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Job 1-5 Listen
What you need to know about this book
We're not sure when Job was written. However, indications are that Job lived prior to Abraham. That's why we have interrupted our chronology through Genesis between chapters 11 and 12 to read this book of the Bible.
Reasons why we think Job preceded Abraham:
One more interesting point should be noted regarding the Book of Job: It's mostly poetic in form - Hebrew poetry. Beginning with the speeches in chapter 3, all the way down to chapter 42, the verses are carefully structured in poetic form. That makes it a little tough to translate from Hebrew and...granted...a little challenging to read. Many of the Hebrew words used in Job are used only once in the Bible.
Job covers for his kids (Job 1:1-5)
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
We don't know exactly where Job's home, Uz, was located. However, the hint in verse 3 ("...so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east") would indicate that it was east of Canaan. Then Jeremiah makes reference to Uz in Lamentations 4:21 when he says, "Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz." Edom was east of Canaan and inhabited by Esau's people. It could be that Job preceded Esau in Edom.
Job had a wife, seven sons and three daughters. The kids were a party bunch; Job offered sacrifices on their behalf just in case they might have sinned. In doing so, he operated as a priest on their behalf. This act demonstrates how very conscientious Job was regarding the issue of sin and the importance of one being completely right before God at all times. Clear examples of good fathering practices are scarce in the Old Testament; Job seems to be an example of a great dad.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Satan appears before God along with the other angels. He contends that Job only fears God because of his prosperity and the hedge of protection God has placed around him; take it away and Job will curse God. God agrees to let Satan tempt Job...that is...short of touching him personally. The Hebrew word for "Satan" is "satan" - that's right, a transliteration from Hebrew to English. The same Hebrew word is also translated "adversary" in the Old Testament. However, when the Hebrew definite article (like our English "the") precedes it, it is always an identification of the fallen angel, Satan himself. That is the case with every occurrence of the word in its 14 appearances in the Book of Job.
Some may find these stated circumstances for Job's trial a bit troubling. It almost seems as though two adversaries are betting on a contest with Job as the contestant. People often ask if these are still the same circumstances whereby people incur trial today. While I may not be able to give a definitive answer, let me submit to you differences between then and now as I see them. First of all, Job's case is one that would serve as a monumental case demonstrating the power and wisdom of God over Satan - a test case. It's the reference point for severe trial. In this respect, it stands uniquely as the scriptural model of severe trial from Satan for all generations to follow. Secondly, New Testament scripture shows us very clearly that Jesus Christ serves as each Believer's mediator and defender against Satan today; that's the cornerstone teaching of Romans 8 (see notes). So, while Satan does accuse us before God, Jesus stands there as our defender at the same time, a scenario not seen in the case of Job. Here's the New Testament guarantee for Christians regarding trial: I Corinthians 10:13 (see notes) says, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Incidentally, who thought that Satan spends his time hanging around in hell? Look at verse 7 and think again. When God asks Satan where he's been, he replies, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." You also might observe that verse 7 demonstrates Satan is not omnipresent as some think. While we're on it, Satan is not omniscient or omnipotent either; the scripture doesn't state that he has any of these three attributes. His power is subject to God's limitations on him and he can't read our minds. Wow! That's refreshing!
I can't help but identify a contemporary parallel to Satan's belief system regarding humankind here. Satan maintains that all men are "on the take" i.e. only do right when it is financially in their best interest (verse 11). There are many cynics who maintain that to be true today. Believe it or not, people led by God do not conduct their lives based upon selfish personal interests. That level of cynicism about spirit-led Believers originated with Satan himself.
We see in verse 12 that God limits Satan on this first occasion by restricting him from attacking Job's health.
How can so much go wrong so suddenly? (Job 1:13-22)
13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
The Sabeans, it is believed, were the descendants of Seba (Genesis 10:7). They attacked, followed by a fire (perhaps a lightning storm), followed by an attack by another nomadic tribe, the Chaldeans, followed by a tornado. When the smoke clears, Job's wealth and family are wiped out. What a day! Oh! He did manage to keep his wife through all the tragedy; she'll come in really handy in verse 2:9 (see below); you may want to read that verse RIGHT NOW!. Pay close attention to Job 1:22, "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." What Job experienced is classic trial - extreme, but classic. He was not being punished for sin, but God was allowing him to be tempted/tried by Satan. This principle of trial is clearly seen in the New Testament. Trial differs from chastisement in that chastisement comes from God, while trial comes from Satan. Chastisement is for the purpose of correcting disobedience in Believers, while trial is for the purpose of making the faith of Believers stronger.
You might be saying, "That's scary...Satan can do that?" Read the following two articles to gain perspective on trial and chastisement:
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
Here's the deal. Satan's severe attack didn't work. Look at God's commendation of Job on Satan's second visit in verse 3, "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause." So, Satan wants another shot at Job, and God grants it - short of death. Result: head-to-toe boils.
Notice that in the first round, Satan was not permitted to harm Job's body (Job 1:12, see above); Satan thinks that's the only reason Job endured. He challenges that, for fear of life, Job "will curse thee to thy face" (Job 2:5). Therefore, in this second round, Satan is allowed to do anything short of killing Job. Oh...by the way...Job still doesn't lose his wife; Satan has a special mission for her in verse 2:9.
9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
Remember from verse 2:5 what is Satan's goal? It is to prove to God that he can get Job to curse God to his face. Well...first up is Job's wife. Her solution right out of the starting gate to Job's tough circumstances is simple - "curse God, and die" - exactly what Satan is looking for Job to do according to Job 2:5 (see above). What a woman! Some have suggested that I'm just too hard on Job's nameless wife. To that I reply...naaaaaa. Then three of Job's friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite show up together and sit with Job seven days on the ground without saying a word to him. This act alone seems to show compassion on their part, but their counseling, as we will see, is severely flawed...but not as flawed as that of Job's wife (sorry, I couldn't resist).
1 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
2 And Job spake, and said,
3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
5 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.
6 As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.
7 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.
8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.
9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:
10 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
14 With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
15 Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
17 There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
18 There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
19 The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.
20 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
21 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
22 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?
24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.
25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
Job's a little short on answers, so he does his Jimmy Stewart impression (you remember that black and white Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life"). He starts out with, "It would have been better if I had never been born." Actually, Job's exact words in verse 3 are, "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived." You know, this story is only amusing because we've read the end of the book. Imagine this righteous man's grief when his whole life is upended, and he has no answers. There's a serious, valuable lesson to be learned from the Book of Job, and it's a lesson for any of us who find ourselves in a position like Job's friends. Don't counsel friends with your hunches, guesses or rationales. Counsel should be oozing with wisdom - God's wisdom - scripturally-validated wisdom. When it isn't, it becomes part of the problem rather than the solution. You'll see what I mean when we hear the reply of Job's misguided friends beginning in chapter 4 (see below).
HERE'S THE LESSON OF CHAPTER 3: Job is clueless about the source of his problems, yet he did not curse God. When undergoing trial, it is natural to question, "Why me?" Contrary to the counsel of Job's wife, we'll see at the end of the Book of Job that he retains his integrity by NOT cursing God. Here it is in a nutshell: Always assume that God is in control of your circumstances.
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
2 If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?
3 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
4 Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
5 But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
6 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?
7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?
8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
9 By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.
10 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions, are broken.
11 The old lion perisheth for lack of prey, and the stout lion’s whelps are scattered abroad.
12 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof.
13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
16 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying,
17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?
18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:
19 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?
20 They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it.
21 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.
Job expressed his grief in the preceding chapter like we probably would have under the same circumstances - with great emotion and not much fact. His doomsday monologue of chapter 3 is typical for those who find themselves in the midst of dire circumstances. Wouldn't it be nice to get some rational, factual counsel at a time like this? Well, he's not going to get it from Eliphaz. Please understand, Eliphaz waxes eloquent with a monologue speckled with truth, but it's not all truth. That's really the case today, isn't it. Many people express themselves with just enough truth to cause you to trust them, but their overall message is riddled with error. Eliphaz characterizes God, but incorrectly so. For instance, look at verse 7 when he says, "...who ever perished, being innocent?" He wants to suggest that Job MUST be guilty of something to have all of this evil befall him. He goes on in verse 10 to suggest that all mortals are guilty of something before God; thus, the reason for punishment. Eliphaz is just determined to prove that Job's situation is a punishment for sin. And how did Eliphaz come by this knowledge? Look at verses 12-16 - a vision! That's right, a vision from God! At least that's what he claimed. But wait! We already know that this is not why these things are happening to Job; so what's the deal with the vision in the night? May I suggest to you that you should beware of doctrine derived from visions - especially someone else's vision. Just stick to doctrine that can be derived from the principles of God's Word.
Ol' Eliphaz just can't stop talking. (Job 5)
1 Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?
2 For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.
3 I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
4 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.
5 Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
9 Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:
10 Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:
11 To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.
12 He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
13 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.
14 They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.
15 But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.
16 So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.
20 In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.
21 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.
22 At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
23 For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.
24 And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.
25 Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth.
26 Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.
27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.
Several years ago I memorized 5:7. I just like the way it sounds, "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." Taken out of context, it's true - taking it to mean that everybody will experience trouble in this life. In context, however, we have a different story. Verse 17 demonstrates that Eliphaz is convinced Job is being chastised. He seems to be suggesting that because no mortal is perfect before God, it is only natural that he will experience the chastening hand of God for his sin. While God does chastise Believers according to Hebrews 12:6-8 (see notes), all adversity is not chastisement as he suggests here, and we know this is not the source of Job's adversity in this situation. Note that even Paul quotes a true statement of Eliphaz in I Corinthians 3:19 (see notes) found here in verse 13. Like I said, some of what Eliphaz said was true, but not all of it. Then he goes into the it's-going-to-get-better part of his monologue. Now, in fact, it does get better, but there is no way Eliphaz can know that - especially since his whole supposition is incorrect in the first place. It's just the cheer-up-Job part, not really based on any facts of which he was aware. People do that, you know.