The Real Meaning of the Book of Job
Job: The Man
Job is the central character in the book bearing his name. Job lived over 4,000 years ago; yet we still study about his life and can apply what he learned to our own lives. Job was blameless and an upright man. He feared God and shunned evil. Job was healthy. He was wealthy. He had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 1,000 oxen, and 500 donkeys. Job was a family man with a wife, seven sons and three daughters and a large household of servants.
Most people would think Job had it made. But the story isn’t about what Job had and what he lost. It is about what he learned through his suffering. While it is true that suffering is a major theme in the Book of Job, suffering is not the real meaning of Job. Rather, the focus is on what Job learned from his suffering. It is what Job learned about God through his suffering.
Job's Suffering and God's Sovereignty
The first part of the Book of Job outlines the cause of Job's suffering. Then in Chapter 3-37 there are many dialogues with Job and his three friends. Job questions God and rehearses in his mind what he is going to say to God. God did not intervene but let Job go and his friends go on and on. Then in Chapter 38, God speaks.
You cannot talk about Job's suffering without talking about God's sovereignty.
Job: The Message in the Book
Now that we know about Job, the man, here are some things learned from the book of Job.
- Job’s suffering started when Satan suggested to God that Job would remain faithful only as long as he was prosperous. Then God permitted Satan to try Job’s faith. God allowed it, but He did oversee it and He set boundaries. He told Satan he could do what he wanted to do with Job except kill him.
- Job lost all he had including his good health, his wealth, his sheep, donkeys, oxen, servants, and all ten children. Job experienced more tragedy in just a few days than most people experience in a lifetime. Every area of Job’s being was tested.
- Job did what was customary in times of mourning and suffering. In sackcloth and ashes, he sat for seven days without speaking. His three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar sat in silence with him.
- When Job finally spoke, his friends one after another tried to convince him to admit that he had sinned against God and God was punishing him. Even so, Job held on to his faith.
- It was not until Job came to the end of himself that he could he see God for who He really was. Job had to lose it all before he could acknowledge the greatness of God, the majesty of God, and the sovereignty of God.
- It was only after Job had acknowledged God's sovereignty and prayed for his friends that God restored everything Job had lost and doubled in every case except for his children because they would marry and give Job grandchildren.
There was something Job needed to know. There was something God wanted to teach Job, and it could be done only through his suffering. God wanted to point Job in a new direction. He wanted Job to embark onto a new way of interpreting his life. God wanted Job to recognize that God was the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
The message of the book of Job is God's sovereignty.
What is the REAL Message in the Book of Job?
What, then, is the real message in the book of Job? The REAL Message of Job is NOT Job's suffering because God would never end the story with suffering. Instead, God ended the book on a much more positive note.
Job admitted that he knew about God, but he didn't know God for himself. He went through the rituals, but when he was tested he found out about the sovereignty of God through personal experience. God suggested that Satan could test Job because He knew Job would make that discovery through suffering.
The ending of the book of Job illustrates how Job's later life was better than his former life after he came to know God more personally. Through his suffering, Job came to know God and His sovereign power.
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