Job lived during the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), probably near the earlier end of that timeframe, but this book was written about him much later. This is how all history was maintained in patriarchal period. It was passed down orally from generation to generation until someone recorded it for posterity in writing generations later. From the book, we know that Job lived in Uz, most likely in the region known as Edom which was later inhabited by Jacob’s outcast son Esau. This geographical location, the fact Job’s wealth, like Abraham’s, was described in terms of the amount of livestock and servants he possessed, (Job 1:3) and Job’s practice of acting as a priest for his family and offering sacrifices for their sins (Job 1:5) help date the book to patriarchal times.
The prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:14, 20) mentions Job along with Noah and Daniel, implying that Job was a real person. Job is also referred to as a historical person in James 5:11. Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it is clear in Job 19:25-27 that Job trusted in the living Redeemer that we know as Jesus Christ.
I break Job down into four sections: a prologue (Job 1-2) that establishes Job’s integrity and the situation of the book, a dialogue (Job 3-31) between Job and his very unhelpful and uninformed “friends” that forms the main body of the book, a couple of monologues (Job 32-41) in which a young man named Elihu and then the Lord correct the bad theology of both Job and his friends, and an epilogue (Job 42) in which Job confesses his lack of trust in God and repents, God rebukes Job’s “friends,” and God restores Job.
So, with that brief introduction, I will point out just a few things from the prologue in Job 1-2:
- Job was a man of integrity, and I think that the description of him in Job 1:1 is a fantastic description of what it means to be a Christian man: he “feared God” and “turned away from evil.” When the Scriptures talk about “fearing God,” they do not mean “fear” in the sense of being scared or afraid. Fear of God in the Scriptures refers to awe of God, wonder of God, understanding our place relative to God – that He is God and we are not, being humbled in the presence of God. Turning away from evil has the connotation of understanding sin for what it is, an offense to the holy God of whom we are in awe. Therefore, we should turn away from doing that which is offensive to God. Developing a proper understanding of who God is and a proper hatred for sin and its effects is essential to becoming a Christian man. (Proverbs 3:7) I pray for these qualities in me to grow and develop daily.
- God does allow testing in our lives – and He does allow Satan and wicked people to be an instrument of that testing. (Job 1:12 and 2:6, see also James 1:12 and 1 Peter 4:12)
- Satan is powerful and can wreak considerable havoc in our lives. But God is more powerful, and he sets limits on what Satan can and cannot do to us. (Job 1:12 and 2:6)
- Job’s response to the devastating loss of his property and children in Job 1:21-22 is an excellent example of what I mean by the fear of the Lord and a proper understanding of our relationship to Him. Ultimately, everything we have belongs to him and he is able to give or take away as He sees fit. It doesn’t mean that we have to understand or agree with his decision, much the way that a child may not understand a parent’s decision to take something away. We just have to understand that it is He is God and we aren’t. And when He acts, He acts in our best interest – even if it may not seem so at the time.
- Sometimes we even have to correct and go against the advice of close family members, when they give us bad advice and are not speaking truthfully about God. (Job 2:10) A Christian man leads and sets the example for his wife and children in godly living.
- The best thing that Job’s three friends did for Job in this entire story occurs in Job 2:13, when they simply sat with him, grieved with him, and said NOTHING. As soon as they opened their mouths, things went downhill fast. Speaking as a counselor, sometimes the best counsel we can give a hurting friend is to just shut up and listen.