The Book of Job
We live in a world where many times the seemingly good people suffer and the evil prosper. In our world, tragic things happen and cause us to wonder what is going on. When we’re honest with ourselves we’ve probably all wondered why God would allow such evil to prosper.
Here’s the way Job put it:
Job 21:7–13 (ESV)
7 Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
8 Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes.
9 Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.
10 Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and does not miscarry.
11 They send out their little boys like a flock,
and their children dance.
12 They sing to the tambourine and the lyre
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
13 They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.
We have some serious problems in our world. Job knew them too well. He knew what it was to suffer and loose and grieve. He knew what it was like to have thoughts swirling around in your head like a f-5 tornado. He knew what it was like to fall to the ground under the weight of unbearable grief. But…Job also knew the depths of God’s love for him. At the end of the day, after everything had been taken from him that God was enough.
If in Job’s day people struggled with the idea that prosperity means blessing and trials mean discipline then we know it even better today. Not only do we have that type of thinking, we have that type of preaching. Especially in America where the health wealth preachers have warped and twisted the meaning of God’s wealth and riches to mean the money or prosperity here and now. If you’re poor it’s because your faith is lacking and all you need is a more positive outlook then God will give you everything you desire. That type of thinking is idolatry. That way of life is to desire stuff more than God…Job is a remedy for Idolatry.
Job is also a remedy for those with never ending questions. Why has this happened? Why am I suffering? Why are they blessed? Why is it that we feel the necessity to have all our questions answered? Through Job’s trials he experienced God and he learned God rightly. His questions were really never answered but through his suffering he saw the depth of God’s love like never before.
As we begin this study, I want to ask a question…If it’s true, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then would it be loving of God to do what He needs to in order to bring that about? God is most gracious when He turns our hearts to Him. In the case of Job, He uses Satan as a tool to take Job to the next level of faith in God and for Job this was the most loving and kind thing God could do.
That way of thinking really doesn’t make sense to us. Only when we go through trials as believers can we grasp this truth.
One writer calls this the difference between armchair theologians and wheelchair theologians
So the Book of Job is written for the Church, it’s written for those suffering and those who will suffer. It’s written so that we too can experience God on a deeper dimension than we could otherwise.
The Book of Job takes us on a journey with one whose suffering is beyond all comprehension. We are witnesses as we watch his struggle not only through the physical pain and immense loss but the struggle in his thinking and in his concept of God. We’ll listen to his friends and their worthless adages and trivial words of God. We’ll see Job hold tightly to God and then we’ll see what happens when Job comes out on the other side, his faith stronger and his love for God greater than ever before.
Come with me as we walk together with a man who I pray will become our friend…Job.
James knew all about Job and what is amazing is that he calls Job a prophet…
James 5:10–11 (ESV)
10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Like all the prophets, they spoke as they were moved by the Spirit of Christ…
1 Peter 1:11 (ESV)
11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
Job is in our Bibles because he speaks the Words Jesus wants us to hear. He speaks words of Christ. When Jesus opened the Scriptures to His disciple and taught them from the prophets, He taught them things concerning Himself also from the Book of Job (Luke 24).
The Book of Job is found in the section of the Bible known as “wisdom literature”. Here, the books are specifically devoted to acquiring godly wisdom, not man’s wisdom but God’s. Because wisdom is found only as one encounters God personally, these books are highly emotional and highly poetic. Job itself is about 95% poetry.
Job 1:1–8 (ESV)
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Job is not an Israelite because Israel did not exist in Job’s day. Rather he represents all of humanity. He has no recorded lineage, no ancestry to cling to. In essence it was just he and God.
We should make note that he did not have access to this first section of the Book. In other words Job didn’t know about the conversation between God and Satan. For Job these events were, in a sense, just happening. This is much like the way things work in our lives. We don’t really understand what’s going on in our lives or in the world. We mostly think in terms of what we see and feel verses what God may be doing.
The conclusion we may jump to is the conclusion that Job’s friends jumped to and that is that bad things happen to bad people. Here, in these opening verses we start off with the fact that what is about to happen to Job is not punishment for sin…
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
We think this way so often that we immediately jump to the conclusion when trials come to us that we’ve done something wrong or committed some sin and God is punishing us. Now, it does happen, God does at times discipline His children, however, if there is no known sin in your life and if you are seeking to be blameless and upright still, trials come.
To be very clear, to be blameless is to be godly, not sinless. It is used in the Bible to mean to opposite of hypocrisy. If you could have watched Job you would see one striving to be what God wanted him to be…blameless is a consistency in obedience.
Fundamentally, the word blameless speaks of genuineness and authenticity.
The opening of the Book of Job presents us with this seemingly unanswerable question why were these things happening to Job. Even when we’re let in to the throne room and eavesdrop on the conversation we still don’t know exactly what God is doing by allowing Satan to attack one that He deeply loves and cares for.
Job may have many of the same emotions of the Psalmist…
Psalm 73:13–14 (ESV)
13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
One thing to make sure and notice is that this assessment of Job doesn’t come from Job but it is God’s assessment. Job was blameless and upright in God’s estimation. So, we can conclude that whatever happens to Job does not happen because God is punishing him. So, Job is not being punished for sin but that does not mean he’s not a sinner.
Job’s godliness was shown in his intentional turning away from sin and offering burnt offerings to God on behalf of his children. Even before the official Jewish priesthood was set in place, Job acted as a priest to his family.
So, what will happen to this great man?
this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
So far it seems like Job’s life is everything one could dream of. He has ten children and all the stuff a person could ever want. That’s verses 1-5. Now there will come a day that will change Job forever. Have you ever experienced days like that?
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
The picture is of a heavenly cabinet meeting. God summons all His ministers who report to do His bidding and one particular angel is also summoned, Satan, himself.
We see a similar event in 1 Kings…
1 Kings 22:19–23 (ESV)
19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ 23 Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”
Now comes the scene that is about as troubling as bad things happening to good people and that is the fact that Satan enters the realm of heaven. God summons Satan and Satan answers. God demands an account and Satan gives an account. Immediately we see who is in charge and who answers to whom.
God asks Satan… From where have you come?
The context of Satan’s answer shows us that he is true to his deceitful character that we saw in the Garden of Eden. His mission in life is to deceive people made in God’s image.
But there he is ‘the Adversary’ who has been going to and fro on the earth to test the characters of God’s people, trying, it seems, to find evidence of disloyalty among the people of God.
What we see in Satan is one entirely committed to the downfall of mankind created in God’s image.
What we must grasp here is that Satan is acting as the prosecuting attorney for the people of God. He’s trying to make the case that they are not really committed to God so much as the things God has given them. His argument before God is that they only love You because You are good to them, You protect them, and You give them things in abundance.
Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Satan, have you observed the righteousness of my servant Job? Have you watched and seen his commitment to Me? He is My servant.
Another important truth the Book of Job opens up to us is the fact that there is another realm that we cannot see. The heavenly realm is real and currently operating and God is controlling all events. This is something we may often overlook.
How then are we to view trouble when it comes our way?
Like Job, we are not privileged to the heavenly counsel but only experience what God wills. How are we to handle trouble?
Does it help if we know that God is behind every event?
James 1:2–4 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Mining for Wisdom by Derek Thomas
Job, The Witness of the Cross by Christopher Ash
The Message of Job by David Atkinson
 Christopher Ash, Job in the Preaching the Word Series, 18
 Job: The Wisdom of the Cross by Christopher Ash page 31
 The Message of Job, David Atkinson pg 20