The Big Book–Cover to Cover: Job

We’re moving from the historical books to the Wisdom/Poetry Literature, beginning with the book of Job.

In this important text we are forced to ask impossible questions about difficulties in life: loss, illness, suffering; and to wrestle with the possibility that, perhaps, the answers to those questions aren’t ours to have.
Join us as Michael helps us understand the book of Job.

Show Notes

Job brings us to the Wisdom Books, sometimes called Poetic Literature.

Distinguishing features from previous sections:

  • The Pentateuch is one book in five “chapters,” which, in addition to the 1st’s and 2nd’s, offers chronological, historical narrative.
  • Wisdom/Poetic Literature does NOT continue the historical record of Israel. Rather, it chronicles matters of universal significance.

Notable:

  • Wisdom is a life-long pursuit. We never get there. 
  • “Poetic” Literature does not refer to its meter and rhyme, but to its structure – which includes many grammatical and narrative devices such as acrostics, word-play, restatement, repetition, parallelism, couplets, figures of speech, imagery, etc.

Overview:

Job is the oldest/earliest book in the Bible, likely set during the same time as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

We have no indication of the author, nor the location of the land of Uz.

The title refers to the main character and may simply be a proper name, but may also suggest more. Some define the Hebrew word Job from a similar form, which means “the object of enmity,” or, “to treat as an enemy.” Others appeal to the Aramaic word, “He who turns,” or, “returns,” – in this sense, one who repents.

Two references to Job from Scripture:
Ezekiel 14:14, James 5:11

 

From the text:

Job is described as righteous and prosperous in Job 1:1-5.

In Job 42:10-17, the last verses of the book, he is described as restored and even more prosperous. This structure is a beautiful part of the poetic/wisdom literature.

13 of the 1070 verses are “good,” the rest of the book weighs heavily on Job.

The Accuser

Job 6-9

This is a powerful account of an encounter in the heavenly realm. Notably: Satan is roaming about on the earth, while God refers to Job as, “My servant.”

Satan’s accusation is that the only reason Job is righteous is because God has blessed him and protected him.

Under God’s divine providence, He allows Satan to take away Job’s wealth, servants, children, livestock, and health. This “divine judgement” also cost Job his standing in his community as others took pleasure in Job’s misfortune.

Job’s friend’s misrepresent God (Job 16:2)

The book of Job is a study in how humans respond to suffering.

It’s unavoidable that Job’s plight invites analysis: Why is this happening?

But we will learn these are not the right questions, and we may not find the answers we think we deserve.

Job teaches us that God is personally aware of our situation(s) and is sovereignly working in ways we cannot comprehend.

It is ill-informed to see all of our suffering, trials, and losses, as due to a specific sin. This is perhaps the most offensive part of the story as Job’s sorry comforters stray into if-then, or cause-and-effect, theology.

Lessons:

  1. We are fallen creatures in a fallen context. We’re broken people in a broken world.A main theme of Job is how the righteous face suffering. Since God is loving, kind, merciful, and good – because He is not capricious, not evil, not an ogre – it is “human” to wonder, why?
  2. Don’t be surprised at the sorry comforters.
    A lot of their accusations and arguments come from an effort to thread the needle that God would not let an innocent person suffer.God may give you some good comforters in your suffering. If so, bless Him! But if not, part of dealing with suffering is alone and with God. Going through the suffering with God is the best path.
  3. When bad things happen, it’s good biblical common sense to ask, is this because of some sin? But keep in mind: we are all sinners in a fallen context, so it is naive to attribute some cause-and-effect or if-then theology to our circumstances. We may find a connection, but it seems that more often our sufferings, trials, and disappointments in life cannot be organized or tidied up in a box of explanations.While searching for explanations, because we are all fallen men and women, sinners by trade, we can overlook the most basic theology of all: He is God, and we are not.

    Psalm 115:3

  4. Maturity is living with unanswered questions.Maturity is accepting that you will not know the answers to why some horrible, sad, unjust, or evil things that have happened to you or your loved ones.

    I find comfort in the reality that God is loving and kind and merciful and patient and sovereign well beyond my self-protective and even self-righteous worldview.

  5. Maturity is when we grow from glimpses of faith in the midst of doubt to glimpses of doubt in the midst of faith.

    He is God; we are not.

Sources cited:
Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983

Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.



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