In this book we see a sample of God's dealings with a believer. Job is referred to in the New Testament as a great example of one who endured sufferings.
The book stands alone in the Scriptures, but fits perfectly in all its subjects. We find in it all the elements that are found in the world around us: a family, a wife, friends who tried to help, Satan and his works, angels, God, a man speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit, acquaintances, and of course Job himself, an upright man. In this book are the truths of the corrupt nature of mankind, the value of a sacrifice as a propitiation with God, the need of an umpire or advocate “who should lay his hand upon us both”, and a coming day of judgment. But one of the most outstanding features is the knowledge Job had as to the person and duty of the redeemer or kinsman. He says in Ch. 19:25 “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and the Last, he shall stand upon the earth”. I believe that Christ is presented in some way in each book of the bible. In Job I believe he is seen as the Living Redeemer who will return. Let us look briefly at some of the key persons.
Satan is seen in his character as an accuser and as one who is ready to bring down a person. The very name Satan means “accuser”. Satan told God that Job was only in the path of faith because of the benefits, the blessings that God had given, and that if these were removed, Job would curse God. God allowed Satan to destroy all that Job possessed, but the latter remained firm in his faith.
Satan again states that if Job’s life was at stake, he would curse God. Satan is then allowed access to Job’s body, but his life was to be preserved. Satan is allowed to go so far, and no further - to act against Job for his ultimate good. This is consistent with examples in the New Testament. The Lord told Peter that “Satan has demanded to have you, to sift you as wheat; but I have besought for thee that thy faith fail not; and thou, when once thou hast been restored, confirm thy brethren” Luke 22:32. The apostle Paul speaks of two persons who had made shipwreck as to the faith and whom he had “delivered to Satan, that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme”, 1 Timothy 1:20.
His wife was marked by unbelief and of no help. Her reaction to his horrible sickness was to say: “Curse God and die”, Job 2:9. But Job remained firm in his trust in God.
Job was a good man - see what God says about him in chapter 1:8. Why then the discipline in which God allowed Satan to take away everything - his family and possessions – and leave him in a wretched physical state, in such distress? God wanted to purge the dross, as he does with us. See Hebrews 13:5-11, “for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives”. Outwardly Job was exemplary, but God knew that inwardly Job was becoming full of himself - very much occupied with his own good deeds. Chapter 29-31 show us Job’s thoughts about self. He enjoyed the honour, respect, even reverence, that all those around gave to him. And it was deserved. He was a most honourable man. But it had become a source of satisfaction to him – he was full of it. Yet none but God may have detected it. God was working to bring Job to a true view of self, and ultimately, to a proper view of God. In chapter 30 Job describes how things had turned – the young now held him in derision and in verse 19 he says that God had cast him into the mire. In chapter 31 he delivers his final defence – he declares his integrity in every sphere of human relationships.
So it is that God has every right to touch us in our bodies. Paul received a “thorn for the flesh” that he might not be puffed up by his experience in the third heaven. It was needful because the Lord “does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men,” Lamentations 3:33. The example of Paul, Timothy’s frequent illnesses, and the book of Job all disprove a current teaching that believers should all be well, and that if they are not, then some sin or a lack of faith exists. In fact God’s dealings with his own people are often quite severe. He spoke to Job out of the whirlwind. Take also the case of John the Baptist. He was in prison and the Lord left him there. Perhaps he passed the prison. Although he did many works of power, he never exercised that power to release John. We just bow and acknowledge that his ways are best. Job never gave up his faith in God. “Behold, if he slay me, yet would I trust in him” – 13:15.
Three of his friends came to comfort him, each having come from his own place (Ch. 2:11), i.e. they each brought their own ideas. They offered conventional wisdom - that God punishes the wicked and exalts the good persons. As Job was being severely treated by God, he must therefore have done something very bad – there must be unconfessed sin. The more they pressed this line, the more Job vehemently affirmed his righteousness. Job argued that very often the wicked prosper – see 21:7-13. In chapter 22 Eliphaz charges Job with great wickedness (verse 5) and goes on to declare that he had sent widows away empty (verse 9). This shows that he did not know what he was speaking about – he was assuming it. In answer to this Job knew God well enough to say in 23:10, “he trieth me, I shall come forth as gold”.
Further, Job argued that God had a right to act any way he liked (i.e. arbitrarily) and did so – see 23:13. [We know that he acts from love.] So they “got stuck into it”, each pressing his own point. In Genesis, Joseph said to his brethren when he sent them back to Canaan to get their father - “Do not quarrel on the way”. What a test we are to one another at times! Job said of them: “Miserable comforters are ye all”, Ch. 16:2. He told them if he were in their place, he would speak consolingly.
The next person on the scene is Elihu, a young man who, because of his relative youth, had waited until they had all run out of words. He seems to be a man “sent from God” like John the Baptist. He rebukes Job’s friends because they condemned Job without having an answer.
Elihu turns Job’s attention away from himself to God and God’s greatness, as witnessed in creation. He seemed to be so in step with God, that God continues on from what Elihu was saying, in chapter 38:1. It is a smooth handover. By chapter 40:3, Job acknowledges that he is nothing, and by 42:5, “I had heard of thee… but now mine eye seeth thee: Wherefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”.
Job was one who learnt his lessons through suffering. But he had a further task to perform – God waited until he had prayed for his three friends before doubly blessing him. Then his relatives and acquaintances returned to him – they should never have left him. Still, there is happy fellowship together at the end. And the joys of relationship - the joys of the heart - are greater than the joys of possessing things. Now Job’s joys were untarnished by fears and worries as they were at the beginning. This no doubt is a picture of the millennial period.
We could say more, but it is sufficient in this short article to note how Satan is always defeated. God may use him to refine his own – he can only go as far as God allows, and God brings good out of it. He was intent on making a good man better. As mentioned above, the Lord told Peter that Satan desired to have him, to sift him as wheat - the Lord wanted to teach Peter a lesson as to his own strength and impulsiveness. But Satan did not count on the fact that Jesus prayed for him that his faith would not fail, and when he was restored, he really did confirm his brethren.