THE SAGA OF JOB


"WHY?"
This is the most frequently asked question in every generation ó by the young and old, rich and poor, well and sick. The Book of Job is an emotionally intense story of a despondent and suffering man grappling with this question, debating with himself, his fellowman and his Maker.

Thus Job becomes a brother, a kindred spirit!

To every person who has looked upon the lifeless form of a loved one and cried in anguish: "Why?"

To everyone who has experienced pain almost intolerable and asked: "Why?"

To every parent who has received the dreaded message that a beloved son would never return from the battlefield and has broken-heartedly questioned: "Why?"

To every person who has despaired in disappointment over friends and loved ones and asked: "Why?"

To all who have had their weary and wretched midnight hours.

To all who have pondered the most perplexing of all questions: "What is life? What is death? Will man live again? Is God aware of what we do? Does he care? Why do the righteous suffer while the wicked often live in seeming peace and prosperity? Why the undeserved sufferings in the world?"

In all these things, Job is our sympathetic and understanding friend. Most people think of him merely as "that old man who had a lot of boils and a lot of patience." Beyond that they have given little thought to a life which can do so much to strengthen the faith, courage, and hope of every child of God!


A Brief Analysis of the Book
The Book of Job may be divided into the following sections:

I. Job is tested (chapters 1,2);

II. Job's controversy with his three friends (chapters 3-31);

III. Elihu's presentation (chapters 32-37);

IV. Jehovah speaks to Job (chapters 38-41);

V. Job is blessed (chapter 42). Letís briefly reflect upon some of the points of this magnificent book.


Job's Testing!

In Chapters 1&2 The Almighty challenged Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil." This does not imply that Job was sinlessly perfect; it does affirm that he was a spiritually mature, devoted servant of God.
Satan retorted that Job did not serve his Maker for "nothing". If his prosperity were removed, "he will surely curse you to your face." So, Satan was granted permission to test the patriarch.

The range of Job's afflictions covers every facet of human endurance.

First, all of his material possessions are lost; he is financially bankrupt (weaker men have committed suicide for less!).

Second, his children are killed in a series of disasters (consider what your grief would be if your child were killed, and multiply it by ten!).

Third, he is afflicted with a dreadful disease from head to foot and thus sat among the ashes of the city dump Ė scraping his sores with broken pieces of pottery!!

Fourth, his wife spiritually forsakes him and urges Job to "renounce God, and die" (this is Satan's fond hope).

Finally, he becomes the utter contempt of his contemporaries. Yet, through it all, he does not renounce his Creator, but later says: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him" (13:15).


The Controversy 

Job's three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) having heard of his horrible plight, came to comfort him. They are stricken speechless by the awesomeness of his appearance and sit for seven days in respectful silence.

The philosophy of Job's friends: (The common philosophy of that time)

(1) Suffering is the direct result of personal sins (and in proportion thereto).

(2) Job is suffering greatly.

(3) Therefore, Job has committed some great sin. The bulk of the book consist of them trying to convict Job and to convince him to confess and repent. (Chs 3- 31)

At least 9 times they will accuse Job of some secret sin that needs to be confessed.

Their error was in the major premise of their argument. There is no basis for the assumption that suffering is always the consequence of personal wrongdoing.

Jobís response: (12:1-6) Ė Observation reveals that piety does not necessarily exempt one from suffering. In fact, it is frequently the case that "the tents of robbers prosper." The man from Uz thus defends his innocence.

Job doesnít deny he is a sinner but claims that that his misfortune is out of proportion with any transgression he might have committed.

Occasionally, Job does seem to make some rather drastic statements, but he acknowledges that his utterances are those of a "desperate" man. (6:26)

Elihu's Position

Elihu, a fourth friend of Job's enters the controversy later and is angry with the Job's "comforters" because they condemned him and yet offered no solution.

He was further agitated with Job himself because he "justified himself rather than God." Job had been more concerned with his own honor than the Lord's.

Elihu contends that suffering is not necessarily a punishment for sins committed. It may serve to teach, to strengthen, or it may be preventative in nature. Job listens in silence.

God speaks to Job

The Lord does not condescend to quibbling with Job; rather, He overpowers him with a grand affirmation of His universal sovereignty as evidenced by the unparalleled glories of the created world.

Read and be thrilled by the record in Job 38-41. This chronicle of divine power reduces Job to the proper level of humility.

New Testament reference:
Peter's humiliation and confession, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man," when he was so impressed with the awesome power of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 5:6-9).

Job confesses, "Therefore have I uttered that which I understood not. Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not." And again, "Wherefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes." (42:1-6)

Job is blessed:  Because Job maintained his integrity, he is commended and blessed by the Lord.

As to material prosperity, "Jehovah gave Job twice as much as he had before." He was again blessed with ten children. The sterling character of this man of God is revealed by his prayer for his three pseudo-comforters. Truly, he was a great man.


The Purpose of the Book
(Some Lessons to be Learned From Job)

First: The book is a defense of the absolute glory and perfection of God. It sets forth the theme echoed by the Psalmist: "I will call upon Jehovah, who is worthy to be praised" (Psalms 18:3).

Satan charged that God is only served by man because the creation wants the blessings that are doled out by the Creator. And so, the devil said to the Lord, "Job doesn't serve you for nothing! You make it profitable for him to do so." In other words, Job knows where his bread and butter come from! Accordingly, the Tempter says, "Take his blessings away, and he will curse you to your face." This was to say in effect, "You are not worthy of human service on the basis of who you are, i.e., your nature."

The whole challenge was a diabolical stab at God. The Lord, therefore, allowed Satan to remove a vast amount of Job's comforts and yet the sage of Uz continued to serve his God, thus establishing that our Creator is worthy of our devotion even when we do not know nor understand what He is doing.

God is deserving of our praise simply on the basis of who He is, apart from the blessings He bestows. This is a vital point of this book.

Second: This book addresses itself to man's anguished cry of, "Why? Oh, Why?" must humanity be heir to suffering? Not that this narrative answers the question of the origin of suffering; it plainly does not. It does, however, show several things about the matter.

First of all, the Book of Job is an eloquent commentary on man's inability analize the painful experiences of human existence. God's workings are far beyond the limits of man's finite mind. Man simply cannot tie all of the "loose ends" of the Lord's purposes together. We must learn, therefore, to trust God no matter what our circumstances are.

Suffering is not always the result of personal sin. Suffering may be allowed as a compliment to one's spirituality! God PERMITTED Job to suffer because He was proud of him. The patriarch was Jehovah's answer to Satan's challenge; he was his Maker's "trophy." Job's misfortunes, therefore, were really a tremendous tribute to him.

Third: this book paints a beautiful portrait of the word "patience." In the New Testament James wrote: "Behold, we call them blessed that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful" (James 5:11).

James highlights the endurance of Job, his persistent trust in God is shown in such passages as 13:10,15; 16:19-21; 19:25ff. If we maintain our fidelity to God, even under great tribulation when we do not understand what is happening, this is patience! Ultimately, everything will be alright!

Finally: As with the other books of the Old Testament, Job prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. One writer says: "Questions are raised, great sobs of agony are heard, which Jesus alone can answer. The book takes its place in the testimony of the ages that there is a blank in the human heart which Jesus alone can fill."

Christ is anticipated in the Book of Job in several ways. The patriarch longs for a mediator (9:33; 33:23) and, of course, Christ is one (I Timothy 2:5). Job confesses a Redeemer and the Lord Jesus is that Redeemer (Luke 1:68).

Job helps us to understand how Jesus Christ, the world's most righteous person, could be the world's greatest sufferer. Job's suffering defended God's honor; Christ's death permitted man's salvation while maintaining Heaven's justice (cf. Romans 3:24-26).


Conclusion
Belief in providence determines many of the basic attitudes of true piety. The knowledge that God watches and works in our lives teaches us to wait on Him in faithfulness, humility, and patience for vindication and deliverance (Ps. 37; 40:13ff; James 5:7ff; 1 Peter 5:6ff). It discourages us from growing despondent, and brings us courage and hope. It inspires us to pray for Godís benevolent help, and to praise Him for all good things.