Job – Be Patient (Waiting on God in Difficult Times)
– Presented on 25 Jul 10 by the Adult ” Class (Teacher: Choo Whatt Bin & )
Many of you would have heard of Job, that there was this man who suffered terribly though he did not do any wrong. He was reduced from being the “greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3) to nothing but skin and bones, and suffering terrible pain.
Perhaps not many of us might have studied in detail the long speeches of Job and his friends in which they debated strenuously the reasons for his suffering.
It’s a pity, because the heated debates in the speeches are a substantial part of the book of Job. The arguments in them are similar to the kinds of thought that would go through the human mind when people are hit by or faced with suffering and pain.
The problem, or challenge, in studying this book is that they are not straightforward direct speeches but ancient Hebrew poetry! They contain many complex literary devices, including much sarcasm.
The key to understanding the book of Job, however, is in the Prologue (Job 1 & 2), and God’s Response and Intervention (Job 38 – 42). Thankfully, the Prologue and the last part of the book (Job 42) are not in poetry but narrative prose, a text form which we are more familiar with.
Our Part 1 of the presentation comprises three parts:
- First, introduction to the book, and explanation of a few key words in the Prologue,
- Second, introduction to some literary aspects of the book, and
- Third, introduction to Job’s friends, and the main thrusts of the speeches.
It will not cover Chapters 38 to 42, where the Lord finally intervened, challenging Job and pronouncing judgments on Job’s three friends. Part 2 of the presentation by Raymond Lee’s class will include them.
Book of Job
In the Bible, the book of Job is considered a book of wisdom although Job himself is considered a prophet (James 5:10). It is found together with the other four books of wisdom – The Book of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.
Its human author is unknown, though Jewish rabbis had attributed the authorship to Moses. The book is named after the principal human character in it, Job.
Job is a real person. He is referred to both in the old testament and new testament. In Ezekiel 14:14, God said, “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it (Jerusalem), they would only deliver themselves, by their righteousness”. In James 5:11, the apostle said “We consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job…”.
Job’s name in English was derived from the Latin word “Iob”. It might have been derived from a Hebrew word meaning “Persecuted One” or an Arabic word meaning “Repentant One”.
Job lived in the land of Uz, a vast region in the East, i.e. east of river Jordan, which probably included parts or all of what was later called Edom. On the basis that place names were derived from the names of people in the early Old Testament times, Uz is either connected with Uz, a son of Aram, son Shem, son of Noah; or with Uz, the firstborn of Nahor, brother of Abraham.
Eliphaz the Temanite, chief of Job’s friends, hailed from Teman, which was a major region in Edom. It was associated with Teman, son of Eliphaz, firstborn of Esau, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.
So the time was probably around the period of the patriarchs, between Noah and Moses. Other internal evidences also support conclusion this:
- There was mention of the Flood (Job 22:16)
“They were carried off before their time, their foundations washed away by a flood.”
- Job’s longevity (~200 years) is typical of the patriarchs (Job 42:17):
|Name||Life Span (Years)|
- He acted as head of and priest for his household and offered sacrifices for his family (Job 1:5);
- His wealth was measured in terms of flocks and herds (Job 1:3):
Job’s Wealth (restored)
- Job and his friends referred to God by a pre-Mosaic name El/Eloah or God Almighty. (Job 1:6, …)
Let’s us now go to the Prologue, where behind the scenes, the stage was set for Job to be tested, as determined by the Lord but unknown to Job. Despite its being in prose, there are several keys words that need to be explained for a better understanding of the book.
In the Prologue, the angels came to present themselves twice (first and second heavenly council) before the Lord and Satan came along. God quizzed Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan replied, “From roaming through the earth, going back and forth in it” (Job 1:7, Job 2: 2).
The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
2 Samuel 24:2
So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
“Going back and forth” was also used in 2 Sam 24:2 to describe Joab’s tour of the land for the purposes of the census. “Roaming through the earth” was used in Zech 1:10 with regard to inspecting God’s kingdom. So in other words, Satan admitted to patrolling the earth, surveying the people with a view to causing a commotion wherever he could.
Then God quizzed Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?
There is no one like him, blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8).
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Have you considered my servant Job?” means “Have you been eyeing my servant Job?” or “Have you set your mind on my servant Job?”
God describes Job as “blameless”. That does not mean Job is sinless. The term “blameless” means without any defect, acceptable to God. It refers to a person or his ways or walk with God as being sincere and in consistent compliance with God’s will.
– Not “sinless”
– Without any defect, acceptable
– Morally straight
“Upright” means morally straight. Thus “the man was blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” sums up Job’s piety, i.e. his dutiful reverence for God.
Then Satan immediately replied, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him, his household and everything he has? Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1: 9 to 11).
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
So, Satan had indeed been eyeing Job!
Satan accused Job of being “hedged” in … (Job 1: 10), in other words, enjoying God’s protected prosperity. He incited God to take away every thing Job had, predicting that it would lead Job to “curse God in the face”. His intent was to lead Job to renounce God.
When God granted Satan permission at the first heavenly council, Satan cruelly took away all that Job had – his wealth and his children – all within a day, and making some of these appear like acts of God! Job grieved, but he also fell to the ground and worshipped God (Job 1:21).
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
At the second heavenly council where God again suggested that Satan consider His servant Job, He added that Job still “maintains his integrity” (Job 2:3).
Then the LORD said to Satan, “…he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
Job remained unimpaired in his piety to God. He remained as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:1) as before.
Then Satan said “Skin for Skin! A man will give all he had for his own life”. When God gave permission for Job to be so tested, Satan immediately struck Job with a horrible painful disease. It was so difficult for Job to bear that his wife urged him to “curse God and die!” Yet Job refused to renounce God and still maintained his integrity (Job 2:10).
The rest is history! I hope the explanation of those few key words has helped us to understand the setting in the Prologue better.