[June 01]--Job: What Do We Know About This Guy?

Job 1:1-5

Let’s start off by giving a short overview of what I plan to talk about for the next month. We’re going to spend the first half discussing the book of Job, and what it means to us today. Obviously this isn’t going to be a complete commentary on the book (which has 42 chapters), but I think it’s important to examine the main themes and major arguments of the main characters. If you’re not familiar at all with the book, you need to change that deficiency, maybe by reading a summary in a study Bible. A lot of the devotions over the next couple of weeks will assume that you’re at least vaguely familiar with the story. The other half of the month will be used examining some thorny issues which have been raised by the book, like “Does God want everyone to be rich?” “Why do bad things happen to me?” and others. Hope you’ll be there.

So what do we know about this man? Well, if you ask a lot of modern scholars, you’ll be told that the man likely never existed at all. They think that someone just made this whole story up, and we’re supposed to get lessons from it like Aesop’s Fables. But how does the rest of the Bible treat this story? Well, he’s mentioned three other times in Scripture: Two places in Ezekiel, and once in James. In Ezekiel, the prophet is told that even if Job (along with two other godly men famed for their intercession) were to pray for Israel, he (the Lord) wouldn't listen. James points to him as an example for us to follow in terms of perseverance in times of trial. In other words, he's always treated as a real human being, not someone made-up like Spider-man. Personally, I think the Bible’s better at interpreting itself than some non-believing faulty human being can, don’t you?

So what do we know about his background? Well, the land of Uz was a large territory east of the Jordan river. From internal evidence which we won’t go into here, most biblical scholars believe he was a contemporary of Abraham, living around 2000 B.C. But those are just facts about his background. What do we know about the man that we can actually use today?

The inspired author began by describing Job as “blameless and upright, [fearing] God and [shunning] evil.” What’s very interesting to me is that God himself repeated this verdict on Job’s character. This does not mean that Job was sinless, but it does indicate the overall direction of his life. Now, I'd like to think most of the time I’m like that, but I can deceive myself. If one of my close friends, who knows me inside and out (especially my wife) said that about me, I'd take it as a vast compliment. But if God, who knows everything about everyone, said about me what he said about Job, I'd be thrilled! So what specific things does it say about him that clarifies the description?

Well, he was married with several children, and there is no indication that he fell into the trap of polygamy into which so many other godly patriarchs fell. In fact, later when he was protesting his innocence, he said that he was even careful about his thought-life, that he “made a covenant with [his] eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." He was definitely a man of worship, and was deeply concerned about the spiritual condition of his family. If you want, you can read chapter 31 and see his oath about his character, but I’ll summarize it here: He was a very good man in the community, who was generous with the poor, stood up for justice in the courts, and who was scrupulously honest in his business dealings.

Again, this man was not sinless; there’s only been one Man who ever walked the planet who could make that claim. But Job had a lot of good qualities which are worth emulating. Why not let the Holy Spirit pick one out of the list today and ask him to help you improve?

And now for your edification, here's Michael Card's summary of the book, "Job Suite."

Lord Jesus, only you are perfect, and I want to be like you. Job isn’t my ultimate standard, but he shames me in a lot of different areas. Please change me to be more like you.

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