Job is not, contrary to popular opinion, about why bad things happen to good people. It is about a sovereign God and the struggle to be faithful in the most difficult of circumstances. If you search for answers to the first question, you will hunt in vain and walk away frustrated by the book. If you approach with the second vision in mind, you will still struggle, but you will find deep and lasting riches.
Everything worth learning is a stretch. We are forced to struggle with things we do not understand or simply agree with when we encounter someone who has something valuable for us to learn. Job has much to teach us. It will force us to struggle in ways that will make us uncomfortable. There will be questions you cannot answer for a long while. There will be comfort in surprising places.
And there is always God. In fact, it is his sovereign presence that frames the book. Job opens with it and closes with it. And in the murky middle, everyone who speaks talks about it.
My goal is not to answer all the questions or provide a blow-by-blow commentary. My goal is to express the kinds of things I am learning as I read through the book to receive wisdom. I am looking for insight into how faithfulness works in the struggle and our confusion. I am looking for the presence and voice of the God who is attentive and sovereign through it all. And, in the end, I may be looking for the strength to decide what Job finally decides – to be silent in the presence of God. Silence is hard when there is so much to scream about.
I pray this helps you. It might help you with the big ideas of the book, but mainly it may help you deepen your faithful relationship with your good and sovereign God.
The text is unambiguous – Job is a righteous and prosperous man. He is blessed with large flocks and a large family. They celebrate the feast days and Job, the spiritually attentive father, makes sacrifices for them when it is all over. Who knows what needed to be atoned for?
From a familiar earthly scene of feasting and family, our eyes are turned to a scene we have a hard time envisioning. God is in his divine court with his divine council, including our Adversary. The integrity of Job is brought up by God, Satan challenges Job’s integrity, and God allows Satan to assail him. Twice.
God knows Job will cling to his righteousness and integrity even if everything is taken from him. Satan wants to bet otherwise. Job is caught in the middle. I cannot imagine being Job – on either end of this equation.
Does God view me with this much trust in my integrity? Will my Adversary be proven wrong no matter what he is allowed to throw my way?
Does God view me with this much trust in my integrity? Will my Adversary be proven wrong no matter what he is allowed to throw my way?Tweet
Three times in the first two chapters Job is described as maintaining his integrity. Twice the text says that Job did not sin in anything he said (1:22; 2:10). Once, even God described Job as having maintained his integrity through it all (2:23). In the first instance, his children and livelihood are taken from him, and Job responds with, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Not a syllable uttered in sin. In the second instance, Job’s wife told him to give in to it all, to curse God and die. Job replies by saying we should be able to receive both good and evil from God. Still, no utterance that sins against God. And in the third instance, God is vindicated by Job, and he says so to Satan. “He still holds fast his integrity,” God says (2:3).
I am almost crushed thinking about how little I have suffered in comparison and did not maintain my integrity before God. I felt some pain, held it together for a while, then broke and sinned in heart and word.
I need a new set of assumptions about life. They need to begin with God and who he is, and not with who I am, or what I have, or what I think I am due. This is hard. This cuts against some of the deepest grain in my sin-sick soul. But that is just it, isn’t it? My soul is sin-sick, and righteousness is a healing balm. Healing? How deep is the wound that needs to be made whole!