Tonight, we begin our study of the oldest book of the Bible. Now, it's hard to imagine a book being older than Genesis, since that book starts with, "In the beginning..." However, it is important to remember that although Genesis does go back to before the creation, it was actually written by Moses in the 1400's BC.
It is thought that the book of Job, however, was written long before Moses' day. So we don't get bogged down in the introduction, I will point out the reasons for this thinking as we progress through the book.
The land of "Oots" was the area settled by the great-grandson of Noah (Noah: Shem: Aram: Uz), east of the Jordan River (1:3).
The central figure in this book, a man named Job, is clarified right from verse one to be...
Job 1:1 ...blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.
Job was not a sinless man, but he was blameless, "tawm," meaning "complete, sound, wholesome, morally innocent, having integrity," and upright, "yaw-SHAWR," which means, "to be straight, level, upright, proper."
This fact will be repeated by God Himself two more times (1:8; 2:3). Once we read of the terrible things that happen to Job, it will be important not to forget this fact, or we will end up misinterpreting the entire book.
Job's seven sons were grown and each had their own houses. On "his day," they would invite their siblings to a party. "His day" is the same word translated "the day of his birth" in 3:1, and nearly every commentator understands "his day" to mean "his birthday." That is my interpretation as well.
The celebration of birthdays does go very far back into human history. However, notice that it is the "birthday boy" who throws the party for others, exactly the opposite of the way we celebrate birthdays today. In Genesis 40, when it...
Gen. 40:20 ...was Pharaoh's birthday... he made a feast for all his servants...
In this case, the brother would invite his nine siblings to the party.
Apparently, Job was worried about these parties, and did not attend them himself. Instead, when they were over, he would send for his children and consecrate them.
To consecrate something means, "to sanctify, set apart, make holy, and dedicate to the Lord." Consecration was usually done by cleansing someone and anointing them with oil (Exo. 40:13; Lev 8:12; etc.).
Job did this because he was afraid that in the midst of their eating and drinking, they had sinned by cursing God in their hearts. He knew that although becoming drunk can at first make the heart merry (1Sam. 25:36; Psa. 104:15; Zech 10:7), it will then weigh down and break your heart (Luke 21:34, Jer. 23:9), and often make you lose the fear of the Lord (Luke 12:45-46), become arrogant towards the Lord (Jer. 48:26), and despise the things of God (1Cor. 11:21-22).
The Hebrew word, "baw-RAK" is used eight times in Job, and has led to much confusion. You see, the word is translated, "bless" four times, and "curse" the other four times. How can a word be defined in such contradictory and opposite terms?
The verb basically means to speak a blessing on someone as they leave (Gen. 47:10; Josh 22:6; etc.). But, depending on your tone and the feeling behind it, your blessing of "goodbye" can be more like "good riddance."
Job was worried that in their eating and drinking, one or more of his children might have pushed God out of their minds and hearts, saying "goodbye and good riddance!"
Because of this, Job would offer burnt offerings for each of his children the morning after their feasting. This is the first indication to us as to the age of the book of Job: The father of the family is the one who offers sacrifices. The Levitical priesthood has not yet been established by the Law given to Moses at Mt. Sinai. This puts us back in the days of the patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Possibly even much earlier.
Now the scene changes from Job's regular practice on earth to a specific day in heaven, when...
Job 1:6 ...the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD...
Who are "the sons of God?" In the book of Job, they are described as having access to God in heaven (1:6; 2:1) and being present at the foundation of the earth, shouting for joy (38:7).
The only other time that the Hebrew phrase appears in the Old Testament is in Genesis 6, when we read about the sons of God and the daughters of men.
Although we don't have time to get into this subject tonight, the sons of God in Genesis 6 are thought by many to be angels who left their place in heaven and produced offspring with human women, producing the race of giants. They were then judged and bound with chains, awaiting the judgment. If you want a much more detailed study of this subject, I recommend picking up the tape from Jude 1:5-7.
At the very least, we know that these sons of God in Job are angels coming to present themselves before the Lord.
Then we read something very strange:
Job 1:6 ... and satan also came among them.
The word "satan" is "saw-TAWN" in Hebrew, which means, "adversary." This is another indication as to the early date of the book, because every time he is mentioned, it actually says, "the satan," or "the adversary." The word satan is still a descriptor of him, not his name.
Later, in 1Chronicles 21 we read...
1Chr. 21:1 ...Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
By the time that occurred, "Adversary" had become his name - there is no definite article, "the" in front of it. The New Testament continues using it in the context of a name: the Greek word "Sat-an-AS."
Now the problem many people have with this description is the idea of satan being allowed into heaven. Of course, we know that his origins were in heaven. God describes him as being created and placed "on the holy mountain of God" (Eze. 28:14) until unrighteousness, pride, corruption, and violence were found in him. He sinned, and was cast "as profane from the mountain of God" (Eze. 28:16). God pronounced,
Is. 14:12-15 "How you have fallen from heaven, o star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit."
Jesus also said that He saw...
Luke 10:18 ...Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
If satan has been cast down, how does he still have access? He has been thrown down, but not permanently banned yet. He still accuses the brethren before God day and night (Rev. 12:10).
It will not be until the final 3 1/2 years of man's rule on earth that he will be permanently cast down. John writes of the prophetic vision, when he saw...
Rev. 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
For now, satan has access to the throne room, but not for very much longer.
The devil is very busy, roaming and walking about on the earth. He is always on the lookout.
1Pet. 5:8 ...Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
He is prowling around the earth, looking for those whom he may devour, to capture in his snare, holding them captive to do his will (2Tim. 2:26).
Interestingly, the Lord actually suggests someone's name to satan. "Hey, satan, in all your prowlings and wanderings, have you stopped to take a look at Job? It'd be pretty hard to accuse that man, being so blameless."
Why would He do this? Didn't He know what bringing up Job's name would lead to?
Of course God knew what would happen next. He is actually the one initiating these events! And this is something that we absolutely, positively have to remember in our Christian walk. Nothing happens to us apart from God's complete knowledge and sovereign plan. No matter how difficult our circumstances are to understand, we must keep in mind that God is in control of all things at all times. Job did not have the advantage of knowing or memorizing Romans 8:18.
Rom. 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
I challenge you to memorize that verse - first of all, to aid in your understanding of the book of Job, and then to understand the context of suffering in your own life.
Satan knew he had nothing behaviorally with which to accuse Job. But he knew that he could accuse the motive behind Job's holiness. So he made the accusation that Job was only a righteous man because of the blessings he received as a result. If God were to take all of the blessings away, satan insisted, Job would say goodbye to God in a heartbeat.
The Lord answered satan's accusation with permission to allow him to prove or disprove his hypothesis. The devil was given permission and power over everything Job had.
This is the reality of every believer's life: satan demands permission to tempt us, and God allows those things to be used as tests of our faith and commitment to Him. On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He said to Peter,
Luke 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
The devil's accusation to God against Peter was very much the same: "Sure, he's following you now, when he thinks that he's going to reign with You in power. But let me bring opposition into the picture, and you'll watch him deny You over and over."
The sad thing is that the devil was right about Peter's denial.
The devil wasted no time in taking away everything Job had. Within a few minutes, he heard that the Sabeans stole all of his oxen and donkeys, lightning killed his sheep, the Chaldeans stole his camels, most of his servants were killed, and worst of all, a tornado killed all ten of his children.
Taking us away from the tragedy of the story for the moment, it is interesting to look at this from a purely doctrinal standpoint. The devil was told by God,
Job 1:12 ..."Behold, all that he has is in your power..."
The devil's power was allowed to be exercised against everything Job had. Remember, that one of the descriptions of satan is that he is...
Eph. 2:2 ...the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
So, it should come as no surprise to us that he used both man and nature to bring destruction and loss.
What would Job's reaction to all of this be? Many of us might consider suicide. Or we might have a complete breakdown, being checked into the psychiatric ward and pumped full of tranquilizers. But instead, we read...
Job was grieving, there is no doubt about it. You cannot experience such loss without it affecting you. But although you cannot control the circumstances, you absolutely can control the response. And Job's response was,
Job 1:21 ..."The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."
"When I came into this world, I didn't have anything. And now once again, I don't have anything. Praise God." Amazing! There is no better way to respond than this! The Bible says,
1Th. 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Think this through:
- We give thanks at the blessing of wealth. But do we give thanks when that wealth is taken from us?
- We give thanks when we are surrounded by friends, but do we give thanks when those friends abandon us?
- We give thanks at the birth of a child, but do we give thanks when that child is taken from us?
You see, Job knew that everything he had was from God - both what he considered to be good, and what he considered to be bad. In all this, Job did not sin or blame God.
Becoming bitter at God because of loss is inexcusable and is never understandable. Who gave you those things, that wealth, or those loved ones in the first place? It was God.
Many people become bitter at the loss of them instead of being thankful for the enjoyment they derived from them, or the love that they received from them, while they had them.
Saints, I don't want to scare you, but today, the devil is demanding permission to put all of us into temptation. And, in God's timing, He is going to allow us to be tested by the devil's schemes. Every one of us will suffer loss of some kind. The question is, when that day arrives, will we be like Simon Peter, or will we be like Job? Simon learned the lesson the hard way, by utter failure. But after he returned, he offered us strength from what he had learned, saying,
1Pet. 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.