What Can We Learn From the Book of Job?

By Don Ruhl

The Nature of God

We have to be careful what we say of God. Do you know of people who have turned from looking for God because a Christian told them erroneous things about God? Listening to the world talk about Him shows that Bible-believers have often uttered the wrong thing. What Job said about God was right.

And he said.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
(Job 1.21, 22).

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 2.9, 10).

And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (Job 42.7).

What then did God rebuke in Job? It was not that Job had spoken what was wrong of God in everything that Job said, but Job had challenged God, questioned God, and commanded God.

Job’s major problem was thinking that he knew more about God. That was not necessarily something against God, but it was speaking of himself too highly, and if you think about it, that is what God rebuked in Job

What we learned then is that we have to be careful how we speak about God and how we speak of us in relation to God. The friends had spoken truth concerning God, but the theme of the Book of Job is suffering, and on that matter the friends had not spoken the truth, because they argued that God always sends suffering as a form of punish for sin, and that the suffering fits the crime.

“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright ever cut off?”
(Job 4.7)

This passage sums up the argument of the friends. What is wrong with the questions in relation to God? The assumption is that God always punishes and never forgives, does not work with man in his weakness, is brutal and unkind, does not take into account that man is dust. It makes God sound like an insensitive machine.

The friends had only spoken of the justice of God, as though there is nothing else to Him. They emphasized God’s justice, but left undone His mercy and forgiveness. They had a lop-sided view of God.

Job confessed that he had spoken things that were not right, showing his heart of humility, but the friends never confessed such.

“Do you intend to rebuke my words,
And the speeches of a desperate one, which are as wind?”
(Job 6.26)

As the above quote shows, they were heartless toward Job. He said to them,

“I also could speak as you do,
If your soul were in my soul’s place.
I could heap up words against you,
And shake my head at you”
(Job 16.4)

They did not confess any error during the debate and they did not confess it to God after He had finished speaking to Job

The Nature of Man

What is man?We are nothing more than a creation, right along with behemoth, leviathan, and the other creatures God created. Who then do we think we are to order God around? He is the Creator; we are the creatures. Therefore, we answer to Him and He does not answer to us.

Yet, God does not use these truths to put us down, unless we have sought to reverse our role with Him. God knows what we are.He works with us.He is patient with us.

The Nature of Suffering

Can we always know why we suffer? Is it possible that our suffering is connected with our faith? From Job’s perspective, there did not appear to be any relation to his fear of God. He lost his income, his children, and then his health. There was nothing direct that told him he was suffering these things because he feared God or that these things were attempts to make Job renounce God. How much is our suffering then related to our relationship with God? We do not know, but it would seem that we can know that some of it is. This being true, how should we react to our suffering? Should we not search out God? Should we not see our whole lives as being in God?

The Nature of Controversy

How do we view self and our position? Humility in ourselves and patience with others have to be the ruling attitudes. The four men just knew that they were right and that the other side was wrong. Yet, it was that kind of thinking that got them into trouble. How do we view the other side and his position? Is it possible that the other side could be right? That is a possibility that we resist, yet, if the four men had listened to each other, and listened to God especially, they would not have erred so severely. Does it hurt to be kind to those with whom we disagree or who disagree with us? What do insults accomplish?

The Nature of Comfort

How shall we comfort those who suffer? The friends started off well. Then they heard things that that they believed were wrong, especially because they had already made up their minds that Job had committed a great sin to bring on his suffering. Therefore, when we meet the friends in chapter 2, while we see them going to comfort Job, in their minds Job had sinned and they probably assumed that he was in a state of repentance. Once they heard him speak, they knew that he was not repenting, that he had not recognized what the problem was. We should keep in mind that people in deep suffering are going to say inappropriate things. That does not excuse their wrong, but it helps us to be understanding, because when our time of suffering comes we will want kindness from others.

“To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend,
Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
(Job 6.14)

The Nature of Our Thinking

The Book of Job showed us that humility before both God and men is always necessary. Even after we have gained much knowledge, we have to be careful how we use that knowledge, and how it makes us, that is, do we stay humble or do we become arrogant? I believe that the last sentence of First Corinthians 8.1 is something to keep in mind as we read the Book of Job and as we go through life, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1Cor 8.1b).

The argument between Job and his friends became an argument over knowledge rather than a time of ministry based on love, which is how it started. In love, the friends sought to comfort their friend, but they heard things with which they disagreed, and they believed they had to answer him and correct him.


5 thoughts on “What Can We Learn From the Book of Job?

  1. I have been in a short but intense study of the book of Job recently. The pastor of my church gave me a short commentary, and once finished with it, I was impressed by the lesson of humility that prior to my study I had not been aware of, my father in-law who I had respected in past years, because of his biblical knowledge, asked me what I thought the lesson was to be learned from this book. I was set back by his response, and provoked to dive deeper into the study. What I came to understand was , that my father in-law , unfortunately, was the fifth friend of Job! It saddens me , and through prayer I hope that God will reveal this need of humility to me and my family as our walk continues.

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