Scriptures

Job 1

Introduction

‘Why?’ This is the most frequently asked question in every generation, by the young and old, rich and poor, well and sick. The book of Job is an emotionally intense story of a despondent and suffering man grappling with this question, debating with himself, his fellowman, and his Maker.

To every person who has looked upon a lifeless form of a loved one and cried in anguish, why? To everyone who has experienced pain almost intolerable and asked the question, why?

To every parent who has received the dreaded message that a beloved child would never return home and has brokenheartedly questioned, why? To every who had despaired in disappointment over friends and loved ones and asked, why?

To all who have had their weary and wretched midnight hours. To all who have pondered the most perplexing of all questions, What is life? What is death? Will man live again? Is God aware of what we do? Does He care?

Why do the righteous suffer while the wicked often live in seeming peace and prosperity? Why the undeserved sufferings in the world? Yes! In all these things Job is our sympathetic and understanding friend.

The Book

The Harper Bible Study, says the following.

‘This epic poem has been acknowledged by as many as one of the great literary works of all time. It has magnificence and sublimity which defy analysis. In scope and treatment, it moves majestically through the problem of suffering, seeking to resolve the dilemma in terms of human understanding.’

The friends of Job are skillfully depicted and their arguments are cogently presented. Through their words, as well as the words of Job himself, one is able to classify the characters who, in some sense, are representative of men everywhere.

The author does not find his solution in the dogmatic assertions of Jobs friends, who short-sightedly suppose that Job has personally sinned, rather he comes, full circle, back to God and bows in acceptance of the will of God which he may not always understand, for ‘we see through a glass darkly’.

Thomas Carlyle once wrote concerning the Book of Job.

‘It is the greatest thing ever written with a pen, there is nothing, I think, in the Bible or out of it with equal literary merit.’

From every viewpoint, it is incomparable. In form, there is nothing like it. It is a drama and may be divided into scenes and characters. The scenes are vivid. The characters are strong. The subjects dealt with are the most profound ever to challenge the mind of man. Surely the opening and closing scenes are intensely dramatic and resplendent.

Unlike a drama, however, the book’s major section is a poetic dialogue, externally quiet and still. Job and his friends sit and talk. But even this part of the book may be called a psychological drama, a drama of the inner being, showing the violent upheavals possible within the human heart.

Date

Many people believe that Job is the oldest book or at least equal to Genesis of the Old Testament books. Abraham may have been his contemporary. Liberals say he lived at the time of the Babylonian exile and the conservatives say it around the time of Solomon. But their views hold no substance because fragments have been found in Paleo Hebrew, before Hebrew writing. They were found with the dead sea scrolls.

It was written sometime from the Patriarchal age as there are no allusions to the Mosaic Law. If it was as late as Babylonian exile it would certainly mention the Law in this day. Job acts as a priest, Job 1:5, and unless he was of the tribe of the Levites that would be a mockery.

The length of Job’s life is typical of the patriarchs, Job 42:16. The Hebrew word ‘Kesitah’ is used in Job 42:11, and it means a piece of money and is only ever used in the patriarchal age, Genesis 33:19.

The Author

The composition is unknown and so, we cannot know who the author was. But like Hebrews, it does not take away from its inspiration. For what it is worth Moses may have.

Who was Job? Where did he live? When did he live? Who wrote the book? Nobody knows for sure. But it is just as well, for his problems are universal, not confined to age or time or location. All we need to know is that the book came from God.

The book gets its name from the central character Job. This name has been understood by some to mean ‘He who turns to God’. The book has been called ‘a historical poem’ and describes events which took place in the patriarchal age in the land of Uz, which is thought to have been in South-Eastern Edom. Job was a very wealthy man, enjoying every material blessing.

Suddenly catastrophe overtook him and he had to face personally the problem of human suffering. The book seeks to answer questions concerning human suffering. It is as relevant to our times as any book was ever written, for we live in an age when the question is frequently posed, why does a loving God allow suffering?

Most people think of him merely as ‘that old man who had a lot of boils and a lot of patience’. Beyond that, they have given little thought to a life which can do so much to strengthen the faith, courage, and hope of every child of God.

He was remarkable, not just as seen through the book but because we see his real-life through the book. We see his most wise in business matters which helped to make him such a rich man. He had livestock by the thousand. And his servants were numerous of both sexes.

It is little wonder that he was given the title of the ‘greatest man in the East’, in Job1:3. He was the father of 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls. He functioned as a priest for his family, offering burnt sacrifices for sins.

They lived in the land of Uz, somewhere east of Canaan, various locations have been suggested, Edom, southeast of the Dead sea, Basheen, south of Damascus or in the northern part of Arabia. Where ever it was it had to have been near a desert, yet suitable for raising animals, Job 1:19.

The name Job could mean  ‘one persecuted’, from the Greek, or not really a full name but an Arabic root word which means ‘to repent’. Job was a blameless and upright man. That doesn’t mean he was sinless, but the expression indicates a person who was morally balanced and spiritually mature. It is the same expression used in Philippians 3:13, ‘mature’.

Job was a man wholeheartedly given to pleasing God and his attitude was deep and sincere and basically, he had a right relationship with God, which was reflected in his earthy relationships.

He feared God, in the sense that he had reverential trust in God, which of course will dominate the person’s life, Ecclesiastes 12 / 2 Corinthians 7:1 / Psalm 111:10.

The term to fear God whenever used is accompanied by terms that relate to the hatred of evil. And so it is with Job, he turned away from evil, Job 1:1 / Psalm 11:1 / 1 Corinthians 6:18 / James 4:7, Resist the devil. His outward walk reflects his inner condition.

Job 1:8, is the most beautiful description of Job, ‘the Lord’s servant’. When God is priority in the life of a believer then he will be a servant to God in the same way as Job was called. If God is number one in your life service is your lifestyle.

Why Study The Book?

Modern scholars charge that Job was a mere fictitious character, classed as a parable, representing the distress of Israel during the Babylonian exile. But Christians must say that it is no parable but an inspired account of a real man.

The main reason for studying the book is simply because it is inspired by God. A historical account of a man’s life who did all he could to remain faithful to God.

Job opens in a style that conforms with other Old Testament accounts and their openings, and introductions, ‘In the land of Uz, there lived a man whose name was Job’, Job 1:1, compare this with 1 Samuel 1:1. The land of Uz is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20 and Lamentations 4:21.

Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14, being considered there as a historical person like Noah. Extra-biblical sources prove characters were real and the people involved in the book of Job also. Bildad was confirmed as a real man in secular writing, as with Job himself. The Tell El-Amarna tablets mention their names. They did exist.

A Babylonian text, 1500-1000BC, is titled ‘I will praise the Lord of wisdom’, which down through the centuries is referred to as the Babylonian Job. James 5:11 documents the patriarch’s existence and asks Christians to recall the patience of Job. Twice Job is quoted by Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:19, Job 5:13 / Romans 11:35 / Job 36:22. The fact that inspired writers acknowledge him and God places him in the Scriptures is enough proof of his existence.

The book gives insight into God’s character, therefore worthy of study. We get glimpses of God being a just and living, active God, a God full of power and might, seen especially in Job 38-39, the creation and the sustaining of it.

It shows us that God is supreme over all, even the devil is subject to Him, which says something of His permissive will. He will not ride rough shots over freedom of choice and He is no respecter of persons.

To gain lessons, through practice in our daily lives. Lessons on faith, perseverance, patience and faith in God. There is some angle on suffering. It doesn’t attempt to answer the question of suffering. It can only answer some. The main theme of the book is encouragement.

Outline

Job’s first state. Job 1:1-5

Satan permitted to test his faith. Job 1:6-2:10

A series of discussions between Job and his three friends.

The first cycle of speeches. Job 4-14

The second cycle of speeches. Job 15-21

The third cycle of speeches. Job 22-31

The speech of Elihu. Job 32-37

God talks with Job. Job 38-41

Job’s restoration. Job 42:7-12

The Text

‘In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be 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 1:1-5

Prologue

The book begins by informing us that man named Job lived in the land of Uz. This land was possibly in Aram and bordered Edom and Arabia, Genesis 10:23 / Jeremiah 25:23. Where ever it was, it had to have been near a desert, yet suitable for raising animals, Job 1:19.

The name Job could mean  ‘one persecuted’, from the Greek, or not really a full name but an Arabic root word which means ‘to repent’.

Job was a blameless and upright man but that doesn’t mean he was sinless, but the expression indicates a person who was morally balanced and spiritually mature.

It is the same expression used in Philippians 3:13, ‘mature’. Job didn’t live the life of a hypocrite, Psalm 12:2 / Matthew 6:22 / Acts 2:46, he focused on God throughout his life, Job 2:9-10 / Job 27:5.

The term ‘fear God’ whenever used is accompanied by terms that relate to the hatred of evil. And so it is with Job, he turned away from evil, Job 1:1 / Psalm 11:1 / 1 Corinthians 6:18 / James 4:7, Resist the devil. His outward walk reflects his inner condition.

Job was interested in the spiritual welfare of others and not just himself. He did all he could to ensure his family’s well-being, both physically and spiritually.

Job went beyond duty, Job 29 and he cared for the poor, the orphans and anyone who was helpless. He went out of his way to help, beyond his duty, Luke 17:10. No matter what we sacrifice for the Lord we are only just doing our duty.

Although the KJV doesn’t use the word ‘birthdays’, the text implies that Job’s four sons celebrated their birthdays in their homes and invited their three daughters.

Job’s wealth didn’t interfere with his worship of God, because the love of wealth alone can be a danger, Proverbs 30:8 / Matthew 19:23-24 / 1 Timothy 6:6-10. But men like Job and Abraham prove that prosperity can be handled if God comes as a priority.

The feasting was over Job arranged for them to be purified and offered sacrifices to the Lord on their behalf, just in case they had sinned. Remember Job was an Israelite, he wasn’t a priest, he acts as a priest, and unless he was of the tribe of the Levites that would be a mockery.

‘One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 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.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “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. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.’ Job 1:6-12

The scene now changes, showing a rare glimpse into the spiritual realm as God and Satan converse. One day angels, translated ‘sons of God’ in some translations came to present themselves before the Lord.

These are created beings, Colossians 1:16 / Job 5:1 / Job 15:15, and they are His messengers who carry out God’s will among His people on earth, Job 33:23. As created beings, they were present when the universe was created, Job 38:7. Angels have come to give an account of themselves.

Satan has come also from roaming the earth, Matthew 12:24 / 1 Peter 5:8-9. It is useless to speculate how Satan entered into the Lord’s presence, but that the Creator allowed it. In doing so Satan has the audacity to attack God’s honour and blaspheme God’s Work.

When God asked Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job?’ He had, Satan knew Job well, he knew his name and all about him. He couldn’t deny his godliness, so he tried to discredit him by impugning his motives Romans 8:18. Job was singled out because of his prominent righteous leadership among men.

When Satan replied, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ In effect, he says, ‘no wonder he worships and serves you, you have given him everything in the world. Just take away all he has, and he will curse you to your face.’

Satan’s argument is that God’s men who serve Him are all prosperous and so they serve Him out of greed. If you take away all they have got, then you will see that they will be in total opposition to Him. Satan is saying that he will prove that theirs is not a devotion for gain, and it will prove that God is not worthy of service of character alone.

However, confident in His servant’s devotion, God accepted the devil’s challenge, with just one restriction, ‘everything he has is in your power, but on the man, himself do not lay a finger’. God gives Satan the power to work against Job, but this power is still limited by God, Satan could not take Job’s life.

Satan has insulted the integrity of Job, he puts it in a subtle way, whereas he wants to say Job was bribed with riches for his devotion to God. It is a serious accusation upon God and God didn’t take it seriously, He didn’t have to take the challenge but why did He? For the benefit of mankind.

By Jobs’s severe trials, He will demonstrate such a thing as non-covetous righteousness. And to prove to Satan that there would be many more people like Job who have a true devotion to God and what He does for them.

The conflict begins and God gives them permission to take away the hedge from Job. Only externally and not the man himself.

‘One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 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.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.’ Job 1:13-22

Notice the tempter stayed in the background and sent others to do his work. Suddenly and unexpectedly, he brought forth calamities upon the unsuspecting man in quick succession.

The Sabeans were Arabian people who lived in the southwestern part of Arabia, the area of modern-day Yemen. They stole Job’s oxen, lightning killed his sheep.

The Chaldeans were evidently traders who were marauders. They carried away his camels and a great whirlwind took the lives of all his children.

Satan has planned his system of attacks and followed them through to the end and for Job, that plan is increasingly painful. Satan must have observed the order of what meant most in Job’s life. In four rapid blows, one after the other, each deeper into the soul of Job.

The first three blows would have made Job financially bankrupt. Satan destroys all his material possessions and so, Job, who was once wealthy, is now a pauper.

In the fourth blow, Satan kills all 10 of his children. They are the most dear to him and now he has to bury all his 10 children. This means that there is no heir left to carry on his name, or his material prosperity. Job had lost all his possessions and family, except for his wife.

This dismantling of Job happens all in one day. Satan doesn’t waste any time in doing so, he attacks all at once. He probably hoped Job would break under the weight of grief and please note that Job wasn’t a stoic, he was devastated.

He got up and tore his robes, shaved his head, Isaiah 15:2 / Jeremiah 7:29 / Ezekiel 7:18 / Amos 8:10, and falls down and worships God, saying that he came into this world with nothing, all he had God gave him, and that’s how he will leave, with nothing, 1 Timothy 6:7.

God’s sovereignty is recognised and notice Job doesn’t complain or blame God but finds some area to praise Him. Job’s devotion to God is proved to be genuine and in times of great trial, the true nature of his faith is manifested.

Satan’s slander is exposed and his plan backfires. Job justifies God’s confidence in him.

Go To Job 2

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

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