Respond in Faith

Explore the Bible Series

June 4, 2006

 

Background Passage: Job 1:13-2;13

Lesson Passage: Job 1:1-3; 8-11; 20-22; 2:7, 9-10

 

Introduction: Mystery is the signature of God. He sits enthroned in glory: unmoved, unrivaled, inscrutable.He refuses to act according to the dictates of human expectation, and he insists on divine prerogative. Even in the incarnation, the Lord Jesus manifested the priority of deity by consistently befuddling his disciples.They, of course, had certain preconceptions about his agenda, but he worked by a higher design.The thread of mystery runs through the Book of Job.God acts without explanation or permission, and, in the end, he demands that his servant Job bow in submission to utter, unmingled sovereignty.

 

Job is a unique book.It records a moving story of a righteous, suffering man.This faithful servant of God, unaware of the heavenly drama that caused his anguish, struggled to make sense of the horrific suffering he endured.All of this remained a mystery to him.Note that God never explained anything to Job.This provides a hard but vital lesson for Godís people.God labors under no constraint to explain his actions to his creatures; instead, he demands simple trust, submission, and obedience of his servants.The message of this book will repel the faint of heart, but mature Christians have learned that God refuses to act according to human anticipation and concepts of righteousness.

 

No one knows the author or date of the Book of Job.The older commentators speculated that Moses may have penned the book, but dogmatism must be avoided on these matters.Careful reading of Job seems to point to a very early date for the life of this admirable Old Testament saint.The absence of any reference to Jewish history or the Mosaic Law, in all probability, indicates that Job lived during the time of the Patriarchs.The Land of Uz, Jobís home, probably refers to a region southeast of the Dead Sea, in modern day Saudi Arabia.If this is a correct identification of the location of Jobís home, this man may have descended from stock that preceded the Abrahamic line.

 

The Book of Job begins with a prologue written in prose.This opening section acts as an introduction to the story of this remarkable man; then, the narrative takes the form of poetry.The lyric nature of the writing has persuaded some that these events did not really occur; rather, the book tells a mythical story of a suffering man.This view, in light of the biblical record, seems untenable.The poetic form of the narrative does not detract from the historical nature of the story.The poems follow a recurrent pattern.The book records three cycles of discourses delivered by Jobís friends, followed, in each case, by a rebuttal by Job.In turn, the friends accuse Job of terrible evil, and, without variance, the beleaguered man defends his integrity against the cruel accusations of his companions.After the three-fold cycle of discourses, God interrupted the debate.God only addressed Job, and the Lord challenged the unfortunate interpretation Job had placed on the unspeakable sufferings he endured.More than four chapters recall Godís assertion of sovereignty and Jobís humble repentance for his presumptuous interpretations of Godís activities.The book ends with a brief account of Jobís intercession for his offensive friends and a record of Godís great latter blessings on Job.

 

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                   Introduction of Job (1:1-5)

A.    Jobís character (v. 1):

1.      Blamelessness: This term does not denote sinless perfection: rather, it refers to Jobís impeccable outward conduct.Generally, it describes his personal integrity.

2.      Upright: The Hebrew word denotes something that is ďstraight.ĒJob did not walk a crooked path.

3.      Fearing God: Job held God in high regard.Of course, this term occurs frequently in both the Old and New Testaments, and it caries the idea of deep reverence for the Lord.

4.      Turning away from evil: Blamelessness and uprightness involve the avoidance of sinful acts.

B.     Godís blessings on Job (vv. 2-3):This godly man enjoyed a large, close family, and he had great possessions.

C.     Jobís routine faithfulness to God (vv. 4-5): Consistent watch care over the spiritual welfare of his family formed an essential aspect of Jobís character.Verse five ends with an observation about the continual obedience of this man.He did not come to his spiritual duties in fits and spells.

 

II.                The First Heavenly Council (1:6-12): This scene is shrouded in mystery.The text seems to indicate a general assembly of the hosts of heaven, and, among them, Satan came to the court of the Lord.

A.    Satan (vv. 6-8): God interrogated Satan about his activities, and the Devil gave an abbreviated account of his wanderings on the earth.Of course, God did not seek information from Satan: rather, the Lord asked this question as a mean of holding Satan accountable to sovereign prerogative. Satan appears without introduction or explanation, but he immediately reveals his character as the accuser of the Lordís people.

B.     Satanís charge against Job (vv. 9-10): The Devil claimed that Job loved God like a spoiled child loves an indulgent parent. Note the double indictment.Satanís accusation, at first glance, seems aimed only at Job, but the Accuser also implies that God had bought the love of Job.

C.     Godís agreement to allow the satanic test of Jobís integrity (vv. 11-12):Again, great mystery characterizes these verses.Why did God permit Satan liberty to afflict a faithful servant?This question, like so many others, cannot be adequately answered on this side of eternity.

 

 

III.             Satanís First Assault on Job (1:13-22)

A.    The fourfold attack (vv. 13-19)

1.      Sabeans stole oxen and donkeys (vv. 13-15): The Sabeans, nomadic descendants of Abraham (through his grandson Sheba), had a reputation as violent marauders.

2.      Fire from heaven destroyed Jobís sheep and shepherds (v. 16): Alden suggests that a lightening strike set a fire that killed Jobís flocks and servants.

3.      Chaldeans stole jobís camels and killed his servants (v. 17): The reference to ďthree bandsí may denote an organized raid on the herd of camels.

4.      A great wind struck the house of Jobís eldest son:All of jobís children, assembled at the home of the oldest son, were killed when a sirocco wind collapsed the dwelling.

B.     Jobís response to the tragedies (vv. 20-22):

1.      He grieved for his losses (vv. 20)

2.      He worshipped the Lord (v. 20b-22): This remarkable man blessed the Lordís name and refused to revile God with his speech.

 

IV.             The Second Heavenly Counsel (2: 1-6): Again, the hosts of heaven gather in Godís court, and Satan appeared with them.His schemes had not worked against Job, but, undeterred, the Devil tried another strategy.

A.    Godís second affirmation of Jobís character (v. 3): Job had not, as Satan predicted, cursed God.

B.     Satanís second attempt to crush Job (vv. 4-5): In his first scheme, Satan had only been allowed to touch Jobís possessions; now, however, God permitted the Devil to afflict Jobís body.

C.     The nature of Jobís physical affliction (vv. 7-8):We do not know the exact disease that caused Jobís agony, but some have suggested that Satan may have struck him with some form of leprosy.Whatever the case, Job suffered terribly, and he scraped his sores with a shard of pottery.

D.    The burden of unsympathetic companions (vv. 9-13):Jobís wife, no doubt deeply grieved herself, proved no consolation to her bereaved husband.Three men came to Jobís aid, but, in time, they proved a sore trial to him as well.Most of the Book of Job records the interaction between Job and his counselors. These unwise friends do deserve some credit.They traveled a long distance to salve their friendís emotional wounds, and they took great time and concern for him.Ultimately, they failed in bringing any comfort to the poor, suffering man; indeed, they clearly added to his afflictions.

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion Questions for the Lesson Passage:

1.      Discuss the description of Jobís character.How do each of the descriptors in 1:1 detail the aspects of a godly life?

2.      As you study Satanís accusations against Job, how do you gain greater understanding into the Devilís strategies in tempting the Lordís people?What attitude does Satan have toward Godís elect?Hoe does this episode reflect Satanís contempt for God?

3.      How should the Lordís people respond to times of hardship and affliction?

4.      Discuss the differences between Jobís response to the calamities and the reaction of Jobís wife.