Job Chapter 1: Permission of Evil, Job’s Test

Jan 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Job, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Job Chapter 1: Permission of Evil, Job’s Test

Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

The way the Book of Job opens, “There was a man in the land of Uz,” sounds like the beginning of a story. The Arabic style was to tell stories that conveyed a lesson, and rabbis often relate little stories in order to illustrate points of righteousness. However, the Book of Job is not fiction. Job was a real personality, a living being in the land of Uz.

Notice that Job’s lineage is not given. The account simply states that this man lived in the land of Uz. Therefore, we cannot say conclusively whether he was just a resident there at the time or whether he had come from some other place.

The next question is, Who was Uz? Indirectly he was the son of Shem, but he was actually the son of Nahor and Milcah, as clues in the subsequent narrative will show (1 Chron. 1:17; Gen. 22:20,21). Incidentally, Rebekah was the granddaughter of Nahor and Milcah.

Chronologically speaking, Job was a contemporary of both Joseph and Moses; that is, he overlapped part of each of their lives. Hence the sequence was Joseph, Job, Moses. We think the Book of Job was written before Moses compiled the first five books of the Bible. In fact, Moses did not begin his public ministry until he was 80 years old, at the time of the Exodus. God had a continuous testimony in the earth both before and after the Flood, and Job’s ministry was a witness for God between Joseph and Moses. Thus the time setting for Job’s life began in the Patriarchal Age, which followed the Flood. The Book of Job contains many indirect evidences that point out this time period.

Q: If we assign a date, did Job live at approximately 1700 BC?

A: Yes, roughly speaking, for the Exodus was 1615 BC, and 80 years earlier, when Moses was born, would be 1695 BC.

Job “was perfect and upright.” The word “perfect” is better translated “blameless,” as in the New International Version. Of course in this earlier period, there was no justification to life, just justification to friendship with God. In addition, Job “feared [reverenced] God, and eschewed [shunned] evil.”

Job 1:2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

Job 1:3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

Job was affluent and very prominent, and the specifics are given. Because the numerics seem to be symbolic, many writers do not consider the Book of Job to have been written under specific divine influence—but it was. The following Scriptures prove its authenticity: (1) “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it [the land of Israel], they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 14:14,20). “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11). Job was a real character, approved of God.

Job had seven sons and three daughters, that is, ten children. “Seven” is a religious or holy number, and the fact that Job had seven sons shows that God’s providence overrules the life experience of some individuals without interfering with their free moral agency. “Ten” and “seven” are both symbols of completeness, ten being natural and contemporary completeness (ten horns, ten toes, etc.), and seven being sacred and sequential completeness, usually in the sense of chronology or time (seven days in a week or seven stages of the Church, for example).

Q: Was Uz located in the land now called Saudi Arabia?

A: Yes. Uz has both a geographical and a lineage connotation. Lamentations 4:21 speaks of the land of Edom as being in the larger area of Uz: “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz.” Saudi Arabia is a large nation, especially when compared with tiny Israel. Today we think of Saudi Arabia as being mostly desert land, but there is evidence of fertility in ancient times.

Job had 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels (10,000 animals). Right away we think of the seven sons and the three daughters (10 children). The relationship of the numbers has led some to conclude that the book is fictional. However, it is a true story with more substance than a parable, the technique, or method, frequently used by Jesus that was peculiar to the Middle East and to Asia in early times. The fact that the count of the animals is given in round numbers simply emphasizes the tremendous wealth Job possessed. Also, it is apparent that the Lord was blessing Job with a full experience.

In addition, Job had 500 yoke of oxen (that is, 1,000 oxen) and 500 she asses. In all, he had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she asses. By coupling the 7,000 sheep and the 3,000 camels with the seven sons and the three daughters, we can see that the sheep, mentioned first, were the more important animal. With the 500 yoke of oxen and the 500 she asses, the first-mentioned oxen were more important. Moreover, the number of oxen and she asses together was less important than either the 3,000 camels or the 7,000 sheep. In verse 3, therefore, the animals were listed in descending order.

In what way was Job “the greatest of all the men of the east”? Of course he excelled in temporal possessions, in wealth, probably having more riches than any other man in that area, but the wording also suggests he was the most notable man “of the east” at that time.

Incidentally, the wording places Uz east of Israel. The children of Keturah branched out in that direction across Jordan at the southern end of the Dead Sea.

When we read that Job “was the greatest of all the men of the east,” we are reminded of Moses, who was the meekest man living at that time. He was “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Job was a most unusual person not only because of his wealth and influence but also because of his moral uprightness.

Q: If Job lived contemporaneously with Joseph and Moses, how could he have been called the greatest man in all the earth?

A: There is no problem at all, for Moses was at least 80 years old when he was called the meekest man in all the earth, and Job was dead at that time. Job’s life lapped part of Joseph’s life, covered a gap of 65 years, and then lapped an earlier portion of Moses’ life.

Comment: The fact that Job was called the greatest of all the men of the East proves he did not write this book, for he would not make such a statement about himself.

Reply: That is correct. Even though Job is the main character and the book should be named after him, he did not write it.

Comment: Verse 1 points out Job’s relationship with God. Then verses 2 and 3 tell of his tremendous material substance, which with many would be the root of all kinds of evil, but Job is called the “greatest.” In other words, he had a balanced character that kept him humble and reverent before God even with his great wealth.

Reply: Yes, that was God’s judgment of Job at the end of the book in spite of some startling things he may have said. Some of his statements are very helpful to us as Christians and in realizing how God deals with us.

Comment: Verse 8 is a tie-in here. God asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”

Q: Does the account state that Job was the greatest of all the men of the East because there were other great men at the same time?

A: The “east” was inserted because Job was the “greatest” from the standpoint of not only wealth and character but also wisdom. The expression “men of the east” usually carried the connotation of great wisdom. The men of the tribes in the East, even though they were in the hinterland, as it were, had the reputation of being unusual in that there were so many deep, contemplative philosophical thinkers. Much later there were the wise men of the East and the wise men of Teman and of Edom (in the land of Uz). However, one could be very, very wise from the natural standpoint but not be in tune with God, so Job was unique for being reverent and in God’s favor, as well as for possessing great wisdom.

Job 1:4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

Job’s sons “went and feasted in their houses, every one his day.” The term “his day” refers to a birthday; that is, the date of the birth of each son was celebrated. This fact was brought out for several reasons; it will have an effect on the narrative of Job subsequently. Only the seven sons were mentioned, but even excluding the daughters, a birthday was celebrated seven times a year. The custom was for the celebration to be held in the house of the son whose birthday it was, and all of the others were invited. Verse 4 sets the stage for us to know Job’s thinking on these occasions.

Comment: Job 3:1-3 proves that “his day” is a birthday. “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.”

Reply: Yes, we were alluding to those verses. Job’s words in that circumstance were a poignant point with regard to the whole drama and reality, which were very unusual.

Comment: Because of a birthday celebration, all of Job’s children were together when Satan caused the calamity that took their lives.

Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

“When the days of their feasting were gone about” during the circuit of the year—that is, when each of the birthdays occurred throughout the year—“Job sent and sanctified them [his sons and perhaps his daughters too]” and “offered burnt offerings.” The inference is that burnt offerings were offered up almost as if they were sin offerings. In our recent booklet entitled “Tabernacle Shadows (Church’s Share in Sin Offering),” we historically enumerated the names of the sacrifices and showed that they were not defined specifically until Moses came on the scene right after Job.

Job “offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all.” Whether he offered seven or ten animals is a moot point, but he offered at least seven animals in sacrifice, thinking that his sons may have “sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Job’s fear was that in the feasting and drinking, things might get out of hand. Therefore, he tried to compensate for any lack of moral restraint that might occur. Job took this action routinely, continually, on each birthday.

Job “sent and sanctified them” but in what way? Job was not present during the revelry of his sons and daughters. He was on the sidelines, as it were, making the offerings at his homestead. Job sent a messenger, a servant, to his sons and daughters, but how did he sanctify them? A sprinkling is implied. Later when Moses read the Law, he sprinkled blood on the people.

Therefore, Job killed the animal and sprinkled his sons and daughters with the blood. There was no codified law at this time, as happened later in the giving of the Law under Moses, but the offering of animals and the sprinkling of blood occurred in a natural way. Job “rose up early in the morning” to do the sanctifying before the revelry began. We are reminded of the time when Abraham got up early in the morning, probably before dawn, to offer Isaac on the mount, and Abraham was a predecessor of Job (Gen. 22:3).

We can see the unusual character of Job in spite of his wealth, influence, judging, and wisdom. The account will also show that he had administrative responsibilities outside of his family, but they did not mitigate against his feeling of personal responsibility for the family. Almost all people who have outside responsibilities—and in proportion to the importance of their office— give less attention to their wives and families. The consumption of time necessitates the sacrifice. However, Job did not let outside responsibilities infringe on the time for his family. He was a very unusual person.

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

Verses 6-12 are an allegory, for Satan has been confined in tartaroo ever since the Flood in Noah’s day. He does not have liberty to go up to the heaven of heavens, the Father’s abode. While chapters 1 and 2 talk about real personalities, they are presented in a story fashion to create the proper mood and thrust to the lesson that is to be garnered from the Book of Job. This technique is not unusual. For instance, our Lord used parables to teach potent lessons, many of which were prophetic. In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus used highly figurative language and included the name “Lazarus” to tie in with the fact that Lazarus would be raised from death. Therefore, the allegory was purposely woven into the account of Job to give us the proper perspective of what we might expect as we go into the details. Although called “The Book of Job,” we can see from this introduction and other parts of the book that Job would not have written about himself. Obviously, then, the book was written by another party. The book contains clues as to who the amanuensis, or scribe, was. Elihu put together the introduction, but he could not have done so without the cooperation of Job in supplying certain details about his background. We have a similar example with the Apostle Paul, who, before he started his ministry, went to Jerusalem to meet the Lord’s brothers to get firsthand information about Jesus and the other apostles. His personal, private study about the earlier years of Jesus helped Paul and Luke to introduce the Gospel of Luke. Verses 6-12 are a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. In the allegory, Satan and the sons of God went to the place of God’s residence in heaven.

Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

From the vantage point of tartaroo, Satan certainly knows what is happening in the whole earth. As the “god of this world” and the “prince of the power of the air,” he has a lot of information about earth and its affairs (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). No doubt he was aware that Job was outstanding and that Job reverenced God. To a large extent, Satan even knows what we are doing in our personal lives. He is aware of geography, places, people, and events, so a great deal of truth is woven into this semifictional allegory to give us an introduction to the Book of Job. The book actually starts with Job’s experience with his three friends, for that is where Elihu originally came into direct contact with Job and listened to the arguments of the three. However, we would presume that Elihu did not know too much about Job personally until subsequently, when he got information from Job himself and also from other sources.

Satan was aware that Job was the greatest personality in the East from various standpoints: wealth, reverence, religion, etc. Thus Satan had more information about Job than Elihu did at first. As an introduction, we are getting necessary background information of who was primarily responsible for trying Job—it was Satan. We are being transported back thousands of years to learn what happened to Job.

In the allegory, when God asked Satan, “Whence comest thou?” Satan answered, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” We are reminded of several things.

1. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none” (Matt. 12:43). Satan, as well as the other fallen angels, know about mankind and have plans as regards the future.

2. “And the bay [horses] went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth” (Zech. 6:7). The activity of the bay horses is related in principle to the account here in Job.

3. Satan “walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezek. 28:14).

Satan came from walking to and fro throughout the earth. The functions of Lucifer and the Logos were quite different. As God’s spokesman, the Logos did not have the liberty that Lucifer had. The Logos was like a sentinel standing at attention, awaiting his Father’s wishes.

The Diaglott footnote for John 1:1 illustrates the role of the Logos. A man was the mouthpiece for the king, who was unseen behind a curtain. The spokesman had to be in the king’s presence. Before Satan fell, he had liberty as Lucifer and, therefore, was used to indiscriminate behavior in roaming the various planes of being.

To a certain extent, even though Satan is bound in chains in tartaroo, he has the means of communication and contact. Spirit beings have capabilities of which we are only beginning to tap into now, thousands of years later, with developing technology. Therefore, even though bound in chains of darkness, Satan has a roaming spirit that enables him to experience, observe, and see things that are unbelievable to our present human comprehension.

Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Verse 8 gives the reason for God’s question to Satan in verse 7. Now Jehovah asked, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Even though this situation was hypothetical, Job’s character was as described here. There was no one like Job in the earth at that time. Moses was not yet on the scene. Job was “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil,” and Satan knew about Job’s character. If Satan knows about us and we are, relatively speaking, little nobodies, he certainly knew about Job. While this account is fictional, there is much reality in it. The account is an amalgamation of fiction and nonfiction.

Comment: Satan previously had great liberty to roam the heavens and the universe uninhibited, but now he is confined to the atmosphere of a tiny planet called Earth and has been given what he wanted: the subjugation of a dying human race.

Reply: Through the Bible, the Lord has furnished us with an unusual amount of information. As an archangel, Satan had considerable liberty.

Job 1:9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

Satan asked a reasonable question: “Does Job fear God for naught?” From Satan’s standpoint, Job was doing well with his great prosperity and material wealth. But in examining character, two people can look at another person and have two opposite views. God looked at Job and saw a blameless man who loved righteousness and shunned evil with abhorrence. Satan also looked at Job but attributed his behavior to a selfish motive. When Jesus was here at his First Advent, some viewed him as a young man with no education, and when he spoke with authority, they thought that he was presumptuous and high-minded. Others looked at Jesus and thought, “Never [a] man spake like this man” (John 7:46). They did not care about his lack of education, for they recognized him as unusual. Thus two individuals can see the same thing but get different feelings depending on the heart condition. Satan’s wrong heart condition was manifested when he attributed Job’s reverence for God to selfishness for being rewarded.

Even prior to the Mosaic Law, the thinking was that those who obeyed God would have better health, a longer life, and prosperity. And of course the Law promised temporal rewards for right doing and obedience. Therefore, Satan, with his wrong heart condition, misconstrued Job entirely, but God, who reads the heart, knew Job.

Job 1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Job 1:12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

God permitted Satan to try Job to the uttermost through his possessions. Of course God did not literally say to Satan, “You can do what you want.” This narrative was merely inserted to show what happened when Satan beheld Job. Satan wants everyone on planet Earth to be his subjects, and he could see that Job would be a valuable asset to have in his own kingdom.

Therefore, he wanted to wean Job’s affection and reverence for God to himself, and he reasoned that taking away Job’s possessions and temporal prosperity would make Job vulnerable and that then he could win Job to himself. We can see Satan’s motives.

The information we have been reading was supplied artificially to bring us to a moment of time in a situation where we can see that God permitted Satan to try Job to the uttermost—but without actually having a conversation with him. Those from the Middle East and the Far East would have understood what portion of the narrative was storytelling and what portion was assorted facts buried in the narrative. As an illustration, Shakespeare’s plays began with an introduction before the curtain ever opened. In the introduction, he gave a brief account of the fictional characters so that when the curtain opened, the audience would know what was going on. The main part of the drama was the play itself, not the introduction, but the introduction eliminated the need for any needless discussion of each character while the play was being enacted. The point is that the introduction in the Book of Job was not unusual, but it is unusual in Western civilization today.

Did Job know that God was permitting Satan to test him to the uttermost? No. Job was completely unaware of why the calamities were happening to him.

Comment: No doubt Satan had already tried unsuccessfully to get at Job, but he realized God had put a “hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side” (verse 10). Until the hedge was lifted, Satan did not have power over Job.

Reply: Yes, and we know that is true because the account tells us that Job eschewed (shunned) evil. Because Job had already had experiences where he said no to Satan’s temptations, he was called righteous and upright.

Consider Jesus before the start of his ministry. God knew that Satan would tempt Jesus. Jesus did not go into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan but to meditate upon the flood of information about his preexistence that came when he was baptized. He entered the wilderness to fast and pray and to contemplate how to begin his ministry, but God knew that in that situation, Satan would tempt Jesus—and God permitted the temptations. Just as God permitted Satan to tempt Job, so He allowed Satan to tempt Jesus.

We are given wonderful information. How deep a mine God’s Word is! We are given confidential information just by reading this account in Job. How much people lose by being diverted from the Word itself!

Job 1:13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:

Earlier, in introductory verses, we were told that on the birthdays of his children, Job prayed and made burnt offerings to morally protect his family from the vices of loose talk and from promiscuity in eating and drinking. Now comes the account of an actual occasion on the eldest son’s birthday, when Job’s “sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house.” We are getting into the reality, the specifics.

Job 1:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:

A messenger arrived and said the oxen were plowing and the asses were feeding beside them.

Notice what animals were involved here. Verse 3 said that Job had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she asses. There is no direct parallelism between the earlier account of the enumeration of Job’s goods and this out-of-sequence account, which tells about the 500 yoke of oxen and the 500 she asses. The lack of sequence shows that this incident is the first step of something that is being taught.

Originally, many years ago, we were inclined to think that the 7,000 sheep and the 3,000 camels were to be grouped together and that the 500 yoke of oxen and the 500 she asses were together. But we start with the second grouping.

Consider the setting. The servants were busy on the farmland, actually plowing with the oxen, and the 500 she asses were feeding beside them. The account does not state what time of year it was or what crop the plowing was for. We feel that the she asses correspondingly took advantage of the furrows the oxen were plowing by feeding on the debris. In other words, for each yoke of oxen, there was one she ass feeding behind the plowing.

Job 1:15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

All of a sudden, the Sabeans arrived on the scene, killing the servants and kidnapping the animals. Therefore, in this incident, the animals were stolen, and all of the servants were slain except one. Job’s sons and daughters were in the elder brother’s house while this evil was taking place out on the farmland in the distance. And who was primarily affected by the calamity? Job—for it was his property and experience.

Earlier we speculated that Job was not present at the house of his oldest son but was in his own residence. Suddenly a servant burst in the door to inform Job and his wife that a great calamity had occurred. It is interesting that the only surviving servant informed Job about the misfortune, not the sons and daughters, who were feasting and drinking.

The Sabeans were the inhabitants of Sheba, but there were two Shebas and two Dedans. One Sheba and Dedan were in present-day Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Yemen. The other Sheba and Dedan were in Africa, where the queen of Sheba resided.

With regard to the one servant alone escaping and all of the others being slaughtered, Satan made sure that one would escape to tell Job that the Sabeans had captured his oxen and his asses. In the allegory that introduces the Book of Job, Satan was given all authority except that which would affect Job’s body. Satan employed the technique that would be most effective upon Job; that is, Satan knew the sole surviving servant would take the news to Job, who then was evidently in his own house. As we continue to read the account, we will see that in each incident, all servants were slain except one.

Job 1:16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

The first calamity pertained to the Sabeans, a foreign element, who kidnapped the oxen and the asses. As we read the subsequent reports that came to Job each time a calamity occurred (verses 16, 17, and 19), when the escapee arrived and related what had happened, we are told, “While he [the previous sole surviving servant] was yet speaking….” In other words, exquisite timing was involved on Satan’s part to make the trials as severe as possible to Job. While one incident was being reported, another servant arrived to tell of the next incident. What an excruciating experience for Job!

The Sabeans were instrumental in the first affliction upon Job. The second affliction was “the fire of God.” How ingenious and devilish on Satan’s part! When Job heard this report, it sounded as if the God of nature was causing the calamity. The implication intended by Satan was that God could have stopped the affliction. Therefore, it would seem that God was somehow involved in the affliction, but of course that was not the case, for He had given Satan carte blanche authority to test Job.

In reading that the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed the sheep and the servants, we see that Satan, unless prohibited by God, has power over even the wind. One of Satan’s titles is “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). While that title can be given a spiritual connotation, it also describes a physical, or material, power that Satan possesses. Insight into this power casts light on the storm on the Sea of Galilee when the apostles were in the boat with Jesus. The Master had to rebuke the wind, and who was the originator of the wind that threatened to capsize the boat? It was Satan. God permitted the storm, but it was curtailed because Jesus had the authority to calm the waves. Another title of Satan, Beelzebub, meaning “lord of the flies,” shows that he also has power over the insect world. We get a lot of information from the Book of Job with its many invaluable nuances.

Q: Was the “fire of God” lightning?

A: Yes.

Notice the emphasis in the statement repeated each time: “I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” Satan was pressing home the needle point (verses 15, 16, 17, and 19).

Job 1:17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Next the camels were affected. No sooner had the second servant finished his report when a third servant arrived to say that three bands of enemy forces, called the Chaldeans, had fallen upon Job’s camels, carried them away, and slain all of the servants except himself with the edge of a sword. Interspersed between the thefts of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans was a supernatural power, “fire” (lightning), and subsequently would come another supernatural power, “a great wind from the wilderness” (verse 19).

The Bible provides important geographical knowledge. We get background information not only on the land of Uz, Job, and his prior position and condition but also on the locus Uz bordered. Edom was a part of the land of Uz (Lam. 4:21), and Chaldea was a portion of Babylon (present-day Iraq). With Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq bordering the northern part of Saudi Arabia, the territory of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans was rather large.

Q: Is there any significance to the fact that there were “three” bands of Chaldeans?

A: To our understanding, the Book of Job was an ode. Just as John the Baptist in the New Testament had disciples who were interested in his message, so God utilized the Book of Job as a witness to the people in that area. Also, we recall that Balaam, the prophet of God, was called down by Balak to curse the Israelites at the time of Moses. Balaam existed in a territory that Moses did not occupy. Although the Israelites alone, of all the peoples of the earth, were being dealt with by God at that time, it was sort of a transitional stage. First, God dealt just with individuals—Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then He began to deal with people— Moses and the children of Israel—rather than individuals, and Job was sandwiched into this transitional period. That God dealt with the children of Nahor as well as the children of Shem is proven by the expression “the God of Nahor” (Gen. 31:53). Initially, God dealt with individuals, but in time, He dealt almost exclusively with the Israelites, His “peculiar people” (Deut. 14:2).

In the beginning of the Book of Job, there is a cadence: 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she asses (Job 1:2,3). We believe Elihu phrased the book in an ode fashion to be like a folktale. In those days, people went from country to country bearing news, and the Book of Job was recounted in an interesting manner with a crude three-stringed instrument that produced sufficient sound to indicate gaiety, sorrow, trouble, etc. The Book of Job started by telling that Satan had a conversation with God. Satan said, “No wonder Job believes in you. Look how you are rewarding him. Let me take away his material possessions, and then see what happens.” When we come to the part of the account that we are currently studying, everything is broken up. Therefore, the number of animals should not be interpreted too literally. Earlier there was a mathematical cadence, but now the narrative is random—oxen and asses, sheep, and camels—and is not to be spiritualized. It was as if anarchy was occurring.

The narrator would have presented the broken account in an excited voice. As he was talking about the Sabeans, the fire of God, the Chaldeans, etc., he strummed the instrument with emotion.

Notice that before the beginning of most Psalms in the King James Bible, information is given: who the singer is, what the mood is, what instrument is used, etc. The information helps us to employ our attention and minds on better things. The point is that the Lord rewards His people. No matter what their depth of understanding, He gives an abundance of information. The Bible is a mine so deep it can never be plumbed.

Anyway, we believe that these verses in the Book of Job were purposely recorded in a haphazard manner. When each sole surviving servant delivered his tale of woe to Job, he did it excitedly. “I only am escaped alone to tell thee,” said the first. Then, “I only am escaped alone to tell thee,” said the second, and so on.

Job 1:18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:

Job 1:19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Yet another servant came with even more devastating news, and this tragedy was the most damaging. During the festivity in the eldest son’s house, a great windstorm had arisen that collapsed the house and killed the occupants. We should try to put ourselves in Job’s place.

After having considerable goods and tremendous wealth and being called the greatest man in all the East, he heard successive bad news, until even his sons and daughters died (Job 1:3). And what was the cause? “There came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house.” Job thought this affliction was supernatural, but he did not realize that Satan was behind the trouble. Job was greatly handicapped because he did not know the philosophy of the permission of evil, which God’s people now are privileged to know.

Understanding the philosophy of the Ransom and the permission of evil is a great blessing. But with such knowledge comes great responsibility. To be a member of the Little Flock, we must be responsible to the degree of our capability in appreciating the knowledge and in complying with and obeying the Heavenly Father’s wishes.

Q: The account says that the “great wind” caused the house to fall upon the “young men.” Did the wind also kill the daughters?

A: Yes. The words were put in the mouth of each surviving servant, or messenger, by the unholy spirit of Satan, not the Holy Spirit of God. By mentioning just the young men, the emphasis was that Job had no heirs. Therefore, having no sons was more crucial than having no daughters. Satan is an evil mastermind. Being fallen, we have only limited powers of understanding and memory compared with those Adam had in his perfection. The fallen angels, however, have suffered no impairment of their powers. They do not get sick; they do not die; they do not experience pain. Satan has rebelled against God because he thinks he is immortal; that is, he thinks he can disobey God and not die. Because no angel has died to date, and because the angels were not placed under a death penalty as Adam was, Satan has become emboldened despite seeing what Jesus did during his ministry. Satan is evil and incorrigible, and he believes God cannot destroy him innately. When he arranged Jesus’ crucifixion, he really fell from heaven. Even though he has been in chains of darkness ever since Noah’s day, he inveigled Jesus’ death with his evil power. This vile deed condemned him to Second Death, for henceforth there was and is no possibility of his repenting. The inference is that up to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, if Satan had really repented, there might have been the possibility of his retrieval. However, God foreknew that Satan would become incorrigible, and his doom was sealed at the First Advent.

What did Job have left at this point? His wife and his house. The next three verses tell how Job responded to his trials.

Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Now we see the greatness of Job. He lost everything material plus the fruit of his own body in one stroke, as it were, and what did he do? He responded with the statement “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” All of the calamities had occurred one after the other. And yet another trial was to come on Job, as we shall see.

Job’s reaction here shows not only his true worth but also why God was merciful to him when the three comforters subsequently needled him. Although Job exploded at times and occasionally spoke some inadvertent words, God knew his frame. “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psa. 103:14). As a son of Adam, Job was imperfect. Therefore, perfection could not be expected, but up to this point, he was almost perfect in that he “sinned not” and did not charge God foolishly. Job’s reaction is also an example of the

advice to be slow to speak and swift to hearken (James 1:19). Not only did Job not burst out under this tremendous experience, but he rent his garment, shaved his head, fell down on the ground, worshipped, and uttered these words. Resigned to the experience, Job said, “Blessed be the name of the LORD.” With his lack of understanding of the philosophy of the permission of evil, it is almost unbelievable that he could utter such words. Job was not thinking of Satan, so who else could he have attributed the afflictions to but God? Perhaps he thought God was just quiet and not interested in his afflictions, but he still expressed praise. Throughout the whole Book of Job, in all of the long conversations back and forth, Satan was not mentioned. (Of course God spoke at the end of the book.)

Q: The word “mantle” is a different Hebrew word from that used for the mantle Elijah folded up to smite the Jordan. Was Job’s mantle like an outer robe?

A: Yes. Job had just lost everything in one day. Before the afflictions occurred, he had no foreknowledge of the experience. Therefore, he would have been dressed in his usual attire.

The arrival of the several messengers bearing bad news took perhaps five minutes of that one day. In the meantime, before their arrival, he was in his house with his wife, dressed in normal garb—possibly the garb of a judge because being a judge was one of his responsibilities besides being the possessor of property and doing a lot of other things, as we will find out later.

Q: Was shaving his head a sign of mourning?

A: Yes.

Comment: Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Satan’s ploy with both the lightning and the wind was to get Job to think God was responsible, yet Job did not jump to that conclusion.

Reply: Yes, and not to attribute those afflictions to God was an extremely difficult thing to do, considering Job’s lack of knowledge. The goodness of God was sealed in his heart.

Q: Since hair is a symbol of consecration, does that meaning apply when Job shaved his head?

A: Hair is a symbol of consecration with a woman, but with a man, hair represents strength.

Hair, which grows daily, is an indication of one’s present condition, whether that individual is a woman or a man. Job’s present status had reached such a traumatic conclusion that he got rid of the hair. This practice was customary; it dated back prior to the Law, applied during the Law, and is even done during the age of grace. If tragedies come upon us as Christians, we should want to figuratively demean our bodies, to disgrace our humanity.

Job was probably restraining thoughts that were racing through his mind. “Why? Why, God? Why?” And then he said, “Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job had some information of the pre-Flood era. For one thing, documents were handed down.

In addition, Noah spread his gospel after the Flood, and Shem was active. Therefore, Job would have heard information about God supplied by predecessors, and this relatively limited knowledge was sufficient for him to have built up a crystallized faith. In spite of all the temptations, he withstood the storm. His previously built faith structure withstood this assault by Satan. Although no details are given, he had to have some knowledge because faith comes only by knowledge. The account of Job is very informative, and it makes us ask, “With the character and faith structure I have built already, could I have done as well if I were in Job’s position?” Of course we would not tear a mantle because we do not wear that type of clothing, but we should certainly fall down on the floor. We have seen a brother who was crushed with a trial fall down on the floor and weep and weep, sobbing hard and trying to pray. We would do the same if we had Job’s experience, but would we say what he did in verse 21?

Comment: Although Job probably did not know the processes behind the resurrection, he did know that God had a future plan for a resurrection, as proven by Job 19:25, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”

Reply: Yes, later information reveals Job’s knowledge. Abraham, who lived earlier, was looking for a better resurrection (Heb. 11:10,13,16). Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

Q: What is the spiritual application of Job?

A: Up to this point, Job represents Jesus and the Church, but subsequently he represents only the Church because Jesus never said some of the things that Job did. Jesus was the Logos, but he became flesh, leaving his former riches in glory behind and coming down here and humbling himself according to his Father’s plan. Jesus came into the world naked, and he went out naked on the Cross. Many times we have stated that Job does not represent the world of mankind and restitution or the nation of Israel, but the Church. From chapter 2 until Job finished his conversation at the end of the book, he represents the experiences of the Little Flock. The nitty-gritty detail provides interesting information about some of his knowledge. Although we do not know his degree of information, and although we feel sure he did not understand the philosophy of the permission of evil, he did know many other things and had diversified wisdom, as we will see in going verse by verse through the book. Seeing what his experiences and his thinking were will be very revealing.

(2001-2003 Study)

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