18: Job: The Book of Consternation

Set in the era of the patriarchs, the book of Job is a dramatic poem, rich with imagery, figurative language, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, and personification. It is thorough in its treatment of the relationship between human suffering and divine justice.

The book teaches the necessity of spiritual refinement through suffering. After enduring several terrible calamities, Job questions God’s motives. His friends arrive and launch a series of debates concerning his situation. But instead of comforting Job, they all insinuate his predicament is due to hidden sin. Job maintains his innocence and states that suffering is not always a result of God’s judgment. Although a portion of what these men say is true, their conclusions are wrong. Job struggles to believe he will eventually be vindicated, but feels God is dealing unfairly with him.

Human counselors are unable to provide the insight into God that Job so desperately needs. God then provides His own divine diagnosis (Ch. 38-41). He is not required to explain or justify His actions, nor does He need man’s advice in order to control the universe. Job confesses his ignorance of God’s ways and recognizes His authority over all creation and over his personal life. His self-renunciation and acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty are the keys to his restoration and blessing.

No degree of hardship gives man the right to challenge God’s justice or wisdom. We must trust Him and accept suffering without knowing the reason why. God uses circumstances in order to test us, to humble us, and to discipline us. The book of Job proves it is impossible to explain God: He must reveal Himself.

Essay Questions

1. What does James say concerning Job?  From his comments, what can be surmised about the need for patience and perseverance (James 5:11)?

2. By studying the first two chapters of Job, what can we learn about Satan’s tactics? How do Satan’s suggestions in Genesis chapter three compare with his suggestions in Job? What do the accounts in both Job and Genesis teach about God’s control over Satan?

3. How is Job’s theology flawed concerning his self-vindication (Ch. 29-31)?

4. Job states what a person must endure in life is not a fair criterion whereby his life can be judged, for ungodly men often enjoy prosperity while the righteous are afflicted. Is this statement true or false, and why?

5. Create separate character studies on Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, noting their different conclusions regarding Job’s dilemma. All three state that suffering is always the result of sin. What is faulty about their theology? Why is such a large portion of this book devoted to an incorrect diagnosis of Job’s problems by his friends? From their arguments, what can we learn about rationalization?

6. Discuss the character and attitude of Elihu (Ch. 32-37). What reasons does he give for rebuking Job’s three other friends? Is Elihu correct when he states God allows suffering to discipline, refine, and teach us? In what ways do his arguments and conclusions differ from theirs?

7. List Job’s catastrophes in the first two chapters and compare and contrast them with the blessings he receives in the final chapter.

8. Explain how Job’s repentance and prayer for his friends are keys to his restoration. By comparing chapters 3 and 42, explain the primary changes in Job’s attitude. 

9. Does God reveal to Job the reasons for his sufferings? If not, why not?
By scanning the final five chapters of Job, what can we learn regarding human suffering from God’s perspective?

10. Satan suggested to God that Job would only remain true as long as it was financially profitable. Discuss whether or not you feel many Believers serve God for the benefits.                       


Maxim of the Moment

Love’s wounds can only be healed by the one who caused them.