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. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 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.
4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
Job was a successful man. He was rich. And he was important. Everybody respected Job, because Job was wealthy.
Job did deserve honour, but not because of his wealth. Job deserved honour because he respected God. Job always tried to do the right things. And Job refused to compromise his walk with God.
He did not pretend that he was perfect (Job 31:33). He trusted God and was sincere. Job’s attitudes (Job 31) demonstrate this. Even God spoke well about Job (verse 8).
In Ezekiel 14:14, God mentions Job. God also mentions Noah and Daniel in this passage. Even a good man like Job could not save the wicked. And even Noah and Daniel could not help them. This passage in Ezekiel shows us that God really considered Job a good man.
The first two chapters are written in prose and serve as a prologue to the poetic saga that follows. Likewise, the epilogue (42:7-17) is also written in prose.
Job lived in Uz, a walled city with gates (29:7-8), where he held a position of great respect. The city was in the land of Uz in northern Arabia, adjacent to Midian, where Moses lived for 40 years (Exodus 2:15).
One of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, was from Teman, a well-known Edomite city.
In verses 2-3 we read that not only was Job’s life upright, but he was prosperous. Numerous children, especially sons, and abundant livestock were the status symbols of wealth and greatness in that day.
“Greatest … of the east” is quite some claim by any standard. Solomon held a similar reputation, “Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east” (1 Kings 4:30). The “east” meaning those living east of Palestine, as the people of the northern Arabian Desert did (Judges 6:3; Ezekiel 25:4)
In the Patriarchal period the head of the household played the role of Priest. It is clear from these early verses that Job took this role seriously.
The words “Sent and sanctified them” are used. At the end of every week, Job would offer up as many burnt offerings as he had sons (see Leviticus 1:4).
Job was a spiritual man as clearly revealed by his sensitivity to sin and its consequential need for sacrifice.
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 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.”
8 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.”
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “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. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 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.”
Job’s testing was the result of some kind of heavenly conflict – an interaction he knew nothing about.
‘Satan’ means ‘the accuser’.
Job’s friends did not blame Satan for Job’s troubles. Even Job did not blame Satan. They all looked towards God as his source of suffering.
Satan shows up now and then in scripture to cause trouble in the world. He famously disrupted Eden as he lured our ancestors into the possibility of being like God (Genesis 3:3-5). That trouble has compounded ever since.
This is why our lives are difficult, this is why hardship and suffering exist in the world as Satan has been rampant in his influence (Genesis 3:17-19).
Satan even tested Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15). But Jesus did not respond like us. Jesus was true to his mission and when he was killed, he destroyed Satan’s work (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14).
But Satan continues to test us. He wanders across the world (1 Peter 4:8). He tries to tempt us. He wants to accuse us. His greatest weapon is his accusation. He assaults our conscience with guilt knowing the chasm between our fallen imperfection and God’s perfection. This is why walking in the light is so important. Guilt cannot take hold if we are honest, open and authentic. Whilst God has no need of our confession it is passed on to us as a blessing. To live with a clear conscience is empowering, extremely freeing and an incredible gift.
The fact of the cross has done it’s work. There is no condemnation for those who are honest, real, authentic and in the light because guilt has no place in the Christian’s life. We are guilty. It’s a fact but we are free and not under guilt.
So Job’s life is caught up in heavenly strategies as the scene moves from earth to heaven, where God is holding council with His heavenly court. Neither Job nor his friends ever knew about this.
The angelic host (38:7; Psalm 29:1; 89:7; Daniel 3:25) came to God’s throne to render account of their ministry throughout the earth and heaven (1 Kings 22:19-22).
Perhaps emboldened by the success he had with Adam in the garden (Genesis 3:6-12, 17-19), Satan was confident that the fear of God in Job, one of a fallen race, would not stand his tests.
Satan had fallen himself (see Isaiah 14:12). As opposed to a personal name, Satan as a title means “adversary,” in either a personal or judicial sense.
This being is the ultimate spiritual adversary. He has been accusing the faithful throughout the ages (see Revelation 12:10).
In a courtroom setting, the adversary usually stood to the right of the accused. This location is reported when Satan in heaven accused Joshua the High-priest (Zechariah 3:1).
The thesis of Romans 8:31-39 proposes that he is still unsuccessful.
This is not speaking of sons of God in the sense that Jesus is the only Son of God. This is actually speaking of angelic beings.
Notice that Satan was set out as separate from the sons of God. We know that Satan is the accuser of men before the Father.
This presenting themselves before the LORD was almost in the sense of giving an account of their activities.
Satan’s account of his activity is vague but gives us an image of a predator “Going to and fro in the earth”.
No angel, fallen or holy, is an omnipresent creature, but they move rapidly. In Satan’s case, as prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and ruler of demons (Matthew 9:34; 12:24), the earth is his domain where he prowls like a “roaring lion … with intent to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
God gave him Job to test. God initiated the dialogue. The adversary was not presiding. If anything, Satan raised the penetrating question that may be asked by anyone, perhaps even Job himself. It’s seemingly a reasonable question. Does Job serve God with pure motives, or is he in it only as long as the blessings flow?
The activity of Satan indicates that he has only limited access to God. This account in Job emphasizes that God is sovereign over Satan. It also teaches that Satan is a finite being and therefore not omnipresent. Nor can he touch God’s people without God’s permission.
Of course, God already knew what Satan had been doing. The questioning of Satan was possibly for the benefit of the other angels.
“Perfect and upright” suggests that Job’s integrity and way of life somehow met God’s expectations. Job was not perfect or without sin but he was faithful.
Satan asserted that true believers are only faithful as long as they prosper. Take away their prosperity, he claims, and they will reject God. He wanted to prove that salvation is not permanent, that saving faith can be broken and those who were God’s could become his. Satan repeated this affront with Jesus (see Matthew Chapter 4), Peter (see Luke 22:31), and Paul (see 2 Corinthians 12:7).
Satan acknowledges the accuracy of God’s evaluation of Job but questions Job’s motives.
God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith by attacking “all that he has.” With God’s sovereign permission, Satan was allowed to move on Job, except that he could not attack Job physically and take his life.
God permits but does not order Satan to test Job. Satan’s power is always exercised under limitations set by God.
Satan’s power is real and has the possibility of devastating consequences but it is limited. God will only allow him to go so far. God wants us to be tested, refined and our faith to mature and grow.
My own experience has seen Satan at full throttle but also the incredible power of God.
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
Sabeans were a nomadic Bedouin tribe known for their treachery and cruelty. Literally “Sheba,” part of Arabia. These people were terrorizing robbers, who had descended from Ham (Genesis 10:6-7) and/or Shem (Genesis 10:28).
They often plundered other peoples as a means of survival. Chaldeans were also a band of nomadic marauders at this time. They later conquered Babylon. They were semi-nomadic people of the Arabian desert, experienced in marauding and war (Habakkuk 1:6-8).
All of these tragic events evidently took place on the same day, and of all the hundreds of Job’s servants, only four survived to bear the bad news. Human life was lost in all four disasters.
Three times the text says these events happened “while he was still speaking”, meaning they happened one right after the other. As one messenger was leaving, the next one was bringing more bad news, completely immersing Job in tragedy. With 4 rapid fire disasters, Satan destroyed or removed Job’s livestock, servants and children. Only the 4 messengers survived. The intensity of this is quite overwhelming to imagine.
The mind set of the time is revealed as the fire was reported from God as though it was a punishment from God. It was most likely lightning.
Job’s children may have been involved in revelry as they were described as ‘eating and drinking’.
Before Noah’s flood, people were ‘eating and drinking’. These people were not ready for the flood. And they were not ready to meet God (Matthew 24:37-39). There may be some kind of connection to this.
The servants in verses 14-17 announced that Job had lost all his possessions. Job’s sheep died in a fire. Enemies stole Job’s camels. Other enemies took Job’s oxen and his donkeys. In the morning, Job was the wealthiest man in the east. But by the evening, Job was a very poor man.
It appears that Satan was making sure that everything the LORD had given him permission to do, would be done all at once to overwhelm Job. Notice in each instance, only one was left to come and tell of the tragedy that happened.
To lose them all at once must have been terrible. It’s hard to imagine such a tragedy. If anything would cause Job to turn against God, this would be it. This wind was like a cyclone.
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 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.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Satan failed. Job’s response was one of going to God humbly and in reverence. He had lost his family and wealth. It’s hard to imagine such a response. That certainly was not my response to a similar situation in August 2015 and in my situation there was a lot more hope than for Job. Self pity, anger, hurt, blame all featured in my distress but this does not appear to be the case for Job.
In my situation I had been completely to blame but Job was blameless. It’s quite a response. The words of scripture suggest that it was an immediate response to praise God. I took several months of wrestling for me to get to a good place.
Job’s health was left alone. Job was a grieving man who still worshiped while he mourned. God’s goodness appears to have not been doubted at this stage..
Job assumed that God had taken his possessions. It seemed fair to him. They were not his anyway. He had a perspective that God gave him his wealth and he was now taking it back.
There is a saying that suffering can make you bitter or better. Grieving can cause us to pull away from God or move closer to him. God does not move but we do. He always stays close. It’s us who distance ourselves. In this case it drew Job closer to God.