having experienced a time of physical suffering without knowing of anything I did to deserve it, I found beauty, help, and comfort in the Book of Job. While I was a student in Bible College I was going through the onset of a painful arthritic condition that was eventually diagnosed as Ankylosing Spondylitis.
I read Job during nights when I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, and it gave me the words that I needed to get through that time of my life. I was suffering and had no idea why. More than anything it helped me find words to pray, and it comforted me to know that God Himself saw fit to include Job’s lament in Scripture.
In 2006, the Director at CCBC asked me to teach the book as a class. I was delighting to obey!
Can the message of Job be summarized?
Its central message is:
“Fear the LORD” (see Job 28:28).
That may sound disappointing at first, but it’s really the most important challenge in the world. Of course, the message is not simply “be scared of God”. The “fear of the Lord” in the OT is the rough equivalent of “faith” in the NT. It means dependence or humble trust in God and obedience to Him.
Job is an example of Israelite Wisdom Literature, which means, among other things, that it is intended for those who want to master the art of living a truly good life (which ought to be everyone!). As a Wisdom book, Job tells us that this “fear of the LORD” is what wisdom—as God has revealed it—boils down to. How that message is conveyed in this book, as well as the sub-points made clear along the way, is what makes the book of Job so special and fascinating.
What have you found most difficult in studying and teaching the book?
I wish I could take back that first course I taught.
There was so much I didn’t see properly because I hadn’t had the privilege of knowing the whole book well enough. As I taught through the book, I would discover passages that forced me to retract statements I had made earlier. It’s easy to miss little details in the speeches that rule out a certain way of interpreting the overall message.
Basically, there is no substitute for spending a lot of time reading through the book over and over again, meditating on it, asking questions of it as you read it, and comparing it with the rest of the Scriptures that deal with similar themes.
Have you found that many people misunderstand the message of Job?
I think many people do misunderstand it. There are myriads of different ways that people explain its message, ranging from atheists who try to use Job to disprove the existence of a loving God to the prosperity preacher who says that the book “actually doesn’t disprove the prosperity doctrine” (incredible!). Overall, it seems like we are not always asking the best questions as we read Job.
Instead of asking, “What does this book teach us about God and ourselves, about His purposes and ours?” we are more interested in knowing, “Did dinosaurs live with humans?”, “How can I avoid this kind of suffering?”, or “So, why does God allow evil?”
We need to read the book, follow where it leads, and think about what questions it is given to answer before we approach it with our own expectations of what we want it to do for us.
Check back soon for part 2 of my interview with Joel Wingo, where we get into more specific issues in understanding Job.