Turn in your Bible to the book of Job.
We’ll be studying just the first chapter of Job today.
Now, the message that the book of Job teaches us is When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom.” And Job starts off this book in the first chapter pretty well understanding God’s ways. And he even expresses that he trusts God’s wisdom. But all of that is seriously tested later on – especially starting in chapter 3.
So, let’s study Job, chapter 1.
To begin with, we read of Job’s location, name, and personal character in relation to God in verse 1.
Intro to Job
KJV Job 1:1 ¶ There was a man in the land of Uz [ngutz],
whose name was Job;
and that man was [perfect/blameless/pure] and upright, and one that feared God, and [eschewed/turned away from] evil.
So, Job’s location is Uz. This was apparently just north of Edom – which was southeast of Israel. That is to say – outside of Israel. The men we’ll hear from then are Gentiles rather than Jews.
And this verse doesn’t say, but it’s likely that the events of this book take place in the patriarchal period – the time when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived.
And then the author of this book focuses on Job’s character that we always need to keep in mind as we study this book. Job is blameless and pure. He really fears God. He really does turn away from evil.
As we see Job’s friends later on impugn Job’s character and assert that Job’s sin causes his suffering – we know better. We know that the divine author of this book testifies to Job’s blamelessness.
So, now that we have a glimpse into Job’s whereabouts and character, we’ll hear about the possessions that God blessed him with in verses 2 and 3.
KJV Job 1:2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
KJV Job 1:3 His [substance/possessions] also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred [she asses/female donkeys], and a very great household;
so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
So, when it came to children, Job was blessed with many. When it came to livestock, Job had an abundance of sheep, oxen, camels, and donkeys. And when it came to the overall homestead – which would have included servants – Job’s was “very great.”
He had it all. To the point where he was considered the greatest. The greatest. Everyone in the area would have known about Job in his day. His would have been something like a household name. And he would have been world-renowned – not just for his stuff, but for his godliness.
And this intersection of wealth and piety is a pretty lonely one. Many times those who are godly are poor. Those who are wealthy tend to be ungodly. It’s hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
But that’s not the case with Job. He was righteous and rich.
And so, we’ve seen his riches. Now – in verses 4 and 5 we see his righteousness.
KJV Job 1:4 [And/Now] his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
KJV Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and [sanctified/consecrated] them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all:
for Job said,
It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.
Thus did Job continually.
So, apparently Job’s sons would have all of their siblings over to eat. And this was a regular pattern. Each of the seven sons would have the nine other siblings over. I’m not sure if this was happening every day of every week or if it was spread out throughout a month – but the point is that they would be eating at each other’s houses. They liked each other! They had a good family relationship.
But the even bigger point is that Job was concerned for them. Yes – they had a really good relationship with one another. But you know what Job was more concerned for? That they had a good relationship with God.
He would sacrifice for them – just in case they sinned. He was acting as a priest for them – which reinforces the idea that they were outside of Israel and before the Mosaic Law. If they lived in Israel under the Mosaic Law, then the law prescribed priests in a Tabernacle or Temple. Job here is just sacrificing to the true God – but he’s doing it by himself outside any Temple. He’s a priest for his family.
He could be happy enough with his riches and his family. But he’s most concerned about the spiritual aspects of life.
This man is commendable to all of us. Now, I read a commentary that said that Job was basically a little overwrought in his spiritual activities. Like, basically, Job is showing an unhealthy level of concern for his family’s spiritual state. Perhaps Job – said this commentator – is showing that his view of God is deficient. Like, Job is driven into an almost slave-like mentality where he’s basically operating under fear of God’s reprisal for the least pretense of sin.
But I just don’t think that’s the right way to interpret Job’s actions. That’s surely not the way that the narrator wants us to view Job’s activities. I mean – we’ve already been told that Job is pure and upright. He fears God. He turns from evil. I just don’t think that the way we’ve been introduced to Job allows us to think of his activity as superstition or driven by an unwholesome fear.
So, with that, we have the end of the first little section in this book where we’ve been introduced to Job. Without question, we walk away from that with a real sense that Job is a totally righteous and blessed man.
But that righteousness will be tested in the rest of this book – and especially in the rest of this chapter and chapter 2.
Angelic Gathering #1
Because beginning in chapter 1 and verse 6 we have God calling together a gathering of angelic beings.
Setting the Scene
The scene is set for this in verse 6.
KJV Job 1:6 ¶ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
This phrase “sons of God” is basically equivalent to “angels.” And we don’t hear a thing about any of these beings beyond the fact that Satan is there with them.
And this is in Hebrew “the Satan.” The adversary. He’s Job’s adversary – but even more foundationally – he’s God’s adversary.
If God is for something…he’s against it. If God loves something…the Satan hates it.
And God has a question for this enemy of his in verse 7.
God’s Question to Satan #1
KJV Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan,
Whence comest thou?
God is asking Satan where he came from – not because he didn’t know. God knows all things. But God wants Satan to tell him where he’s been. And Satan responds.
Satan’s Response to God #1
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said,
From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
OK, Satan was on the earth. He wasn’t in another galaxy. He wasn’t anywhere else in God’s creation besides on earth. I would imagine that Satan doesn’t spend much time anywhere else besides on this earth. But I suppose he could be somewhere else – otherwise God wouldn’t need to ask him.
At any rate, we might wonder why God – knowing that Satan was walking around on the earth – why he asked Satan where he was.
It’s because God was leading into this question.
God’s Question to Satan #2
KJV Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan,
Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
It’s like – Oh, OK, since you were there, Satan – since you were visiting the earth where so many centuries ago, you tempted Adam and Eve and were so influential in the marring of everything there – hey, have you considered one man who isn’t going your way? Have you thought about Job, Satan – you old rebel? He fears me, whereas you don’t. He turns from evil, whereas you embrace it all the time. He puts you to shame.
But – of course – the adversary is not going to just let God shine light on his own rebellion. As is his custom, he’s going to accuse and insinuate falsehoods against Job.
Satan’s Response to God #2
KJV Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said,
Doth Job fear God for nought?
Satan’s insinuation? No, of course Job doesn’t fear God for nothing.
Well, then, why – according to Satan – does Job fear God?
KJV Job 1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
In other words, Yahweh – you’ve bought Job off! That’s the only reason he serves you – you make his life easy and you bless him in every way!
So, in Satan’s mind – here’s the real test that will prove that this man Job doesn’t serve God for nothing.
KJV Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Now, Satan proposes that Job will do exactly what Job was so fearful that his own children would do – curse God. Only, Job was afraid that his kids had cursed God secretly – in their heart. But Satan is hopeful that Job will curse God publicly and unashamedly – to his face.
So, if you take away all that a righteous man has, will he still worship God? Satan says no.
And I think he’s right for a number of people in American Christianity. The whole premise of a lot of what passes for Christianity today is that you worship God because he makes you wealthy and he gives you perfect health. And when those things are taken from these so-called Christians, it’s inevitable that they say goodbye to God. They were really only worshipping the money anyway – the stuff that God gave them.
But what about us? If this heavenly interaction were going on right now about you, is there something that Satan could suggest that would cause you to “curse God?” What if he took all your stuff? What if he made your home life difficult? What if he let your health deteriorate? Would you abandon him?
Well, God allows Job to be tested.
God’s Response to Satan #3
KJV Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Now, it’s interesting and something to watch and consider that Satan told God to put forth his hand against Job. But then God tells Satan that everything Job has is in Satan’s power.
So, who is the one inflicting the injury upon Job? Is it Satan or is it God?
The answer actually isn’t so clear. Last time in our study I made a statement that basically Satan was the one who harmed Job – not God. But I think that we’re going to see in the second chapter of the book of Job that God actually takes some responsibility for harming Job.
I think it goes like this – Satan can’t do anything apart from the Lord’s permission. And sometimes the Lord permits Satan to harm people. And when he does, God himself takes some responsibility for the results.
Calamitous Results #1
And so, now, starting in verse 13 we’re going to see some of the calamitous results of this heavenly wager. God is saying that Job will keep his integrity and still worship him even if he doesn’t bless him materially. Satan believes that the only reason Job is worshipping God is because of the material blessings that God has given him.
Setting the Scene
The scene is set in verse 13.
KJV Job 1:13 ¶ And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
OK, there they are all together – happy and healthy and enjoying God’s blessings. Blessings of family and of food and drink.
But then – tragedy strikes in four separate incidents that are too much to be coincidental.
Sabeans Take Oxen and Donkeys, Kill Servants
KJV Job 1:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said,
The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
KJV Job 1:15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away;
yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword;
and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Now, I’m not sure where Job might be physically at this point. Probably at his home, taking care of his household. He would have just finished sacrificing for his children – since they’re back with their oldest brother and I’m just kind of assuming that they went from oldest to youngest in the order of their visiting.
But wherever Job was, this messenger came to him and told him what happened to his oxen and donkeys. And recall that he had 500 yoke – or pairs – of oxen and 500 female donkeys.
But these Sabeans took them all in one shot. These are likely marauding groups from Sheba or the desert area east of Edom. Oxen would have been plowing around winter time. And when the servants of Job’s “very great” household rose up to defend their master’s oxen and donkeys, the Sabeans killed them.
And now out of all that stuff – numerous people, 1000 or so oxen, and 500 or more donkeys – only this one messenger is left.
I’d say that that’s great loss.
But at least Job still has 7,000 sheep… Or, does he?
“Fire of God” Kills Sheep and Servants
KJV Job 1:16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said,
The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them;
and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
So, first it was the Sabeans. Now it’s this “fire of God” – that is, lightning. Lightning came down from heaven and burned up all of Jobs’ 7,000 sheep plus many more of his servants.
And it’s one thing to have human agents inflicting suffering. It’s another thing to have a natural occurrence bring the suffering. You can blame the Sabeans for dong you wrong – but whom do you blame when lightning strikes?
Yeah, God. And that’s of course what Satan was wanting Job to do – blame God and let bitterness get a hold in his life to the point he abandons God.
Well, the sheep, oxen, donkeys, and many servants are gone.
At least Job has the 3,000 camels…
Chaldeans Take Camels, Kill Servants
KJV Job 1:17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said,
The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away,
yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword;
and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Now, we saw in the book of Jeremiah that the Babylonians were also called Chaldeans. And so, these people from the far east in Babylon came and divided into three groups in order to catch Job’s 3,000 camels. Maybe 1,000 camels for each group.
And of course, Job’s loyal servants would have risen up and defended their master’s property, but the Chaldeans overpowered them and killed them.
Wow, all of Job’s stuff is gone – camels, sheep, oxen, donkeys, and probably almost all of his servants.
I don’t know how you would compare this to modern life – but it’s something like all of your retirement and personal savings accounts somehow just totally become emptied by a stock market crash – and just then your car stops working – while you also find out that you’ve been fired from your job – oh, and it just so happens that a bunch of your friends and co-workers have died in a terrorist attack.
Well, at least Job still has his family.
Winds Kills Children
KJV Job 1:18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said,
Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
KJV Job 1:19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young [men/people], and they are dead;
and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
All dead. All 10 of his children in an instant – gone.
And that leaves Job with almost nothing in this life. The Sabeans, lightning, Chaldeans, and wind from the wilderness east of Edom took everything from him. And behind all of that is… a sovereign God.
Almost everything that God had given Job – he now took away from him in an instant.
What’s Job’s response? Remember what Satan thought? Cursing God to his face. Does that happen?
Job’s Response #1
KJV Job 1:20 ¶ Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and […] worshipped,
KJV Job 1:21 And said,
Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I return thither:
the LORD gave,
and the LORD hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.
So, Job grieves. That’s what he’s doing when he tears his clothing and shaves his head.
But then he worships. He worships God “for nothing.” Job recognizes that he entered this world with absolutely nothing. And he also knows that’s exactly how he’s going to leave this life. He can’t take anything with him. He knows that.
He also knows that everything he had – God gave him.
And at the same time – Job recognizes that it’s ultimately God who has taken those things away. Satan played a part – and Job doesn’t know anything about that at this point. But it’s God whom Job acknowledges as taking these things from him. And God himself will also acknowledge that in chapter 2.
Well, how’s that for a response to this kind of suffering? Here’s what God thinks of it.
KJV Job 1:22 ¶ In all this Job sinned not, nor [charged God foolishly/did he blame God/did he charge God with moral impropriety].
Literally, Job did not “give unseemliness or unsavoriness to God.” He did not consider that what God had done was wrong or inappropriate in any way.
That’s a good response. Job can’t understand God’s ways. But he is trusting God’s wisdom. And next time, we’ll see if Job can continue to hold his composure in the face of more heart-rending suffering.