Statesboro, GA, USA
God answers Job’s question as to why he is being afflicted basically with a rhetorical question: “who are you to be asking ME?” God comes off as a ticked off rather than kindly deity, (after all He did let the Devil have his way). In this way he’s not that far off from Zeus.
But rhetorical questions are not always sarcastic questions, are they? You use quite a bit of this methodology yourself. Such questions can be asked in a haughty or wrong spirit, but sometimes they can bring the other party into some realization. And with God, who really IS on a greater intellectual and ontological plane than we are, the motive for such a question was to bring Job to honesty, rather than to shame him. Was there any shame involved? Yes, but it was a natural kind of shame that was proper, and it was momentary.
You've also got to hold things in context instead of taking isolated passages alone, to prove your point. If God was such a meanie, then why did Job heartily come to revere and love him? And why (this is the kicker) was Job blessed more abundantly than ever at the end?
So God's reply to Job, bantering satire? Maybe.
Bitter sarcasm? No.
And keep in mind: in Job God does expressly give the Devil the power to afflict Job.
That's only a cursory or "at first sight" kind of interpretation ... unless the deeper issues of the book of Job are seen.
Firstly, Job is presented by God as a "righteous man". Then a series of accusatory questions were asked God, by Satan, concerning his "servant Job". Satan blatantly declared that Job's piety was nothing more than egoism, or selfishness disquised as religion. Then God, rather than merely disputing Satan in a verbal way, let him afflict Job (although with certain limits or parameters). The whole excercise seems to be to "prove" in actuality, that the piety of Job was not flimsy as that. Of course God, being omiscient, knew whether or not Job's faith was more than fluff. But Satan needed to see it, and be rebuffed. And perhaps in the end, Job too would not understand or appreciate his own dedication to God, without this experience.
If you say the testing was unneeded, or cruel, that is your opinion. But the question of whether faith is based upon an unbroken supply of "goodies", or whether it's commitment is rooted deeper, is still a profound question.
And I think that unavoidable periods of suffering in our lives, still raise this very significant question. Will we get angry at God, reject faith in him, become an "atheist"? If that is what happens then maybe we are egoists at heart, after all. In which case, we've got too big of a plank in our own eye, to try and reprimand God.
So I think you are not addressing the deeper issues of Job's ordeal. The tempter who is always trying to 1) alienate God from man, and 2) alienate man from God, has raised certain cosmic questions that will be answered in all of our lives (in varying degrees). In the book of Job, the ending confirms that God and Job are both vindicated as faithful to each other, with the full consent and agreement of Job. So the charge of God being a meanie, and Job being no more than a moocher, is answered.
Now a days, the tempter tries another method, by making Job's agreement with God (at the end of the story) sound like the result of coercion. But if it were merely out of fear, would not God be able to see this too? Wouldn't this merely amount to egoism all over again?
Keep these points in mind:
1) God boasted of Job and loved him (Job 1:8)
2) Job's suffering was only God's allowance, but Satan's performance. (1:12)
3) Satan's inclination to afflict was actually limited by God. (Job 1:12)
4) The test, as it were, is not done in a whimsical way, as if God were merely seeking entertainment. But there were deeper cosmic questions hanging in the air, that needed an experiential answer. (Job 1:9-11)
And like John, I encourage anyone to read the book of Job for themselves. Whatever conclusion one comes to about the "deeper" issues at hand, these need to be at least acknowledged as present in the text. Text-proofing only presents a lop-sided view.
Newborn babes desire nourishment because of the unconscious drive to live. We want to believe because in one form or another we want to live forever.
And my point remains the same. As one desire is proper and fulfillable, so may the other be. You've merely restated the fact by saying it is "because of the unconscious desire to live" ... you haven't at all explained the propriety or purpose of it.