Job is the oldest book in the Bible, and it marks the transition between the first 17 historical books of the Bible, and the 5 wisdom books of the Bible. It focuses on the important question of reconciling human suffering with God’s divine justice, called “theodicy”. The book asks the question: Is your faith and trust in God limited to the times when He blesses you?
Possible locations for the setting of the book. The book of Job is set in the ancient city of “Uz” (Job 1:1). The exact location of Uz is unknown to us today. Yet, there are several reasons to suggest that it existed somewhere near the border of modern day Jordan and Saudi Arabia. First, according to Lamentations, Uz was located in Edom (the southern part of Jordan): “Rejoice and be joyful, daughter of Edom, who lives in the land of Uz; . . ..” (Lam. 4:21). Second, Job’s friend “Eliphaz” (Job 2:11) was likely an Edomite. A man named “Eliphaz” was also the first born of Esau, the founder of the Edomites (Gen. 36:4). Third, Eliphaz’s son was Teman (Gen. 36:11), and Teman later became known as an Edomite city (Jer. 49:7, 20; Ezek. 25:13; Amos 1:12; Obad. 1:8-9). Fourth, there is also an “Uz”, who descended through Noah’s son Shem, and Shem’s descendant Aram (Gen. 10:23; 1 Chr. 1:17). “Aram” later became known as Arabia. Fifth, Job’s friend Bildad was a “Shuhite” (Job 2:11), and Shuah was Abraham’s son through Keturah (Gen. 35:2). He also settled in Arabia. Based upon these references, the Jewish theologian Rashi argued that the Uz was in Arabia (Rashi on Job 1:1). Sixth, Job’s livestock included both sheep and camels, which suggested a grassland that bordered a desert area (Job 2:2). Finally, one scholar has proposed a site that meets all of these criteria: “Wadi Sirhan, a depression about two hundred miles long running from northwest (near Zarqa) to southeast (near Zarqa) is the most likely candidate for the land of Uz. It is the catchment for waters that run off Jebel Druz and is capable of supporting large herds of livestock such as Job had. Today, it lies mainly on the northernmost part of Saudi Arabia. It was close enough to Edom to be occasionally linked with it, yet it was also within striking distance of Chaldean raiders (1:17).” (Robert Allen, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 47). Yet, these findings are disputed.1 Job is part of the Bible’s wisdom books because the exact location, time, and author are irrelevant to the book’s greater theological truths.
Possible time periods for Job and what is known about its author. With the passage of time, the exact time period and Job’s author are also unknown. Scholars can only say with certainty that the events took place sometime between the Flood and the time of the patriarchs. The book never mentions Israel, the Hebrew peoples, God’s law, or His Covenants. The text also contains archaic Hebrew phrases that predate those used in Moses’ writings. Some words and phrases further have no exact translation today. Yet, the multiple references above to places and people with possible connections to Abraham’s descendants suggest a time period shortly after Abraham lived. Although the author is unknown, he was a follower of the one true God. He referred to God by His correct name, Yahweh. Like Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-24) and Job, a faithful remnant remained devoted to Yahweh, even before God revealed Himself to Abraham.
1) Submit in faith to God, even when His plans cannot be fully understood. Job’s suffering might seem cruel to a modern reader. Yet, it answered a question that remains important today. Are true believers only faithful to God when they are blessed? Or, from Satan’s perspective, has God bought off the faithful with His blessings? During his suffering, Job never knew of Satan’s spiritual challenge against God and mankind. Nor was Job capable of fully understanding why suffering was necessary. Mankind is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Yet, we can never fully understand the complexity of the mind of the Creator of the universe: ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Nor can we be fully aware of the spiritual battles unfolding around us. Job’s three friends tried to employ worldly wisdom to diagnose Job’s problem. All three operated under the assumption that God could be reduced to a set of predicable formulas. Simply stated, they believed a righteous person could expect to be blessed, and an evil person could expect to be punished in direct proportion to their sins. Job’s first friend Eliphaz asked: “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed? 8 According to what I have seen, those who plow wrongdoing and those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:7-8). Job’s second friend Bildad also said: “If you will search for God and implore the compassion of the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, surely now He will stir Himself for you and restore your righteous estate.” (Job 8:5-6). Job’s third friend Zophar likewise said: “If wrongdoing is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let malice dwell in your tents; then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral blemish, and you would be firmly established and not fear.” (Job 11:14-15). But Job recognized that there were many wicked people who prospered and lived to an old age (Job 21:7–13). He further proclaimed that God is incapable of committing evil: “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, and from the Almighty to do wrong.” (Job 34:10). God also later rebuked the friends’ worldly advice (Job 42:7). God wanted Job’s trust, when though the reasons for the trial were unknown to Job. Job initially professed that he fully trust God, even if God decided to end his life: “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” (Job 13:15). Even after Job became repulsive in appearance to his wife and others, he initially continued to trust God: “Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth. 26 Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I will see God, 27 whom I, on my part, shall behold for myself, and whom my eyes will see, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27). In the end, God responded to Job by pointing out through a series of questions that His answers to Job’s questions were too complex for Job to understand. Although we cannot fully know God’s reasons, we can be assured that He always has a reason. He would never allow a person to experience a curse without a reason: “ . . . so a curse without cause does not come to rest.” (Prov. 26:2). Even though Job did not get his questions answered, he still submitted to God in faith and worshiped Him. That is the book’s most important lesson.
2) Pour out your heart to God during your trials. Although Job started off strong in his faith, he eventually broke down and questioned God in his agony. Some of his complaints might be labeled as sinful today. He cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1-26). He then complained that there was no divine justice “Behold, I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice.” (Job 19:7). He also later complained that God would not answer his prayers: “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.” (Job 30:20). Like Job, David also poured out his heart when he could not understand the reasons for his trials: “A Psalm of David. How long, LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 13:1). “Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and oppression?” (Ps. 44:24). “LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?” (Ps. 88:14). Habakkuk also cried out to God in his prayers (Habakkuk 1:2). Even Jesus cried out on the cross by quoting the psalms: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, Lemma Sabatini? that is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”’ (Matt. 27:46; Ps. 22:1). One commentator observes: “What lifts the book to literary and theological greatness is the author’s deft presentation of a truly righteous man whose commitment to God is total, yet who can still struggle with God to the point of rage over the mystery of God’s ways . . . For the intended message of the book, the raging Job is just as important as the patient Job. In his suffering Job served God supremely, not as a stoic, but as a feeling man who had to come to terms with the mystery of divine will.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 861). Believers should be reverent to God by showing up to Church, praying, worshiping, and submitting to Him. But God also welcomes your private cries of pain and anguish to Him in your prayer life. He knows your needs before you speak them, and there is no secret pain that you need to hide. Also, when you see a person in a trial, you have a role. Instead of condemning the person as Job’s friends did or trying to discern God’s will with worldly wisdom, you can show kindness to the person: “For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not abandon the fear of the Almighty. My brothers have acted deceitfully like a wadi, like the torrents of wadis which drain away,” (Job 16:14-15).
3) Don’t try to discern God’s will based on just your circumstances. Job and his friends made the same mistake in trying to presume to know God’s will based upon Job’s circumstances. To Job’s friends, Job’s suffering was proof that God had judged him for a major, hidden sin. To Job, it was proof that God was unfair. Like Job, many presume to know God’s will based upon the status of their health, family, and wealth. Throughout his trials, Job sought to vindicate himself before God against the charges of hidden sins that his friends (acting on Satan’s behalf) had leveled against: “But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue with God.” (Job 13:3). “Even today my complaint is rebellion; His hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh that I knew how to find Him, that I might come to His home! I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:2-4). “Far be it from me that I should declare you right; until I die, I will not give up my integrity.” (Job 37:5). Job failed to ask if God was seeking to use these trials for spiritual growth or for some other reason. After seeing his sins, Job finally repented: “Therefore I retract, and I repent, sitting on dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6). When you face a trial for an unknown reason, God wants you to pray for His wisdom (Jam. 1:5).
4) The need for a mediator between mankind and God. Satan has access to God’s Court, and he uses that access to level charges against God’s people. Job pleaded for someone to defend him in God’s court. “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him— That we may go to court together! There is no arbitrator between us, who can place his hand upon us both.” (Job 9:32-33). “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high. . . That one might plead for a man with God as a son of man with his neighbor!” (Job 16:19, 21). “Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25). This foreshadowed the need for Jesus Christ. His is your counselor (Is. 9:6) and your only mediator to God the Father (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus also advocates for you in the same heavenly court: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 Jo. 2:1b). “Christ Jesus . . . also intercedes for us.” (Ro. 8:34). “Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25). “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 Jo. 5:14). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8).
5) Don’t fear the devil, who can only do what God allows him to do. The book of Job also shows that God is sovereign over everything, even evil. God was the one who brought Job to Satan’s attention as part of His greater plan (Job 1:8; 2:3). Satan wanted to destroy Job in an effort to force God to destroy all creation and start over. Yet, he failed. Satan also could not torment Job any more than God allowed. God at first would not allow Satan to touch Job (Job 1:12). He then allowed Satan to inflict Job with a serious illness without allowing him to kill Job (Job 2:6). Thus, Satan is no match for God’s power (1 Jo. 4:4; Jo. 12:31). Job at one point scolded his wife when she told him to curse God: “Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?” Despite all this, Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10b). God controls any test that you may receive, and He will never give you a test that you cannot handle. He also controls the timing and duration of any test. You may not know your true limits, but God does.
6) God rewards good and judges evil in His own timing. Job observed that there were evil people who appeared to prosper and suffer no form of judgement for their evil: “Their houses are safe from fear, and the rod of God is not on them. His ox mates without fail; his cow calves and does not miscarry.” (Job 21:9-10). Yet, Job understood that evil people will one day be judged. He stated that they will face a day of fury (Job 21:30). Likewise, after God allowed Job to experience trials when he had not acted in an evil manner, Job prayed as an intercessor for his misguided friends. God then restored twice what he lost: “The LORD also restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased double all that Job had.” (Job 42:10). Because God is just, He will one day reward all acts of faith and punish unsaved sinners.
7) Persevere when God tests you, and He will bless you in the end. The Bible celebrates Job for his endurance through his trials: “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (Jam. 5:11). Trials allow believers to become more obedient in their walk: “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Heb. 5:8). Trials also allow Jesus to prune the parts of a believer’s life that are not of Him: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (Jo. 15:2). Trials further allow God to build perseverance, character, and hope: “And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;” (Ro. 5:3-4). Furthermore, God will bless those who endure their trials with a crown of life: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (Jam. 1:12). Thus, you are called upon to celebrate the growth that your trials produce (Jam. 1:2). Finally, if, like Job, you are deemed worthy of suffering for God’s greater plans for good (Ro. 8:28), it is an honor that will be forever celebrated in heaven (Acts 5:41; 1 Pet. 4:14-16).
Job 1: Seven Lessons on True Faith from Job’s Example and His Response to Satan’s Attacks
Introduction: The book of Job begins with a serious of tests that God allowed Job to endure in order to prove that mankind was worth saving. Through Job’s testing, God showed that there are believers whose faith in God is not contingent upon their blessings. From Job’s example and his response to these tests, God reveals seven lessons on true faith. A person with true faith: (1) fears God by hating evil, (2) receives God’s reward (unless an exception applies), (3) loves others, (4) receives God’s protection (unless an exception applies), (5) has their faith tested until it is perfected, (6) trusts God in good and bad times, and (7) worships in the face of any trial.
First, God declared Job to be righteous because he feared God and lived righteously. A person of true faith also fears God (defined as hating evil) and seeks to live righteously. Second, God blessed Job because of his faith. Unless an exception applies, true faith normally results in God’s blessings. Third, Job was a righteous man because he offered intercessory prayers for his children and gave to the poor. A person of true faith also has a love and concern for the salvation of others and those in need. Fourth, Satan complained that God had placed a hedge of protection around Job. Unless an exception applies, true faith also normally brings God’s protection. Fifth, God allowed Satan to test Job to perfect Job’s faith and to show that humanity was worth saving. True faith is also tested until it is perfected. Sixth, God allowed Satan to strip Job of his worldly possessions and family to see whether Job loved the gifts more than the Giver. True faith also places God over worldly things and family. Finally, as a man of incredible faith, Job passed his tests. He first mourned his loss, and he then worshiped God. A person of true faith also worships God during both good and bad times and in the face of any serious trial.
Job was a man of faith. The Bible lists four attributes that made Job a man of faith: “1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was  blameless,  upright,  fearing God and  turning away from evil.” (Job 1:1). Although Job was nothing like Jesus, the suffering of the righteous man of faith foreshadowed the future suffering of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who had no sin (Ps. 22:1-31; Is. 53:1-12).
Job was amongst the greatest people of faith to have ever lived. Job is celebrated in the New Testament for his faith (Jam. 5:11). The prophet Ezekiel even ranked Job amongst the greatest persons of faith to have ever lived: “Son of man, if a country sins against Me by being unfaithful, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it, and eliminate from it both human and animal life, even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only save themselves,” declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezek. 14:13-14).
Job stayed faithful by fearing God. The Bible celebrates Job for “fearing God.” (Job 1:1). In a pre-incarnate appearance, Jesus also commended Abraham for fearing God (Gen 22:12). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7). Yet, fearing God does not mean that you fear that He will arbitrarily do something to you. It is instead defined as “hating” evil (Prov. 8:13). Are you tolerating evil by disobeying God or embracing evil worldly things?
Job’s righteousness does not mean that he was without sin. The Bible also celebrates Job for being “blameless” (Job 1:1). But that did not mean that he was without sin. The Bible is clear that everyone is a sinner. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20; Ro. 3:23). Thus, the book concludes with his repentance: “Therefore I retract, and I repent, . . .” (Job 42:6).
Be faithful because God is faithful to you. In response to God’s faithfulness, He wants you to be faithful as well. “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” (2 Cor. 5:7). “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5). “but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:9). Job would prove that a person of truth faith always remains faithful.
God’s reward for Job’s faithfulness. Because of his faithfulness, God blessed Job with 10 children, 10,000 sheep and camels, a 1,000 oxen and donkeys and “very many servants”: “2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 His possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” (Job 1:2-3). In terms of his wealth, he became the greatest man to the East of the Jordan River. Even Satan gave God the credit for Job’s blessings: “You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:10b). As a true man of God, Job further valued his sons and daughters equally. While many future Hebrew leaders would measure their families only in terms of their sons, Job included his three daughters as well. His ten children were a sign of God’s complete blessing.
Unless an exception applies, God normally blesses the faithful. The book of Job rightly refutes the “prosperity gospel”, which is sadly preached in some churches today. God cannot be reduced to a “quid pro quo” relationship. But if the book of Job is read to mean that there is no correlation between being faithful and God’s blessings, then Job had somehow nullified multiple passages throughout the Bible. For example, God’s Covenant with the Jews included multiple specific blessings for when and if the Jews acted with faith-led obedience (Lev. 26:1-12; Dt. 28:1-14). Likewise, Solomon, with his God-given wisdom, also proclaimed: “The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, but He will reject the craving of the wicked.” (Prov. 10:3). “One who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.” (Prov. 11:28). “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked is in need.” (Prov. 13:25). “A faithful man will abound with blessings, . . .” (Prov. 28:20(a)). The psalms are also filled with similar proclamations: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging for bread.” (Ps. 37:25). “The righteous person will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Ps. 92:12). “. . . and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Ps. 1:3). Finally, even Jesus promised that a faithful person who seeks to do His will and live according to His righteousness, will receive His provision: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” (Matt. 6:33). If the book of Job means that God’s promises are unpredictable, then all of these Biblical passages become meaningless. These passages must instead be interpreted as God’s general principles. Unless an exception applies, God blesses the faithful. But we can never know all of God’s exceptions that might apply. Thus, your obedience to God should be the fruit of your faith. It should never be used as a means to demand God’s blessings.
Through faith, God offers to extend to you all the blessing that He offered Abraham. Because of his faith, both Abraham and all his descendants received God’s blessings: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen. 22:18). Jesus completed this promise by becoming the “seed” of Abraham through which God’s blessings are extended to you (Gal. 3:16). You only need to believe in Christ to be an heir to the promise: “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:29). God will still allow suffering. Yet, He will always have a reason that serves His greater good (Ro. 8:28).
God’s blessings upon Job included only one wife. Because he was righteous, he did not try to marry more than one wife. Job was a rare individual who did not become covetous of wealth, power, or women when he received God’s blessing. This separated him from Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and most of the kings who followed them. They all took on more than one wife when they became powerful. The fact that mankind is so prone to covetousness may provide one reason why God will allow the faithful to suffer. It is better to cling to God in your trials than drift from Him because of His blessing.
Job prayed as an intercessor. Because he was a man of faith, Job even made sin offerings for his children for any hidden sins: “4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send word and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send word to them and consecrate them, getting up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, ‘Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Job did so continually.” (Job 1:4-5). Job served as a priest for his own family. This should be the role of every parent. As stewards of God’s children, parents should both pray for their children and raise them in the Lord.
Job also gave of his wealth and help to help those in need. If Job only loved his children, he would be no different than the pagan peoples around him. Because he was a man of faith, he also extended God’s love to strangers in need: “Because I saved the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one who was about to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy. . . I was eyes to those who were blind, and feet to those who could not walk. I was a father to the poor, and I investigated the case which I did not know.” (Job 29:12-16; 31:16-21).
Faith without works is dead. The Bible is clear that we are saved by our faith and not by our works (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 3:28-30; 4:5; 10:4; Gal. 2:16; 3:24). Yet, James later pointed to Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice as proof that faith without works is dead: “But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;” (Jam. 2:20-22). Job’s faith was alive and well because he served both his family and the poor. Is your faith evidenced by acts of devotion and love for others? If not, there is a problem in your walk, and you need to examine your heart.
Be an intercessory for others caught in sin or misfortune. You can be like Job by praying for others. Throughout the Bible, there were many times when God answered intercessory prayers. For example, God answered the intercessory prayers of Abraham (Gen. 18:23), Moses (Ex. 32:11-14; Nu. 14:18-22; 16:21-24), Samuel (1 Sam. 12:23), David (2 Sam. 24:17), Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:21-22), and Jonah (Jo. 1:12). The apostles also continually prayed for others (2 Tim. 1:3; Col. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 3:10). You are part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). This means that you have the power of intercessory prayer. Are you using your power to pray for others?
God’s mighty “hedge of protection” around Job. Job’s faith also resulted in a hedge of God’s protection that was so powerful that even Satan complained to God about it: “6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.’ 8 The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’ 9 Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But reach out with Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will certainly curse You to Your face.”’ (Job 1:6-11). Here, the unknown author refers to God by the Covenant name Yahweh. In contrast, Job mostly refers to God by the generic names of El or Elohim. This implies that the author was Hebrew while Job was not. These passages also reveal that God sits in a heavenly courtyard, surrounded by angels or “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). Despite being a fallen angel, God allows Satan temporary access to His court. Here, Satan challenged God and implied that Job was faithful only because of God’s blessings. He argued that Job would prove himself to be unfaithful and curse God without his blessings. His attack was an attack on both Job and all of God’s creation. Satan wanted to convince God that mankind was a failed experiment. To prove Satan wrong, God temporarily lifted Job’s hedge of protection.
Satan is active in his plans to destroy mankind’s relationship with God. The Hebrew word for Satan is literally translated as “the Accuser.” At this time, the Bible had the definite article “the” in front of Satan’s name. His role later became one of his names. Satan actively “roams” the Earth looking for opportunities to make accusations against mankind (Job 1:7). Thus, the Bible warns: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan further targets people when they step out in faith to serve Jesus. For this reason, Jesus warned Peter that Satan wanted to attack him with a trial greater than Jesus allowed (Lk. 22:31-32). Satan continues in this role today: “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night.”’ (Ro. 12:10). Thankfully, you have an advocate through Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Ro. 8:34; Heb. 7:25).
Pray for Jesus to be your shield and to strengthen you when you are attacked. When you are attacked, Jesus promises to be your shield if you take refuge in Him: “He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). When you are attacked, Jesus will also strengthen you if you pray for His help: “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Ps. 138:3). “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” (Ps. 28:7). “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Ps. 3:3). If you feel that you are under spiritual attack, are you praying for Jesus to strengthen you? If for some reason Jesus lifts His hedge of protection, He will only do so for a good reason.
Faith puts your trust in Jesus for protection. You never need to fear evil people when you are doing Jesus’ will: “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). “Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me.” (Ps. 56:9). If you are feeling fear when you are serving Jesus, that is not from Him. Pray for Jesus’ protection and rebuke Satan in Jesus’ name. If Jesus allows you to experience a trial, like Job, for a greater good, Jesus knows what you can endure.
Praise and worship Jesus for His protection. Jesus is your rock. Thus, He deserves your praise for His protection: “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,” (2 Sam. 22:47). “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3). “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Dt. 32:4). “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14). Do you praise Jesus for His hedge of protection in your life?
God allowed Satan to test Job. To prove that mankind was worth saving and that believers existed who would trust God, even without His blessings, God allowed Satan to test Job: “12 Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not reach out and put your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:12). This verse troubles non-believers and even some believers. Some ask how a just God could allowed the just to be punished? Yet, this was a one-time test that God allowed Satan to perform to prove that mankind was worth saving. God the Father was so convinced that there were enough faithful people out there - - whose faith was not limited to the extent of their blessings - - that He would later send His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to give them a path to reach eternal salvation (Jo. 3:16). Thus, the extent of this test served a unique purpose. But, like Job, God does promise to test believers. When He does test you, it will always be for His greater good (Ro. 8:28).
A faith that is never tested cannot be trusted. The Bible is clear that God cannot and will never “tempt” you. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.’” (Jam. 1:13). Only the devil tempts. His temptations use your flesh to bring you down. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” (Jam. 1:14). Although God never tempts, He will “test” your faith (Jer. 17:10; 20:12). His tests are designed to build up your faith. He tests you to show you where your heart is evil so that you can correct it (Jer. 17:9). If He never tested you, you would go into spiritual warfare never knowing if you were ready. It would be like sending an army into battle without any training. Or, it would be like sending a passenger plane into the sky with passengers, yet without ever having tested either the plane or the pilot first. Your faith would be untrustworthy. By testing you, He seeks to build and perfect your faith. Are you inviting God to test you to show you both your weaknesses and to build up your faith?
Satan is not equal to God. One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to allow mankind to consider him to be an equal opposite to God. Yet, this is a lie. Satan is no match for God’s power (1 Jo. 4:4; Jo. 12:31). Satan could only do to Job what God allowed him to do. The Bible further records Satan’s ultimate demise. Thus, when you are doing God’s will, you have no reason to fear the Satan. God will either prevent or limit his attacks.
Satan attacked Job by destroying his possessions and by killing his children. Satan employed deadly attacks that he believed would cause Job to curse God. These attacks stripped him of almost all his worldly possessions and killed off all of Job’s ten children: “13 Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the female donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ 16 While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ 17 While he was still speaking, another came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three units and made a raid on the camels and took them, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’” (Job 1:13-19). Satan unleashed three catastrophes on Job: (1) the theft of his animals and the murder of his servants (Job 1:13-15, 17), (2) a fire that burned his remaining animals (Job 1:16) and (3) a storm that killed his ten children (Job 1:18-19). The Sabeans likely descended from Abraham’s grandson Sheba (Gen. 25:3). They lived in the Arabian peninsula. The Queen of Sheba was their most famous descendant (1 Kgs. 10; 2 Chr. 9). The attacking Chaldeans would have come from Mesopotamia in modern day Iraq. When not constrained by God, these verses reveal that Satan has the power to influence the hearts of evil men. He can also control the elements and perform supernatural wonders (c.f., Gen. 3:1; Ex. 7:5; 7:17; 8:10; 8:22; 9:14, 16; 10:2; 12:12; Matt. 4:8; 6:23). His ability to perform “signs and wonders” will one day deceive many into following his demonic anti-christ (Matt. 24:11, 24; Mk. 13:22; 2 Thess. 2:9-10; Rev. 16:14; 13:2-4).
Trust God, even when the reasons for your trial are unclear. The simultaneous timing of these events and the apparent “The fire of God fell from heaven” (Job 1:16) meant that there was no way to attribute Job’s tragedies to bad luck or natural misfortune. But if God had allowed this to happen to a faithful and upright man, how could Job be expected to still trust God? That was Job’s test. Like Job, God wants you to trust Him, even if the reason for His test does not seem clear at the time: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” (Prov. 3:5-7; 28:26; Ps. 62:8). “Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Is. 26:4). When you are tested, God wants you to turn to His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide your every step and your every decision (Jo. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 13; Ps. 119:105). When you feel tested, do you read the Word and pray?
God wants you to love the Giver over worldly gifts. Satan’s initial attacks stripped Job of his servants and animals, the things that made him wealthy. This was a test to see if Job loved the Giver more than His gifts. The Bible warns not to love the things of the world more than God: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jam. 4:4). “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 Jo. 2:15; Jam. 1:27). Sadly, many love their wealth or worldly things more than Jesus. If this is the case, you will fail one of Jesus’ tests: “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” (Matt. 19:20-22). If Jesus gave you a test to part with your worldly possession to become a nobody for Him, would you do it? Or, if a natural disaster destroyed your belongings, would you still trust Him?
Your love for God must also come before your family. Satan’s next attack stripped Job of his children, most likely his greatest Earthly joy. This was a test to see if Job’s love for his family was greater than his love for God. Jesus warns that true faith places your love for Him over even your family: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37). “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” (Lk. 14:26). ‘“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”’ (Matt. 10:34-37). Does your family come before Jesus?
God also tested Abraham’s faith to see if his love for his son came before God. As Abraham’s final of ten tests of his faith, God tested him to see if his love for his only son with his wife was greater than his love for God (Gen. 22:1-2). Abraham had waited until he was 100 years old to have a son with Sarah. He also waited 25 years after God first promised him a son for Isaac to come. God had also previously told Abraham to drive away his only other son Ishmael. Abraham had grown to love Isaac so much that he risked loving the gift more than the Giver. Like Job, God tested Abraham to see if his love for his son was greater than his love for God.
God’s sacrifice of His only begotten son. The first time the word “love” appears in the Bible was in reference to Abraham’s love for his son (Gen. 22:2). Just as Abraham loved Isaac and Job loved his children, God called Jesus His “beloved son”: “and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”’ (Mk. 1:11; Lk. 3:22; Matt. 3:17). “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’” (Matt. 17:5). Like Abraham, God faced a choice. Yet, God’s choice had consequences for all of humanity. He could let sinners everywhere perish or sacrifice His only son. In the end, His love for the world’s sinners was so great that He sacrificed His only son to save them: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). God will not give you the same tests as He gave Abraham or Job. Yet, He may test your heart to reveal if you love anything more than Him.
Job passed his painful tests and praised God. Where many might have renounced their faith in the face of such trials, Job first mourned for his children and then worshiped God: “20 Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ 22 Despite all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:20-22). In Old Testament times, it was common for a person to show intense grief by tearing their cloths and by shaving their head (Gen. 37:34; Josh. 7:6; Ezra 9:3, 5). Job felt an intense grief that few could relate to. The grief of losing one child would be impossible for most to bear. The grief of losing all of your children and everything else at the same time is level of grief that would be unimaginable. Job’s response showed why he was one of God’s greatest servants to have ever lived. His faith surpassed what few could hope to have. He loved the Giver more than his divine gifts, including his wealth and all of his children.
Give thanks for God’s testing. God perfects your faith through testing. He searches your heart to expose things that need to be pruned away: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” (Jer. 17:10; 20:12). He then tests you to show you where your heart is evil (Jer. 17:9). He also tests you to show you where your faith is lacking. When He tests you, rejoice in knowing that His testing is designed to build up your faith: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” (Jam. 1:2). David was a sinner. Yet, he invited God to search his heart to expose his sins (Ps. 139:23). His openness to learning from his sins is what made him a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22). If you think you don’t have any sins, God’s truth is not in you (1 Jo. 1:8). Are you inviting His testing?
Within the Dead Sea Scrolls, a document called the “War Scroll” referred to a land called “Uz” that existed to the east of the Euphrates River: “they shall fight against the rest of the sons of Aramea: Uz, Hul, Togar, and Mesha, who are beyond the Euphrates.” (War Scroll, Column 2, verse 11).↩︎