There is much we do not know about the book of Job. Unlike many books in the Bible, we do not know who authored the book nor do we know when it was written. There is insufficient information to know when Job lived, but we can have confidence he was a real man (Ezekiel 14:14; James 5:11) who lived in Uz (Job 1:1) which is southeast of Palestine (the region associated with Edom). There is an absence of genealogical data which would lead us to believe Job was a Gentile who served as the spiritual leader for his family (Job 1:1-2, 5) perhaps during the patriarchal age.
Job’s faith and faithfulness to God is acclaimed in chapters 1 & 2. He “was blameless and upright,” he “feared God and shunned evil” (1:1, 8; 2:3). He was concerned about the spiritual welfare of his children (1:5). Even after many of his physical goods were lost and his servants and children were tragically killed, Job bowed himself and worshiped God (1:20-21).
The book of Job focuses on suffering. Why do people suffer? What is the source of suffering? How should we respond to suffering? Who will (should) help bear us through times of suffering? Will a man be faithful to God even in the midst of immense suffering?
Chapters 1 & 2 pull back the curtain of the spiritual realm and grant us a glimpse of the sons of God (angels) given account of themselves before the Lord. Satan came into the assembly looking to cause trouble. He argued that Job only served God because of the blessings he enjoyed, that God had put a protective hedge around Job, and that if it were gone, Job would forsake God. The Lord permitted the devil to wreak havoc in Job’s life, destroying his property and his family, and eventually his health. Through all this, and without know of why these things were happening, Job continued to serve God. While dealing with immense hardship, and not knowing why such things were happening, we find priceless words of faith:
- “With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13)
- “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)
- “…I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God…” (Job 19:25-26)
- “…the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28)
Job didn’t have much support. His wife told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). His three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar initially came to “mourn with him, and to comfort him” (Job 2:11), but very quickly they began to bombarded him with accusations of sin and urging him to repent (Job 4:7, 17; 8:4, 6; 11:6, etc.). He rightly called them “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2).
Through the course of his trials, Job experienced an array of emotions. There were even moments when he hated his life, wished he’d never been born, and sought for his life to end. The book highlights the darkness and despair which sufferings brings, and especially so when the trials seem unbearably difficult and incomprehensible. The great lesson from Job’s experience is that when life is overwhelming and troubles abound, we must trust in the Lord. Don’t allow our lack of understanding cause us to think God is unjust—He is just still. Don’t allow the magnitude of the oppression cause us to think God is no longer in control—He is still reigns in heaven. Don’t allow the misery of the trials cause us to think we are alone—we are not; God is with us and will bear us through.
At the close of the book, after Job’s friends have had much to say by way of accusation and condemnation and Job had equally as much to say in defense of himself, God spoke, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2). Job’s friends and Job himself had said much about God and His activities. They spoke out of ignorance. Human reasoning will not help us to understand the will of God nor the course of life. Job repented of uttering what he did not understand (Job 42:3) and is friends also made things right before God (Job 42:7-9). God restored Job’s losses (Job 42:10-15).
Next week we continue with Psalm…