If it's true that Job's father was a wicked man (and this idea will come up again just a little bit later in Job), then we have to give Job just an amazing ton of credit for the kind of man that he turned out to be.
Remember, Job is the epitome of righteous. Even when God is looking for a righteous man in all the world, the Lord's eyes come to Job. And if Job's father is a wicked man, then we can't credit him for the way that Job turned out; wicked men do not raise righteous sons. Not naturally, anyway.
There's something in us that wants to believe the best in persons (at least, in persons that we have not personally met, for some reason), so it's tempting for us to want to say that maybe Job's father was a wicked man, but maybe he was repentant about it. Maybe he spent time lecturing his son about not making the same mistakes that he'd made, trying to instill in Job that there had to be a better way to live. Trying to save his son from the wrinkles and early gray hairs that had afflicted the man. But there's nothing in Job to tell us that his father was repentant. And certainly, Job makes no such indications himself.
In fact, Job is rather confident in the way that he insists that the sins of the father should not be the burden of the son. He's unforgiving in the way that he insists that the father should pay for his own sins. He's certain that the son should not bear the brunt of the father's mistakes, particularly when the son is righteous.
So it's fair to say that Job chose his own righteousness, and we have to give him credit for that.
Job looked at his father and said, "I don't want to turn out that way." Job watched his father's dishonest scales and vowed never to cheat. Job listened to his father's lies and determined always to tell the truth. Job felt the sting of his father's betrayal and chose to always be there for his children, even when they didn't want him or didn't know it. Job knew his father never prayed for him, not once, and prayed for his children every day.
Job offered sacrifices on behalf of his children, that he might somehow shelter their righteousness. Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that Job was feeling the sting of his father's sinfulness and wished, with every fiber of his being, that his father had once thought of him? Had even once wanted to protect him from his righteousness? Could it be that when Job offered sacrifices for his children, he had more than their own potential waywardness in his mind? Could it be that he had his potential waywardness in mind?
Could it be that Job lived with a constant vigilance against his own propensity for sin, having to choose righteousness at every single moment and knowing as much?
And yet, he did it. Job chose not to live into the family legacy. Job chose to take a different path for himself. Job saw his father's wickedness, grew up under it, probably even learned its ways, and Job declared...this is not for me. Job decided he wanted something better for his life. Job decided not to make the same mistakes his father did, likely because he felt the brokenness of them.
Now, here he is, sitting in dust and ashes, scratching his infected skin with broken shards of pottery, and he's talking - in more than one place - about the sins of the father being a burden on the son. It can't be coincidence. It can't be simply philosophical. Job is grieving that his past - a past that he worked so hard to get away from - is coming back to haunt him. Job is devastated that all of his righteousness can't get him out from under his father's legacy. He is paying the price for everything that he himself also despised. No wonder it doesn't seem fair.
(To be continued.)