Prologue, 1-5

Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

The land of Uz – ‘Job is not an Israelite, he is one of the ‘people of the east’, that is, east of the Jordan (Uz is Edom, south-east of Israel). He is, however, a worshipper of the true God, though he calls him Elohim (God), not ‘Yahweh’, the personal name of God.’ (NBC)

Job 1:2 He had seven sons and three daughters,

Job 1:3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

Job 1:4 His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.

Job 1:5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

Job’s first test, 6-22

Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.

Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Job 1:9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.

Job 1:10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.

Job 1:11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

‘I don’t know, for certain, why God should choose to share the making of decisions and the implementing of them with other heavenly beings, as I don’t know why God chooses to use human beings in fulfilling His purpose rather than doing everything Himself, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it arises out of a delight in sharing responsibility rather than insisting that one does everything oneself.  In other words, it’s an expression of love.  I guess also that, in a paradoxical way, the awareness that God involves subordinate heavenly beings as God’s agents heightens the sense that God is the real King.  A king does not do everything himself.  The idea that God shares responsibility and rule in this way also has significant explanatory power, like the awareness that God shares authority with human beings.  Both heavenly and earthly beings have the capacity to ignore the directions God gives them for the exercise of their power, and that offers part of the explanation of why things go so wrong – in heaven, evidently, and not just on earth.’ (Goldingay, Job For Everyone)

Job 1:13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,

Job 1:14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,

Job 1:15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

The Sabeans – Nomadic bedouins living in the area of Uz and to the South.

Job 1:16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

“The fire of God” – possibly lightning.

Job 1:17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,

Job 1:19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship

Job…tore his robe and shaved his head – Common expressions of grief.

He fell to the ground in worship – ‘After the patriarch had fallen down upon the ground, “he worshipped.” Not, “he grumbled,” not “he lamented,” much less that began to imprecate and us language unjustifiable and improper. But he “fell down upon the ground and worshipped.” O dear friend, when your grief presses you to the very dust, worship there!’ (The Best of Spurgeon, 240)

Job 1:21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

 

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” – ‘It is one heart-quieting consideration in all the afflictions that befall us, that God has a special hand in them: “The Almighty hath afflicted me.” [Ruth 1:21] Instruments can no more stir till God gives them a commission, than the axe can cut of itself without a hand. Job eyed God in his affliction: therefore, as Augustine observes, he does not say, “The Lord gave, and the devil took away,” but “The Lord hath taken away.

Can we say, ‘Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away’?”

Job 1:21 – “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Not everyone thinks this famous confession, uttered by Job after all his sons and daughters had perished, is good theology.

Ben Witherington, whose daughter tragically died in 2012, wrote this:-

According to Job 1, it was not God but the Devil who took away Job’s children, health, and wealth. God allowed it to happen, but when Job said these words, as the rest of the story shows, he was not yet enlightened about the true nature of the source of his calamity and God’s actual will for his life. God’s will for him was for good and not for harm.

This reflects Ben’s Arminianism, but it does not accurately reflect what the book of Job is actually saying.  Andy Naselli paraphrases the teaching of the book on this point:-

  • Meanwhile, unknown to Job, Satan joins the sons of God (apparently God’s angels) when they present themselves before God, and God initiates a discussion with Satan about Job (Job 1:6–8).Satan accuses Job of serving God merely because God has blessed Job, and God gives Satan permission to test Job but not touch him (Job 1:9–12).
  • Again Satan joins God’s angels when they present themselves before God, and again God initiates a discussion with Satan about Job (2:1–3). Satan accuses Job of serving God merely because God blessed him with health, and God gives Satan permission to touch Job but not murder him (Job 2:4–6).
  • God allows Satan to afflict Job, but he does not merely allow it. The epilogue describes Job’s Satan-inflicted calamities as “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). This is consistent with the prologue where God twice initiates discussions with Satan about Job (Job 1:8; 2:3). The end of God’s statement in Job 2:3 implies that God himself is the ultimate cause of the calamity since he, not Satan, is the one who destroys Job: “you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”

 

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Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

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