Job: the Story and It’s Meaning

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Man is born to sin; expect no release of it in this battle we call life. A clear example of one man’s struggle stands out among the rest. Setting aside the human condition of sin, Job stood as a supreme being still only being a man; who in spite of his troubles, questioning, and doubts, held fast in his devotion and love to God. In the end, Job is vindicated for his faith and devotion. Within this brief paper I will attempt to tell of Job’s story and its meaningful example to be followed by us all.

As devote Christians our trails and sufferings should be viewed, as seen in Job’s experience, as a witness not only to God’s sovereignty but also as a witness to His goodness, justice, grace, and love to the secular world which awaits our fall. Let us now turn to the book of Job, always remembering that sometimes the lesson to be learned is much easier heard, than it is to actually bear. THE STORY OF JOB “Have you considered my servant Job? ” was the questioned asked of Satan by God. (Job 1:8) This triggers a book of over forty chapters of a man’s suffering and his reactions at the hands of his God.

The story of Job basically falls into three tests and then God’s answer to Job’s cries. The summation of the first two tests came at the hands of Satan and his challenge to God. Job had lost everything, his oxen, his asses, his sheep, his camels, and even his children, yet he did not do what Satan had predicted he would. Job stood fast in his belief and faith in God. He did not curse or renounce God, but bowed before the will of God, and said, what we all hope can be said in such circumstances of sorrow and loss, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

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The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;    may the name of the LORD be praised. “(Job 1:21) By doing this, Job only angered Satan, which in turn made him want to disprove Job’s faith that much more. So he went to God once again and said, “”Skin for skin! ” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 but now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face. ” (Job 2:4) It was Satan’s plea that losing all of his possessions was not enough, but to take Job’s health and leave him in pain would show that Job would no longer believe, which leads s to the second test. Job was covered from head to toe with painful boils and disease that included, inflamed ulcerous boils (2:7), itching (2:8), degenerative changes in facial skin (2:7, 12), loss of appetite (3:24), insomnia (7:4), hardened skin, running sores, worms in the boils (7:5), difficulty breathing (9:18), loss of weight (16:8), eye difficulties (16:16), emaciation (17:7; 19:20), bad breath (19:17), trembling of the limbs (21:6), continual pain in the bones (30:17), restlessness (30:27), blackened, peeling skin (30:28, 30), and fever (30:30).

As Job sat atop a pile of dung outside the city his wife begged him to renounce his faith as he scrapped at the sores covering his body. Job’s answer was pure in heart, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad? ” (Job 2:10) At this Satan fades out but instead is replaced by another challenge in the form of friendship. Jobs suffer rejection from those closest to him by the tongue and those who do not show when he is in most need. In Job’s three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar we find that they come to mourn with him and comfort him.

Though I truly believe that in the beginning they were true in heart with their intentions, they eventually turn to the condemnation of their friend. They come to this by having a basic fundamental belief that all suffering is a result of sin, and that Jobs’ suffering was so great due to his sinful nature and that he was hiding it. We can hear Eliphaz, the Temanite as he proclaims, “5Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. ” (Job 15:5-6) Job shows that after all, he is still only a man when he comes to the point of him questioning God Himself.

Job grows sarcastic, impatient, and afraid; he points to the injustice that God lets wicked people prosper while he and countless innocent people are left to suffer. In this, Job is confronting God in complaint, but he never curses God nor renounces him. Nor were his questions to shield himself from his moral responsibilities, but they were more genuinely from a perplexed confusion in the dealings at hand. If we choose to ignore Job’s questions as to “why? ” (Job 3:11, 12,20; 10:18; 13:24; 24:1) in his search for God’s answer, it would be nothing less han to ignore many basic issues of life’s struggles that everyone of us must face. Job was a real person, just as we are, with struggles of emotions and feelings. With this another character is prompted to appear as God’s forerunner (Elihu). Elihu very quickly dismisses Job’s friends and points out that Job has spent too much time in defense to himself and in question to God. Elihu sees this as an act of open rebellion. Elihu further explains that God communicates through trials, so that in times of rewarding we see the realization of God’s love. 24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them” (Job 33:24) Our next step in the story is within the discussion between Job and our Father, but that in itself leads us to the next portion of the paper. GOD’S ; JOB’S RESPONSE 38–42 A pure voice comes out of the whirlwind setting aside Job’s condemners and answering Job with questions. They come in the form in the majesty of God as Creator and Ruler of the Universe; where was he when the foundations of the earth were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and when all the sons of God shouted for joy. Job 38:4-7) Through this Father God establishes his greatness in all creation itself, and exposes to Job the limitations of his earthly knowledge. What we need to take into account before this, is that the preceding verses in the Book of Job lead us in the exchange with his friends and all of their reams of rhetoric about God. His three friends believed that Job should not protest his innocence but rather confess for his sins. Their words truly did little too nothing to comfort Job. In the end, when Job and his so called wise friends finally finished in their critique of it all…….

God spoke. (Job 38:2-4) When this happened Job acknowledged that he had not truly known God in His omnipotence. It took God’s revelation of Himself to Job, in the eye of the storm for Job to recognize his Master personally. Job now knew God in a more intimate way; he was given a new awareness of God, with a deeper insight into His character and attributes. (Job 42:1-6) We see in Job 42:7-9 that he is interceding before God. Job’s three friends were doing as the Lord instructed; with no argument or reluctance they followed through on His divine orders.

Instead of being as most would, with bitterness or revenge, Job amiably interceded for each one of his friends who had spoken falsely about both him and God. Job had forgiven those who had persecuted him when he most needed their love and support. “7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves.

My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. ” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. ” In this final plea in prayer……. for his friends, after enduring unthinkable losses, through endless pain, stretched to days and weeks of misperception and desolation, the condemnation of himself and his friends, came to an end. Our Lord restored Job’s wealth and friends. (Job 42:10-12)

In a summation of the section an important function of the remarkable ending to this book is to show the reality that not all suffering is the direct result of the suffering individual’s sins. The book of Job contests retribution theology. It teaches us that we don’t get punished on an individual basis for what we do but instead that all humanity gets punished for what all humanity does. That through it all Job came to see the point of this, and in this realization he humbled himself and repented for his lack of faith and submission, but even more so for the lack of humility in the acceptance for the actions of God.

The lessons in suffering may be mysterious, but it need not give us challenge in our faith, nor should they rob us of our faith in our sovereign, loving God. THE MESSAGE TO BE LEARNED What lessons should we take from the book? Like in life, there are trails to stand before and face, that material goods are only that, material and can be taken away with something as little as the change of weather. As Christians we have an obligation to examine our motivation in life as well as in coming to and serving God, especially during times of trial and suffering.

The book of Job teaches and gives exampled hope in that man has it in him to make his life an un-bought loyalty to the Father; in this we have purpose and meaning. It is of no doubt that our Father will find the nature of our hearts and in doing so to confess uncommitted sin in the face of adversity can be as much a foolish act as in not confessing of it when it is due. The message is that God is too abundant to be explained, debated about, or for our human minds to try to analyze. God can do all things. Nothing is too hard for him. All things are possible with Him. God is omnipotent, all-powerful.

Our Father is to be followed and trusted, we are to have total faith in Him. We are to be even as Job. “15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him….. ” (13:15) God was not required nor did He address Job’s suffering directly, even in Job’s challenge to the questioning of His justice, did he defend His actions? God taught Job the error in assuming that the universe operated according to the principles of human rationale. What the book of Job reveals to us is the sovereignty and freedom of God, whatever please God, He does, and not one thing can be said or done to make things different.

As James reminded us, “11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. “The needed underlying purpose of our Father in our lives should be seen as to produce and hold high the spiritual rewards and developed moral qualities. Our Christian faith teaches us that all who love God and stand the trails of both life and time will be rewarded in the end. God seeks a balance of our freedom in creation, not just straight application retribution.

This grants us His tolerance and Grace; it is the promise in true Christian faith for those that earnestly seek him, will be held high and rewarded, though He chooses the time and place. A THOUGHT IN CLOSING Job shows us while God is just, it is wrong for us to adopt that our fallen world, under the influence and evil plans of Satan, is fair. The failure of customary wisdom to answer Job’s complaints reveals that the world operates by the plan of our Father’s fallen son, and only by taking up a personal relationship with God can we as fallen humanity find meaning and purpose within the injustices of this world.

We should accept the fact that our own understanding of it all is very imperfect. We are not required to justify God, as Job’s friends attempt to do. Any such attempt to defend our Savior in His actions would really imply us passing judgment on Him. This is not only an impossibility, but also would be impudence. As Job did, we also only need to acknowledge man’s limitations in ourselves and have faith in Him. Job is a book that has left us a manifold of instruction; it is profitable for doctrine, a tool to be reproofed, not for correction, but for new understanding for instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim. :16) Bibliography: William Lasor, David Hubbard, Frederic Bush; Old Testament Survey (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1996) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (provided by SearchGodsWord. org): http://www. searchgodsword. org/enc/isb/view. cgi? number=T5075 http://www. searchgodsword. org/enc/isb/view. cgi? number=T5076 http://www. searchgodsword. org/enc/isb/view. cgi? number=T607 Charles Flowers, Stephen M. Miller, Thomas L. Robinson; Who’s Who in the Bible (Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, NY. 1994) Bible Encyclopedia, Dictionary and Index (Easton’s Bible Dictionary):http://www. iblicalproportions. com/modules/wfsection/article. php? articleid=2637 http://www. biblicalproportions. com/modules/wfsection/article. php? articleid=2639 Larry J. Walters; Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job (Bibliotheca Sara 154, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oct. -Dec. 1997): 436-51 Greg W. Parsons; Guidelines for Understanding & Proclaiming the Book of Job (Bibliotheca Sara 151, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oct. -Dec. 1994): 393-413 James E. Patrick; The Fourfold Structure of Job: Variations on a Theme (American Theological Library Association, Cambridge, UK): 185-206

Bernard Ehrlich; The Book of Job as a Book of Morality (Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2006): 30-38 David Shepherd; Strike his bone and his flesh: Reading Job from the Beginning (Sage Publications, L. a. , Ca. 2008): 81-97 Alec Basson; Just Skin and Bones: The Longing for Wholeness of the Body in the Book of Job ( American Theological Library Association, Vetus Testamentum Vol. 58, 2008): 287-99 Larry J. Walters; Missio Dehn the Book of Job (American Theological Library Association, Bibliotheca Sara 166, Dallas Theological Seminary, Jan. -Mar. 2009): 19-35 Clarence E.

Macartney; The Greatest Men of the Bible (Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, NY) ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Walters Larry J. ; Missio Dehn the Book of Job (American Theological Library Association, Bibliotheca Sara 166, Dallas Theological Seminary, Jan. -Mar. 2009) p. 19 [ 2 ]. Lasor, Hubbard, Bush; Old Testament Survey (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1996) p. 471 [ 3 ]. Flowers, Miller, Robinson; Who’s Who in the Bible (Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, NY. 1994) p. 229 [ 4 ]. Walters Larry J. ; Missio Dehn the Book of Job (American Theological Library Association, Bibliotheca Sara 166, Dallas Theological Seminary, Jan. Mar. 2009) p. 23 [ 5 ]. Walters, Larry J. ; Missio Dehn the Book of Job (American Theological Library Association, Bibliotheca Sara 166, Dallas Theological Seminary, Jan. -Mar. 2009) p. 24 [ 6 ]. Basson, Alec; Just Skin and Bones: The Longing for Wholeness of the Body in the Book of Job (American Theological Library Association, Vetus Testamentum Vol. 58, 2008) p. 293 [ 7 ]. Lasor, Hubbard, Bush; Old Testament Survey (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1996) p. 327 [ 8 ]. Parsons, Greg W. ; Guidelines for Understanding & Proclaiming the Book of Job (Bibliotheca Sara 151, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oct. -Dec. 994) p. 394 [ 9 ]. Ibid, p. 397 [ 10 ]. Lasor, Hubbard, Bush; Old Testament Survey (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1996) p. 485 [ 11 ]. Ehrlich, Bernard; The Book of Job as a Book of Morality (Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2006) p. 32-33 [ 12 ]. Flowers, Miller, Robinson; Who’s Who in the Bible (Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, NY. 1994) p. 229 [ 13 ]. Parsons, Greg W. ; Guidelines for Understanding & Proclaiming the Book of Job (Bibliotheca Sara 151, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oct. -Dec. 1994) p. 397-98 [ 14 ]. Ehrlich, Bernard; The Book of Job as a Book of Morality (Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2006) p. 34 [ 15 ]. Walters,Larry J. ; Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job (Bibliotheca Sara 154, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oct. -Dec. 1997) p. 449 [ 16 ]. http://www. searchgodsword. org/enc/isb/view. cgi? number=T5076; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (provided by SearchGodsWord. org); accessed 09AUG11 [ 17 ]. Flowers, Miller, Robinson; Who’s Who in the Bible (Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, NY. 1994) p. 230 [ 18 ]. Walters,Larry J. ; Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job (Bibliotheca Sara 154, Dallas Theological Seminary, Oct. -Dec. 1997) p. 446 [ 19 ]. Ibid, p. 447