Job's Lesson

Most of the books contained in the Bible can be summarized as containing a major theme. The burden of the book of Job is plainly God and His involvement in human suffering. The answer will for the present time satisfy the man of faith, but still leaves some questions that will always be present this side of eternity. There is a righteous and omnipotent God to be trusted who does not always give an account of His ways. The problem is further compounded because Job was a righteous man. In fact, it is that which made him Satan’s target. The historical and moral application from Job’s experiences are later acknowledged in the New Testament (James 5:11).


Job is introduced as a man in possession of boundless wealth. His character is described as “perfect and upright, and one that feared God.” In fact, God is proud of him, saying to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job that there is none like him in all the earth?” Actually Satan had already spotted Job and accused God for putting a hedge about him making him unfair prey for Satan’s temptation. Thus God was compelled to place His champion Job on a level ground with Satan to match the ensuing conflict. Satan was soundly defeated by Job’s fidelity.

Some obvious conclusions can be gathered from Satan’s supreme attempt to conquer Job and get him to curse God. We see Satan commanding the elements to perform his foul purpose, especially in the deaths of all his children. He has the power over death. Not so with Job. Along with all the faithful he was immortal until his work was done. Again we notice that the devil goes after big game. His design was to bring about the fall of the standard bearers. In our day there have been some lamentable cases that have darkened the testimony of some assemblies. Job’s body is covered with putrefying sores that are oozing puss. His wife filled with disgust becomes Satan’s mouthpiece, saying “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). With all of Satan’s malignity hurled against Job, his reply is superb. “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)

In all of this did not Job sin with his lips! There is no mention that Job was aware of what was going on in Heaven! We will only attempt to summarize the great discourses that follow. Job opens with a lament that he did not die at birth. He sees no occasion for the calamities that have suddenly fallen upon him. Not so his three friends that have come on the scene seemingly to debate and give their reasons for Job’s predicament. Although much varies in detail each concludes that somewhere along the line Job is being punished for sin. Elihu, while excusing his youth, reasons Job’s problem with more understanding than the three. His concept of God was superior. Elihu accused Job of being self-righteous and his afflictions could be God’s method of teaching Job some lessons he needed to learn. To the three companions their God was exclusively righteous and Job’s sufferings could only be accounted for that Job was harboring maybe a secret sin. Otherwise God was not wise to allow such undeserved suffering. The dialogues of all four reveal remarkable insight into the human existence and interspersed with much that could be classified as truth and not random remarks pertinent to Job’s predicament. This was especially so with the speeches of Job. In one place he questions what happens beyond the grave (14:10-14). Then he bursts into exaltation, saying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (19:25) and intimates His resurrection. Here we have an example of the light man can reach without a written revelation (the Bible), insomuch that Paul can conclude that the heathen world is “without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Turning now to the protagonist of this paper, Job, it is natural to expect a solution to his major problem, namely pain, especially when the righteous are singled out. Another example is Paul with his “thorn in the flesh.” (2 Cor. 12:7) In Job’s case God addresses him out of the whirlwind. No detailed explanations for the calamities that had befallen Job. God assumes the role of the Potter and Job but clay in His hands. Job’s attention is drawn to God’s creative powers. Such omnipresence can be trusted whatever betide. God vindicates Job before his three friends and denounces accusations against Job as not right; he was not a hypocrite. Yet Job’s sufferings were far from being in vain. He learned one paramount lesson – his own depravity as expressed in his own words, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:6) This confession is from the one God acknowledges as “none like him in all the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (1:8). Not only did Job learn his depravity, but in contrast he saw an infinite God, and that was enough!