We are going to begin a study of the Book of Job (“Iyov”= “persecuted”). The central character was possibly Jewish and a son of Issachar named Iyov (or Job) (Gen 46.13). He came into Egypt with his grandfather Jacob, and he left Egypt to be an administrator in Edom/Moab area for Pharaoh (Gen 47.6). The names of Job’s friends and the events of the book indicate that this was after the time of Abraham and the entrance of Jacob into Egypt and before the Exodus. No author is named in the book, but Jewish tradition teaches that Moses wrote the book, and others believe it was written around the sixth century B.C.
The tribe of Issachar were people who understood the times, with knowledge of what to do (1 Chr 12.32). They were very eschatological and so is the Book of Job as we will see. This book will tell us about the redemption of man, the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, the Natzal (Rapture), the False Messiah, the False Prophet, the war of Gog and Magog and spiritual warfare.
Wisdom literature in the Bible is an interesting blend of books. Proverbs gives a clear sense of cause and effect in the universe. Bad choices will end in bad consequences, and good choices will end with good consequences. In Ecclesiastes, we learn it not so clear and simple. The good suffer and die like the wicked, and seasons come and go without regard to choices. But the Book of Job turns the “Law of Harvest” upside down. Good and righteous people experience horrible problems with no visible cause Job will be able to point to. The lesson of Job? We may never know.
Job will be a picture of the Messiah’s love for us, even when suffering loss and even to the point of death (Phil 2.7-11). In the end, God will finally reveal himself to Job and Job will understand everything God has been saying to him. But he will never know what we will find out in Chapter 1, that all of his troubles are the result of the dispute between God and Satan as to whether would remain faithful or not. Up until the last chapter, Job only “heard” about Yehovah. In the end, he will see Yehovah for himself. Job is a “religious” man at first because he did not have a deep experience. He knew about the Lord, but didn’t “know” him. This book is about his journey from religion to revelation (Jam 5.11), and this is one of the most misunderstood books in the Scriptures.
This book will deal with the classic problem of the “tzadik ve-ra lo” or “evil coming upon the righteous.” Through out the book, Job and his companions are involved in raising questions about this problem. Nobody tries to do anything to change the situation, they just talk about it. Even the solution in the end is philosophical. Job never does find out what we know from Chapter 1, as we have said. God never does reveal the solution to Job concerning his suffering, but deals with the question about man coming before God with complaints.
Job is just one example of suffering which comes upon man without his understanding why, and Yehovah wants to make it clear that even when man does not understand, he does not have the right to complain before God. After all, who is man in the first place? He is just dust and he is going to return to dust. How can he stand before Yehovah? God will make this point clear beginning in Chapter 38. Only when Job admits that God is God and can do whatever he wants, and said things he did not understand or knew, does everything come full circle ((Job 42.2-3, 10).
This book will give us a view of human suffering from God’s point of view. He is faithful and never unfair, and he is righteous in all that he does. We have a very limited perspective and a short life span and we cannot judge the Lord. Man’s actions do not always determine his destiny. Even when we don’t understand, we must recognize that Yehovah is God, and we are not (Psa 8.5-10).
This will not be a verse by verse study, but we will again bring out many concepts that point to the Messiah and the Redemption. We will do this without neglecting the historical and literal story as well.
Job 1.1-5 tells us right at the beginning who the central character is. Iyov (Job) means “persecuted” and he lived in the land of Uz, which most believe is Edom, or in that area. One of the first clues has to do with the raiders who come to destroy Job’s livestock and herds (1.15). The Sabeans come from Sabra in southern Arabia. The second clue is a raiding party of Chaldeans from southern Mesopotamia. So, the land of Uz is somewhere in between the Sabeans (Arabia) and the Chaldeans (Mesopotamia).
Lam 4.21 places Edom in the land of Uz. One of Job’s friends is a man named Eliphaz the Temanite. Teman is a city in Edom near Petra. Another friend is named Zophar, a Naamite and this was in northwest Arabia. A third friend was Bildad, who is a descendant of Shuah, a son of Abraham. Job’s wisest friend is Elihu the Buzite, a descendant of Buz, who was the brother of Uz, sons of Abraham’s brother Nahor (Gen 22.21). All of this points to Uz being south and somewhat east of Israel. In Job’s lifetime, Uz was probably in the northwest part of Arabia, near the Gulf of Aqaba. As we can see, it was founded after Esau (Edom-Gen 36.8-11, 40-42).
Job was “perfect” in the same way Noah, Abraham and others were. He had a righteousness that came by faith. He was also “blameless” and that had to do with his fellow man. Nobody could charge Job with moral failures. He was not sinless because he will say as much in the book, and he offers korbanot (offerings) for sin.
He had a large family and was prosperous in business. He had 3000 camels that were used in trade, and it also says that he was “the greatest of all men of the east.” In this he is a type of the Messiah (Matt 3.17). His sons would hold a feast in the house of each one “on his day” (birthday) and they would invite their sisters over to eat and drink with them. Job would also serve as a priest to his family, rising early in the morning to intercede for his family with korbanot (offerings).
As we read these verses one begins to see that this book is about spiritual warfare. No city or nation is attacked, no battles are won or lost, but Job will be fighting a spiritual battle in his life, and the life of his family and village.
Job 1.6-12 begins to show us a scene in heaven that is unknown to Job or others on earth, and will remain unknown to them after everything is all over. This book can only be understood by knowing and understanding these verses. There is no evidence from Scripture that Job ever knew about this scene in heaven. He never does find out what we know. All his troubles are the result of a dispute between God and Satan as to whether Job will remain faithful to Yehovah.
In Job 1.6 it says that there “was a day” (possibly Rosh Ha Shanah, a Yom Ha Din or “Day of judgment”) when the sons of God (angels) came to present themselves before Yehovah, and an “adversary” (Satan in Hebrew) also came among them (the angels-1 Chr 21.1; 2 Chr 18.18-22). On Rosh Ha Shanah (Tishri 1), the court is seated and the books are opened (Dan 7.9-10). Being a Yom Ha Din (Day of Judgment), Satan would have been there accusing the righteous as the prosecutor in a court scene.
Yehovah says to Satan, “From where do you come from?” Now, God already knows, but he allows Satan to come into his presence, but as he wills. He wanted to bring out of him what he intended to have expressed. Satan boasts that he has come from the earth (1 Pet 5.8). Yehovah asks if Satan has “considered” or “put your heart on ” his servant Job. There is none like him and he really was blameless and a righteous (tzadik) man no matter what Job or any other person says about him in the coming chapters. No matter what Job has done, Yehovah saw him as blameless because he had “faith.”
Now Satan demonstrates why he is called “the accuse of the brethren” (Rev 12.10). He basically says Job only served God to see what he could get from him. Satan is an absolute cynic because he thinks nobody or anything can be good and it is all based on dishonesty. Satan says that God has protected him and blessed him. Yeshua said that Satan wanted to do things to Peter also, but God would not let him (Luke 22.31-32).
But Job was a son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who followed God and Deut 28.1-14 says that God will protect and bless those who follow him. Est 6.13 says that Haman will not overcome Mordechai because he is “of the seed of the Jews” and would certainly fall.
Satan tells Yehovah that if God put forth his hand and touched all that Job had, he would curse God to his face. Satan can do nothing without having permission from God, that is one thing we can learn from these verses (Psa 135.5-6). God even gives Satan permission to touch all that Job has, but he cannot touch Job himself. Again, God is in control and limits Satan’s power. Job will have no idea that this was the cause of all his troubles. He will never know that the origin of his battle started here. So Satan departs from the presence of the Lord. What the enemy intended for harm against Job will be have a very different ending.
Job 1.13-19 says that on the same day the scene in heaven took place, the sons and daughters were eating and drinking. A messenger came to Job saying the Sabeans (descended from Abraham through Keturah-Gen 25.3) attacked and took oxen and donkeys that were in the field. Then another messenger came and said that the fire of God (lightning) fell and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them. Only the messenger escaped to tell the story.
Then another messenger came and said the Chaldeans (from Nahor the brother of Abraham-Gen 22.22) came and raided the camels and killed the servants, and only the messenger survived. Then another messenger came and told Job that his sons and daughters were feasting at the older brother’s house and a great wind came from the wilderness and struck the house on all sides, showing how unnatural this was, and the house fell on his children, killing all of them. Only the messenger survived.
This tells us something very important about our enemy. On the same day his children were feasting (v 6), Satan attacked within a few hours of appearing before God. He wasted no time in bringing these horrific events to pass. Satan is cruel and any advantage we give him will be exploited to its fullest extent.
Job arose, either from a table or a task he was performing, and tore his robe on account of his dead family, and shaved his head. This was a sign of mourning in the east (Isa 15.2). and not forbidden in the Torah (that one was between the eyes-Deut 14.1). He fell down on the ground in worship and prayer. Then he says one of the most famous prayers in Scripture, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb (1 Tim 6.7), and naked I shall return to there (to the earth). Yehovah gave and Yehovah has taken away (everything comes from God according to Job). Blessed be the name of Yehovah (for all his blessings and gifts whihi he received).”
Through all of this (the rending of his garments, shaving the head, lying prostrate, etc) Job did not sin (like the accuser said he would, curse God to his face), nor did he blame God. He did not question God’s wisdom or charge him with doing wrong to him. He knew Yehovah was wise and did all things according to the counsel of his own will. He did not curse Yehovah (like Satan would) in his hearts, thoughts, words or deeds. This is exactly what the testimony of the Lord was about Job in Job 1.8.
We will pick up in Job 2.1-13 in Part 2.