All the facts that are known about Job are contained in the book that bears his name. The book of Job is generally considered by literary critics as the supreme piece of literature in existence. Although the penman’s name is not given, certain evidence suggests that it was Solomon. Some have assumed that the book is merely a parable; and that Job himself is merely an imaginary character; but Job is grouped with other holy men, which would not be the case were this narrative merely a parable (Ezekiel 14: 14) (Ezekiel 14: 20) (James 5: 11).
Job may have lived about the same time as Abraham, and his home was evidently in Arabia, probably not far from Palestine. Job was a man of great learning and influence; a man of great piety, who knew and reverenced God and appreciated justice; a man of great generosity, who considered the widow and the orphan; a merchant prince of great wealth, who by his numerous servants and three thousand camels carried on an extended and very prosperous business (Job 1: 1-3).
Suddenly disaster came upon Job. He suffered the loss of all his property, then of all his children, then of the love and loyalty of his wife; and finally, he was smitten with sore disease – boils, from head to foot. To crown all, three of his friends came to see him on hearing of his great trials; and instead of being true comforters, they added to his sorrows by insisting that his own sins must have been the cause of all these disasters; that his experiences must surely be punishments from the Lord because of unfaithfulness on his part.
But Job never lost his faith in God. He said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1: 21)! “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13: 15). Though Job was much cast down, he maintained his integrity of character and his faith in the Lord, and never charged God with injustice. He sought for an explanation as to why God permitted evils to overtake him, and admitted that he could not understand why the willfully wicked are not so troubled, while he who has pursued righteousness is so afflicted that life has no pleasure and he wishes that he had never been born.
Job’s Perplexing Question
The question which perplexed Job was the same that for centuries has confused others of God’s people; namely, Why does God permit evil (calamities, afflictions, etc.) to come upon His faithful servants? and why are the wicked permitted to flourish? But not until the Gospel Age was it possible to know the answer, and then it was only open and clear to the Lord’s people. These see that the reign of evil, sin and death, under Satan, the prince of this world, is permitted for two reasons: (1) that all men may gain a full experience of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the bitterness of its fruit: and (2) that God’s people may be fully tried and tested as to their loyalty to God under affliction and trial, as well as in health and prosperity.
Returning to Job, we see some of his prophetic wisdom. He presents a graphic picture that human life under present conditions is full of trial and sorrow, from the cradle to the tomb (Job 14: 1-4). Job shows that he realizes that he is fallen, and could not be completely perfect and free from sin in his present condition. Confessing that there is no ground for hope inherent in man, Job expresses the only real hope of our race – a resurrection (Job 14: 12, 13). He then puts the question pointedly, but immediately answers affirmatively, “Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee [and awake out of the sleep of Adamic death – compare (John 5: 28, 29)]: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands” (Job 14: 14, 15).
God did not desert His faithful servant. He reproved Job’s accusers and required them to offer sacrifice, and instructed Job to pray for them, that their trespasses might be forgiven. In the end, he was blessed more abundantly than ever before. How faithful is the Lord in all his dealings!