[The following article is an edited transcription of our audio teaching, Job: The Righteous Sufferer by John Schoenheit.]
The book of Job teaches some wonderful lessons. The primary thesis of the book of Job is the thesis of the “righteous sufferer.” Job was a man who did not do anything wrong. When we read about him in the Bible, we learn that he was blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil. He was a man who did nothing wrong, and yet he suffered horribly.
Nobody gets through life without suffering. It is a travesty to believe that all suffering is deserved because it is not. Sure, we do things to cause our own problems. Let’s say you are driving down the road, and your hot engine light comes on in your car, and you think that you can make it home, and then your engine seizes. We do a lot of dumb things that cause us problems, no question about it. The other side of that coin is that people suffer without having done anything wrong at all. We see that in the book of Job, the book of the righteous sufferer. After realizing that a certain amount of righteous suffering and unrighteous suffering will occur in life, the great lesson to take home from the book of Job is that you can worship God in whatever circumstances that you are in. There are people whose lives are going great at this particular time and place. Things could not be more wonderful. They are happy; they are healthy. They are well fed; they have a good job. God would say, “fine, worship me.” If the situation were different in your life where you had problems, pains, things that you are really dealing with that are hardships; you can still choose to worship God. We see this in the book of Job because he worships God in all of his circumstances, good and bad.
What a great lesson for you and I to learn and to take away from the book of Job. There are other lessons to learn. We certainly see the hatred of the Devil. If you want to see the Devil coming to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), it is in the book of Job.
We see the father’s responsibility to lead his family. That is clearly taught in the book of Job and certainly something that we are going talk about. We are going to see that the flesh is not really a very good judge of what is going on in the spiritual world. We need the Word of God and some spiritual help to be good discerners of the truth of any given situation.
We will also see that when people speak, it is usually a mixture of truth and error. We have to know the Word of God to know which is which. God designed us to want to be in unity with people. The fact is that what people say is often times part right and part wrong. We certainly see that in the book of Job because Job’s miserable comforters made some wonderful true statements, but then they made some really off the wall comments, also. As a Christian, you and I have to become experts in the Word of God in discerning truth from error; otherwise, we are going to be lead astray, and we will not even know it.
These are some of the great lessons of the book of Job at which we are going to look.
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.
Where is Uz? Ancient tradition says that it was on the border of Arabia. There are a number of reasons for believing this. For example, Uz had plentiful pastures, was suitable for crops, and was near the desert.
A wadi or flat land is there called the Wadi Sirhan. It is about 200 miles long and 20 miles wide. It starts at an oasis about 50 miles east of today’s Amman, Jordan, and then it runs to the southeast. Scholars and archeologists have come to the conclusion that Uz is what we today call the Wadi Sirhan. That is where Job lived.
When did Job live? He lived about a generation to a generation and a half after Abraham. Various reasons are there for believing this, which we do not need to go into in detail. One of them is that he lived about 200 years. The Bible says in Job 42 that he lived for 140 years after his affliction, and before his affliction, he had 10 grown children and was the greatest of the men of the East. That does not happen overnight. Let us say that he is 60 years old when he is afflicted, and then he lives 140 years after that. That would be about 200 years. He might have lived 220, 250, or 175 years. All we have is a basic idea of how long he would have lived.
What about the name “Job”? One of the disadvantages of not reading Job in Hebrew is that we lose out on some of the things that the Hebrews would have automatically known just by picking up the book of Job and reading it. For example, in verse 1, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.” Now to you and I, Job is Job. “Okay, funny name, I don’t know why his mom called him Job but whatever.” If you are reading the Hebrew text, the word “Job” means “attacked” or “afflicted.” You can bet that when Job was born his mother did not say, “Look a bouncing baby boy. Hey Pa, what do you want to call him?” “Oh, let’s call him Attacked. I’m sure that he’ll have plenty of problems!”
That is not what happened. The name Attacked was given to Job after the affliction. Remember that if Job’s children are going to be talked about in the last chapter of the book of Job, then all of Job’s afflictions were completely over for a long period of time. He picked up the title Attacked because of what had happened to him.
This is very common in the ancient world and it is actually very common today. Remember that Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with the angel. Gideon’s name was changed to Jerubaal after he tore down Baal’s alter. Do you remember in the Civil War a General Stonewall Jackson? Stonewall’s mom did not call him Stonewall. He was fighting a battle in the Civil War and some of his troops were falling away. However, he stood completely still firing away at the enemy. One of his men shouted out in a voice that could be heard, “There’s Jackson standing like a stone wall.” His troops that were falling away turned around and joined him and that day they won the battle. The name “Stonewall” stuck, and so Stonewall Jackson picked up that title because of that battle.
That is what happened with Job. We do not know what his actual given (birth) name was. We do know that he came through his affliction with such flying colors that he became known, even in Scripture, as the Attacked One or the Afflicted One. Is that not what we want to do? We want to come through our afflictions with flying colors. I have been through them, and you have been through them. You go through an affliction, but you are kicking and moaning and screaming the whole way. I certainly have been there! You get through it, but it was not pretty. We will certainly see Job going through his afflictions with flying colors.
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was [Afflicted or Attacked]. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
How fabulous that Scripture would tell us this about Job! Why would it say this? It says this because Job is a righteous sufferer. What God is doing is that He is setting the stage to say that Job did not deserve this. Job was not a sinner. He did not live on the edge wondering how much he could get away with. He was not secretly smoking dope or peering at pornography or whatever. Job was blameless. He was upright; he feared God, and he shunned evil. He suffered anyway, and a lot of people are in that exact position. In fact, every single person at some time in their life will suffer undeservedly. How do we handle that? Job handled it by maintaining his integrity and worshipping God.
Job 1:2 and 3
(2) He had seven sons and three daughters,
(3) and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
The people of the East is a phrase used in Scripture for people that lived on the Arabian Desert giving evidence that the Wadi Sirhan was probably where he lived.
His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
What a wonderful thing! This speaks to the kind of family man that Job was. I know that sometimes you can be the best family man and your children still do not like each other. They do not want to spend time together and even move away from each other. The fact is that you do not have 10 children that like each other and enjoy spending time together unless you have put a great amount of effort into raising them, teaching them, mediating fights, giving wisdom, and that type of thing. This speaks to Job’s concern for his family.
When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
Bless God. Do you know what this tells me? This tells me that Job took his responsibility as priest for his family with great seriousness. Remember that Job lived in what we call the Administration of Civil Government, which started right after the Flood and ended when God gave the Law to Moses then the Law Administration started. In the Administration of Civil Government, who is the priest for the family? It was the father. The father’s job would be the priest of the family. Job’s responsibility would later be taken over by the Levitical Priesthood.
It is the Levitical Priesthood who does a burnt offering in the morning and a burnt offering in the evening. For example, the High Priest on the Day of Atonement enters into the Tent of Meeting, sometimes called the Tabernacle, and he offers sacrifices for the sins of the people.
This is long before the Law, long before the Mosaic regulations and the Levitical Priesthoods. Job’s responsibility was to lead his family spiritually, and he took that seriously.
I want to talk to the heads of the families a minute. Ladies and Gentlemen, because I know that some of you are ladies (many ladies are now heads of households too), if you are the head of the household, it is your responsibility to lead your family spiritually.
I am someone who has crashed and burned in this more times than it is possible to crash and burn. Nobody is going to tell me that this is easy because I know that this is not easy. This is much harder than herding cats! Every kid has a different schedule. They all go to different places. They get up at different times. The alarm clock does not work, and they oversleep. At nighttime, there are many different activities for them to attend. We live in such a busy society that it can be incredibly difficult to get the family together for prayer and just a little bit of Bible study or Bible discussion.
However, if you are head of a household, it is your responsibility to spiritually lead your family in the things of God. God says that He wants to be first in our hearts. We are supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are supposed to love God more than the T.V. or more than some of the other recreational activities in which we participate.
I am not saying to have a two hour church service in your home everyday. That is not what I am propounding. I am saying that if we as heads of households do not take spiritually leading our family seriously, what kind of heritage are we passing on to our children’s children? We cannot expect them to do something that we are not even doing!
I am going to get off this soap box, but if you are the head of a household, and you do not have an organized family prayer, family Bible study, or anything like that going on in your house then I would appeal to you to take a serious look at that and make some changes. I think that God deserves it. I think that your family deserves it. I think that you will be blessed with the results.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
A lot is in this verse. First of all, the word “LORD” in your Bible is in all capital letters. This is always indicative that the word in the Hebrew is God’s personal name, Yahweh. God has many titles. God is a title. Lord is a title. The Almighty is a title. God only has one personal name, and that personal name is Yahweh. Many other words are there that can be translated “lord.” When I see the word LORD in capital letters, I will replace it with Yahweh, so that you will know that it is God’s personal name.
This phrase, “One day the angels…” has a text note in the NIV that says “sons of God.” That is exactly correct. It is the sons of God who came to present themselves before Yahweh. They were called “sons of God” because they were created beings. Were the angels sons of God? Absolutely they were. Are other spiritual beings there that are not sons of God that may have come on that day? Maybe, some we may know about, some we may not like Cherubim or Seraphim. They may have come too. I think that it is safer to stick with the Hebrew text and say that the sons of God, the created beings of God, came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan also came with them.
Now wait a minute, who is this Satan guy? The Old Testament does not talk about Satan the way that you and I know him. You and I know him and know about the spiritual battle from the New Testament. From the life of Christ, the Four Gospels, and the New Testament, we understand that a kingdom exists that is ruled by Satan and a kingdom exists that is ruled by God. These two kingdoms are at war.
They did not understand that in the Old Testament. The picture they had was that God was a father, and this is perfectly presented here—the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh. Yahweh is presented as a father, and He has a bunch of children. In the Old Testament, it is not like it is taught many times in Christianity today where God has absolute control over everything. That was not believed by the people in the Old Testament. You can see that a little bit here in the book of Job. You can also see it in other places in the Old Testament. Obviously, we know that people disobeyed God all the time. It would be logical if people thought, “Well, we disobey God, so why would not God’s sons occasionally disobey God.”
The picture in the Old Testament was that God was the head of a spiritual family and was generally in control of what was going on in the world, but every once and a while there was an aberrant child or somebody that was causing problems, and this is one of them here in this verse.
The word “Satan” means adversary. The sons of God come and present themselves to Yahweh and an adversary was there. That would be understood in that culture because they had large families, and it would not be unusual for a man who had 8, 10, or 12 children, like Jacob had 12 sons and a daughter, and to have one or two of those children turn out to be adversarial to the family. We still see this today. Many parents have children or even have an only child and that child turns out to be adversarial to the family. From out of all the created beings of God, it would not be unusual for one of them to be an adversary to God and kind of be a thorn in His side; this would be completely understood.
The picture that you should have is this. God has a whole bunch of kids and one of them is an adversary. We can understand that!
The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
This is true and yet not true. What the Devil is doing here is that he is hiding the truth. He is going back and forth in the earth. Why? He is trying to see who he can devour. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” That is why he is going back and forth on the earth. Of course, he is not telling Yahweh that, but Yahweh knows it anyway.
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
Do you know what this tells me? This tells me that God is looking for people to brag about. The Adversary comes into His presence, and God just busts His buttons [meaning God is very proud of Job] and says, “Hey, if you have been up and down on the earth, have you seen that guy Job? He is fantastic, blameless, upright, he fears me, and he shuns evil. That guy Job is really something!”
I want to ask you a question. Is God bragging about you? Is He bragging about me? These are the kind of questions that we want to ask ourselves. If you do not feel that God is bragging about you, then what do you need to do to get to that place? This is a question that we all need to ask ourselves because God really wants to brag on us! God is looking for people who are blameless, upright, who fear Him, and who shun evil. God is looking for that kind of person to brag about and it is completely within our power to be that kind of person.
Of course the Devil is not happy about that.
(9) “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.
(10) “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
(11) But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
That is exactly the way that the Adversary thinks. The Adversary thinks that people love because they have stuff. That is the nature of the Adversary that nobody does anything unless they are getting something from it. “Job loves you God only because You have given him stuff! If you take away his stuff, then he will curse You to Your face.”
I want to tell you something. The Adversary is never happy until he destroys people. Sometimes, like we will see in the book of Job, this can be very tough on people. When you feel like you are being pounded upon and you have not done anything wrong, it is so hard to bear up under that. That is one of the reasons that Job is such a wonderful book to read. Job had such a wonderful reputation because he did stand faithful and worship God under all this pressure.
The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
I am not going to spend time here in this teaching to lay out the fact that this conversation between God and the Adversary is an allegory. God does not give the Adversary permission to destroy people’s lives. This is an Old Testament allegorical way of looking at a spiritual truth. This has been taught and re-taught within Spirit & Truth Fellowship. We have our book called Don’t Blame God: A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering. Also, I did a teaching on this called Overcoming Evil with Good. I am not going to take the time from this expounding of the book of Job to talk about how it is that Satan has his own freewill and his own control—1 John 5:19 says that the Adversary is in control of the earth. Many other verses exist that testify to this. Some are Matthew 4:8-9 and Luke 4:5-7 where Satan offered the control of this world to Jesus. Satan does not need God’s permission to smite someone. Satan is already in control of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and can make things horrible without God’s permission. God is not culpable that way for evil; as if, all God had to say was, “No, you can’t do that,” and then all of a sudden everyone’s life would be fine. That is not the way life works. It is not the way that Job works.
(13) One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,
(14) a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,
(15) and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
(16) While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
(17) While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
(18) While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,
(19) when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
(20) At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.
Not all disaster is from God or from the Devil; but, in this case, we see what the Devil is capable of doing to us. We have to be spiritually discerning about disaster in our life, why disaster occurs, or why problems occur. We can see here from verse fifteen that the Devil is capable of motivating other people to attack you. We see from verse sixteen that the Devil is capable of causing storms and natural disasters that will cause problems in your life. We see also that truly the Devil does come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). We need to remember that God has given us the ability to fight in the spiritual world against these things. If we do something like leave the stove on at home, and the house burns down, then it is not the Devil. The Devil does do things to us, and we have to be very good at discerning that.
Look at Job’s response:
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.
This was a sign of loss and morning.
(20) …Then he fell to the ground in worship
(21) and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
(22) In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job did not know what you and I know today because we have the benefit of the New Testament. If these things happened in your life and you said, “God did them.” You would be charging God with wrongdoing; however, the revelation that you and I enjoy today was not known at the time of Job.
Let me throw another interesting fact in here. You and I have grown up our whole lives understanding that 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” However, there is no verse in the Old Testament, at least not at this time in the Old Testament certainly, that said that. Even by the time that you go to Deuteronomy chapter seven and you found out that God loved the Israelites basically more than others and chose them, it certainly is not saying that God loves everyone unconditionally.
The concept of God’s unconditional love for people did not exist at the time of Job in any meaningful way. It was not in Scripture and not in the oral traditions. This is a very important thing. Our understanding of God comes from God. Start in Genesis; grab a Concordance and look up the word “love.” See how many times until the later prophets that is says anything about God simply loving people. It is simply not there. You can read the entire books of Moses and it is not there. This idea that “I am God, I am love, I love everybody, and I accept everybody” was not a part of the Law of Moses. It was not a part of the understanding of the people, which is why Job says, “Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. May the name of Yahweh be praised. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Let’s take a look at Romans 8:28. I think that we have our own way of dealing with disaster. I like the New International Version’s translation of this verse.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
What Job had to rely and to rest on was that he did not have any promise that God would not punish him for some reason. He did not have any promise about that, so Job says, “Yahweh gave, and Yahweh has taken away. Blessed be the name of Yahweh.”
You and I have a promise that says, “…in all things God works for the good.…” We know that the Adversary is in control of the world; we know that righteous suffering will occur, but what we can thank God for and praise and worship God for is the fact that in every situation, He is going to work for the good.
Job 2:1 and 2
(1) On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him.
(2) And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
One again, the Adversary prevaricates and tells a half truth.
…Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
He could have added, “and destroying Job,” but he did not.
Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him [watch this] without any reason.”
No sin was in Job’s life. Nothing was wrong with Job. Nothing was in his life that caused these problems. He was ruined because of the hate of the Devil, pure and simple! The bottom line is that the Devil is hate, and he will steal and kill and destroy without reason. Our challenge (our responsibility) is to be like Job and worship God in whatever state we are in.
Watch the Adversary in verse four.
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.
Now wait a minute, I seem to remember the Adversary saying back in chapter 1:11, “If you stretch out your hand and strike everything that Job has, he will curse you to your face.” Does the Adversary come back to God and say, “Wow, I am so wrong! I am so sorry. I caused that man so much pain and suffering, and I thought that he would curse you. I am just wrong. Maybe it is not all about possessions. Maybe there is such a thing about love and worship in good times and in bad times. Maybe I should rethink about how I am living my life?” No, not on your life! The Adversary will never admit that he is wrong.
The Adversary said, “You smite the things of Job, and you take away his stuff, and he will curse you to your face.” Of course when that does not work out, does he come and repent, say that he is sorry, or learn anything? No, he does not—he is pure hate. That is why I always say, “Do not give him anything. Make no concessions to the Devil.” We stand and fight him with everything that is in us. We pray and we get others to pray. We take a stand. We cannot just let the Devil beat us up because God has spiritually empowered us. We have got to take the fight to the Devil.
Job 2:4 and 5
(4) “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.
(5) But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
Did that happen? No, he did not. Did the Devil repent of that? No, he did not.
Job 2:6 and 7
(6) The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
(7) So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Not all sickness is satanically caused. Sickness can be caused by things that we do to ourselves (self inflicted sickness). The sin of Adam and the affects of the sin of Adam is there; however, satanically caused sickness is also definitely there.
Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
These are signs of humility. He had been a wealthy man; now, he would scrape himself with pottery and sit in ashes to show God that he is humble.
His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
We have seen Job attacked in his physical possessions. He has been attacked in his health. Now, he is attacked by his wife. She does not understand. She just says, “Curse God and die.”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Again, the revelation that was available at the time period of the book of Job was that they thought of God like a dad, and sometimes He did good things and sometimes He did not. That was the theology of the day. We know from the New Testament that this is not the case.
(11) When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
(12) When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
(13) Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
This shows that in their hearts they had meant to be good friends. However, they have a theology that is going to get in the way, but in their hearts, they admit to be good friends. Job starts to speak in chapter three.
(1) After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.
(2) He said:
(3) “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’
(4) That day— may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it.
(5) May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light.
Job here just emotes. He spews. His children have all been killed. His wife has turned against him. He is in constant chronic pain. His friends after sitting there for seven days and seven nights find that he finally just had a small emotional volcano, he just spews. “I wish I was not born. I wish that day had not occurred. I wish darkness and deep shadow could claim that day.” Job emotes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to tell you that this is a natural human thing to do. It is extremely difficult to go through even much less severe circumstances than these without needing some kind of emotional release. This is human nature. Sometimes in our jargon we call it “vomiting” on someone or “blowing off steam.” When we go through challenging emotional times, very often we just “BLAH” over everyone around us. We kind of mentally and emotionally “vomit” on people.
That is exactly what Job does here in chapter three. This is not a blot on Job’s character. It is proof that Job is a human being. Later, he accounts for his behavior in Job chapter six.
(1) Then Job replied:
(2) “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales!
(3) It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas— no wonder my words have been impetuous.
After having an emotional blow out and saying a bunch of things that he really did not mean (they came from the pain in his heart), he says before his friends that I know that what I just said was impetuous. This shows great character on Job’s part that he does not say, “Well, if it had happened to you, you would have said those things too. Anyone in that situation would have said terrible things. We will just forget it.” It is an amazing sign of maturity that Job would even admit to his friends, “Look, I know what I said was impetuous. You just have to understand that if my anguish could be weighed it would outweigh the sands of the sea. What I was going through was so emotionally painful.”
This happens to all of us. Let’s look at Ecclesiastes chapter 7. A great verse is in here. It has something for all of us to learn because when you are around people in tough-emotional situations, they might speak impetuously. It is really a mistake to listen to those words and take them to heart and then later, “put up your dukes” and fight about them.
Ecclesiastes 7:21 and 22
(21) Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you—
(22) for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.
This is exactly correct! Do not pay attention to every word that people say. Understand what being a human being is about and that people emote. When we emote or someone else does, we need to say something like, “Well, I know. I spoke impetuously.” We need to do things that build unity, not things that tear each other down. That will help us a lot.
In chapter three, Job is emoting, and as he is emoting, he gets to verse 25.
Job 3:25 and 26
(25) What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.
(26) I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
This phrase, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me,” has caused people to believe that Job’s problems came because of his fear; however, we know from the opening of the book of Job that this was not true. The book of Job told us twice that Job was “blameless and upright.” We saw that Job acted responsibly as the priest for his family and made sure that his children were all taken care of. We know that God spoke to the Devil and said, “He has been ruined without a cause.” You will find nothing else said about Job being afraid, so what is Job doing here when he says, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me?”
I was reading a commentary on Job and found a very wonderful explanation of this. Many wonderful things are written in some theological books and commentaries. I read commentaries and theological books extensively, and I will be the first to admit that no statement can be found that is too absurd that some theologian somewhere might make it! You cannot read and believe everything that theologians say. A lot of theologians are “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” but some wonderful men and women of God have really tried to get God’s heart, and God has given them great understanding on various passages of Scripture. One of the things that I have learned is that great men and women of God as they have prayed to God through the generations and sought God for understanding that those prayers have been answered.
This is from the 1847 edition of Barnes Notes about Job’s statement, “What I feared has come upon me.”
The alarm here spoken of could not refer to the general tenor of Job’s life. That seems to have been happy and calm and perhaps, if anything, too tranquil and secure. Most interpreters suppose that it refers to the state in which he was during his trial, and that it is designated to describe the rapid succession of his woes. It means that his calamities came on him in quick succession. He had no time after one calamity to be composed before another one came. When he heard of one misfortune, he naturally dreaded another. They came on with overwhelming rapidity. When one part of his property was taken, he had a deep apprehension respecting the rest. When all of his property was seized or destroyed, he had alarm about his children. When the report came that they were dead, he feared some other affliction still. The sentiment is in accordance with human nature that when we are visited by a sever calamities in one form, we naturally dread it in another. The mind becomes exquisitely sensitive.
That is what Barnes said, and I believe it is true. When the reports started coming to Job about him losing his flocks; he thought, “I hope my herds are in good shape!” You have lost your herds; he thought, “I hope my kids are okay!” When Job says, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” In other words, now, I have nothing left. I do not have my health; I do not have the love of my wife. I am really out there on my own.
Eliphaz speaks up. We are going to talk about his three friends, but I am not going to go over all their speeches. Some wonderful things are there to which we need to pay attention and some great lessons that we will see.
(1) Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
(2) “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?
(3) Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands.
Now he goes to verse seven.
(7) “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?
(8) As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.
(9) At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.”
What is Eliphaz saying? He is saying, “You know the innocent never perish like this, so Job, you are not innocent.” This is going to be the mantra of Job’s “friends.” They are going to say over and over again that Job has sinned. Why did they stand on that soap box and refuse to get off of it? They stood like this because that was their “theology.” The theology of Job’s friends was expressed here by Eliphaz, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? We are going to pound on you until you tell us what your secret sin is, for we know it is present someplace because our theology says it.” The idea of the “righteous sufferer” was not part of their theology.
I believe that part of the reason for the book of Job is to set the concept of the “righteous sufferer” in the culture of Job.
From where did their theology come? In part, it came from demons. I think that this is something to which you and I need to pay great attention. From where do ungodly, unbiblical theologies come? A lot of them have spiritual sources. Look at verse 12. We are going to see that Eliphaz was visited by a demon, and that demon gave him, if you will, a theology that Eliphaz is going to believe and stand upon through the rest of the book of Job.
(12) “A word was secretly brought to me; my ears caught a whisper of it.
(13) Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on men,
(14) fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.
We already know with fear and trembling and bones shaking that this does not sound like an angelic visit because every time angels showed up, and you can check this through your Bible, they would say, “Fear not.” The angel would get the person over their fear, but this spirit did not do that. Eliphaz is in fear and in trembling and his bones are shaking.
Job 4:15 and 16
(15) A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end.
(16) It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice:
That is one of the ways that demons can work. They work just outside of your perception. You can kind of see it and know it is kind of there. When an angel showed up to Mary, the angel said, “Fear not.” Mary could see the angel; Mary could hear the angel, and Mary knew exactly what was happening.
Now listen to what the spirit says.
(17) ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
(18) If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error,
(19) how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!
Now wait a minute, who says that God does not trust His servants? My Bible says that God puts a lot of trust in us. All through history, God has trusted people. He has given them commandments to obey and upon which to walk. He gave Adam and Eve the dominion of the earth (Gen. 1:28). How much trust can you get? Do demons think that is trust? No, they do not; they are totally suspicious! They would say, “He charges his angels with error.” Is that what God is doing in heaven, charging his angels with error? No, I do not believe that is what He is doing, but if you were a demon that would be the way you would feel.
Job 4:19 and 20
(19) how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!
(20) Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever.
Is that the truth? People die unnoticed? My Bible says that God knows every hair on your head (Matt. 10:30). I do not even know how many hairs are on my head or notice when they fall! God notices things about me that I do not even notice. How would a demon feel? A demon would feel that to God no person would be important, and the demon communicates that in this speech to Eliphaz that people are just worms. They are just unnoticed by the High God.
Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?’
This is the revelation from this demon to Eliphaz. We will see that Eliphaz took this to heart. This is what I meant when I said that one of the lessons that we will learn in the book of Job is that the flesh is not a good discerner of what is going on in the spiritual world. If Eliphaz understood that this was an adversarial conversation and that this conversation was designed to take him off track, then he would have been a lot better off theologically.
Eliphaz speaks and Job answers.
Then I would still have this consolation— my joy in unrelenting pain— that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.
Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.
“Hey, guys relent do not be unjust here, reconsider. My integrity is at stake. Don’t be telling me about all this sin that I have in my life; my integrity is at stake here.”
Job 8:3 and 4
(3) Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?
(4) When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.
That is amazing! Job’s children did not sin. That was a satanically caused disaster. Job may not have known that as clearly as we know as we look at the book of Job today, but Job knew his kids and knew that they were not sinners. Can you imagine, your kids have died and then somebody sits there and looks at you across the ash pile and says, “When your children sinned, God killed them,” it is amazing that Bildad did not get driven out of there with a stick! That was their theology at that time that when you do something wrong, God gets you.
if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.
In other words, Job if you will get honest and admit your secret sin, then God will restore you. Again, this is their theology. No one gets hurt without deserving it in some way; they have some kind of sin. That is why it is so important that we understand that the book of Job is the book of the “righteous sufferer.” You suffer righteously, and I suffer righteously. Part of the suffering of each and every person in their life is righteous; it is undeserved. It is not a matter of is it deserved or not, and if it is undeserved that I get to be bitter about it; I get to be angry about it, and I get to be hurt and spew and vex you. That is not the point. The point of the book of Job is that in what ever circumstance that you are in you can worship God. God did not cause the problem. God is love, and He is always working in our behalf (Rom. 8:28); thus, we can worship Him in no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.
Job speaks up:
though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand?
He is talking to God, and saying, “Look God, you know that I am not guilty.” Job knew that he did not have any secret sin.
Zophar is going to speak up:
(13) “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him,
(14) if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
(15) then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear.
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are stuck on the sin thing. In one of Job’s speeches (Chapter 14:11) it becomes clear that they knew that when a person dies, they are dead until the resurrection. We of Spirit & Truth Fellowship have a book on this titled Is There Death After Life?, so I am not going to expound on it here.
(11) As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
(12) so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.
(13) “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!
(14) If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.
A clear understanding was there at the time of the book of Job that when a person died, they were asleep; they were dead, and they would be hidden in the grave, concealed, and then they would be raised from the dead. Not in the world as we know it because he said, “till the heavens are no more.” In other words, God will have to restore everything and then the dead would be raised. Job makes this clear.
A back and forth exchange occurs between Eliphaz and Job. In Job 21:7, he gives a most eloquent presentation on the fact that it is not because of man’s sin that disaster comes. If that were true, then the people who were righteous would have very little problems and the people who were sinners would have great problems; however, the testimony in the world around us is that that is not true. Job makes that very plain:
(7) Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?
(8) They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes.
(9) Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not upon them.
(10) Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry.
(11) They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about.
(12) They sing to the music of tambourine and harp; they make merry to the sound of the flute.
(13) They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.
(14) Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.
(15) Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’
(16) But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.
In other words Job is saying, “Look you guys, your whole premise is that the wicked are smitten, but wicked guys are all over the place who are not smitten!” He then goes on to say what some of them are:
“Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger?
Job is saying, “Look, sometimes the righteous get smitten and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the wicked don’t get smitten and sometimes they do.” In verse 34 he concludes his speech.
“So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”
Amen, thank you Job! What a clear sharing about life. A lot of suffering is out there that people do not deserve. A lot of times the wicked people live on in life and seem to go down to their grave in peace. Some times the wicked people do not. The same thing can be said of the righteous. After saying all that, it does not make any impact at all. They come right back to their theology. They do not change one bit.
A man named Elihu is sitting there and listening to them this whole time. Elihu speaks up in chapter 32, but I would like to read what he says in chapter 34 in verses 10-12. We find out that Elihu actually does not say anything different than the other friends had!
(10) “So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.
(11) He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.
(12) It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.
What does Elihu say? He says the exact same thing that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar has said that God repays a man for what he does; therefore, if Job’s flocks and herds have been killed or carried away or his children killed, well then, he must have deserved it, for God repays a man for what he does. Elihu joins in to the mantra that God does not smite unless there is a secret sin. The concept of the “righteous sufferer” is off their radar scope.
This goes on until chapter 38. Yahweh answers Job out of the storm. Okay, finally, praise God! We have heard from Job’s three friends. We have heard from Elihu. Job has striven to maintain his integrity and said, “Guys, I have not sinned like you say I have sinned.” It has been back and forth and back and forth with absolutely no movement on either side, no resolution at all. Now, finally, Yahweh speaks and answers Job out of the storm.
(1) Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
(2) “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
(3) Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
(4) “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
(5) Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
(6) On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—
“Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Do you hunt for the prey of the lioness?” God goes on and on, and you say, “What does this have to do with anything?” God is not answering Job at all. God is not saying, “Yes, Job you are righteous,” or “No, Job you are not righteous,” or “I smite people,” or “I do not smite people.”
Basically what God does here for chapter 38, 39, and part of chapter 40 is that He deposits a whole bunch of questions that even we today do not know much about. God sets forth His greatness and His magnificence and basically takes a stand that you do not understand a lot.
To some degree that is true today. A lot of things are still there that we do not understand. The point is that some people think that when God speaks at the end of the book of Job that He should explain the problem of evil and why Job was suffering. He never does do that. That is going to be explained by His Son in the New Testament, but it was not for these people to know.
God basically set forth His greatness and His magnificence and says, “Look, I am God, and you guys do not know a lot!” This had a great impact as we see in chapter 40.
(1) The LORD said to Job:
(2) “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
(3) Then Job answered the LORD:
(4) “I am unworthy— how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
(5) I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.”
(6) Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
(7) “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
(8) “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
What is God saying here? Job is not right in the fact that the Almighty has done these horrible things. Job was speaking out of the best theology that he knew, but he was not right that God had done all that stuff. On the other hand, God was not going to say who did all the stuff and why problems are there and why righteous sufferers are there. God just said, “Will you discredit me; will you discredit my judgment to promote yourself?” The answer to that should be no. Another solution is there, but that other solution is not on the table yet and would not be on the table for another 2000 years, until Jesus Christ showed up.
After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
That should not have only changed Eliphaz’s theology but also the theology of the people down through the ages. Just because someone is suffering does not mean that they have done anything wrong. The book of Job should have absolutely trashed that concept. God says, “I am angry with you for accusing Job when he did not deserve it!”
(8) So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
(9) So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.
(10) After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
(11) All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
(12) The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.
(13) And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
(14) The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.
(15) Nowhere in all the land was there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
(16) After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.
(17) And so he died, old and full of years.
Ladies and Gentlemen, no promise is there in God’s Word that if you are afflicted that after the affliction is over that you will have more physical blessings and more physical belongings then you ever had before. What is guaranteed is that if (or when) we go through afflictions is that if we will worship God, if we will keep our hearts pure, if we will stand firm on the Word of God as we know it and not blame others or ourselves or blame God and become full of hatred, then in paradise we will be rewarded for our faithful stand.
One other thing we should pay attention to is that we do not want to end up with a theology like Job’s friends that is so hurtful to other people. Let us take a stand that if somebody is suffering that we are going to enter into their pain and help them and try to bless them. We do need to see if we can figure out what is the cause of the problem so that we can remedy the situation, but blaming somebody for secret sins is not the way to do God’s work.
Let’s make up our mind that whatever situation in which we find ourselves, whether we are in a good situation or in a difficult situation, that like Job we are going to worship God. I assure you that He deserves it!
God bless you!