THE BOOK OF JOB 2

THE BOOK OF JOB 2

Author - PILGRIM

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T R E A S U R E... S E E K E R S ... I N ... T H E ... O L D ... T E S T A M E N T - JOB

'Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path......Where your treasure
is there is your heart also'

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STUDY ON THE BOOK OF JOB

JOB

-Overview


The Book of Job is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of Job, his trials at the hands of Satan, his theological discussions with friends on the origins and nature of his suffering, and finally a response from God. The Book itself comprises a didactic poem set in a prose framing device and has been called “the most profound and literary work of the entire Old Testament”. The Book itself, along with its numerous exegeses, are attempts to address the problem of evil, i.e. the problem of reconciling the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of God. Scholars are divided as to the origin, intent, and meaning of the book.

Job (Hebrew: Modern Iyyov Tiberian Iyyo ; Arabic: Ayyoub), is a gentile man in the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible, as well as a prophet in Islam. In brief, the book begins with an introduction to Job's character — he is described as a blessed man who lives righteously. Satan, however, challenges Job's integrity, arguing that Job serves God simply because of the "hedge" with which God protects him. God progressively removes that protection, allowing Satan to take his wealth, his children, and his physical health. Job remains loyal throughout, and does not curse God. The main portion of the text consists of the discourse of Job and his three friends concerning why Job was so punished, after which God steps in to answer Job and his friends. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning and he lived 140 years (Job 42:10,17).

A clear majority of Rabbinical Torah scholars saw Job as having existed in real life. He was seen as a real and powerful figure. Some scholars of Orthodox Judaism maintain that Job was in fact one of three advisors that Pharaoh consulted, prior to taking action against the increasingly multiplying "Children of Israel" mentioned in the Book of Exodus during the time of Moses' birth. The episode is mentioned in the Talmud (Tractate Sotah): Balaam gives evil advice urging Pharaoh to kill the Hebrew male new-born babies; Jethro opposes Pharaoh and tells him not to harm the Hebrews at all, and Job keeps silent and does not reveal his mind even though he was personally opposed to Pharaoh's destructive plans. It is for his silence that God subsequently punishes him with his bitter afflictions.

Christianity accepts the Book of Job as canon in the Old Testament and thus contains the same information regarding Job as discussed above in the Hebrew Bible. In addition, Job is mentioned in the New Testament: the Epistle of James 5:11 cites Job as an example of perseverance in suffering. The New Testament also quotes and references the Book of Job throughout.
Job's declaration "I know that my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25) is considered by Christians to be a proto-Christian statement of belief, and is the basis of several Christian hymns.

He is commemorated as a patriarch by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in their Calendar of Saints on May 9, and in the Calendar of saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on August 30.

The Narrative

Job 1:1 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. Job 1:2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Job 1:3 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 sons of the East. Job 1:4 And his sons would go and feast houses, each on his day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. Job 1:5 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 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. Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before YHWH, and Satan also came among them. Job 1:7 And YHWH said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the YHWH and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Job 1:8 Then YHWH said to Satan, "Have you set your heart to My servant Job, that none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" Job 1:9 So Satan answered YHWH and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Job 1:10 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. Job 1:11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face." Job 1:12 And YHWH said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has in your hand; only do not lay a hand on him." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. Job 1:13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house; Job 1:14 and a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the female donkeys feeding beside them, Job 1:15 when Sheba fell upon and took them. They also smote the servants with the edge of the sword; and only I alone have escaped to tell you." Job 1:16 While he 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 only I alone have escaped to tell you." Job 1:17 While he still speaking, another also came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and smote the servants with the edge of the sword; and only I alone have escaped to tell you." Job 1:18 While he still speaking, another also came and said, "Your sons and daughters eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, Job 1:19 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 only I alone have escaped to tell you." Job 1:20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. Job 1:21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. YHWH gave, and YHWH has taken away; Blessed be the name of YHWH." Job 1:22 In all this Job did not sin nor did he ascribe unseemless to God.

The angels of heaven (the Hebrew word translated as "Angels" means "the Sons of God") and Satan (literally, the Hebrew word means "the accuser" or "the adversary") present themselves to God. God asks Satan his opinion on Job, apparently a truly pious man. Satan answers that Job is only pious because he is prosperous. In response to Satan's assertion, God gives Satan permission to destroy Job's possessions and family.

All of Job's possessions are destroyed and all of his offspring are killed. Job does not curse God after this but instead shaves his head, tears his clothes and says, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return : YHWH has given, and YHWH has taken away; blessed be the name of YHWH" (Simplified).

As Job endures these calamities without reproaching Divine Providence, Satan solicits permission to afflict his person as well, and God says, "Behold, he is in your hand, but don’t touch his life." Satan, therefore, smites him with dreadful boils, and Job, seated in ashes, scrapes his skin with broken pottery. His wife prompts him to "curse God, and die" but Job answers, "You speaks as one of the foolish speaks. Moreover, shall we receive good from God and shall not receive evil?" In all this, Job did not sin in his lips.

And the three of Job's friends heard all this evil that came on him, and they came every man from his place — Eliphaz the Temanite (Heb: Aliphaz the Thimanite), Bildad the Shuhite (Heb: Bildad the Shuchite), and Zophar [Naamathite]] (Heb: Zuphar the Nomathite). A fourth, Elihu the Buzite (Heb: Alieua ben Barakal the Buzite), first begins talking in chapter 32 and bears a distinguished part in the dialogue; his arrival is not noted. The friends spend 7 days sitting on the ground with Job, without saying anything to him because they see that he is suffering and in much pain. Job at last breaks his silence and "curses the day he was born".

Speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar


Job's friends do not waver from their belief that Job must have sinned to incite God's punishment. As the speeches progress, Job's friends increasingly berate him for refusing to confess his sins, although they themselves are at a loss as to which sin he has committed. The three friends continue to argue that Job must have sinned, and therefore must deserve his misfortune. They also assume, in their view of theology, that God always rewards good and punishes evil, with no apparent exceptions allowed. There seems to be no room in their understanding of God for divine discretion and mystery in allowing and arranging suffering for purposes other than retribution. Job's friends never use the name Yahweh in the story, they refer to God as El Shaddai, Eloahh, and Elohiym.

The Speeches Of Job

Job, confident of his own innocence, maintains that his suffering is unjustified as he has not sinned, and that there is no reason for God to punish him thus. However, he does not curse God's name or accuse God of injustice but rather seeks an explanation or an account of his wrongdoing.

Job is guilty of the same theological error as his friends. He assumes that God should always reward faithfulness and always punish wickedness in a uniform way. Like his friends, he believes God is in complete control of the affairs of the world. Despite his friends' insistence upon his guilt, Job believes himself to be righteous. Therefore, he questions God's fairness in allowing this calamity. Interestingly, he claims that if there were a mediator between him and God, he would be declared innocent. Despite Job's doubts and declarations, the author maintains that in all this, Job did not sin.

Elihu, whose name means 'My God is He' or 'My God is YHVH', takes a mediator's path — he attempts to maintain the sovereignty and righteousness and gracious mercy of God. Elihu strongly condemns the approach taken by the three friends, and argues that Job is misrepresenting God's righteousness and discrediting his loving character. Elihu says he spoke last because he is much younger than the other three friends, but says that age makes no difference when it comes to insights and wisdom. In his speech, Elihu argues for God's power, redemptive salvation, and absolute rightness in all his conduct. God is mighty, yet just, and quick to warn and to forgive. Elihu takes a distinct view of the kind of repentance required by Job. Job's three friends claim that repentance requires Job to identify and renounce the sins that gave rise to his suffering. By contrast, Elihu stresses that repentance inextricably entails renouncing any moral authority or cosmological perspective, which is God's alone. Elihu therefore underscores the inherent arrogance in Job's desire to 'make his case' before God, which presupposes that Job possesses a superior moral standard that can be prevailed upon God. Apparently, Elihu acts in a prophetic role preparatory to the appearance of God. His speech maintains that Job, while righteous, is not perfect. Job does not disagree with this, and, proving that Elihu's speech was wise and correct, God did not rebuke him. After Elihu's speech ends with the last verse of Chapter 37, God appears and in the second verse of Chapter 38. God says, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?“ God also rebukes Job's three friends.

God's Response

After several rounds of debate between Job and his friends, in a divine voice, described as coming from a "cloud" or "whirlwind", God describes, in evocative and lyrical language, what the experience of being the creator of the world is like, and asks if Job has ever had the experiences or the authority that God has had.

God's answer underscores that Job shares the world with numerous powerful and remarkable creatures, creatures with lives and needs of their own, for whom God must provide, and the young of some hunger in a way that can only be satisfied by taking the lives of others.


God's speech also emphasizes his sovereignty in creating and maintaining the world. The thrust is not merely that God has experiences that Job does not, but also that God is King over the world and is not necessarily subject to questions from his creatures, including men. The point of these speeches, and ultimately the entire book of Job, is to defend the absolute freedom of God over his creation. God is not in need of the approval of his creation. He is free. Furthermore, Job's lack of knowledge and the ability to see the world as God does prevents him from fully understanding God's reasons for allowing Job's suffering.

In the epilogue, God condemns Job's friends for their ignorance and lack of understanding while admonishing Job for his righteous words, commands them to prepare burnt offerings and reassures them that Job will pray for their forgiveness. Job is restored to health, gaining double the riches he possessed before and having 7 sons and 3 daughters (his wife did not die in this ordeal). His new daughters were the most beautiful in the land, and were given inheritance along with their brothers. Job is blessed once again and lives on another 140 years after the ordeal, living to see his children to the fourth generation and dying peacefully of old age.

Exegesis

The exegesis of Job largely concerns the question, "Is misfortune always a divine punishment for something?" Job's three friends argued in the affirmative, stating that Job's misfortunes were proof that he had committed some sins for which he was being punished. His friends also advanced the converse position that good fortune is always a divine reward, and that if Job would renounce his supposed sins, he would immediately experience the return of good fortune.

In response, Job asserted that he was a righteous man, and that his misfortune was therefore not a punishment for anything. This raised the possibility that God acts in capricious ways, and Job's wife urged him to curse God, and die. Instead, Job responded with equanimity: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) He went even further, in verse 22, by not charging any wrong to God. The climax of the book occurs when God responds to Job, not with an explanation for Job's suffering but rather with a question: Where was Job when God created the world?

God's response itself may be read in a variety of ways. Some see it as an attempt to humble Job. Yet Job is comforted by God's appearance, and the fact that he 'saw God and lived', suggesting that the author of the book was more concerned with whether or not God is present in people's lives, than with the question of whether or not God is just. Job chapter 28 rejects these efforts to fathom divine wisdom.

The framing story complicates the book further: in the introductory section God, during a conversation with Satan, allows Satan to inflict misery on Job and kill his children. The appended conclusion has God restoring Job to wealth, granting him new children, and possibly restoring his health, although this is more implied than explicitly stated. This may suggest that the faith of the perfect believer is rewarded. However, God speaks directly to this question, condemns Job's friends, and says that Job is the only man who has faithfully represented the true nature of God - that all his friends were wrong to say that faith and righteousness are rewarded. Only after Job's friends make a sacrifice to God and are prayed for by afflicted Job does God restore all Job's good fortune.

Well I tried to copy/paste the various responses from the actual session so as to reflect them here in what I posted to the board. Unfortunately there was so much traffic in the room I couldn’t do it so I’ll post the questions I asked there & give my own take in response to them but please feel free to give your own responses & pose your own questions. After all we’re treasure hunting. :)

This assessment of the book of Job was taken from Wikipedia but I'm not satisfied that it gives a true picture of the meaning of Job, so here's a few questions.

Q: Was Job being punished? My answer is an emphatic no since God Himself says that Job’s suffering is unwarranted. Neither was he being chastised from the discipline perspective of the parent toward the child for the same reason. Job was alright in God’s eyes. So much so that God chose him as his champion. Yes, that’s right, Job was God’s champion just as Moses was before Pharaoh. Like sticking Peawee Herman up against Mike Tyson for the title fight. Like choosing the worst most mule headed people in the World to be His people as over against all the mightier nations that God could have chosen to confound the wisdom of Angels. Like becoming a humble Shepherd to champion the poor & the dispossessed, to suffer & die that He might save men & in this form the King of heaven & Earth over all nations & peoples & tongues appeared instead of how men expected that He would. For My ways are above Your ways sayeth the Lord. In fact this is exactly Job’s reaction when God responds. When Job says that he repents in dust & ashes for his rash words. He is not confessing to sin or fault but that He had the temerity to open his mouth at all concerning such a great God & God does not rebuke him for it. Job's whole lament has been a cry for comfort from His Daddy in the face of his suffering. Not a rebuke & when it happens he takes comfort in His Maker humbly placing his hands upon his lips.

Q: Did Job sin? God says He was righteous & did not sin. So although all men are born in sin God’s assessment of Job is righteousness not perfection. In my opinion we deserve whatever we get in this world no matter how bad, for we deserve Hell but instead? We are promised Heaven by a God Who is God & does not break His word.

Q: Did Job see God in the same light as his friends or did his view differ? In many ways Job agrees with his friends in as much as he sees God as in ultimate control however, there is a marked difference in Job’s approach. His approach is not to reproach God nor question God’s wisdom but to cry out for comfort. Job lives in hope for he knows that his Redeemer lives & that he shall see Him in the flesh regardless of what has befallen him. He knows God has placed him in the situation but also knows that only God can answer his need & will do even if it isn’t until the resurrection.

Q: How do You read & interpret Job? Since my views are elaborated here I’ll leave you to give your own answer to this one.

Q: How do you feel about Job? How would you feel do you think, in Job's place? Personally I’d be absolutely devastated & much more likely to think God had deserted me & that the accusations of Job’s friends were correct.

Q: Does God restoring Job's fortunes make up for all Job had suffered & lost? The only way I can answer this one is to ask you, how would you feel if you lost a beloved child? If your entire world collapsed around you & all the hopes & dreams you have suddenly crumbled like dust in one day? I don’t think that anyone truly gets over that regardless of what their future brings. The scars of that trauma remain & they are forced to live with it. Neither does the text say that God is recompensing Job for all the misfortune he has suffered without reason. God does not compensate Job as if He owed Job a debt for God is no man’s debtor. In fact God doesn’t even give Job a reason for all he has suffered which is what one might expect if God felt He owed Job an explanation. What God does do is bless Job after Job prays for the forgiveness of Job’s ‘friends’

Q: Who is being tested in Job's story? Some put forward the perspective that it is Job and claim his faith is being tested but as we have seen God’s assessment of Job is the same at the end as at the beginning of the book. God knew Job’s heart before calamity ever befell him. Some say Job’s friends & in a sense that’s true but I’ll deal with it later. The one who is most definitely being tested in the book is God. Shocked? It is God’s assessment of His servant. His opinion that is challenged by Satan at the very outset of the book. It is God’s character that is challenged by Job’s friends because of their pet theological perspectives on how God behaves & the limits they place upon Him. God knew their hearts before & their attitudes as He did Job’s so they are not being tested in that sense.

Q: Has God ever allowed something to happen in your life that you never believed He would or that you think was un-merited? What was your reaction? When I lost my wife, children & home all in one day my world collapsed. I could only wish that I had reacted like Job but I didn’t. I was devastated & railed against God. I suffered a nervous breakdown because of it & found myself lost in a sea of doubt since I had previously believed that the Lord would never allow such a thing considering my history & I live with the scars of it to this day. As I compare that to Job’s reaction = ‘The Lord giveth & The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord’ & ‘Even if He slay me! Yet will I trust Him!’ I see how awfully short I fell.

My earthly father, who is always angry at God for not existing, asked me if my belief had faltered in the face of my tragedy, strangely my response was that if anything I believed all the more because if there is no God then there is no sense to any of the evil we endure nor hope of resolution. Some on the evening I presented this in the chat room asked me if I was being punished or chastised? My answer is neither, but I was refined in the fire of the experience & I hope that God will continue that process to my salvation & His glory.

Q: How is your picture of God informed by the book of Job? Does it frighten you? Does it humble you to know that God may allow the Devil to touch every material, physical thing in your life but has not deserted you, is still righteous, still loves you & does not owe you an explanation? In fact the one question God never answers is why? Rather He says, trust Me, for My grace is sufficient for thee.

Q: Why were Job’s friends so wrong? It’s easy with hindsight & distance to sit in judgement but I believe there are lessons to be learned in their actions. Firstly, they didn’t go straight in with their pet theories on seeing Job’s state but kept silent which in a sense is good but when Job voiced his anguish they set to with a vengeance to ‘solve his problem’ How often have we done that? It is the way of the agony aunt in the newspapers. The way of Christ is markedly different however, ‘Jesus wept’ sometimes wrongly said to be the shortest verse in the Bible, is nothing if not a clear illustration of weeping with those that weep. Job’s friends were not torn in their hearts by Job’s suffering. They did not weep with him and beseech God on his behalf in intercession for comfort for him.

Q: What is your prayer in the light of the book of Job? Mine is that I will always uphold God’s integrity & never be a comforter of Job in my reaction to others but allow my barriers to come down, put aside my pet theological perspectives & be truly empathic with whatever their circumstances are & a comfort to them.

In Summary

Well, that’s it & I hope it has been challenging & caused us to reflect whilst also being edifying but please feel free to add your own thoughts & comments. May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts & minds in Jesus ‘til Kingdom come. :)