Job the Faithful Servant
Sermon: Job the Faithful Servant
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (blessed)." 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Worship lessons during our Tests (chapters 1-2)
Key verses: 1:8; 2:3
Key word: _______
Worship lessons and our Friends (chapters 3-37)
Compare 1:20-21 with chapters 3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, 26-31
Worship lessons from God (chapters 38-42)
Key verses: 42:5-6
Sermón: Job el Siervo Fiel
Job 1:20-22 NBLH Entonces Job se levantó, rasgó su manto, se rasuró la cabeza, y postrándose en tierra, adoró, 21 y dijo: "Desnudo salí del vientre de mi madre Y desnudo volveré allá. El SEÑOR dio y el SEÑOR quitó; Bendito sea el nombre del SEÑOR." 22 En todo esto Job no pecó ni culpó a Dios.
Lecciones de Adoración en nuestras Pruebas (capítulos 1-2)
Versículos claves: 1:8; 2:3
Palabra clave: _______
Lecciones de Adoración y nuestros amigos (capítulos 3-37)
Compara 1:20-21 con capítulos 3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, 26-31
Lecciones de Adoración del Señor (capítulos 38-42)
Versículos claves: 42:5-6
Job: The Faithful Servant
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (blessed)." 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. NBLH Entonces Job se levantó, rasgó su manto, se rasuró la cabeza, y postrándose en tierra, adoró, 21 y dijo: "Desnudo salí del vientre de mi madre Y desnudo volveré allá. El SEÑOR dio y el SEÑOR quitó; Bendito sea el nombre del SEÑOR." 22 En todo esto Job no pecó ni culpó a Dios.
Who is the most important person here today?
The one who is suffering………hurting Body part illustration
When you think of the Book of Job what is the first thing that comes to mind?
WORSHIP LESSONS DURING OUR TESTS (chapters 1-2)
Key verses: 1:8; 2:3 …..God initiates the “tests”
Key word: “praised/blessed/cursed”
Job 1:5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
Job 1:10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
Job 1:11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
Job 2:5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
Job 2:9 His wife said to him, Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God & die
Job 31:20 and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,
Job 42:12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had 14 thousand sheep, 6 thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.
APPLICATION: memorize 1:21 so you can say it that next time a “bad” happens to you
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (blessed)."
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised (blessed)." . NBLH Entonces Job se levantó, rasgó su manto, se rasuró la cabeza, y postrándose en tierra, adoró, 21 y dijo: "Desnudo salí del vientre de mi madre Y desnudo volveré allá. El SEÑOR dio y el SEÑOR quitó; Bendito sea el nombre del SEÑOR."
WORSHIP LESSONS AND OUR FRIENDS (chapters 3-37)
Compare 1:20-21 with chapters 3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19, 21, 23-24, 26-31
*after prologue, Satan is never mentioned again….but he is still working
*Job never knows what happened in heaven between God and Satan
tore robe, shaved head seem strange things to do because we don’t understand their culture
* read all his dialogues in the light of this initial act of worship or you won’t understand them
Dark side of Faith….Hedge of Thorns….Way of the Cross….Honest Words…..Squeaky Wheel
Fix it Counseling…..Delayed Reaction….Integrity…..Wrestling w/ God…..True Prayer
Chap.3 – curses the day he was born
After seven days of silent suffering, Job spoke, not to curse God but to curse the day of his birth. He closed his curse with four “why?” questions that nobody but God could answer.
Chap.6-7 - he appealed to his three friends that they might show more understanding and sympathy (ch 6). Then he appealed to God, that He would consider his plight and lighten his sufferings before he died (ch 7). He accuses God of being unusually cruel and longs for God to leave him alone and to stop tormenting him.
Chap.9-10. Three painful questions. The emphasis in the discussion is on the justice of God; and the image that is uppermost in Job’s mind is that of a legal trial. He wants to take God to court and have opportunity to prove his own integrity. Job asks three questions: (1) “How can I be righteous before God?” (2) How can I meet God in court?” and (3) “Why was I born?” (ch.10)
Laments God’s hostility toward him
Chap.12-14: In chp 12 Job affirmed that he had wisdom and understanding just as they did and deals with the power and wisdom and sovereignty of God. In chp13 Job once again affirms his integrity Why does Job want to meet God in court? So that God can once and for all state His “case” against Job and let Job know the sins in his life that have caused him to suffer so much. In chp 14 Job admits that his hope is almost gone.
Chap 16-17: Three requests: A plea for sympathy from his friends & a plea for justice from God & a plea for death (Job 17)
Chap 19 He describes his sufferings at the hands of God and his friends…insults, isolation….yet his belief he will see his Redeemer
Chap 21 The life of the wicked….long life, prosperity, no problems. Job rejects the simplified doctrine of retribution expressed by his friends.
Chap 23-24 expressed Job’s longing for fellowship with God…and hear from God the meaning of all his suffering. He focuses on seeming injustices that God permits in this world.
3 bitter complaints against the Lord: God is hiding from me”; God is frightening me; God perplexes me (Job 24). * Job reflected on two problems: injustices he experienced and injustices others experienced. Such inequities, accompanied by divine silence, baffled Job.
Worship is recognizing we have no earthly rights “Naked…..taken away”
Health …..Material…....Dreams, hopes, plans, expectations
WORSHIP LESSONS FROM GOD (chapters 38-42)
Key verses: 42:3-6….
“In every season of suffering there comes a turning point. The turning point is not usually the point at which the suffering itself is alleviated. Rather, it is that tiem when it begins to dawn upon the suffere that there may actually be a meaning to his pain”
James 5:11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (NBLH) Miren que tenemos por bienaventurados a los que sufrieron (perseveraron). Han oído de la paciencia (firmeza) de Job, y han visto el resultado del proceder del Señor, que el Señor es muy compasivo y misericordioso.
God’s answer doesn’t seem to answer the question of “suffering”!
Chap.38: God speaks
40:1,3,6 The Lord said to Job….Then Job answered the Lord….Then the Lord spoke to Job
Chap 39: Carnival of Animals
Chap.41: Leviathan creature
His anwer to Job is HIMSELF…… I AM GOD
What has really beein happening to Job thru this ordeal is that his God has been getting BIGGER. (God doesn’t, but our experiential perception of him does)
In the end, God proved His point with Satan that saving faith can’t be destroyed no matter how much trouble a saint suffers, or how incomprehensible and undeserved it seems.
A second and related theme concerns proving the character of God to men. Does this sort of ordeal, in which God and His opponent Satan square off, with righteous Job as the test case, suggest that God is lacking in compassion and mercy toward Job? Not at all. As James says, “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and have seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). It was to prove the very opposite
Worship should be a lifestyle (1:20) ….you don’t worship like this by accident, it is intentional
the inscrutable mystery of innocent suffering. God ordains that His children walk in sorrow and pain, sometimes because of sin (Num. 12:10–12), sometimes for chastening (Heb. 12:5–12), sometimes for strengthening (2 Cor. 12:7–10; 1 Pet. 5:10), and sometimes to give opportunity to reveal His comfort and grace (2 Cor. 1:3–7). But there are times when the compelling issue in the suffering of the saints is unknowable because it is for a heavenly purpose that those on earth can’t discern (Ex. 4:11; John 9:1–3).
Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God … ” Las cosas secretas pertenecen al Señor nuestro Dios, mas las cosas reveladas nos pertenecen a nosotros y a nuestros hijos para siempre, a fin de que guardemos todas las palabras de esta ley.
1:20-22. In response to the fierceness of Satan’s rapid fourfold assault, Job . . . tore his robe, symbolizing inner turmoil and shock (2:12; Gen. 37:29, 34; 44:13; Jud. 11:35), and shaved his head (Isa. 15:2; Jer. 48:37; Ezek. 7:18), depicting the loss of his personal glory. Falling to the ground, not in despair, but in obeisance to God, Job worshiped. Job recognized that his loss resembled his birth and his death: he had been naked at birth, and he would be naked at death. Similarly, now he was figuratively naked. The words naked I will depart (lit., ”return there“) suggest that he would return to his mother’s womb. But how could that be? Speaking of the womb of one’s mother was sometimes a poetic way of referring to the earth (Ps. 139:15; Ecc. 5:15; 12:7). The connection is obvious; for man, formed in the womb, is also made ”from dust from the ground“ (Gen. 2:7; Gen. 3:19; Job 10:9; 34:15; Ps. 103:14), and the earth, when it yields crops, ”living“ things, is something like a mother giving birth to a baby. Recognizing God’s sovereign rights (The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away), Job praised the Lord. It is truly remarkable that Job followed adversity with adoration, woe with worship. Unlike so many people, he did not give in to bitterness; he refused to blame God for wrongdoing (Job 2:10). Job’s amazing response showed Satan was utterly wrong in predicting that Job would curse God. Devotion is possible without dollars received in return; people can be godly apart from material gain. Job’s saintly worship at the moment of extreme loss and intense grief verified God’s words about Job’s godly character.
* The hosts of heaven and of hell watched to see how Job would respond to the loss of his wealth and his children. He expressed his grief in a manner normal for that day, for God expects us to be human (1 Thes. 4:13). After all, even Jesus wept (John 11:35). But then Job worshiped God and uttered a profound statement of faith (Job 1:21). First, he looked back to his birth: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb.” Everything Job owned was given to him by God, and the same God who gave it had the right to take it away. Job simply acknowledged that he was a steward. Then Job looked ahead to his death: “and naked shall I return.” He would not return to his mother’s womb, because that would be impossible. He would go to “Mother Earth,” be buried, and turn to dust. (The connection between “birth” and “Mother Earth” is seen also in Ps. 139:13–15.) Nothing that he acquired between his birth and death would go with him into the next world. Paul wrote, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7). Finally, Job looked up and uttered a magnificent statement of faith: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Instead of cursing God, as Satan said Job would do, Job blessed the Lord! Anybody can say, “The Lord gave” or “The Lord hath taken away”; but it takes real faith to say in the midst of sorrow and suffering, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God with folly” (v. 22).
1Pet.1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed
In the Hebrew there is a play here on one root word, Satan using it with the meaning of cursing, and Job with the meaning of blessing.
7812. שָׁחָה shāchāh: A verb meaning to bow down, to prostrate oneself, to crouch, to fall down, to humbly beseech, to do reverence, to worship. The primary meaning of the word is to bow down. This verb is used to indicate bowing before a monarch or a superior and paying homage to him or her (Gen. 43:28). In contexts such as Genesis 24:26, šāḥāh is used to indicate bowing down in worship to Yahweh. The psalmists used this word to describe all the earth bowing down in worship to God as a response to His great power (Ps. 66:4); or bowing down in worship and kneeling before the Lord (Ps. 95:6). This act of worship is given to God because He deserves it and because those that are speaking are people of His pasture. The word is also used of Joseph when he described the sheaves of his brothers and parents bowing down to his sheaf after it stood upright in a dream that he had (Gen. 37:7). Gideon also interacted with a dream through which God spoke. When he overheard a man telling his friend a dream that the man had and its interpretation, he worshiped God (Judg. 7:15). Joshua instructed the people of Israel not to associate with the nations remaining around them and not to bow down to or serve any of their gods. He instructed Israel to hold fast to the true God, Yahweh (Josh. 23:7). In Zephaniah, the word is also used for worship. When Yahweh destroys all the gods of the land, the nations on every shore will worship Him (Zeph. 2:11).
7812 שָׁחָה [shachah /shaw·khaw/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 2360; GK 8817; 172 occurrences; AV translates as “worship” 99 times, “bow” 31 times, “bow down” 18 times, “obeisance” nine times, “reverence” five times, “fall down” three times, “themselves” twice, “stoop” once, “crouch” once, and translated miscellaneously three times. 1 to bow down. 1a (Qal) to bow down. 1b (Hiphil) to depress (fig). 1c (Hithpael). 1c1 to bow down, prostrate oneself. 1c1a before superior in homage. 1c1b before God in worship. 1c1c before false gods. 1c1d before angel.
שָׁחָה shachah (1005b); a prim. root; to bow down:— bow(5), bow ourselves down(1), bow yourselves down(1), bow down(21), bowed(16), bowed in worship(1), bowed themselves down(2), bowed down(14), bowing(1), bowing down(1), bows down(1), did homage(1), down in homage(1), homage(1), lie down(1), paid homage(3), prostrate(2), prostrated(13), prostrating(1), weighs it down(1), worship(47), worshiped(31), worshiping(3), worships(2).
1288. בָּרַךְ bāraḵ: A verb meaning to bless, kneel, salute, or greet. The verb derives from the noun knee and perhaps suggests the bending of the knee in blessing. Its derived meaning is to bless someone or something. The verb is used when blessing God (Gen. 9:26) or people (Num. 24:9). God used this verb when He blessed Abraham in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:3). The word is used intensively when God blesses people or people bless each other (Josh. 17:14). When the word is used reflexively, it describes a person blessing or congratulating himself (Deut. 29:19). Other meanings are to bend the knee (2 Chr. 6:13); and to greet someone with a salutation or friendliness (1 Sam. 25:14).
1289. בְּרַךְ beraḵ: I. An Aramaic verb meaning to kneel. It describes Daniel’s practice of kneeling while he prayed to his God three times daily facing Jerusalem (Dan. 6:10).
II. An Aramaic verb meaning to bless, to praise. It describes Daniel’s and Nebuchadnezzar’s reverent verbal response to God who had helped them (Dan. 2:19, 20; 3:28; 4:34) in special ways.
1288 בָּרַךְ, בָּרַךְ [barak /baw·rak/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 285; GK 1384 and 1385; 330 occurrences; AV translates as “bless” 302 times, “salute” five times, “curse” four times, “blaspheme” twice, “blessing” twice, “praised” twice, “kneel down” twice, “congratulate” once, “kneel” once, “make to kneel” once, and translated miscellaneously eight times. 1 to bless, kneel. 1a (Qal). 1a1 to kneel. 1a2 to bless. 1b (Niphal) to be blessed, bless oneself. 1c (Piel) to bless. 1d (Pual) to be blessed, be adored. 1e (Hiphil) to cause to kneel. 1f (Hithpael) to bless oneself. 2 (TWOT) to praise, salute, curse.
barak (138c); a prim. root; to kneel, bless:— abundantly bless(1), actually blessed(1), bless(111), bless is blessed(1), bless me indeed(1), bless them at all(1), blessed(167), blessed be those who bless(1), blessed is everyone who blesses(1), blesses(10), blessing(1), boast(1), congratulates(1), curse(3), cursed(3), curses(1), greatly bless(1), greet(2), greeted(1), had to bless(1), kneel(1), kneel down(1), knelt(1), persisted in blessing(1), pronounce blessing(1), salute(1), salutes(1), surely bless(1), thanked(1).
Title: As with other books of the Bible, Job bears the name of the narrative’s primary character. This name might have been derived from the Hebrew word for “persecution,” thus meaning “persecuted one,” or from an Arabic word meaning “repent,” thus bearing the name “repentant one.” The author recounts an era in the life of Job, in which he was tested and the character of God was revealed. New Testament writers directly quote Job two times (Rom. 11:35; 1 Cor. 3:19), plus Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11 show Job was a real person.
Author and Date: The book does not name its author. Job is an unlikely candidate because the book’s message rests on Job’s ignorance of the events that occurred in heaven as they related to his ordeal. One Talmudic tradition suggests Moses as author since the land of Uz (1:1) was adjacent to Midian where Moses lived for 40 years, and he could have obtained a record of the story there. Solomon is also a good possibility due to the similarity of content with parts of the book of Ecclesiastes, as well as the fact that Solomon wrote the other Wisdom books (except Psalms, and he did author Pss. 72; 127). Though he lived long after Job, Solomon could have written about events that occurred long before his own time, in much the same manner as Moses was inspired to write about Adam and Eve. Elihu, Isaiah, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, and Ezra have also been suggested as possible authors, but without support.
The date of the book’s writing may be much later than the events recorded therein. This conclusion is based on: 1) Job’s age (42:16); 2) his life span of nearly 200 years (42:16) which fits the patriarchal period (Abraham lived 175 years; Gen. 25:7); 3) the social unit being the patriarchal family; 4) the Chaldeans who murdered Job’s servants (1:17) were nomads and had not yet become city dwellers; 5) Job’s wealth being measured in livestock rather than gold and silver (1:3; 42:12); 6) Job’s priestly functions within his family (1:4, 5); and 7) a basic silence on matters such as the covenant of Abraham, Israel, the Exodus, and the law of Moses. The events of Job’s odyssey appear to be patriarchal. Job, on the other hand, seemed to know about Adam (31:33) and the Noahic flood (12:15). These cultural/historical features found in the book appear to place the events chronologically at a time probably after Babel (Gen. 11:1–9) but before or contemporaneous with Abraham (Gen. 11:27ff.).
Background and Setting: This book begins with a scene in heaven that explains everything to the reader (1:6–2:10). Job was suffering because God was contesting with Satan. Job never knew that, nor did any of his friends, so they all struggled to explain suffering from the perspective of their ignorance, until finally Job rested in nothing but faith in God’s goodness and the hope of His redemption. That God vindicated his trust is the culminating message of the book. When there are no rational, or even theological, explanations for disaster and pain, trust God.
Historical and Theological Themes: The occasion and events that follow Job’s sufferings present significant questions for the faith of believers in all ages. Why does Job serve God? Job is heralded for his righteousness, being compared with Noah and Daniel (Ezek. 14:14–20), and for his spiritual endurance (James 5:11). Several other questions are alluded to throughout Job’s ordeal, for instance, “Why do the righteous suffer?” Though an answer to that question may seem important, the book does not set forth such an answer. Job never knew the reasons for his suffering and neither did his friends. The righteous sufferer does not appear to learn about any of the heavenly court debates between God and Satan that precipitated his pain. In fact, when finally confronted by the Lord of the universe, Job put his hand over his mouth and said nothing. Job’s silent response in no way trivialized the intense pain and loss he had endured. It merely underscored the importance of trusting God’s purposes in the midst of suffering because suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by perfect divine wisdom. In the end, the lesson learned was that one may never know the specific reason for his suffering; but one must trust in Sovereign God. That is the real answer to suffering.
The book treats two major themes and many other minor ones, both in the narrative framework of the prologue (chaps. 1, 2) and epilogue (42:7–17), and in the poetic account of Job’s torment that lies in between (3:1–42:6). A key to understanding the first theme of the book is to notice the debate between God and Satan in heaven and how it connects with the 3 cycles of earthly debates between Job and his friends. God wanted to prove the character of believers to Satan and to all demons, angels, and people. The accusations are by Satan, who indicted God’s claims of Job’s righteousness as being untested, if not questionable. Satan accused the righteous of being faithful to God only for what they could get. Since Job did not serve God with pure motives, according to Satan, the whole relationship between him and God was a sham. Satan’s confidence that he could turn Job against God came, no doubt, from the fact that he had led the holy angels to rebel with him (Rev. 12:3, 4). Satan thought he could destroy Job’s faith in God by inflicting suffering on him, thus showing in principle that saving faith could be shattered. God released Satan to make his point if he could, but he failed, as true faith in God proved unbreakable. Even Job’s wife told him to curse God (2:9), but he refused; his faith in God never failed (13:15). Satan tried to do the same to Peter (Luke 22:31–34) and was unsuccessful in destroying Peter’s faith (John 21:15–19). When Satan has unleashed all that he can do to destroy saving faith, it stands firm (Rom. 8:31–39). In the end, God proved His point with Satan that saving faith can’t be destroyed no matter how much trouble a saint suffers, or how incomprehensible and undeserved it seems.
A second and related theme concerns proving the character of God to men. Does this sort of ordeal, in which God and His opponent Satan square off, with righteous Job as the test case, suggest that God is lacking in compassion and mercy toward Job? Not at all. As James says, “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and have seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). It was to prove the very opposite (42:10–17). Job says, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (2:10). God’s servant does not deny that he has suffered. He does deny that his suffering is a result of sin. Nor does he understand why he suffers. Job simply commits his ordeal with a devout heart of worship and humility (42:5, 6) to a sovereign and perfectly wise Creator—and that was what God wanted him to learn in this conflict with Satan. In the end, God flooded Job with more blessings than he had ever known.
The major reality of the book is the inscrutable mystery of innocent suffering. God ordains that His children walk in sorrow and pain, sometimes because of sin (Num. 12:10–12), sometimes for chastening (Heb. 12:5–12), sometimes for strengthening (2 Cor. 12:7–10; 1 Pet. 5:10), and sometimes to give opportunity to reveal His comfort and grace (2 Cor. 1:3–7). But there are times when the compelling issue in the suffering of the saints is unknowable because it is for a heavenly purpose that those on earth can’t discern (Ex. 4:11; John 9:1–3).
Job and his friends wanted to analyze the suffering and look for causes and solutions. Using all of their sound theology and insight into the situation, they searched for answers, but found only useless and wrong ideas, for which God rebuked them in the end (42:7). They couldn’t know why Job suffered because what happened in heaven between God and Satan was unknown to them. They thought they knew all the answers, but they only intensified the dilemma by their insistent ignorance. By spreading out some of the elements of this great theme, we can see the following truths in Job’s experience:
1) There are matters going on in heaven with God that believers know nothing about; yet, they affect their lives;
2) Even the best effort at explaining the issues of life can be useless;
3) God’s people do suffer. Bad things happen all the time to good people, so one cannot judge a person’s spirituality by his painful circumstances or successes;
4) Even though God seems far away, perseverance in faith is a most noble virtue since God is good and one can safely leave his life in His hands;
5) The believer in the midst of suffering should not abandon God, but draw near to Him, so out of the fellowship can come the comfort—without the explanation; and
6) Suffering may be intense, but it will ultimately end for the righteous and God will bless abundantly.
Interpretive Challenges: The most critical interpretive challenge involves the book’s primary message. Although often thought to be the pressing issue of the book, the question of why Job suffers is never revealed to Job, though the reader knows that it involves God’s proving a point to Satan—a matter which completely transcends Job’s ability to understand. James’ commentary on Job’s case (5:11) draws the conclusion that it was to show God’s compassion and mercy, but without apology, offers no explanation for Job’s specific ordeal. Readers find themselves, putting their proverbial hands over their mouths, with no right to question or accuse the all-wise and all-powerful Creator, who will do as He pleases, and in so doing, both proves His points in the spiritual realm to angels and demons and defines His compassion and mercy. Engaging in “theodicy,” i.e., man’s attempt to defend God’s involvement in calamity and suffering, is shown to be appropriate in these circumstances, though in the end, it is apparent that God does not need nor want a human advocate. The book of Job poignantly illustrates Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God … ”
The nature of Job’s guilt and innocence raises perplexing questions. God declared Job perfect, upright, fearing God, and shunning evil (Job 1:1). But Job’s comforters raised a critical question based on Job’s ordeal: Had not Job sinned? On several occasions Job readily admitted to having sinned (7:21; 13:26). But Job questioned the extent of his sin as compared to the severity of his suffering. God rebuked Job in the end for his demands to be vindicated of the comforters’ accusations (Job 38–41). But He also declared that what Job said was correct and what the comforters said was wrong (42:7).
Another challenge comes in keeping separate the pre-understandings that Job and his comforters brought to Job’s ordeal. At the outset, all agreed that God punishes evil, rewards obedience, and no exceptions are possible. Job, due to his suffering innocently, was forced to conclude that exceptions are possible in that the righteous also suffer. He also observed that the wicked prosper. These are more than small exceptions to the rule, thus forcing Job to rethink his simple understanding about God’s sovereign interaction with His people. The type of wisdom Job comes to embrace was not dependent merely on the promise of reward or punishment. The long, peevish, disputes between Job and his accusers were attempts to reconcile the perceived inequities of God’s retribution in Job’s experiences. Such an empirical method is dangerous. In the end, God offered no explanation to Job, but rather called all parties to a deeper level of trust in the Creator, who rules over a sin-confused world with power and authority directed by perfect wisdom and mercy. See Ps. 73.
Understanding this book requires 1) understanding the nature of wisdom, particularly the difference between man’s wisdom and God’s, and 2) admitting that Job and his friends lacked the divine wisdom to interpret Job’s circumstances accurately, though his friends kept trying while Job learned to be content in God’s sovereignty and mercy. The turning point or resolution for this matter is found in Job 28 where the character of divine wisdom is explained: divine wisdom is rare and priceless; man cannot hope to purchase it; and God possesses it all. We may not know what is going on in heaven or what God’s purposes are, but we must trust Him. Because of this, the matter of believers suffering takes a back seat to the matter of divine wisdom
I. The Dilemma (1:1–2:13)
A. Introduction of Job (1:1–5)
B. Divine Debates with Satan (1:6–2:10)
C. Arrival of Friends (2:11–13)
II. The Debates (3:1–37:24)
A. The First Cycle (3:1–14:22)
1. Job’s first speech expresses despair (3:1–26)
2. Eliphaz’s first speech kindly protests and urges humility and repentance (4:1–5:27)
3. Job’s reply to Eliphaz expresses anguish and questions the trials, asking for sympathy in his pain (6:1–7:21)
4. Bildad’s first speech accuses Job of impugning God (8:1–22)
5. Job’s response to Bildad admits he is not perfect, but may protest what seems unfair (9:1–10:22)
6. Zophar’s first speech tells Job to get right with God (11:1–20)
7. Job’s response to Zophar tells his friends they are wrong and only God knows and will, hopefully, speak to him (12:1–14:22)
B. The Second Cycle (15:1–21:34)
1. Eliphaz’s second speech accuses Job of presumption and disregarding the wisdom of the ancients (15:1–35)
2. Job’s response to Eliphaz appeals to God against his unjust accusers (16:1–17:16)
3. Bildad’s second speech tells Job he is suffering just what he deserves (18:1–21)
4. Job’s response to Bildad cries out to God for pity (19:1–29)
5. Zophar’s second speech accuses Job of rejecting God by questioning His justice (20:1–29)
6. Job’s response to Zophar says he is out of touch with reality (21:1–34)
C. The Third Cycle (22:1–26:14)
1. Eliphaz’s third speech denounces Job’s criticism of God’s justice (22:1–30)
2. Job’s response to Eliphaz is that God knows he is without guilt, and yet in His providence and refining purpose He permits temporary success for the wicked (23:1–24:25)
3. Bildad’s third speech scoffs at Job’s direct appeal to God (25:1–6)
4. Job’s response to Bildad that God is indeed perfectly wise and absolutely sovereign, but not simplistic as they thought (26:1–14)
D. The Final Defense of Job (27:1–31:40)
1. Job’s first monologue affirms his righteousness and that man can’t discover God’s wisdom (27:1–28:28)
2. Job’s second monologue remembers his past, describes his present, defends his innocence, and asks for God to defend him (29:1–31:40)
E. The Speeches of Elihu (32:1–37:24)
1. Elihu enters into the debate to break the impasse (32:1–22)
2. Elihu charges Job with presumption in criticizing God, not recognizing that God may have a loving purpose, even in allowing Job to suffer (33:1–33)
3. Elihu declares that Job has impugned God’s integrity by claiming that it does not pay to lead a godly life (34:1–37)
4. Elihu urges Job to wait patiently for the Lord (35:1–16)
5. Elihu believes that God is disciplining Job (36:1–21)
6. Elihu argues that human observers can hardly expect to understand adequately God’s dealings in administering justice and mercy (36:22–37:24)
III. The Deliverance (38:1–42:17)
A. God Interrogates Job (38:1–41:34)
1. God’s first response to Job (38:1–40:2)
2. Job’s answer to God (40:3–5)
3. God’s second response to Job (40:6–41:34)
B. Job Confesses, Worships, and Is Vindicated (42:1–17)
1. Job passes judgment upon himself (42:1–6)
2. God rebukes Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (42:7–9)
3. God restores Job’s family, wealth, and long life (42:10–17)
BKC - Roy B. Zuck
Job and the Problem of Suffering. One of the best-known examples of undeserved suffering is recorded in the Book of Job In a matter of minutes Job, a prominently wealthy and godly man, lost all his material possessions, all his children, and his health. His wife gave him no support, for she suggested he end his misery by cursing God. Then, adding anguish upon anguish, his friends condemned him rather than consoled him. Furthermore God seemed to be ignoring Job, refusing for a long time to answer him and rise to his cause. Job’s intense suffering was financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Everyone was against him including, it seemed, even God, whom he had served faithfully. Yet Job was a spiritually and morally upright man (1:1, 8; 2:3). Could any suffering be more undeserved? Should not such a righteous person be blessed, not badgered, by God? The fact that Job, an outstanding citizen and upright person, had so much and then lost so much makes him a supreme example of affliction that defies human explanation. Many individuals can identify with Job, whose distresses were agonizingly prolonged and so seemingly unfair. Many people wonder why they should undergo affliction, why they should experience tragedy, heartache, and adversity. For anyone, suffering is hard to comprehend, but especially so when it strikes the undeserving. When pain does not seem to be punishment for wrongdoing, it is puzzling.
The Book of Job addresses the mystery of unmerited misery, showing that in adversity God may have other purposes besides retribution for wrongdoing. This book also addresses the problem of attitudes in affliction. Job’s experience demonstrates that a believer, while undergoing intense agony, need not renounce God. Question Him, yes; but not deny Him. Like Job, he may long for an explanation of his experience; but being unable to comprehend the cause of his calamity, he need not curse God. Though Job came close to doing so, he did not actually denounce God as Satan had predicted.
The Book of Job also teaches that to ask why, as Job did (3:11-12, 16, 20), is not wrong. But to demand that God answer why, as Job also did (13:22; 19:7; 31:15), is wrong. To insist that God explain one’s adversities is inappropriate for it places man above God and challenges God’s sovereignty.
Literary Style. The Book of Job has been heralded as a masterpiece unequaled in all literature. Thomas Carlyle’s often-quoted statement about Job bears repeating: ”There is nothing written, I think, in the Bible or out of it, of equal literary merit“ The Book of Job has a unique structure. It is a mixture of prose and poetry, and of monologue and dialogue. The prologue (chaps. 1-2) and the epilogue (42:7-17) are narrative prose; the lengthy material in between is poetry (except the opening verse in each chapter that introduces a new speech, and 32:1-6a). This prose-poetry-prose pattern, though seen in other compositions of the ancient Near East, is unique among the books of the Bible. Another way of viewing the structure of the book is seen in the chart ”Parallels in the Structure of the Book of Job“ Irony is used throughout the book; some of the numerous examples are mentioned in the commentary The literary form of the Book of Job is probably a composite of a lawsuit (several legal terms are frequently used by Job, his friends, and God), a controversy dialogue or wisdom disputation, and a lament. Job voiced many laments against himself, God, and his enemies Job is an outstanding literary production also because of its rich vocabulary. Dozens of words in this book occur nowhere else in the Old Testament. Five different words are used for lions (4:10-11), six synonyms are used for traps (18:8-10), and six for darkness (3:4-6; 10:21-22). The vocabulary of the Book of Job reveals influences from several languages besides Hebrew, including Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Sumerian, and Ugaritic The book abounds with similes and metaphors, many of them from nature. The book touches on many subjects including astronomy, geography, hunting, mining, travel, weather, zoology, and the terminology of law courts. No wonder Alfred Tennyson labeled the book ”the greatest poem of ancient or modern times“
Author. No one knows who wrote the Book of Job, when it was written, when its events occurred, or where Job lived. These facts, shrouded in mystery, add to the book’s appeal and charm. Suggestions on who may have authored the book include Job himself, Elihu (the fourth friend, who spoke toward the end of the book, chaps. 32-37), Moses, Solomon, Hezekiah, Isaiah, someone after the Babylonian Exile such as Ezra, and an anonymous author 200 years before Christ. Jewish tradition says that Moses wrote the book. Others argue for Solomon as the author because of his interest in poetic literature (e.g., Prov., Ecc., and Song) and a few similarities between Job and Proverbs (e.g., Job 28 and Prov. 8). The details of the lengthy conversations recorded in the Book of Job give the impression that it was written by an eyewitness. Job would recall as well as other eyewitnesses what was said. In the 140 years he lived after being restored to health, he would have had ample time to compile the work. This view seems more plausible than the view that an author hundreds of years later compiled what had been handed down by oral tradition over many centuries.In Old Testament times a person sometimes recorded events about himself in the third person. Of course, someone else may have written the last two verses (Job 42:16-17), which tell of Job’s age and death. That too was not uncommon (Deut. 1-33 was written by Moses, but Deut. 34, on Moses’ death, was added by someone else). Some scholars suggest that the Book of Job was compiled over many years by several authors and editors, each of whom added small portions to the initial work. However, numerous features point to a single author, and many cross-references within the book point to its unity.
Date. Views on the time when Job lived range all the way from the Patriarchal Age (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—approximately 2100 to 1900 b.c.) to the sixth century b.c. Several factors point to the time of the patriarchs:
1. Job lived 140 years after his calamities (42:16) so he may have lived to about 210. This corresponds roughly to the length of the patriarchs’ lives. Terah, Abraham’s father, died at the age of 205; Abraham lived to be 175; Isaac lived 180 years; and Jacob died at the age of 147.
2. Job’s wealth was reckoned in livestock (1:3; 42:12), which was also true of Abraham (Gen. 12:16; 13:2), and Jacob (Gen. 30:43; 32:5).
3. The Sabeans and Chaldeans (Job 1:15, 17) were nomads in Abraham’s time, but in later years they were not nomadic.
4. The Hebrew word qeśîṭâh, translated ”piece of silver“ (42:11), is used elsewhere only twice (Gen. 33:19; Josh. 24:32), both times in reference to Jacob.
5. Job’s daughters were heirs of his estate along with their brothers (Job 42:15). This, however, was not possible later under the Mosaic Law if a daughter’s brothers were still living (Num. 27:8).
6. Literary works similar in some ways to the Book of Job were written in Egypt and Mesopotamia around the time of the patriarchs.
7. The book of Job includes no references to the Mosaic institutions (priesthood, laws, tabernacle, special religious days and feasts).
8. The name šadday is used of God 31 times in Job (compared with only 17 times elsewhere in the OT) and was a name familiar to the patriarchs (see Gen. 17:1; Ex. 6:3).
9. Several personal and place names in the book were also associated with the patriarchal period. Examples include (a) Sheba, a grandson of Abraham (Gen. 25:3), and the Sabeans from Sheba (Job 1:15; 6:19); (b) Tema, another grandson of Abraham (Gen. 25:15), and Tema, a location in Arabia (Job 6:19); (c) Eliphaz, a son of Esau (Gen. 36:4), and Eliphaz, one of Job’s companions (Job 2:11; these two Eliphazes, however, are not necessarily the same person); (d) Uz, a nephew of Abraham (Gen. 22:21), and Uz, where Job lived (Job 1:1). Though it cannot be stated with certainty, possibly Job lived in Jacob’s time or shortly thereafter.
Job was a common West Semitic name in the second millennium b.c. Job was also the name of a 19th-century-b.c. prince in the Egyptian Execration texts. Other occurrences of the name are found in the Tell el-Amarna letters (ca. 1400 b.c.) and in Ugaritic texts.
Wiersbe - “You have heard of the patience [endurance] of Job” (James 5:11).
Yes, many people have heard about Job and his trials; but not many people understand what those trials were all about and what God was trying to accomplish. Nor do they realize that Job suffered as he did so that God’s people today might learn from his experiences how to be patient in suffering and endure to the end. When I decided to write about Job, I said to my wife, “I wonder how much suffering we’ll have to go through so I can write this book.” (I don’t want to write or preach in an impersonal and academic way. The Word has to become real to me, or I can’t make it real to others.) Little did we realize the trials that God would permit us to experience! But we can testify that God is faithful, He answers prayer, and He always has a wonderful purpose in mind (Jer. 29:11). You too may have to go through the furnace in order to study the Book of Job and really grasp its message. If so, don’t be afraid! By faith, just say with Job, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, eQ¸). Gold fears no fire. Whatever we have that is burned up and left behind in the furnace wasn’t worth having anyway. As we study the Book of Job together, I trust that two things will be accomplished in your life: you will learn to be patient in your own trials, and you will learn how to help others in their trials. Your world is filled with people who need encouragement, and God may be preparing you for just that ministry. Either way, I hope this book helps you. A Suggested Outline of the Book of Job
I. Job’s Distress—1–3
1. His Prosperity—1:1–5
2. His Adversity-1:6—2:13
loss of wealth—family—health
3. His Perplexity—3:1–26
II. Job’s Defense—4–37
1. The First Round—4–14
a. Eliphaz—4–5—Job’s reply, 6–7
b. Bildad—8—Job’s reply, 9–10
c. Zophar—11—Job’s reply, 12–14
2. The Second Round—15–21
a. Eliphaz—15—Job’s reply, 16–17
b. Bildad—18—Job’s reply, 19–20
c. Zophar—20—Job’s reply, 21
3. The Third Round—22–37
a. Eliphaz—22—Job’s reply, 23–24
b. Bildad—25—Job’s reply, 26–31
III. Job’s Deliverance—38–42
1. God Humbles Job—38:1–42:6 (see 40:3–5 and 42:1–6)
2. God Honors Job—42:7–17
a. God rebukes his critics—42:7–10
b. God restores his wealth—42:11–17
Wycliff - Title. The name of the book and its hero, ˒iyyôb, appears in extra-Biblical texts as early as 2000 B.C. Its monosyllabic English form, Job, derives from the Vulgate (i.e., Latin) version.
Literary Genre. The central core of the book is poetry, set like a gem within a prologue and an epilogue of epic prose. Such ABA structures are found elsewhere in ancient literature. For example, Hammurabi placed his laws within a prologue and an epilogue of poetry. And an Egyptian work, The Eloquent Peasant, frames the peasant’s nine semipoetic protests within a prose prologue and an epilogue. Along with Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and, in a sense, the Song of Solomon, Job belongs to the Wisdom (ḥokmâ) genre, a type of writing amply illustrated in a variety of forms in ancient Near Eastern literature. Within the canon of Old Testament Scripture, the distinctive contribution of the Wisdom books is that they expound the relevance of the foundational covenant revelation through Moses to the great issues of man’s life in this world, more specifically, of man’s life apart from the peculiarly theocratic context of Israelite history. There are many formal similarities between Job and various extra-Biblical Wisdom pieces; e.g., dialogue style, and motifs like the problem of suffering and the longing for death. Nevertheless, in its essential teaching, Job differs altogether from the non-Biblical Wisdom literature because it represents the unique message of redemptive revelation, the wisdom of God which makes foolish the wisdom of men. Even in its literary structure, considered as a whole, it is unique—a masterpiece universally acclaimed. Closely related to the literary form is the question of historicity. Certainly Job was a historical person (Ezk 14:14, 20; Jas 5:11), and his actual experience was substantially as recorded in this book. Nevertheless, the magnificient poetry of the several discourses has compelled general assent to the conclusion that the treatment of the account here is not literal but free. Moreover, the semipoetic epic style of the prologue and epilogue (with their strophic structure and refrains), though it does not require the view that the narrative is legendary, suggests the possibility of a free, figurative treatment of some details.
Authorship and Date. Discussions of the authorship of Job by most modern critics are complicated by the critics’ doubts as to the unity of the book as we have it. The evidence is not primarily external, for though the LXX text of Job is about one-fifth shorter than the Masoretic text, its omissions are clearly secondary. The sections that have been most widely regarded as additions to an original basic work are the prologue and the epilogue, the poem on wisdom (ch. 28), the Elihu material (chs. 32–37), and part or all of the Lord’s discourses (chs. 38–41). Also, chapters 24–27 are regarded as seriously disarranged. However, strong defense of the integrity of our present text is found in the masterly structural unity of the whole and the rich interrelationships of all the parts.
The question of date has received every possible answer, which indicates the difficulty of determining the time precisely. The date of the writing of the book is not to be confused with the date of the history narrated. The man Job apparently lived in early, patriarchal times. We note, for example, the longevity of Job, as well as the not inconsiderable practice of true religion (attended by special supernatural revelation) outside the bounds of the Abrahamic covenant, and the early economic and political developments reflected in the book. The question regarding the dating of the book, then, is: How long was the story of the patriarch Job transmitted—whether orally or at least partially in writing—before the anonymous Israelite writer, under divine inspiration, transformed the tradition into the canonical book of Job. The majority of negative critics favors an Exilic or post-Exilic date, their judgment being influenced by the way they construe the interdependence of Job, Isaiah, and Jeremiah—and by their dating of the pertinent Isaiah passages. The most extreme dating (2nd century B.C.) seems to be decisively contradicted by fragments of Joban manuscripts included among the Dead Sea finds, especially those in the old Hebrew script. The grandeur and spontaneity of the book and its deeply empathic re-creation of the sentiments of men standing early in the progress of revelation point to the early pre-Exilic period, before the doctrinal, especially, the eschatological, contribution of the prophets. Many conservative scholars have favored a date in Solomon’s time, that being the great age of Biblical Wisdom literature (cf., e.g., the similarities of Job to Psalms 88 and 89, which are from the Solomonic age; cf. I Kgs 4:31).
Theme. Through the medium of the problem of theodicy, the book of Job sounds anew the central religious demand of the Covenant. It calls men to unreserved consecration to their sovereign Lord. And this way of the Covenant, this consecration to the transcendent, incomprehensible Creator, it identifies with the way of wisdom. Thereby it presents the Church with its proper testimony to redemptive revelation before the wisdom schools of the world.
Open - THE BOOK OF JOB Job is perhaps the earliest book of the Bible. Set in the period of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph), it tells the story of a man who loses everything—his wealth, his family, his health—and wrestles with the question, Why?
The book begins with a heavenly debate between God and Satan, moves through three cycles of earthly debates between Job and his friends, and concludes with a dramatic “divine diagnosis” of Job’s problem. In the end, Job acknowledges the sovereignty of God in his life and receives back more than he had before his trials.
Iyȳob is the Hebrew title for this book, and the name has two possible meanings. If derived from the Hebrew word for persecution, it means “Persecuted One.” It is more likely that it comes from the Arabic word meaning “To Come Back” or “Repent.” If so, it may be defined “Repentant One.” Both meanings apply to the book. The Greek title is Iob, and the Latin title is Iob.
THE AUTHOR OF JOB The author of Job is unknown, and there are no textual hints as to his identity. Commentators, however, have been generous with suggestions: Job, Elihu, Moses, Solomon, Isaiah, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, and Ezra have all been nominated. The non-Hebraic cultural background of this book may point to Gentile authorship. The rabbinic traditions are inconsistent, but one talmudic tradition suggests that Moses wrote the book. The land of Uz (1:1) is adjacent to Midian, where Moses lived for forty years, and it is conceivable that Moses obtained a record of the dialogue left by Job or Elihu.
THE TIME OF JOB Lamentations 4:21 locates Uz in the area of Edom, southeast of the Dead Sea. This is also in the region of northern Arabia, and Job’s friends come from nearby countries.
It is important to distinguish the date of the events in Job from the date of its writing. Accurate dating of the events is difficult because there are no references to contemporary historical occurrences. However, a number of facts indicate a patriarchal date for Job, perhaps between Genesis 11 and 12 or not long after the time of Abraham: (1) Job lived 140 years after the events in the book (42:16), his life span must have been close to 200 years. This fits the patriarchal period (Abraham lived 175 years, Gen. 25:7). (2) Job’s wealth is measured in terms of livestock (1:3; 42:12) rather than gold and silver. (3) Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Job is the priest of his family and offers sacrifices. (4) There are no references to Israel, the Exodus, the Mosaic Law, or the tabernacle. (5) Fitting Abraham’s time, the social unit in Job is the patriarchal family clan. (6) The Chaldeans who murder Job’s servants (1:17) are nomads and have not yet become city-dwellers. (7) Job uses the characteristic patriarchal name for God, Shaddai (“the Almighty”), thirty-one times. This early term is found only seventeen times in the rest of the Old Testament. The rare use of Yahweh “the Lord” also suggests a pre-Mosaic date. Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11 show that Job was a historical person. Several theories have been advanced for the date of writing: (1) It was written shortly after the events occurred, perhaps by Job or Elihu. (2) It was written by Moses in Midian (1485–1445 b.c.). (3) It was written in the time of Solomon (c. 950 b.c.). (Job is similar to other wisdom literature of this time; compare the praises of wisdom in Job 28 and Proverbs 8. The problem here is the great time lag of about a thousand years.) (4) It was written during or after the Babylonian captivity.
THE CHRIST OF JOB Job acknowledges a Redeemer (see 19:25–27) and cries out for a mediator (9:33; 25:4; 33:23). The book raises problems and questions which are answered perfectly in Christ who identifies with our sufferings (Heb. 4:15). Christ is the believer’s Life, Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate.
KEYS TO JOB
Key Word: Sovereignty—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 all creation. The debate in chapters 3–37 regards whether God would allow this 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 his concept of God. Even this “blameless” man (1:1) needs to repent when he becomes proud and self-righteous. He has to come to the end of his own resources, humble himself, and acknowledge the greatness and majesty of the Lord. Job teaches that God is Lord “of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). He is omniscient, omnipotent, and good. As such, His ways are sometimes incomprehensible to us but He can always be trusted. Without the divine perspective in chapters 1 and 2 and in 38–42, chapters 3–37 are a mystery. Job does not have access to chapters 1 and 2, but he is responsible to trust God when all appearances are contrary. Suffering is not always associated with sin; God often sovereignly uses it to test and teach.
Key Verses: Job 13:15; 37:23, 24—“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him” (13:15).
“As 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” (37:23, 24).
Key Chapter: Job 42—The last chapter of the book 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.
SURVEY OF JOB 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 and 2) changes to complaining and growing self-righteousness (3–31; see 32:1 and 40:8), but his repentance (42:1–6) 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. The Book of Job divides into three parts: the dilemma of Job (1 and 2), the debates of Job (3–37), and the deliverance of Job (38–42).
The Dilemma of Job (1 and 2): Job is not a logical candidate for disaster (see 1:1, 8). His moral integrity and his selfless service to God heighten the dilemma. Behind the scene, Satan (“Accuser“) charges that no one loves God from pure motives, but only for material blessings (1:10). 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).
The Debates of Job (3–37): Although Job’s “comforters” reach wrong conclusions, they are his friends: of all who know Job, they are the only ones who come; they mourn with him in seven days of silent sympathy; they confront Job without talking behind his back. However, after Job breaks the silence, a three-round debate follows 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:
(1) God does not hear me (13:3, 24; 19:7; 23:3–5; 30:20);
(2) God is punishing me (6:4; 7:20; 9:17); and
(3) God allows the wicked to prosper (21:7).
His defenses are much longer than his friends’ 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.
The Deliverance of Job (38–42): After Elihu’s preparatory discourse, God Himself 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 then 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 issue of the debate. However, Job catches a glimpse of the divine perspective; and when he acknowledges 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. “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 5:11; see James 1:12).
|FOCUS||DILEMMA OF JOB||DEBATES OF JOB||DELIVERANCE OF JOB|
|DIVISION||CONTROVERSY OF GOD AND SATAN||FIRST CYCLE OF DEBATE||SECOND CYCLE OF DEBATE||THIRD CYCLE OF DEBATE||FINAL DEFENSE OF JOB||SOLUTION OF ELIHU||CONTROVERSY OF GOD WITH JOB|
|LOCATION||LAND OF UZ (NORTH ARABIA)|
|TIME||PATRIARCHAL PERIOD (c. 2000 b.c.)|
Nelson - At one time or another, almost everyone has felt like Job. While going through trials and times of suffering, we are often overwhelmed by self-pity. We want an explanation for why God allows trials to happen to us. The Book of Job records the troubling questions, the terrifying doubts, and the very realanguish of a sufferer. The Book of Job can help us in the time when we are surrounded with troubles by giving us a glimpse of God’s perspective on our suffering.
Historical Setting • Numerous details in the Book of Job indicate a patriarchal setting for its events: (1) Job’s wealth is measured in livestock (1:3; 42:12), the same way Abraham and Jacob’s wealth is measured (Gen. 12:16; 13:2; 30:43; 32:5). (2) The Sabeans and Chaldeans are portrayed as nomadic marauders (1:15, 17), indicating an early date. (3) The Hebrew word for piece of silver in Job (42:11) is otherwise found only in conjunction with the patriarch Jacob (Gen. 33:19; Josh. 24:32). (4) Without a priesthood or a sanctuary, Job offered sacrifices to God in a patriarchal fashion (1:5). (5) Job’s longevity is consistent with the life spans of the patriarchs (42:16). (6) The preference in the poetic sections of the book for the divine name Shaddai over the divine name Yahweh may indicate a period before the Exodus (see Ex. 3:14, 15). The text indicates that the events of Job occurred in the land of Uz (1:1), but the location of Uz is unknown. That Job was the greatest among the people of the East (1:3) indicates that Job lived east of the Jordan River. Some have concluded that Uz was located in Syria or northwest Mesopotamia. However, most writers think Uz was located near Edom, because many of the proper names in the Book of Job occur in the genealogy of Esau, the father of the Edomites (Gen. 36).
Author and Date • There is no consensus about who wrote the Book of Job or when it was written. Suggestions for an author include Job, Elihu, Solomon, and even Moses.As for the time of writing, there is strong literary evidence that the Book of Job was compiled and written during the time of Solomon, when wisdom literature flourished. The mention of iron tools and weapons (19:24; 20:24; 40:18) and even mining (28:2) implies a date during the Iron Age (after 1200 b.c.). Moreover, the description of a horse in a military context (39:19–25) may indicate the mounted warhorse, which was used at the earliest around the tenth century b.c. Furthermore, at least two passages in Job may allude to biblical passages from the Solomonic era (compare 7:17, 18 with Ps. 8:4; compare 28:28 with Prov. 3:7; 9:10). These various strands of evidence may indicate that Job was written around Solomon’s reign.
Structure • The basic structure of the Book of Job consists of a prose framework in the prologue (chs. 1; 2) and epilogue (42:7–17) enclosing the poetic body of the book (3:1–42:6). There are significant differences between the poetic body and the prologue and epilogue. The prologue and epilogue present Job as a patient “saint” who righteously endured suffering. On the other hand, the poetic body presents Job as despairing of fair treatment by God (9:1–3, 13–21). According to some critics, these differences indicate that the two sections are separate works by different authors. According to this view, the compiler of Job simply failed to reconcile the “two Jobs.”
The apparent contradictions within Job should not be considered an indication of poor editing, but the deliberate work of an accomplished author. The tension between the “patient” Job and the “impatient” Job contributes to the overall message of the book. It shows Job as a real person. He was no “plaster saint,” who suffered stoically. Instead, he struggled with his emotions and feelings as we do today. The Book of Job teaches that it is not wrong for a person to ask the question why, as Job did repeatedly (see ch. 3). But these questions must not grow into accusations against the sovereign Lord.
Themes • The Book of Job explores all the traditional Middle Eastern explanations of the problem of the “righteous sufferer.” These include: (1) the inherent sinfulness of the human race (5:6, 7; 15:14, 16); (2) the accusation that God is unjust (9:22–24); and (3) the limitations of human understanding (11:7–9). But the main difference between the Book of Job and other ancient texts that address this same problem is God’s direct intervention in Job’s life. Thus the uniqueness of the Book of Job is not in its approach to the problem of suffering, but in its revelation of the sovereign God to whom everyone must properly relate. Sufferer and non- sufferer alike must humbly trust in God’s sovereign grace. Because Job and his friends were ignorant of Satan’s challenge to God, the Book of Job contains much bad theology and misapplied truth. It is important to read passages in the Book of Job in light of the message and purpose of the entire book. The proper response to the omnipotent God is submission and faith
The Book of Job repeatedly emphasizes the sovereignty and omnipotence of God. For instance, the Hebrew divine name Shaddai, usually translated as “Almighty,” is employed by all characters in the book. Eliphaz describes the Almighty as controlling the destiny of everyone (5:17–20) and as independent of humanity (22:2, 3). Bildad argues that the Almighty is just (8:3, 4) and sovereign in His rule over the universe (25:2, 3). Finally Zophar describes the ways of the Almighty as beyond human comprehension (11:7–10). Hence, Job’s friends use the name Shaddai to speak of God’s transcendence, as well as His sovereign power. This emphasis on the sovereignty of God refutes a simplistic understanding of divine retribution, which assumes that there is an automatic connection between one’s spirituality and prosperity on earth. Such was the basis of Satan’s accusation in the prologue that Job served God only for his own profit (1:9–11). Moreover, it is the basis for Eliphaz and Bildadþs advice to Job. Both claimed that Job’s suffering pointed to a hidden sin in Job’s life, because God certainly would not punish an upright person (4:7–11; 8:11–22; 18:5–21). But Godþs answer to Job refuted this false belief (38:1–39:30). The Lord declared Himself completely sovereign. He is not obligated to bless those who obey Him. All His actions are based on His gracious nature and His own free will. In this way, the Book of Job is an extended refutation of Satan’s challenge that prosperity is connected to people’s goodness, and consequently that people’s suffering is connected to their sin. In this way, the Book of Job teaches that the Lord is not bound to anyone’s preconceived theological system. Elihu’s speech on God’s greatness and His sovereign majesty over nature (36:1–37:24) serve as a prelude to the climax of the book: the Lord’s answer to Job (38:1–42:6). In His speech, God lowers Himself to Job’s level in order to answer Job’s questions. In the process, He reveals to all people that He is completely free, but also truly good. He is the sovereign and benevolent Creator who continues to determine the course of the universe according to His own hidden plan. Just like Job, we must learn to submit to the Almighty God and accept by faith that He has a good plan for us.