Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.
Job may have lived around 2100 BC, but his story was written down many years later; perhaps around 500 BC. It takes place in the land of Uz, just outside of Israel. If God is fair, why do the righteous suffer? That is the concern of this book, and even though the problem is not entirely solved, insights are provided.
Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.
We don’t normally think of Satan in heaven, but here he appears with angels, in the presence of God. Satan will be thrown into hell for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10), but currently roams the earth (Job 1:7), and even appears before God at times.
Job 1:8 Then the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job?
At the time of this conversation, Job’s life was going well. He had seven sons, three daughters, and enough livestock to make him the wealthiest person around (Job 1:3-4). He was not only rich, however, but also righteous. The Lord said to Satan, There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil (Job 1:8b). Job was rich, righteous, and greatly blessed by God.
Job 1:9-11 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.
There are five important things that we should learn from this conversation. First, we have an enemy. We expect to be punished for our sins, and rewarded for our righteousness, but it’s not that simple. There is a powerful evil being who delights to see the righteous suffer.
Second, God is our protector. He put a hedge around Job and everything he had (Job 1:10). This is like a fence that keeps outside what does not belong inside. God can surround us with a hedge and protect us from all harm.
Third, our lives are not private. Job’s ordeal was played out in the presence God, Satan and angels. To this the New Testament adds, a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), those who have gone to heaven before us. God and many witnesses see everything we do, so any sense of privacy is pure illusion.
Fourth, hardship reveals our loyalty. Satan thought Job’s first loyalty was not to God, but to Job. He thought Job was serving God because of what he got from God, not because he was loyal to God. If God took away Job’s prosperity, Job would turn away from God. This is the heart of the issue.
Fifth, Satan wants us to curse God. [S]tretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face (Job 1:11), said Satan. God is the object of more and greater cursing, every single day, than any other being in the universe. Some even curse God for the evil pleasure it brings them. Even the righteous are tempted to curse God at times. This was Satan’s goal for Job, as well as for us.
Job 1:12 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.
Satan is the enemy of God, and everyone made in God’s image. Since he cannot attack God directly, he attacks the people God loves. Every disease, sorrow, pain, murder, torture, war and death can be traced back to Satan.
But Satan is under God’s control. He was free to destroy all that Job had, but not the man himself. [O]n the man himself do not lay a finger, said God. Satan’s power is greater than any human power, but is nothing compared to the power of God. Satan’s power is awesome, but he is on a leash—God’s leash.
Job 1:13-19 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 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!
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!
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!
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, 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!
The day began like any other day. Job got out of bed and thanked God for all the blessings he enjoyed. Perhaps he had eggs for breakfast, and planned to join the celebration at his son’s house later that day. It was nice to have the family together enjoying the abundance God had provided.
But in just a few minutes Job went from riches to rags. One after another the messengers came with news of catastrophic loss: oxen, donkeys, servants, sheep and camels were all suddenly gone. Then, worst of all, the loss of his dear children. Seven sons and three daughters died when the house collapsed on their heads. How does a man of God respond to such disaster?
Reflection and Review
Why do bad things happen to God’s people?
Why does Satan want to hurt us?
How would you respond if you were Job?