The book of Job is a very straight forward book, yet it seems to be the most misunderstood. Many people think it is about a heavenly bet, a man seeking answers only to never get them when he meets God, and a man who didn’t curse God.
This isn’t actually the case. If one only reads the first three chapters, then skips to the end, it might seem as though Job was victorious and doesn’t curse God. However, he did blaspheme God. It becomes clear that God did indeed give Job the answer he needed to hear.
Source of Job’s Grief
Today’s readers of Job read the story, and the focus is on his loss. All of his children died, all of his riches gone and his health devastated. Clearly, Job was deeply hurt by his loss! We try to put ourselves in his shoes. Often, we draw the conclusion that Job’s sadness is caused by losing so much.
Yet, that’s probably not what’s really bothering him, believe it or not.
Here is a man who has lost everything, except for one thing… his righteousness. He’s still hanging on to it. It’s all he has left! Suddenly, his own righteousness becomes so important, it is more important than his opinion of God.
If he built his entire life around being righteous, and that righteousness wasn’t enough to prevent such devastating loss, then what point is there in it? His very foundation was shaken. He built his life on righteousness, and even it wasn’t enough to stop this terrible loss. Job wanted to die, because he thought all his work in being righteous was for nothing.
On top of this, Job believed God directly caused these terrible things to happen to him.
Job had faith in his righteousness, but he lost his faith in God.
The rest of the story focuses on Job’s righteousness. Almost 40 chapters and it all surrounds Job’s righteousness. Job believes that he is so great that, in fact, nothing bad should ever happen to him. He goes through long lists of all the nice things he does and all the bad things he doesn’t do.
It might sound like Job is bragging, but he says all these great things about himself to make a these points:
- There is no advantage to being righteous
- The bad people are happy while Job tries to be righteous to a God who doesn’t care.
- Job doesn’t want to live in a world where righteousness is rewarded with rebuke
- God is punishing Job even though he doesn’t deserve it
NET Job 6:4
4) For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; my spirit drinks their poison; God’s sudden terrors are arrayed against me.
9) And that God would be willing to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and kill me.
NET Job 7:20
20) If I have sinned – what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you set me as your target? Have I become a burden to you?
As the story unfolds, Satan indeed gets Job to curse God. Job comes to the wrong conclusion that God let him down and Job accuses God of much wrong.
In Job 9 Job says God destroys the blameless (and the wicked), that he is a judge who doesn’t listen to both sides and is too strong. As the debate between the friends and Job continues, Job becomes more upset, insisting that he was righteous and God should answer him for his troubles.
The story of Job is truly about everyone blaming the wrong person. Job blamed God for the troubles. Job’s friends blamed Job for the troubles. But no one ever blamed Satan.
Job gets his questions answered
At last, Job gets to hear from God himself. Christians are taught that God didn’t give Job a direct answer to his situation. Yet, he did!
Job never really asked “why do bad things happen to good people.” His real question was, “I am righteous, why is God hurting me?” There is a difference. And God’s answer, was essentially “Who told you I was hurting you, Job? How do you know it was me? In fact, what do you know about anything?”
1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
2 “Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4 ” Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
Job’s reaction: “OOPS!” He realized he had no idea what he was saying. He knew he accused God of things he had no way of knowing if God did it or not. And we, the readers know that Satan was behind the attacks.
1 Then Job answered the LORD and said:
2 “I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
6 Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”
So here is the REAL point of Job. Don’t go telling people things about God that you don’t understand. Job accused God of doing the things that Satan really did!
This is what many Christians do, they say “God allowed Satan to do this…,” and by saying this, they are blaming God, too.
The truth is, though, that Satan doesn’t need to get his full agenda approved by God. God doesn’t give permission for evil, he commands us not to be evil and we do it anyway. Satan could have attacked Job without asking God. Any person is able to sin without first asking God for permission, the same can be said of Satan. However, Satan challenged Job’s righteousness as circumstantial because he is the accuser.
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about Job’s failure to not curse God without mentioning that he was forgiven by God. In the end, Job failed the test, but God made him a winner anyway! He repented, and God restored him well beyond his losses.