INTRODUCTION TO JOB
The next 5 OT books we will be looking at in our OT series is Job, Psalms, Proverbs Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. These 5 books are sometimes called the poetic books of the Bible or the books of wisdom. The first book we will examine is the book of Job.
Job is a poetical drama based on historical facts. Chapters 1 and 2 and part of 42 are written in non-poetic form, but the rest of the book is poetry. The book of Job has been recognized as one of the greatest literary works in history. For example:
This book as several keywords: Suffering, trials, tested, patience, trust, and sovereignty of God.
It has several key verses:
Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Job 23:10 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Job 28:28And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.' "
Job 37:23 As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, In judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress. 24 Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart."
Key phrase: “For I know that my redeemer lives”
Key chapter is chapter 42 because in this chapter Job acknowledges the sovereignty of God ad admits is own lack of wisdom and he repents. The chapter closes with God accepting Job’s repentance and correcting Job’s 3 friends. God blesses Job with more than he had before all this suffering began.
The author and exact date is unknown. Some believe that Job may have written this book, but we do not know for sure. Many believe this is the first book written in the Bible and for good reason. There many hints in the book that show that these events happened during the patriarchal period. For instance;
1. The Law of Moses is never referred to.
2. Job takes on the role of a priest and offers up sacrifices for his family.
3. Job’s long lifespan is typical of the patriarchs as he lived another 140 years after God blessed him.
4. The Hebrew word qesiytah (kes-ee-taw), which is translated as a “piece of money” in Job 42:11 is only used in reference to the patriarchal period (Gen. 33:19; Jos. 24:32).
Some try to make this book to be just a made up story, but it is not and this backed up by Paul who quotes from Job 5:13 in 1 Cor. 3:19 and he quotes Job again in Rom 11:35. James talks about the patience of Job in James 5:11. Ezekiel mentions Noah, Daniel, and Job as being real people (Ezek. 14:14).
Main theme of the book is that we must patiently endure the trials of life without wavering in our trust in God. We must not think that our suffering is due to God’s wrath, and we must allow God’s grace to be sufficient for us. As Paul wrote in:
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Now let’s take a look at brief outline of Job:
1-2 God allows the devil to test Job.
3-31 Job and his 3 friends discuss why he is suffering.
32-37 Elihu gives his assessment of the situation.
38-41 God speaks and shows His sovereignty.
42 Job humbles himself before the Lord and is blessed.
The first thing we learn about Job is that he was an upright man that feared God and shunned evil. Now he was not perfect, but he was faithful enough that God allowed the devil to test him. The devil accused Job of only following after God because He had blessed him with a good fortune, and the devil told God that Job would not continue to follow God if were no longer blessed.
So the devil tempts Job with a series of loses that would be very difficult to endure:
Even after enduring trials like these, he would say thing like this:
Job 1:21 "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 2:10 You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Job proved the old devil wrong because he never turned his back God or gave up hope in the Lord. However, as time went on, Job began to speak like a desperate man (Job 6:26), and while overall he trusted in God there are at least 3 different areas he failed.
Even with these shortcomings, he never cursed God, and due to his overall endurance to his suffering, Job is considered to be a great example of endurance or patience as James declares:
James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance (KJV patience) of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord -- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Job teaches us that why we may not know why we are suffering, we must endure it, trust in God, and never turn our back on Him. No matter what happens to our bodies, as Christians we can know that the suffering we go through is only temporary, and it will not compare to the glory we receive in heaven for eternity.
Now let’s take a look a brief look at Job’s 3 friends and Elihu.
Eliphaz was the oldest and he spoke from his experience. He backed up his arguments by a supposed vision he received (4:12-21). His experience had taught him that the innocent do not suffer like Job (4:7-8).
Bildad was the traditionalist and he drew many of his arguments from what their forefathers had searched out. He was more direct than Elphaz. He told Job that his words were like a strong wind and if he was pure and upright, God would increase his prosperity instead of taking it away (8:1-3, 6-7).
Zophar is the extremist. He only spoke twice as where the other 2 friends spoke 3 times. He accused Job of lying and mocking and said know therefore that God exacts from you Less than your iniquity deserves (Job 11:6). Zophar also asked some great questions such as:
Job 11:7 "Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?
Elihu was younger than the others, and he remained silent out respect for these older men. When they finished speaking, he couldn’t wait to share with them his thoughts. In fact, he felt like he would burst open if he kept his words to himself (Job 32:18-19). First, he rebukes Job’s friends for their lack of wisdom (32:12-14). He said Job’s sin was his self-righteousness (33:8-12). He said Job’s pride caused him to question God’s goodness (34:9-10). He told him that God would have already removed his afflictions if it had not been for his pride, presumption, and wrath (36:16-18).
Of course Job defended himself to all the speeches made by his friends, but he did have the chance to defend himself to Elihu because God began to talk to Job out of a whirlwind and challenged Job to answer His questions. These questions were designed to show Job how small his knowledge was and how supreme God’s wisdom is.
Now let’s talk about the purpose of the book.
First, this book shows how God is all powerful, all knowing, and is worthy of praise just for being God. As:
Psalm 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
As I talked about earlier one of the things Satan accused God of was bribing Job to follow him. Basically Satan was saying that neither Job nor anyone else would praise God and serve Him if they had no blessings, but Satan was wrong. God is worthy of praise and serving even if the blessing are not there because He is our creator. Job understood this, which is why He never cursed God or completely turned from Him during his agonizing experience.
Second, this book shows how we do not always understand why we suffer certain things. Now God does not give a specific answer to this question, but this book teaches us that even when we suffer, we should never lose site of God and we should draw strength from Him. Now we may not be able to fully understand why things happen the way they do, but in the end we can be confident that God will help us and make good come out of the situation as Paul said:
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
This is what happened for Job. His friends were convinced he was suffering because of sin. While living in sin can cause someone to suffer, this is not why Job was suffering. Instead, Job suffering was testament to his faithfulness and it showed the devil how wrong he was about Job. Just as Paul stated, this traumatic event ended in good because Job was blessed more than he was before, which brings us to the third purpose of this book.
Third, this book teaches us the importance of endurance and patience. No matter what difficult trials we face in our lives, if we can learn to have the patience of Job, we will be blessed in the end, and we can rejoice knowing that God will be there for us.
Fourth, this book along with all the other O.T. books prepares the way for the coming of the Messiah. One writer says:
“Questions are raised, great sobs of agony are heard, which Jesus alone can answer. The book takes it place in the testimony of the ages that there is a blank in the human heart which Jesus alone can fill.”
We see the anticipation of Christ in several ways:
1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.
This book also helps understand why someone righteous like Jesus could become one of the greatest suffers for the cause God and man. Just as Job’s suffering defended God’s honor, Jesus’ suffering and death honored God and made it possible for us to have eternal life, which was justified by God. As Paul says,
Romans 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
As we make our way through the book of Job, we will discover more questions that Job had and things he longed for, but all of the things and all these questions have been answered through Christ. Through God’s Word and the intercession of Jesus, we have everything that Job desired and everything we need to endure suffering that comes our way.
John 11:26 "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
One last lesson that Job learned is that our lives are short and we have no guarantee of tomorrow. Job said:
Job 14:1 "Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue.
Job 7:6 "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle,
Job 9:25 "Now my days are swifter than a runner;
Job 24:22 … no man is sure of life.
Job is correct. Our life is but a vapor in comparison to eternity, so it is important for us to make the most of each day by living our life for God and trusting in His wisdom.
The last thing I want share with you is six truths that we learn from this grand book:
Luke 12:15 "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
Revelation 3:17 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- 18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In conclusion, this study of the book of Job will help you to be more compassionate to others that are suffering and it will help you to trust in God more and lean on His everlasting arms when you are suffering.
This overview of Job was adapted from “Know Your Bible” by Frank J Dunn and “The Book of Job” by Wayne Jackson. The rest of the lessons in this series have been adapted in part from Wayne Jackson’s book on Job.