Friday, January 7, 2011


One day there lived a man named Job from the land of Uz. He was a very wealthy man, who lived on a great expanse of land with his wife, ten children, and servants. He is described in the first verse of the book of Job as "blameless"; a man very close to God. At this point in the story Job loses nearly everything. His children and his wealth are all taken from him in a series of calamities. The why of the story is intriguing, and Job's response serves as an example of how to honor God through all of the seasons of our lives. Charles Swindoll takes us step by step through the story of Job in the seventh volume of his Great Lives series, Job, A Man of Heroic Endurance.

At the root of this story is a meeting between God and Satan. Satan claims that Job is so pious only because he has been richly blessed. Satan suggests that if Job lost everything, he would curse God. So God allows Satan to take everything from Job, yet Job remained faithful. Certainly he grieved and lamented, but he understood that God has the right to give and take whatever and whenever he pleases. When Satan saw his response, he was frustrated and went back to God. He then claimed that Job only kept his integrity because he was healthy. God allowed Satan to take this from Job as well.

At this point, four friends of Job arrive on the scene. Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu. While their original intent was to comfort to Job, they end up only providing him strife and torment. They are of the strongest mind that Job's suffering is due to some hidden sin in his life, and that the key to his restoration is simply to admit his sin and ask God for forgiveness. Job believes that he blameless and defends himself against their barrages. What is paining Job more than the arrows of his "friends", is the distance and silence of his God when he needs him most. Yet through the pain and grief and loss, Job never curses God and remains a faithful servant.

When God finally breaks his silence and addresses Job, he never explains what happened or why. Instead he focusses on teaching Job who he is and building their relationship. Many who read this story are frustrated and confused. Job is seemingly treated as a pawn in some sort of game between God and Satan. Although Job ultimately is restored by God to full health and rebuilt his empire and his family, he endured an excruciating season marked by amazing losses. Job learned some important lessons through this, but it is not recorded whether any of this had an impact on Satan. What is confusing is that Satan knows that God is omnipotent and omniscient. If God told Satan that Job would never curse him, why did God have to "prove it". My guess is that this had less to do the battle between God and Satan, and more to do with God building up his servant Job. Now, on to the next volume in the series, Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.