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The Book of Job: Themes and Meaning

The Book of JOB
The name Job is the English translation of the Hebrew name Iyov which means “persecuted, hated”

On the surface Job is a long, boring, somewhat confusing book and one might question how it ever came to be grouped with the “wisdom” books as it is hard to ascertain any “wisdom” in this tale of woe.  For the casual reader of the Bible you may even want to omit Job from your reading list and stick with warm and fuzzy verses like John 3:16 and the 23rd Psalm.

However, for the soul in desperate search of God, for purpose to life, for direction, and for a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Lord, run as fast as you can to the book of Job and read it over and over.  As you grow and mature in God, His grace and wisdom are imparted to you through the study of His word.  The deeper you dig the more you see the book of Job as the compilation of practically every topic and theme contained in all of scripture.

The more you study the word of God the more you are able to see emerging symbolism, themes, direct lines from Old Testament to New Testament and back.  Suddenly you are reading the Psalms and you realize that even though David is writing somehow he is talking about Jesus.  You start to understand and grasp that often in the Old Testament the mention of angels, or The Angel of the Lord is Jesus.  You understand that the when Jacob wrestled with the angel and refused to let go until he was blessed the angel was Jesus.  You know that the presence Moses conversed with in the burning bush was Jesus.  From cover to cover you read and discover and do it again.

Your mind starts to map the verses and you see Jesus everywhere.  You see the foreshadowing, the prophecies, the foundation of the trinity.  God the Father in Whom we trust.  The Holy Spirit of Truth who directs and guides the hearts of the chosen of God.  The Messiah, Savior, Lord, Son of God Jesus Christ through Whom all of creation was brought into being and is held together in Him.

When these things begin to come into clarity you become weak in reverent awe of the magnitude of God.  The scriptures tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Job is a wisdom book.  The book of Job lays out the concept of the magnitude of God.

Who wrote the book of Job?

The authorship of Job is most often attributed to Moses who is also considered the author of the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Bible.  When studying the Bible it is important to consider the author, the setting, and the audience in order to better understand the content and themes presented.  The modern book that we call the Bible is not presented to us in chronological order.  If it were then the book of Job would be found immediately after Genesis.

Was Iyov (Job) a real person who lived or is the book of Job a parable?

This question has been debated since ancient times with some believing Job was a Jew, some believing Job was a gentile, and some believing Job is simply a character in a parable to present provocative food for thought with a moral at the end.

The actual truth of this debate is rendered moot due first of all to the fact that even if  Job was a real man and this is an actual account no one living today would be able to meet him or shake his hand or ask him any questions regarding his story.  Getting caught up such debates and investigations only leads one to spin their wheels and become distracted from the whole point of the story of Job.

  • The book of Job is considered to be the greatest commentary on human suffering ever written.
  •  The book of Job has been included in lists of the greatest books in world literature as recorded by The Guardian, 2002, “The top 100 books of all time”.
  •  The book of Job has been regarded through the ages as literature and remarked about as such by notable great men.

 “Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job.”  ~ Victor Hugo

French poet, novelist, and dramatist who was the most well-known of all the French Romantic writers and author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables.

“…the greatest poem, whether of ancient or modern literature.”   ~ Lord Alfred Tennyson

Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria’s reign, credited with writing memorable works including The Charge of the Light Brigade and often quoted maxims such as:
  • “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”
  • “Theirs is not to reason why theirs is but to do and die”
  • “My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure”
  • “Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers”

“The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language.”   ~ Daniel Webster

A leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. His Reply to Hayne in 1830 was regarded as “the most eloquent speech ever delivered in Congress.”

Who was the audience and what was the purpose of the book of Job?

The original audience for the book of Job was the enslaved Israelite children.  It is believed Moses intended to offer some consolation as they suffered as slaves under the Egyptians.  Moses was no stranger to the concept of the “haves” and “have nots”.  Moses himself was saved from the massacre of baby boys in Egypt when Pharaoh’s daughter rescued him from his basket floating along the Nile river and raised him as her own in the palace.

Moses was a Hebrew and yet fate, which we know was divine intervention, slated him for greatness and he was raised in the lap of luxury while he watched his Hebrew brothers suffer.  It was hard for him to find equity in his situation.  Though raised in the palace of the leader of Egypt, Moses found his identity in his Hebrew heritage.

Exodus 2:11-14  Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
One day, when Moses was a grown man, he went out to visit his kinsmen; and he watched them struggling at forced labor. He saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. He looked this way and that; and when he saw that no one was around, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. The next day, he went out and saw two Hebrew men fighting with each other. To the one in the wrong he said, “Why are you hitting your companion?” He retorted, “Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian?”

Irony:  Moses could have relished his privileged life in the palace with no regard for the suffering of the Hebrew people.  Yet, his loyalty was not to Egypt but to the Hebrews and provided the impetus to become a murderer for their sake.  Instead of seeing Moses as a hero meting out vigilante justice, his Hebrew brothers, no doubt in their jealousy,  turned on him.  The intent of his heart was a not factored in by the Egyptians or the Hebrews.  He was rejected by both.

Summary of the book of Job

In a nutshell here is the gist of the story of Job

  • There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Iyov.
    • This man was blameless and upright;
    • he feared God and shunned evil
    • Seven sons and three daughters were born to him
    • He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 pairs of oxen and 500 female donkeys, as well as a great number of servants;
    • he was the wealthiest man in the east.
    • Satan/the Devil/Lucifer/the Accuser comes before God to accuse Job but since Job is blameless and upright Satan has nothing to report.  Satan becomes indignant and basically says, “Well, ANYBODY you blessed so graciously would be forever in Your debt and of course they would walk the straight and narrow for fear of losing their status/wealth/high position.”
    • God is sure of Job because He knows his heart.  God knows that Job is not faithful because of his blessings.  God tells Satan, “Well, that sounds like a valid theory and a conclusion that one who did not know Job’s heart would easily come to but I personally know it is not so.  Therefore, you go right ahead, do what you will but do not touch a hair on his body or harm him physically in any way.  We shall see how Job handles whatever you throw his way.”
    • Pursuant to God’s permission and boundaries, Satan goes after Job with a cruel vengeance.  Satan kills all of Job’s children.  Satan has his lands and workers attacked and killed, his crops destroyed, his livestock stolen.  It’s a single day of the worst news following after the worst news.  Job’s entire life as he knew it was jerked away like the rug from beneath his feet.  Satan was calculating, harsh, and thorough in his assault on Job.
    • Job’s response:  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there.  Adonai gave; Adonai took;  blessed be the name of Adonai.”  In all this Iyov neither committed a sin nor put blame on God.
  • Satan goes back to God and God says, “See?  I told you.”  Satan answers, “Well, big deal.  He’s still got his health.  He can make more children and he can build more wealth.  So what?  Let me take his health and see how faithful he is then!”  So God said, “Go ahead but do not kill him.”
  • So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.
  • Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”  But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
  • Job is quite miserable.  He is sad.  He isn’t necessarily impoverished but certainly his socio-economic level has dropped considerably.  He is grief-stricken by the loss of his children.  To top it all off, as if all of that was not enough to drive a man to his knees, now he is covered in some bizarre disease that renders him pitiful to even look upon by other humans.  Here come his “friends” to visit him.

The bulk of the 40 chapters of Job are speeches by Job’s friends and Job’s responses to what they have to offer him in terms of wisdom, insight, and advice regarding his present situation.

  • ROUND ONE
  • Eliphaz
  • Job
  • Bildad
  • Job
  • Zophar
  • Job
  • ROUND TWO
  • Eliphaz
  • Job
  • Bildad
  • Job
  • Zophar
  • Job
  • ROUND THREE
  • Eliphaz
  • Job
  • Bildad
  • Job
  • JOB HAS HAD IT WITH HIS “FRIENDS” TWO CENTS WORTH
  • Job’s Call for Vindication
  • Job’s past honor and blessing
  • Job’s present dishonor and suffering
  • Job’s proclamation of innocence and final oath
  • A FOURTH “FRIEND” SHOWS UP TO LECTURE EVERYONE AND SET THEM ALL STRAIGHT
  • Elihu’s Speeches
  • First speech
  • Second speech
  • Third speech
  • Fourth speech
  • GOD SPEAKS UP
  • God’s first discourse
  • Job’s response
  • God’s second discourse
  • Job’s repentance
  • THE MORAL OF THE STORY
  • God’s Verdict
  • Job’s Restoration

Parallels

  • Moses loves his Hebrew brothers.
  • Moses is rejected by the Hebrews likely due to jealousy over his palace life.
  • Moses writes the story of Job to comfort his Hebrew brothers as they suffer.
  • The book of Job covers a multitude of themes reflecting the multitude of individual states of the walk of the believer as represented by the children of Israel and their history.
  • An initial theme found early in the book of Job is the concept of “fair weather friends” lacking true loyalty and a thinly veiled jealousy over Job’s wealth.
  • Job cries out for an intercessor, a mediator between him and God to plead his innocence.
  • Job questions life after death.
  • Job stands firm in his declaration of a guilt free conscience and clean living.
  • Job’s friends lecture him on the theme of You Reap What You Sow.
  • Job was an upright man who suffered.
  • Jesus loves mankind and calls us brothers.
  • Jesus is rejected by the people He came to save due to the influence of Satan who is jealous of Jesus’ place at the right hand of God – i.e.:  his palace life.
  • Jesus IS our intercessor, a mediator between man and God to plead our innocence.
  • Belief in Jesus assures life after death.
  • Jesus walked the earth in human form as an upright man who suffered.
  • Jesus is no stranger to “fair weather friends” experiencing the betrayal of even his closest followers.
  • If God/Jesus truly held a firm line of You Reap What You Sow in regards to a sinful, flawed human race then no person alive or dead or yet to be born would ever experience any good in this life or any other life.

Exploring the themes of the book of Job

THEME: The Patience of Job
THEME: Job as Sinless, Blameless, Upright Before God

 

RELATED STUDIES ON WHY THE BLAMELESS SUFFER

God Hardens Us to Difficulties
Is David Your Soul-mate?

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2 comments on “The Book of Job: Themes and Meaning

  1. The Water Bearer
    August 7, 2012

    What an abundance of work you have put into this disection of Job. It is one of my favourite books also. So inspirational and comforting to soak up the lingering essence of the Almighty through its words. I read it again last week, relatable and much needed.

    • shareaverse
      August 7, 2012

      Thank you so much. I have a lot more to say about Job. It is truly an amazing book of the Bible and too often overlooked for its wealth of insight and depth of truth regarding Who God really is. =)

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This entry was posted on August 6, 2012 by in All Sufficient God, Anger, Armor of God, Benefits of Serving God, Bible Stories, Blessed, Comfort, Compassion, Creation, Death, Deliverance, Depression, Devotion, Eternal, Faith, Faith, Faithfulness, Favor of God, Fear of the Lord, Forgiveness, Glory of God, God, God, God of Restoration, God Our Salvation, God Rules, Good News, Grace, Guidance, Help, Hope, Immutable, Infinite, Inspiration, Jesus Christ, Job, Judgement, Justice, Knowledge, Life, Living Word of God, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Old Testament, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Prayer, Relief, Repentance, Righteousness, Self Existent, Self Sufficient, Sovereign, Spirituality, The Holy Spirit, Trinity, Trust, Truth, Understanding, Victory, Waiting on God, Wisdom Books, Wrath and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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