Job Part One Dive
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?
When things go wrong the first thing I tend to do is question whether God is in control – do you? Like He fell off the throne or, worse, fell asleep on the job. I hate that that is my first reaction, I wish I was one of those people who went to faith first. But I don’t, my prayers sound like I’m begging God to take back control, I’m begging Him to intervene, to wake up and notice what is happening. The Book of Job really challenges that way of thinking. Job nor his so-called friends never questioned God’s control. They never questioned if He is really in charge, they portray more the Israelite way of thinking: that they were safe and secure in their covenant with God and therefore knew He had charge over them (controversially so for some readers today). I know that God being this much in control of our lives may make you uncomfortable. But lean into trust, God’s love and fatherly protection over you and the fear will disappear. So let’s jump in and have a look at this controversial book.
As you read the Book of Job, the negative nature of the text can be overwhelming. I mean, from the beginning this is a very sad story. This is not a feel-good, movie-night film. But this book goes to the depths of our hearts and finds the words that we can’t express when things go wrong in our lives. This incredible book shows that sometimes our well-meaning friends sound like they are sprouting wisdom and speaking on behalf of God but, in fact, they have it completely wrong. We need God’s perspective on the situation — not well-meaning friend’s interpretation.
For our first Dive into Job, I want to chat to you about perspective. The definition of perspective is ‘a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view’. The Book of Job addresses this important issue. As the audience, we get the privilege of seeing the perspective of God from the beginning. So, as you read the first chapters move on from the fact that it seems super weird that Satan and God are having a chat and focus in on what they are saying. The author is setting the scene from the beginning so the rest of the story develops from that. Here are some things I want you to highlight in the opening scenes:
'In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job’ – so we know that Job lives in Uz. So the first thing I want to study is where the heck is Uz? Is it a miss-spelt mythical land that everyone dresses in green and contains a Wizard? This is such a great study so perhaps check it out!
‘This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil’ – from the beginning we are told that Job is upright and God even brags to Satan about how amazing he is, check out Chapters 1:9 and 2:3. He is blameless and upright and again blameless and upright. So we get the hint — Job is blameless and upright.
He was blessed and very wealthy.
‘He was the greatest man among all the people of the East’ – this means he was well known and influential
There is so much more the author wants you to know in the first section so get ready with your pens and highlighters and maybe do some extra study to go a little deeper into just the opening scenes. We don’t have time to go through it here, but maybe grab a commentary and take an adventure. Remember you are setting yourself up for understanding the rest of the book.
Now as you read the story we have to remember that we are the only ones with the ‘inside information’ we are the only ones that know that God thinks Job is holy, blameless and upright and the only reason these things are happening to him is that God has lifted His sovereign protection off him for a time.
Now I know that can conjure up feelings of ‘how dare God play with Job like that’, but the point of the story is that you realise two things. Firstly, God is not doing this as punishment or because Job sinned and secondly, this highlights the benefits of God’s sovereign protection over Job’s life. Let’s have a chat about the first one in this Dive and I’ll cover the rest in the next part.
God is not doing this to punish or because of Job’s sin. Time and time again, over and over again you are going to hear the friends of Job say to Job that this is happening to him because he sinned or because he was not righteous before God. Let me show you some examples:
5:17 Blessed is the one who God correct; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. As the reader and the one in the know, you are supposed to go ‘wait a second, that’s wrong’. God is not correcting Job!
8:4 When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. Again, nowhere in the beginning of the story does God say you can touch His children because they are sinning! Where are these friends getting this from? Not from God that is for sure!
Don’t you love Job’s reaction to his so-called friends?
J 6:15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow.
That is poetry talk for what we would say in Australia – ‘you are an idiot!’ And again in Chapter 13…
J 13:4 You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!
Now from the Snapshot video we know that this book was challenging the Hebrew understanding in very simple terms: that if you do what is right God will bless you, if you sin or don’t do right in God’s eyes, he will curse you. So, the friends are communicating the Hebrew understanding of blessings and curses, but this book is challenging that to its core.
Today in our Churches I think we are very close to this type of teaching also. If something goes wrong we jump to sin. I even heard someone say “well of course bad things are happening to that person, they must have sin in their life.” I have had numerous people tell me that I must have sinned because I am still single. One person actually inferred that God didn’t love me enough to get me married. And you know what those words from a ‘friend’ do, just like the friends of Job they hurt to the very core. It makes you question God’s goodness and his love for you. And that is what the friends of Job do in this book. Luckily Job is smarter than them and that God in the end speaks for himself! And brings his perspective into the situation. My favourite verse in Romans when things like this come up and I feel like I am being punished or scared that I’m out of the will of God is Romans 8:38-39
Romans 8:38-39 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)
You can read the book of Job and question God’s love for Job but that is not what this book is communicating. God’s love for Job is expressed from the beginning and to the end. But this book is challenging the very thought that God is a God who stays to a simple formula. If you do everything right and perfect, he will bless you, if you do anything wrong and sin you will have trouble. And the ‘idiot’ friends of Job are the classic Christians, searching for someone to blame in this situation, when really it was because God was bragging on Job and showing Satan how incredible he was. So, jump into this book, let it go to the very depths of your heart, it will challenge you but go there!