Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.—James 5:10, 11 KJAV
As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.—James 5:10, 11 NASV
This book deals with the theoretical problem of pain and disaster in the life of the godly. It undertakes to answer the question, Why do the righteous suffer? The answer comes in a threefold form: (1) God is worthy of love even apart from the blessings He bestows; (2) God may permit suffering as a means of purifying and strengthening the soul in godliness; (3) God’s thoughts and ways are moved by considerations too vast (extensive) for the puny (small) mind of man to comprehend. Even though man is unable to see the issues of life with the breadth (extent) and vision of the Almighty; nevertheless God really knows what is best for His own glory and for our ultimate good. The answer is given against the background of the views of Job’s three ‘comforters,’ Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.—Gleason A. Archer, Survey of the Old Testament (1978)
James testified to the fact that Job was not only a real person; but he was also one of Jehovah’s faithful prophets. He adds his testimony to the testimony of Ezekiel who quoted the Lord God as placing Job in a unique class of prophets that included Noah and Daniel (cf. Ezk. 14:14, 20). Thus the Book of Job is not simply an epic didactic poem; but a genuine history of certain events in the life of Job. Therefore, we need to study Job from the viewpoint of expecting to find spiritual edification in time of personal suffering. This principle also applies to the reading and studying of some of David’s Psalms. The Spirit has given us Job’s story for our spiritual edification and for spiritual growth (cf. II Tim. 3:16, 17).
Since Job lived in the dispensation of Man (i.e. Gentiles—Gen. 10:29), he lived several hundred years before Moses wrote the Pentateuch. As we study the Book of Job, we must always remember that in comparison to us, he had available to him a very limited amount of Bible doctrine. The Holy Spirit provided the written Canon of Scripture under a progressive revelation. With this thought in mind, we need to carefully separate out the doctrinal information that is revealed in the book.
Prooftexting is generally disparaged as a method of Bible study because it misses the important step: it interprets verses without paying proper attention to their context.—Henry A, Virkler, Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation (1981) p 84
Good exegetical procedure dictates that the details be viewed in light of the total context. Unless the exegete knows where the thought of the text begins, and how the pattern develops, all the intricate details may be of little or no worth. This ability—the ability to state what each section of a book is about and how the paragraphs in each section contribute to the argument—is one of the most critical steps. If the exegete falters here, much of what follows will be wasted time and effort.—Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology (1981) p 69
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered 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 did Job continually.—Job 1:1-5
Prior to the beginning of Job’s test, he was living in great material life prosperity. He owned a large sheep ranch (7,000 sheep), a large dairy (500 female donkeys), a large plantation (500 yoke of oxen for plowing), and three large merchant caravans (3,000 camels). However, as a patriarchal priest, he did not neglect his spiritual responsibilities in regard to his family. Since Job does not mention bringing personal sacrifices or sacrifices for his wife, some commentators have accused Job of neglecting his own spiritual life and claimed that he had become very self-righteous. This is nothing more than pure eisegesis (reading into the text what the reader wants it to say). God the Son personally testified before an angelic convocation to the spiritual maturity and the spiritual walk of Job (cf. Job 1:8, 2:3). In accord with the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration, the Spirit confirmed the Son’s testimony (cf. Job 1:1). An examination of the historical-cultural background of the book of Job (isagogics) reveals nothing in his lifestyle to have given him any reason to anticipate the great trial that would lay before him. He was tested without warning! His spiritual warfare attack was a blindside attack!
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? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 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. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.—Job 1:6-12 KJAV
The scenery of the narrative quickly changes. The reader is transported from earth to the third heaven. Here, we discover that God the Son (the revealed member of the Triune Godhead) has convened an angelic convocation and that Satan (i.e. Lucifer, the Devil) had come to join them. The Son begins to interrogate Satan by demanding he give an account of his recent activities. Then the Son demands to know if Satan has been paying any special attention to God’s servant Job. Now, God is omniscient so He knows that Satan has been after Job for some time; but has failed to make any headway. The Devil knew all about Job. He undoubtedly had a thick dossier on him. After all, Job was one of God’s most faithful servants. Since he knew that God had placed a hedge around Job, it is a logical deduction that the hedge had prevented a surprise attack upon Job or his family. Following God’s removal of the spiritual hedge from around Job, Satan’s attacks on him were quick and vicious. It is a logical conclusion that before Satan appeared at this convocation, he had developed a personal hatred toward Job.
When God mentioned the name of Job, Satan lashed out with an answer which contains one of the most glorious truths in the Bible: God’s hedge about the believer. When the father of lies is forced to admit a truth that is going to bring sublime comfort and strength to weary souls who, for a little while, have become tired with the struggle for life, we may be sure not only that it tore him but also that such an admission of defeat will contain truth that is pertinent to our victory and our strengthening. ‘Does Job fear God for naught?’ he cried. “Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?’
The answer shows the extent of Satan’s onslaught. It reveals that Satan had been attacking Job personally, that he had been attacking him through his family, that he had been attacking him through his possessions, and that this attack had been from every possible angle and with every possible device known to Satan. But the answer reveals much more than this. In admitting that there was a hedge about Job, Satan admits that he had tried to reach Job and has failed repeatedly. He reveals that he hates upright men and that he would strike through the believer if he could, but he cannot because of the protected love of God that overshadows all of those who have put their trust in His saving grace.—Donald G. Barnhouse, The Invisible War (1965) p 143, 144
And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 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. 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. 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. 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: 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. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 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. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.—Job 1:13-22 KJAV
Satan struck quickly and destroyed all of Job’s capitalistic enterprises. He lost his plantation, his sheep ranch, his dairy farm, and his three merchant caravans. He also suffered the loss of a large number of unknown servants. Then, even before he was able to fully comprehend all that had happened to him, he learned that all of his children had been killed. In just a short time, Job’s world was turned upside down. Satan had accused Job of only serving God for personal material worldly gain. The Devil boasted to the Lord that if he was allowed to destroy Job’s prosperity then Job would “curse God to His face.” Job not only did not “curse God”; but he actually humbled himself before the Lord and worshipped His Redeemer-God. Job did not even understand the rules of warfare; and yet he won a great tactical victory in the spiritual warfare of the angelic conflict. He had no idea that he was under a personal Satanic attack!
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.—Ephesians 6:10-12 KJAV
Job won this victory without any portion of the written Canon of Scripture. He won it by faith in the limited amount of Bible doctrine that had been given through the early prophets under the principle of progressive revelation. By contrast, we not only have the completed Canon of Scripture, but in it we find Bible doctrine that prepares us to face the trials and tests of spiritual warfare (cf. Eph. 6:10-18).
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. And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And 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? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 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. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.—Job 2:1-8 KJAV
While Job is going through the normal process of grieving that comes with the death of his children and his servants, Satan reports back to God and is forced to acknowledge that he had been wrong about Job. However, he does not give up his plan to destroy this ‘man of God.’ He challenges God to allow him to attack Job’s physical health. In accordance with the Father’s permissive will, Satan is allowed to bring physical pain and suffering to Job; but he is not allowed to kill him.
Now it is important for us to understand that it was God who brought Job’s name up to Satan when He testified about Job’s spiritual maturity at both of these angelic convocations. We see here the Father’s purposive will! In every dispensation, Satan desires to “sift” (i.e. test—cf. Lu. 22:31with I Pet. 5:8) believers. We need to understand that the Father is not the originator of sin and evil (cf. Jam. 1:13). Therefore, when the Lord allowed Satan to attack Job, Satan was functioning through the permissive will of God. However, it was the Father’s purposive will (cf. Isa. 46:9-11; Ps. 33:11) for Job to face this test; so that he would have the opportunity to pass it to the glory of God (cf. I Cor. 10:13 with II Cor. 12:7-10).
Ver. 8. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job...Or, hast thou put thine heart on my servant? Not in a way of love and affection in him, to do him any good or service, there being an original and implacable enmity in this old serpent to the seed of the woman; but rather his heart was set upon him in a way of desire to have him in his hands, to do him all the mischief he could, as the desire of his heart toward Peter, Luke xxii.31...—John Gill, An Exposition of the Old Testament Vol. I (1852) p 604
Satan attacks Job’s physical body by giving some type of terrible skin disease. Job’s sitting down among the ashes followed the cultural concept of the day for an outward manifestation of personal humiliation and mourning. He had shaved his head and torn off his outer robe; when he began to mourn the death of his children.
Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. 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.—Job 2:9-10 KJAV
Satan remains behind the scene; but he is able to add to Job’s suffering by his wife’s abandonment of her dependence upon God to see them through this dark valley of personal loss. Since this is the first time that the Spirit brings her to our attention, it would appear to be a sound deduction to conclude that she had passed the tests of the loss of their personal property and the death of their children. Now, before we are too hard on her, let us all pause to remember that God made the wife to be a responder to her husband. When she encouraged Job to “curse God” so that he could die, perhaps she was motivated by her love for Job and her deep sorrow at the personal suffering he was enduring. After all, he undoubtedly looked and felt like a dying man; so why not go ahead and give God a reason to take him out of this world. We do not know for sure what her motivation was; but we do know that Job rejected her advice immediately because it had no spiritual value to it. Apparently, she made a spiritual recovery and was the mother of the children of their old age (cf. Job 42:13, 14). Remember that in our modern age, Satan has raised the issue of assisted suicide; so people can seek to choose their own death date.
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.—Job 2:11-13 KJAV
Now Job has his spiritual support group with him. But they sit there in silence and demonstrate that they have nothing of value to say to him. For seven days and seven nights they sit up with him; but they share no divine viewpoint with him and therefore we discover before they ever begin to speak that they have no real words of comfort to give to Job. The Father’s purposive will is for Job to face this test alone!
Behind the scenes in the spiritual warfare of the angelic conflict the battle is between Jehovah and Satan. However, it is the Father’s purposive will for Job to continue to utilize faith-rest and therefore to continue to live in the Father’s directive will. Job must walk alone with God down this long and dark valley of personal pain and suffering! He is a living testimony to the fact that believers need to place their trust and dependence upon God and never upon people (cf. Jer. 17:5). It appears to be that it was their lack of compassion that caused Job to at last react to the situation and to allow his frustrations to pour forth from his soul (cf. Job 3).
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.—Ephesians 6:10-12
Job was given no special spiritual enablement to protect him from the Satanic attack by the one who opposed his person, his presence, and his prospects. In our dispensation, the Father has provided us with knowledge of our enemy and the defense weapons we need to meet the test. Since we have the full armor of God, we have a great advantage over Job (cf. Eph. 6:13-18—continued).