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Job 1-5   Listen Podcast


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 blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him.
3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.
4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer 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 Job did regularly.

We don't know exactly where Job's home, Uz, was located. However, the hint in verse 3 (" that this man was the greatest of all the people 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,You who dwell 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.

So, exactly why does Job fear God? (Job 1:6-12)

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
9 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out 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, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you 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 on the earth, and from walking back and forth on 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 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house;
14 and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,
15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
21 And he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

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 did not sin nor charge God with wrong." 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:

But Satan is not satisfied. (Job 2:1-8)

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.
“From where do you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
3 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
4 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.”
5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of 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, "Then the LORD said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited 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. the way...Job still doesn't lose his wife; Satan has a special mission for her in verse 2:9.

Enter: the comfort gang! (Job 2:9-13)

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.
12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.
13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to 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).

Job's pity-me speech #1 (Job 3)

1 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.
2 And Job spoke, and said:
3 “May the day perish on which I was born,
And the night in which it was said,
‘A male child is conceived.’
4 May that day be darkness;
May God above not seek it,
Nor the light shine upon it.
5 May darkness and the shadow of death claim it;
May a cloud settle on it;
May the blackness of the day terrify it.
6 As for that night, may darkness seize it;
May it not rejoice among the days of the year,
May it not come into the number of the months.
7 Oh, may that night be barren!
May no joyful shout come into it!
8 May those curse it who curse the day,
Those who are ready to arouse Leviathan.
9 May the stars of its morning be dark;
May it look for light, but have none,
And not see the dawning of the day;
10 Because it did not shut up the doors of my mother’s womb,
Nor hide sorrow from my eyes.
11 “Why did I not die at birth?
Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For now I would have lain still and been quiet,
I would have been asleep;
Then I would have been at rest
14 With kings and counselors of the earth,
Who built ruins for themselves,
15 Or with princes who had gold,
Who filled their houses with silver;
16 Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child,
Like infants who never saw light?
17 There the wicked cease from troubling,
And there the weary are at rest.
18 There the prisoners rest together;
They do not hear the voice of the oppressor.
19 The small and great are there,
And the servant is free from his master.
20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
And life to the bitter of soul,
21 Who long for death, but it does not come,
And search for it more than hidden treasures;
22 Who rejoice exceedingly,
And are glad when they can find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
And whom God has hedged in?
24 For my sighing comes before I eat,
And my groanings pour out like water.
25 For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me,
And what I dreaded has happened to me.
26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
I have no rest, for trouble comes.”

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, "May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, 'A male child is 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.

Job was wrong, but so was Eliphaz. (Job 4)

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary?
But who can withhold himself from speaking?
3 Surely you have instructed many,
And you have strengthened weak hands.
4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
And you have strengthened the feeble knees;
5 But now it comes upon you, and you are weary;
It touches you, and you are troubled.
6 Is not your reverence your confidence?
And the integrity of your ways your hope?
7 “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright ever cut off?
8 Even as I have seen,
Those who plow iniquity
And sow trouble reap the same.
9 By the blast of God they perish,
And by the breath of His anger they are consumed.
10 The roaring of the lion,
The voice of the fierce lion,
And the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 The old lion perishes for lack of prey,
And the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12 “Now a word was secretly brought to me,
And my ear received a whisper of it.
13 In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falls on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling,
Which made all my bones shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face;
The hair on my body stood up.
16 It stood still,
But I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
There was silence;
Then I heard a voice saying:
17 “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If He puts no trust in His servants,
If He charges His angels with error,
19 How much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust,
Who are crushed before a moth?
20 They are broken in pieces from morning till evening;
They perish forever, with no one regarding.
21 Does not their own excellence 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 out now;
Is there anyone who will answer you?
And to which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 For wrath kills a foolish man,
And envy slays a simple one.
3 I have seen the foolish taking root,
But suddenly I cursed his dwelling place.
4 His sons are far from safety,
They are crushed in the gate,
And there is no deliverer.
5 Because the hungry eat up his harvest,
Taking it even from the thorns,
And a snare snatches their substance.
6 For affliction does not come from the dust,
Nor does trouble spring from the ground;
7 Yet man is born to trouble,
As the sparks fly upward.
8 “But as for me, I would seek God,
And to God I would commit my cause—
9 Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number.
10 He gives rain on the earth,
And sends waters on the fields.
11 He sets on high those who are lowly,
And those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
So that their hands cannot carry out their plans.
13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
And the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them.
14 They meet with darkness in the daytime,
And grope at noontime as in the night.
15 But He saves the needy from the sword,
From the mouth of the mighty,
And from their hand.
16 So the poor have hope,
And injustice shuts her mouth.
17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
18 For He bruises, but He binds up;
He wounds, but His hands make whole.
19 He shall deliver you in six troubles,
Yes, in seven no evil shall touch you.
20 In famine He shall redeem you from death,
And in war from the power of the sword.
21 You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,
And you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes.
22 You shall laugh at destruction and famine,
And you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
23 For you shall have a covenant with the stones of the field,
And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
24 You shall know that your tent is in peace;
You shall visit your dwelling and find nothing amiss.
25 You shall also know that your descendants shall be many,
And your offspring like the grass of the earth.
26 You shall come to the grave at a full age,
As a sheaf of grain ripens in its season.
27 Behold, this we have searched out;
It is true.
Hear it, and know for yourself.”

Several years ago I memorized 5:7. I just like the way it sounds, "Yet man is born to 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. As 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.