The story of Job has become synonymous with suffering for many centuries. It describes the agony of a righteous man Job as he and his friends struggle to explain the affliction and misfortune which has befallen him and has disrobed him of his wealth, his family, and his health.
The author of Job is anonymous. Job does not seem to be an Israelite, because he is said to be from the land of Uz (Job 1:1), which most scholars suggest was to the southeast of ancient Israel. Because he is cited in the book of Ezekiel (Ezek. 14:14, 20), it seems best to date his story no later than Ezekiel’s life (6th Century BC). His story, in any case, is timeless.
The book contains a wide variety of literary genres (narrative, poetry, visions, dialogue and others) woven together into a literary masterpiece. The most commonly accepted outline identifies two cycles of lament, dialogue, and revelation, sandwiched between a prologue and an epilogue
Often a nontechnical summary is the best way to understand highly technical and complex writings. The Book of Job is such a writing. The complexity of Job is driven by the age-old belief that bad things should never happen to good people. Matching the doctrine of life-long discipleship at God's hand; i.e., "All things work together for good..." reveals the truth that what we feel we deserve has nothing to do with what God knows we need.
The Book is further complicated by being the first poetic book in addition to being the oldest book of the Bible (maybe 2100 to 1800 BC). As a poetic book, Job has to consider flow, meters and rhyme. Sometimes the forced into these disciplines are not words that best finish the writer's ideas. The actual writer of Job has not be revealed as yet. Job is mentioned as potentially writing the book himself. Moses is mention more because of his history for ancient writings than anything else. The summary displayed below is an edited version of one I found on the web from an unnamed source.
The Book of Job is first of the poetic books of the Old Testament. It goes like a play and deals with an old question puzzling everyone, the problem of human suffering. The story of Job opens with a scene in heaven where the devil comes to accuse Job before God. He insists Job only serves God because God protects him and seeks God’s permission to test Job’s faith and loyalty.
The story of Job has become synonymous with suffering for many centuries. It describes the agony of a righteous man Job as he and his friends struggle to explain the affliction and misfortune which has befallen him and has disrobed him of his wealth, his family, and his health. The dialogue between Job and his friends continues as each presents his opinion on the reasons behind such troubles.
As the drama continues, Job loses his confidence in God and demands a hearing before Him. God responds not by answering Job’s questions, but posing certain questions to Job that restores Job’s faith. This restoration is followed by great blessing as God exhibits His love and compassion.
What does all of this mean?
Job speaks of foundational themes every human being contends with, especially in times of suffering.
“God’s Character”: The book of Job defends the character of a loving and righteous God in spite of earth’s obvious evils and injustices. Although Job was unaware of the interaction between Satan and God, Job comes to the conclusion that God is just and good. That is the lesson of the book for anyone who questions God without access to all the facts (38:1-42:6).
“Trust”: Job was forced to walk by faith rather than by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). He could not see what the reader sees in chapters 1 and 2. Job’s perspective is best summarized in 13:15 “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.” Job continued to plead his innocence before God but was prepared to die trusting Him.
“Sovereignty”: Although Satan wreaked havoc in Job’s life on earth, the limits of his activity were (and are) clearly set by God. Satan can go only so far. This serves as a template for viewing evil on earth. Satan does not operate as a free agent but is always under the sovereign and deciding hand of God (chapters 1 and 2).
So what does it mean for you?
In Job’s most dreadful and difficult situation, this broken man caught startling glimpses of God and God’s work in his life beyond what he, or perhaps anyone else, had ever seen. Millennia before Jesus walked this earth as the God-Man, Job saw One who would be Redeemer, Mediator, Friend, Guide, Advocate, and Perfecter of faith, Job saw these intense, beautiful images through his tears.
Those who turn fully to God in their great sorrow, even if they argue, plead, and protest in His presence as job did, will find a pathway nearer to the tender mercies of heaven than they have ever walked before.
Believers talk about trusting in the Lord with their whole heart and refusing to lean on their own understanding. But no one really knows what that means until circumstances cast them headfirst into a dark and painful place. If we give ourselves fully to God in those moments, we will obtain keepsakes of Him to treasure now and forever.
Ten Reasons Why We Believe the Book of Job was Written During the Time of the Patriarchs
1. Job lived 140 years after his calamities (42:16). This corresponds with the lifespans of the patriarchs. For example, Abraham lived 175 years.
2. Job’s wealth was reckoned in livestock (1:3; 42:12) which was also true of Abraham (Gen. 12:16) and Jacob (Gen. 30:43).
3. The Sabeans and Chaldeans (Job 1:15, 17) were nomads in Abraham’s time, but in later years were not.
4. The Hebrew word (qsitah) translated “piece of silver” (42:11) is used elsewhere only twice (Gen. 33:19, Josh. 24:32). Both times are in reference to Jacob.
5. Job’s daughters were heirs of his estate along with their brothers (Job. 42:15). This was not possible later under the Mosaic Law if a daughter’s brothers were still living (Num. 27:8).
6. Literary works similar in some ways to the Book of Job were written in Egypt and Mesopotamia around the time of the patriarchs.
7. The Book of Job includes no references to the Mosaic institutions (priesthood, laws, tabernacle, special religious days and feasts).
8. The name (sadday) is used of God 31 times in Job (compared with 17 times elsewhere in the Old Testament) and was a name familiar to the patriarchs.
9. Several personal and place names in the book were also associated with the patriarchal period. Examples include (a) Sheba – a grandson of Abraham, (b) Tema – another grandson of Abraham, (c) Eliphaz – a son of Esau, (d) Uz – a nephew of Abraham.
10. Job was a common West Semitic name in the second millennium B.C. Job was also a name of a 19th-century-B.C. prince in the Egyptian Execration texts.
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Understand the Context (Job 1:1-2:10)
The Book of Job opens with introductions of the characters. Job 1:1 introduces Job and notes that he is perfect and upright man out of the land of Uz. He fears God and hates evil. The plenty of Job is described immediately with his family of seven sons and three daughters. He had an abundance of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys. He was the greatest of all men of the East.
Jobs sons feasted in each other’s homes taking turns every seventh day with feasts lasting several days at a time. Each of the sons would invite the others and their three sisters to the feasts. Job was sure to communicate with them regularly and bless them before the Lord. He began his days early with burnt offerings for each of his children in case they had sinned and abused the name of the Lord in their core. This was Job’s routine as he enjoyed all God’s blessings and abundance.
The remainder of the primary characters of the Book are Job’s wife and his three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite (Job 2:11). Hebrew tradition assigns the name Dinah (“dee-naw”) to Job’s wife. She is purportedly one of Jacob’s daughters. If so, it indicates when Job lived. If she was in fact Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, her name means “Avenged; Judged and vindicated.” Job means “persecuted” in Hebrew and “Repentant One” in Arabic. These four characters will serve to frustrate Job rather than helping or encouraging him as a true wife or friend might do.
Permission Granted (Job 1:8-12)
The scene shifts to Heaven as all the Sons of God came together to report to the Lord, and Satan came to the gathering as well. The Lord inquired of Satan whether he had noticed Job in his travels and proclaims how there was no one on Earth like him. He was a perfect and upright man, fearing God and hating evil.
Satan answered with a question as to whether there is not a good reason why Job is greatest on Earth. Satan suggested that the reason Job seemed so great was the hedge of protection the Lord had established around him and everything he owned. The hedge prevented any trial, temptation or damage to fall upon Job as upon the rest of mankind. Satan continued his challenge to God saying that if He would withdraw His hedge around Job, Job would fall just like any other person and curse God to His face.
Satan plays the role of accuser here as he does with all mankind. He establishes the fact that his character as the accuser is played with such intensity that he even accuses the most righteous to the God of the Universe, in whose strength the righteous prosper. This is further demonstrated as he continuously accuses those who are God’s own and wastes no time accusing those who are already under his control.
I find R.G. Lee’s “Screwtape Letters” to be uncannily accurate in this regard. The first several chapters of the book describe the temptations of the evil while the last several chapters are against the righteous; those who have a developed a sincere relationship with Jesus Christ. Screwtape is the name of the senior demon who is also Wormwood’s uncle. When Wormwood reports that his assigned target (the “Patient”) has developed a relationship with God, Screwtape assures him the fun has just begun. He continued that the Patient now has full knowledge of sin and God’s forgiveness. Using this knowledge, Wormwood can lead the Patient into total frustration in his inability to live the life he committed to under Christ. The resulting guilt and feeling of constant failure will drive him into total lack of effectiveness under Christ.
It is for us to notice that God’s protection over Job is the protection He offers each of us. Satan has no power over us who are in Christ Jesus. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that there is now, therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). So, the feelings of guilt and frustration described by Screwtape are only issues if we chose to allow them to be issues. The fact of the fight is that we are already more than conquerors under Christ in that the One who fills us at the first instant of being born again, is far greater than the one who tempts us (Rom 8:37 & 1 John 4:4). Nevertheless, we will sometimes yield more power to Satan than he ever had over us. That is the point Lee tries to warn of in the “Screwtape Letters.”
Permission Granted (Job 1:8-12, Cont.)
Frequently, the temptations will come as distractions that not only interrupt our concentration but cause us to have judgmental thoughts which can steal away any blessing we might have received otherwise. As a Pastor, I could measure my effectiveness in delivering God’s Word by what Satan would use to distract the congregation.
I recall one such time when I was supply preaching at our mission church in Manitou Springs, CO. I could tell by the looks on the faces in the congregation that they were being blessed by God and He would deliver an excellent response when the invitation was offered. Just as I finished the invitation and the music began to play for people coming to the altar, the sounds of sirens were coming from outside the building. The house directly across the street had caught fire and the distraction of the fire engines was well synchronized with the invitation hymn. Such grand schemes do not happen often, but they are certainly memorable. No telling how much that distracting fire cost the homeowners, but the cost to the several who might have surrendered to Christ that day was much greater. Satan will stop at nothing!
Of course, distractions like these are not always so dramatic. They will also come at the making of a major point in teaching or preaching. He might use a baby's cry or an incontrollable cough that forces a person to leave the class or congregation. Any of these things which seem quite natural and innocent but happen at key points in teaching or preaching could be a distraction sent to interrupt the flow of the message. We had one Pastor who would always conclude his sermons by saying, "Now, I am asking that no one leave the auditorium at this time." And of course, human nature is such that the suggestion that no one leave would intensify the need to go. And, sure enough, within a minute of his request for no one to leave, one or two people would start to go.
Returning the Job, God accepted the challenge of Satan and allowed him access to all Job had but disallowed any personal harm to Job. Notice that Satan moved immediately away from the meeting with God as soon as he had license to hurt Job’s belongings. As we transition to the next slide, it will be obvious that Satan wanted to take full advantage of God’s allowance against Job before God reestablished His protections for Job. We should not miss the fact of the Scripture that, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). So, the only thing that Satan will gain in tempting Job is in seeing his very temporary pain and sorrow for losses. The man that emerges from these trails will be far stronger than the one who entered them.
Attack Executed (Job 1:13-19)
Satan waited for the next day when the sons and daughters of Job gathered to feast and take some wine at the eldest brother’s house. While Job was probably doing his normal prayers for his children, Satan saw to it that not only would the Sabians (Serbians) attack and steal Job’s oxen and donkeys feeding together, but they would also kill all the servants Job had in the field to protect and care for them. Only one man escaped and told Job what happened (Job 1:15).
But while that messenger was still speaking to Job, a second messenger came to tell Job that God’s fire from Heaven (probably lightning strikes) had burned up all Job’s sheep, and again had taken the lives of all the servants except the one who lived to give this message to Job.
Attack Executed (Job 1:13-19, Cont.)
And while Job was still speaking with the second servant, a third came. He reported that the Chaldeans had attacked in three bands to steal all his camels and kill all the servants except the one reporting (Job 1:17). And worse, while still speaking with the third servant, a fourth came to report that a great wind hit the home of Job’s eldest son’s house while all his brothers and sisters were feasting there. The wind caught the four corners and leveled the house on Job’s children. Again, only the servant delivering the message survived (vss. 18-19). In the period of less than an hour, Job received four reports saying he lost all he had, including his ten children.
How could this calamity be any worse? Job had lost the entire list of livestock documented earlier in this chapter and all ten of his sons and daughters. Each of these catastrophic reports came immediately after the earlier one. All his animals and his servants and his family (except his wife) had been taken from him. We can only imagine the shock and pain Job felt after these reports. We know that it was no coincidence that these events happened so close together. They had to have been a coordinated attack on Job. The combined attacks were too close together to have been independent actions.
How would Job react? Would he hold fast to his faith in God and continue to worship Him? Or would he get angry for God allowing something so Earth-shattering to take place against him? Could Satan have been correct in his assessment that if God took His hand of protect off Job that Job would turn so vehemently that he would curse God to His face? The first slide in the next pair answers all those questions forthwith.
Trust Maintained (Job 1:20-22)
Job 1:20 reveals the entire answer: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.” Job turned to the God who gave him all he had and made two statements revealing the immense strength of his character. Watch closely as you read these two statements because no man can know how he will react when disaster strikes. The true test can only be measured in the instant. Job’s first statement was, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither” (Job 1:21). Simply restated Job is saying he came to this Earth with nothing, and he shall return to where he came from the same way. And Job’s second statement was just as telling as the first, “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Yes, these statements show us a true mountain of a man. For these things to happen, for everything a man loves to be taken from him and so quickly is so devastating that there would be no time to reevaluate where one stands with God. Job was sincerely grateful for all that God had given him. He knew he came here with nothing and he would certainly take nothing with him when he departed. He knew the Lord had given him all that he had (“the Lord gave”) and he knew that indirectly, the Lord had allowed it to be taken away (“the Lord hath taken away”).
Many of us would have begun with the question, “Why me?” Not Job: he did not ask God why He was “picking on him.” He asked for no explanations, rather he said, “blessed be the name of the Lord.” The writer of Job summed up appropriately by stating that “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). Not only did Job not turn his back on God or become angry with Him for his gargantuan losses, Job worshipped and was faithful to Him. Makes you want to read ahead…
Understand the Context (Job 2:13-14:22)
The Book of Job opens with a Prologue and finishes with an Epilogue. Between those, Job consists of two rounds of discussions between Job and his friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar as they try to make sense of Job’s suffering and pain given their level of wisdom at that time in history. In short, if a person was suffering, deformed, crippled, blind, in pain or any other situation other than full health and perfect body, they were considered cursed by God. Some of that belief structure was reflected in the sacrificial system; that is, only animals “without spot or blemish” were considered worthy of being sacrificed. Any deformity or discoloration was considered unworthy.
This study gets theologically deep almost immediately. Job and his friends are discussing the philosophical ideas of life, death and God’s oversight of His people in between those milestones. It gets tough to read and hard to understand.
This week begins those transitions above. To those topics already mentioned, it adds the order of the universe, and what part God takes in managing it all. These are important concepts when we consider the pre-Genesis cultural timeframe being discussed. There were no Laws of Moses, copies of the Pentateuch, history of the kings, Books of Wisdom, major or minor prophets, nor the New Testament. That said, the discussions recorded in Job take place in a vacuum separate from all of those.
So, searching for the meanings of life and death, the order of the universe and God’s role in it seem a lot more in the vogue. Job’s three friends find it difficult to look at Job’s obviously blessed life up to this point as deserving of the severe punishment they are only beginning to see, especially in the light of the doctrine of retribution. That doctrine, spoken of simply, is that what a person has been given is what they deserved through their personal behaviors. Questions like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” have not shown up yet. Job was already accepted in their culture as a right-living, rich man with 10 grown children, each of which had their own claim to great wealth, property ownership and livestock tallies. If one were to judge them by what they have against the rules laid out earlier, we would have to say, these folks are truly blessed of God. They must have done a lot correctly.
Questions (Job 14:1-4)
Here, we start to witness some of Job’s thoughts. He has experienced all these calamities of lost possessions, and since our last study, we can add the severe attacks on his personal health. The end of Chapter 2 paints an appropriate picture of Job’s three friends meeting with Job and silently enduring his pain with him. Their venture into the status of things is to state the life seems short and packed with trials, tribulations and tumoral (vs. 1). Mankind seems to blossom as a flower. Once conceived, the time until birth seems long. Nevertheless, life is cut down and those experiencing it seem to come in as a shadow and leave just as mysteriously. Suddenly, that which was so important and precious, ends and is no more (vs. 2).
Job asks God, “So, how can you watch the behaviors of all those we see around us and turn in judgement against me?” (vs. 3). Job was not a common man. God, Himself compared Job to others in last week’s study of Chapter 1. He asked 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 escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8). So, from God’s point of view, if Job lives this much of life exactly how God wants it, why is it Job that God brings into judgment? It is a fair question in my opinion.
In verse 4, Job observes the situation and says, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (Job 14:4). Job looks at the apparent measurement of those compared to him by the Lord, and the Lord’s report on it saying Job is the best of all. The next step, of course, is to reason that if God found all the rest of mankind to stand in stark contrast to Job’s level of perfection, would that not make them unclean compared to himself? And when one is judge by comparison to be unclean, how can that be made clean. Or again, how can the relatively clean be judged more severely than those who are judged to be more unclean than he? Who can justify that judgement? Job purposes an answer to that question – No one can (Verse 14:4).
Questions (Job 14:5-6)
Job looks at this entire situation and asks still another question: Given that the lives of all humankind are fixed in terms of numbers of days and months, and that those bounds cannot be changed without divine intervention, why not turn away from the individual members of humankind and let them get some rest from the constant pressure of judging every move. When the right time for their individual accounting is reached, return to do the judging. This would look more like a person being hired to perform certain work and will be evaluated at the appointed end of the performance period.
If the members of humankind are permitted the freedom of working toward God’s objectives without constant judgement, the period of a lifetime might be more conducive to accomplishing the objectives. This kind of an approach would look more like hiring a person to accomplish a certain job and returning to determine the quality of the work when it is completed. The determination of the right pay for the job could be done at that point. The final rewards for varying levels of accomplishing the work could be determined at that time rather than constantly, throughout the entire performance period.
Despair (Job 14:7-12)
Now, Job looks at proof of a better way by comparing the life of the believer to that of a tree. Even a tree has more hope than being judged under the current methodology. If the tree is cut down but its roots are left intact, the tree will live on. It will sprout new growth and even the youngest and most tender of the new trees will live on and persevere (vs. 7). Regardless of how old the roots are or how long the tree has been in the Earth, it will persevere and become fully awake when it picks up the scent of water (vss. 8-9). It will begin to bud and bring forth new growths like a plant.
Humankind is different than the trees. When a man dies, he wastes away, and his body decomposes in the ground while his spirit continues on (vs. 10). Yes, the human will give up his spirit and we will not know where he is. Luke 16 tells us that he will be in Heaven with the Lord or in Hell with Satan immediately after death. The despair part of this bullet is that Job evidently rejects the idea of human resurrection here in opposition to his earlier comments using the tree as an example. Here, he speaks of the death of a human is like the water drying up from the sea and a flood decaying and drying up (vs. 11). In verse 12, he speaks of the “drying up” as the same with a man who lies down and rises not. He builds on the statement by saying that “until the heavens are no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep (Job 14:12). These statements would bring despair indeed if they were the final word.
But we have a risen Savior. Jesus told the Apostles that He would be in the grave 3 days and 3 nights just as Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish (Matt 12:40). Paul tells us in 1 Cor 15: 4 that Jesus was buried and rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. He was seen of several people including more than 500 people all at one time. Not only that, but He said, “23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor 15:23-24). Paul said if there is no resurrection, our faith is in vain, and we are of all people most miserable! (1 Cor 15:14-17). Further, When Jesus transfigured Himself on the mount of transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw Jesus, Moses and Elijah alive and transfigured on that hill. He made sure we knew that these three that had that experience. Yes, Job speaks heavily of the despair he felt at this point, but as certainly as joy comes in the morning, Jesus will return to get His and those at the end. Now, that is a transition into the topic of hope.
Hope (Job 14:13-14)
In Job 14:13-14, Job finishes any question having to do with His belief in resurrection. He starts out with words that sound like begging for God to hide him in the grave until after His wrath is past. Well, from Job’s pre-Genesis understanding, it should be sufficient that his belief in resurrection is firm while his timing of resurrection is flawed. The wrath of God was satisfied at the cross of Jesus Christ. Now, Job was long since present in Paradise and led as a captive from there into the presence of God by He who led captivity captive before He ascended to the Father after His resurrection (Eph 4:8-10). So, Job will get his plea answered just as he asked. When he died, he would have entered into Paradise. When Jesus died on the cross, Job would have already met the believing thief on the cross next to Jesus’ cross. Shortly thereafter, Jesus would have arrived in Paradise to lead captivity captive and take those who accepted Him as the Christ to Heaven to be with the Father. Now his body awaits the return of Christ in the Rapture where Job will join others of the captivity who experienced Christ in Paradise. And, as he requested, his spirit was hidden in Paradise until the wrath of God had passed.
Verse 14 finishes today’s study and re-emphasizes Job’s belief in resurrection. He asked the question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). Job’s answer from the Lord was certainly, and you will rise again and live forever with all the other believers in Christ from the Old and the New testaments. In the second half of verse 14, Job says he will wait, until his changes come. The good news is that the wait is not a voluntary one. The three sets of believers have different waits and different qualities of waits. Anyone who was in Paradise with Job, would have had the Gospel of Jesus Christ presented to them by Christ, Himself when He descended before He ascended to the right hand of the Father (Eph 4:1-10). So, that was the first wait. Now, Job lives with all the saints of glory in Heaven waiting for the Rapture to take place. Then he will wait another seven years for Jesus to bring all the rest of the believers home from the third and final part of the first resurrection to reign with Christ for 1,000 years.
Understand the Context (Job 15:1-21:34)
Over the previous two weekly studies, we spoke often of Job’s encounters with his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Here, we finally get to consider the conversation and Job’s reactions to them. Just a brief contextual reminder, the Book of Job is the oldest Book in our Old Testament Canon. As such, we see a culture which did not include Moses’ Pentateuch, the 10 Commandments, the Major and Minor Prophets, the wisdom literature, nor the histories of the Judges and Kings. Yet, we see Job as a man with a very deep relationship with God. He, and his flawless stand with the Lord drove laudatory comments from the Lord. The Book of Job begins with the words, “and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). The fact that even one person can live within the will of God speaks to God’s revelation like that spoken of in Romans 1:18-20. God revealed Himself through the created things around them so they stand without excuse for not knowing what God expects of humankind.
Job has not only seen and understood what Paul was speaking of thousands of years later, but practiced it so thoroughly that God said of him “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 escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8). As Job’s friends begin to “help him,” we see them focused on a concept of God in the pre-Genesis culture and even today. The Doctrine of Retribution says in short, that what a person has in life reflects their righteousness before the Lord. That is, Job had the life of plenty described in Chapter 1 because of his righteousness. The fact that he lost it all, means that he had committed some egregious act that caused God to remove those blessings. Their bottom-line suggestion was that Job needed to repent of his sin and return to holiness before God.
Job’s only recourse was to assure them that there has been no such sin. He has full confidence that his righteousness before God is every bit as strong today as it has been throughout his walk with Him. The problem is in the Doctrine of Retribution, not in Job. Both Job and his friends were correct in their statements as far as the Doctrine goes. What we have or do not have does not fully describe our walks with the Lord. Just as the Scripture says we should thank the Lord, “your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.,” blessing and losses occur to the just and unjust as well (Matt 5:45). So, Job was right that he had not committed any sin worthy of these punishments, and his friends were right that it certainly looked like he did something to anger God.
Job seemed to break through the Doctrine of Retribution to a much better understanding of how God works. He says that God is sovereign, and He may well allow bad things to happen to good people, or good things to happen to bad people, as long as it is consistent with His Word, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28). So, Job was stating that the losses he has taken were divinely permitted but not necessarily because of something he did or did not do. Just as in the end of Chapter 1, Job surrenders to God’s will and continues walk in it.
Failing Friends (Job 19:19-22)
Here we see Job’s personal feelings displayed. He feels like he is hated by his friends; like all those he loves have turned against him. The attacks of his friends have been so vicious that he just barely escaped (by the skin of his teeth) with his skin still on his bones. It seemed inappropriate to Job. Why does it seem so hard to minister to those hurting regardless of the source of the pain?
In verses 21 and 22, he starts by asking for pity from those so-called friends. He cannot understand why they seem to agree that the suffering and pain he is experiencing has come from God, yet they do not want to minister to him or help him in any way. Rather, they want to act like mini-gods and pile on the accusations and condemnations even more. So, Job speaks to them directly and begs for their pity rather than further condemnation. He says that since they already know he has been touched by the hand of God, they should know that their additional judgment on him will serve no purpose. They should be satisfied with all the flesh he has already lost from God’s hand and their previous piling on. Their lust for seeing Job punished for his supposed sins should be quenched with what they have done already. “So, stop with increasing my pain, and start finding ways to reduce my pain. HELP ME!”
Living Redeemer (Job 19:23-27)
Job appears to announce a colossal revelation in verses 23-24, and he is aware of its impact to the point of wishing it could be written on paper and etched in stone. Am important lesson here is the methodology used by the Lord to provide such a revelation. As most of us already knew, God does not write the message down for the messenger and let him read it off. Rather, He makes the messenger fully aware of the revelation, so that the messenger can speak it or write it to others.
Of course, the obvious exceptions are God’s delivery of the Ten Commandments (copies 1 and 2) to Moses (Exodus 20 & 34). Both were written by the hand of God and delivered by the messenger, Moses. In the first case, they were delivered only to be broken at the bottom of Mount Sinai in Moses’ anger at the sinfulness of Israel while he was receiving the tablets from God. The second set was given to be placed inside the Ark of the Covenant with the pot of manna and the rod of Aaron showing Israel’s rejection of God’s provision of the Law, logistics and leadership.
Here, the revelation is that of a Living Redeemer (Job 19:25). It is easy to see these verses as prophesy because God’s manifestation of Himself as Jesus of Nazareth: The Messiah, the Christ, the God/Man, the Living Redeemer and God’s Son had not yet occurred in history. With the writing of Genesis, Hebrews would know of the triune Elohim God (Gen 1:1). John vouches for Jesus’ presence and as the primary source of the entire creation, that is, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).
We know the pre-Genesis Hebrews were already aware of God the Father through the many mentions of Him throughout the Book of Job. Jesus suggested they also knew of God’s Spirit as the “One who was with you” mentioned in John 14:16-17. The first appearance of the preexistent Jesus after the mention of Elohim, is the third person speaking with Abraham just before the two accompanying angels left Him behind as they went to rescue Lot and destroy Sodom-Gomorrah (Gen 18). Note there that the KJV calls Him “the Lord” in this encounter. The “Redeemer” is mentioned 17 more times in the Old Testament after Job 19:25.
First, Job assures all who read his words that he knows his Redeemer lives! Second, that the Redeemer shall stand at the latter day on the Earth. Recall that the prophesies of the coming Christ are not understood as a first or second coming by the ancient Scripture readers. That is why many of Jesus’ followers were confused about the possibility of Christ dying. They expected Jesus to accomplish all 550 prophesies of His coming in His first coming. Job gets the revelation that his Redeemer will stand on Earth long after his body has decayed, nevertheless, Job says he will stand in his flesh and see God for himself. Clear references to a bodily resurrection.
In summary, Job says he knows his Redeemer is the One who is alive at Job’s time in history, yet He will stand on the Earth in the latter days. Job knows that this will be after his life on Earth comes to an end, yet he says, his spirit will persevere, and he will see his Redeemer when he stands. Job acknowledges that it will be after his Earthly body has already passed away and decayed in the grave. Briefly, Job in his pre-Genesis revelation knows about life in the flesh and in the Spirit. He understands the separation of them at death and the resurrection and eternal life he will enjoy. It is truly hard to understand the arguments some have on these doctrines after Job expresses his understanding even before Genesis was written. I praise God for giving Job this revelation!!
Warning Issued (Job 19:28-29)
Returning to Job’s discussions with his three friends, Job has a better idea for what they might say to or about him. He says, you know what you ought to say to me; “Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” (Job 19:28). In other words, what case can we bring against Job given the evidence we have before us. Job was and remains a righteous man; a man God called perfect. Job lost all he once held dearly: his livestock, his family and his health. Even his wife suggested, “Why not curse God and die” (Job 2:9)? His three friends sought repeatedly to charge him so they could justify what they thought God was doing to him. Yet, he still maintained his righteousness and worshipped the Lord.
Now Job comes to the real crux of the matter. The New English Translation interprets Job 19:29 to say, “Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment.” Job suggests that seeing what is happening to him, regardless of his actual righteousness before God, his friends ought to gain new respect for God and be prepared to face the same sword Job is facing. Further, while operating within that respect for God, they should find better ways to minister to those with whom God is dealing. Just as the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous alike (Matt 5:45), so does the careful preparation of God’s hand for His people for future trials (1 Cor 10:13). There Pail says, “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 ye may be able to bear it.” Note that trials and tribulations have great value when used to strengthen God’s people for trials only God knows are on the way. James goes even farther saying that we should rejoice or delight in such trials. He says, “2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3) Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas 1:2-4, KJV). So, many times the challenges God allows into our lives are needed for us to be able to face coming events for Him.
The words of Jesus drive home Job’s point even more certainly by saying, “1) Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2) For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3) And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? 5) Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye” (Mat 7:1-5, KJV). Just as Job warns that the judgement of God’s sword may well swing in your direction next, Jesus says that whatever the severity of judgment you use on others, that same severity will be used on you. Rather than harshly judging others, we need to come to their aid. That is not meant to suggest that we should try to reduce or change what God is doing in their lives, but rather, that we should show understanding and help them to survive the trial or tribulation to serve the Lord afterward. It is abhorrent to see our church aisles littered with the remnants of once great saints because we cast them aside when they need us most. Job says his friends ought to consider the sword and know that there is a judgment coming their way. Is that not very sound advice for each of us, as well?
Understand the Context (Job 22:1-31:40)
The context here is the time shortly after the Job’s second set of discussions with his friends. The concise statement of the results is that Job’s friends have already made up their minds on his guilt before God. They bought into the Doctrine of Retribution and were convinced that Job’s current state of loss, pain and suffering is a direct result of his gross sin against God, that is, the verdict was in. So, Job took the next most obvious step in the legal process and asked his friends to present whatever evidence they had of his gross sin. They were convinced that Job’s loss of all wealth, the death of all his children and his current, terrible state of health were all the proof needed that he had damaged his relationship with God. They also believed that a simple combination admission of his sin and repentance from it would clear this condition and he would be back in the good graces of God immediately, and the suffering would stop.
Chapters 28 - 30 begin with Job’s monologue on review of his situation. Chapter 28 presents Job’s monologue on God’s wisdom as demonstrated throughout His entire creation. This would be the general presentation of the context of that situation. Chapter 29 follows with a presentation on what Job’s situation looked like prior to God lifting of His protective hand off Job’s life. That would include his massive demonstration of wealth through the livestock, homes, family and influence he once had. Then, Chapter 30 provides the update on his situation as of the date of its writing. Everything that appeared to show Job as a man who was fully blessed of God has been removed from him. He once had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a very great household. He was the greatest of all the men of the east. Now, all has been taken from him including his ten children.
Valued (Job 28:12-19)
The discussion of Chapter 28 turns in the direction of a comparison between all the treasures of the Earth God had created and the much more difficult concepts to grasp: wisdom and understanding. After describing all the treasures of the Earth, verses 12-19 begin with a search for where wisdom and understanding might be found. Job makes sure the audience knows it is very difficult to find where wisdom and understanding might be located. In addition, the price or cost of wisdom is indeterminate, and it is hard to find among the land of the living regardless of price. Nor can they be found in the oceans or seas (vs14).
At verse 15, the conversation turns to the cost or value of wisdom and understanding by stating that they cannot be purchased with silver or gold. He follows up with a like comparison of their value to ophir, onyx, sapphire, crystal, coral, pearl, ruby, topaz and the purest gold. Job’s dual intent here is obvious; first, he wants the audience to know and understand that not only are wisdom and understanding very difficult to find, but second, when they are found, the value of each is overwhelming. Most of us discovered the truth in Job’s discussion early in our lives. We learned that all the knowledge in the world is worthless without the understanding of how to use it and the wisdom to properly apply it.
Hidden (Job 28:20-22)
Okay, given that wisdom and understanding are very difficult to find, where do they come from? Job asks the rhetorical question about where to find them in verse 20, and then says they are hidden from the eyes of all humanity in verse 21. Further, he says, even if we could use the sharpness of the eyes of birds and enjoy their superior vantage points from far above, we could not find them.
In verse 22, Job finishes his statement on the impossibility of finding wisdom and understanding by supposedly quoting a response from destruction and death. Even they say they have heard rumors of them but do not offer further explanations of the same. So, this part of the study is entitled “Hidden” because there is no real help in finding wisdom and understanding by reading these Scriptures. Let us look forward to the next section which offers hope with the title “Found.”
Found (Job 28:23-27)
Now Job tells us that only God understands the applications of wisdom and knowledge and knows where to find them (vs. 23). The obvious reason God has this capability is because He can look throughout the entire Earth at a single glance and sees everything under the heavens (vs. 24). Further, God has decided how hard the wind blows and how much rain should fall (vs. 25). And he establishes the laws of behavior for the rain and provides a path for lightening and thunder.
Summarizing, Job says that only God understands the way of wisdom and understanding. And the reasons for this is because He is the One who set up the everything that exists. Whether it is the rains, lightening, thunder or anything else, God has complete control over them because He created them. The ideas of wisdom and understanding are studies of those things He has created. It seems clear that if He created something, He ought to have full knowledge of how they work, what they are used for and how they should be applied.
The process of this revelation is like that in Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes. Both authors go through a long process of building up to the conclusions to be drawn. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon searches far and wide to find the importance of things on the Earth. After twelve chapters of Solomon telling us that everything he has found seems to be nothing but vanity (empty and useless), he says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13). Solomon had sought for wealth, women, fame, notoriety and many other things to experience or possess. As he tasted each of them, he found them “empty and useless” compared to simply obeying God and keeping His commandments. While it might appear trite, it is quite profound. That is, the acquisition of everything or anything in this world has little to no value compared to the simplicity of having a right relationship with God. I have met many rich and famous people, but regardless of what they had, if they did not have Christ, they did not have peace. Motown chief Berry Gordy, with help from an assistant at the company, Janie Bradford, penned the words “Money don't get everything it's true, What it don't get I can't use.” On the contrary, say Solomon and Job, what it can’t get is exactly what you can use: “Obey God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Here in Job 28:28, we see him coming and will not be surprises to find agreement with Solomon.
Offered (Job 28:28)
So, here in Job 28, we have examined wisdom and understanding. We have learned that it is impossible to find among the living, and if we found it, it would be far too costly to purchase. We have watched Job compare wisdom and understanding to every form of precious stone known to man only to find they fall short in value. Just like Solomon searches the world all over, Job considers all he once had and the great value of each part of the blessings God had given him, but it is wisdom and knowledge he desires. And he says simply to the man, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.” When all the searching is finished and it comes time for the reports on all that was discovered, the only one common to the wisest people on Earth is our relationships with God and remaining obedient to Him. These are all that really matter according to the wisest and richest in the Bible.
Understand the Context (Job 32:1-37:24)
This part of the Book of Job is dominated by the discussion between Elihu and Job. Elihu was first introduced back at Chapter 32 of Job, “when his wrath was kindled of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2). He was junior to Job’s three friends, so he waited to speak until after all of them had spoken. He felt that Job’s claims of innocence were false. He, just as Job’s three friends were hopelessly dedicated to the Doctrine of Retribution. Therefore, all of them felt justified in claiming that Job’s personal circumstances proved that he had done some gross sin for God to treat him the way he was being treated. So, while Elihu felt that he brought a fresh perspective to the discussion, it was just as stale as the other three. They all viewed Job’s suffering as the evidence of a grievous sin, but none offered the evidence Job was requesting; the evidence of the sin that resulted in God’s judgment against him. It is like coming to church to teach and finding the microphone not working. I could say that God does not want me to teach, or I could simply put a new battery in the microphone. While it is possible that God could have taken action to prevent me from teaching; it is not the only consideration in the absence of any additional evidence. Job simply asked his three friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) and Elihu to provide additional evidence. Not only did they not provide any additional evidence; they refused to consider it might exist. Innocent until proven guilty is a rightful part of the United States Constitution, and I am glad for it.
Elihu speaks mentioning God often, implying that he was speaking for God or, at least on His behalf. At first, Elihu’s claim added weight to his statements, but soon, all who claim to speak for God must show evidence of that assertion. In an environment where no formal Scripture yet existed, he had no way to reference precedence based on documented evidence of the Lord’s previous works. The assertion that he spoke for God soon evaporated leaving nothing but the evidence at hand and the appearance of arrogance. Instead of appearing divine, he came across as pompous and judgmental. As with all claims of authority, that authority has to be proven or at least recognized. It may be proven by ordination, diplomas, or position; but it must be proven. Elihu’s claims against Job were only consistent with Job’s three friends. Nothing new.
Without the external evidence mentioned, and no unique position on the charges against Job, Elihu’s position as well as his personal standing in the discussion fall short of greatness. He too fails to supply the evidence that Job had sinned against God. It is not sufficient to say that the results of Job’s sin are also the evidence that he had sinned. That is stating that cause and affect are equal to each other. This fails the test of simple logic.
Purposeful Discipline (Job 36:8-11)
Elihu reveals the simplicity of his belief structure throughout his presentation against Job. Here, he represents that innocent people will always be lifted up by God while the guilty will always be judged and punished. In verses 2 and 3 of this chapter, he documents his belief that he must defend God and that he is a man of great knowledge. From his perspective, the Lord will always have the guilty bound in fetters and held by cords of affliction (vs. 8). This will be the way of the Lord showing the guilty their evil works and the numerous transgressions (vs. 9). He makes them understand they have disciplines due to them and stresses their need to repent of their iniquities (vs. 10). If they obey and serve the Lord, they will live their subsequent days in prosperity and their remaining years in pleasure (vs. 11).
Based on Elihu’s simple understanding of the world, the righteous would never suffer, and the unrighteous would never prosper. The truth is that both things happen just as frequently as the righteous prospering and the evil perishing. Or at least, the events and associated responses are much farther separated in time than implied here. The idea of severity of the sin is also missing. Often, sin that seems personal may be civil and have crimes or misdemeanors associated with the activity. Then, repentance before the Lord may well be accomplished while serving prison time and paying heavy fines. Sin can be complex and multifaceted. The point here seems to stress the spiritual aspects of sin and its consequences rather than anything more complicated.
The impact of sin becomes far more severe when it is sin against another person. The Lord’s prayer includes the words, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mat 6:14-15). Jesus taught forgiveness of people who sinned against you must get your forgiveness. The importance reverses in that the person who gives the forgiveness is mentally, emotionally and spiritually healed by forgiving others. It releases the negative energy it takes to keep remembering the hurt, anger and disappointment that tax the body’s energy and limits the remaining resources for positive feelings and emotions.
Judgment Coming (Job 36:12-14)
Job uses verse 12 and the idea of disobedience resulting in the “perishing by the sword and dying without knowledge” as an allegory for spiritual disobedience, perishing and dying. This entire verse is a reverse of earlier verse 11. In 11, we learn that those who obey and serve God will experience prosperity and pleasure. Verse 12 shows that judgment awaits those who do not obey. The contrast cannot be clearer.
Disobedience here means refusal to accept God’s discipline and repent from the evil that led to the need for discipline. This kind of refusal to repent of sin by confessing, correcting and accepting can lead to the hardheartedness that make repenting more difficult with each subsequent refusal. After several cycles of this behavior, one can find themselves numb to God’s future calls for repentance and the spiritual disaster resulting from such actions. Spiritual muscle atrophy is every bit as serious as physical muscle atrophy. With the physical muscle, every reduction in the active use of a muscle or muscle group will cause those muscles to decrease in size and usefulness to a point where the muscle becomes completely useless. This is most clearly seen in those who have a paralyzed limb. The muscles supporting that limb will come close to full disappearance as time goes by. Likewise, the spiritual muscle must be used to prevent spiritual atrophy, the loss of spiritual functionality.
Judgment Coming (Job 36:15-16)
Next, look at the symptoms of those who move toward spiritual atrophy. Job starts by saying they are hypocrites; they say one think but live something else. They will multiply God’s wrath toward themselves, they will no longer cry or feel sorrow when God binds them through correction (vs. 13). They will not enjoy long life, and the life they have will be spent in the company of others who have lost their spiritual muscle (vs. 14).
To the contrary, God’s affliction of those in error leads to deliverance from that error. It opens their spiritual ears to hear and react to spiritual guidance and heavenly correction (vs. 15). His purpose is to lead the erroring ones out of the path of danger into a path with more options, a place without danger, a path more straight and one with a tremendously abundant table set with the delicacies of blessings from the Lord. Which path is more attractive?
Justice Seen (Job 36:17-23)
Somehow, Elihu believes that Job has now seen, understands and agrees with the judgment due the wicked, but still doubts that Job understands the judgment due him (vs. 17). Elihu warns Job that God’s wrath against those hiding from His judgment is severe, and he should be very careful that God does not lose patience with him and take him away with a simple stroke of His pen (vs.18). Should this happen, Elihu continues, the ransom for escape at that time will be far beyond anything Job has left in his personal wealth. Further, verse 18 assures Job that God will not have respect for any riches or strength he might have to delay or escape God’s judgment. Elihu continues along this line by asking if Job thinks God will honor any of his wealth (vs. 19). He insists that God will not consider Job’s gold or any force of strength he might have to escape this judgment due him.
So, verse 20 begins Elihu’s final warning to Job. He tells Job that he should not try to escape judgment through the cover of darkness because that is when people are certainly cut of and destroyed. He reminds Job that the torturous existence he finds himself in today is because he had chosen this miserable life rather than eliminating punishment through repentance.
Elihu still clearly believes that Job is completely guilty using only his current situation as evidence, just as Job’s three friends did. But just as strongly as he is convinced of Job’s guilt, he is also certain of the greatness of our God. He states that God exalts or encourages people using the power He has. He asks, “Who teaches like God teaches?” (vs. 22). Elihu continues that there is not a person on Earth who can challenge God and His righteousness in judgment. There is no one who can say that God has acted improperly (vs. 23).
Elihu is using these words to suggest that if Job claims he is innocent in the face of all God’s judgments against him, he is simply multiplying his guilt and subjecting himself to even more harsh judgment. Again, while Elihu is being used as an outside resource to evaluate Job, he has nothing new to offer. He adds to the choir of Job’s friends suggesting that Job is obviously guilty of great sin because he is being severely punished by God. It is the same logic as before; the Doctrine of Retribution says Job is being punished because of his great sin. Case Closed!
Understand the Context (Job 38:1-41:34)
With only two studies left in Job, we are coming to a time of final understandings. The whole Book of Job cycles through subsequent discussions between Job and his three friends, supplemented by a brief discussion with Job’s wife and four visits with a somewhat younger participant, Elihu. The discourses seem so closely aligned between the participants that it seems they must have been precoordinated speeches. But as we have learned, of course, the speeches are so closely related because of the united belief on the Doctrine of Retribution. Briefly, Retribution means that we get exactly what we deserve from God dependent on our righteousness or lack thereof. That is, those who behave righteously with the Lord will live blessed, prosperous and pleasurable lives. Those living lives of more distant alignment with God will live cursed, poor and disastrous lives.
As Job suffers in the pain of lost family members and lost wealth and health, the charges of his friends naturally drive him to questioning why God would allow these things. Chapter 38 is full of responses from God suggesting that Job may have lost the context of his sufferings relative to the thousands of things in God’s routine actions to keep the Earth functioning for the benefit of all mankind. God speaks of the clouds, rain, lightening, floods drained, catastrophes prevented and much more. Even back in Chapter 37, God asks Job to “Stand and consider the wonders of God” (Job 37:14). As God completes Chapter 38, He mentions “Who doth prepare for a raven and his provision? When the young ones cry unto God for food?” (Job 38:41). The statements abundantly address any question that somehow God does not care about the suffering and any and all creatures. After all, He is the Father of all of them.
The friends seemed to see Job as a man of plenty who loved his gifts and blessings more than he loved the Giver of the gifts. Throughout each punishing cycle of these discussions, Job insisted on his innocence. There was simply no sin for which Job could see a departure from the righteous lifestyle testified to with God’s own words. In the frustration of the multiplied assaults on his integrity and love for the Lord, he was certain of his righteousness and yearned for a time when he could speak with the Lord about the situation. He was certain he would be vindicated by the Lord, but he also wanted to ask God why He allowed the innocent to suffer so much.
When the opportunity came in the verses for this study, God spoke first and had confronted Job for the simple mention of having Him explain Himself. Is there really space for the created to confront the Creator? Once God spoke of His disappointment with Job’s plan, Job immediately repented in words of total submission and full withdrawal from his terrible plan. In the verses for this study, we get to hear God’s Own words on this subject.
Created vs. Creator? (Job 40:1-5)
Verse 1 shows God’s summary of all He has said regarding His creation, care and compassion for all the living, regardless of whether they were fit for His Kingdom. But in that process of caring for them, one of them - the man Job, is bent for contending with God. That is, calling Him down for what is happening to him. So here, God asks if Job is intending to provide a teaching moment for the Lord. He adds, “Does the one who brings charges on God (reproves God), have an answer for these charges?” Job immediately sees the grave error in trying to bring charges against God. He states, “I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will cover my mouth with my hand.” In short, “I will shut my mouth and hear what the Lord has come to say. I will not respond even once; let alone twice or more.”
As often happens in these moments of remembering to Whom one is speaking, a change in mind and mode takes place so quickly. When Job remembers through his personal pain and tragic losses, he recalls, this is the Lord, the Creator, my God I am speaking to as if He is some mere acquaintance, I ran in to a few seconds ago. He responds in due humility and remembers his place. He repents, relents, and reestablishes his proper place. Like the baby bird opens his mouth awaiting whatever morsel his mother brings back from the hunt, he is determined to receive it. As if to say, “She brought it for me, and I must accept it to her honor.” Can we say less as God prepares to speak to us? Whatever He offers is what we need (Rom 8:28, 1 Cor 10:13).
Proper Approach? (Job 40:6-9)
We see the Lord speaking from a whirlwind in verse 6. It provides automatic credibility as it brings to mind the taking up of the prophet Elijah as he turned over his ministry to Elisha (2 King 2:1-2). It drives the mind to ask, “Will God take Job, now?” (Recall that historically, Job happened centuries before Elijah was born.) God tells Job it is time to “gird up his loins” (vs. 7). The Israelis wore long robes as their common attire. When they prepared for battle, they reached down and grabbed the back hem of their garment and tucked in the front of their belts (or “girdles”). This provided loose-looking pants and allowed them to run or fight without worrying about their robes. God was saying, “Let’s get ready for ACTION.” He instructs Job to behave like a man (i.e, grow up, stand up, muster your dignity). God will now ask him the questions He expects to be answered.
Verse 8 starts the questions. First, "Will you disannul My judgment?” Second, “Will you condemn me, so you can claim righteousness?” Third, “Do you have an arm like God?” and last, “Can you thunder with a powerful voice like God?” They are intended as rhetorical questions for a set of negative responses . Verse 9 drives home the point that it would be greatly presumptuous for Job to consider himself an equal to God by responding “yes” to any of God’s questions. God’s question about Job having a arm like God asks if Job thinks himself equal in power to God. The question on God’s voice asks if Job feels he is equal to God in the thunderous voice He has. Again, these questions assume a negative response from Job. Their purpose is to show Job the actual comparison between himself and God. Obviously no comparison.
Proper Perspective? (Job 40:10-14)
After these questions, God tells Job to get up and clean up. He says, “Deck yourself with the majesty and excellence which was once common for you. Get out of the ashes and take off the burlap bags (vs. 10). Dress and act like the man I know you are. Then God wants him to stop pouting in his rage and throw it off. God says, “Look on the proud and bring him low. Put the wicked in his proper place. Hide them in the dust together and bind their faces in secret.” When you get these things done; the way you used to get them done; I will speak with you about the next steps (vs. 13).
God makes a final statement to Job that requires thoughtful consideration. He says, “Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee” (vs. 14). As we have studied Job over the last several weeks, we know that he has suffered many catastrophic losses in wealth, heath and family. He is getting counsel from his wife that he would be better off just “cursing God and dying.” He has three friends who insist that all this suffering is the price he has to pay for the egregious sin he has committed. They cannot identify the sin, but the level of his suffering points to very significant level. Job is an excellent candidate for serious help from qualified counsellors. He needs to be saved from this disastrous situation of suffering and grief. It is at this point that God speaks to him and says he can be saved by his own hands. In Job’s condition of severe desperation, I think he would be willing to listen to any idea; even if he felt he had done nothing to deserve the calamities of his current situation. What would you do?
Understand the Context (Job 42:1-17)
This is the seventh and final study in the Book of Job. We have traveled with Job through the times of great blessings and the times of great loss. We have seen him go from the security of felt oneness with God to the insecurity of confusion about God and the ridicule of his closest friends concerning how God was acting toward him. We saw the Doctrine of Retribution take center stage in the minds of each of Job’s accusers as they assured him, he was only getting his just due from the Lord for his gross sin. Under Retribution, a person is rewarded or punished by the Lord dependent on his or her personal performance for Him. This means (according to Retribution) that Job was stripped of his fortune, family and farm animals because he sinned greatly against the Lord. Job’s wife, three of his friends and a young outsider agreed that Job’s tragic situation was likely proportional to this unidentified sin in his life. And further, that if he would just repent of his sin and return to righteousness under God, he would see his suffering end in favor of prominence, prosperity and pleasure
Of course, Job repetitively declared his innocence of any sin, and therefore had nothing from which to repent. Job’s stand was in opposition to the Doctrine of Retribution, and therefore, outside the dogma of their religious understanding. Accusations and frustration multiplied as Job was firm in his stand and his friends were equally firm in theirs.
Understand the Context (Job 42:1-17, Continued)
Job found a way to submit a defense to God in his process of setting a role model for mankind. He modelled humility, contrition, confession and understanding in return for God’s forgiveness and reconciliation. He admitted to misunderstanding some of what he was experiencing. God is unchangeable and perfect in every way. God must remain consistent with His own will. This should generate a life of faith and trust within us because we understand and rely on God being the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).
In this last study, we see that God decided to vindicate Job and restore him to his previous prominence, prosperity and pleasure. The language of God showed Job receiving more than double what he had before (Job 42:10-15). So, while Job’s trials were more severe than most would ever receive, God gave him an ending in total restoral.
Job continued his model of excellence in peace, faith and trust as he experienced God’s vindication and restoral. Job once again saw God’s unchangeable nature acting in his favor to accomplish His will. Notice that it was never about God responding to Job’s needs or desires, but according to God’s personal, holy attributes. In other words, God never responded to how or who we are, but rather, who He is. ly list and describe the services you offer. Also, be sure to showcase a premium service.
Admit (Job 42:1-6)
Notice how the beginning of reconciliation looks. Job starts by acknowledging that the Lord has all power in all things. He acknowledges that God already knows all his thoughts, so there is no new knowledge God gets from hearing Job’s utterances except that he opposes his Creator. Job states up front that he has been rejecting good counsel because he did not have the knowledge to see it as God’s wisdom. Instead, he responded to what he did not understand with words that only multiplied his error. God’s provisions are always too wonderful for those receiving them to understand. Job admits that he is counted in that number of those having no understanding.
Verse 4 begins Job’s message to the Lord. He begs the Lord to hear his words. He asks the Lord to “cause him to know Him” before he begins to speak and makes even more mistakes. After admitting that he did not understand the words he spoke earlier, Job now realizes he needed help understanding the real meaning of the words he was speaking now. He shares with God that he has sincere hate in his heart for what he had said before and repents in the figurative dust and ashes showing the utmost repentance and sorrow for past errors. Job wanted a fresh start.
Repent (Job 42:7-9)
Now, the Lord begins to “clean house” of all the bad and/or incorrect advice Job’s friends had been giving Job. He starts with Eliphaz, the Temanite, but includes a reference to his other two friends. Jehovah starts with words which cannot be misunderstood. He says, “My wrath is kindled against thee and against thy two friends” (Job 42:7). Young’s Literal Translation says, “Burned hath Mine anger against thee.” The Hebrew word (charah) is defined as God’s anger “flaring up.” He wants to make sure Job’s friends understand the severity of His feelings against their self-righteous behavior and their advice given to Job, His servant. He finishes this verse by stating exactly what causes His anger; they have not spoken the truth to Job the way Job had spoken truth to them. Simply, “You have not spoken correctly about Me to Job, the way Job has spoken correctly about Me back to you.” In other words, “Job was right, and you were wrong!”
Just a quick word of application here; this is the clear and present danger we enter into every time we apply God’s Word in advice to another person. We might try to recall a verse from memory or remember an application which may have been true for different circumstances but not the current case. Paul had great advice to his protégé, Timothy in this vein. He said, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Tim 2:15-16). We need to study every time we get ready to provide advice from the Bible to anyone in need. Our advice needs to use the Bible correctly, and it must be prayed over and proven before we give it. Otherwise (see verse 16), we might be using an ungodly or useless interpretation which will anger God in this life and result in judgement against us in the next life. This is about as serious as any warning given in all the Scriptures.
Job’s friends were unanimously giving Job advice based on the false and faulty Doctrine of Retribution. They were wrong and Job had a better understanding of how God works than any of them. Somehow Job understood that God’s work with us is dynamic; not static. That is, if we recall the two verses used frequently over the previous several weeks, we understand that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” and “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 ye may be able to bear it” (Rom 8:28 & 1 Cor 10:13). So, God is working with us every moment and every hour to take advantage of things that happen to us, or things that He allows into our lives to prepare us for, or see us through ministry opportunities. He sees to it that we are not the same as we were yesterday and will not be the same tomorrow as we are today.
Notice also that not all judgment due against us will wait until after we leave this world for payment. Some judgments are executed immediately. Here for example, Jehovah instructed Job’s friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, to muster seven bullocks and seven rams to take as an offering for their sin against Job. The costs of these animals would have to be carried by the three men. There is a striking resemblance between this method and numbers of sacrificed animals and those which Balaam prescribed for Balak (Nu 23:2-29). Bullocks and rams are frequently mentioned in the books of Moses as sacrificial animals. The number seven represents the perfect or completed number. This is probably one indication, out of many, that the age of Job was no later than that of Moses, or before it.
Job’s three friends were instructed to take the animals to Job and offer up a burnt offering for themselves with God’s promise that Job will pray, and He will accept Job’s prayer for them. Note that God specifies that He will accept this offering because of Job; not them. God maintains His confidence in Job. He knows that Job will accept the sacrifice for his friends as repentance, reconciliation and restoral of the relationships between them. The blood of the beasts will be accepted by God for His forgiveness of their sin of misrepresenting God’s character to all those who witnessed their repeated sin against God and Job. Just a quick aside: should each of us examine our hearts and see if we have committed this sin – the sin of misrepresenting God to someone else? The sacrifice of fourteen animals for their sin of misrepresentation tells me God did not see this sin as any small thing (Job 42:8).
Verse 9 tells us that the three friends brought closure to this issue by doing exactly what the Lord commanded them. They made the offering, Job prayed for them and that was accepted by the Lord for Job and his friends. The friends were reconciled to their friend Job, they were reconciled to God, and both God and Job showed their forgiveness of sin against them.
Restored (Job 42:10-11)
God’s insistence on this process of repentance, reconciliation and restoral shows His continued belief that forgiveness is a necessary part of living a life for Him. The truth is that continuing a grievance against one another hurts the one carrying the grievance even more than it hurts the one who caused the grievance. Lack of forgiveness toward another person steals our blessings of “peace and good will toward men” the angels brought at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14). That is the reason Jesus instructed us through Matthew saying, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt 5:23-24). Note the delayed submission of the offering includes how another person feels toward you; not just how you feel about others. It goes beyond the possible ill feelings we might have that person. This is called restoral and is the topic of this section of the study.
I would be remiss to leave out the fact that there are clear limits to how much a person can be held responsible for “your brother’s” response; i.e., the response of another. Reconciliation takes both parties being cooperative toward that common end. When Jesus was asked if we should be willing to forgive an offender seven times, He responded, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven” (Matt 18:22). So, our attitude must remain one of willingness to leave our forgiveness of an offender on the negotiation table even after the figurative 490 times.
I recall hearing a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer very early in my Christian walk (Matt 6:9-15). Later at home, I could feel the Holy Spirit telling me I needed to forgive my father for the decades of abusive treatment under the influence of alcohol and reconcile that relationship. I recall saying to the Lord, “Father, all I have is yours and anything You ask I will do, but please do not ask for that!” My hate had burned far into my adult years; even after having five children of my own. So, it took all of fifteen minutes for me to realize I had no right to limit what the Lord could ask of me. I prayed forgiveness for my father, having no idea of his response or even if he cared. About two weeks later, I had occasion to travel from my home in Colorado Springs to my birthplace in Wilmington, Delaware where my father still lived. I met with him and asked him where he stood with Jesus Christ. He said, “About two weeks ago, I had this strange urge to ask my priest what it meant to be born again? He told me about Jesus Christ and His purpose to deliver saving grace to all humankind. I prayed with him and became born again.” I remembered that it had been exactly two weeks since I prayed that prayer to forgive my father. God did it. How could I do less?
Verse 10a says, “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.” The Hebrew word for “turned” is the word shoob. It means to turn back but not necessarily to the starting point. First, notice when the Lord turned: He turned when Job prayed for his friends. Job’s friends brought the fourteen animals for the burnt offering and, as they were being offered, Job prayed for his friends. The friends responded to the Lord’s direction to repent of their sin of misrepresenting God by taking the seven bullocks and seven rams to be offered and Job would pray for them signifying his and God’s acceptance of the sacrifice (Job 42:8). Notice these were tokens of heart change of repentance, not the purchase of repentance. Repentance is the change of heart. The bullocks and rams were offered BECAUSE of that change of heart. The whole need for the Reformation was to eliminant the idea of purchasing forgiveness. The propitiation for our sin was made by Jesus Christ at Calvary (Rom 3:25 & 1 Joh 2:2, 4:10). The writer of Hebrews says simply, “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man (Jesus Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb 10:11-12, my parentheses). Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”
Restored (Job 42:10-11, Cont.)
Job’s friend’s change of heart was accepted by Job indicated by his praying for them. God’s acceptance of the friends and Job was done when all of them did what He requested of them. They were reconciled to God, and now we can read of God’s response to these actions. Verse 10b says, “also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Verse 11 continues by saying that all his brothers, sisters and acquaintances returned to him. They had a gigantic fellowship meal, and each brought gifts of money and a golden earring. They agreed with Job over the bad things that happened to him. The KJV says “over the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.” First, recall that God cannot be tempted with evil nor does He tempt any man with evil (James 1:13). The Hebrew word for evil in Job 42: 11 is raaah, ra or rah (as a female or male noun, or adjective), and means distress, harm, hurt, ill, sore, sorrow or trouble. Job finishes 42:11 with at least twice more than he had at the beginning (compare Job 1:2-3 with 42:12-13.
Second, recall that Satan has been casted out of Heaven and lives here where we are. He will persecute, tempt, possess and interfere with those who are not born again. He cannot possess, or send demons to possess, those of us who are borne again, but he can oppress us and interrupt or hinder our walks with Christ everyday. As Jesus approached the time of His death, He promised not to leave us comfortless, but that He would send a Comforter who we know because He was once alongside us but will be inside us (John 14:17). Control over Satan’s attacks is just one prayer away for those of us who have the Holy Spirit. 1 John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit, based on God’s Holy Word, we can tell Satan to be gone, and he must go.
The conclusion of Job 42 shows us that God blessed Job as he finished life at 140 years old. He had seven more sons and three daughters. The Bible says there were no more women in all the kingdom more beautiful than his daughters. He saw his sons and grandsons out to the fourth generation. Job was once again blessed with prosperity, prominence and pleasure.
Next week, we are starting Solomon’s writings in Ecclesiastes. It speaks of the wisest man on Earth backsliding into a search for that which matters. The search results in determining that everything he sees is mere vanity (worthless and without any merit). He sums the results of his search with the words “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc 12:13).
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