This week’s study in Job examines the character and spiritual integrity of Job. Some background information may be helpful and help explain why the study of Job is placed where it is in the Walk with the Word reading plan.
Job was a wealthy landowner living in “the land of Uz.” No one knows exactly were Uz was located, but it is thought to have existed in northeastern Arabia, in or near modern-day Iraq. Though he was a Semite (descendant of Shem), he was not a Hebrew. (The title “Hebrew” was not associated with the Israelites until many years later. From a Hebrew perspective, however, Job is considered a Gentile.) Most likely, Job was a contemporary of Abraham and worshipped the same God, as did another Gentile, Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-19).
Therefore, since the reading plan is basically chronological, the events in this book probably occurred before the first books of the Bible were given through Moses and even before “Israel” came into existence. As a “book” handed down from generation to generation, it’s interesting to note that this would be one of the few teachings in existence during Israel’s 430 years of slavery in Egypt, possibly making it the oldest and “first” book of what would become the Bible.
A brief outline of the Book of Job is as follows: Disasters (1-2), Discourses (3-41), Deliverance (42).
Read verses 1-5
Q: Describe the character of Job, and what each of these descriptions mean.
A: Verse one states that he was “blameless” (can find no fault in), “upright” (righteous in regards to his understanding of the laws of the land and the law of God), “fearing God” (reverent and humble before God), and “turning away from evil” (always doing the right thing). This points to a man of great integrity and spiritual character. On the other hand, Job was not a perfect man or without sin. It appears, however, that he had put his trust in God for redemption and faithfully lived a God-honoring, sincere life of integrity and consistency personally, in his marriage (2:10), and as a parent (1:4,5).
Q: How had the Lord blessed him?
A: Seven sons (to carry on his name and run the farm), three daughters (to run the house), sheep (food and clothing), camels (transportation and beasts of burden), oxen (food and plowing), donkeys (beasts of burden and transportation) and many servants. He was equal to Abraham in wealth and prosperity. He lived in a walled city with gates where he held a position of great respect.
Q: How did Job intercede on behalf of his children? What’s the key concern Job has on behalf of his children?
A: He continually rose early in the morning on a regular basis and offered burnt offerings on their behalf. Thus he cared about them and functioned as priest for his family. His key concern is that they would not “curse God in their hearts.”
Q: What does it mean to “curse God” in one’s heart?
A: To curse God would fall under the category of ultra-blasphemy. Such a curse was not unintentional but willful and premeditated. When curses were pronounced, it was a prescription for bad things to happen. In the Bible, a curse is more than just wishing something bad to happen to someone; it is the official pronouncement that bad things will happen. (God placed a curse on the serpent and upon Cain.) Curses carried with them a power all their own.
To curse God, therefore, would be to turn against Him to such a degree that if one could, he or she would cause bad things to happen to God. To turn against God to the degree that one curses Him would be passing a point of no return. In Job’s day, it was believed that such a curse against God would result in the immediate death of the individual at the hand of God (cf 2:9).
Who would utter such a curse? Only those who felt that God had been unfair, unjust or unworthy of one’s worship. Therefore, they would want nothing more to do with God. The whole story of Job is based around the question, “Will Job curse God or not?”
Application: What should be the role of the Christian parent in regard to his or her children? What do you do faithfully today to protect your children from turning against God?
Read verses 6-12
Q: What is the scene in heaven? What does the name Satan mean?
A: God calls together His archangels. Satan, one of the fallen ones, comes before God. The scene is very much like Jesus calling the twelve apostles, Judas being one of them. Being an angelic being (and not of flesh), he is able to appear before God, his Creator. “Satan” means “adversary,” and he is known in Scripture as The Adversary or The Accuser. In this scene, he assumes the role of the accuser of God’s servants. Satan is not omniscient and therefore must “roam".
Q: Who initiates the dialogue between God and Satan?
A: Make no mistake about it, God does. Therefore, in Job, though the temptations come from Satan (to curse God), the test comes from God. This situation is similar to the time when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness (the test), but it was Satan, The Adversary, who tempted Jesus.
Q: How does Satan accuse Job (and indirectly, God)?
A: Being emboldened by his success at causing the fall of Adam and Eve—and later the flood—Satan was confident that even God’s best man, His best example, would also fall if adequately provoked. After all, Satan himself had fallen; why, therefore, shouldn’t all? Satan raises the penetrating question that might well be asked by anyone, perhaps even Job himself: Does Job serve God with pure motives, or is he in it only as long as the blessings flow?
Q: What does Satan tell God Job will do if God allows all his blessings to be taken away?
A: Satan states quite confidently that Job will curse God to His face. And that’s the theme of the book. Will Job, in spite of his great grief and losses, pain and physically disability, remain faithful to God? It is a test of cosmic proportions and begs the question, “Can a man’s faith in God prevail in spite of horrendous trials and tribulations?” This is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the cross and the persecution of Christians throughout the ages.
Q: Does Job know anything about the conversation between God and Satan going on in heaven? Why is this important?
A: There’s no indication that Job ever learned about this conversation. This is important, especially while bad things are happening, because had he known about the conversation, he would have been able to rely upon knowledge and not faith. Therefore, God had to keep Job in the dark. God had to keep from Job the knowledge of this conversation in order to provide an adequate test of his faith and trust in God.
Application: When we are in the midst of trials, tribulations or persecution, we want to know why. Why is it important that God may never reveal to us the answer?
Read verses 13-22
Q: In what way was Satan allowed to take away Job’s income, food reserves, transportation, financial security and hopes for the future?
A: Every prop a man needs to survive is taken away, including his family. The only exception is his wife who Satan leaves to be used as his mouthpiece (see 2:9).
Q: What does Job do in verse 21 that is contrary to Satan’s expectation that Job will curse God?
A: Job blesses God, the exact opposite of what Satan predicted Job would do.
Application: Based on Job’s response, what is the example for Christians to follow when everything goes bad? When anything goes bad? How does a Christian’s proper response to trials, tribulations and persecution help bring an end to Satan’s influence in the world, to overcome evil?