Job – A Kaleidoscope of Suffering
Key Verse: 1:21
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.
The terrible suffering inflicted upon Job makes him one of the most famous characters in the Bible with the proverb “the patience of Job” belonging to every day speech. The theme of human suffering in a broken world is most relevant for every generation. In the case of Job a good man experienced severe loss and pain, yet God mysteriously was permitting it all for a great and marvellous purpose. We wrestle with the difficult providences of God today; therefore we need the message of Job to anchor our souls. Joseph Caryl, one of the greatest expositors on Job (he preached 424 sermons on Job over a 24 year period with his words being published in 12 volumes and 8,000 pages between 1664 and 1666) wrote;
“The book teaches this general lesson: That the judgements of God are often times very secret but they are never unjust. That though the creature be not able to give a reason of them, yet there is infinite reason for them.”
The Historical Figure
Liberal scholars have sought to deny that such a man as Job ever existed. They treat the book as an allegory, similar to Pilgrim’s Progress, written to encourage human hearts in a painful world. In this book, however, the names of people are given together with the places where they came from; Job of Uz, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuite and Zophar the Naamathite. Also Elihu is mentioned as well as the Sabeans and the Chaldeans. While it is true that a large part of the book is written as Hebrew poetry yet Chapters 1-2 and 42 are written in prose as recorded history. Most conclusive of all, Job is mentioned in scripture alongside some of the greatest figures in the Bible, Ezekiel 14:14,20.
Who, Where and When
The question of who authored this book is unknown and there are few clues pointing out his identity. While the human author is shrouded in mystery we are convinced that this work was ultimately produced by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost working in man. Our Lord read from the Greek version of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint which contained the book of Job as the Jews regarded this work as canonical. In addition there are a number of New Testament quotations drawn from Job; Matthew 24:28 (Job 39:30), James 4:10 (Job 22:29), Romans 11:34-35 (Job 15:8), 1 Peter 5:6. Also, James 5:11, certainly points to Job being divinely inspired.
The next question concerns where the events took place because that too is obscured by a deep mystery. The first assumption made by scholars has been that the Land of Uz was named after a person bearing that name. If that is the case Uz would probably have been a son of Shem fixing Job in the same family that the Jewish people sprang from, Genesis 10:22-23. As the Chaldeans, who dwelt in modern Iraq, were one of the marauding bands who attacked Job’s property, we can safely deduct that Job was living in an area that was easily accessible to them. It generally believed that Job lived somewhere between Israel, as we know it today, and the river Euphrates fixing Uz in modern Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Southern Iraq. It is probable that Uz was a sizeable territory with Job being one of its most famous and influential characters.
The question of when is the most interesting of all, however. There are a variety of opinions, even among conservative scholars. For example some believe the book to have been written during the time of Solomon’s reign, that being the golden age of Hebrew poetry. For me, however, the most convincing arguments point to Job being a contemporary of the patriarchs. Job had a very long life. After his sufferings, when he was already a mature man, he lived 140 years (Job 42:16). This would certainly fix him in that period when men lived long lives that were progressively becoming shorter (Terah lived 205 years and and Abraham his son lived to be 175). The most conclusive point of all, however, pertains to the manner by which Job worshipped God. There were no priests in this time. Men could offer sacrifices to God acting as priests for their family (Job 42:8-9). Therefore Job lived in the Patriarchal age pre-dating the institution of the Levitical Order under Moses.
The Theology of Job
This book is a manual showing us the theological depth that existed in the early years of time long before the Scriptures were composed.
1: The existence of one God who is Almighty (5:9), Omniscient (11:11), Wise (24:1), Invisible (9:11), Creator of all things (4:17), Governor of His Creation (5:9-13), Gracious and Forgiving (5:17-27) and the Hearer of Prayer (33:26).
2: The existence of angels (38:7).
3: The existence of evil spirits. Twice in the book God and Satan are in dialogue. It is clear that Satan wishes to discredit God through the suffering of Job but God is ultimately in control having a greater plan.
4: Man is a fallen being struggling in a broken world (4:17-19, 14:1,4. 15:14-16).
5: The necessity of reconciliation with God (22:21-22).
6: The necessity of repentance (22:23).
7: That the redeemer will visit the earth and the dead will be raised (Job 19:25).
Science, Arts and Industry in the Days of Job
Evolution would have us believe that ancient civilisations behaved as savages and that we live in a world that has been enlightened. This book reveals an ancient people with considerable educational attainments.
1: Astronomy (9:7-9, 38:31-33)
2: Cosmology (26:7)
3: Geography (23:8-9)
4: Meteorology; Northern Lights (37:21-22), Tornadoes (36:32-33), Dew (28:28), Clouds and Rain (38:37), The Sea (38:8-11), Hail, Ice and Snow (38:29, 37:10, 37:6, 38:22- 23).
5: Mining (28:1-11)
6: Precious Stones (28:18)
7: Writing (19:23-24):
8: Medicine (13:4)
9: Music (21:12, 30:31).
10: Hunting (18:7-10).
11: Farming (31:38-40)
12: Travel (6:15-20)
13: Warfare (6:4, 15:26, 16:12-14)
14: Zoology; insects (8:14-15), reptiles (20:16), birds (38:7, 39:26-30), mammals (4:10-11, 30:1).
Outline of Job
1: Job’s Happiness 1:1-5
2: Job’s Calamity 1:6-42:7
3: Job’s Recovery 42::8-17
1: Job’s Prosperity and Perfection 1:1-5
2: Job’s Tragedy 1:6-2:9
3: Questions and Debates 2:10-ch31.
Throughout the three series of discussion with his friends they remind Job that only wicked people could suffer as he did, yet all the while Job protested his innocence.
4: Elihu Speaks 32-37
This younger man rebukes the three friends of Job for failing to answer the question of Job’s suffering and attempts to answer himself.
5: God Speaks 28-41
The Almighty states that he has made all things and that he can do as he pleases in this world (40:2). Job is humbled and admits that even he was wrong to protest his innocence (40:4).
6: Job Responds 42:1-9
7: Job’s Restoration 42:10-17