Introduction And Overview To The Book Of Job

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture citations are from the Contemporary English Version)

Questions For Consideration 

Why does God allow evil?  

When a person suffers, is it because God is punishing him?

Who is Satan?  

How are some of the ways that Satan works in the Earth? 

The Origin Of The Book Of Job 

 The Book of Job is probably the oldest Book in the Bible.

The Bible talks about Job as being a man who made sacrifices and intercession for his children (Job 1:1-5), although Job was clearly not a Levite (remembering that priests could only come from the tribe of Levi under the Old Testament Law-Hebrews 7;14). Further, the name of Job (as well as several of the other men and nations listed in his Book) is consistent with the names of many ancient Mesopotamian terms. These facts have led many to believe that Job predated the time of Moses.

Henry Morris tells us: 

“As noted above, its setting, structure, theme, and internal references correspond more to the early chapters of Genesis than to any other section of Scripture. This correlates beautifully with the fact that ancient Jewish tradition has always attributed it to Moses, not to some unknown dramatist of the Solomonic or exile periods. Furthermore, modern archaeological research supports the probability that Job’s author lived no later than the time of Moses, and probably much earlier. The name Job has been found in a number of tablets dated 2,000 B.C. (the time of Abraham) or earlier. These include Akkadian documents from Tel-el-Amarna, Mari, and Alalakh, and the Execration Texts from Egypt. The name “Bildad” has also been noted in a cuneiform text from this period. Finally, a number of Sumerian documents incorporate the literary motif of the righteous sufferer. None of these archaeological references should be taken as referring to the actual Biblical record, of course. Nevertheless, they do confirm the high probability that the biblical account was written sometime in the same general period. Writers of many centuries later could hardly have been aware of these archaeological data. The tradition of Mosaic authorship of Job should, therefore, be taken quite seriously, but in the same sense that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are ascribed to Moses. The events in both these records took place long before Moses’ time, so he would necessarily have to draw on earlier records. In the case of Genesis 1-11, the evidence is quite strong that tablets written by the ancient patriarchs were handed down from Adam to Noah to Shem and so on, finally to be compiled and edited by Moses.2 In somewhat the same fashion, Moses must have obtained the tablets recounting Job’s experiences, recognizing them as a supremely important revelation of God’s dealings with all men, even with those outside his covenant relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then, in the way he incorporated Genesis along with his personal writings in the other four books of the Pentateuch, he prepared the Book of Job for later generations of Israelites, who soon recognized it as inspired Scripture. As to when Moses did this, it is probable that he acquired the documents during his forty-year exile in Midian (Acts 7:23, 30), which is near Edom and Uz. It is possible that Moses met some of Job’s children or grandchildren during this time and persuaded them to part with the Joban tablets. From them, Moses could have learned more about God and perhaps more insight on the persecutions he and the people of Israel were experiencing. He also could have used them to instruct the Israelites later. He probably would not have had access at this time to the Genesis documents, which had been handed down through Jacob and were presumably in safekeeping in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were dwelling. Later he would see these and learn how beautifully they complemented the Book of Job. The above scenario is speculative, but it is more reasonable than the speculations of those who think Job was written many centuries after Moses. The firm Jewish tradition associating Moses with the Book of Job did not spring out of thin air.”” (Henry Morris, The Remarkable Record Of Job: The Ancient Wisdom, Scientific Accuracy, & Life-Changing Message Of An Amazing Book, 180-206 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)

 The Book of Job is a Book about several topics, including spiritual warfare and the reasons behind evil, pain, and suffering.

It focuses on Job, a righteous man who endured great suffering, and whose three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) proclaim that his suffering is the result of personal sin.

As such, the Book can be broken down into the following format: 

Prologue (Job 1-2)

Job Curses The Day Of His Birth And Wishes He Had Never Been Born (Job 3)

Eliphaz And Job Debate (Job 4-7)

Bildad And Job Debate (Job 8-10)

Zophar And Job Debate (Job 11-14)

Eliphaz Accuses Job Of Folly And Wickedness (Job 15)

Job Tells His Friends What He Thinks Of Their Words And Counsel (Job 16-17)

Bildad And Job Debate (Job 18-19)

Zophar And Job Debate (Job 20-21)

Eliphaz And Job Debate (Job 22-24)

Bildad Proclaims That Man Cannot Be Righteous (Job 25)

Job Reflects On The Power And Control Of God, His Innocence, And The Fate Of The Wicked (Job 26-27)

Job Reflects On The Wisdom Of God (Job 28)

Job Defends His Innocence, Remembers When God Had Blessed Him And Been His Closest Friend, And His Present Suffering, And Ends His Speaking (Job 29-31)

Elihu Defends The Goodness And Righteousness Of God, While Condemning Eliphaz, Zopohar, Bildad, And Job (Job 32-37)

The Lord Finally “Appears” To Job And Answers Him In A Whirlwind (Job 38-41)

Job Repents For What He Has Spoken Against God, And His Three Friends Repent When The Lord Rebukes Them; Job Is Greatly Blessed (Job 42)

The Land Of Uz

 We are told that Job was from the land of Uz (Job 1:1).

Other passages of Scripture indicate that this land was near the country of Edom: 

Lamentations 4:21 (NKJV)-Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, You who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you And you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.

 Further, a man named Uz is found in genealogies of people from the country of Edom (Genesis 36:28; 1 Chronicles 1:42).

The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Genesis 25:23, 30).

The following map shows the location of Edom to ancient Israel (map copied from: http://www.booksofthebible.com/p5388.html): 
Job’s Spiritual Status 

 Job is introduced to us as a “righteous man.”  

Job 1:1-Many years ago, a man named Job lived in the land of Uz. He was a truly good person, who respected God and refused to do evil.

 Despite the fact that Job is identified as a righteous man, we soon learn that he still acknowledged that he is a sinner:

Job 10:13-14-13 You have not explained all of your mysteries,14 but you catch and punish me each time I sin.

Job 13:26-Why do you accuse me of horrible crimes and make me pay for sins I did in my youth?

Job 31:33-34-33 Many have attempted to hide their sins from others— but I refused. 34 And the fear of public disgrace never forced me to keep silent about what I had done.

 Many peoples teach that being “righteous” means never sinning or never struggling with sin: the Book of Job shows us clearly that this is not the case.

In fact, the Bible is clear that God’s people struggle with sin of which we are in need of forgiveness continually before God (1 John 1:8-2:2; ; Hebrews 4:15-17).

Those who maintain that they are sinlessly perfect are at odds with the Word of God.  

 Throughout the Book of Job, the patriarch goes through horrible suffering and calamity. His friends tell him that he is being punished because he has committed some terrible sin and that God will restore everything to him if he will just repent. The problem is: Job knows that this is not the case!

Throughout his Book, Job maintains his innocence before God: 

Job 6:24-What have I done wrong? Show me, and I will keep quiet.

Job 9:15-Even though I am innocent, I can only beg for mercy.  

Job 9:21-I am not guilty, but I no longer care what happens to me.

Job 10:2-Don’t just condemn me! Point out my sin.

Job 12:4-I have always lived right, and God answered my prayers; now friends make fun of me.

Job 27:5-6-5 Until the day I die, I will refuse to do wrong by saying you are right, 6 because each day my conscience agrees that I am innocent.

 In Job chapter 29, Job tells us of some of his many righteous deeds.

He remembers when he delivered the poor who cried out, as well as the fatherless (Job 29:12).

He helped those who were dying, and comforted widows in their despair (Job 29:13).

He “put on righteousness,” and he put on justice like a robe and a turban (Job 29:14).

He was “eyes to the blind,” and “feet to the lame” (Job 29:15), as well as a father to the poor and one who went out of his way to help those who had been mistreated (Job 29:16).

He punished the most wicked (Job 29:17).  

 Even though Job knew that he was a sinner, he understood that the suffering he was enduring was not because of his own personal sin.  

b>Job’s Faith In God

 Throughout the Book of Job, we see that the patriarch struggled with his faith in the goodness of God. During his ordeal, Job remembers the close relationship he enjoyed with God: 

Job 29:1-5-1 Job said: 2 I long for the past, when God took care of me, 3 and the light from his lamp showed me the way through the dark. 4 I was in the prime of life, God All-Powerful was my closest friend, 5 and all of my children were nearby.

 However, during his ordeal and struggle, Job began to question the goodness of God. His faith in God fluctuated during these times. Sometimes, he believed that God was good and would make His reasons known for his suffering.

At other times, he believed that God was either indifferent toward Job’s suffering, ignorant of his innocence, or downright capricious and evil.  

 Throughout the Book, we see all of these beliefs manifested at different times and in different ways.  

 When Job was told about the loss of his children and of his fortune, we are told of his reaction: 

Job 1:20-22-20 When Job heard this, he tore his clothes and shaved his head because of his great sorrow. He knelt on the ground, then worshiped God 21 and said: “We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The LORD alone gives and takes. Praise the name of the LORD!” 22 In spite of everything, Job did not sin or accuse God of doing wrong.  

 Later, after prolonged suffering, we read several statements of Job that demonstrate his struggles with whether or not the Lord is a truly good God: 

Job 6:4-The fearsome arrows of God All-Powerful have filled my soul with their poison.

Job 7:13-14-13 I go to bed, hoping for rest, 14 but you torture me with terrible dreams.

Job 9:21-24-21 I am not guilty, but I no longer care what happens to me. 22 What difference does it make? God destroys the innocent along with the guilty. 23 When a good person dies a sudden death, God sits back and laughs. 24 And who else but God blindfolds the judges, then lets the wicked take over the earth?

Job 10:3-3 Why do you take such delight in destroying those you created and in smiling on sinners?

Job 10:16-17-16 No matter how hard I try, you keep hunting me down like a powerful lion. 17 You never stop accusing me; you become furious and attack over and over again.

 Despite these doubts, Job maintains that he will strive to trust in God: 

Job 13:15-God may kill me, but still I will trust him and offer my defense.

 In fact, at one point Job believes that one of the reasons why God has allowed him to suffer so very much is because God is testing and refining him: 

Job 23:10 (Amplified Version)-But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous]. [Psa 17:3; Psa 66:10; Jas 1:12]

Putting God On Trial

 Job continually manifested a desire to approach God in a courtroom like situation and “prove” himself and his innocence to God: 

Job 13:3-But I prefer to argue my case with God All-Powerful—

Job 23:3-7-3 If I knew where to find God, I would go there 4 and argue my case. 5 Then I would discover what he wanted to say. 6 Would he overwhelm me with his greatness? No! He would listen. 7 because I am innocent, and he would say, “I now set you free!”

 Near the end of the Book of Job, God grants Job his request. 

Satan 

 We are taught a great deal in the Book of Job about Satan.

The first mention of Satan in the Book of Job places him in the company of the Angels of God, in the Presence of God Himself: 

Job 1:6-One day, when the angels had gathered around the LORD, and Satan was there with them, 

Job 2:1-When the angels gathered around the LORD again, Satan was there with them, 

 The appearance of Satan with the Angels has led many to believe that his identity is tied in with the angelic race, which other Scriptures more clearly suggest and elaborate upon (cf. Ezekiel 28:11-19).  

 Of particular interest is what the Bible says that Satan is doing on the Earth: 

Job 1:7- the LORD asked, “Satan, where have you been?” Satan replied, “I have been going all over the earth.”

Job 2:2-and the LORD asked, “Satan, where have you been?” Satan replied, “I have been going all over the earth.”

 Speaking of the phrases “walking all over the earth,” Albert Barnes provides this excellent word study: 

“Dr. Good renders this, “from roaming round.” Noyes, “from wandering over.” The word which is here used ( שׁוּט shû ṭ ) means properly, (1.) to whip, to scourge, to lash; (2.) to row, that is, to lash the sea with oars; (3.) to run up and down, to go here and there, or to and fro, so as to lash the air with one‘s arms as with oars, and hence, to travel over a land, or to go through it in order to see it, 2 Samuel 24:2 , 2 Samuel 24:8 . Dr. Good, in conformity with the interpretation proposed by Schultens, says that “the word imports, not so much the act of going forward and backward, as of making a circuit or circumference; of going round about. The Hebrew verb is still in use among the Arabic writers, and in every instance implies the same idea of gyration or circumambulation.” In Arabic, according to Castell, the word means “to heat, to burn, to cause to boil, to consume:” then to propel to weariness, as e. g. a horse, and then to make a circuit, to go about at full speed, to go with diligence and activity. Thus, in Carnuso, as quoted by Schultens, “a course made at one impulse to the goal is called שׁוט shô ṭ In 2 Samuel 24:2 , the word is used in the sense of passing around through different places for the purpose of taking a census. “Go now (Margin, “compass”) through all the tribes of Israel.” In Numbers 11:8 , it is applied to the Israelites going about to collect manna, passing rapidly and busily in the places where it fell for the purpose of gathering it….From these passages it is clear that the idea is not that of going “in a circuit” or circle, but it is that of passing rapidly; of moving with alacrity and in a hurry; and it is not improbable that the “original” idea is that suggested in the Arabic of “heat” and thence applied to a whip or scourge because it produces a sensation like burning, and also to a rapid journey or motion, because it produces heat or a glow. It means that Satan had been active and diligent in passing from place to place in the earth to survey it. The Chaldee adds to this, “to examine into the works of the sons of men.” And from walking That is, to investigate human affairs. On this verse it is observed by Rosenmullcr, that in the life of Zoroaster (see Zendavesta by John G. Kleukner, vol. 3: p. 11,) the prince of the evil demons, the angel of death, whose name is “Engremeniosch,” is said to go far and near through the world for the purpose of injuring and opposing good people.” (Albert Barnes, Commentary On Job, 995-1028 (Kindle Edition))

 Satan shows his hatred of humanity and of God in his attacks upon Job. He is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). After killing Job’s family and taking away his wealth, he turned his attacks on Job’s health: 

Job 2:7-10-7 Satan left and caused painful sores to break out all over Job’s body—from head to toe. 8 Then Job sat on the ash-heap to show his sorrow. And while he was scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery, 9 his wife asked, “Why do you still trust God? Why don’t you curse him and die?” 10 Job replied, “Don’t talk like a fool! If we accept blessings from God, we must accept trouble as well.” In all that happened, Job never once said anything against God.

Job’s Three Friends 

 We are told about Job’s three friends who made an appointment to come and console him as they heard about his suffering.  

Job 2:11-13-11 Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah were three of Job’s friends, and they heard about his troubles. So they agreed to visit Job and comfort him. 12 When they came near enough to see Job, they could hardly recognize him. And in their great sorrow, they tore their clothes, then sprinkled dust on their heads and cried bitterly. 13 For seven days and nights, they sat silently on the ground beside him, because they realized what terrible pain he was in.  

 These three friends (and their places of origin) tell us much about who they are.

Hugh Ross explains: 

“Eliphaz, who took the lead in the debate against Job, is identified in the text as a Temanite. Teman is a city in Edom. Edom encompasses the southern portion of what is now the nation of Jordan. Teman was famous in the ancient world for its exceptionally wise scholars.[4] Ancient literature indicates this fame persisted for centuries. The prophet Jeremiah comments on Teman in a series of rhetorical questions: “Is there no longer wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed?” (Jer. 49:7). Given the eight-hundred-mile distance between Teman and Job’s home in the land of Uz (see fig. 2.1) and the investment required to undertake such a journey, it seems likely that Teman’s leaders sent their most gifted scholar, Job’s friend and peer, to offer comfort. It makes sense that Eliphaz, the most revered, was probably the Temanite best known to Job, and the text indicates (see Job 2:11 and 42:10) that, despite the distance, Eliphaz was among Job’s dearest friends. The text suggests that Zophar and Bildad were of virtually equal abilities to Eliphaz and also close friends to Job. Apparently, when word of Job’s devastating losses and sufferings spread, the world of that time sent their three most eminent wise men to offer comfort and counsel. Who else could even try?” (Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures In The Book Of Job: How The Oldest Book In The Bible Answers Today’s Scientific Questions, 28-29 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

 These friends of Job were actually pawns of Satan, as is made clear in the “dream” or “vision” that Eliphaz had (cf. Job 4:12-19). Throughout the Book of Job, they try to convince Job that the only reason why people suffer is because they are being punished for personal sin. Sadly, Job himself shows that he believes in this doctrine as well, at least at times during his ordeal. However, throughout the Book, he maintains his innocence in the face of his friends accusations.

At the end of Job, God clearly demonstrates that what Job’s friends had said about the Lord was clearly not accurate (Job 42:7-9).  

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