Job, the book, tells the story of Job, the man of God. It is a gripping drama of riches-to-rags-to-riches, a theological treatise about suffering and divine sovereignty and a picture of faith that endures. As you read Job, analyze your life and check your foundation. And may you be able to say that when all is gone but God, he is enough.
Job was a prosperous farmer living in the land of Uz. He had thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock, a large family, and many servants. Suddenly, Satan the Accuser came before God claiming that Job was trusting God only because he was wealthy and everything was going well for him. And so the testing of Job’s faith began.
Satan was allowed to destroy Job’s children, servants, livestock, herdsmen, and home; but Job continued to trust in God. Next Satan attacked Job physically, covering him with painful sores. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die (2:9), but Job suffered in silence.
Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to visit him. At first they silently grieved with Job. But when they began to talk about the reasons for Job’s tragedies, they told him that sin had caused his suffering. They told him to confess his sins and turn back to God. But Job maintained his innocence.
Unable to convince Job of his sin, the three men fell silent (32:1). At this point, another voice—the young Elihu—entered the debate. Although his argument also failed to convince Job, it prepared the way for God to speak.
It should not be concluded that all the objections of Job’s friends represent other than the view of God contemporary to their times. As the revelation of God’s nature has unfolded through history and the Scriptures, we find that some of their views have been shown as incomplete. This, of course, does not make the text less than inspired, but gives us a Holy Spirit-inspired report of the incidents as they occurred.
Finally, God spoke out of a mighty storm. Confronted with the great power and majesty of God, Job fell in humble reverence before God—speechless. God rebuked Job’s friends, and the drama ended with Job restored to happiness and wealth.
It is easy to think that we have all the answers. In reality, only God knows exactly why things happen as they do, and we must submit to him as our Sovereign. As you read this book, emulate Job and decide to trust God no matter what happens.
As we review the whirlwind address we come to three conclusions regarding Job’s suffering:
1) Job was not meant to know the explanation of his sufferings. Some things about human suffering God cannot possibly explain to us at the time without destroying the very purpose they were designed to fulfill.
2) God is involved in human affairs: Job and his grief meant enough to God to cause Him to speak.
3) God’s purpose also was to bring Job to the end of his own self-righteousness, self-vindication, and self-wisdom, so he could find his all in God.
The Book of Job teaches several lessons:
1) God is sovereign.We cannot understand His workings by rational thinking alone; faith must rest in God’s love and our knowledge of Him. Sovereignty means that God is all-powerful; He knows all, He is everywhere present, and His decision is final (Jer. 4:8; Dan. 4:17). God is the author of all the power of the universe.
2) We understand ourselves and our lives in direct relationship to our understanding of the character and workings of God. When we understand that God’s will toward us is good (John 10:10), that God cares and communicates His caring to His children—as He did to Job—this changes everything. Faith must have a resting place. When deep suffering threatens the foundations of faith, as was the case with Job, an assault on our faith can destroy us unless we are firmly rooted in these truths.
3) In times of tragedy we face the temptation of making God our adversary instead of our advocate. With Job of old, we can focus on declaring our innocence and questioning the justice of God, or we can bow in humility and wait for God to reveal Himself and His purposes to us.
4) The testing of our faith in God is an individual, personal testing. At times uncontrollable forces may come against us. Family, friends, and other sources of strength may be taken from us, leaving us seemingly alone in the battle. It is in this aloneness, however, that we must hear God’s voice rather than the voice of others. We must trust Him to fill our voids and return us to victory.
Job was tested. With a life filled with prestige, possessions, and people, he was suddenly assaulted on every side, devastated, stripped down to his foundation. But his life was built on God, and he endured.