In Deuteronomy 30:15-16, Moses tells the people of Israel that if they obey the Lord’s commandments, then they will be massively blessed. On the other hand, failure to heed to this covenant will lead to death. Basically, Moses is reiterating to the Israelites the essence of God’s covenant by reminding them about the blessings they will receive for obeying these rules. Likewise, he informs them about the curse that will fall upon them if they choose not to obey. The bible is very clear on the terms of the covenant. It is upon the community to decide how to act. While making these covenants, Moses and God knew that the people of Israel will fail to honor His words. Therefore, one wonders why Moses made the sermons when he knew well that people would not heed.

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The statement can now help in understanding the verse clearly both from a biblical perspective and a societal one. Job, as the bible stipulates, was a God fearing man who did everything to obey the commands of God. However, the devil put him through a test. Satan took away all his animals, killed his servants, and ended up killing all his sons and daughters. Despite these tests, Job did not curse the Lord like Satan wanted him to do. Job was a blameless and upright man but this did not keep calamities away from him. Once the devil saw that Job could not denounce God, he unleashed nasty boils and rashes all over his body. The life leaves him a little more desperate but it does not push him to denounce the Lord. At that point, however, he believes that he deserves some kind of explanation from God. His friends even go ahead to tell him that it is his fault.

The things that happened to Job in the bible are similar to those that happened to Rabbi Kushner. For Kushner, the calamities that befell him were not as bad as those that Job went through. For him, his three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative illness that meant that he could only live until his teenage years. At that point, Kushner was faced with one of the most difficult questions in life. His only question was to ask God why he did this to him. Just as Job, Rabbi Kushner felt that he needed an explanation for his son’s calamity.

Rabbi Kushner did not find an answer just as Job. In Job’s case, one his true friends told him that though he might not have sinned, he has no right to question his fate. He needed to understand that God’s universe is endowed with immortal power. That alone should have been enough to convince him. However, Job was not convinced. He fretted and made many speeches to the Lord wanting to know why all these evil befell him. Eventually God showed up to Job, but not to console him but to scold him. God did this to him as a lesson to let him acknowledge that humans as mortal beings cannot understand every issue in a universe ruled by immortality. He took the advice of his friend Elihu and reverted to his day job. Eventually God blesses him with double the wealth he used to have. He even lives to a ripe old age.

Both Job and Rabbi Kushner are good people, but evil still wrecked their lives. It shows that at times, bad things can happen to good people. It is all part of God’s plan. Despite a similarity in their initial reactions, they act differently from then. Job kept pestering the Lord in the hope that He would tell him reasons for his suffering. Rabbi Kushner also questioned God for a few years then embarked on another different journey. He understood that when tragedy strikes, even the staunchest of Christians will have contemplation of doubts and fears. Different from Job, he understood that these things can happen to someone. Instead of crying foul to the Lord, he wrote a book entitled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. In this book, he speaks as a rabbi, parent, and human being. In most parts of the text, Kushner provides a clear thinking and consolation to his readers in times of sorrow.

The two people share certain similarities but also have obvious differences. Job viewed his suffering as a punishment and kept viewing it that way until God intervened. On his part, Rabbi Kushner was also confused at first, but transformed this tragedy into a lesson for teaching others.

While this chapter in Deuteronomy teaches people on the importance of obeying God’s command, it also touches on finding hope whenever people face failures. Even in times of suffering people should just pray to God and heed his commandments. On Job’s part, one could argue that he had begun to doubt God’s power.

During such times, people need consolation and not explanation. By crying out for explanation as Job did is similar putting God through test. Asking God why bad things happen to us is just wrong. Rabbi Kushner also wanted to know why this happened to his son, but he later realized that was not right. He wrote a book to find consolation not only for himself, but also other people who have faced similar calamities. God does not always intent for bad things to happen to human beings. In the same way, he does not expect people to do disobey His commandments just as the verse states.