Job – The Book of Human Suffering

Introduction

Job is the first 5 OT “poetical” books. It is probably the oldest book in the Bible and raises an age-old question: Why do the righteous suffer? The Book of Job provides a unique answer to this question, one which is often misunderstood. But the message of Job is vital for anyone who tries to do right and finds that despite his best efforts, problems or suffering follow.

Date. The literally form of Job is similar to documents which go back to the first part of second millennium B.C. In the dialogue section of the book of poetry (see Hebrew poetry, p.252) is in the most difficult and archaic Hebrew. Even the name, Job (literally ‘iyyob), is a common second millennium name, well attested in other documents. This, plus failure to mention covenant or law, places Job in the time of patriarchs, probably between 2100 and 1700 B.C.

Concept of God. Job is distinctively non-Israelite in character. Yet its place in the OT canon was never challenged by the Jews. As a non-Israelite book, it plays an important role in the history of revelation. Its contents show us truths about God available to mankind through tradition before Moses penned the first 5 OT books around 1400 B.C. Exploring Job , we see that while knowledge of God is incomplete, Job and his friends surely knew enough to have a faith relationship with him, and to live moral lives.

A summary of ideas about God found in Job show that he was viewed as personal and transcendent, beyond nature, but the master of the world he has made. God is also the Creator of men, who permits freedom of choice and thus makes men morally responsible. He is a moral being, and so acts as a judge, and will punish evil and reward those who do right. God is also gracious. He can be approached through sacrifice. And he forgives the sinner who turns to him in repentance. Yet, however much is known of God, he does not meet us face to face. Ultimately God remains hidden, a Mystery.

 

Outline

                              • Prologue: Satan’s Test 1:1 – 2:10
                              • Dialogue with Friends 2:11 – 31:40
                              • Elihu’s Contribution 32:1 – 37:24
                              • The Lord Speaks 38:1 – 41:34
                              • Epilogue: Job restored 42:1-16