There are so very many aspects to the book of Job (and a lot of theories about the point of the book of Job) that it makes my head spin sometimes. It is one of my favorite books in the Bible, if not THE favorite, because I can see God’s intimate knowledge of, and love for his creation in it.
I keyed in on the part of the conversation that you wrote above, because I just recently learned something about this myself and thought I would share. Job was not sinless, because none of us can be, but I think that he “feared the Lord” in the way that we all should. He was not “afraid” or “living in fear” in a way that was sinful. I didn’t really grasp this concept until I read Hugh Ross’ book “Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job” which was very intriguing and opened up possibilities I had never thought of before.
Since Job is the oldest book in the Bible, it is describing a time prior to the Hebrews being enslaved in Egypt and coming out as “God’s Chosen People.” The tribes, including the priestly tribe, had not yet been established and the law had not yet been given to Moses. At that time, the head of the home acted in a priestly role for his entire family - he offered sacrifices for them as the priests did later, and interceded on behalf of them before God. So, he was “fearing the Lord” in a good way, and doing what a good father/husband/employer was supposed to. So I don’t think God saw Job’s “fear” as a sin. I think it was a good thing.
I have heard several other interpretations and lessons taken from the book of Job, but one of the biggest that stands out to me is that the book of Job is there to help us understand the sovereignty of God and offer us comfort in the midst of our own suffering. If you notice, God never explains to Job why these calamities came on him and his family. He essentially brings home to Job, though, that He is all good and all holy. He is the master of the universe and nothing that happens within it happens without his knowledge. The point is that Job can trust in him, even when it seems like the entire world has fallen apart.
Through God’s voice and questions, Job does recognize his own smallness and the enormity of the insult he has offered to God (who is he to demand an answer and an accounting of the most high God?), though he did not do so deliberately or with arrogance. He was asking genuine questions and shouting out in pain from a place of utter desolation. When God graced him with His presence, and basically put him on trial, Job became fully aware of his own sinfulness as well as the holiness and purity of God. I think it will be like that for us, the first time we really and truly come into the presence of His holiness, purity, and might. We will recognize our sinfulness to the core of our being. The proper response to this is repentance and worship, which is what Job did. When his erroneous thinking was pointed out to him, he immediately and completely repented of it. And he accepted what had happened to him without ever actually getting an explanation. After coming face to face with the majesty of God, he was content with the answer that God knows more than we do and that He is in control even when we can’t see or understand what He is doing.
All of Job’s friends but one, on the other hand, did act arrogantly and even presumed to speak on God’s behalf. Their arrogance and lack of humility - judging others as if they knew the mind of God, handing out advice as if they were God’s mouthpiece - angered God. They did not pause to seek God’s word or counsel. They assumed that they knew. God knew the inner thoughts and intentions of all those involved, and Job’s faith, shown by a life of obedience and a heart that was wholly seeking after God, is what made Job righteous in God’s eyes.
What was allowed to happen to Job was not done as a punishment for any sin. It was done for God’s own purposes - and even though we know it was a test, Job did not ever seem to get that information. And even we don’t know fully what God’s purposes in this situation were. Perhaps to allow Job to examine himself for hidden sin, and to know God better, or just to serve as a powerful reminder for the rest of humanity that God is far greater than we are and sees far beyond what we can, and we can rest assured that He has a purpose in suffering, though we don’t understand what it is right now.