Summary of The Book of Job

Ecclesiastes’ question – Is God just? is answered in the Book of Job.

Job’s friends this Job must be getting what he deserved. They keep speculating and make up hypothetical lists of his sins. But Job maintains his innocence. By the end of the dialogue, Job demands that God answers him in person.

God comes and answers Job by taking him on a virtual tour of the universe and asks whether Job is capable of understanding and running it day by day.

God’s perspective is infinitely bigger than Job’s perspective. This perspective is God’s wisdom. Job can’t comprehend this complexity. It leaves Job in a place of humility. He never learnt why he suffered… but ends up getting double of everything back.

THE MESSAGE:

  1. Courage = Have faith during suffering in righteousness of God in immoral world created by just God.
  2. Encounter God = God came to Job in suffering – religion book not theology book.
  3. Value God’s presence = divine speeches actually fail to give an answer to the problems that Job raised (that of innocent suffering & divine injustice) – God sidesteps Job’s questions.
  4. Redemption of God Job may be innocent… but God is NOT guilty = (1) God comes as a Storm God @ end to do battle with Job, a human rebel, through words; (2) God comes to battle vs. chaos monsters – no one but God can control these monsters à the world is God’s kingdom, subject to His royal decree.
  5. A challenge to human self-understanding = irony of divine speeches are a challenge & invitation to change ways of thinking about God – repent in dust & ashes – change mind about role of universe.

NT Application

  • Jesus = answer = innocent willingly taking upon Himself punishment of humanity.
  • Redemptive suffering = suffering for Him. Okay to complain to God at times like Job.
  • Retribution = man born blind to glorify God – through suffering God’s glory shines.

Setting = obscure to focus on the questions that Job raises. Set far away from Israel in “Uz” and all non-Israelite figures.

Prologue: Chapters 1-2

  • Job = blameless, righteous, honours God. Offering sacrifice for his children = sign of righteousness. Wealthy man, just like the patriarchs. Appears as meek sufferer @ the start but becomes a heated debater with his friends.
  • Satan = accuser, prosecutor. Challenges God’s policy of rewarding the righteous. (1) accuser of Job – doubts Job’s motives – good only b/c things going well; (2) patroller – goes back & forth to check on humans – responsibility = to see if men respect God. Ambiguous role: is he defending God’s honour, or testing men’s motives?
  • God = agrees to let accuser inflict suffering on Job. Overall, God is seen as compassionate and merciful. He puts up with Job’s complaints.
  • Prologue = sets up real questions. Is God just? Does He operate universe according to strict principle of justice?
  • 3 friends = represent best of near-ancient perspective on suffering.

3 Conversations: Chapters 3-28

  • The focus of the debate = (1) Is God just? (2) Does God run the universe on the strict principle of justice? (3) How is Job’s suffering to be explained?
  • BIG ASSUMPTION = That everyone in the universe should operate on the strict principle of justice = do good & get rewarded and vice versa.
  • 1st conversation (3-14): Eliphaz (mystical experience)
  • 2nd conversation (15-21): Bildad (uses wisdom tradition as authority)
  • 3rd conversation (22-28): Zophar (applies theology rigidly)

Job’s last statement (29-31)

Surprise friend (32-37)

  • God is just – so God should run the world according to justice – maybe God inflicts suffering to be a warning to avoid future sin or because it builds character – Elihu is certain that Job is wrong to accuse God.

God’s response (38-41)

  • Takes Job on a virtual tour of the universe.
  • 1st speech = Answers out of a whirlwind – taunts Job by extolling mysteries of nature & creation – the wisdom of God’s ruling & ordering & subduing evil forces. + 10 animals – that live outside of man’s domain = beyond human power = world can function w/o man à God’s power over all things too à Job’s reply = silence & humility (God knows best).
  • 2nd speech = justice = can Job take on wickedness better than God can? 2 beasts = Behemoth (Hippo) + Leviathan (crocodile) – epitome of unruly energy – Job can’t tame them… so he can’t put an end to evil on earth à Job’s reply = repent in dust & ashes + self-accuse + satisfied in God’s response & seeing him face to face.
  • Uproots his idea that Job & his friends have enough perspective to make such a claim. Job doesn’t have a universal vantage point though! He needs to see from an infinitely larger context to make an accusation against God.
  • Behemoth & Leviathan = symbols of disorder & danger – God’s world can be wild and dangerous – just like these 2 fantastic creatures.
  • God’s response = we live in an extremely complex world that is not designed to prevent suffering.
  • End result = Trust God in His wisdom and character when we encounter suffering (rather than simplify suffering like Job’s friends or accuse God like Job).

Conclusion

  • God vindicates Job at the end & rebukes his friends
  • Job restores family & fortunes as a generous gift from God.

 

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