Let’s talk for just a minute about the background of the book of Job, which is unique. There is no other book like it in the Bible, but we do know that it belongs here and it is a factual book, because 1) it is quoted in other parts of scripture (namely James 5:11 and 1 Cor 3:19), and 2) Ezekiel names Job along with Noah and Daniel in Ezekiel 14:14.
Job is a very ancient book. We don’t know when it was written or who wrote it. Some clues do exist in the text that hint that Job lived around the same time as Isaac and Jacob, though he was not part of the Abrahamic lineage. It is thought that he may have been a brother of Abraham, but of course that still does not make him an heir of the promise that God made to Abraham and his descendants.
There is much that we as Christians can get out of this book, and I hope to bring some of the nuggets of goodness to you as we read through it over the next few weeks. As I have had my own near Job-like chapters in my own life, and have a good friend who had a very Job-like chapter in his, this book has been an invaluable encouragement to me in some very difficult times. I will be eternally grateful to God for giving us this book.
And so we have been introduced to one of the Bible’s greatest figures. I love this man. What a great man of integrity and faith. He is introduced to us in the first verse as a man who was “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” My goodness! What a testimony. This was a good man. But not only was he a good man, he was a financially successful man, too. He was the richest man around, but he didn’t allow his riches to draw him away from God, as often happens.
Job had ten grown children who seem to have loved and respected him.
Lastly, Job was a pious man who was careful to pray for himself and his kids, and he made burnt offerings in case any had sinned. This is a man who truly loved and feared the Lord.
And then there is Satan. I am generally loathe to use his name, because I don’t think he deserves to have his name spoken very often. But his name is used in this book, so I will use it as we discuss what we have read. It’s interesting that Satan is allowed access to God, isn’t it? But remember, Satan was an angel before he rebelled and was expelled from Heaven. So, somehow and for whatever reason, God allows him at least occasional access. And here in chapter one, Satan does what he always does. He accuses one of God believers, Job in this case, of sin. The sin of hypocrisy. How? When God brings Job to Satan’s attention as being the best of the best, Satan says, “Well that’s only because you’ve given him all this stuff. Take it all away and he’ll curse you to your face. He doesn’t love you, he loves the stuff you’ve given him.”
So here’s the angle that Satan is working. God said that Job was the finest man alive. If he can be prove that God is wrong, if he can show that Job is a hypocrite, that will mean that there was not one faithful man alive and that there was no one who truly loved God. And then Satan would be king over all mankind.
God then allows Satan to try Job’s sincerity by attacking him. And there are reasons He did so. 1) For His own glory, 2) For Job’s honor, 3) to show God’s protection, and 4) as an encouragement to God’s afflicted people for the rest of history. I mentioned at the top of today’s episode that it helped me when I went through a near-Job episode in my life. I won’t take time today to tell the story, but as we go alone in the coming weeks, I’ll try to squeeze it in. From personal experience I know that this is one reason why God allowed Satan to attack Job. I’m sure that millions of people down through the ages have found the faith and courage to stand firm because of Job.
One last thing before we say goodbye today. We see from this that Satan is still under God’s authority. God put a limit on what Satan could do to Job. He told Satan, touch his things, but don’t touch his body. There are people who think that God and Satan are equals, in terms of power or authority. That they are in a battle that sort of see-saws back and forth as to who is ahead. They think that it’s possible that perhaps evil can win, that the final chapter has yet to be written. Nothing could be further from the truth. And this little detail here in Job chapter one confirms that Satan is not equal with God. He has to conform to the limits God puts on him.
The final chapter has been written. God wins. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus made that very clear. That was the ultimate victory, and one has only to read the book of Revelation to see what Satan’s ultimate destiny is.