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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Job?

Why Job? Why are people drawn to this book of the Bible? Below I offer some observations.

(1) Confirmation – Some folks are pretty convinced that they know all about God and the Bible. So, when they go to read the Bible, they already have some ideas fixed in their minds. They read to find confirmation of what they already believe. This is a dangerous approach because it isn’t humble. We should realize that the Bible has been informing, challenging, convicting, and transforming people of faith all over the world from its inception in the 1st century (and before that). If we go to it thinking we know it all, how will God’s word teach us anything new? I urge Bible readers to be open enough and humble enough to be taught new things – especially in a book like Job.

(2) Uniqueness – Two books of the Bible stand out as different from the rest: Job & Revelation. For this reason, I think any time a Bible study or discussion is on one of these books, some are drawn to the study because they are curious. There is a novelty factor. People have heard 100’s sermons on the Prodigal Son parable, and the birth narrative of Jesus, and the resurrection. But, Job is different. That is an attraction for some.

(3) Pain – Pain is a driving force in Job. He suffers horrendously. At first his response is “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21). Later on, Job says, “Let the day perish in which I was born. Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire” (3:1, 11)? Job accuses God of assailing him, and in the end Job is counted as in the right. So many people are in pain. Just today, I dealt with a marriage in crisis, heard about someone with esophageal cancer, and heard about someone else with an unidentified growth in the lungs. It comes in numerous forms, but it comes; most people appreciate Job because Job doesn’t offer empty, trite answers for their heavy, complicated questions about pain.

(4) Bible study – Some people thirst for God’s word. I wish more Christians did. A lot of believers are content to sit on what their preacher or their momma or their grandpa tells them the Bible says. The Bible is not the exclusive territory of preachers, priests, seminarians, theologians and super saints. The Bible is God’s gift to all believers and indeed to all people. So I encourage all people to develop a hunger for the word of God. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103)!

Of the four reasons people open the word, I encourage the last three. I discourage coming to God’s word if you already think you know the “right answers.” If your story is already written and you have no truth left to learn, you will misread the Bible because you will project into it your conclusions. Instead of writing your thoughts into the word, let the word write on your heart.

Tell me if you think there are other reasons people participate in Bible study and particularly in studying Job.


  1. I study the bible because Jesus is coming soon just as the prophecy in Revelation fortold. Job shows that we don't know everything! Our job (sic) is to have faith in God. The God who created heaven, earth, and mankind by his very word. The God whose word it is we study.

  2. I think we'll see that in Job there is more than one lesson. Certainly, we don't know everything. That's clear in Job. Too, there are questions of justice, questions of evil, questions of divine councils. I am not sure faith is as much of a teaching of Job as is reverence. Job had faith, and he lost everything - possessions, health, children. The God he trusted allowed it to happen. That's a tough lesson on faith.

  3. I think it is faith that Job teaches us. We can't understand all the evil in the world and the bad things that happen to good people. But we can continue to have faith in God without this knowledge. Job also points to the risen Christ who suffered, died, and rose again to glory.

    I don't see anything in Job that requires hasatan to be a member of God's divine council. He is a heavenly being to be sure, but not one of the good guys.

    Job is about the origin and nature of wisdom. Job asked "why did I have this suffering?" God's response never addressed that question. It was about God's wisdom and knowledge compared to man's. Job repented. Today we can have faith in the face of our trials knowing that we may never know why this side of eternity. God knows why and in the end justice will be served.