GENERAL FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK OF JOB
No one knows who wrote the Book of Job. Some guesses have been Moses, Job himself, or Solomon. Neither do we know for sure when the events recorded in Job took place. Descriptions within the book may indicate that the events took place sometime during the time of the Patriarchs. The place of the story of Job is the land of Uz, sometimes regarded to be a part of modern Saudi Arabia. The introduction to Job in chapters 1 and 2 is written in prose. But the rest of the book is recorded in poetry.(See section on “Hebrew Poetry”) Even by those who do not accept the inspiration of the Bible, the Book of Job is commonly judged to be one of the world’s great masterpieces of poetry. The fact that most of the book is poetry does not mean that it speaks of imaginary things. It is clear from the book itself and from other books of the Bible that events recorded in Job are real historical events. The fact that it is written in poetry only adds to its appeal and beauty. Those who work at translating the Book of Job from the original Hebrew quickly learn that it is one of the most difficult books of the Bible to translate. We can only guess at the meaning of some words and expression. However, the main thoughts that the Holy Spirit has recorded for us come through clearly.
THE MAIN SUBJECT
The subject of the Book of Job is an ancient one but will be of constant interest as long as the earth stands. Stated in a question, the subject is: “If God is just and good, why does he let his people suffer?” That was Job’s question when great suffering came to him. Likewise that is our question when a faithful Christian from one of our churches experiences suffering or when disaster comes to us. The answer to the problem of suffering is not completely answered in Job. Job’s three friends often gave wrong answers to the question of why Job was suffering. Too easily they assumed that his suffering was God’s punishment on him for his sin. The fact is that there is no easy human answer to the problem of believers’ suffering. All things are finally in God’s hands, and that included the control over the suffering of a believer and the answer to the question, “Why this suffering?” From the New Testament we have this comforting assurance whenever suffering comes to Christians; “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
THEME AND OUTLINE
“THE PROBLEM OF BELIEVERS’ SUFFERING”
1. Disaster Strikes Job (1-2)
2. Job’s Three Friends Debate with him about his Suffering (3-31)
3. Elihu Speaks (32-37)
4. God Speaks to Job and At Last Restores Him (38-42)
A SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS OF JOB
Job is a blameless and upright believer whom God blessed with great wealth, health, and a good family. God allows Satan to take all of this from him. He loses his wealth, his children are killed, and he is afflicted with painful sores from head to foot. Still Job is able to say in faith: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (1:21). Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar come to debate with him about his suffering. They offer their various arguments about why he is suffering and what he should do; Job responds to them. Next Elihu comes to offer his opinions. Job’s faith sometimes seems to weaken in his suffering, but he does not give up his faith. God will not let him suffer more than his faith is able to carry. In chapter 19:25-27 Job makes a beautiful confession of faith in his coming Redeemer: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Finally God himself speaks to Job. He asks Job a series of questions that show Job his own smallness. Job finds satisfaction when he repents of ever questioning God’s ways and throws himself on God’s mercy. At last God prospers Job once again and gives him twice as much as he had before.
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