- Wealth and Prosperity
- Satan's Challenge
- Why Do We Follow God?
- Are We Pawns?
- Restrictions on Satan
- Job's Loss
- References and Footnotes
- Other Pages to View
Job is a righteous man living in the land of Uz. Although scholars aren't positive where Uz was, it is generally agreed that Uz was in the vicinity of Edom. This would place Job's home somewhere in the southern part of modern day Israel and Jordan.
Job was one of God's favorite people and was blessed abundantly. The book of Job follows his descent from abundantly blessed, to seemingly cursed, and rise back to favored by God. It is an important lesson for Christians today because it answers the fundamental question of why bad things happen to good people.
Wealth and Prosperity
There's a branch in Christianity known as "prosperity preaching;" the most famous preacher from the branch is probably Joel Osteen. Subscribers to this form of Christianity often hold to the idea that if you do right, you will be rewarded with prosperity. Job's friends seemed to subscribe to this philosophy as well. In the beginning of the book, we see that indeed, Job is very prosperous and wealthy—though the definition of wealthy back then is not what we consider wealthy today.
Today, we think of wealth in terms of money, but money is only worth what we make it worth. Back then, wealth came in the form of land and livestock. With an abundance of land, you could raise an abundance of livestock and grow an abundant harvest. Obviously the harvest would provide a person with food, but the livestock could provide a person with food, clothing, and tools. This is why Job's wealth is described in terms of livestock (Job 1:3).
Job not only has land and livestock, he has a large family and servants. If we imagine Job's blessing in today's world, he'd probably have a mansion on the water, a yacht, a butler, a maid, and a driver. Job would have been the guy on Instagram with millions of followers and the coolest photos. What's even better, is that he was righteous and God-fearing; which means he also would have been the first person to donate to your GoFundMe campaign or comfort you when you had a bad day.
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.
From a prosperity stand point, Job is the guy everyone wants to be. Except, the whole point of Job's story is that no matter how righteous you are, life won't always be flowers and unicorns. In fact, Job sets us up to understand Christ, who was truly perfect yet suffered on the cross. Job reminds us that God gives and God takes away, but it is all for the glory of God. Contrary to the teachings of prosperity preachers, the riches of this world hold no value and are not indicators of our commitment to God. As Job proves, there are good people who suffer and bad people who seem to prosper. Our focus should not be on how much we have, but how much we give.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
In the beginning of the book we are made the audience of a conversation between Satan and God. There are several different theories concerning this conversation, some of which are quite interesting.
Some believe that the sons of God spoken of in Job 1:6 are angels and thus this meeting took place in Heaven among the angels. This interpretation calls into question when Satan fell if he was allowed in Heaven during Job's lifetime. I have also heard people theorize that this meeting took place on Earth and that the sons of God were righteous men of our world. Of course, that makes you wonder why Job wasn't present at this meeting... A third theory is that this happen on a world God created that has not fallen. In this theory, men from each world are meeting before Him to relay how their worlds are doing and as the prince of our world, Satan goes representing Earth. The basis for this interpretation stems from Hebrews 1:2 and Hebrews 11:3, which state that God created multiple worlds. Being a huge fan of science fiction, this last option sounds quite intriguing to me.
I can't say for sure which of these three theories is correct, or even attest that there isn't another scenario that is closer to the truth, however, I am fairly certain this did not take place in Heaven. For starters, there are plenty of examples in the Bible where sons of God refers to men not to angels. Also, if the devil was already out stirring up confusion among God's creation, he must have already started the war in Heaven and been cast out. As an outcast, he would not be allowed in God's holy kingdom. It seems unlikely that mankind was able to become so wicked without provocation from Satan that God wiped out the entire world (re: Noah and the flood), so it's probably safe to assume the war in Heaven had already started.
Regardless of where they met, Satan played the part of our adversary (as usual) and took the opportunity to boast about the evil mankind participated in. As Satan attempted to gloat about how terrible we are at keeping God's commandments, God brings up Job as an example of mankind's righteousness. Upon this, Satan asks the most important question covered in the book (though the question Job asks in return is more popular): would Job still love and serve God if he were not blessed?
Why Do We Follow God?
A lot of times, we do things because we want something or we know we'll get in trouble if we don't. For instance, I follow the speed limit on campus, not because I think 25 mph is a reasonable limit, but because I can't afford a speeding ticket. Prosperity preachers often invoke the idea that if we follow God's word, we will receive rewards. This creates people who quote "you reap what you sow" and insist that if you tithe you will be rewarded financially. Many of these people are carrying out actions in the hopes that they will benefit or earn a blessing. This isn't what God truly wants from us, though. He wants us to follow Him because we love Him and we delight in doing His will. If we're just following Him to gain a blessing, we're exactly the people Satan was accusing Job of being.
Are We Pawns?
When Satan brings up this point concerning Job, God already knew what was in Job's heart. That brings us to the question of why God allowed the devil to momentarily have his way. For many people, the story of Job "proves" that we are merely pawns in the cat-and-mouse game being played by God and Satan. These people often ask why God allowed so much to befall Job if He already knew Job's heart was pure.
Something we often neglect is God's supremacy. As the supreme ruler of the world, of course God knew what the outcome would be. So, why not just tell Satan he's wrong and spare Job? The problem is that while God knows everything, the rest of us don't! God wanted to prove Job had a pure heart, not just to Satan, but to the world (or worlds). God was giving everyone the opportunity to choose for themselves whether He was just or unjust in spoiling Job with riches
Restrictions on Satan
Job's suffering is the result of two conversations between God and Satan. After the first, God allows Satan to take away some of Job's blessings, but God does not permit Satan to touch Job. During the second conversation, Satan suggests that Job is selfish and doesn't mind loss as long as it does not impact his own health. At this accusation, God allows Satan to take away Job's health but does not allow Satan to kill Job. These restrictions remind us that God still has ultimate control and is referenced in the New Testament (Matthew 10:28).
Often, the next thought people have after this revelation is that God is evil because God allows evil to happen. This ignores the vast complexity of life. Our first mistake is assuming that we deserve God's protection. Although Job is described as perfect, this is not the equivalent of sinless. Job's perfection comes from his repentance from his sins. We have all sinned and the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). We are lucky to have any protection at all from God. We also have to seek His protection. We often claim God is first in our life, but our actions do not testify to this. If we cast Him aside and do not place Him as King in our life, why should we expect Him to protect us? Suggesting that nothing bad should ever happen to us, is like excusing convicts for their crimes and never making them serve a sentence. We are not perfect, so at some point we will experience hardships.
Th first thing Job loses is his wealth and his family. All of his livestock, all of his servants, and all of his children die on the same day. As depressing as it may be, it also speaks to the presence of higher powers in the world. If you have two children or even three, the possibility of them dying together exists, though it is very small. Job has 7 sons and 3 daughters! What is the likelihood that they all die on the same day? When you add the servants and the livestock to the count, it really only seems possible if there was a natural disaster or a nuclear attack. Had there been a natural disaster, however, Job would not have been the only one to lose so much. Bombs didn't exist back then, so we know that only a being with a tremendous amount of power—like a fallen angel—could cause such damage.
When Satan sees that Job does not curse God, even after losing so much, he goes for Job's life. Satan knows that most of us are more concerned with our own well being that with everything around us. While the death of his children was probably heartbreaking, and the death of his servants probably made him sad, Job hadn't experienced personal suffering. I can't say I would rather my loved one die than to suffer, but I can tell you that I would rather become poor than to be diagnosed with cancer. I suspect many of us fall in to this category as well. Satan knew it then, and he knows it now. After Satan's second conversation with God, he takes away Job's health and curses him with painful boils.
References and Footnotes
- "Land of Uz". Institute for Creation Research; visited May 2017
- Lamentations 4:21
- "Land of Uz". Wikipedia; visited May 2017
- Pastor Doug Batchelor. "Lessons From Job Part-1: There Was A Man". Amazing Facts. 1997
Other Pages to View