The Expository Files

Good Job!


He was a good man, known for his loyalty to God, his endurance and patience. Yes, Job was a good man, and from that we get the title of this article.

The New Testament uses Job as an example of patience in the midst of turmoil and horrible tragedy as well as victory after the struggle. Christians are urged to also be patient when times are filled with trial and loss and wait until the Lord comes. His coming is always potentially at hand, and our being with Him is only a breath away. If we endure, even unto death, we shall rejoice. James writes, "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (James 5:7-11).

When Did Job Live?
The historical references in the Book of Job seem to suggest Job was a faithful man of God who lived sometime between Noah and Moses, making Job a product of the Patriarchal age. First, there are no allusions to the Law of Moses in the book. This seems to suggest that he lived before the Law. Second, Eliphaz refers to a flood that swept away the wicked (22:16). This very likely would refer to the flood of Noah, which had already occurred. Third, as faithful patriarchs did, Job functioned as the spiritual head of his family and offered sacrifice as a priest in their behalf (1:5). Finally, Job's lifespan fit with the later patriarchs (such as Abraham) by living 140 more years after the events of the book (42:16).

Some Lessons of the Book
The book of Job contains many lessons that are applicable to the human experience. Some chief points:

God is great. He deserves our praise, devotion and loyalty regardless of present distresses. He deserves these things because of His majesty as God, our Creator.

Questions about suffering are asked, but not all of them are specifically answered. The lessons include points that man is unable to fathom all the reasons behind suffering, pain and apparent injustice. We must continue to trust God. Also, we learn that suffering is not the result of personal sin, or at least not necessarily so. In fact, the suffering of the righteous may well be a testing or proving ground.

There perhaps is no better example of human patience and endurance than Job; and the possibility of unlimited and unconditional human loyalty to God.

The Personalities in the Book of Job
The personalities of the book include God, Satan, Job, Job's wife; Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu. Most of the book is a series of debates between Job and his friends. All have some good things to say, but all are also misinformed and mistaken about some of their conclusions. Eliphaz seems the most sympathetic, Bildad is somewhat in between, and Zophar is one of those "with friends like this, who needs enemies?" Elihu is a younger man that speaks up at the end of the debate.

The Great Indictment
Job was a man of remarkable character (1:8). He was concerned by his family's lack of spirituality as they gave themselves constantly to parties. (1:4). Satan makes an accusation against Job, and really all who seek to live righteously before God. The charge is that neither Job (nor anyone else) serves God for nothing. We have to be "bought". We have no true integrity. If God blesses us we will worship Him, but if there are no blessings, then forget it! Satan is pretty cynical about it, having himself failed to keep his proper estate because of his own pride. He insists that we can be no different than Satan himself. (1:9-11).God permits a test. If God is right (and, of course, He is) then the test will prove that we creatures who bear His image are able to be truly devoted to God. They say, "Every man has his price." Satan said it as well. But God says they are wrong! Job proves it for himself and all of us.

In one day, Job suffers the loss of his oxen and donkeys, sheep and camels, servants and his sons and daughters. Job's reaction is a tremendous example of integrity (1:20-22). Disappointed, Satan explains away his mistaken idea about Job by saying the test was not severe enough. The Lord permits Satan to inflict Job's health (2:7,8). Job's wife lacks or loses her faith and Job reprimands her (2:9,10). Ironically, Job's wife reacts just the way Satan had said Job would! This shows us that faith and loyalty is always a choice, and we each can choose to go either way.

When Job's three friends arrive. They are stunned at what they find as they look upon Job (2:11-13).

The Great Debates
Job maintains his integrity throughout the book, in spite of the fact that he is confused about why these awful things have happened to him. He, and his friends, all are under the notion that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. The friends insists that Job has sinned and needs to repent, and Job insists that he hasn't, and cannot explain why, though righteous, he is suffering so greatly. Job desires several things: he looks forward to death (but never considers taking his own life). He would also like an opportunity to address God face to face and suggest a mistake has been made. A large part of the book consists of points of argument between the friends and Job.

God Speaks
Job gets his wish: an audience with God. The Lord rebukes Job for insinuating things about which he knows nothing. (38:1-2). God then challenges Job to answer a few questions. God knows the answers; does Job? (38:3). The questions are designed to remind Job of God's power and wisdom. After this, God gives Job his opportunity to speak, but by this time Job is no longer interested because he is convinced he has said too much already (42:1-6). God blesses and restores Job (42:12a; 16,17)We should understand that we can be like Job and other heroes of faith. They were no different than we are in that they chose what they would be and we choose what we will be. What will you choose?

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 8.7; July 2001