An Overview of Job, Part 1

Divine Author: God the Holy Spirit “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

Human Author: Moses, according to Jewish tradition; if Solomon was the author, the date would be adjusted to c. 950 BC.

Date: c.  1400, Prior to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Setting: In the Land of Uz, an area southeast of Israel on the Arabian border.  

Key Verse: Job 42:5-6, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Theme : Faithfulness to God

General Facts: 18th Book of the Bible; 42 Chapters; 1,070 Verses

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Introduction

The Book of Job is considered by some to be the oldest piece of literature in the world. Certainly, it is an intriguing book for several reasons, not the least of which is the setting takes place far away from the Land of Israel in a place called Uz (lit. “replacement”). Uz remains an unspecified territory, probably located in Hauran South of Damascus, or perhaps between Edom and northern Arabia. Study Jer. 25:20; Job 1:1; Lam. 4:21.

Though Job was not an Israelite, he did have a personal knowledge of the living God, and was highly favored by the Lord. Job’s personal piety, and intimate relationship with God became the center of interest, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. Satan also came among them (Job 1:5).

It is temping to pause, and speculate, why, and how, the sons of God present themselves to the Lord, with Satan being present among them.  The Bible does not seek to reveal the dark hidden secrets of the spirit world, but the idea of a heavenly convocation, where Lucifer is present is intriguing.

The “sons of God”, are heavenly beings associated with God. They can be understood as being a divine council. “A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods” (Psalms 82:1). The “sons of God” are called the council of the holy ones. “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psalms 89:7).

The main point in the narrative is not to focus on the sons of God, nor on Satan, but to consider the man Job, and the important questions he raised based on the sufferings he experienced.

The Various Sufferings of Job

  • Job suffered Satanic oppression. Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6
  • Job suffered financial setbacks. Job 1:13-17
  • Job suffered the death of his children. Job 1:18-19
  • Job suffering from boils on his body. Job 2:7-8
  • Job suffered the mental anguish of an unsupportive wife. Job 2:9-10
  • Job suffered the anguish of miserable Comforters. Job 2:11-13
  • Job suffered depression. Job 3:1-3

Prologue Job 1 – 2

The opening chapter introduces a devout man named Job, living in the land of Uz. Job is declared to be blameless in the sight of God. This does not mean he was without sin. It does mean that Job lived a life of integrity before man and God. He lived in a righteous manner. Job feared God, and turned away from evil, which is defined as injurious behavior to self, or others.

Despite a life of nobility, Job’s world suddenly fell apart. Within a short period of time, wave after wave of suffering cascaded over him, in the form of financial loss, the death of his children, and inexplicable boils on his body.

Swept up in the Angelic Conflict

Job was perplexed as to what was happening to him. Little did Job understand that he had been swept up in the angelic conflict, the war that wages between God in heaven, and the demons of hell, who have been cast down to earth (Isaiah 14:13-14; Gen. 3:1; Luke 4:5-6; Rev. 12:4). The apostle Paul explains. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

Until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at His Second Advent (Acts 1:11; Heb. 9:28), Christians will have to contend with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Like a roaring lion, Satan goes about to accuse the brethren. Satan went before God to accuse Job.

The Main Accusation of Satan Against Job

When Job was presented by the Lord as an exhibit of godliness, Satan (Heb. “Accuser”) mocked, and said that Job only served the Lord because he was a blessed man, with a hedge of personal protection around him. “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:5).

Job’s Wealth

On Job’s behalf, the Lord accepted the challenge. Satan was given permission to harm Job in a variety of ways, but not to take his life. The Devil did what he could to cause Job to curse the Lord, but Job sinned not (1:22).

Rather than concede defeat, Satan leveled another charge against Job. It was Satan’s position that Job only honored the Lord because his health was good. “But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (2:5). Divine permission was granted for Satan to afflict Job. Job’s response is one for the ages. When his own wife suggested he curse God, and Job, the faithful man of God replied, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this did not Job sin with his lips (2:10).

An Earnest Inquest John 3 – 31: Three Non-Israelites: Who Are Miserable Comforters

  • Eliphaz / Temanite / Job himself is to blame / Job 4:7-8
  • Bildad / Shuhite / God will not side with evil people / Job 8:20
  • Zophar / Naamathite / It is time for Job to confess / Job 11:14-15, 17

While Job considered his financial ruin, the death of his children, and his horrible health issues, three friends came to comfort Job. In an effort to identify with Job in his suffering, the men cried out in anguish, and wept. They tore their clothing as a sign of grief, they tossed dust upon their heads toward heaven, and they sat down with Job for seven days, and seven nights, before they spoke (2:11-13).

At the end of the formal mourning period, Job and his friends entered into an extended dialogue concerning the origin of pain and suffering in the plan of God. One immediate possibility came to the mind of Job’s three friends. Job was suffering because of some terrible sin in his life. It would be good if Job confessed his transgression

Job too, wanted to know why he was suffering, but his conclusion was far different than that of his friends. Job believed that only God could answer that question, because Job knew in his heart, he had done nothing to earn, or deserve such harsh treatment. Perhaps God would reveal the answer.

However, in the chapters to follow, God does not explain the sufferings of Job. The Lord does not have to give an account of why He does anything, or allows something to be done, in His creation.  Comparing Scripture with Scripture, the believer is left to conclude the following as to why people suffer. While the book of Job does not answer the question as why God allows good people to suffer, other Scriptures do.

Why Christians Suffer

Christians suffer when they engage in a frantic search for happiness in an inappropriate way. The book of Ecclesiastes establishes this principle through the life of Solomon. Solomon engaged in a frantic search for happiness, and then concluded in sorrow “all is vanity and a vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:14).

Christians suffer from a guilty conscience. “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling” (1 Tim. 1:5-6).

Christians suffer from the suppression of sin in the self-consciousness of the soul. When inappropriate attitude and actions are engaged in, and then justified, ecclesiastical judgment is a real possibility. The apostle Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan for physical and mental abuse, to teach them to learn not to blaspheme.  “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:19-20.

Consider

God wants His children to keep the truth in a holy vessel, and with a pure conscience. “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Christians suffer because the Word of God is rejected. In 2 Kings 17:13-14 the prophet of God explains why there was going to be war with the nation of Assyria, and Israel is going to lose the contest.  “Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.”

Christians suffer, and inflict emotional and physical pain on others, when particular acts of sin are not isolated and mortified, or put to death. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15).

Christians suffer when divinely established authority is rejected, reflected in the story of Dathan and Abiram, as recorded in Numbers 16:1-35; Deuteronomy 11:6; Psalm 106:17.

Christians suffer pain and sorrow by marrying the wrong person. “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite” (Ezek. 16:-13).

Christians suffer because they are interrelated to others in the body of Christ who are hurting (1 Cor. 12:26). There are several great metaphors of the Church in the New Testament, and each one illustrates the essential unity of believers to one another and to Christ. Romans 14:7 explains. “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself”.

Christians suffer from divine discipline. “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Prov. 3:11).

 Christians suffer as part of the angelic conflict. Test the emotion in your heart lest you be subject to demonic suggestion, as Job, and Ananias.

Job. “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 4 And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:3-7).

Ananias. “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:3).

Christians suffer in order to have patience produced in the life. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:2-6).

Christians suffer from bad political decisions of rulers. Jesus predicted a period of great tribulation for the nation of Israel. In the summer of AD 66 Jewish leaders encouraged a revolt against Rome. Soldiers marched against the city. Many Christians were caught up in this national calamity. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:14).

Christians suffer when their own standards of morality are violated. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:1-7).

Christians suffer from the ravages of war. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers’ places” (Matt. 24:6-7).

Christians suffer by not knowing, or not remembering the promises of God. “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 11 But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:9-12).

Christians suffer in the process of dying, as a result of the fall. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Christians suffer when the Lord’s Supper is taken in an inappropriate manner. “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:29-31).

Christians suffer because they exercise their spiritual gift. “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Cor. 11:24-30).

Christians suffer due to religious jealousies. “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:1-2).

Christians suffer because they love Christ more than family or friends. “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt. 10:36).

Christians may suffer in order to be kept from more sin. “And if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29).

Christians suffer in order to empathize with others. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

Christians suffer in order to preserve the life of others. [And Joseph said unto his brethren] “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5).

Christians suffer to demonstrate the theological truth that God is the sovereign Ruler of the universe, and can dispose of it as He pleases. “And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11).

A Time to Talk Chapters 3 – 28: A Dialogue with Deity

  • God will discuss the question of His right to rule. Divine Eternality
  • God will discuss the question of His justice. Divine Justice 
  • God will discuss the question of His sovereignty. Divine Providence
  • God will discuss the question of His morality. Divine Morality (Theodicy)

When Job engages with his Comforters, a cyclical pattern of discussion is established. Job will speak, and then one of his friends will respond.

Three Cycles

  • First Cycle Job 3 – 14
  • Second Cycle Job 15 – 21
  • Third Cycle Job 22 – 28

Each Comforter begins with the presuppositional thought that Job is suffering because of some secret sin, which he should confess. Job argues that he has done nothing wrong to merit the suffering he must endure. Both the Comforters, and Job, are wrong in their presuppositional thoughts.

The Comforters are wrong to think that in this particular time, Job has done something wrong to justify his pain and suffering. That was not true. Even God said that Job was righteous and blameless (Job 1:8, 22). Sometimes, there is no immediate cause and effect relationship between sin, and suffering. Sometimes there is a cause-and-effect relationship, reflected in the sin of Adam, and his fall from grace, and the sin of David, whereby the child born to Bathsheba died. In the case of Job, there is no direct correlation between any sin he has committed and his state of misery.

Job was wrong to think that he was without absolute blame.  No one is totally blameless. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Because of the Fall, every soul is subject to sickness, and sorrow. Until the curse is removed, life shall remain a vale of tears. Because he is part of Adam’s race, because Job is intrinsically sinful, and in need of a Savior, he should not press his innocence to a radical extreme. 

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