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                           "THE BOOK OF JOB"

                              Introduction

The Book of Job has long been praised as a masterpiece of literature.
Consider these quotes:

   "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to
   me to retain one work only, I should save Job." (Victor Hugo)

   "...the greatest poem, whether of ancient or modern literature."
   (Tennyson)

   "The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of
   the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language."
   (Daniel Webster)

What is it about the book that prompts such praise?  Most Christians I
know don't feel that way about the Book of Job.  Perhaps it is because
many tend to neglect the Old Testament altogether.  Yet Paul wrote of
the value of the Old Testament scriptures:

   For whatever things were written before were written for our
   learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the 
   Scriptures might have hope. (Ro 15:4)

Note that the Old Testament was written for our learning, that it 
provides patience and comfort, and as such can be a source of hope.  
This is especially true with the story of Job, to whom James referred 
when seeking to instill patience (cf. Ja 5:10-11). Because the Book of
Job is so often neglected, yet presents a valuable lesson and is so
highly praised by even people of the world, Christians should certainly
take the time to study this portion of God's Word!

THE PLACE OF JOB IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:  Job is the first of five books
commonly referred to as "The Books Of Poetry".  These include Job, 
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.  Called such
because they are written in poetic style in contrast to the narrative
style of most other books, they are also often referred to as "Wisdom
Literature" (especially Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes).  Oswald 
Chambers (1874-1917) offered this concise summary of the five books:

   * Job - How to suffer

   * Psalms - How to pray

   * Proverbs - How to act

   * Ecclesiastes - How to enjoy

   * Song of Solomon - How to love

Now let's take a look at the Book of Job in particular...

AUTHOR AND DATE OF WRITING:  Who wrote the book, and when?  No one
really knows.  Jewish tradition attributes the book to Moses, and other
authors have been suggested (Job, Elihu, Solomon, Isaiah, Hezekiah, and
Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe).  "All that can be said with certainty is
that the author was a loyal Hebrew who was not strictly bound by the
popular creed that assumed suffering was always the direct result of
sin" (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown).  Because the author is unknown,
it's date has been hotly debated among scholars.  Some think it was 
written before Moses (pre 1500 B.C.).  Others put it at the time of 
Solomon (ca. 900 B.C.), and some even as late as the Babylonian Exile
or later (post 600 B.C.).

The uncertainty of author and date does not nullify the book's 
inspiration, for it is affirmed in the New Testament.  Paul quotes from
it on several occasions in his writings (cf. 1 Co 3:19 with Job 5:13;
and Ro 11:35 with Job 4:11).  For the Christian who accepts the 
inspiration of the New Testament, such evidence is sufficient.

THE HISTORICITY OF THE BOOK:  Even though inspired, are we to take the
events described in it as historically true?  There are several reasons
for believing that they are:

   * The style of the opening and close of the book certainly conform
     to other Biblical narratives that are historical (cf. 1:1 with 
     1 Sam 1:1 and Lk 1:5).

   * In Ezekiel 14:14, Job is mentioned along with Noah and Daniel,
     two other figures of history.

   * James, the Lord's brother, refers to Job as an example of 
     perseverance (Ja 5:11).

THE SETTING OF THE BOOK:  The historical events appear to be set in 
the "Patriarchal" period (i.e., sometime between Noah and Moses). There
are no allusions to the Law of Moses in the book, but there is a
mention of a flood (22:16). Job functions as a priest in offering 
sacrifices for his family (1:5), similar to what we find with Abraham
(cf. Gen 12:7).  His longevity is typical of the patriarchs (42:16; 
cf. Gen 11:22-26,32).  For such reasons I would place him somewhat
contemporary with Abraham (i.e., ca 2000 B.C.).

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK:  It is common to suggest that the purpose of
the book is to answer the age-old question, "Why does God allow the
righteous to suffer?"  That is certainly the question Job raises, but
it is worthy to note that he himself never receives a direct answer.
Nor is one given by the author, other than to answer Satan's challenge,
"Does Job fear God for nothing?".  We are privileged to know of the
challenge of Satan, and that God allows Job to suffer in answer to that
challenge, but Job is never told of this.  Therefore, I suggest that 
the purpose of the book is:

    To answer the question, "How should the righteous suffer?"

While Job's questions and complaints often come close to charging God
with wrong, he never crosses the line and humbly submits to God when 
told that the answers to his questions are beyond his ability to 
understand.  Thus the book shows us how the righteous should bear up 
under suffering ("You have heard of the perseverance of Job" - Ja 5:
11)

SOME LESSONS FROM THE BOOK:  In his study on the book (The Book Of 
Job, Quality Pub.), Wayne Jackson offers the following lessons to be 
gleaned:

   * The book defends the absolute glory and perfection of God - It
     sets forth the theme echoed in Ps 18:3 ("I will call upon the
     Lord, who is worthy to be praised").  God is deserving of our
     praise simply on the basis of who He is, apart from the blessings
     He bestows.  Satan denied this (1:9-11), but Job proved him
     wrong (1:20-22; 2:10).

   * The question of suffering is addressed - Why do we suffer?  Who
     or what causes it?  Why doesn't God do something?  Not all 
     questions are answered, but some important points are made:

     - Man is unable to subject the painful experiences of human
       existence to a meaningful analysis - God's workings are
       beyond man's ability to fathom.  Man simply cannot tie all
       the "loose ends" of the Lord's purposes together.  We must
       learn to trust in God, no matter the circumstances.

     - Suffering is not always the result of personal sin - The
       erroneous conclusion drawn by Job's friends is that suffering
       is always a consequence of sin.  Job proves this is not the
       case.

     - Suffering may be allowed as a compliment to one's spirituality
       - God allowed Job to suffer to prove to Satan what kind of man
       he really was.  What confidence God had in Job!

   * The book paints a beautiful picture of "patience" - The Greek word
     is "hupomone", which describes the trait of one who is able to
     abide under the weight of trials.  From the "patience of Job", we
     learn that it means to maintain fidelity to God, even under great
     trials in which we do not understand what is happening.

   * The book also prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ! 
     - His coming is anticipated in several ways.  Job longs for a 
     mediator between him and God (9:33; 33:23), and Jesus is one 
     (1 Ti 2:5).  Job confessed his faith in a Redeemer who would one
     day come (19:25); Christ is that Redeemer (Ep 1:7)!

BRIEF OUTLINE (adapted from Warren Wiersbe)

I. JOB'S DISTRESS (1-3)

   A. HIS PROSPERITY (1:1-5)

   B. HIS ADVERSITY (1:6-2:13)

   C. HIS PERPLEXITY (3)

II. JOB'S DEFENSE (4-37)

   A. THE FIRST ROUND (4-14)
      1. Eliphaz (4-5)_Job's reply (6-7)
      2. Bildad (8)_Job's reply (9-10)
      3. Zophar (11)_Job's reply (12-14)

   B. THE SECOND ROUND (15-21)
      1. Eliphaz (15)_Job's reply (16-17)
      2. Bildad (18)_Job's reply (19)
      3. Zophar (20)_Job's reply (21)

   C. THE THIRD ROUND (22-37)
      1. Eliphaz (22)_Job's reply (23-24)
      2. Bildad (25)_Job's reply (26-31)

   D. YOUNG ELIHU SPEAKS (32-37)
      1. Contradicting Job's friends (32)
      2. Contradicting Job himself (33)
      3. Proclaiming God's justice, goodness, and majesty (34-37)

III. JOB'S DELIVERANCE (38-42)

   A. GOD HUMBLES JOB (38:1-42:6)
      1. Through questions too great to answer (38:1-41:34)
      2. Job acknowledges his inability to understand (42:1-6)

   B. GOD HONORS JOB (42:7-17)
      1. God rebukes his critics (42:7-10)
      2. God restores his wealth (42:11-17)

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION

1) What are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, 
   often called?
   - Books of Poetry
   - Wisdom Literature

2) Who wrote the book, and when?
   - We do not know

3) What evidence is there that this book describes an event that 
   actually occurred?
   - It both starts and ends like other books of history in the Old 
     Testament
   - Job is included with Noah and Daniel, as figures of history, in 
     Ezek 14:14
   - James refers to the example of Job in teaching on perseverance 
     (Ja 5:11)

4) In what historical time frame is the story of Job possibly set?
   - During the period of the patriarchs, perhaps contemporary with 
     Abraham

5) What is the purpose of this book, as suggested in the introduction?
   - To answer the question, "How should the righteous suffer?"

6) According to the outline suggested above, what are the three main
   divisions of the book?
   - Job's Distress (1-3)
   - Job's Defense (4-37)
   - Job's Deliverance (38-42)
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