Today we started reading the book of Job; this is one of the most challenging books of the Bible for us to understand. Today’s chapters are the only ones in which the word satan occurs, and the ESV Bible we use has a footnote that, in the Hebrew, this word means “the adversary” – and one can find many verses in the Old Testament where it is translated that way (see 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4; 11:10,23,25; and the adversary is named – it is a specific human being).
We are inclined to agree with those who see this book, although based on a real historical person and event, as written as a drama or play to teach a spiritual lesson. We will be reading it for the rest of this month and its climax in the last chapter relates back to the first 2 or 3 chapters and we need to see this to get a full and balanced picture of the message this holy book has for us.
This adversary says to God, “all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (2:4,5). But ‘Satan’ is wrong! Then Job’s wife, in a sense, becomes an adversary telling him to “Curse God and die”. But he says to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (verses 9,10).
We can perceive that God allows the bad experiences in life on occasions to test us out, to shape our character.No sailor learns to sail if the sea is always calm. Think of the mixture of events that shaped David’s character after his great faith in slaying Goliath.
When we come to the end of the book (42:1-6), we see the events of the first 2 chapters in their total context with the early ‘disasters’. In the end Job has dramatic contact with God leading to a deep appreciation of his position before God and a relationship with God that he never previously possessed.
All he had lost is restored to him – and more. We see this as a picture of the blessings in store after the resurrection. If life is all smooth sailing, with no challenges to our faith, we will not develop an urgent sense of the need to develop a full relationship with God and His Son. Also, we will not achieve a true sense of humility and submission to God’s will. Can we say to God, like Jesus did, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). The book of Job has valuable lessons for the really diligent reader: hopefully that includes you.