WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM JOB
By Wayne S. Walker
One book in the Old Testament concerning whose background we know almost nothing for certain is the book of Job. We do not know author, although some think that it might have been Moses. We do not know the precise time frame in which the account takes place, although some believe that it could have been during the patriarchal age. We do not even know exactly where Uz was.
However, Job is part of the inspired scriptures, and therefore contains a message from God. And even though it is part of the Old Testament, which we understand is not God’s law for us today, still it has been preserved for our admonition and learning. So in this article, we want to look at Job 1:1-22 and see what we can learn from Job.
First, we see Job’s character in verses 1-5. He was blameless. This does not mean absolutely sinless because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). Rather, it refers to one who is striving his best to live so as to be guilty of no blame in God’s sight. We are to be “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15). Of course, even though we have sinned, whenever receive forgiveness, then we are truly blameless before God. Also, Job was upright. This simply refers to one who constantly tries to do that which is right in the sight of God (Ps. 7:10). “Blameless” has somewhat of a negative connotation, speaking of one who refrains from doing that which will bring blame, whereas “upright” has a more positive connotation, speaking of one who seeks to do what is right.
In addition, Job feared God. This fear does not mean being afraid of or terrified by, but having a deep reverence, respect, and awe for. We are to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13-14). Furthermore, Job eschewed or shunned evil. This simply means to stay away from evil. We are told to abstain from every form or appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5.21-22). So in all these areas, Job is a good example for us.
Moreover, Job was very wealthy (vs. 2-3). There is nothing necessarily wrong with being wealthy, although God does warn us often to be careful about our attitude toward riches (1 Tim. 6:9-10). And Job was evidently very concerned about his family (vs. 4-5). We would assume that he undoubtedly tried to do what God told Israelites to do about teaching their children (Deut. 6:4-7). This illustrates what God expects parents to do in bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Job’s children were evidently grown by this time because they had their own houses, though in a patriarchal society they still probably lived close to home. Yet Job was still interested in their spiritual welfare and wanted them to be right with God
Job’s attack by Satan
Second, we see Job’s attack by Satan in verses 6-12. Satan (vs. 6-7) is a Hebrew term meaning adversary or enemy. He is referred to as “the tempter” when He comes to Christ in the wilderness (Matt. 4.1-10). He is also called the devil, which is a Greek term meaning slanderer or accuser. “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12.9). There is much that we do not know about Satan, especially about his origin and how he became evil, but he is presented in Bible as a real being.
Satan accused or slandered Job (vs. 8-11). This is one of the ways that the devil tempts people to lead them away from God when he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). He, and those who do his bidding, often accuse Christians today of serving God only because they want to get blessings, or because they want to escape punishment, or because their parents told them to, thus leaving the impression that all Christians are hypocrites and that serving God really is not all that important.
So God allowed Satan to test Job (v. 12). The book of Job helps us understand that all bad things which happen come from Satan. He is the one who had bound the woman with a spirit of infirmity (Lk. 13:11-16). He is the one whose messenger was the thorn in the flesh that was given to Paul (2 Cor. 12:7). While God allows these kinds of tests, as He did in the case of Job, He is not the cause of them because He never tempts anyone to do evil (Jas. 1:13). And even then, as with Job, He always limits what Satan can do. “No temptation has overtaken you 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” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Third, then, we see Job’s testing in verses 13-19. He lost his oxen and donkeys (vs. 13-15). Most likely these were used to do the work on Job’s farm or ranch or whatever we might call it. God’s rule has always been that that men must work to live and meet their needs (2 Thes. 3:10). So Job lost the animals that he needed to the work required to provide for his family. Also, he lost his sheep (v. 16). Sheep were used primarily for food and clothing, some of the basic necessities of life. “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:8). So Job lost the number one source in that part of the world for the food and clothing that he and his family needed.
Then, Job lost his camels (v. 17). Assuming, as many scholars do, that the land of Uz was somewhere near Arabia, camels were the main form of transportation. We remember how that Joseph was sold by his brothers to a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to Egypt (Gen. 37:25-27). So Job lost the means by which he could transport his excess out to sell elsewhere and to bring in whatever he could not provide by himself.
Finally, Job lost his family (vs. 18-19). It is quite clear that Job loved his children. He obviously considered them as the Psalmist spoke. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Ps. 127:3-5). Yet here, Job has lost all of them in one fell swoop.
Fourth and finally, we see Job’s response in verses 20-22. Obviously, all these tragedies made Job very sad (v. 20). His tearing the clothes and shaving the head were customary signs of extreme sorrow in Bible days, as Joshua did upon the Israelites’ defeat at Ai (Josh. 7.6). This life is full of trials and tribulations, hardships and difficulties, burdens and struggles, and other problems, all of which make us realize what Job himself later said, that “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Job’s heart was heavy because of what had happened.
However, notice what Job said (v. 21). “Naked came I from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has staken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job understood the principle that is stated so often throughout the scriptures. He had just lost everything, but he still knew that life is more than food and the body more than clothing (Mt. 6:25b). He recognized the truthfulness of Paul’s statement, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7). So many people react to crisis and tragedy by asking, “Why me?”, blaming God for their pain, and even turning away from the Lord. Yet in the midst of all his suffering Job continued to acknowledge his dependence on God. Later he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13.15). Job had no idea why all this was happening to him, but he continued to trust God
And notice what Job did, or rather did not do (v. 22). “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” The big question that people have asked through the years is why does God allow bad things to happen, and like Job we do not always know the answer to that question. We may not always understand why, but there are some things of which the Bible assures us:. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us….And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:18, 28). Thus, we can be assured that God does have a plan whether we recognize it or not. With this attitude, then, we can use the trials of life to draw nearer to God and let Him use them for our good, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jas. 1:2-4). Suffering can either make us bitter or better; Job’s example encourages us to let it make us better.
Of course, the story of Job continues–and it gets worse! In chapter 2, Satan is allowed to strike Job himself with painful boils, although again the Lord limited the devil and did not allow him to take Job’s life. Even Job’s wife turned against him, telling him to curse God and die, and his friends who came to comfort him began to accuse him of some terrible evil to deserve what he got. “Miserable comforters are you all!” (Job 16:2). Yet through it all, Job did his best to remain faithful to God and was rewarded in the end. “And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 40:10).
The book of Job is God’s inspired answer to the issue of suffering in life. Again, in this life we may never fully understand all the whys and wherefores, but there are some conclusions that we can reach based upon what God has revealed in His word. Whatever happens, God is still there, He is still in control, and He always cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He may not necessarily remove the difficulties that we face, as in the case of Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:8-10). However, He will bless us as we have need and finally glorify us, promising that if we remain faithful until death we shall receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
—taken from Expository Files; Jan., 2012; Vol. 19, No. 1; pp. 7-10