Job – Session One – Study Plan
I. Introduction – Before I present an introduction to our study of this complex, extremely important book, I want to ask you a question: what views do you bring to our study? What – to you - is Job all about? What’s your impression of the meaning of this book?
A. Read 1:1-22.
Job 1:1-22. (NRSV)
Job and His Family
1 There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold feasts in one another’s houses in turn; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the feast days had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” This is what Job always did.
Attack on Job’s Character
6 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan,“Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him!” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Job Loses Property and Children
13 One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was still speaking, another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, 19 and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.
People of faith have long wrestled with the problem that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. How do we respond to this problem as well as to a book in the Bible in which we’re shown that God proactively acquiesced to the death of many in Job’s family and the destruction of much of his property, merely upon the dare of Satan as to Job’s supposed faithfulness?
Why did God create a Satan? Wouldn’t the world be a more God-oriented place if there weren’t such a provocateur around stirring us up to do evil?
3 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.”
This verse contains four attributes that seem to define the ideal in human service to God. Irrespective of our study of Job, they’re nice to see and understand. What are they, what does each of them mean, and how do they relate to each other?
C. Look at 3:3-10, and I’ll raise certain matters to discuss.
3 “Let the day perish in which I was born,
and the night that said,
‘A man-child is conceived.’
4 Let that day be darkness!
May God above not seek it,
or light shine on it.
5 Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.
Let clouds settle upon it;
let the blackness of the day terrify it.
6 That night—let thick darkness seize it!
let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
let it not come into the number of the months.
7 Yes, let that night be barren;
let no joyful cry be heard[a] in it.
8 Let those curse it who curse the Sea,[b]
those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.
9 Let the stars of its dawn be dark;
let it hope for light, but have none;
may it not see the eyelids of the morning—
10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,
and hide trouble from my eyes.
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended?
But who can keep from speaking?
3 See, you have instructed many;
you have strengthened the weak hands.
4 Your words have supported those who were stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
6 Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
7 “Think now, who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
9 By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
Eliphaz makes an interesting charge amidst his case. Explain both his case and his charge.
E. 1) We see in chapter 6 Job’s response. What do you learn? Look specifically at 6:1-4, 14.
2) Then Read 6:14-29
Job Replies: My Complaint Is Just
6: 1 Then Job answered:
2 “O that my vexation were weighed,
and all my calamity laid in the balances!
3 For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash.
4 For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
14 “Those who withhold kindness from a friend
forsake the fear of the Almighty.
15 My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed,
like freshets that pass away,
16 that run dark with ice,
turbid with melting snow.
17 In time of heat they disappear;
when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
18 The caravans turn aside from their course;
they go up into the waste, and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look,
the travelers of Sheba hope.
20 They are disappointed because they were confident;
they come there and are confounded.
21 Such you have now become to me;
you see my calamity, and are afraid.
22 Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’?
Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’?
23 Or, ‘Save me from an opponent’s hand’?
Or, ‘Ransom me from the hand of oppressors’?
24 “Teach me, and I will be silent;
make me understand how I have gone wrong.
25 How forceful are honest words!
But your reproof, what does it reprove?
26 Do you think that you can reprove words,
as if the speech of the desperate were wind?
27 You would even cast lots over the orphan,
and bargain over your friend.
28 “But now, be pleased to look at me;
for I will not lie to your face.
29 Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done.
Turn now, my vindication is at stake.
1. What’s Job’s point? It’s central to the importance of the text.
2. Explain the powerful metaphors of the wadi and the heat.
3. Explain the use of the word, words, in verses 25-26.
F. Read 7:17-21; 9:22-23
This is at the core of the challenge of the book.
17 What are human beings, that you make so much of them,
that you set your mind on them,
18 visit them every morning,
test them every moment?
19 Will you not look away from me for a while,
let me alone until I swallow my spittle?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity?
Why have you made me your target?
Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.”
22 It is all one; therefore I say,
he destroys both the blameless and the wicked.
23 When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
1. Does this represent lost faith? Or questioning? Doubt? Do people of faith feel this way? When? How? How is it resolved typically?
2. Compare and contrast with Psalms 8:4: what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
G. Read 11:5-11 (and even beyond)
Zophar now steps forward.
5 But O that God would speak,
and open his lips to you,
6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
For wisdom is many-sided.
Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. 7 “Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
8 It is higher than heaven - what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol - what can you know?
9 Its measure is longer than the earth,
and broader than the sea.
10 If he passes through, and imprisons,
and assembles for judgment, who can hinder him?
11 For he knows those who are worthless;
when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
1) What appears to be different in his position?
2) Yet, what strikes you most about his discourse to Job that is most ironic and likely most troubling to God in the end?
H. Read 13:15-16; 19:25-27.
15 See, he will kill me; I have no hope;
but I will defend my ways to his face.
16 This will be my salvation,
that the godless shall not come before him.
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
As much suffering as Job has experienced, these seem to be his summative beliefs. They’re fascinating statements of faith. Explain them.
I. Read 15:7-12
7 “Are you the firstborn of the human race?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
8 Have you listened in the council of God?
And do you limit wisdom to yourself?
9 What do you know that we do not know?
What do you understand that is not clear to us?
10 The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,
those older than your father.
11 Are the consolations of God too small for you,
or the word that deals gently with you?
12 Why does your heart carry you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
Eliphaz comes right back and attacks Job for daring to question God. In what ways do you think God might later support Eliphaz in this, and in what ways might He oppose him?
J. Read 21:7-15.
7 Why do the wicked live on,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
8 Their children are established in their presence,
and their offspring before their eyes.
9 Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.
10 Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and never miscarries.
11 They send out their little ones like a flock,
and their children dance around.
12 They sing to the tambourine and the lyre,
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.
13 They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.
14 They say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
We do not desire to know your ways.
15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
Is there a better complaint of “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Don’t we sometimes think the same thing? What’s the answer?
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION