It is God who initiated Job’s testing to Satan. God removed the hedge of protection he had placed around Job and his family providing wealth and health and allowed Satan to have his way with Job.
The Sabeans people were descendants of Ham’s son Cush. This gives us a clue as to the time when Job lived. His life length is estimated at 240 years which also puts him in this pre-Abrahamic, patriarchal time period around the time of Babel and Peleg, who also lived 239 years.
“Naked I came out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
That points to God’s sovereignty and leaves us with a beautiful example of how to respond in a godly way to calamities that come to us. His initial response shows us the true attitude of his heart toward God. Matthew Henry makes note that his reaction was intentional and appropriate, like a man as opposed to acting stupid and senseless. He shaved his head rather than tearing out his hair and he rent his mantle in way that showed he had his temper under control. His words were of worship and his body posture was one of submission.
Dr. R C Sproul describes these verses this way:
“Job utters a wisdom poem that portrays the wisdom of quiet submission to the secret will of God. Everything belongs to the Creator who gave it. God’s people must praise Him for whatever He does with what is His.”
This text introduces us to God’s Sovereignty. In the very first book written in the Bible, God establishes His sovereignty. We see that he extends the hedge of protection on our lives and our health. And we see God moving for no apparent reason in Job’s life. His reason for Job’s trial was not to bring about a consequence or even to teach him something in the area of personal growth. Job’s trials were simply to prove a point to Satan. That is a point worth pondering and brings some incredible perspective.
So often we look for meaning and search for the lesson when trials surface and we are going through periods of suffering. We are so egocentric in our thinking. But we would be wise to keep in mind that there is a possibility that what we are going through is not about us. I believe Job must have had this perspective, because he was able to worship God despite the circumstances in which he found himself and was able to trust God’s plan/actions despite his being silent through the storm. That is incredible faith… no wonder God told Satan that there was no one like him on all the earth!
This chapter also shows us Satans true role in light of God’s sovereignty. As we see in Genesis 3, while Satan has the supernatural power to oppress people, he can only do so within the boundaries set by God. John Newton put it so well: “Satan can only go to the end of his chain.” This actually brings comfort- nothing surprises God and nothing comes our way that has not been allowed by Him, either good or bad.
Job has been called a primer to spiritual warfare and it a reminder that it is what God thinks of us that counts. Job really doesn’t give much thought to others thoughts but is most concerned about what God would think. We see this in how he would atone for his children after their parties and because God called him blameless, perfect and upright. The reasons for him being described this way is because he feared God and rejected evil.
It is God who initiates Jobs testing to Satan the second time. He praises Jobs character and integrity saying, even though you tried to get him to turn against Me, he didn’t. God grants Satan access to Jobs health.
Satan couldnt get Job to curse God when all he had was taken away from him so he sent boils to cover his body and prompted his wife to encourage him to curse God. But with this second part to Job’s trial, he rebuffs his wife for her suggestion. The NIV Study Bible makes note that “the Hebrew word rendered ‘foolish’ actually denoted moral deficiency.” Job is not having any part of blaming or cursing God. He is resolute in his trust in God.
Bob Sorge, in his book, Pain, Perplexity and Promotion, brings out the point that Job’s wife lost just as much as he did, but was obviously had not cultivated the same spiritual depth that Job had, for she does curse God and tries to get Job to do the same. Because she is not mentioned again, Sorge feels that she had died spiritually and was not able to take part in the special inheritance God had for him.
He brings out the parallel between Job’s wife and Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s first wife, and how both women, because of their unbelief, missed out on the special inheritance God had for the men. Job’s wife was not mentioned and likely did not mother the second set of children while Michal was not the one to carry on Jesus’ line but Bathsheba birthed Solomon.
The application is actually a warning: as we walk with suffering people, stand in faith and perseverance with them. Pray for God’s specific perspective on their life and if God remains silent, so should we!
“Job’s wife and Michal both illustrate this truth: If God is taking someone close to you through the Job crucible, stand in faith and perseverance with that person. If you succomb to unbelief, you will forfeit your share in the inheritance. But if you stand in faith, you will watch God fulfil His promises to that person, and you will come out together into the highlands of spiritual promotion and kingdom fruitfulness”
~ Bob Sorge, Pain, Perplexity and Promotion, p38
The seven days that the 3 friends sat silent with Job was customary during a period of grieving. And custom would have it that the one mourning would be the first to speak. So Job stayed silent for 7 days and then broke the silence, inviting the 3 friends to speak with him.
Job’s first speech comes directly after the two tests and when the pain is most raw and fresh. Here he is most closed to God’s hand over his life. He is described here as blameless because he does not curse God, but rather the day of his birth. He has not yet been shown a purpose for this pain. As he begins to see God’s purpose in his pain, his heart begins to open to God
In response to Eliphaz, Job asks for sudden death. His reason surprised me. It was not because he didn’t want to feel the pain anymore, but rather he didn’t know how much more he could take and still believe in God. He said, at least if he dies now he would die believing in God. That is an incredible example of blameless!
In Job’s second speech, his words show is he is in a defensive and self-protecting state, preferring to get out from under God’s plan. He doesn’t understand why these circumstances have happened to him, voices his feelings that this is unfair and asks God to leave him alone.
In Job’s third speech, as he respond’s to his friends attack on his character and surety that there is some kind of wickedness in his life, we see him speaking to God’s greatness and power. His perspective is beginning to change. He is beginning to get a vision that it might not be totally all about him and he begins acknowledging that God is in control. In verse 4, Job says that “God’s wisdom is profound and his power is vast “then asks the question “Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” We are witnessing Job’s heart beginning to open back up to God and he begins to vocalize how far short he falls in comparison to God. Because of his sin, he voices his longing for someone to arbitrate between him and God. During this time, God is silent and Job desperately wants answers. This longing points to and is fulfilled in Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
In the next 3 chapters, which makes up Job’s 4th speech, we see an increasing opening of his spirit to the Lord. He proclaims again God’s sovereignty in both destroying and rebuilding, drying out and watering, strength and weakness. He is still struggling to ”walk” again though, as he still asks God to withdraw his hand away and look away, but by the end of chapter 14, he is confident in God’s purpose.
Job boldly proclaims that “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” He has begun to see purpose in the circumstances he has found himself in because he follows that statement with “Indeed this will turn out for my deliverance”.
Beginning to see the purpose for his suffering has enabled him to again fully trust his God. His deep faith surfaces again when he says “all the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.” The Student Bible makes a note that renewal can also be translated as release. From that translation, we can assume that Job now understands that his trial is temporary and will pass. .
Job’s fifth speech is one to express, as Bob Sorge put it, “his exasperation with his friends who refuse to cease their merciless attacks.” Job calls them “miserable comforter.”
We find Job in the depths of despair in these two chapters of rebuttal to his friends. He is lamenting all the ways he is being kicked while he is down and maintains a woe is me tone.
In Job’s sixth speech, we see growth. The realization of God’s purpose in the circumstances has rooted itself and is beginning to produce fruit. He describes the many ways he has been afflicted and devastated and speaks to the pain but ends the speech with a beautiful prophetic word. In verses 25-27 he says:
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh will see God:
I myself will see Him
with my own eyes- I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
He has realized that he will hear from God in his life. This understanding the God gave him of God’s purpose has produced a yearning in his heart, increased his hope and began to open his spirit up to God.
In his seventh speech, Job declares God’s judgement on the wicked. He brings out the truth about why the wicked seem to prosper all their days without any discipline. Job asks “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” He points out that “their homes are safe and free from fear: the rod of God is not upon them.” He compares the life of the wicked in contrast to the life on one who lives before God. The truth is that God does not discipline the wicked. His discipline is reserved for the ones he loves, those who are called according to his purposes.
Job begins his eighth speech here. Although he is opening back up to God, he is still a work in progress. He is not understanding and mourning the loss of God’s presence in his life. God never left him, He just became silent but it feels like loss to Job. When he needed God’s comfort and to know God was near to him, he couldn’t find Him. But he still maintains that he has walked according to God’s commands and stayed on the path he knew to be right. We get a glimpse of his understanding of God’s purpose in his life when he says “but he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
He still has an imbalanced fear of God- he is acknowledging his fear of God’s awesomeness and power yet he still is fearful of God’s hand and dealings in his own personal life.
*1/19/15 here lies the root of my anxieties. After understanding this part of Job, it is clear that I am at this point in my life as well. I have a healthy fear of God’s awesomeness and power, yet I am fearful of what might happen to me, of pain and uncomfortableness that he might bring me through. My life has already been defined primarily by emotional pain, recently physical pain and I can identify with Job pleading with God to take it away, asking how long will you leave me here and yet at the same time fully understanding that God has a specific purpose in my life for bringing me through these circumstances.
Job keeps listing all the ways that people are under distress and related to how they must feel abandoned by God as well.
Job’s ninth and final speech lasts for 6 chapters. He has finally silenced his 3 friends and is more and more opening up to God. He begins by praising God, acknowledging his overarching omnipotence and control over humankind and nature while proving His existence.
Job’s last speech continues as he revisits the wicked, their purpose and the unjust.
Continuing on, Job gives a beautiful poem about wisdom, using an analogy of precious metals and stones. He speaks of its worth, where it is found and finally tells what it is. He ends this poem within his speech with words also found later on in proverbs:
“The fear of the Lord- that is wisdom,
and to shun evil, that is understanding.”
Job then turns his thoughts to precious times gone by and recollects the time when he feels God was watching over him and he remembers when “God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” and his children were still with him. He shares about all that he had, the good that he did and how other people felt about him and treated him. But unlike the past recollections, he seems at peace. He tells it as simply fact. I can almost see him with a faint smile and a far-away look in his eye.
He moves into the facts about how his reality is now- how he is treated, his feelings, his body’s response to life. He speaks of being mocked, people making life difficult for him, a churning in his stomach and his skin hurting.
We get a glimpse into Job’s spiritual discipline here in this final chapter of Job’s last speech. In verse 6 he says “let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless.” We know from the first chapter that God described him as blameless so Job’s statement here gives us some insight into his spiritual discipline. Living a blameless life must have been his highest priority for him and something he cultivated on purpose. He speaks of God’s intimate friendship earlier in his speech, so God must have been always on his mind and probably his closest confidant. Clearly, the relationship he had with God produced great trust, so much so that when he felt separated from God, he had a “resource bank” to draw from. The NIV Student Bible explains it this way:
“The trust he had accumulated in more comfortable times helped him survive his time of hardship.” (p559)
Elihu begins speaking here and come quite out of the blue. He was not one of the three friends that sat with Job is silence, but he was apparently witness to the volley of speeches between the three friends and Job. The Bible tells us that he was filled with rage when the three friends finally stopped talking because Job was righteous in his own eyes. He obviously felt very strongly about the why of Job’s suffering, but he was gravely wrong.
Three things we know about Elihu from his introduction and his speech to Job.
He had a hot temper. Four times in the first 5 verses of chapter 32 we are told that his wrath was aroused. He was mad that the three friends were unsuccessful in getting through to Job and he was mad at Job for not listening. We are told his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. He was operating from within himself.
He is arrogant. His anger tells alot about the condition of his heart. He is angry because he thinks he knows exactly Job’s problem and how to fix it. He feels he knows better than anyone there, even though he is the youngest man in the mix. His arrogance is very disrespectful to his elders. Just look at this portion of his speech:
He is full of words and therefore foolish. These should be heeded as instruction and a warning on how not to live. He is so far off the mark in his thinking and attitude that neither Job or God respond to him. He is left to himself. Bob Sorge suggests that Elihu might have been Satan’s greatest and final attack on Job to bring him down and sees parallels to Satan’s final tempting of Jesus in the desert before his crucifixion. In both instances, Satan fails.
God finally speaks to Job. God’s speech to Job lasts 4 chapters and He really displays and describes his majesty, making is clear how small man and humankind really is. Job did have expectations that God would come speak to him because he mentions that in earlier chapters and God did not disappoint him. It’s the revelation from God that ultimately opens Job’s heart completely to God’s sovereign purposes in his life”. (Bob Sorge, Pain Perplexity and Promotion, p89)
Bob Sorge makes an interesting point here.
“Job came through his crisis successfully by constantly lifting his face to God. While his friends talked about God, he talked to God. Even when his attitude was carnal and his words careless, Job did one thing right: he kept himself in God’s face. This was the key that enabled God to lead Job to greater and greater understanding of purpose”
This is another example of the blameless life. Keeping your face to God will allow you to gain understanding throughout the painful circumstance and as your understanding grows the more you will understand God’s purpose. Understanding God’s purpose ultimately enables you to embrace God’s hand in your life. It is the relationship with God, cultivated over time through which God will speak with you and move your heart to fully open up to Him. Just like God quickens the heart and brings about salvation, so it is God that enables the heart to fully open up to Him. Neither of these things can be done by our own devices or at our will.
An amazing thing happens as God questions Job. God established his sovereignty and in the light of God’s sovereignty Job’s trials all but fade away. Job’s questions really go unanswered as God challenges him. Instead of demanding answers, Job admits he spoke of things he did not understand and ends his response to God in repentance.
This is a common response to coming face to face with God or heavenly beings throughout the Bible. Life pales in the light of God’s glory and grace. Man is usually brought into a prostrate position of worship before the Lord. Blameless or not, our sin leaves a gaping hole in us.
My Student Bible leaves a brief note about Jobs response to God.
“Job stands as the clearest Old Testament example of unfairness: an upright man who suffered greatly. Jesus stands as the New Testament example: a perfect man who suffered even more.”
In an interesting turn of events, Job is the one who’s prayer the Lord will accept to forgive the 3 friends and save them from God’s wrath. The three friends are commanded to bring the sacrificial animals to Job so that Job can pray for them. It is in this final act that Job’s trial is ended and his reward is given.
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and again and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
Not only was he given everything back times 2, but he had the comfort, consolation and support of his family and friends that would have been very welcome but withheld during his trial.
Right at the end of this book, we are told about Job’s second family. And unlike anywhere else in scripture, only his daughters are named. The oldest book in the Bible gives value to women. And not only did scripture give us their names, we are told that they were granted an inheritance right along with their brothers. They were treated and considered equal. But it is not only in the time in history that they lived, but it also foretells of the Bride of Christ. A word study of their names is very revealing prophetically.
The first one listed is Jemimah. Her name meanings vary by language but even in their varying meanings they all point to the maturity of the end time bride.
The second daughter listed is Keziah, which is without discrepancy to mean cassia, the flower. It is known for its beautiful fragrance and is mentioned throughout scripture. She is in reference to the end time bride’s consecration. As Bob Sorge puts it, “Her (the end time bride) life is so totally submitted to the Kingdom and God’s will that she does not love her life to the death. (Revelation 12:11) She holds no reservation in her heart about doing His will.” This was also the great cry of Paul (Philippians 3:8-11).
The third daughter listed is Keren-Happuch. Her name, being split, takes a little deciphering, but the end result is that that there is beauty enhancement, light, radiance, and sparkling eyes in her name’s meaning.
The three girls are really prophetic of the end time bride of Christ. Three characteristics of the bride “will be fully mature, a fragrance of consecration even unto death and she will be visibly glorious, radiant with beauty.” (Bob Sorge, Pain Perplexity and Promotion, p164)
It is truly mind-blowing to think that even in the ancient days and the from the beginning of time preparations were being made and end foretold. And right from the very beginning it is clear that God values women and considers them valuable and worthy.