Factoring time into classical retribution theology does not make Job fit with the teaching of Proverbs.
Classical retribution theology involves the notion of a response flowing necessarily from an action: blessing from obedience and punishment from disobedience. The book of Deuteronomy, which describes the time-sensitive covenant of works between God and the Israelite nation regarding the Land promises, more naturally fits with the retribution theology taught in Proverbs (see Deut 4:25-31). The driving tension in the book of Job centers on the apparent absence of righteous retribution. According to God, Job is “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil,” (Job 1:8) yet he his possessions, family, and health are literally pummeled at the seemingly merciless hand of God. Adding a degree of time does not solve the problem for Job, even though he is restored and vindicated at the end of the test (Job 42:7-16), for the theology of retribution requires that Job not suffer at all because he did nothing to deserve such anguish. It is the retribution theology of Job’s three friends and Elihu (“Job suffers because he has sinned”1) that invites the final rebuke from God. “As a result, he [Job] became an intercessor for his friends, who had advocated a false wisdom of mechanical retribution.”2 The divine rebuke experienced by Job at the end of the book disallows the interpretation that retribution theology eventually carries the day. The end of Job’s harrowing tale teaches us that he never merited the suffering or blessing that came upon him, that God alone is wise and that the book “promotes an attitude that acknowledges the power and wisdom of the God of the universe.”3
(Continue reading here.)