The Book of Job, a Survey

The Book of Job, a Survey

NB: The PDF version of this study includes a lengthy introduction that seeks to understand the history of the book, when it was written and who wrote it.

The Book Of Job

Pr Edi Giudetti

25-6-2017

 

Five are the identifiable segments of the book of Job and they might be outlined in this fashion;

The Eternal Perspective of The Lord (1-2)

The Momentary Musings of Men (3-31)

The Righteous Reproofs of Elihu (32-37)

The Absolute Authority of God. (38-42)

The Repentant Perspective of Job (42)

By way of introduction we would like to look at a broad summary of What the book of Job is teaching us. And we can consider it as we look upon the first point of the message this morning.

The Eternal Perspective of The Lord (1-2)

 

1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. 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. 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?

The first two chapters of the book of Job provide for us a perspective both of the character of Job as well as that which the Lord has evaluated concerning him. Many look at the book of Job and have summarized it for us stating that it is about answering the question, ‘Why do the righteous suffer?’.

Perhaps this is true, but the answer does not exactly stand out for us in any specific verse. Yet the answer is there but it is only found in the understanding of PERSEPCTIVE.

Perspective is the “viewpoint” or “evaluation” or “standpoint” or “point of view” of a given situation or event.

It is that which is taken from the Observer/s and/or the orchestrator of the situation or event.

In the Book of Job we have three perspectives;

  • That of Job
  • That of Job’s friends
  • That of God

Or to put it in a more common reference;

  • We have my point of view
  • Your point of view
  • And the truth.

Yes, there are often three sides to every story!

And here we have in our passage God’s evaluation of Job from his perspective which he uses to bait Satan saying;

8….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?

Taking the bait (for the Lord has a purpose in all that he says and does), Satan then declares to God a thing in which he thought God would not know the outcome of;

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.

The Lord then permits the devil to do all he can do to Job, the worst he could do without laying a hand on Job physically. And the devil did so and without mercy. Read with me as we witness first hand Job receiving the news of all that would come upon him;

So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

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.

 

Truthfully I do not know how I would deal with this apart from living my life in light of eternity.

Brethren if all I had was measured by all I could see, then I do not think I would “sin not, nor charge God” for taking away all that brought me joy.

We see evidence of this all through the world, people angry at God for the suffering they endure. Not that they suffered like Job, as righteous people whom God is personally involved, but mostly as people who have rejected God and his commands, many reap that which they have sown, yet they believe it unjust and curse God. We will speak more to this shortly.

But not Job, his response was in light of the evaluation God gave of him. A righteous man.

Not content, Satan returns to the assembly before the Lord and the Lord asks the same question as at the first and Satan responds again presuming God was in error;

2:4 And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Suffice to say Satan did all he could. Job now in absolute misery, his wife as his witness saying to him;

2:9…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.

The advantage we have of an eternal perspective is vital for our learning. Though it may be true as those who are declared righteous by the Lord, faithful in trusting that Christ alone had shed his blood for our sins, believing in the righteousness of Christ that we might be clothed upon with his righteousness, though this all may be true and we may yet suffer not only difficulty materially but difficulty physically, know for certain that there is an eternal perspective and purpose, trusting in the one who has permitted the trial.

Brethren, imagine you have stumbled and fallen from a great height, when the Lord is directly involved it is as if his hands are below us all the way ensuring we land in safety.

The Momentary Musings of Men (3-31)

 

From chapters 3 to 31 are the cycle of discussions that go on between Job and three friends that come with the purpose of comforting him in his time of grief. Each in turn give Job answer for the reasons of his trials, first Eliphaz answers and Job responds, then Bildad and Job responds, finally Zophar and Job again responds. Three times each give answer to Job and each time Job responds.

But the third Chapter is the state of Job in the greatest grief stricken lamentation we can see in the Bible, outside of Gods own burden in the book of Lamentation for Jerusalem.

After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2 And Job spake, and said,

Let the day perish wherein I was born,

And the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.

Let that day be darkness;

Let not God regard it from above,

Neither let the light shine upon it.

Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it;

Let a cloud dwell upon it;

Let the blackness of the day terrify it.

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.

Lo, let that night be solitary,

Let no joyful voice come therein.

Let them curse it that curse the day,

Who are ready to raise up their mourning.

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.

The very day of his birth he curses with all feeling and wish. So broken in heart and misery in soul, Job, far from any desire to celebrate the day of his birth, curses it.

But not only so, he desires in every way that death would take him. and concludes his deep grieving with these words;

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.

Well I am sure we all can share that there are indeed things which we greatly fear, and I am sure we share the thought that we are in safety and rest and quiet and yet that may not be the true case for trouble can indeed come.

The book of Job, when read the true perspective can indeed prepare us for those trials which may come.

Brethren I must say that I am greatly burdened and concerned that, seeing all that the Bible teaches concerning the times that are ahead slowly coming to pass, most Christians are not ready for the difficulties to come if the Lord should tarry.

 Most do not pray, most do not read their Bibles. Yet these two activities not only give comfort, joy and understanding today, they will be our ROCK in times of trouble.

In this 3rd chapter we have the most profound expression of grief by a man who’s life’s toils and joys have been destroyed. This is the emotion of grief expressed in words that we might feel after him.

We see him, earthly possessions lost, sons and daughters all killed, boils cover his body and he scrapes them with broken pieces of pottery in order to find some relief and then he “opened his mouth and cursed his day”

Seven long days and nights not a word was spoken as he sat with his friends. The silence was broken by the gravest lamentation of Job. Job’s cry, though in the ears of his friends, was being communicated to God alone.

But in place of God, his friends answered him.

And we would have thought his misery had past!

For the next 28 chapters Job and his three friends go back and forth in argument as to the reason and the cause of all that came upon him. This dialogue between them is the most poetical of compositions we can find in scripture between men.

It begins with Eliphaz the Tamanite who begins his attempt in bringing Job answers for his trouble to comfort him, and the theme of answers for Job continue with the other two “Comforters”

Job 4:1-9

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,

If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved?

But who can withhold himself from speaking?

Behold, thou hast instructed many,

And thou hast strengthened the weak hands.

Thy words have upholden him that was falling,

And thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.

But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest;

It toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.

Is not this thy fear, thy confidence,

Thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent?

Or where were the righteous cut off?

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity,

And sow wickedness, reap the same.

By the blast of God they perish,

And by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.

Well, these are the first words uttered by Job’s comforters in seven days and the reason given for Jobs troubles are found in his obvious iniquity.

who ever perished, being innocent?

Or where were the righteous cut off?

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity,

And sow wickedness, reap the same.

2 chapters long is this first “Comforting” reasoning from Eliphaz. At 48 verses it is the longest singular speech of his friends without reply until chapter 6 where Job begins his return.

Now, interspersed between Jobs arguments with his friends is also his cry and questioning to God, you will recognize this by the pronouns he uses. Remember

The pronouns Ye, You, Your and Yours are plural. Thee, Thou, Thine and Thy are singular. Most of the time when Job uses the singular pronoun he is directing his discourse to the Lord, every time he uses the plural pronoun he is directing his discourse to his friends.

For the initial exercise chapters 6 to 7 are worthy of example.

These 28 chapters contain some of the most interesting and entertaining dialogues between these men. Exasperated phrases from Job include such retorts as;

Job 12:1-2

And Job answered and said,

No doubt but ye are the people,

And wisdom shall die with you.

And

Job 16:1-2

Then Job answered and said,

I have heard many such things:

Miserable comforters are ye all.

And

Job 21:1-3

But Job answered and said,

Hear diligently my speech,

And let this be your consolations.

Suffer me that I may speak;

And after that I have spoken, mock on.

Turn to Job 19:19

For here we have also his pleading to his friends as he speaks saying;

19 All my inward friends abhorred me:

And they whom I loved are turned against me.

20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh,

And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends;

For the hand of God hath touched me.

22 Why do ye persecute me as God,

And are not satisfied with my flesh?

23 Oh that my words were now written!

Oh that they were printed in a book!

24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead

In the rock for ever!

But then some of the most profound understanding of Job’s love and relationship to God is found as we read on;

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth,

And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body,

Yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27 Whom I shall see for myself,

And mine eyes shall behold, and not another;

Though my reins be consumed within me.

And we could ask from where he received that understanding, that the redeemer will stand on that latter day upon the Earth? Will not this be Christ both in his first coming but also in “the latter day” when his feet touch the mount of Olives? How did Job know this?

Many are the interesting pieces in the historic puzzle of Job.

Friends, Jobs comforters did anything but comfort him. James chapter 5 refers to “the patience of Job” and one might be justified in thinking this patience was for the enduring defense against his friends who simply did not answer Job the things that are right.  We find the misapplication of truth by both Job and his friends was enough to stir the wrath of Elihu.

The Righteous Reproofs of Elihu (32-37)

Job monologues of his own righteousness from chapters 26 to 31 which concludes summarized at the beginning of chapter 32, turn there with me;

So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.

Lets continue to the third verse;

Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

Elihu was a young man who waited for the elder men to conclude their condemnation of Job and Jobs defences.

His are the words that are truly considered righteous and he knew they were right words claiming to be “perfect in knowledge” at least concerning this matter (Jb 36:4).

And he brings to light not only that the friends of Job had no wisdom to answer Job correctly, but also that Job justified himself rather than God.

Now I bring to you a consideration that you will all recognise; not only when you suffer but when you believe you are suffering out of wrong. For when you do so there is a tendency that, while we justify ourselves we can certainly go overboard in a manner that would state something like;

Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard:

I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.

He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass,

And he hath set darkness in my paths.

He hath stripped me of my glory,

And taken the crown from my head.

10 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone:

And mine hope hath he removed like a tree.

11 He hath also kindled his wrath against me,

And he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies. (Jb 19:7-11)

 

What we see here is Job overstepping the mark in justifying himself as so righteous that all that is therefore done to him is unrighteous. Recall he said that God has afflicted him and not man, therefore the affliction against a righteous man as he is, is without cause and done out of wrong.

Friends, it is one thing to attempt to justify yourself to friends, but it is quite another to try to justify yourself before God.

The Apostle Paul also identified this saying of Abraham; “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” (Rom 4:2)

But there was none like Job in all the Earth, yet we tend to think so highly of ourselves that we would justify ourselves even when all the evidence is stacked against us. So blind do we become to our own errors that we would even run the risk of condemning all the Judgements pronounced against us as unfair. Even to the point of condemning God.

This week I was shown a clip of a news item that had seen a cyclist so verbally abuse a driver with the most violent use of foul language that one could consider, even though the driver was a much older lady, possibly in her sixties and even while a young child was sitting in the back seat.

The driver was about to pull out when she saw the cyclist and stopped, giving him ample time to move around her.

So convinced was he of being in the right and even so violently abusing her in front of the child, that he gave his own video recording of the event to the Nine News and they readily condemned the incident as Road Rage by the cyclist.

Elihu goes on to reprove Job and he does so righteously showing to him the difference between God and him as a man.

We must all be willing to be reproved by Godly people who speak in accord with scripture, our willful blindness to our own faults is the greatest problem mankind has.

  • It is this blindness that keeps us lost in sin.
  • It is our self-righteousness that keeps us blind to God’s judgements.
  • It is our unwillingness to be condemned of error that will ensure we are never turned from error.
  • It is our self-pride and our ego that prevents us from knowing the truth about ourselves.

We might be righteously reproved, by another Elihu. Do not charge them with arrogance before you are willing to consider yourself in error.

Brethren, I must tell you in all sincerity, this is a part of our ministry. And in all honesty it is not a part that I look forward to having to undertake. Our natural tendency is self-righteousness and defense, so when this is questioned we naturally feel we are being attacked but that may not be the case. Reproof is not assault.

Many relationships are destroyed, not because a person has been reproved of error, but because those that are reproved will not consider it.  I can honestly say I don’t look forward to having to reprove someone for error and I don’t look forward to being reproved. Both are grievous to undertake and both are made worse when not considered.

 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee:

Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. (Prov 9:8)

James 5:20 encourages the effort saying;

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

In the end, it is always better that we judge ourselves lest we be judged for the ultimate Judge is God and there will be no further court of appeal against just judgements.

The Absolute Authority of God. (38-42)

 

38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Who is this that darkeneth counsel

By words without knowledge?

Gird up now thy loins like a man;

For I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?

Declare, if thou hast understanding.

Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?

Or who hath stretched the line upon it?

Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?

Or who laid the corner stone thereof;

When the morning stars sang together,

And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

The statement has often been made that the book of Job is about why the righteous suffer. But this is true only if we are willing to look through the perspective of divine involvement and eternal purpose.

Jobs desire was to speak with God, he says

Oh that I knew where I might find him!

That I might come even to his seat!

I would order my cause before him,

And fill my mouth with arguments. (Jb 23:3-4)

And now God has appeared out of the whirlwind and asks job to answer his questions and what do we find? We find that “righteous Job” now has a new perspective.

Turn to chapter 40:1-8

40 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said,

Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?

He that reproveth God, let him answer it.

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,

Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee?

I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

Once have I spoken; but I will not answer:

Yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Gird up thy loins now like a man:

I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?

Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

And God goes on to explain the things concerning the difference between God and man a little more perfectly. But how are the arguments going for Job? Did he fill his mouth with them? Did he contend well with God? Do we have a right perspective of God?

I have read men and heard their ramblings against God and their many statements of what they believe to be unanswerable arguments that they will lay against the Almighty if they had the chance.

But I say to you that they will not utter a word, no, they will lay their hands upon their mouths, once they had spoken but they will not answer, even twice but they will proceed no further.

They will identify themselves worse than vile, in fact they will hide themselves in the mountains and say Rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb” (Rev6:16) for they have not desired the knowledge of his ways and will fear to see the face of God.

But that day will come and they will not hide nor answer, for there can be no judgement against the Lord, no condemnation against the one who gave the commandments and no wrath levelled against the one who died to free them from the fathers wrath.

Did Job get an explanation for why he suffered?

No! But he did get a perspective that put him back in his place as ‘creature’ and not ‘creator’.

But also that, for whatever reason he suffered, there must have been a purpose. Was that purpose revealed on Earth?

No, it was revealed to the one who was baited to question God, that is Satan.

Was there any other purpose? Yes indeed, perhaps there were an infinite number of benefits to Godly people the world over who found comfort in the new perspective of Job who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Jb 13:15).

 

The Repentant Perspective of Job (42)

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,

I know that thou canst do every thing,

And that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Who is he that hideth counsel

Without knowledge?

Therefore have I uttered that I understood not;

Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak:

I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:

But now mine eye seeth thee.

Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent

In dust and ashes.

The reward of Job was a doubling of all that he had lost. His children were replaced to the letter and he lived many years in prosperity.  Job repented of a wrong perspective and was humbled by the truth and blessed.

Friends, the greatest battle you will ever fight in your life is against Pride. A right perspective on who you are and who God is will begin the hope in you. But pride is the cause of Satans fall, it is the cause of mans fall, it is the cause of the worlds fall.

It does not need to take the trial of Job to be humble before the Lord, it just takes a desire to see your own faults before you see another’s and especially before you count any fault with God that you may be righteous.

I can tell you with all certainty, that if you learn this lesson today, and if it be the only lesson you will ever learn, you will not only have a blessed life, but you will seek for a redeemer who will save you, and who will stand in that latter day upon the earth, and in your flesh you will see God and not judgment

 

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