The name “Job” means “hated” or “persecuted” and Job certainly becomes a persecuted man. This book is a different form of literature than any of the books we have covered previously. It is the first book of the final section, “The Writings” and it is a work of “wisdom literature.” The author uses a poetic story to correct some misunderstandings and guide God’s people in the path of true wisdom. So, let’s consider a few important truths from the book of Job.
This is the first time in our Bible reading we have come across the term “Satan,” which means “Accuser.” And it will be helpful if you dismiss the idea of a red, pitchfork-wielding, horned lizardman. The character known as “The Satan” in this book acts as a prosecuting attorney, who puts Job on trial. He is trying to prove that Job, and mankind in general, only serve God when it is beneficial for them to do so.
In other words, The Accuser’s position is that Job does not really love God for God’s sake. The Accuser believes as soon as Job isn’t prosperous anymore, he will forsake God. The Accuser is trying to prove that Job only sees God as a means to an end.
But the only way for that position to be proven or disproven is for Job to be put on trial. So God allows Job to be put on trial so that his loyalty and love will be shown to be genuine.
The Prosperity Preachers
As soon as Job’s suffering reaches its height, Job’s so-called friends show up. They have a very neat and tidy view of the world. They believe if you are good, good things happen; if you are bad, bad things happen. Good people always reap the benefits of good behavior and bad people always get what’s coming to them. If someone is rich and prosperous, it is because he is a good person. If someone is suffering, it is because he is a bad person. This is their wisdom.
In fact, one of the friends makes an interesting statement. He says that serving God is really of no benefit to God, it is of benefit to the one serving. When you are serving God, you are really just serving yourself, he says. You do good things for God so that he will bless you. But these friends are actually proving The Accuser’s point. They are saying God is a means to an end; serving God is just a means of attaining health and wealth.
As far as this “wise and understanding” jury is concerned, they believe the evidence is clear: Job has been found guilty and has been imprisoned in suffering until he learns his lesson.
The One on Trial
But Job feels like he has been imprisoned without a trial at all. He feels like the sentence has already been carried out, without him being able to speak in his own defense. Throughout the book, Job’s only desire is to be given the opportunity to stand face-to-face with God and argue his innocence. He believes he would be acquited, but God is unseen so there is no one to whom Job can present his case.
Job feels like this kind of thing happens more than the friends would like to admit. Faithful people, who serve God well, suffer and die without any legacy or memory. While at the same time, wicked people prosper and die in their old age with a long and glorious legacy left for their children. He feels like justice is being perverted all around him and things aren’t nearly as neat and tidy as the friends proclaim. This is the wisdom of Job.
But what Job cannot see is that his trial hasn’t ended. He hasn’t been sentenced, he is being tried. Will his suffering cause him to curse God and die or will he be faithful until the end?
In the end, God does show up on the scene. The wisdom of the friends has been heard, the wisdom of Job has been heard, and finally the wisdom of God is heard. God tells Job and his friends that they are incapable of seeing how the world really works and it isn’t their place to accuse God of wrongdoing.
Finally, Job is vindicated and acquitted. In spite of the fact that he had been confused and angry, he never lost faith in God. He was loyal to God in spite of the fact that he was suffering unjustly.
The Resurrection of Job
In the end, God made all the bad things come untrue for Job. He received the reward for his unfailing loyalty and love. But don’t miss the point that I believe is a thread throughout the whole book. Throughout the story, Job keeps talking about the faithful who are buried in the dirt and eaten by worms. He says there is more hope for a chopped down tree than them. Even a chopped down tree can sprout and grow again, but a person who is dead is dead.
But are they? Is there really no hope for those who’ve gone down to Sheol? Isn’t that the question of the whole Bible; the question answered by the Good News?!?
Because of Jesus, those who have been faithful even unto the point of death will be raised to live forever. They will be crowned with glory and honor. The reward is great for those who are willing to meekly and patiently suffer and be persecuted for righteousness sake. This is our time of trial. Will we be faithful or will we forsake God when things don’t go our way?
Perhaps we hear a faint glimmer of resurrection hope in Job’s words:
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
I love you and God loves you,