Why study Job? We may be drawn to the book because of its discussion of human suffering, contemplation of the depths of wisdom (Job 28), immense display of God’s majesty (Job 11-12; 26), or its potential description of a dinosaur (Job 40-41). These are all great reasons for studying the book.
My personal reason to delve into the book was a little bit different than the reasons above. In my early years of teaching, I needed to teach a book of the Bible as an elective and Job was one of the few books not reserved by other faculty. So I began to study the book and quickly discovered how profound this book is. As the earliest written book of Scripture, it is the introduction and foundation to the entire Bible. It uses the term “righteousness” more than any other book of Scripture, including Romans. It uses suffering as a platform to discuss the most profound issues of our existence. After all, when we suffer, we often ask the “bigger questions” of life and Job tackles these matters in a sophisticated and satisfying way. All of this revolves around a single issue: Is God right? Is God right in a world gone wrong? Is He right in our suffering? Is God right?
If we think about it, God’s rightness is the issue of this world. As the book of Job will show, if God is right, then He will act justly and everything in this world ultimately will be dealt with (Job 7:21; 8:32; 14:13-14). It will be made right. However, if God is wrong, then we have an entirely different situation. If a maniacal God is in charge or if no one is in change, there is no rhyme or reason for things that happen in this world (Job 31:1-40). There is no hope that this evil world can change (Job 25:5-6). There is no hope for personal salvation (Job 10:1-22). Put simply, God’s rightness determines if man has hope or is trapped. That is an issue of life and death; it is fundamental.
So how does Job address the question of God’s rightness? In the opening chapters (Job 1-2), the book will show that God is right in heaven. The reason for this is because of His unstoppable and supreme sovereignty. God is king and His good purposes never fail. He is thereby right.
The heavenly courtroom announces this in Job 1. Every phrase declares that God rules and wins.
God is sovereign in that He summons angels to present themselves before Him (Job 1:6). Sometimes we might think that Satan took the initiative and went to heaven to challenge God. That is not true. The term “present” implies that God invited Satan into heaven. God summoned Him.
Likewise, God is sovereign in that He speaks and asserts. In the remaining discussion in heaven, God always “speaks” but never answers. Satan always responds in answers to God. The consistent wording shows that God never reacts; He never is caught off guard. Rather, God pronounces what will be and everyone responds to Him.
Consistently, God is sovereign in that He sets the agenda of the heavenly court. God is the One who brings up Job to Satan (Job 1:8). Sometimes we erroneously think that Satan was the one who suggests to test Job. That is also incorrect. God sets the topic of discussion. He is in control.
Within this, God introduces Job as “My servant.” The description is important. God shows Job is someone God uses in His plan and for His purposes. In context, that purpose is redemption. God has raised up Job to fear Him and be upright (cf. Job 1:1). In the larger scope of God’s plan, Job is part of the righteous remnant God preserves unto the crushing of Satan’s head (cf. Gen 3:15). God proclaims to Satan that Job is His proof that God triumphs in redemption. He declares that He wins and Satan loses.
Of course, God has brought Satan to challenge this and he does. Everything Satan does is within God’s mighty control. Just to accentuate this, God tells Satan what he can do and what he cannot do (Job 1:12). God is sovereign in what He allows to happen and over every possibility that He prevents from happening. His authority is exhaustive. Along that line, Satan departs in obedience before God (Job 1:12b). Every aspect of the scene in heaven displays that God is the King and His redeeming agenda will prevail.
So Satan tries to put this to the test. He tries to frame God in the timing and intensity of Job’s hardship. He even does this more than once (see Job 2:2-4) in hopes that perhaps “one more try” might cause Job to fail. However, in the end, Job blesses God and does not curse (Job 1:21-22). God proves that His redeeming work is resilient and unbreakable.
Why is God right? In part, He is right in heaven because He is sovereign in every way, and His sovereign and good purposes never fail. Even Satan, the accuser, has nothing left to accuse God. That definitively proves God is right and His unassailable rightness gives us security. It gives us confidence that our salvation and deliverance will never fail. No matter what trial, natural or supernatural, God has a redemption that will never waver (Rom 8:38-39).
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