In Defense of Job
by Joanne Panettieri
Job 1: 1 “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”
The book of Job is considered by scholars to be the oldest book of the bible and its theme is “why the righteous suffer”. The author, according to Rabbinic sources, is accredited to be Moses. There are writers who have said that because the Book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible that it is a foundational teaching. And according to the “law of first mention” it should be studied as a most important theme, since God gave it to us first. One author stated that if you do not understand the God of Job, you do not understand God.
Having gone through personal suffering over the past several years, my husband and I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from the life and sufferings of Job. And God has deepened our understanding of Himself and His ways in the lives of his children. It has become our belief that God not only allows suffering in the lives of His saints, but sometimes He actually orchestrates it. But more on that later!
In sharing some of my thoughts on Job and suffering, I have run across great opposition by other Christians. There are two great divides in the minds of Christians about Job. One, that his life was “before the cross” and therefore does not apply, since Jesus suffered and died for us and therefore we do not have to suffer. The second is that God would never ALLOW us to suffer. The argument I keep hearing is this: “Job had fear in his life and this opened the doorway for the devil to attack him”. Where this “blame the victim” mentality about Job came in, I do not know, but it is totally erroneous regarding Job!
Job Was Blameless!
The book opens by describing Job’s character as being upright and blameless. A man who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1
It is rather hard for anyone to believe that God would allow such a man to suffer! Reading on we find that Job was a very blessed man:
Job “He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. “ Job 1: 2-3
Job was also a loving and caring father who regularly gave burnt offerings to God on behalf of his children, just in case they sinned.
God himself initiates the attack against Job!
In the beginning of Job Chapter 1 we see that the sons of God (some form of divine beings) appear before God and Satan (the deceiver) appears with them.
Job 1: 6 – 12
“One day the angels (Sons of God) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
God tells Satan that his servant Job is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and there is no one like him. At this Satan throws in God’s face that it is only because God has a hedge around him and that Job is blessed, that he is like this. No where in this exchange does it mention that Job had a fear problem, or was in sin, or that there was a doorway open for Satan to attack him! God initiated the entire event! God knew beforehand what would happen to Job and God allowed it.
God allows Job to be tested!
At the end of Chapter 1, after we see that Job has lost all his children and everything he has, that Job falls on his face and worships God! This is the lesson we are to glean from the example of Job, a righteous man who suffered! A man who praised God in the midst of horrific circumstances.
Job 1: 21 – 22
“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
In all of this Job did not sin, even when his wife told him to “curse God and die”! And in the end Job has a double portion of wealth and new children.
Job 2: 9-10
“His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
Job acknowledged that both good and trouble come from God himself!
The apostle Peter makes a comparison to the trial of Job when he encourages the believers in the first century. The goal of testings and trials is the refining of our faith!
1 Peter 4: 6 -9
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
God’s great concern is the proving of our faith. God will allow trials to come into our lives to accomplish that end.
Does God direct and allow suffering under the New Covenant?
Let us not forget that the first century church endured much suffering. All of Jesus’ 12 apostles, except for John, suffered martyrs deaths. And many saints were persecuted by the Jews, and suffered and died under Nero. (For more information on this see Fox’s Book of Martyrs).
If you are a born again Christian, bought by the blood of Jesus, the devil can NOT randomly touch you! The common teaching of today is that you yourself give Satan legal access by sinning. This is partly true, but even for the saint who sins there is forgiveness if one repents. The only way the devil can attack you is if he gets permission by God, because YOU BELONG TO HIM!
It is my opinion that we have a misunderstanding about God. Isa 45:7 tells us: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
I heard Derek Prince once say that God is ruthless in carrying out his preordained purposes! The eternal purpose of God in Ephesians 1 is “to bring all things together in Christ”. In order for us to be brought into the fullness of Christ we must apply the cross in death to our selves, and the cross is ruthless. Jesus told us If you love your life (your soul) you will lose it. We are called to live a crucified life and to constantly put to death the misdeeds of the soul!
The apostle Paul states in Galatians 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”
1 Peter 4: 1-2
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”
God Disciplines His Children
Hebrews 12: 4 – 11
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he (God) rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he (God) chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
The word “chasten” in the above verse means:
mastigoó: to scourge
Original Word: μαστιγόω
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (mas-tig-o’-o)
Short Definition: I flog, scourge
Definition: I flog, scourge, the victim being strapped to a pole or frame; met: I chastise.
The meaning of this is that God will scourge you in order to get out of you what is not conforming to the image of Christ in your life! Sometimes this is very painful, but it is an act of love given in love by God himself.
God sent a trial to the apostle Paul:
In order to keep Paul from being conceited the Lord allowed a messenger of Satan to attack him:
1 Cor 12: 7 – 10
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
As Christians we will always have trials!
Isaiah 43: 2 Does not say “if” but “when”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
We are encouraged to live our lives as living sacrifices. The sacrifice was put on an altar and slain! This is a paradox of the Christian life: We are to be living dead men.
Romans 12: 1 – 2
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We are encouraged by the apostle Peter to rejoice in our sufferings because they are revealing the glory of Jesus Christ in us!
1 Peter 4: 12 -13
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
Jesus himself, as the author of our salvation and the pattern son over God’s house, also suffered by the hand of God.
Isa 53: 10 “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer”
We are made perfect through suffering
Hebrews 2: 10 – 11
“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. “
The principle here is that if God made Jesus perfect through suffering, and we are of the same family as he, He will also make us perfect through sufferings! The word “perfect” in the above verse means “to bring to an end”, “complete”. God’s will is that we are conforming daily to the image of Jesus Christ in the earth. It is the ultimate goal of our faith!
Please take a moment to listen to this song!