Job: The Hardest Lesson

Job is going about his private affairs, unaware that he has suddenly become the center of God's attention. He has become the battleground for a conflict between God and Satan in which God is planning to pull the rug out from under Satan.

Bible Studies in the Book of Job

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Overview the Book of Job

from Adventuring Through the Bible

The gripping and challenging book of Job is perhaps one of the most fascinating books of the Old Testament, and it begins a new division in the scriptures. The books from Genesis to Esther are all narrative books, and are vitally meaningful to us as living parables, as types worked out in actual history by which we can see what is going on in our own lives.

Job begins another section -- the poetical books of the Bible -- which also includes Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and the little book of Lamentations, tucked in behind Jeremiah. Job is a great poem. Some have said that it is perhaps even the greatest poem in all literature. Perhaps nothing that Shakespeare has written exceeds this book in beauty of expression. It is admired everywhere as one of the most beautiful writings that man has ever known. But it is more than an expressive, dramatic writing; it has a very great message, as we shall see.

It is a drama, an epic drama much like The Iliad and The Odyssey, the poems by Homer from the Greek world. But the book of Job is also history. Job was an actual, living person and these events actually took place, but God recounts them for us in this beautiful style so that we might have an answer to the age-old, haunting question, "Why does apparently senseless tragedy strike men?" Any time you get into difficulties it is well to turn to the book of Job. Here is a man who experienced an agony of human despair and desolation of spirit which accompanied the apparently meaningless, senseless tragedies that came into his life.

Now, the ultimate answer to that question is given right at the beginning of the book. At the opening we are handed certain program notes that explain to us something about the drama, something which even the actors themselves are not permitted to know. The answer given is that senseless suffering arises out of Satan's continual challenge to the government of God.

So, as the book opens, we find God meeting with the angelic creation. Among them is Satan, who strides in sneering and swaggering, convinced that self-interest is the only real motive for human behavior. Satan's philosophy is that the question "What's in it for me?" is the only accurate explanation for why people do anything.

And here, in the presence of God, he asserts that anyone who claims that human beings act from any other motive is simply a religious phony; furthermore, he claims he can prove it. God says, rather patiently, "All right, we'll test your theory." Then he selects the man Job to be the proving ground.