Job 1–3. Lesson One. The Problem.

Key Notes: The sons of God. Satan's intention. Job's losses. Will Job curse God?

Chapters 1–3 of the book of Job describe a terrible crisis in the life of a saint of ancient times, and his description of how he felt. Job is a book about suffering. Why is there suffering in the world? Why does God permit suffering? Did Job do wrong and receive God's judgment? Was his suffering intended to redeem his soul or strengthen his character? What does Satan have to do with us? Was God cruel, or was God too weak to prevent this tragedy?

What we will find in this book is that most of the standard opinions about human suffering do not apply. We are due for a fresh look at God and His ways.

1:1 Job lived in the land of Uz among the peoples of the East. Where was Uz? "The people of the East" (1:3) include Amalek and Midian in Judg.6:33 and in Isa.11:14, Edom, Moab and Ammon. Jeremiah couples Uz with Edom, Moab and Ammon, small nations east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. (Jer.25:20). Lam.4:21 says Edomites lived in Uz. Thus it appears that Job lived east of the Dead Sea in the highlands bordering on the desert of Arabia. These tribes were not noted for godliness. No one knows the time of the writing.

1:3–5 He was extraordinary: blameless, upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. He was rich with children, wealthy in land and livestock, scrupulous in his care of his children, a man of integrity.

1:6–12 The scene changes to Heaven where God gives audience to the Sons of God.
Who are the Sons of God?
In Psa 82:1–8 human judges are called "gods", and "sons of the Most High". That is because they take the place of God in judgment, as judges do today. Then who are the Sons of God in Gen.6:4? They were the progenitors of "mighty men that were of old, the men of renown." We can speculate that these were godly, and powerful men of the line of Seth, marrying the daughters of Cain. They are not angels in this setting because Jesus said angels do not marry (Matt.22:30).
However. in Job, the Sons of God appear to be angels.

1:6–12 Among the angels comes Satan, "the accuser of the brethren" (Rev.12:10). God asks what he is doing there. He is going up and down the earth, implying that he can go anywhere and has everything under control. We are reminded of IPet. 5:8: "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour."

God brings up Job as a model of faith and righteousness, and allows Satan to strike at him. Why?

  1. God intends to defeat Satan.
    1. Satan thinks he has everything and everyone under his control. God will refute him.
    2. Satan says Job serves God only because he is blessed, slandering Job. God says his children cannot be bought.
    3. God will demonstrate Satan's failure: "greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." [But Satan is delusional and keeps on trying to this day.]
  2. Job will learn more about God in his crisis than he ever could have in his prosperity.
  3. Job's friends will also learn about God, and we also will learn, we who listen in on the conversations.
  4. Would God do something to his servant that He would not do to Himself? The same question is asked regarding Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. Christ was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt.4:1). He endured the agony of the Garden, the torture of the crucifixion and descent to Hell. In this sense, Job is a picture of Christ, suffering innocently and under God's will at the hands of Satan, for the good of all of us.

1:13–2:13. What did Job lose?
Economic power--oxen and donkeys
Livelihood--sheep
Transportation--camels
Family--ten children
Health--skin covered with boils
Wife's support--she suggested that he curse God and die.
Friends--he ended up on the ash-heap, excluded from society.

Cursing God was the threat, a real danger. This phrase occurs four times in the text. Job was concerned that his children might curse God in their drunken parties. Satan assured God twice that Job would curse Him if his troubles became great enough. Job's wife encouraged him to curse God--and die. Satan evidently spared Job's wife to be his tool. We will listen to Job throughout the book to find out whether he can resist the temptation.

2:13 Job's friends did the right thing at first. They came and sat beside Job and said nothing for seven days. That is the best way to interact with a person in grief. Most of our talk to a grieving person either is not heard or is irritating. It is best just sit beside the suffering person and be silent.

3:1–20 Job then made his voice heard. He cursed the day of his birth. He would rather have died at birth or even been aborted than to face the misery he suffers. The calamity he had feared has happened (3:25–26) and he has no peace, no ease, no quiet.

It is hard to get most men to tell how they feel. Job tells us in detail what he is thinking and he expresses his depression, loneliness and despair eloquently. Psychologists believe it is healthy to let emotions be expressed. Most of us, however, would admonish Job not to take it so hard, buck up, things will get better. God has a plan in all of this, etc.
Job's friends, however, appear provoked, perhaps embarrassed by his display and cannot resist trying to straighten him out. Much of the book is their attempt to get Job on the right path. Their wisdom--and they had much of that--was of no avail.

The thesis is simple. You are in trouble? What did you do wrong? Since about two-thirds of our physical illnesses are "diseases of lifestyle", we will be right 2/3 of the time if we ask such questions of ourselves.

The solution posed by the book is quite modern--even Politically Correct: don't stereotype. Job is not typical. It is not fair to make assumptions about other people's circumstances. What is happening to Job will take time to unravel and the conclusion will be surprising.