OUTLINES OF THE BOOK OF JOB
There are a few reminders we ought to make whenever we begin a study of a portion of the Scriptures. These ought to be an incentive for consecrated study.
- The object of our study and investigation is the Word of God. Whenever the apostles wrote letters to the Churches they first of all reminded them of that fact; emphasizing their service to the Lord they demanded that their epistle be considered not of man nor by man but of God.
- That it is the Word of God demands us that we pay earnest heed to it. We must carefully examine and interpret it according to rules of Scripture interpretation and understanding that it is only through the Holy Spirit that we are able to interpret. Upon this occasion our study is the book of Job and not these outlines. They are only to guide us to appreciate the Word of God.
- That it is God’s Word to us is cause for great happiness. It is of salvation in Jesus Christ that each part of Scripture is concerned. This is an incentive for every believer to put forth every effort to increase in the knowledge of the Scriptures.
- No portion of Scripture, even though most difficult, may be counted outside the range of our study. It may be objected that this book of Job is too difficult for young people to study and that it should be postponed until youth has reached a mature age. It may be objected that the difficulty lies in the deep problems of life which are discussed in the book of Job. For this very reason it is most fitting for our study. Youth are especially fitted by God to wrestle with the problems. The apostle John writes, “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” I. John 2:14
Remarks concerning the Book of Job.
- The question of authorship: Sometimes the question is important because the author gives his name. When it is mentioned who writes to us as the secondary author we are to take notice of it for everything mentioned in the Word of God has some importance. However, in this case no author is known. And this omission in this instance has the definite purpose, as well as the mention of the secondary author, to direct our attention away from man to the living God Himself Who holds the secret who was His servant in writing this book. That no one knew where Moses was buried was to impress all that God only did it. So, too, in this wonder of inspiration we are to remember that it was God who caused to write and who kept the manuscript for us.
Our starting point is in the confession and conviction that this book of Job is the work of the primary author of Scripture, God. This does not rest on blind faith. Faith in the testimony of Jesus who set His seal upon the Old Testament canon, and faith aroused by the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, as well as the objective testimony of the book itself is support enough for our conviction.
- Character of the book: a) The Scriptures contain various kinds of writing: historical, prophetical, epistolary, and poetical for example. b) Very definitely this book of Job is poetry, with the exception of the historical prologue and epilogue. c) This is evident from the form. It has the mark of Hebrew poetry, parallelism. It is also very evident from the order and arrangement of the discourses. They are arranged in cycles or groups of speeches. And the subject matter is that for the finest of literature, poetry. The subjects of suffering, of time and eternity, of heaven and hell, of life and death are given in the most fitting of inspired form.
- Outline of the Book: a) You should read the entire book as soon as possible to enable you to observe many points for further study and appreciation. b) You will also then have gained a view of the book in outline form. You will have noticed an outline something like the following: 1) Prologue: chapters I, II. 2) Three series of discourses between Job and his three friends. Chapters III-XXXI. 3) The speech of Elihu. Chapters XXXII-XXXVII. 4) The answer of the Lord. Chapters XXXVIII-XLI. 5) Epilogue. Chapter XLII.
- The purpose and theme of the Book: We hope to give our conception of the purpose and theme of the book after we have completed a thorough study of it. We can only state that in general it contains material concerning the problem of evil and suffering and that it is God’s purpose to instruct us concerning it and concerning our attitude of faith. In the meantime you ought to form your own conception of the theme and purpose of the book.
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Prologue (Chapters I – II)
Prologue: This is an explanation of the setting necessary for us to understand the message of the discourses that are to follow. When we use this term we do not mean to imply that the following discourses are a drama, which is often the implication of the use of a prologue. Although the discourses partake of the nature of the drama, they differ from the drama in that these are real speeches. This prologue contains these elements: 1. A description of the main character, Job. 2. The account of what took place in heaven. 3. Satan’s first attempt to prove his point. 4. The second appearance of Satan in heaven. 5. And the second attempt of Satan to cause Job to fall.
A description of Job: verses 1-6.
I. His place historically established: vs. 1.
- In the land of Uz. Genesis 10:28 mentions Uz as one of the descendants of Shem. It may be that the land obtained its name from this man. The land was well known to the first readers of this book undoubtedly and it may have added to the renown of Job. He was one of the greatest of the East and so the land wherein he lived may also have been among the greatest of eastern countries.
- The time of Job is not given. It is probable that he lived in Patriarchal times.
- The historical fact is now established when Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11. The name Job and Uz at least take us outside of Israel’s land and history.
II. God’s approval of Job: vs. 1b.
- “Perfect and upright” cannot mean that he was without sin. He confesses his sin throughout the book. Cf. Job 14:4; 42:6.
- This is a judgment of God, In verse 1through the author and in verse 8 His own words to Satan. Nor must we modify this judgment of God by saying Job was almost perfect, or perfect compared to contemporaries. Unqualified is the judgment. God accounted Job as perfectly righteous, without guilt, even though he had sin; and also that he was upright, that is, walking in the way of the righteousness imputed unto him.
- This righteousness was also assured to Job for he feared God and eschewed evil. Cf. Abraham, who believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. Job showed his true fear and love of God by his fleeing from sin; and we must remember this important point later also, that God also gave such an one who walked in His ways testimony of His justification.
III. Token of God’s favor for Job: verses 2, 3.
- Blessed with family life. “There were born to him” is more significant than that “he had”. It seems to express the full blessing of family life was his. This is also shown from the symbolic number, seven plus three.
- That this was a token of God’s favor cannot force us to the conclusion that they who have wealth and family are blessed of God, and they who have nothing are under the disfavor of God. The entire book of Job is a mighty voice against such a philosophy which is exactly that of the three friends. Wealth and family may be a token of God’s favor, not His favor as such; it may also be an expression of His disfavor, Cf. Ps. 73.
IV. His religious life: vss. 4-6.
- Job is not mentioned in the festivities of his children.
- He is only mentioned as thinking of their sins and continually offering sacrifices for them.
- He acts as their priest and continually lives as a saint.
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Scene in Heaven: vss. 6-13
This part of the prologue is of special importance. It compares with the visions of the Apocalypse. Heaven is the place from where all things are controlled. This view gives us a vantage point which enables us to look over all of history.
I. Satan’s appearance before the Lord. (vs. 6)
- He is not one of the sons of God. They are the angels who are the obedient creatures of God, Elohim. Satan is a creature of God but is not His son. The fact that Satan is mentioned as appearing with the sons of God shows that there is a distinction to be made.
- He appears before the Lord, Jehovah, upon a day appointed for God’s obedient creatures to stand before Him to give account. a) Either Satan was also summoned to give account; or b) he took opportunity to make his accusation at this time. c) That latter is closer to the truth. Evident from the fact that 1) that it is not mentioned that Satan is summoned. 2) that it is stated “Satan came also among them”. 3) It is written that they appeared before Jehovah. Jehovah is God’s Name which reveals Himself as the covenant God of His people. These sons of God were engaged in the work of salvation and were returning to report to the Lord. 4) It seems from the different description of Satan’s activity in the Bible that he made his appearance at will in heaven in the Old Dispensation to accuse the brethren. 5) His name means, Accuser, Adversary, which gives the impression that he himself makes his appearance upon permission of God. 6) When God fully reveals the righteousness of His saints in Christ, Satan is cast out of heaven. 7) The privilege to give account is denied Satan and the false prophet who are finally cast into the pool of fire and brimstone without trial.
- Jehovah’s first question: vs. 7. a) It is “Whence comest thou?” b) It implied God’s permission to Satan to inspect His works and to speak to Him. This question now gives Satan the opportunity to speak what is on his mind, for the question in effect is what part of my works has thou surveyed?
- Satan’s reply: In short it is, the whole earth through: a) rapid inspection, going to and fro; and, b) through investigation, walking up and down in it.
- Jehovah’s second question: vs. 8. a) We must be careful when reading this question that we do not place the Lord on a level with Satan and asking Satan what he thinks of His work, His servant Job. God is here also in this expression Almighty God. b) This question is most emphatically God’s answer to all of Satan’s accusations of all time. God’s work does not have to be tested by time. But the subsequent history of Job’s trial is the answer of God to Satan which He gave already in this emphatic question, which is in effect, Satan, behold My servant Job.
II. Satan’s charge: 1. This is really his purpose in appearing before the Lord; the Lord knew it. 2. It is essentially the same charge that is always made by the wicked and the devil. 3. The charge is that no one denies self in the service of God. God demands perfect service, self-denial; God eternally demands that of His creatures when He made them. Satan was proud and sought self. His accusation is that all the brethren do the same. He judges by himself. 4. So he has reasons: a) take all that Thou hast given him and he will curse Thee. b) which says that the gifts are the cause of the love and not the reward of the love.
III. The Lord’s answer. 1. All Job has is given to Satan to do with it what he pleases. 2. The exception of Job himself is made; Satan may not touch Job. 3. Why is this deception made? a) It is all that is in the charge of Satan. b) The Lord only allows the trial to take place in so far as it is necessary to prove the point to Satan. Clearly this shows that the Lord does not allow suffering for nothing. It shows, too, how that all things remain in His almighty hand.
IV. The purpose of the trial: 1. It is a difficult question, why does God allow Job to suffer to prove His point to Satan? It is the mystery of this life, the great problem of evil, with which this book is concerned and is engaged in the revelation of some of the mystery of it. 2. This is a penetrating glimpse that we receive here into the heavenly mysteries. a) Which are also given to us at other crucial points of the revelation of God to us in his Word. b) Compare Paradise; Zechariah 3:1; the temptations of Jesus; the descriptions of Satan’s struggle in Revelation; c) Which we must have to understand the Lord’s victory. 3. It is according to the Lord’s good pleasure that He obtains the Victory over Satan by convincing him of His glory and righteousness in the way of the cross, that Satan’s mouth may be forever stopped. For no other reason is this trial. God is not forced by any reason outside of Himself. It is to reveal His great Name.