Notes: Job 1-2

Notes for January 7, 2008

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Are you shocked when a pillar of the community, a young family man with small children, is killed in an auto accident? Does the sudden closing of a local factory and the subsequent loss of livelihood for hundreds of workers cause you to question God’s love, wisdom or existence?

The Book of Job presents a behind-the-scenes look at the tragedies of a good man, the misguided explanations of his friends, and the conclusion that God IS in control.


Dating the Book of Job (or, Why the book of Job is placed, where it is placed, on the reading schedule)

1. Job’s age.

At the time of Moses, people lived to 70 or 80 years (Psalm 90:10).

At the end of the book of Job (Job 42:16), we are told that "after this Job lived 140 years". Whether that means that he lived to be 140, or that he lived an extra 140 years, makes little difference.

Job lived at a time before Moses, before life expectancy had decreased to seven or eight decades.

2. Absolutely no mention of Israel.

The book has 42 chapters. You would expect some mention of Moses, the law, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, but nothing. Sacrifices are not confined to one place. No temple, no priesthood.

Job lived at a time before Israel become a nation, perhaps around the time of Abraham.

3. God Almighty / LORD (Yahweh)

God was rarely called LORD before the time of Moses. He was known as God Almighty to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 6:3). In chapters 1 and 2 of Job the narrator called God the "LORD", but in the discussions of the other 40 chapters between Job and his "friends", the word LORD is only mentioned once. While the name "Almighty" is used continually.

The writer of the book may have lived at/after the time of Moses; but Job himself probably lived before Moses, around the time of the Patriarchs.

For these reasons we are reading the book of Job after Genesis 11:26.

A Reader’s Outline of the Book of Job

1.  Bad things happen to a good person (chapters 1-2)

2.  Well-meaning friends try to explain such a turn of events (chapters 3-37)

3.  The Lord addresses Job (chapters 38-41)

4.  A happy ending (chapter 42)


Job 1

1: Job was a good person. As with Noah before him (Genesis 6:8-9), it’s important for us to understand that this does not mean that Job was born without sin, or even that he was able to rid himself of sin; for we know that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). This does not mean that his family and friends recognized his contributions to his community; for what value have the opinions of men in light of an absolutely holy God?

Looking a bit more closely, we see that Job was perfect and upright-not in physical stature and posture-but in spiritual matters. He feared God; and he turned away from evil. Moreover, this is the very testimony of God Himself concerning Job.

Clearly God accepted Job. Does God accept you?

Please keep this forefront in your mind as you read the rest of the book and see how Job’s friends, unable to explain the tragedies of Job’s life in any other way, contradict the testimony of God and posit that bad things only happen to people who have sinned.

2-5:  Job was a concerned father. While his 7 sons and 3 daughters took turns entertaining one another, Job rose early to intercede for them, just in case the children had sinned and cursed God, even if only in their hearts.

Not only did Job care for the souls of his children, he also knew well both the human condition and the divine standards. Sin must have its atonement or we shall be unable to stand before God; and sin is not only of hand and feet activity, but also of the lip and mind. Read Jesus’ application of the law (Matthew 5:21-48) to see that murder is more than firing a gun, that adultery is more than dirty bed sheets, etc.

6-12: The unseen conflict. If these verses were missing from the text, we might agree with Job’s friends in their interpretation of subsequent events. But these verses ARE in the text, and we see what the friends did not-that bad things happened to Job BECAUSE he was good! Job was not being punished, nor was God engaging in some kind of cruel torture. Here was a trial of faith that worked out patience (James 1:3); and Job’s endurance through it all without sin is an example of how to go through suffering for us all (James 5;10-11).

7: Where have you been? Suppose that God asked you that question.

8:  Have you considered my servant Job? There is great value in knowing how other saints have practiced their faith.

9:  Do you serve God for nothing, or is your religion based upon your expectations of what you will receive from God, like a little child’s good behavior the weeks before Christmas?

10:  Does God put a hedge around His people? Job (3:23) thought that God hedged him in with evil; the devil thought God hedged Job in to prevent evil.

12:  Who was in control, who had the last word?  Don’t forget it!

13-19: Loss of businesses, loss of family. Four messengers in succession arrive to announce one tragedy after another. All at once Job is faced with having lost his herds, his flocks, his servants and his children.

And all of this with the permission and oversight of God.

And none of this because of some sin in Job’s life.

20-22: What would you do? Job’s grief led him to worship. Instead of asking "Why did this happen to me?" Job recognizes the almighty hand of God behind it all; and Job blesses God for it!  In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

He who had not sinned to cause the situation did not sin because of the situation.

Nor did he foolishly accuse God of misconduct!


Job 2

Satan does not give up easily. When he failed God’s first challenge to disprove Job’s confidence in God, the enemy of our souls suggests a second.

1-6: God’s testimony of Job remains unchanged. Oh for an unshakeable faith in God!

3: The Lord repeats that the evil that befell Job was not because of anything that Job had thought or said or done.

4-5: Satan advances the idea that self-preservation is the strongest of motivators, and that Job would deny God to save his own life.

6: God prohibits the devil from taking Job’s life. God reserves that right unto Himself.

7-10: Job is stricken from head to foot with painful boils. Can you see him scraping himself with a piece of pottery and sitting down among the ashes? What a pitiful site! Keep this picture in mind as you continue reading the book.

9:  She who should have been a help to Job becomes his temptress.

10: Job recognizes that she speaks as a fool, one who says that God, if He exists at all, is irrelevant. Job reiterates that God is in control of both good and evil.

And still Job did not sin with his lips. Did you ever notice how easy it is to sin with your lips? And often you do it? What would you have said if you had been in Job’s place?

11-13: Job’s three friends learn of the circumstances, and they agree to meet at Job’s house both to mourn with him and to comfort him. Whether they would be successful remains to be seen.

12: From a distance they didn’t even recognize Job, his visage was marred so badly (compare Isaiah 52:14).

12-13: Expressing their empathy the trio cried and wept and tore their mantles and sprinkled dust toward heaven; then for one week they sat silently with Job because they saw how great was his grief.

How to comfort a friend in his loss is never easy. To do so without dishonoring God is even more difficult.