Job 1 (New Living Translation)
The author, date, and place of the Book of Job are all uncertain. But it is widely recognized that Job is one of the greatest books ever written — a masterpiece, a classic. It is terrifying and beautiful, tender and powerful. It addresses life’s deepest problem, the problem of evil, of suffering, of injustice in a world supposedly ruled by a good, compassionate, just God. Perhaps we can go into it recalling of a portion of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: In chapter eight, as Mr. Beaver is trying to describe what Aslan is like, Susan jumps in to ask, “Is he—quite safe?”
We might ask the same question about Christ, and the answer we would like to hear might be something like, “Of course, coming to Christ will be perfectly safe.”
“Who said anything about safe?” Mr. Beaver replies. “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
Four chapters later when the group finally meets Aslan, Lewis’s narrator tells us, “But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.” Lewis provides this image of Aslan, who is both good and terrible at the same time, for Christians who may have an image of God that is out of balance.
Some may have a conception of a God who is only terrible, a God who is only fear-inspiring. They need to be reminded that God is also good and compassionate. Others may have an image of a God who is only safe and huggable. Lewis would remind them that the God of the universe is not just a larger version of their favorite grandparent.
Let us ask God to use this study of Job to give us a clearer vision of who God truly is — our Creator, Redeemer, and Counselor, who is neither “safe” nor “tame,” but always, always, wise and good.
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Chapters 1 – 3: Satan Questions God
The earthly stage:
There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters. 3He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. 4 Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. 5 When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.
“What a beautiful example is furnished by Job to Christian parents! When your girls are going among strangers, and your boys into the great ways of the world, and you are unable to impose your will upon them, as in the days of childhood, you can yet pray for them, casting over them the shield of intercession, with strong cryings and tears. They are beyond your reach; but by faith you can move the arm of God on their behalf.” — F. B. Meyer
Job’s First Test
The stage in heaven:
6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. 7“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
1 Peter 5:8 (New Living Translation)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”
9 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
Job’s tragic and sudden losses:
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
Job reacts to his losses:
20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” 22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
In this first round of spiritual warfare Satan was singularly unsuccessful in shaking Job from his standing in faith. Job successfully battled against spiritual attack and fulfilled the exhortation that would come many hundreds of years later from the Apostle Paul: that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). Job made his stand —
- against fear and did not give into panic.
- against make-believe pretending and appropriately mourned.
- against pride and humbled himself before God.
- against self and decided to worship God.
- against a time-bound mindset and chose to think in terms of eternity.
- against unbelief and did not give into vain questionings of God.
- against despair and saw the hand of God even in catastrophe.
- against anger and did not blame God.
— David Guzik
“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” HERE is Matt Redman’s song, “Blessed Be Your Name.” _________________________
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.