Job was an extraordinary man. He lived very early in the history of the world and yet he still, at this late date, stands as one of the greatest examples of faith in God. He is described as “perfect and upright, one that feared God and eschewed evil” (1:1). Job continually sacrificed and prayed for his children lest they had “sinned and cursed God in their heart” (1:5). And even after he had suffered just about as much as one individual can stand, the Bible tells us that Job, in all this, “sinned not nor charged God foolishly” (1:22; 2:10).
Though Job never completely understood it, at least at the time of his trial, the adversary of all men was especially focused on breaking him. Anytime anyone is following God and paving a path to Heaven, the enemy is always intent on destroying him (I Pet. 5:7). For example, a messenger of satan was sent to buffet Paul (II Cor. 12:7). Jesus said satan had desired to have Peter and sift him as wheat (Luke 22:31). And if satan wanted these men, surely he wants us, too (II Cor. 2:11). Let us learn to resist him so that he flees from us (James 4:7).
One of the great truths that comes out of the Book of Job is the answer to the question, “Will a man serve God for nought (1:9)?” This was asked by the adversary and impugned God’s character as well as man’s. It impugned God’s character because it suggests that God can only receive adoration through bribes. In other words, as long as God blesses man, man will worship God. But Job proved this wrong, worshiping God even in his affliction. It impugned man’s character because it suggests man is only interested in God so long as he blesses us. Again, Job proved this false when he submitted to God even before receiving an answer to his question or being ultimately blessed.
The accusation was made against God that He put a hedge around Job to protect him from evil (Job 1:10). Actually, both good and evil befall all men (Matt. 5:45). On the other hand, the truth is, God does listen to the cries of His children (I Pet. 3:12) and He does in His Providence minister to His children’s needs (Heb. 1:14). Otherwise, what is the value of prayer?
Job’s friends were never a help to him. They falsely accused Job of having some terrible, secret sin. Eliphaz asked, “Whoever perished being innocent?” (4:9). Bildad said, “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man” (8:20). Zophar proudly exclaimed, “Know therefore that God exacteth less of thee than thine iniquity deserveth” (11:6). Young Elihu was also upset because, he said, Job justified himself rather than God (32:2). And while Job was reproved of God, God especially reproved these friends of Job because, said God, “Ye have not spoken of Me the thing which is right, as My servant Job hath” (42:7). Bad theology leads to bad actions.
Also, while Job had questions for God, God finally had some questions for Job. These were questions that Job could not answer. They are questions that none of us can answer. The point was and is that there are things going on that man does not understand. How can a finite mind such as ours understand the infinite wisdom of an eternal and all powerful and omniscient God?
Job never received from God the answer to his questions about his suffering that he wanted (or that completely satisfies us). Job was, from all this, to understand that he was to trust in the Lord with all his heart and lean not unto his own understanding. This is a good lesson for us to learn. The Biblical answer to the question of man’s suffering is a multifaceted one. It is complex, but not incomprehensible.
Finally, one of the great promises of the Book of Job is that there is hope even through all the suffering. Job asked the question, “If a man die shall he live again?” (14:14). Even though Job’s life occurred very early on in the history of man, the Book of Job sets forth the hope in the resurrection. Job stated: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (19:25-27).
What a blessed hope!
Eric L. Padgett