A Man Called Job
For centuries the book of Job has been regarded a masterpiece in literature. The magnificence and beauty of style is one of the greatest in literature. “The book of Job”, says Daniel Webster, “taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language”. Phillip Schaff noted historian states: “The book of Job rises like a pyramid in the history of literature, without predecessor and without a rival.”
But the book is veiled in mystery as to authorship and as to the period of its writing. The historical events of the book are the Patriarchal age.
The mystery behind the book, doesn’t nullify it’s inspiration. The authorship of the book of Hebrews remains a debate yet inspiration is never questioned. The book is quoted from several times by New Testament writers..
In 1 Cor. 3:18-19 the apostle Paul writes
18Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. Now where is that written? Well it is found in Job 5:13
There have been almost endless discussions as to ultimate purpose and value of this book. Keil and Delitzsch introduce this book with these words: "Why do afflictions upon afflictions befall the righteous ? The answer to this question is the theme of the book…"
It is very difficult, perhaps to crystallize into anything like a brief statement the purpose of the book, except in the lessons we learned by a study of it.. Nevertheless its value is that it is the Book of Job, that is to say the story of the man..... and everything gathers around that fact
As we read, we see this man accessible to the approach of spiritual forces outside his own personality both for good and evil. In the book both God and Satan are revealed as interested in this man.
We see Job in his relationships to others who enter the drama. His wife, a small group of friends gathered around him. Many acquaintances are referred to, often quickly disappearing as acquaintances do in circumstances such as those in which Job finds himself. One great truth seen in the book is that all things seem to be removed from Job, until he is alone. It is to this one character, Job, that I propose to devote this study. Job within his own personality.
First then concerning this man We are told his name. And that He came from Uz. About Uz , we know practically nothing, such a place is mentioned in Genesis. Whether it is the same place or not does not matter. The name passes and the location passes, It is the man I want us to see
He is at once revealed in these words: Job 5:1
1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright,
Two words describe the man and tell us of his very being, the two words are: “Perfect and Upright” We must not read into the word “perfect” all that our English word may convey or mean. The word “perfect” in the scriptures, both in Hebrew and Greek terms simply means complete. This does not imply that Job was sinlessly perfect, it does affirm that he was a spiritually mature, devoted servant. He was all he could be.
But more, he was “upright”. The Hebrew here signifies “Straight”. Job was a mature and all round man but he was also straight in his dealings. I do not know that we could pay any man today a higher compliment than to say this of him.
This description so far has not touched upon Job’s relationship with God, but that of man. Job had nothing in him that his fellow men could bring a charge against him. He was complete, perfect and straight in his dealings with them.
But the writer also gives the secret of this uprightness or completeness of Job, He says that Job was “one that feared God”, religion “and eschewed evil” morality. Job 1:1
The two phrases are often laid side by side for comparison as here....... That is the ultimate meaning of the word of Jesus —
”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and soul, and a second is like unto it thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self. On these two commandments hangeth all the law and the prophets.
2- Morality is forever rooted in religion, a man who is a mature, and who is known to his neighbors as a straight dealing man, a man against whom others can bring no specific charge, — that man has dealings with God. Job feared God, and he turned down evil. Yes, that is the exact meaning of the word eschewed, He turned down evil, A man who looks to God, reverently, is one who will turn down the evil in which he finds himself surrounded.
The remarkable fact is that according to the record, that estimate of Job given in the first verse was validated by God Himself: notice verse 8
8And 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 escheweth evil?
And is intensified because God said of him, "there is none like him in the earth"
And so, we are brought face to face with a man of integrity, a man of uprightness, A man who having a relationship with God, turned down evil wherever it presented itself. It is very important that we should remember that.
Now for the story. We watch this man and we do so remembering, This man, who was straight, complete, fearing God and turning from evil...was visited by Satan and as a result, swiftly overwhelming calamities upon him.
The reason of these calamities is not to be found in the man himself. That is the mistake of Job’s friends, they believed the reason of his calamities lay in his character. The book introduces him in such a way as to make it perfectly plain that it was not so.
We see Job stripped of everything, which man naturally depends upon, on the physical side of his being. Stripped of his wealth, suddenly he is reduced from wealth and comfort to poverty and dire need.
Next we see his children swept out, killed in a series of disasters. Any parent’s heart goes out to him at this point.... Just consider our grief losing one child, then multiply it by ten!
Third he is afflicted with a dreadful disease from head to foot, Stripped of his own. health. Presently the stripping goes deeper, he loses the confidence of his partner in life, I am referring to the story of his wife. Let us not criticize her until we have stood in her shoes.
See her— Their wealth is gone, 10 children gone, she had stood by and then there came the moment looking at her man in agony said: “Renounce God and die.” Which meant, I would rather see you dead than see you suffer. I sympathize with her, get into her soul.
But it doesn’t end here, the process continues. His friends come, he will eventually lose them as well, but I like these men because.... when they came into his presence they sat still and their mouths shut for seven long days, and when they speak it is to Job and not to one another in the form of gossip. Perhaps the greatest mistake they made was to try to put him into a mold into a philosophy that he did not fit. So! we see Job stripped physically, mentally, misunderstood, and struggling for a solution as to why he was being dealt with so!
Thus the book of Job with that tragic back-ground, faces a fact which is everywhere apparent our lives, but yet still causes perplexity. And here it is! There is suffering, and tragedy, which is not the result of the sin of the sufferer. In this great book this fact is faced. A man is suffering, but not because he has done any wrong.
Notice in Job 1:6-8
6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7And 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.
This statement reveals the endless restlessness of man’s great enemy. We are reminded of the passage in 1 Peter 5:8 “8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
But notice next, this question from Jehovah: Job 1:8
8Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
“Considered”, is a very strong word in the Hebrew. It means: Have you been watching Job, going around the citadel of this man’s soul trying to find some way to break in? Now hear Satan answer Job 1:9-11
9Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10Hast 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. 11But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Satan archenemy of God and man, charged that God is only served by man because he wants the blessings doled out. And so the Devil said: “Job doesn’t serve you for nothing, You make it profitable for him to do so.” In other words, Job knows where his bread is butter. and accordingly Satan adds: “Take away all these blessings, and he will curse you to your face. This was saying in effect, God you are not worthy of devotion on the basis of who you are. And so a stab at God by Satan.
God allowed Satan to remove a vast amount of Job’s comforts and yet this aged patriarch remained faithful to Jehovah. Establishing the fact that our Creator is indeed worthy of all our devotions and adoration’s. The Psalmist of Israel cried
“I will call upon Jehovah, who is worthy to be praised”. Ps 18:3
This is a vital point in this book. God is worthy of praise and service. And so in the end, the hissing lie of Satan the serpent was answered.
Among the lessons of the book of Job , I believe there is permanent value in many lessons. First – “Many of us suffer and do not know the meaning of the experiences we pass through”. They are hidden away in some suffering, some agony, some troubles, which are gnawing at our hearts, and yet they not the result of anything that we have done. So often we say, What is God doing? In Romans 8:28 we read “28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”.
It is not the purpose of this verse to teach us that everything that happens in our lives is good. This is not true. This verse is teaching that God can work in every single event in the lives of those that love Him for good. The ultimate good is the we should be conformed into the image of His Son.
Next the book is a commentary on James
& James 1:13-17
13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Notice the phrase “do not be deceived, my beloved brethren”? James is cautioning us about charging God foolishly with every bad circumstance in our lives. Let us be careful about charging God.— Notice Job’s attitude throughout this whole ordeal.. Job 1:20-22
20Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21And 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. 22In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Another important point in this great book is: “The Sovereignty of God”.
Where ever there are problems in the universe, God is seen as supreme. There is no greater book in the Bible on the ultimate Sovereignty of God. It may not explain all His methods, but it reveals Him as present and acting.
Satan the arch enemy wanting to prove that God blundered when He created man, suggesting that man only fears God because of what he can get out of Him. The Devil with a lie, who is the father of lies. John 8:44
But notice this important point Job 1:11-12 Satan suggests
“11“But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 12And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Satan cannot touch a hair upon the back of one single camel that belonged to Job until he has Divine permission. God’s throne high is over all. This is a universe in which God reigns supreme, our God is Sovereign.
I find great comfort in the words of 1Cor. 10:13. It states:
3There 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.
The Book of Job is an amazing piece of inspiration written for our learning and comfort, (Romans 15;4). From it James draws this beautiful picture of patience. James writes “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy”. James 5:11
In the Greek New Testament, patience is from the word [uJpomonh] Meaning to abide under. It thus suggests the trait of one who is able to endure patiently under the weight of trials. James highlights the patience of Job and his persistent trust in God. And it helps us to understand how Christ the world’s most righteous person, could likewise be the world’s greatest sufferer.
Job’s suffering defended God’s honor; Christ’s sufferings permitted you and I to have eternal life, while maintaining Heaven’s justice.
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ