About the Book of Job
The Book of Job tells the story of a man called Job. Job was a good man. Job trusted God. But Job had terrible troubles.
The devil caused Job’s troubles (Job 1:12; Job 2:6-7). But Job did not know this fact. So Job thought that God caused the problems (Job 19:1-12). In fact, God did not cause Job’s troubles. God merely permitted Job to suffer. Still, Job trusted God. And Job refused to insult God (Job 2:9-10).
Job’s friends tried to help Job. But their advice was wrong. They did not think that God would allow an innocent person to suffer. So they thought that Job was guilty. They guessed that Job had done many wicked things (Job 22:4-11).
Job argued with them. He explained that he was innocent (Job 31:1-40). Job thought that God should help him. But Job was still suffering. So Job supposed that God was unfair (Job 23:13-17). But this idea was wrong. Nobody should accuse God. God is always fair (Job 34:10-12).
God was kind to Job, even when Job was suffering. God taught Job many things. Job learned that death is not the end of everything (Job 19:25-27). Job discovered that God would rescue him (Job 14:13-17). And Job knew that God is wonderful (Job 26:5-14).
Then a man called Elihu spoke. Elihu was wiser than Job’s other friends were. Elihu told Job not to accuse God. And Elihu was angry that the other friends had been cruel to Job (Job 32:2-3).
Then a storm approached the men. And the men heard God’s voice (Job chapter 38 to chapter 41).
God reminded the men that he is very great. He told them about the world, the stars and the sea (Job chapter 38). He described many strange animals (Job chapter 39 to chapter 41). And God explained that he created all these things. So nobody should accuse God. Nobody should say that God is not fair. Instead, we must respect God. And we must be humble.
Then Job was sorry that he said the wrong things about God. And Job’s friends were sorry too. They asked Job to pray for them. And God forgave them all (Job chapter 42).
After Job prayed for his friends, God made Job successful again (Job 42:12-17).
A good man called Job
v1 A man called Job lived in a country called Uz. This man was good and honest. Job respected God. And Job refused to do evil deeds.
v2 Job had:
· 7 sons and 3 daughters;
· v3 7000 sheep;
· 3000 camels;
· 500 pairs of oxen; (Oxen look like cows. But oxen pull the plough.)
· 500 donkeys (small horses);
· and many servants.
Job was the greatest man in the east.
v4 Job’s sons used to hold birthday parties in their houses. They would eat and drink together, with their three sisters. v5 Afterwards, Job prayed for them. At dawn, he took one animal for each child. He killed the animals. Then, he burned the animals as a gift to God. Job did this because he was worried about his children. He said, ‘Perhaps my children did something evil. Perhaps they insulted God.’ So, Job did these things often.
Job was a successful man. He was rich. And he was important. Everybody respected Job, because Job was wealthy.
Job did deserve honour, but not because of his wealth. Job deserved honour because he respected God. Job always tried to do the right things. And Job refused to do evil things.
Job did not pretend that he was perfect (Job 31:33). Everybody does some evil deeds (Romans 3:23). This is why Jesus died for us (Romans 3:24-25). Jesus suffered the punishment for our evil deeds. We should invite God into our lives. Nobody on earth is perfect. But, if we trust God, God will make us perfect in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Job did trust God. Job was sincere. Job’s attitudes (Job 31) prove this. Even God spoke well about Job (verse 8).
In Ezekiel 14:14, God mentions Job. God also mentions Noah and Daniel in this passage. Here, God explains that the people in some countries are very wicked. God will punish these people severely. Even a good man like Job could not save such people. And even Noah and Daniel could not help them. This passage in Ezekiel shows us that God really considered Job a good man.
Job was unhappy about the behaviour of his children. Job wanted his children to respect God. Job wanted them to help poor people. But Job’s children preferred to hold parties. They were greedy. They drank plenty of wine. They did not think that Job’s religion was important.
Later, in Job 8:4, Bildad said that Job’s children were evil. Job agreed with Bildad – see Job 9:2.
Job prayed for his children. Before Jesus died, holy people often killed animals as a gift to God. The Bible taught the people to do this (Leviticus chapters 1-7). The people knew that an animal cannot take the punishment for our evil deeds (Psalm 51:16). They knew that only God can forgive us (Psalm 51:17). But the death of an animal reminded them that evil deeds are serious matters. And this tradition taught them that Jesus would die for us all (Genesis 22:8 and John 1:29).
Job was afraid that his children would insult God. This would be terrible because we must always respect God. God created us. And God is our judge. In fact, the author of the Book of Job did not even want to write the words: ‘insult God’. In the language called Hebrew, he wrote the words: ‘praise God’. He did not mean ‘praise’ because of course we should praise God. But the author knew that his readers would be able to work out the meaning of his words.
The accuser called Satan
v6 On one particular day, the angels (servants of God) gathered in heaven to see God. And the accuser called Satan was also there.
v7 God said to Satan, ‘Where did you come from?’
Satan replied to God, ‘I have travelled across the world. I have been to many places.’
v8 God said to Satan, ‘I have a servant called Job. Nobody else in the world is like Job! Job is good and honest. He respects God. And Job refuses to do evil deeds.’
v9 Satan replied to God, ‘Job respects you because you help him. v10 You are his guard. You protect him, as if a hedge surrounds him. You protect his family. You protect all his possessions. You have helped that man to succeed. Now, he is very wealthy. v11 But if you destroy Job’s property, then Job will really insult you.’
v12 God said to Satan, ‘I permit you to attack everything that belongs to Job. But you may not hurt Job himself.’
So, Satan left God.
The book of Job teaches us many things about the devil. The devil’s name is Satan. ‘Satan’ means ‘the accuser’.
Job’s friends did not blame Satan for Job’s troubles. Even Job did not blame the devil. Job and his friends thought that God made Job suffer. But they were wrong. God is good. God wants us to have wonderful lives. God is preparing a beautiful home in heaven for his people (John 14:1-3; Revelation chapter 21).
The Book of Job explains that Satan caused Job’s troubles. Many Christians think that Satan was once an angel (a servant of God) – Isaiah 14:12-15. But Satan refused to obey God. Satan thought that he would be as great as God. Other angels joined Satan. These evil angels are called ‘evil spirits’. (See Mark 5:1-20.)
Satan causes the troubles in the world. God created a beautiful world (Genesis 2:8). But Satan used a snake to test the first people (Genesis 3). The snake told the first people that they should not obey God. Then they would become like God (Genesis 3:3-5). The people obeyed this terrible advice. Since then, everybody has done evil deeds. This is why our lives are difficult (Genesis 3:17-19).
Satan even tested Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15). But Jesus did not behave like us. Jesus did nothing that was evil (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:26-28). When Jesus died, he destroyed Satan’s work (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14). When we invite God into our lives, we become friends of God, because of Jesus’ death (Ephesians 2:14-18).
But the devil continues to test us. He wanders across the world (1 Peter 4:8). He tries to tempt us. He wants to accuse us. We must not follow his advice (James 4:7). He hates us because we love God. And God will protect us (Ephesians 6:10-18).
In the Book of Job, Satan visited heaven. We do not expect to see the devil in heaven! The devil is God’s enemy. The devil belongs in hell.
Jesus’ work was complete when Jesus died for us (Hebrews 10:13-14). But God’s enemies still have some power (Luke 4:6; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Hebrews 10:13). In the future, God will punish all his enemies. And Satan will suffer the punishment that he deserves (Revelation 20:1-10).
God was proud of Job. Job was special to God.
Every Christian is special to God. God knows his people (2 Timothy 2:19). God knows everything about us (Matthew 10:30). He sees our secret actions (Matthew 6:3-4). He hears our quiet prayers (Matthew 5:6). He is better than a friend (John 15:15). He is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). God loves his people. (See the Song of Solomon, or read Revelation 21:3-4 and 1 John 4:19.)
Satan is the accuser. Firstly, he accused God. Satan said that God was not fair. God was protecting Job so Satan could not attack Job!
Satan was wrong to argue that God is not fair. God is always fair.
But Satan was right that God protects his people. God rescues us when we have troubles (Psalm 40:1–3). God saves us from our enemies (Psalm 59). God helps us when we pray (Psalm 61). God is like a castle where we are safe (Psalm 61:1–2). We can always trust God (Psalm 71).
Then Satan accused Job. Satan thought that Job was not really loyal to God. Job served God because Job respected God. Satan thought that Job preferred wealth instead of God. Satan was wrong. Job was still loyal to God even when Job lost all his possessions.
In verse 11, Satan wanted God to destroy Job’s property. But God did not agree to this request. God is not evil. God does not do terrible things to his people. God is never cruel. God refused to destroy Job’s property.
However, sometimes God allows the devil to test us. God allows such troubles so that we learn to trust God more (1 Peter 1:7). Even when we suffer, we love God deeply. And God gives joy to us (1 Peter 1:8).
Terrible things might happen to us (Matthew 5:11). But we can be glad. God has a wonderful reward for us in heaven (Matthew 5:12). Stephen knew this. Stephen’s enemies killed him because he spoke boldly about Jesus. But when Stephen was dying, he did not care about his pain. God showed heaven to Stephen. Stephen even saw Jesus in heaven (Acts 7:55). So Stephen was not afraid (Acts 7:59-60). He knew that God would reward him. And Stephen knew that heaven was his real home. (See 1 Peter 1:4.)
We must not be afraid of troubles. God knows us. And he cares about us. God decided what troubles Job would suffer. In verse 12, God did not allow Satan to hurt Job. In Job 2:6, God did not allow Satan to kill Job. Satan might cause many troubles, but God controls our lives.
We can trust God. He will not allow us to suffer troubles that are too difficult for us. And God will help us when we have troubles. See 1 Corinthians 10:13. We are not alone when we suffer troubles. God will help us. God will make us strong. We do not need to be afraid. Paul suffered many troubles (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). But he wrote that these troubles were slight. He knew that God is preparing a wonderful reward for us in heaven (Romans 8:18). So Paul was always glad (Philippians 4:4).
Job’s troubles begin
v13 On the birthday of Job’s oldest son, that son invited his brothers and sisters for a party. They were eating together in his house. And they were drinking wine.
v14 On that day, a servant came to Job. The servant said, ‘Your oxen (farm animals) were ploughing. And the donkeys (small horses) were eating together. v15 But then, people from the nation called Sabea attacked. They took the animals. And they killed all your servants. I alone escaped to tell you.’
v16 While that servant was still speaking, another servant arrived. This other servant said, ‘Fire came down from God in heaven! The fire burned your sheep. And the fire burned your servants. I alone escaped to tell you.’
v17 While this servant was still speaking, another servant arrived. This next servant said, ‘People came from the nation called Chaldea. There were three groups. They stole your camels. They killed your servants. I alone escaped to tell you.’
v18 While he was still speaking, one more servant arrived. This last servant said, ‘Your sons and daughters were in your oldest son’s house. They were eating together. And they were drinking wine. v19But then, a great wind blew from the desert. It was so strong that the house fell down. Everybody died. I alone escaped to tell you.’
A birthday should be a happy day. But this birthday was a terrible day. On this day, Satan attacked Job. Job’s troubles came suddenly.
Job’s children were not ready for that day. They were behaving quite as they always behaved. They were not trusting God. They were not ready to meet God. Instead, they were ‘eating and drinking’.
Before Noah’s flood, people were ‘eating and drinking’. These people were not ready for the flood. The flood drowned them. And they were not ready to meet God (Matthew 24:37-39). People will also behave in this manner before Jesus returns. We must not behave like this. We must always be ready to meet God (Matthew 24:44). So we must invite God into our lives. And God will teach us to live in a way that pleases him.
The servants in verses 14-17 announced that Job had lost all his possessions. Job’s sheep died in a terrible fire. Enemies stole Job’s camels. Other enemies took Job’s oxen (farm animals) and his donkeys (small horses). In the morning, Job was the wealthiest man in the east. But in the evening, Job was a very poor man.
Sometimes troubles happen suddenly. Each new trouble makes us weaker. We think that we have no strength. But then, a worse trouble comes. Jeremiah knew this. When Jeremiah’s enemies attacked Jerusalem, the people in Jerusalem suffered terribly. The enemies destroyed the city. They killed many people. They took other people to be their slaves. But Jeremiah still remembered God’s love. Jeremiah still knew that God is kind. So, Jeremiah was patient. And Jeremiah knew that God would still answer prayer (Lamentations 3:22-24).
Habakkuk wrote about this. Habakkuk could still feel joy even if his crops failed. He was glad because God would protect him. He was happy because God gave strength to him (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Then, Job’s troubles became even worse. Job’s children were having a party. They were greedy. Perhaps the party was evil. Perhaps they drank too much wine. Job was worried about them. And Job was right to be worried. Job’s children were not ready to meet God. They did not know that they would die.
The servant’s news was terrible. Job’s sons died. Job’s daughters died. His servants died. Only the four servants in Job 1:14-19 were still alive. Satan was very cruel to Job. Job did not realise that Satan caused Job’s troubles. Job thought that God had caused these troubles.
Job’s reaction to the terrible news
v20 Then Job stood up. He tore his clothes to show that he was very sad. He shaved his hair to show that he had lost everything. Then, he knelt to praise God. (That is, Job bent his body to the ground.)
v21 Job said, ‘I had nothing when I was born. And I will have nothing when I die. God gave many things to me. Now, God has taken these things from me. But I will still praise God.’
v22 Although Job’s troubles were great, Job’s words were not evil. And Job did not accuse God.
Satan did these terrible things to Job because Satan wanted Job to insult God (verse 11). Satan thought that Job would hate God because of these troubles. So Job’s reaction was important to Satan.
Job’s reaction was also important to God. God was proud of Job (verse 8). God said that Job was God’s ‘servant’. Like a servant, Job did God’s work on earth (Job 31:16-23). As Christians, we are also God’s servants (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1). God has given great responsibility to us (2 Corinthians 5:20). So, when we have troubles, God wants us to behave wisely.
Job suffered very terrible troubles. We would not be surprised if Job was angry. We should have sympathy when people suffer.
Job was very sad. He carried out the traditions of his people. The sad news upset him greatly. But Job was not angry with God. Instead, Job praised God.
In one day, Job lost everything that he owned. But Job still praised God.
On that day, Job’s sons and daughters died. But Job still praised God.
Job had been rich. Now he was poor. But Job still praised God.
Job knew that his possessions really belonged to God (Psalm 24:1).
Job thought that God had taken Job’s possessions. And Job thought that this was fair. God gave him those things. And Job supposed that God had taken those things away. Job did not know that really Satan had done these terrible things. But Job did not accuse God. Job did not say that God was evil. Job continued to praise God.
Job was patient (James 4:11). Job did not know why these terrible events happened. But Job trusted God. Job continued to praise God. Job was still a servant of God. So Job was careful always to respect God.
Perhaps Job supposed that the most terrible things had happened to him. But soon he would suffer even more troubles.
We can learn many important lessons from Chapter 1:
· God is good. He protects us. He provides for us.
· The devil is cruel. The devil causes our troubles.
· Sometimes God allows the devil to test us. At these times, God is still protecting us. God will help us.
When we have troubles, we should still trust God. We should continue to respect God. And we should praise God in every situation.