Facing Inexplicable Suffering Most of us have experienced examples of this: – Loved one has long painful illness before dying – Young person cut off in the prime of life – We ourselves experience suffering that seems purposeless The book of Job is helpful in understanding some of the most difficult such cases.
The Cast of Characters Job Mrs. Job God Satan Three Friends – Eliphaz – Bildad – Zophar Elihu
How the Book Begins Job's circumstances: – Most righteous person on earth in his day – Very wealthy – Happy family God's evaluation – No one on earth like him Satan's response – Job is well-paid to be good ! – Take his wealth away, he will curse you to your face !
The Tests God permits a test to see whether Satan’s challenge is warranted. First test (chapter 1) – Satan takes away Job's: Wealth Children – Satan times arrival of messengers to build impact. – But Job doesn't curse God.
The Tests Second test (chapter 2) – Satan is not about to admit he is wrong. – He raises the stakes. – Job will curse God if his health is taken away. – Satan takes away: Job's health The support of his wife – Still Job doesn't curse God.
The Rest of the Book Why chapters 3-42? – Wouldn't the message be clearer with just a chapter or so on Job's friends, plus another for interview with God? – Looks like God continues the test to take away things Satan didn't (not sure what part Satan plays in this): Support of friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar) Support of being right (Elihu) Support of God (who comes with accusations)
The Rest of the Book When God finally does appear with many questions to Job (ch. 38 and 39), Job doesn’t curse him. – Job comes to see his own sins, and repents. – If we find it hard to imagine ourselves doing this, it just shows we aren’t in Job’s league ! Then God praises Job … – … though he said things he shouldn’t have God rebukes Job’s friends … – … who were trying hard to defend God
The Rest of the Book Job remained (relatively) faithful under far more difficult circumstances than his friends faced. Finally – ruining the story for many liberals – God gives Job double what he had lost. Let us look at God’s questions to Job in Ch. 38 and 39.
Without the Bible 15 You can believe in a Creator “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:20
Over 60 Questions God asks Job to answer Even today we do not have the answers to many of these questions. All through the discussions of Jobs three friends, Job continues to question God. God, Job says, let me just speak to you. Let me have my two cents worth. So God says to Job, OK. But first let me ask you a few questions. Remember these questions were asked over 4000 years ago (Job was written before Abraham’s period of time) Historically we know the book of Job is the oldest book written when science was not available at this time.
God’s Questions to Job Who laid the foundations of the earth? How were the dimensions determined? Who did the surveying? What supports its foundation? Who laid the cornerstone? Who decreed the boundaries of the sea? Who clothed them with clouds and thick darkness? 17
God’s Questions to Job Who barred them limiting their shores? Have you commanded the morning to appear? Did you cause daylight to spread? Did you end the night for the wicked? Have you ever robed the dawn in red? Have you disturbed the haunts of wicked men? 18
God’s Questions to Job Have you stopped the arm raised to strike? Have you explored the springs that come from the sea? Have you walked in the recesses of the deep? Do you know the location of the gates of death? Do you know the extent of the earth? 19
God’s Questions to Job Do you know where light comes from? Do you know how it got there? Do you know about darkness? Do you know where darkness comes from? Can you find its source? Can you go to its source? 20
God’s Questions to Job Have you visited the treasuries of snow? Do you know where hail is made and stored? Where is the path to the distribution point of light Where is the home of the East wind? 21
God’s Questions to Job Who dug gullies for the rains? Who laid out the path for lightning? Do you know if rain has a father? Where does dew come from? Who is the mother of ice and frost? Can you hold back the stars? Can you restrain Orion and Pleiades? 22
God’s Questions to Job Can you ensure the proper sequences of seasons? Can you guide the constellation of the bear? Do you know the laws of the universe? How do the heavens influence the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear? 23
God’s Questions to Job Who gives intuition and instinct? Who is wise enough to number the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven? Can you stalk prey like a lion? Who provides for the ravens? Do you know how mountain goats give birth? 24
God’s Questions to Job Do you know how many months of pregnancy? Who makes the wild donkey wild? Will the wild ox be your servant? Will he stay by your feeding crib? Can you use a wild ox to plow with? Will he pull the harrow for you? 25
God’s Questions to Job Will you let him decide where to work? Can you send him out to bring in the grain? Have you deprived the ostrich of wisdom? Did you make the ostrich swifter than a horse? Have you given the horse strength? 26
God’s Questions to Job Have you clothed his neck with a mane? Have you made him able to leap like a locust? Do you know how a hawk soars? Is it in your command to raise eagles high? 27
A Study of Positions What is a position? A position is a theological or philosophical stand regarding an issue. Who had positions in the book of Job? Satan, Mrs. Job, Job’s friend, Job, Elihu, and God.
Satan’s Position “Does Job fear God for nothing?” 1:9 “Skin for skin, a man will give up all he has for his own life”2:4 Serving God is only behaviorally contingent upon its rewards-1:9,10 Removal of God’s contingency of rewards results in apostasy-1:11 Application of an aversive stimuli in the sense of punishment would result in the extinction of God fearing behavior-1:11 Adversity must produce apostasy-1:11 This life is everything- 2:4,5
Mrs. Job’s Position “Are you still holding on to your integrity, curse God and die” Chap 2: 9 Integrity should be conditional, shaped by contingencies of reward. Apostasy results in immediate judgment. The sufferings of this present time are too much cost compared to the glory that will follow.
Position of Job’s Friends In three cycles of speeches they rebuke Job: 1) Cycle 1 of Speeches and Job's Response- God Punishes the Wicked and Blesses the Good : 4:1-- 14:22 2) Cycle 2 of Speeches and Job's Response- The Wicked Suffer and Perish because They Are against God : 15:1--21:34 3) Cycle 3 of Speeches and Job's Response- God Is Majestic, but Job is Wicked : 22:1--27:23
Eliphaz versus Job Eliphaz 1: Eliphaz accused Job of being inconsistent since suffering results from sin and no one is pure before God; thus he urged Job to ask God to help him and affirmed that God would deliver him after He had disciplined him 4:1--5:27 Eliphaz 2: Eliphaz affirms that Job's words are meaningless, that he is guilty, and that he is like the wicked because he is in distress 15:1-35 Eliphaz 3: Proclaiming God's disinterest in Job for his social deviations and spiritual defiance, Eliphaz urges him to repent for God is great 22:1-20 Job: Job responded by affirming that his suffering was causing his rash desire to die, Eliphaz's response has disappointed him, and by asking for forgiveness if he has sinned 6:1--7:21 Job: Job responds rebuking his friends for being no help, desiring to plead his case with God, and affirming is situation of despair 16:1-- 17:16 Job: Job longs to plead his case before God 23:1--24:25
Bildad versus Job Bildad 1: Bildad affirmed that history has confirmed that if Job is righteous God will restore him, unlike the ungodly who perish 8:1-22 Bildad 2: Bildad rebukes Job for his arrogant words about them, and affirms that the wicked, like he, are weakened, ensnared, diseased, insecure, forgotten, hated, and alone 18:1-21 Bildad 3: Bildad affirmed that because God is great and man is small and impure there was no hope for Job to be just and clean 25:1-6 Job: Job responds by affirming God's wisdom and power, asking why He is against him, and requesting to die 9:1--10:22 Job: Job rebukes his friends for tormenting and insulting him, affirms that God has wronged him, urges his friends to have pity on him, and affirms that God will prove his innocence after his death and judge his friends 19:1-29 Job: Job affirms that his friends are not help to him since he knows that God is great and powerful over nature 26:1-14
Zophar versus Job Zophar 1: Zophar rebukes Job by affirming that God should show him true wisdom and by affirming that if he would turn to God, he would be blessed 11:1-20 Zophar 2: Zophar accuses Job of insulting him and reminds him that the wicked may be blessed, but they will then loose their riches 20:1-29 Job: Job responds by criticizing Zophar for not telling him anything new, not helping him, and not representing God well, whereupon, he again asks God to let him die 12:1--14:22 Job: Job retorts that his impatience is excusable and reminds Zophar that the wicked prosper and live (unlike he) 21:1-34
Job’s Final Remarks Transitional Discourse on God's Wisdom: Job affirms that although man is skillful in mining, wisdom is harder to find for it is God who knows where wisdom is 28:1-28 Job's Desire for His Former Estate of Glory: Job wishes that he was in his former days of spiritual blessing, material prosperity and social prestige which occurred because he helped the needy, exercised justice and counseled others 29:1-25 Job's Lament of His Present Miserable Humiliation: Job proclaims his misery as he is mocked by poor young men and vagabonds, and his humiliation as he is in pain and nobody helps him 30:1-31. Job's Ultimate Challenge--An Oath of Innocence which 'Legally' Calls God to Answer" 31:1-40
Elihu’s Position i.Four Speeches by Elihu: 32:1--37:24 ii.Introduction of Elihu: 32:1-5 iii.Elihu's First Speech- God Instructs people through Affliction : 32:6--33:33 iv.Elihu's Second Speech to the Three Friends and Job— God is Just : 34:1-37 v.Elihu's Third Speech to Job— There are Advantages to Piety : 35:1-16 vi.Elihu's Fourth Speech to Job (and Friends)– God is Great and Job is Ignorant : 36:1-- 37:24
God’s Position God interviews Job in two speeches: 1. First Interview with Yahweh-- Job is Limited in Knowledge : 38:1--40:5 1) Yahweh Challenged Job: 38:1-3 2) Yahweh Questioned Job Regarding Two Areas of Creation: the physical and animal world. Here God asks Job to listen. 2. Second Interview with God – Job is Limited in Power : 40:6--42:6 1) Yahweh Challenged Job to Listen: 40:6-14 2) Yahweh questioned Job Regarding Two animals of Creation: the Behemoth and the Leviathan “Brace yourself like a man, I will question you and you shall answer….” 38:9
Job’s Reply Job Replied with Repentance: 42:1-6 “…Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."
Lessons from Job God is both all-loving and all-powerful There are no simple answers Expression of grief & trouble is appropriate, but not to pass judgment on God God is in control, even when it is not obvious to our eyes God has a purpose in what he allows, even if we do not know what it is Tragedy can serve as a wake-up call God has not remained distant from us in our pain
Job as a Type of Christ In the character Job, Christ is certainly foreshadowed. Like Christ, Job was suffering innocently. Compare Job 16: 10,11 to Ps 22:13, 35:21 Both were tried by Satan- Chap 1&2, Matt 4:1-11 Both were regarded as being smitten by God and afflicted by him- Isaiah 53:4 Both made atonement for the sins of their adversaries-Job 42:7-10, Dan 7: 13-14, Rom 5:10, Col 1:10 Both learned submission to God through the things they suffered- 42:1-6, Heb 5:7-10 After their suffering, they became designated High priests, and neither was Levite- Job 42:7-10, Heb 5:7-10 Both were restored to glory- 42:12-17, Matt 28:18, Mark 16:19, Heb 1:2-13