Job was a man of tremendous wealth and social standing who lived during the time of the Biblical patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. The Book of Job in the Old Testament tells the story of a good man who loses everything – family, wealth and health – because of a heavenly debate beyond his control. He and friends around him are left to wrestle with the question, Why? It’s a view of unjust and confusing human suffering. The book seeks an answer to questions concerning the reason for human suffering and why a loving God allows it.
Most people never get past the fascinating first 2 chapters where Job’s world is destroyed leaving him naked, covered with loathsome sores from head to toe and a wife telling him to “curse God and die.” He does neither. The text tells us that “in all of this Job did not sin with his lips.” By chapter 3 we too are depressed as Job expresses anguish, doubt and despair over his affliction. Conscious that he has not committed some great sin, he cannot understand the reason for his suffering. While he does not “curse God,” in his pain and distress he questions the reason for his trials.
35 Chapters of Human Rationale
For the next 35 chapters Job is in dialogue with 3 friends and then a 4th who joins in – all trying to offer some helpful explanations. They try to commiserate with him but stubbornly insist that Job must have sinned in order to invite such misfortune. Job steadfastly maintains his innocence while acknowledging his frustration with their well-meaning, pontificating rationale and personal opinions on how God works.
Finally, a Word from God
In chapters 38-41 God himself finally weighs in. Read it and be humbled. Certainly Job was; even more so were his spiritual/philosophical friends who God chastises in chapter 42 as full of “folly” and having “not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (In other words, they really didn’t know what they were talking about.) In these final chapters God overwhelms Job by reminding him, essentially, that He is God, and Job is not. The climax in the book is reached when Almighty God reminds Job of the greatness of creation and underscores man’s ignorance and finiteness through a series of amazing questions.
In a delightfully happy ending, Job acknowledges the sovereignty of God in every aspect of life. The Lord restores the fortunes of Job, doubly so, including 7 more sons and 3 more daughters. As a final punctuation to the story, we are told in the last verses that from that point Job lived another 140 years and saw four generations of children before dying “old and full of days.”
“…I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” – Job 42:3