Job is the first of the poetical books. It deals with the problem of suffering. God allows Satan to afflict Job, a prosperous and pious Jew, with many hardships in order to test faith. Job loses his children and his worldly goods, and is afflicted by a terrible disease. Finally, when God questions Job, he is forced to admit to the limits of human wisdom, and bows humbly before the will of God. With this new humility his faith is strengthened and Job finds peace.
AUTHOR: The author is unknown and there are no textural hints as to his identity.
Two key passages to look at:
Job 13:15 – “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
Job 37:23-24 – for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, In
judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress. Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart.”
Job 42 is the last chapter of the book and records the climax of the long and difficult struggle Job has with himself, his wife, his friends, and even his God.
Upon Job’s full recognition of the utter majesty and sovereignty of the Lord, he repents and no longer demands an answer as to the “why” of his plight.
Observations about the Book of Job
1. Job is perhaps the earliest book of the Bible. It is set in the time of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph).
2. The book of Job tells the story of a man who loses everything including his wealth, his family, and his health and wrestles with the question, WHY?
3. Job’s friends come from nearby countries.
4. A number of facts indicate a patriarchal date for Job. Job lived 140 years after the events of this book (42:16), his life span must have
been close to 200 years. This fits the patriarchal period as Abraham lived 175 years (Genesis 25:7).
5. Job’s wealth is measured in terms of livestock 1:3; 42:12) rather than gold and silver. Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Job is the priest of his family and offers sacrifices. There are no references to Israel, the exodus, the Mosaic law, or the tabernacle. Fitting Abraham’s time, the social unit in Job is the patriarchal family clan. The Chaldeans who murder Job’s servants (1:17) are nomads and have not yet become city-dwellers. Job uses the characteristic patriarchal name for God, “Shaddai” (“the Almighty”). Shaddai is used 31 times on Job and only 17 times in the rest of the Old Testament.
6. The basic question of the book is, “Why do the righteous suffer if God is loving and all-powerful? Suffering itself is not the central theme; rather, the focus is on what Job learns from his suffering—the sovereignty of God over creation. The debate in chapters 3-37 regards whether God would allow the suffering to
happen to a person who is innocent. The oversimplified solutions offered by Job’s three friends are simply inadequate. Elihu’s claim that God can use suffering to purify the righteous is closer to the mark.
The conclusion at the whirlwind is that God is sovereign and worthy of worship in whatever He chooses to do. Job must learn to trust in the goodness and power of God in adversity by enlarging is concept of God. Even this “blameless” man (1:1) needs to repent when he becomes proud and self-righteous.
7. Suffering is not always associated with sin. God can sovereignly use it to test or teach.
The Book of Job concerns the transforming crisis in the life of a great man who lived perhaps four thousand years ago. Job’s trust in God (1-2) changes to complaining and growing self-righteousness (3-31).
a. Job 32:1 – “So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.”
b. Job 40:8 – God said: “Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
2. His repentance leads to his restoration (42:7-17).
The trials bring about an important transformation. The man after the process is different from the man before the process.
There are three major divisions in the book:
Job is not a logical candidate for disaster.
1. Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was
blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.”
2. Job 1:8 – “Then 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, one who fears God
and shuns evil?”
3. His moral integrity and his selfless service to God heighten the dilemma.
Satan (“Accuser”) charges that no one loves God from pure motives, but only for material
Job 1:9-11 – “So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
“Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that
he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions
have increased in the land.
But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse
You to Your face.
To refute Satan’s accusations, God allows him to strike Job with two series of assaults.
In his sorrow Job laments the day of his birth but does not deny God. (1:21; 2:10)
Although Job’s “comforters” reach wrong conclusions, they are his friends. They care enough to come to Job and are the only ones of Job’s friends who do come.
They mourn with him for seven days of silent sympathy. They comfort Job without talking behind his back. After Job breaks the silent, a three-round debate ensues in which his friends say Job must be suffering because of his sin. Job’s responses to their simplistic assumptions make the debate cycles increase in
emotional fervor. He first accuses his friends of judging him and later appeals to the Lord as his judge and refuge. Job makes three basic complaints: God does not hear me. (13:3, 24; 19:7; 23:3-5; 30:20), God is punishing me (6:4; 7:20; 9:17), and God allows the wicked to prosper (21:7).
Job’s defenses are much longer than his friend’s accusations. In the process of defending his innocence, he becomes guilty of self-righteousness.
After Job’s five-chapter closing monologue (27-31), Elihu freshens the air with a more perceptive and accurate view than those offered by Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar (32-37). He tells Job that he needs to humble himself before God and submit to God’s process of
purifying his life through trials.
After Elihu’s preparatory discourse, God ends the debate by speaking to Job from the whirlwind. In His first speech, God reveals His power and wisdom as Creator and Preserver of the physical and animal world. Job responds by acknowledging his own ignorance and insignificance. He can offer no rebuttal. (40:3-5)
In His second speech God reveals His sovereign authority and challenges Job with two illustrations of his power to control the uncontrollable. This time Job responds by acknowledging his error with a repentant heart. (42:1-6) If Job cannot understand God’s ways in the realm of nature, how can he understand God’s
ways in the spiritual realm? God makes no reference to Job’s personal sufferings and hardly touches on the real issues of the debate. However, Job catches a glimpse of the divine perspective; and when he acknowledged God’s sovereignty over his life, his worldly goods are restored twofold.
Job prays for his three friends who have cut him so deeply, but Elihu’s speech is never rebuked. Thus, Satan’s challenge becomes God’s opportunity to build up Job’s life.
James 5:11 – “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
James 5:12 – “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those wholove Him.”