TREES snap like toothpicks or fly upwards, wrenched from the earth. Whole rooftops sail, cars tumble like toys, walls collapse, and a mountain of water crosses the shore and engulfs the land. A hurricane cuts and tears, and only solid foundations survive her unbridled fury. But those foundations can be used for rebuilding after the storm.
For any building, the foundations are critical. They must be deep enough and solid enough to withstand the weight of the building and other stresses. Lives are like buildings, and the quality of their foundations will determine the quality of the whole. Too often inferior materials are used, and when tests come, lives crumble.
Job was tested. With a life filled with prestige, possessions, and people, he was suddenly assaulted on every side, devastated, stripped down to his foundations. But his life was built on God, and he endured.
Job, the book, tells the story of Job, the man of God. It is a gripping drama of riches-to-rags-to-riches, a theological treatise about suffering and divine sovereignty, and a picture of faith that endures. As you read Job, analyse your life and check your foundations. And may you be able to say that when all is gone but God, he is enough.
Job was a prosperous farmer living in the land of Uz. He had thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock, a large family, and many servants. Suddenly Satan, the accuser, came before God claiming that Job was trusting God only because he was wealthy and everything was going well for him. And so the testing of Job’s faith began.
Satan was allowed to destroy Job’s children, servants, livestock, herdsmen, and home; but Job continued to trust in God. Next Satan attacked Job physically, covering him with painful sores. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die (2:9), but Job suffered in silence.
Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to visit him. At first they silently grieved with Job. But when they began they talk about the reasons for Job’s tragedies, they told him that sin and caused his suffering. They told him to confess his sins and turn back to God. But Job maintained his innocence.
Unable to convince Job of his sin, the three men fell silent (32:1). At this point, another voice – the young Elihu – entered the debate. Although his argument also failed to convince Job, it prepared the way for God to speak.
Finally, God spoke out of a mighty storm. Confronted with the great power and majesty of God, Job fell in humble reverence before God – speechless. God rebuked Job’s friends, and the drama ended with Job restored to happiness and wealth.
It is easy to think that we have all the answers. In reality, only God knows exactly why things happen as they do, and we must submit to him as our Sovereign. As you read this book, emulate Job and decide to trust God no matter what happens.
PURPOSE: To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and the meaning of true faith. It addresses the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?”
AUTHOR: Unknown, possibly Job. Some have suggested Moses, Solomon, or Elihu.
DATE WRITTEN: Unknown. Records events that probably occurred during the time of the patriarchs, approximately 2000-1800 B.C.
SETTING: The land of Uz, probably located northeast of Palestine, near desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates River.
KEY VERSE: “Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason’ “ (2:3).
KEY PEOPLE: Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Elihu the Buzite
SPECIAL FEATURES: Job is the first of the poetic books in the Hebrew Bible. Some believe this was the first book of the Bible to be written. The book gives us insights into the work of Satan. Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11 mention Job as a historical character.
Job is Tested (1:1-2:13) Job, a wealthy and upright man, lost his possessions, his children, and his health. Job did not understand why he was suffering. Why does God allow his children to suffer? Although there is an explanation, we may not know it while we are here on earth. In the meantime, we must always be ready for testing in our lives.
Three Friends Answer Job (3:1-31:40) Job’s friends wrongly assumed that suffering always came as a result of sin. With this in mind, they tried to persuade Job to repent of his sin. But the three friends were wrong. Suffering is not always a direct result of personal sin. When we experience severe suffering, it may not be out fault, so we don’t have to add to our pain by feeling guilty that some hidden sin is causing our trouble.
- First round of discussion
- Second round of discussion
- Third round of discussion
A Young Man Answers Job (32:1-37:24) A young man named Elihu, who had been listening to the entire conversation, criticised the three friends for being unable to answer Job. He said that although Job was a good man, he had allowed himself to become proud, and God was punishing him in order to humble him. This answer was partially true because suffering does purify our faith. But God is beyond our comprehension and we cannot know why he allows each instance of suffering to come into our lives. Our part is simply to remain faithful.
God Answers Job (38:1-41:34) God himself finally answered Job. God is in control of the world and only he understands why the good are allowed to suffer. This only becomes clear to us when we see God for who he is. We must courageously accept what God allows to happen in our lives and remain firmly committed to him.
Job Is Restored (42:1-17) Job finally learned that when nothing else was left, he had God, and that was enough. Through suffering, we learn that God is enough for our lives and our future. We must love God regardless of whether he allows blessing or suffering to come to us. Testing is difficult, but the result is often a deeper relationship with God. Those who endure the testing of their faith will experience God’s great rewards in the end.
EXPLANATION: Through no fault of his own, Job lost his wealth, children, and health. Even his friends were convinced that Job had brought this suffering upon himself. For Job, the greatest trial was not the pain or the loss; it was not being able to understand why God allowed him to suffer.
IMPORTANCE: Suffering can be, but is not always, a penalty for sin. In the same way, prosperity is not always a reward for being good. Those who love God are not exempt from trouble. Although we may not be able to understand fully the pain we experience, it can lead us to rediscover God.
EXPLANATION: Satan attempted to drive a wedge between Job and God by getting Job to believe that God’s governing of the world was not just and good. Satan had to ask God for permission to take Job’s wealth, children, and health away. Satan was limited to what God allowed.
IMPORTANCE: We must learn to recognise and not fear Satan’s attacks because Satan cannot exceed the limits that God sets. Don’t let any experience drive a wedge between you and God. Although you can’t control how Satan may attack, you can always choose how you will respond when it happens.
EXPLANATION: God is all-wise and all-powerful. His will is perfect, yet he doesn’t always act in ways that we understand. Job’s suffering didn’t make sense because everyone believed good people were supposed to prosper. When Job was at the point of despair, God spoke to him, showing him his great power and wisdom.
IMPORTANCE: Although God is present everywhere, at times he may seem far away. This may cause us to feel alone and to doubt his care for us. We should serve God for who he is, not what we feel. He is never insensitive to our suffering. Because God is sufficient, we must hold on to him.
EXPLANATION: Job’s friends were certain that they were correct in their judgment of him. God rebuked them for their pride and arrogance. Man’s wisdom is always partial and temporary, so undue pride in our own conclusions is sin.
IMPORTANCE: We must be careful not to judge others who are suffering. We may be demonstrating the sin of pride. We must be cautious in maintaining the certainty of our own conclusions about how God treats us. When we congratulate ourselves for being right, we become proud.
EXPLANATION: God alone knew the purpose behind Job’s suffering, and yet he never explained it to Job. In spite of this, Job never gave up on God – even in the midst of suffering. He never placed his hope in his experience, his wisdom, his friends, or his wealth. Job focused on God.
IMPORTANCE: Job showed the kind of trust we are to have. When everything is stripped away, we are to recognise that God is all we ever really had. We should not demand that God explain everything. God gives us himself, but not all the details of his plans. We must remember that this life, with all its pain, is not our final destiny.
©Dodgsons KingsWay International, 1973