Life is too complicated
for simple answers.
Job is "the greatest
poem, whether of ancient or modern literature,"
wrote Tennyson. It is considered the greatest piece
of Hebrew wisdom literature, and of the supreme
literary creations of the world. It held a position
in the Hebrew Canon of uncontestable high
The Book of Job is unique
because of its depth and thoroughness in dealing
with the subject of human suffering and theodicy
(the justice of God and why do the innocent suffer).
Job is "an artistic masterpiece put together
skillfully by a great poet." It breathes an
atmosphere of human reality—sin, sorrow and a
frightening silence. The central character is
deprived of everything. His circumstances are the
actual, down to earth, ordinary circumstances of
human life stripped and standing naked before God.
Everything that man leans on for help, strength and
security are removed from his life. God alone
Job is the main character
of the book that bears his name. He is a real person
because Hebrew writers did not evolve literary
heroes from pure imagination. He is distinguished
far and wide as the greatest and richest of the sons
of the East. He is a wealthy and pious landowner who
lived in patriarchal times or at least in similar
conditions in the land of Uz, on the border of
Idumaea. Job was a man "perfect and upright, and one
that feared God, and turned away from evil." The
typical Hebrew blessings of life were his to the
fullest: wealth, honor, health, and family.
is anonymous. Job, of course, could be writing of
his own experiences, although the book does not
claim to be written by Job. There is not sufficient
reason to regard the prologue, dialogue and epilogue
as the result of a complex process of editing. Other
ancient writings had similar structure. The author
is a believer in Yahweh. The prologue to the book is
about the great man who suffered. However, the
dialogues do claim to be from the lips of the same
man and the integrity of the book is at fault if
this is not true. Suggestions have been Job, Elihu,
Job may well be the oldest book in the Old
Testament. Internal evidence points to a very early
setting for the book. There are no Levitical
institutions cited, and Job offers sacrifices for
his family as in the days before the Tabernacle
(1:5). His wealth would reflect the period of the
patriarchs (1:3). The book covers about one year in
the life of a man who lived to be 140 years old. The
language of the book also points to an early date.
Certain linguistic elements indicate more archaic
forms of Hebrew. It seems likely that Job lived in
the second millennium B.C. (2000-1000) and shared a
tradition not far removed from the patriarchs. Late
dating has been dealt a fatal blow by the discovery
of the fragments of Job written in paleo-Hebrew
script among the Dead Sea materials.
At the outset the author raises the question, "Will
Job’s faith endure in spite of trial?" Satan asked,
"Does Job fear God for nothing?" (1:9). The
implication was that "Job only serves You for what
he can get out of You." The dialogues heighten the
suspense, and the epilogue resolves it. In the
process, we learn that Job’s faith is genuine.
The Book of Job is an
excellent "treatise on faith and the role that
suffering plays on faith." In Job, trials provide
the test of faith. At the end of the book, we see a
humbler, wiser, faithful Job. The book explains
God’s relation to trial, doubt, faith and reward,
but it does not attempt to give rational solution to
the problem of evil. Job does not know why God
afflicts the righteous; he only knows it is a fact
Job’s counselors teach a
defective view of suffering. Their premise is that
all the wicked suffer, Job suffers, and therefore
Job is wicked.
Job calls on God to
vindicate him because he has not committed great
sins for which he is being punished. God will rebuke
Job for his ignorance (38:2, 13) and presumption
(42:2), but not because of grievous sins. His
friends simply do not have the full knowledge of
God, and in the end are severely rebuked (v. 7). God
is sovereign in Job’s universe (vv. 2-6). Job’s
rebellious attitude dissolves and his resentment
disappears when God speaks out of the whirlwind. God
refutes the idea of suffering as a proof that the
man is a sinner.
DEUTERONOMIC THEORY OF
SUFFERING: Job’s friends Eliphaz,
Bildad, and Zophar held this view. These Jewish
views on suffering were still the teachings in
Jesus’ day. The Scribes did not know their
Scriptures, especially Job. (1) Sin brings suffering
in proportion to it. (2) Only the righteous are
rewarded. (3) The rewarded are righteous. (4) Those
who suffer are sinners. When you see a man
suffering, they said, then you are to find out what
sin he has committed. Another way of stating it: (1)
SIN=SUFFERING. (2) SUFFERING=SIN. (3)
PROSPERITY=RIGHTEOUSNESS. They have some kin in our
day, too. This is proved wrong in Job, and Jesus in
John chapter nine.
is poetry in the framework of prose. Job is a
singular organic unity and not a composite of
various authors. It was considered a book for
private reading that would appeal especially to the
more cultivated and thoughtful classes. It was a
cherished great classic story among the ancient
Triumph of faith over suffering.
Job pleaded for an "umpire," or "daysman" (9:32-33).
Jesus Christ ideally fulfilled the office Job longed
to see. The Old Testament did not have an
intercessor (1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 7:25; Job
31:35; Heb. 12:24). "Umpire" is one able to act as
an arbitrator at an appointed day. The Hebrew word
for "to act as an umpire," or "mediator" implies one
who hears two parties in a dispute and decides the
merits of the case. The perfect Mediator is
Emmanuel. He sets the date of arbitration, and
pleads our case in the presence of God the Father.
JOB’S KINSMAN REDEEMER:
"I know that my Redeemer lives" (19:25-26). Job’s
Goel or nearest of kin had the responsibility of
redeeming his lost opportunities. No man comes to
redeem Job, but his plea is that Yahweh will provide
His Goel. "And at last He will take His stand
on the earth" (v. 25). Job’s faith is in his
Redeemer who will come to the earth. His hope looks
to the coming Messiah (Hebrews 7:25).
CRISES IN THE
EXPERIENCE OF JOB: J. W. Watts
listed twelve events in his introduction to the Old
Testament. (1) Loss of the dearest of earthly things
(1:21); (2) loss of health (2:10); (3) loss of
friend’s confidence (ch. 3); (4) longing for a
mediator (9:32-35); (5) determination to argue his
cause with God (13:13-19); (6) question concerning
future life (14:13-15); (7) faith in a heavenly
witness (16:19); (8) faith in the coming of his
Redeemer (19:25); (9) frustration due to the
prosperity of the wicked (21:4-34); (10) suffering
of the innocent (chs. 23-24); (11) man’s inability
to judge the works of God (38:1-40:5); (12)
repentance of any reflections upon the justice of
God (40:6-41:34; 42:1-6).
LEVELS OF SUFFERING IN
THE OLD TESTAMENT: (1) All
sufferers are sinners (Job’s friends). (2) Some
suffers are saints (Job, Jeremiah, the Messiah). (3)
Some suffers are saviors (Isaiah 53).
SPIRITUAL GROWTH IN
JOB: (1) God will seek him (7:21).
(2) Saint and sinner both suffer (9:22). (3) He
needs an umpire, a go between, or mediator (9:32,
33). (4) He begins to think of the after-life
(14:7-14). (5) He has a witness in heaven (16:18ff).
(6) He knows that his Redeemer lives (19:25-27). (7)
He learns humility (42:2).
PRINCIPLES IN JOB:
Suffering is not always a punishment for sin.
Jesus Christ was the world's most righteous man, and
the world's greatest sufferer. Righteous persons do
suffer, and not because of some sin they have
Justice is not always expressed in individual lives
because the wicked do enjoy prosperity, die in ripe
old age, receive honors after death, and the
righteous suffer misfortune, and die young in
Job’s cry for a mediator foreshadows the work of the
Messiah as one Mediator between God and man.
In God’s grace and mercy there is the final
preservation of the saints.
The suffering of the righteous leads to richer,
fuller, more mature faith in God.
Ultimately righteousness triumphs over wickedness.
Job defeated Satan.
Suffering should not produce a spirit of rebellion,
but a stronger faith in God.
God limits Satan (1:11-12), and he cannot defeat the
person who trusts in God.
10. God uses the
evil assaults of Satan to bless the faithful servant
should not produce a spirit of rebellion, but an
increased faith. "We know that in everything God
works for good with those who love him, who are
called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Title: Introduction to
Series: Introduction to