Overview of the Book of Job

Probably the oldest writings in the Bible, this book deals with mankindís most pressing problems: the question of suffering and manís relationship with God.

Jobís experience brings out the truth that manís worship of God doesn't start with a business contract where we earn material rewards from Him, not an arrangement where He is obligated to reward man for every good act. Instead, we are to trust God regardless of our circumstances and rely on God's perfect character even when we don't fully understand His ways.

Suffering doesn't mean God has forsaken His own. It does mean He has plans that the one who is suffering may not understand at the time. When we suffer a tragedy for no apparent reason we may never fully understood why. But we know that God is in charge, that God still loves us and cares for us. This is what Job learned. His three denouncers wrongfully said that sufferingís purpose is always discipline.

In the King James Bible we're told that Job was perfect. What does it mean when it says he was perfect? It means he was perfect in his relation to God in the sense that he offered the right sacrifices Job1:1, "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.." And, He feared God. He also understood the holiness of God, and, as a result, he hated evil. You can see that he's different from the man who is without any knowledge of God.

Job was probably written during the patriarchal period. It's even possible that Job knew Jacob. The Book of Job makes no reference to the Mosaic Law nor to any of the events recorded in the Book of Exodus and that would indicate that it was written before the Exodus from Egypt. Here are the arguments that would put Job in the time of the patriarchs:
1. The length of Jobís life. Job 42:16-17: "After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sonsí sons, even four generations, so Job died, being old and full of days." We know that at the time of the patriarchs people had long life spans and so did Job.
2. Job acted as the high priest in his family. Since there is no mention of the children of Israel or any other priesthood, evidently this took place before those came into existence.
3. Eliphaz, one of Job's visitors, was descended from Esauís oldest son. "These are the names of Esauís sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau,"..... (Gen. 36:10). Since Esau and Jacob were twins, this would make it seem likely Job was a contemporary of Jacob.

The book of Job is a philosophical work and there are a lot of problems that are raised and answered in it.

1. The Book raises the issue of why the righteous suffer.
2. Job was written to discredit the accusations of Satan against mankind. Accusing the saints by Satan is referred to again in Revelations.
3. Job was written to reveal Job's true self to himself.
4.The Book of Job teaches patience. James says, "Ye have heard of the patience of Job" (James 5:11). Was Job patient? Iíll be honest with you, it's hard to see how this man was patient, but the book of Job teaches patience.
5.I think the primary purpose of the Book of Job is to teach repentance.
When men want to talk or write about repentance, they always pick a character who had a sinful beginning.

For example, they point out Manasseh from the Bible, the most ungodly king Judah ever had, and we saw that he repented. That's the kind of repentance we like to think of.

God didnít pick a man like that or a drunken bum on skidrow to teach repentance. God selected the best man who ever lived in the Old Testament time, and possibly the best man who ever lived with the exception of Jesus and showed that he needed to repent.

When we get to the end of this book, Job himself said; "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6).

This ought to teach every believer today that no matter how good we think we are, we need to see ourselves as God sees us. Isaiah 64:6: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

Job was consciousness of the presence of God all through his troubles. What Job couldn't understand was why God permitted him to be put through this. He didn't recognize that he needed to repent-until God dealt with him.

Job lived in the area to the Southeast of the Dead Sea. In Lamentations 4:21: 'Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz;..." Uz is referred to as the same territory as Edom. Esau, who is Edom, had claimed this territory when he left home. Job may have been an Edomite.

We don't know the meaning of Job's name for sure. It may mean "the one who turns back to God" or "the persecuted one".

Job was not blameless in the sense of being sinless.

The Bible teaches (and experience supports the fact) that every person falls short of Godís standard of perfection. Romans 3:23, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." What is stated here is that Job couldn't be justly charged with any moral failure by his fellow man. From the human point of view he was without blame.

Job1:2-3 "And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. 3: His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east." Jobís greatness consisted in his moral and spiritual qualities (verse 1) as well as his wealth (verse 3).
Verse 4: "And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them." Probably a birthday party.
Verse 5: "And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually." Job functioned as priest for his family. It doesn't say they did anything wrong, Job just wanted to make sure they were right with God.
Verse 6: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them." The "sons of God," were the angels. The phrase is used of angels elsewhere in Scripture. This interpretation is in harmony with the fact that Satan himself, as an angelic being, was allowed to join them on this occasion.
Verse 7-11: "And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." 8: "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and detests evil? 9: Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10: Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11: But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face." Satan was looking for someone to tempt to sin.

In a conversation that took place in heaven, God asked Satan to consider one man who stood out from all the rest of mankind. Satan's answer was that Job was better than other men because God had bribed him to behave well. According to Satan, God was giving Job protection and wealth in exchange for faithfulness. Satan's argument focused on Job's choices and motives, and on the accusation that God, with His Almighty power, had put a hedge around Job. Satan acknowledged that Job chose to serve God, but claimed that he did so because of self serving motives. Nothing in the story leaves God open to the charge that Job was a puppet that God had programmed to do as He told him. God was going to prove to Satan and his followers that Job served Him by faith. It's clear from this passage that Satan is a reality, not just an evil influence. He conversed with the Lord, and that requires intellect.

He was antagonistic toward Job. (Verses 9-11), and that shows that he has emotions. Satan's purpose was to destroy Job and disgrace God. Job 2:4-7. "And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5: But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6: And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
7: So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown."
That demonstrates that Satan has a will.

Satanís activities are limited by the sovereign control of God. Job 1:12: "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD."
2:6: "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life."

Consistently throughout Scripture Satan is presented as both a real personality and a spirit being. He cannot become a human being such as our Lord did. His name means "adversary", and that's the character of his nature, and his nature is to oppose God and His people.

1 Peter 5:8. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" Satan had been searching for someone to try so he could discredit God, and God suggested Job. Satan said that Job was protected by God but if he were to be subject to hardship he would curse God. God was sure of Job's faith and so He let Satan embarrass himself before all the fallen angels who follow him.

Job 1:12-20 "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
13: And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
14: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
16: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
18: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
19: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
20: Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped."
Grief and worship can often accompany one another. Job worshipped God instead of denouncing God.

Verses 21-22 "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22: In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."
Satanís first attack was against Jobís possessions and his family. He tried to bring out Jobís true motives for serving God, which Satan thought were selfish. God, however, knew Job served Him by faith. This test took place only after God gave Satan permission to try job. Job recognized Godís hand in his affairs and showed the right attitude toward his possessions and his children. They were a gracious gift from God, not anything he had earned and had a right to keep.

Job 2:1-3. "Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
2: And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3: And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and detests evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou moved me against him, to destroy him without cause."

Job wasn't being punished, he was being proven. Notice that God also said, "although thou moved Me against him without cause." Satan had to have God's permission before he could try Job, and it was not punishment for something Job had done. As we noted before, Job couldn't be honestly charged with any moral failure by his fellow man.

Verses 4-5 "And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5: But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face."
Satan charged Job with being uncaring, being willing to give up the lives of his animals, servants, and children in order to save his own skin. Verse 6 "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life." Satan could go to work but he could only go so far.

1 Corindthians 10:13: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it." This verse takes on a new meaning for us when we apply it to Job.

VERSES 7-10: "So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8: And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
9: Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.
10: But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."

Satanís second test was against Jobís body and his condition was almost unbearable. The skin covering his entire body was affected (v. 7), he itched intensely (v. 8), and he was in a lot of pain (v. 13). The will of God included physical suffering for Job at that time, and it does for a lot of people today.

Job was not only sick, but his sickness made him unclean and because of that he was a social outcast. Jobís wife came to the conclusion that he was suffering because God was unfair. That's a widely held explanation for suffering but totally contrary to the character of God. Job told her that her view of the situation was foolishness. Many people arrive at her conclusion when they consider evidence that's gained by human observation. Unless we consider the evidence that comes from God, we're likely to think just like Jobís wife did.

Verses 11-13. "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12: And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13: So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great."

What a scene this must have been. The greatest man in the East and his friends setting in the landfill for a week sprinkling dust over their heads in their grief. When you read the account you'll find there were really four men who came to see him. Evidently the youngest one wasn't considered as highly as the three older ones. His wisdom was the greatest of the four. I'll bypass all the conversations and go to he last chapter of Job.

Job 42:16-17. "After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days." Following his ordeal, Job lived 140 years. If he was about 70 then, he lived to be about 210. According to Jewish tradition, his latter years (140) were exactly twice the number of his former ones (70).

Remember, God gave Job double for all he lost except his children, and the thought is that he would have 20 of them in heaven, 10 already there. Job 42:10-13. "And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
11: Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.
12: So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13: He had also seven sons and three daughters."

Job prayed for death several times over while he was afflicted, but God had something better for him. Job lived to see his great-great-grandchildren from his second family. His death came later when he was full of days, not when he was in intense agony from his losses and physical suffering. The answer to all of his deep questions were met in the Redeemer he longed for, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Job 19:25-26, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:" As Christians today, that ancient hope sure gives us some encouragement when the going gets rough. If you are not sure of your salvaation, accept Christ as your Savior today. Tomorrow may be too late.

The book of Job wrestles with the age old question, "Why do righteous people suffer if God is a God of love and Mercy?" It clearly teaches the sovereignty of God and the need for man to acknowledge that.

Job's three friends gave essentially the thought that suffereing is always because of sin in our lives. But there was a younger man, Elihu, a descendant of Abraham's nephew Buz, who correctly stated that suffering is often God's means of proving the Believer in Jesus Christ and at the same time stripping away all self-righteousness. That brings us to a place of complete trust in God and to restored fellowship with Him. Incidentally, this book also gives some insight into the way Satan works against the believers.

Home