Job, a servant of God
An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Job
Words in boxes (except for words in brackets) are from the Bible.
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The Book of Job tells the story of a man called Job. Job was a good man. Job trusted God. But Job had terrible troubles.
The devil caused Job’s troubles (Job 1:12; Job 2:6-7). But Job did not know this fact. So Job thought that God caused the problems (Job 19:1-12). In fact, God did not cause Job’s troubles. God merely permitted Job to suffer. Still, Job trusted God. And Job refused to insult God (Job 2:9-10).
Job’s friends tried to help Job. But their advice was wrong. They did not think that God would allow an innocent person to suffer. So they thought that Job was guilty. They guessed that Job had done many wicked things (Job 22:4-11).
Job argued with them. He explained that he was innocent (Job 31:1-40). Job thought that God should help him. But Job was still suffering. So Job supposed that God was unfair (Job 23:13-17). But this idea was wrong. Nobody should accuse God. God is always fair (Job 34:10-12).
God was kind to Job, even when Job was suffering. God taught Job many things. Job learned that death is not the end of everything (Job 19:25-27). Job discovered that God would rescue him (Job 14:13-17). And Job knew that God is wonderful (Job 26:5-14).
Then a man called Elihu spoke. Elihu was wiser than Job’s other friends were. Elihu told Job not to accuse God. And Elihu was angry that the other friends had been cruel to Job (Job 32:2-3).
Then a storm approached the men. And the men heard God’s voice (Job chapter 38 to chapter 41).
God reminded the men that he is very great. He told them about the world, the stars and the sea (Job chapter 38). He described many strange animals (Job chapter 39 to chapter 41). And God explained that he created all these things. So nobody should accuse God. Nobody should say that God is not fair. Instead, we must respect God. And we must be humble.
Then Job was sorry that he said the wrong things about God. And Job’s friends were sorry too. They asked Job to pray for them. And God forgave them all (Job chapter 42).
After Job prayed for his friends, God made Job successful again (Job 42:12-17).
Job was a successful man. He was rich. And he was important. Everybody respected Job, because Job was wealthy.
Job did deserve honour, but not because of his wealth. Job deserved honour because he respected God. Job always tried to do the right things. And Job refused to do evil things.
Job did not pretend that he was perfect (Job 31:33). Everybody does some evil deeds (Romans 3:23). This is why Jesus died for us (Romans 3:24-25). Jesus suffered the punishment for our evil deeds. We should invite God into our lives. Nobody on earth is perfect. But, if we trust God, God will make us perfect in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Job did trust God. Job was sincere. Job’s attitudes (Job 31) prove this. Even God spoke well about Job (verse 8).
In Ezekiel 14:14, God mentions Job. God also mentions Noah and Daniel in this passage. Here, God explains that the people in some countries are very wicked. God will punish these people severely. Even a good man like Job could not save such people. And even Noah and Daniel could not help them. This passage in Ezekiel shows us that God really considered Job a good man.
Job was unhappy about the behaviour of his children. Job wanted his children to respect God. Job wanted them to help poor people. But Job’s children preferred to hold parties. They were greedy. They drank plenty of wine. They did not think that Job’s religion was important.
Later, in Job 8:4, Bildad said that Job’s children were evil. Job agreed with Bildad – see Job 9:2.
Job prayed for his children. Before Jesus died, holy people often killed animals as a gift to God. The Bible taught the people to do this (Leviticus chapters 1-7). The people knew that an animal cannot take the punishment for our evil deeds (Psalm 51:16). They knew that only God can forgive us (Psalm 51:17). But the death of an animal reminded them that evil deeds are serious matters. And this tradition taught them that Jesus would die for us all (Genesis 22:8 and John 1:29).
Job was afraid that his children would insult God. This would be terrible because we must always respect God. God created us. And God is our judge. In fact, the author of the Book of Job did not even want to write the words: ‘insult God’. In the language called Hebrew, he wrote the words: ‘praise God’. He did not mean ‘praise’ because of course we should praise God. But the author knew that his readers would be able to work out the meaning of his words.
The book of Job teaches us many things about the devil. The devil’s name is Satan. ‘Satan’ means ‘the accuser’.
Job’s friends did not blame Satan for Job’s troubles. Even Job did not blame the devil. Job and his friends thought that God made Job suffer. But they were wrong. God is good. God wants us to have wonderful lives. God is preparing a beautiful home in heaven for his people (John 14:1-3; Revelation chapter 21).
The Book of Job explains that Satan caused Job’s troubles. Many Christians think that Satan was once an angel (a servant of God) – Isaiah 14:12-15. But Satan refused to obey God. Satan thought that he would be as great as God. Other angels joined Satan. These evil angels are called ‘evil spirits’. (See Mark 5:1-20.)
Satan causes the troubles in the world. God created a beautiful world (Genesis 2:8). But Satan used a snake to test the first people (Genesis 3). The snake told the first people that they should not obey God. Then they would become like God (Genesis 3:3-5). The people obeyed this terrible advice. Since then, everybody has done evil deeds. This is why our lives are difficult (Genesis 3:17-19).
Satan even tested Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15). But Jesus did not behave like us. Jesus did nothing that was evil (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:26-28). When Jesus died, he destroyed Satan’s work (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14). When we invite God into our lives, we become friends of God, because of Jesus’ death (Ephesians 2:14-18).
But the devil continues to test us. He wanders across the world (1 Peter 4:8). He tries to tempt us. He wants to accuse us. We must not follow his advice (James 4:7). He hates us because we love God. And God will protect us (Ephesians 6:10-18).
In the Book of Job, Satan visited heaven. We do not expect to see the devil in heaven! The devil is God’s enemy. The devil belongs in hell.
Jesus’ work was complete when Jesus died for us (Hebrews 10:13-14). But God’s enemies still have some power (Luke 4:6; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Hebrews 10:13). In the future, God will punish all his enemies. And Satan will suffer the punishment that he deserves (Revelation 20:1-10).
God was proud of Job. Job was special to God.
Every Christian is special to God. God knows his people (2 Timothy 2:19). God knows everything about us (Matthew 10:30). He sees our secret actions (Matthew 6:3-4). He hears our quiet prayers (Matthew 5:6). He is better than a friend (John 15:15). He is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). God loves his people. (See the Song of Solomon, or read Revelation 21:3-4 and 1 John 4:19.)
Satan is the accuser. Firstly, he accused God. Satan said that God was not fair. God was protecting Job so Satan could not attack Job!
Satan was wrong to argue that God is not fair. God is always fair.
But Satan was right that God protects his people. God rescues us when we have troubles (Psalm 40:1–3). God saves us from our enemies (Psalm 59). God helps us when we pray (Psalm 61). God is like a castle where we are safe (Psalm 61:1–2). We can always trust God (Psalm 71).
Then Satan accused Job. Satan thought that Job was not really loyal to God. Job served God because Job respected God. Satan thought that Job preferred wealth instead of God. Satan was wrong. Job was still loyal to God even when Job lost all his possessions.
In verse 11, Satan wanted God to destroy Job’s property. But God did not agree to this request. God is not evil. God does not do terrible things to his people. God is never cruel. God refused to destroy Job’s property.
However, sometimes God allows the devil to test us. God allows such troubles so that we learn to trust God more (1 Peter 1:7). Even when we suffer, we love God deeply. And God gives joy to us (1 Peter 1:8).
Terrible things might happen to us (Matthew 5:11). But we can be glad. God has a wonderful reward for us in heaven (Matthew 5:12). Stephen knew this. Stephen’s enemies killed him because he spoke boldly about Jesus. But when Stephen was dying, he did not care about his pain. God showed heaven to Stephen. Stephen even saw Jesus in heaven (Acts 7:55). So Stephen was not afraid (Acts 7:59-60). He knew that God would reward him. And Stephen knew that heaven was his real home. (See 1 Peter 1:4.)
We must not be afraid of troubles. God knows us. And he cares about us. God decided what troubles Job would suffer. In verse 12, God did not allow Satan to hurt Job. In Job 2:6, God did not allow Satan to kill Job. Satan might cause many troubles, but God controls our lives.
We can trust God. He will not allow us to suffer troubles that are too difficult for us. And God will help us when we have troubles. See 1 Corinthians 10:13. We are not alone when we suffer troubles. God will help us. God will make us strong. We do not need to be afraid. Paul suffered many troubles (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). But he wrote that these troubles were slight. He knew that God is preparing a wonderful reward for us in heaven (Romans 8:18). So Paul was always glad (Philippians 4:4).
A birthday should be a happy day. But this birthday was a terrible day. On this day, Satan attacked Job. Job’s troubles came suddenly.
Job’s children were not ready for that day. They were behaving quite as they always behaved. They were not trusting God. They were not ready to meet God. Instead, they were ‘eating and drinking’.
Before Noah’s flood, people were ‘eating and drinking’. These people were not ready for the flood. The flood drowned them. And they were not ready to meet God (Matthew 24:37-39). People will also behave in this manner before Jesus returns. We must not behave like this. We must always be ready to meet God (Matthew 24:44). So we must invite God into our lives. And God will teach us to live in a way that pleases him.
The servants in verses 14-17 announced that Job had lost all his possessions. Job’s sheep died in a terrible fire. Enemies stole Job’s camels. Other enemies took Job’s oxen (farm animals) and his donkeys (small horses). In the morning, Job was the wealthiest man in the east. But in the evening, Job was a very poor man.
Sometimes troubles happen suddenly. Each new trouble makes us weaker. We think that we have no strength. But then, a worse trouble comes. Jeremiah knew this. When Jeremiah’s enemies attacked Jerusalem, the people in Jerusalem suffered terribly. The enemies destroyed the city. They killed many people. They took other people to be their slaves. But Jeremiah still remembered God’s love. Jeremiah still knew that God is kind. So, Jeremiah was patient. And Jeremiah knew that God would still answer prayer (Lamentations 3:22-24).
Habakkuk wrote about this. Habakkuk could still feel joy even if his crops failed. He was glad because God would protect him. He was happy because God gave strength to him (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Then, Job’s troubles became even worse. Job’s children were having a party. They were greedy. Perhaps the party was evil. Perhaps they drank too much wine. Job was worried about them. And Job was right to be worried. Job’s children were not ready to meet God. They did not know that they would die.
The servant’s news was terrible. Job’s sons died. Job’s daughters died. His servants died. Only the four servants in Job 1:14-19 were still alive. Satan was very cruel to Job. Job did not realise that Satan caused Job’s troubles. Job thought that God had caused these troubles.
Satan did these terrible things to Job because Satan wanted Job to insult God (verse 11). Satan thought that Job would hate God because of these troubles. So Job’s reaction was important to Satan.
Job’s reaction was also important to God. God was proud of Job (verse 8). God said that Job was God’s ‘servant’. Like a servant, Job did God’s work on earth (Job 31:16-23). As Christians, we are also God’s servants (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1). God has given great responsibility to us (2 Corinthians 5:20). So, when we have troubles, God wants us to behave wisely.
Job suffered very terrible troubles. We would not be surprised if Job was angry. We should have sympathy when people suffer.
Job was very sad. He carried out the traditions of his people. The sad news upset him greatly. But Job was not angry with God. Instead, Job praised God.
In one day, Job lost everything that he owned. But Job still praised God.
On that day, Job’s sons and daughters died. But Job still praised God.
Job had been rich. Now he was poor. But Job still praised God.
Job knew that his possessions really belonged to God (Psalm 24:1).
Job thought that God had taken Job’s possessions. And Job thought that this was fair. God gave him those things. And Job supposed that God had taken those things away. Job did not know that really Satan had done these terrible things. But Job did not accuse God. Job did not say that God was evil. Job continued to praise God.
Job was patient (James 4:11). Job did not know why these terrible events happened. But Job trusted God. Job continued to praise God. Job was still a servant of God. So Job was careful always to respect God.
Perhaps Job supposed that the most terrible things had happened to him. But soon he would suffer even more troubles.
We can learn many important lessons from Chapter 1:
· God is good. He protects us. He provides for us.
· The devil is cruel. The devil causes our troubles.
· Sometimes God allows the devil to test us. At these times, God is still protecting us. God will help us.
When we have troubles, we should still trust God. We should continue to respect God. And we should praise God in every situation.
In chapter 1, Satan (the devil) wanted Job to insult God. Job refused to obey Satan. So Job was still a good man. Job had many troubles. He lost everything. His children were dead. But Job still respected God. And Job continued to praise God. This was bad news for Satan.
Then Satan decided to oppose Job again. Satan is a powerful enemy, but he can also be stupid. Satan thought that illness would make Job insult God. But Job was a good man. Job trusted God. Job would not obey Satan.
These verses are similar to Job 1:7-8. But God also accused Satan at the end of verse 3. God said that Satan had no reason to oppose Job.
Satan is cruel. He hates everyone who trusts God. But Satan is even cruel to the people who do Satan’s work. And those people will suffer with Satan in hell (Revelation chapter 20).
Satan wanted God to hurt Job. But God does not want people to be ill. And nobody will be ill in heaven (Revelation 21:4). So, God did not hurt Job. But God allowed Satan to test Job.
Satan made Job ill. Job’s skin was very painful.
This was a terrible test. Job had suffered very many troubles in chapter 1. And now, Job was ill.
Job made a tool that he rubbed against the spots. This made the spots less painful. Job sat on the ash heap. This was the tradition of Job’s people. A very sad person would sit on the ashes (Jonah 3:6; Luke 10:13). Then everyone would know that something terrible had happened.
Satan wanted Job to insult God (Job 1:11; Job 2:5). Here, Job’s own wife also wanted Job to insult God. She was like Eve, who told Adam not to obey God (1 Timothy 2:14).
We should not listen to evil advice. Sometimes our best friends speak terrible advice. We should not obey anyone whose advice is evil (Galatians 1:8).
Perhaps Job’s wife thought that Job should kill himself. But Job would not do this. Our lives are a gift from God. We should sympathise with people who want to die. We should care for them. And we should show them that life is God’s gift. Life is precious.
Or, perhaps Job’s wife thought that God would punish Job with death. But, this idea is also wrong. We should never do evil things. And many evil people insult God, but they continue to live. After death, God will punish every evil person (Revelation 20:12-15). This is why everybody should trust God. God will forgive each person that invites God into his or her life (Acts 3:19).
Job meant ‘evil’ by the word ‘foolish’. Only an evil person should say such things.
Job thought that God had done evil things to Job. Job thought that this was fair. He knew that God did many good things. So, Job would not hate God if God did some evil things. But Job’s ideas were wrong. God is good. He never does any evil things.
Job’s words were not evil because Job was sincere. Job was still trying to respect God. Job still gave honour to God.
Compare Job 1:22 and Job 2:10. In chapter 1, Job did not accuse God. But in chapter 2, Job accused God. Job said that God had done something evil.
Job’s friends came from three nations. They were intelligent men. Their speeches were clever. And they cared about Job. They wanted to sympathise with Job. They thought that they could encourage Job. And they wanted to comfort him.
Job’s illness was very severe. The spots were so bad that the friends did not recognise Job. The friends wanted to show Job that they too were very sad. Like Job (Job 1:20), they tore their clothes. They also put dust on their heads. This was a tradition to show that they were very sad.
The three friends were careful not to upset Job. They sympathised with him.
They did not even leave him during the night. They sat on the ash heap with Job.
They were polite. Perhaps they expected to talk with Job. But Job was not ready to speak. His pain was too great. His troubles were too terrible. Job just wanted to remain silent. His friends respected this. So they were silent until Job spoke.
The friends’ actions in chapter 2 were good and right. Later, they would say many foolish things. But in chapter 2, they really cared about Job. They were patient. They were kind. They wanted to help their friend. And we can learn many things from them.
A week later, Job and his friends began to speak. They tried to explain Job’s troubles. They made many mistakes in their speeches. But they also learned many wonderful things about God. In the end, God forgave the friends. And God made Job successful again. But first, we will study their speeches.
Job’s friends waited for Job to speak. They waited for an entire week. At last, Job spoke. Job explained that he was very sad. His life seemed to have no value. He felt as if he was waiting to die.
Job’s people thought that a birthday was a happy day. They had parties (Job 1:4). They were happy when a child was born. But Job was not happy about his own birth. He felt as if his troubles began on that day. He thought that his entire life had no purpose. Job supposed that his life achieved nothing.
But Job was wrong. Job had done many good things (Job 29:12-17). Job was a genuine servant of God (Job 1:8). And God was proud of Job’s life (Job 2:3). Job’s life achieved many good things.
Job lost all his wealth. Job’s children had died. Job became ill. But Job still praised God. Job still trusted God. Nobody who trusts God wastes his or her life. See Mark 10:28-30.
Job wished that he had never lived. He used many words to explain this thought. He imagined that the skies were dark on the day of his birth. Such a day would be a terrible day. But the day would still exist. And Job would still have been born.
Jesus died on a day when the skies really were dark (Luke 23:44). That day was a terrible day. Jesus suffered for our evil deeds. Jesus was innocent. He suffered because we are guilty.
So Job then thought about the night when his parents came together. On that night, Job’s life began, so Job regretted that night also. Of course, every night belongs in the calendar. But Job did not want that date to be in the calendar. Job wished that he had never lived.
If that night never existed, no baby’s life could begin then. And Job would not be born. Job’s parents would not be glad about his birth. But Job thought that their happiness was stupid. He thought that their happiness caused his pain.
Job was angry about the day when he was born. He wanted people to curse that day. He did not care if they woke a crocodile! A crocodile is a strong animal. If you wake a crocodile, it will attack you!
God spoke about the crocodile in Job chapter 41. The crocodile is like a terrible enemy. The crocodile is like Satan (the devil). Satan always accuses the people who trust God. Satan wants to attack us. Satan is very evil.
People are glad to see light in the early morning. Then, they know that daylight is beginning. Then, their troubles in the night will not continue. Perhaps they were afraid during the night. But they would be safe during the daytime. But Job was not glad that he saw the light. He wished that he was dead.
Job imagined that he had died as a child. Job thought that death was beautiful because of his terrible troubles. He thought about dead bodies. Dead bodies seem to be asleep. And Job wished that he could sleep too.
Job’s ideas about death were not wholly right. Later in the Book of Job, Job would learn many more things about death. For example, Job learned that he will live after his death (Job 19:26). But Job did not yet know about heaven and hell.
Job thought that his body would sleep after his death. He would not suffer then, he thought.
These men worked hard. They built palaces. They led great armies. They achieved many things. But now, they must sleep. Their palaces are heaps of stone. Someone else owns their gold and silver now. And their bodies lie near the body of a child whom nobody knew.
If we do not trust God, we waste our lives. Our greatest possessions will be worth nothing when we die. We will lose all our wealth on this earth. So we should live our lives to prepare for heaven. See Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33-34; Luke 12:16-21.
In this world, some people are important. And other people are not important. But when they die, God will be the judge of everyone. And God will be fair to everyone (Revelation 20:12).
Nobody can enter heaven because that person was rich. Nobody can enter heaven because that person was famous. Nobody can enter heaven because that person was important.
Nobody can enter heaven unless that person is born again (John 3:3). This means that we must invite God into our lives. God will change us if we trust him.
Job was able to sympathise with other people because of his own troubles. Job always cared about other people (Job 29:12-17). But now Job knew how they suffered.
The devil complained that God was protecting Job. The devil said that God was like a hedge round Job (Job 1:10).
Job was also aware of this. But Job did not realise that God was protecting him. Job was saying that his troubles were like a hedge round him. So Job could not escape from his troubles.
Job wanted rest and quiet. He even wanted to be dead, so that he could sleep. But instead, he was always suffering. Nothing seemed to help him. And nothing comforted him.
Job’s friends were sad when they heard Job’s speech. They did not want Job to suffer. And they did not think that Job deserved to suffer. Eliphaz spoke first. He was sure that God would help Job. So, Eliphaz tried to encourage Job. Eliphaz wanted to give hope to Job.
Job’s words upset Eliphaz. And Job’s troubles also upset Eliphaz.
Eliphaz simply believed that a good person should have a good life. And Eliphaz thought that an evil person should have a terrible life.
So, when Eliphaz saw Job’s troubles, Eliphaz had no explanation. Eliphaz was sure that Job was a good man. But Job was suffering the troubles that an evil person deserves.
Eliphaz did not know that the devil caused Job’s troubles. And Eliphaz did not realise that God permitted the devil to test Job.
At first, Eliphaz believed that Job was a good man. (Later, Eliphaz would change his opinion (Job chapter 22).) Perhaps Eliphaz heard about Job’s good deeds (Job 29:11-17). Perhaps Job had even helped Eliphaz.
Job’s speech in Job chapter 3 was a very sad speech. And this speech upset Eliphaz. Eliphaz wanted Job to be happy. Christians are glad people, because we have good news (Philippians 4:4). But sometimes we cannot be happy (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Mark 2:18-20). We need God’s help and comfort (James 1:13-15; Matthew 5:4).
Eliphaz was a patient man (Job 2:13). But he spoke too soon. Job needed Eliphaz’s sympathy. And Job needed Eliphaz’s friendship. Instead, Eliphaz told Job to be happy. And Eliphaz’s words seemed cruel to Job (Proverbs 25:20).
But Eliphaz’s advice in verse 6 was sensible. In chapter 3, Job hardly thought about God. Job was only thinking about himself. So, Job had no hope. Instead, Job wanted to die. Job could be confident because he was a holy man. And Job could have hope, because God cares for good people.
Eliphaz was partly right. God punishes evil people. And God protects good people. But Eliphaz’s thoughts were too simple.
Job was suffering. But Job was an innocent man. So, Eliphaz’s words could not help Job. Instead, Eliphaz’s words upset Job.
Many good people suffer now, on this earth. But they will not suffer in heaven (Revelation 21:14). Some evil people are successful on this earth. But nobody will be successful in hell. God knows everybody’s thoughts. God sees our secret plans. And God is a fair judge.
God does not always punish evil people immediately, because God is kind. God does not want anybody to suffer in hell. God sent Jesus to suffer the punishment for our evil deeds. And God will forgive us. So, we must confess our evil deeds to God. And we must trust God.
God does not always rescue good people immediately. Sometimes a good person will suffer, like Job. That person should be patient (James 5:11). Perhaps God is testing that person. Or perhaps God is teaching that person. God is like a father who teaches his children (Hebrews 12:5-11). Or perhaps that person’s troubles are the work of evil people (Matthew 5:11-12). God knows about all these things. God cares about us. And God is making us perfect (Job 23:10; 1 Corinthians 13:10-12).
Eliphaz argued that God punishes evil men. Eliphaz said that evil men are like angry lions. These lions seem terrible. But really, they are hopeless, because they have no teeth. So evil men seem terrible, but really, they are hopeless.
God did not agree with Eliphaz’s opinion about lions. In Job 38:39-40, God reminded the men that he created lions. And God provides food, even for lions. The lions do not need to search for food. The lions can wait in their home. God will provide their food.
God even cares about evil people. God provides rain, so that their crops will grow (Matthew 5:45). And God sent Jesus to die for evil people, so that God can forgive their evil deeds (Romans 5:8).
Eliphaz described a strange dream. This dream frightened him. We do not know whether the dream came from God. The dream taught an important lesson to Eliphaz. But the dream seems only partly correct. Many people have strange experiences. And these experiences may impress these people greatly. But such people should test their experiences (1 John 4:1). Such people must not believe everything. Some strange experiences come from God. Other experiences may come from our own minds. And some are from the devil.
Our experiences should teach us to love God. They should encourage us to trust the Bible. And they should teach the truth about Jesus (1 John 4:2-3).
The Bible describes good spirits and evil spirits.
Good spirits come from God. They teach us the truth about God. God sends them to help us. Good spirits are probably the same as angels (God’s servants in heaven).
Evil spirits come from the devil. They are also called demons. Like the devil, demons are enemies of God.
Perhaps Eliphaz did see a spirit. But perhaps he imagined it. Most dreams mean nothing.
This verse is correct. God is the judge of everyone. A person may be weak or strong. But everyone is guilty in God’s opinion. Everybody refuses to obey God’s law (Romans 3:23; Psalm 53:3; Proverbs 20:9; Isaiah 53:6; 1 John 1:8). But the good news is that God still loves us. God sent Jesus to die for us. We must confess our evil deeds to God. Then God will forgive us.
Eliphaz heard the words in verses 18-21. The spirit in his dream spoke these words. But this verse is wrong. God does trust his servants. God trusted Job in Job 1:8. And God was proud that Job still served him (Job 2:3).
See Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 3:19. God made man’s body from the soil. And the body returns to the soil when the man dies.
This is wrong. God knows when a man dies. And God cares about his people (Psalm 116:16). God even notices when a little bird dies (Matthew 10:29-31).
A dead man will live again. Death is not the end. The Bible teaches this lesson clearly. Everybody who trusts God will go to heaven. Heaven is a wonderful place (John 14:2-3; Revelation chapter 21). Jesus became alive again after his death. And we will also live again in heaven, always (1 Corinthians chapter 15).
But people who refuse to obey God will also live after their death. God will be their judge. Their fate will be terrible (Revelation 20:11-15). See Luke 16:19-31. This passage is important. Trust God now! The Bible teaches that you must invite God into your life now. Do not delay!
Eliphaz heard when Job complained (in Job chapter 3). But Eliphaz thought that Job’s words achieved nothing. An angel (servant of God from heaven) would not help Job.
Eliphaz’s words were partly correct. God does not listen if we merely complain to him (Job 35:14-16). Nobody should complain about God (Job 34:29). God is good! God is fair! We must respect God.
But God’s servants will help a man (Job 33:23-24). In fact, the angels (God’s servants in heaven) are always helping Christians (Hebrews 1:14). Daily, the angels work to protect us (Psalm 91:11-12).
This is a clever verse.
An evil man is angry because he hates God. So, God punishes the evil man for his behaviour. This is why the evil man dies.
A stupid man might not hate God. This man does not really know about God. And this man has not learned to do the right things. But the stupid man is jealous of other people. So, he copies their evil behaviour. Then God punishes the stupid man for his evil behaviour. This is why the stupid man dies.
Eliphaz saw these events. So, Eliphaz thought, ‘God is punishing this man.’ And Eliphaz thought that this was fair. Eliphaz was sure that this evil man deserved these troubles.
Perhaps Eliphaz was right about this particular man. But perhaps Eliphaz was wrong. Some people, like Job, suffer although they are not evil. Even if the man was evil, God does not always punish evil men immediately.
Eliphaz thought that every evil person would suffer like this man. The idea was wrong. Some evil people are successful for their whole lives. But God will punish them when they die.
Here, Eliphaz linked his dream (Job 4:12-21) with his story (Job 5:1-5). If nobody is innocent, then everybody deserves troubles! So, Job could not be an innocent man. And Job deserved his troubles. Eliphaz thought his reply explained Job’s troubles. So Eliphaz felt ready to advise Job.
Eliphaz’s mistake was that his speech was too simple. He thought that God punishes every error immediately. So, Eliphaz thought that God was punishing Job for some evil deed.
But God is not cruel. God does not watch us so that he can punish us. God wants to forgive us. God loves us.
This is true. These words are wonderful words. Verse 11 is like James 4:10 and Luke 1:46-55.
These words are also true. But we can see Eliphaz’s mistake again. Eliphaz did not realise that some evil plans succeed. And Eliphaz thought that God would punish these evil people immediately.
God cares about poor people. Rich people might be cruel to poor people. But God defends poor people. And Christians should help poor people too (Proverbs 22:22-23; Galatians 2:10; Matthew 11:5).
Eliphaz thought that God was teaching Job about Job’s errors. So, Eliphaz urged Job to learn discipline from God.
Sometimes we might have problems for this reason (Hebrews 12:5-11). But this was not the reason for Job’s troubles. Job was a good man (Job 1:8). Job suffered because the devil opposed him.
God did not cause Job to suffer. The devil caused these problems.
This verse is right. God cares for the people who trust him. He will rescue them, even if they suffer many terrible troubles (Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 46:1-3; Proverbs 24:16).
Eliphaz promised many good things if Job would trust God. And Eliphaz was right. God cares about his people. See Deuteronomy 28:1-14. God promises us many wonderful things. But we may not receive all these things until we arrive in heaven (Revelation 21:1-5). In our lives on this earth, we may suffer many troubles (Mark 8:34-38). God will provide for us (Matthew 6:28-34). But we should not imagine that we must be wealthy to be successful (Luke 12:15; Proverbs 3:13-15; James 2:1-5).
This is like God’s promise to Abraham. See Genesis 12:2; Genesis 15:2-5; Hebrews 11:11-12.
A farmer must collect his grain at the right time. Then the grain will be useful and valuable. But grain is not useful if the farmer collects it too early.
Eliphaz wanted Job to live until he was old. Job would achieve many good things. And Job would have a large family. So Job would be like the harvest.
Eliphaz was not careful with his words in verses 25-26. Job was probably already an old man. And all Job’s children were dead (Job 1:19). Eliphaz wanted to encourage Job. But Eliphaz’s words could only upset Job. Before these troubles, Job had a good life. But now Job’s life was terrible.
Eliphaz thought that his advice was good. Job’s other friends agreed with Eliphaz. But Eliphaz’s advice was too simple. He made many mistakes. He upset Job.
So Job was very sad. He even wanted to die. And Job was sure that his friends could not help him.
In chapter 3, Job described his feelings. His friends listened. But Eliphaz did not answer wisely. Eliphaz’s explanation in chapters 4-5 was too simple. So, Job spoke again.
A heavy weight is a great strain for the person who must carry it. And Job’s troubles were a terrible strain for Job. Job spoke because of this strain. And Job was not sure that his words were correct.
Job thought that God caused Job’s troubles. Job did not realise that the devil caused these troubles.
A farm animal might be noisy when it needs food. Such an animal is complaining because it is hungry. When Job spoke, he too made a noise. When he spoke, Job was complaining like the hungry animal. But Job was not hungry. He was ill. And if he ate food, he was sick.
Job was weak. Both his body and his spirit were weak (see verse 12). Job felt as if he could not even control his own words (verse 3, verse 5). So, Job prayed a sad prayer. He prayed that he would die.
Job did not want to die because of his pain. He totally trusted God to do the right things (Job 1:21).
In fact, Job wanted to die because he was afraid about his own words. Job did not want to insult God (Job 2:9-10). Job could not control his words (verse 3, verse 5). But Job did not want to deny God’s words. So Job prayed that he would die. Job wanted to die so that he did not say an evil word about God. And then, Job would be glad. God is great. We should always respect God. We should be careful with our words (James 3:2-12).
Job explained that his body and his spirit were weak. Job used to be a great man, whom everybody respected (Job 1:3; Job 29:1-10; Job 29:21-25). He was a leader of his people. But now, Job needed help. And his friends were not helping him.
We ought to support someone who suffers (Galatians 6:2). We should help everyone who needs our help (Matthew 25:34-45). We should sympathise with them. But Job’s friends did not do this. These friends were close friends. Job thought that they were like brothers to him (verse 15). But Eliphaz’s words were too simple. His advice was wrong. In chapter 22, Eliphaz would accuse Job. So, Job could not trust his friends.
There are some streams that travellers can always trust. The water is always plentiful, even in the driest weather. When the travellers arrive at these streams, there is water for them. And there is water for their animals.
But there are other streams that travellers should not trust. These streams might seem good. During many months, such streams are full of water. But these streams are dangerous. In the driest weather, there is no water. Men might travel far to reach these streams. But the stream is dry. And the men will die, because they are too tired to travel further.
Job’s friends seemed like those dry streams. When Job’s life was good, his friends were good friends. But when Job had troubles, they could not help him. When Job needed their help (verse 13), they did not support him.
God is a closer friend than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). God will always support us in our troubles (Proverbs 18:10). God cares about us (1 Peter 5:7).
Job knew that his friends could not help him. His troubles were too great. His friends’ money could not help him. And they could not defend him. They were too late. Job’s trouble had already happened before they arrived.
Job was starting to realise that he needed God’s help. Only God could rescue him. But Job did not yet know that God was already helping him. In fact, Job thought that God was his enemy (verse 4).
Job thought that his friends were not sincere. Perhaps they wanted to argue. Perhaps they enjoyed their conversation. Perhaps they were playing games with their words.
But Job was not playing games. His troubles were great. Job’s friends could not feel Job’s pain. And they did not know the answers to Job’s troubles.
Job said that he was innocent. He did not pretend that he was perfect (Job 31:33). But Job was a genuine servant of God (Job 1:8). Job respected God. And he refused to do evil deeds. But Job’s friends did not believe this (Job chapter 22).
This is a very sad chapter. Often we do not realise when our friends are sad. Perhaps our friends are brave, so they do not want to upset us. Or perhaps they do not know how to explain their troubles. But God knows our friends’ worse feelings. And God cares about our friends when they suffer. So we too should care about them.
A worker waits to receive his wages for his day’s work. But Job thought that he would receive no reward for his good deeds.
A slave waits for the evening, when he can sleep. His master cannot control the slave by night. And sleep is the only reward that the slave receives for his day’s work. But Job could not sleep because he was too ill (verse 4).
Like the worker and the slave, Job waited. But Job was waiting to die. Job’s death was the only reward that Job expected. Then, at last, Job would not suffer.
Job did not yet realise that God would reward Job in heaven (Revelation 21). But God would soon teach this fact to Job (Job 19:25-27).
Job could not sleep by night, because of his pain. Instead, he waited for the dawn. This is very sad. But perhaps Job was starting to have some hope.
Daylight begins to shine at dawn. And light has a special meaning in the Book of Job. Job said that the grave would be dark (Job 10:21). Bildad said that a wicked man does not belong in the light (Job 18:18). Job said that some evil people love the darkness (Job 24:13-16). And God described how he creates the light each morning (Job 38:12-15).
So, in the book of Job, ‘light’ means good things. And ‘darkness’ means bad things.
In verse 4, Job said that he was waiting for the dawn. So, he waited for the light to shine. God created the light so that darkness will not last always (Job 38:13). And God created the morning so that the activities of evil men would end (Job 38:15).
Job was very ill. He did not know when he would breathe for the last time. But God controls our lives. Job would not die until the time that God chose (Job 2:6).
Job had many wrong ideas about death. He thought that a man was like a cloud. A cloud simply disappears. So, Job thought that a man could not live after his death. Job even thought that God could not see a dead man.
Later, Job realised that these ideas were wrong. In Job 14:7-9, Job thought about trees. Even if a tree seems dead, a tree can sometimes grow again. And in Job 19:26-27, Job realised that he would see God after his death. In Job 38:17, God explained that he knows every place. God knows where dead people belong.
Job thought that a dead man would not live again. But Job did not think that this was fair. Job loved God (Job 1:21). Job wanted to meet God (Job 13:22). Job wanted to be really wise (Job chapter 28). Job wanted to read God’s words (Job 31:35-36). Job wanted to be like a prince, who would meet God (Job 31:37).
Job did not think that these things could happen. He just wanted to die so that he would not insult God (Job 6:10). He did not think that dead people could be wise (Job 28:22).
Job did not realise that God would answer Job (Job 38:1). Job did not expect to see God (Job 42:5). These things happened during Job’s life. Heaven will be much better than this life (1 Corinthians 13:11-12).
Job was right. God controls the sea. See Job 38:8-11. And God controls great animals, like the crocodile (Job 3:8 and Job chapter 41).
Job thought that God was using these terrible troubles to control Job. But Job was wrong. God was not Job’s enemy. Job’s enemy was the devil, called Satan. Satan is like the crocodile. Satan is a strong enemy. And Satan is always trying to attack us.
Job could not sleep because of his pain – see verse 4.
Job was referring to Eliphaz’s dream. See Job 4:13-21. Eliphaz thought that this dream would help Job. But really, the dream only frightened Job. Job had enough troubles already! He did not want to think about Eliphaz’s terrible dream!
Job did not want to suffer always. So, he did not want to live always. He did not realise that nobody suffers in heaven – Revelation 21:4. He did not realise that heaven is like a wonderful party – Isaiah 55:1-3. Heaven is the home that God prepares for us – John 14:2.
But we should trust Jesus, so that we can go to heaven (John 14:6). This is why we should invite God into our lives.
Job was special to God (Job 1:8). Job knew this. But Job did not know why. God watched Job because Job was God’s servant (Job 2:3). But Job supposed that God had become Job’s enemy. Job thought that God was attacking Job. So, Job was afraid of God.
Christians are special to God. God chose us to be his people (1 Peter 2:9). God is not our enemy. God is our friend (John 15:13-15).
God allows our troubles so that we will learn to trust God more (Hebrews 12:7-11). Later Job realised this (Job 23:10).
God watches us, because he cares about us. He is always helping us. If God did not watch us, we would die immediately. See Job 34:14-15. But Job wanted to die (verse 15).
God watches everybody. But Job was God’s servant. So, Job was special to God. Job supposed that God chose Job to be God’s enemy. But in fact, God was Job’s friend.
Job supposed that God would never excuse Job’s errors. Job thought that, perhaps, God was punishing Job for some evil deed. Job was a good man (Job 1:8). But nobody is perfect (Romans 3:23). However, God was not punishing Job. Job was suffering because Satan attacked Job (Job 2:7).
Job said that God could forgive Job’s evil deeds. And Job was right about this. In fact, God wants to forgive us (Isaiah 1:18). This is why Jesus died. Jesus died to suffer the punishment for our evil deeds (Romans 3:24-26). So we must invite God into our lives (John 1:12).
Eliphaz heard Job’s reply. But Eliphaz chose not to answer. Instead, Bildad spoke.
Eliphaz had talked about his strange experience with a spirit. His ideas were new ideas. But Bildad’s ideas were traditional ideas. A new idea is not always right. And a traditional idea is not always right.
Job’s words upset Bildad greatly. Job seemed to have no hope. Bildad understood Job’s words. But Bildad was sorry that Job had even spoken. Bildad would prefer to listen to something that had no meaning, like the sound of the wind.
Verse 3 is right. We all should agree with this verse. But verse 3 leads to an awful idea in verse 4. These are terrible words to say to a man whose children have recently died. We might expect Job to complain about such words. But in fact, Job agreed with Bildad (Job 9:2). Job knew about his children’s behaviour (Job 1:4-5). And perhaps Job realised that we all deserve to die because of our evil deeds (Romans 6:2-3). We are alive because God is kind and patient (2 Peter 3:9). And God wants to forgive us (John 3:16).
Bildad advised Job to pray. This is always good advice (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And Bildad was right to say that God helps sincere people (Matthew 5:1-10). But this does not mean that every Christian should be wealthy. Many people who serve God have many troubles during their lives. But God will reward them greatly in heaven (see Matthew 5:12).
Later, the three friends spoke very cruel words to Job. They accused him of many evil deeds (Job 22:4-11). They thought that Job was suffering as a punishment for his evil deeds. But in chapter 8, Bildad was not yet thinking such things. Bildad still thought that Job was a good man. (The words in brackets (…) are not in the Bible. I have added these words to help us to understand this passage.)
Ancient advice can be good. But it can sometimes be wrong. Job was not suffering for any evil deed. And Job’s problem was not that he failed to pray. (See Job 1:5 and Job 1:20.) Job was suffering because the devil opposed him.
Bildad explained his ideas with three stories.
· The first story is about plants that grow near the river (verses 11-13). Without water, such plants die quickly. Such plants are like people who do not obey God. Without God, such people are hopeless. They forget that their lives are God’s gift (John 1:4).
· The second story is about a spider’s web (verses 14-15). (A spider is like an insect. A spider makes a net, called a web, from silk.) A web might seem to be strong. But really, it is weak. People who forget God may seem to be strong. But they have no security. So their lives are weak. Jesus said that such people’s lives are like buildings without a proper base (Matthew 7:24-27).
· The last story is about a plant in a garden (verses 16-19). This plant has everything that it needs. So it grows well. Then the gardener removes the plant. He leaves the plant to die. This story was rather like Job’s life. Formerly Job had been successful. But now, like the plant, Job was dying. Bildad told this story because he did not want Job’s life to be like that plant. The plant was like a man who does not obey God. Job’s prayer (Job 7:12-2) caused Bildad to think that Job was turning away from God. So Bildad warned his friend.
Bildad was sure that God is fair. So he was sure that God would help Job. Bildad’s advice was simple. Job should do the right things. God would rescue Job. But Bildad’s answer was simply words. It was not a solution to Job’s problem. Job was still suffering greatly.
Job did not disagree with Bildad’s speech. But Job thought that Bildad’s advice was too simple. Bildad seemed to think that a man, by his good behaviour, can force God to help him. But nobody can control God.
Job repeated here Eliphaz’s idea in Job 4:12-21. People are weak. That is, everybody does wrong things against God. Bildad had said that God would help a good man (Job 8:5). But Job knew that nobody is perfect. Nobody deserves God’s help. We should be humble when we pray to God.
Job himself wanted to argue with God about his situation. Job discusses this further in verses 14-20.
Some people may think that they are strong or powerful. But God is much more powerful than any person. The Bible says that God made everything (Genesis chapter 1). He made our wonderful world. He placed the stars in the sky.
So nobody should suppose that they could control God. We see his great deeds, so we are humble. We should respect him and obey his commands. Especially, we should confess our evil deeds to him. And we should invite Jesus into our lives.
Often we are not aware of God’s work. We do not realise what he is doing. But God is not far away from us. God’s Holy Spirit is working in our world. And he will work in our lives too, if we allow him.
No enemy can successfully oppose God. See Psalm 2.
Job realised that God is the greatest judge. Job wanted to explain his problems to God. But Job did not know what to say to God.
In these verses, Job did not realise that God cared about him. Job did not know about the events in Job 1:6-12 or Job 2:1-6. So Job did not know that Satan (the devil) caused Job’s troubles. And Job did not realise that God knew Job personally.
Jesus taught that God knows everything about us. God knows each person. And he cares about us all. See Matthew 10:29-30.
Here, Job could not even imagine that God might speak to him. Or, that God might help Job with his troubles. But God did these things in Job chapters 38-42.
Job thought in verse 17 that God might use a terrible storm to punish him. And there was a storm before God spoke in Job 38:1. But this storm was not a punishment for Job. Instead, God used the storm to teach Job about God’s great wisdom (Job 38:34-38).
Job would not have said such things if he knew God’s words in Job 2:3. The truth was that Job would not need to explain his troubles to God. God already knew Job’s problems. God cared. And God would rescue Job in the end (Job 42:10-17).
God is so perfect that even an innocent man would feel guilty. This is partly true. God is so holy that even his special servants in heaven cover their faces (Isaiah 6:2). But, in the future, we shall live with God (Revelation 21:3). We shall know him perfectly, and we shall be glad to see him (1 Corinthians 13:12).
In this life, good people often suffer. But God is not responsible for their troubles. Sometimes the devil caused the troubles (as in Job 2:7). Sometimes evil people are responsible. And sometimes natural events cause troubles.
We might ask why God seems slow to help us. 2 Peter 3:9 answers this question. God is not slow, but he is patient. At the right time, God will destroy this world. He will replace it with a new heaven and a new world. There, everything will be good and right (2 Peter 3:13). But now God is patient. He is waiting for people to confess their evil deeds to him. He is waiting for us to invite him into our lives.
Job could hardly remember the time when he was successful. And he thought that he would die soon. So his life seemed very short.
Job knew that God was his judge. But Job did not think that he could defend himself. Job thought that his situation was hopeless.
This is a wonderful passage. Job wanted someone, like a lawyer, to help him to speak to God.
These verses describe Jesus’ work (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:3). But he became a man (Hebrews 2:14). He suffered like us (Hebrews 2:18). He is the great priest who helps us to meet God (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Job lived centuries before Jesus was born. But even while Job was suffering, God was teaching Job about Jesus’ work.
The books of the Bible are not the result of the authors’ imagination. God showed them these things by his Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).
In this chapter, Job was not thinking about himself. Rather, he was thinking about God.
Job could not explain God’s attitudes. God carefully designed Job’s body. But now God seemed to be punishing Job without any reason.
In fact, as we saw in Job 1:8-12, God was not punishing Job. Really, God was proud of Job. The devil caused Job’s problems. But Job did not know this fact.
Job did not know what to say to God (Job 9:14). He was afraid of God’s great power (Job 9:17). But Job was not afraid that God might kill him. Job’s troubles were so great that he wanted to die.
God created Job’s body. So Job was God’s ‘own work’. But now God seemed to oppose Job. And God seemed to help wicked men. This did not seem sensible to Job. But Job did not have any other explanation. Job did not know that the devil caused Job’s troubles.
Job tried to work out another explanation. Perhaps God had a plan that people could not see.
Job knew that God is not like a man. But in these verses, Job realised that God knows all about each person. God knows everything. So God knew Job’s character. This was a wonderful thing for Job to realise. But this fact still did not explain Job’s problem.
Job could see that God designed the human body. And Job could see that this was not a simple task. God acted carefully when he made Job’s body. God did not cause Job to live by accident. Rather, God showed great kindness to Job.
These facts made Job’s problem seem even stranger. Surely, God would not cruelly destroy the person that he made so carefully.
Job suggested a more complex explanation. Perhaps God had a secret plan. Perhaps God wanted to prove that all people were evil. So God made Job. God watched Job’s actions. Job was much better than other people; but everybody does some wrong things. So God punished Job in public to warn everyone about their evil deeds.
This idea was also wrong. In fact, the devil wanted to show that Job was evil (Job 2:4-5). God wanted to show that Job was a genuine servant of God (Job 2:3).
In verse 15, Job too realised that this idea was wrong. Job was an innocent man. He served God. And he refused to do evil things. But he still had to suffer.
Job’s troubles seemed constantly to increase. And Job thought that God caused those troubles.
Job realised that he could not explain his troubles. His pain was great. He wanted to die. He returned to the subjects that he discussed in chapter 3.
Job knew that all life comes from God (Acts 17:28). Without God, Job would die. So Job prayed that God would leave him. Then, Job’s troubles would end for a brief moment. And so Job would die.
Job had some wrong ideas about death. He thought only about the death of the body. He saw how dead bodies slowly disappear into the earth. Nobody can disturb a person who has died.
But Job did not think about the spirit. When our bodies die, our spirits continue to live. If we serve God, then God has a wonderful home for us in heaven (John 14:1-2). Our troubles will not frighten us there. And we shall not cry there. We shall not suffer or die (Revelation 21:4). There, we shall see God’s face (Revelation 22:4).
God himself will give us constant light in heaven. And there will be no night there (Revelation 22:5).
Zophar was unhappy when he heard Job’s words. Job’s explanation in Job 10:13-17 suggested that God may be cruel. So Zophar wanted to remind Job that, in fact, God is kind. Zophar was not sure that Job was a good man. So, Zophar encouraged Job to stop any evil behaviour. Then, Zophar said, God would help Job.
Zophar’s words seem angry. Job’s speech upset Zophar. Eliphaz wanted to encourage Job (Job 4:3-6). Bildad wanted to correct Job (Job 8:2-4). But Zophar wanted to warn Job.
At the start, Job’s friends believed that Job was a good man. But they could not explain why God would allow an innocent man to suffer. So they started to think that Job might, in fact, be evil. In the end, Eliphaz would accuse Job clearly (Job 22:4-9).
Zophar’s explanation shows his doubts about Job’s character. Zophar said that he was wise enough to understand a secret about God. This secret was that God was really kind, even to Job. This seems a strange statement because Job was suffering so much. Zophar explained that Job deserved punishment for his evil behaviour. But God was kind. The punishment would be much worse if God punished Job for every evil deed.
When Job heard this, his attitudes changed. He became bolder. He realised that his friends’ words were in fact evil (Job 13:7). He warned them not to accuse him unfairly (Job 13:10). He told them about God’s deeds (Job 12:13). And Job realised that he needed to trust God (Job 13:3). Job knew now that nobody else would help him.
Zophar’s words in verses 7-9 are like God’s words in Job 38:4-5 and Job 38:19. God said these things to teach Job about God’s greatness. But Zophar wanted to frighten Job. Zophar was saying, ‘God is very great. He would not do anything wrong. Job, you are suffering. So, you are clearly an evil man. You have no right even to speak to God. You do not deserve to ask God why you are suffering.’
Zophar did not even think that Job would learn anything. You can read more about wild donkeys (animals) in Job 39:5-8. Nobody controls such animals. And Zophar thought that Job’s attitudes were entirely wrong.
Job was well-known for his good character (Job 29:11-12). So Zophar thought that Job’s evil deeds must be secret. Jesus also taught that God sees our private behaviour (Matthew 6:1-4).
Zophar’s words here were clever. Job had spots on his face because of his illness (Job 2:7). But the first sentence also means, ‘Then, you will not be ashamed.’
But this sentence also shows Zophar’s errors. Zophar only spoke about Job’s face. Job had spots over his whole body. In other words, Zophar was too simple. He thought that good people suffer no troubles. And he thought that evil people suffer great troubles. Job’s other friends believed Zophar. They liked his simple explanation. But his explanation was not correct.
These are beautiful words. In heaven, our lives will be like this. But in this world, sometimes good people must suffer, like Job. And sometimes our friends, like Job’s friends, will give us the wrong advice.
When we suffer troubles, we, like Job, must trust God. Even when our troubles are terrible, we must continue to praise God (Job 1:20-21). We must be careful that our troubles do not cause us to do evil things (Job 2:10). Even when we have no food, we should still praise God (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He will give us the strength to continue to serve him (Habakkuk 3:19).
Perhaps, even in this world, God will rescue us from our troubles. This happened to Job (Job 42:10). We know that God is able to help us in any situation.
But even if God does not rescue us, we should still serve him (Daniel 3:17-18).
Even if death seems likely, God will be with us. And he will help us (Daniel 3:24-25; Acts 7:56). God will have a wonderful reward for us in heaven (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Zophar thought that wicked people always have terrible lives. In fact, this was his explanation for Job’s troubles.
Job’s troubles were so terrible that he wanted to die (Job 7:15-16). Job did not know about heaven (Job 10:22). He only knew about this earth. He had not seen that God’s servants gather in heaven (Job 1:6). He did not realise that God made many wonderful places as well as this earth (Job chapter 38).
And Job did not even realise that God was proud of Job (Job 1:8). The three friends also did not realise this. When God told them about their error, they asked Job to pray for them (Job 42:7-9).
In chapter 4, Eliphaz told a story about a spirit. And he explained that nobody is perfect. In chapter 8, Bildad preferred traditional ideas. He explained that God only punishes evil people. In chapter 11, Zophar chose to speak about secret wisdom. He thought that Job deserved an even worse punishment for his evil deeds,
All Job’s friends agree that God would not punish a good man. So when they saw Job’s troubles, they accused Job. They did not realise that Job was a good man. They did not know that God was proud of Job. And they did not understand that the devil caused Job’s troubles.
Zophar said that he knew some secrets about wisdom (Job 11:6). But Job did not agree. He thought that Zophar’s advice was too simple. Job even said that everybody knows such things. Anybody can say that God is kind. Or, that God is great. But such words did not help to explain Job’s problem. Job had terrible troubles, and his friends were not helping him.
People often say stupid things to someone who is suffering. Perhaps they do not try to understand the problem. Or perhaps they talk too much. Sometimes it is better just to listen. Often our prayers achieve more than our advice. Sympathy is better than arguments. We should aim for an attitude of quiet friendship with someone who suffers.
Job’s friends did not think that Job was trusting God. But Job’s words show his confidence in God.
Many evil people do not seem to suffer. Job thought that this was God’s plan. Job saw that birds and animals also suffer troubles without any reason. But this was not in fact God’s plan for the world.
When God made the world, it was perfect. Animals did not attack each other. God gave them the plants to be their food (Genesis 1:30). But men and women did not obey God. So, the whole world suffered (Genesis 3:17-19).
The Bible first refers to a death when an innocent animal had to die because of man’s evil deeds (Genesis 3:21). Everything in the world still suffers because of man’s evil deeds (Romans 8:22). The Bible says that, in the future, God will rule the world again. Then, the animals will not attack each other (Isaiah 11:6-9).
The people in Job’s time respected a man’s old age. They thought that an old person was wiser than a young person (see Job 32:6-7).
God is powerful. He is much greater than any person. He even controls the weather (verse 15). He knows when we lie (verse 16). And he is our judge (verse 14).
God is much more powerful than any ruler. God gives power to rulers (John 19:11). And God causes their power to end (Daniel 2:21). God appoints new kings (1 Kings 19:15-16). God makes proud people humble (Luke 1:51-52).
These were powerful men. But God has made them humble. God did this and so he shows everyone his greatness. Perhaps God did this to teach the rulers to obey him (Daniel chapter 4). Or perhaps he did it to rescue his people who were suffering (Exodus 12:29-32).
Job knew that God makes proud people humble (Job 12:17-25). But this did not explain Job’s situation. Job had been a good man. But Job had never been a proud man. He was humble even when he was wealthy.
Zophar thought that he had superior wisdom (Job 11:6). And Eliphaz’s advice came from a spirit (Job 4:17). But they did not explain anything that Job did not already know.
Job trusted God. Job believed that God is fair. God could explain Job’s situation.
‘A fool should be silent. Then people will think that he is really a wise man.’ (Proverbs 17:28). The friends’ advice was not helping Job. It is better to be silent than to speak foolish words (Job 2:13).
Job was right about his friends’ unfair words. Later, God told them that he was angry with them (Job 42:7). When God told them this, they obeyed him. They asked Job to pray for them. And God forgave them.
Job and his friends were sitting on ashes. And Job was using a piece of pot to rub against his spots (Job 2:8). Ashes are not useful for any purpose. And cheap pots are weak. So Job meant that his friends’ speeches were hopeless.
An evil man is afraid to meet God. God will punish that man for his evil deeds.
Job’s friends thought that Job was evil. They warned him not to argue with God. They told him to change his behaviour.
But Job was not evil. Job was a good man. Whatever happened, he wanted to speak with God. Job was not afraid to reason with God. And Job was confident that God would rescue him.
If Job was guilty, he deserved punishment. But a good man, who trusts God, does not deserve any punishment. Job’s friends were not his judges. God alone was Job’s judge. Job knew that God would make the right decision. Job trusted God.
Job was still suffering greatly. He asked God to take the pain away. Then Job would be ready to speak to God as his judge.
Job was a good man. But he sometimes had doubts. And nobody is perfect. So Job asked God whether Job had done something wrong. If so, Job should confess his evil deed and he should ask God to forgive him. But Job could not see why such an evil deed would cause God to attack him. Job did not consider himself important to God.
Zophar said that God forgets some of our evil deeds (Job 11:6). Job did not agree. God sees all our actions. And God knows everything about us (Psalm 139:1-6). This is wonderful, because God wants to forgive us. God wants us to confess our evil deeds and to trust him. But Job did not think that this fact was wonderful. Job asked if God was punishing him for some evil deed in the past.
Perhaps Job was thinking about his illness. He had painful spots on every part of his body (Job 2:7). Perhaps insects were attacking his spots. His body seemed so weak. He was sure that he would die soon.
This is a wonderful chapter. In this chapter, Job starts to have a new hope for his future.
Our lives on earth are short. Job said that we are like flowers. Some flowers are very beautiful. But they may last only for a few hours. Or, Job said that we are like shadows. A shadow has a clear shape. And it moves like a person. You could almost think that your shadow was alive. But your shadow disappears in a moment.
So our lives may be beautiful, like the flowers. And they may be active, like shadows. But we shall soon be dead.
God is our judge. He knows all our deeds. And we are not holy. We do many wrong things. Our good deeds cannot make us holy. We deserve God’s punishment. Job did not yet realise that God loves us. Or, that God would send Jesus to die for us.
God decides how long we shall live. Job thought that he would die soon. But in fact, God had a different plan for Job (Job 42:16-17).
When Job thought about flowers and shadows (verse 2), he felt hopeless. But then Job remembered that God also created the trees. And trees seemed mysterious to Job.
You can cut down a tree. Its branches become mere wood. And the tree has no leaves. The tree many seem dead for many months. But that tree can grow again. You might expect such a tree to be very weak. But in fact, the new branches may be very strong.
The thought about the tree gave new hope to Job (verses 13-17).
At first, the tree did not seem like a man to Job. Job thought about the death of a man’s body. That body simply returns to the earth. Job thought that such a body could never become alive again. Perhaps Job did not remember that God created man from the dust (Genesis 2:7). The Bible teaches that even our dead bodies will live again (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
Then Job thought about sleep. A person who sleeps will wake. A dead body does not wake. But Job wished that his dead body would wake. And this thought gave him hope that he would meet God.
Job thought that God caused his troubles. So, Job thought that God was angry. In fact, God was not angry with Job. God was pleased with Job. And God did not cause Job’s troubles. The devil caused Job’s troubles.
The Bible teaches that our spirits do not sleep after death. When we die, our spirits go to heaven or to hell. And this happens immediately (Luke 23:43). In heaven or hell, we are conscious (Luke 16:22-26).
But Job thought that, perhaps, God would allow him to sleep. And he thought that, in the future, God would meet with Job. The Bible says that God will change us in the future (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Then our bodies will not be like the bodies that we have now (1 Corinthians 15:35-44). In that day, Job could speak with God (verse 15). Paul also taught this (1 Corinthians 13:12). And in that day, God would forgive Job’s evil deeds (verse 17). This idea was also right. When we confess our evil deeds to God, he forgives us because of Jesus.
This paragraph contains many ideas that Job did not really understand. But Job said these things because God showed him what to say (1 Peter 1:20-21).
Job’s thoughts about a tree gave him hope (verses 7-9). But then he thought about the earth itself. Even mountains do not last always. Job saw how rocks can fall from mountains. The rain takes the soil from the mountains. And the soil goes into the sea. This process is called erosion. The soil never returns to the mountains.
So again Job thought that men could never live again after death. A man’s face would change in death, but this would be hopeless (verse 20). A dead man would not know what happened to his children (verse 21). The dead man would not be glad about their honour. And he would not be sad about their shame.
Job supposed that a dead man had a spirit. But that spirit would not feel anything good.
Job felt hopeless again.
Job said that he was as wise as his friends (Job 12:3). He even said that they could learn from his words (Job 13:5-6). But Eliphaz thought that there was a terrible error in Job’s beliefs.
Job said that good men often have awful lives. And he said that evil men have good lives (Job 12:6). Eliphaz could not agree. He believed that God rewards a good man. Eliphaz also believed that God punishes an evil man. So Job’s words seemed not to respect God.
But Eliphaz was not right. Job did respect God. Job continued to praise God even when terrible things happened (Job 1:20-21).
Job’s friends believed that an older man was wiser (Job 32:7). Eliphaz said that many old people believed the same ideas as Eliphaz himself. And many people who lived long ago had the same ideas. They thought that an ill person must be an evil person. Even Jesus’ disciples (special students) had such an idea (John 9:2). But Jesus did not agree (John 9:3).
Job said that he wanted to meet God. And Job wanted to reason with God. Job was sincere when he said this. He could not explain why God had not rescued him from his troubles. But Job still trusted God.
Eliphaz thought that Job was angry with God. So Eliphaz did not realise that Job’s words were sincere. Eliphaz wanted Job to be calm. Then Job could listen to sensible advice.
Eliphaz repeated the same lesson as in Job 4:17. He said that nobody is perfect. So he thought that Job must be evil too.
Eliphaz was right to say that nobody is perfect. We must all confess our evil deeds so that God will forgive us. But Job was a sincere man. He often prayed that God would forgive people (Job 1:5).
And Eliphaz was wrong to say that God does not trust his servants in heaven. God even trusted his servant Job (Job 1:8; Job 2:3).
In fact, many people do not prefer to do evil things. Job always tried to do the right things (Job 1:1).
Eliphaz repeated the friends’ main idea. Wicked men always suffer a terrible fate. They will have an awful life and a terrible death.
Eliphaz warned Job here. Job should not accuse God. Nobody can oppose God. So Job should not argue. Job should agree that he is guilty, like everybody else.
Job thought that many evil people are successful (Job 12:6). Eliphaz argued that their success was temporary. Their wealth would not last. Soon, they would lose everything (verse 29).
Job had spoken about a tree that someone had cut down (Job 14:7-9). This idea gave hope to Job. Perhaps God would allow Job to live, even after death. Eliphaz thought that this was a foolish idea. If someone burns a tree, that tree will not live again (verse 30).
Eliphaz seemed to think that a person’s spirit dies with that person. He thought that the only new life after death was in our children. In other words, our children live after we are dead. They are our only hope for the future. And a wicked man would have no children (verse 33). A tree without fruit has no future after that tree dies. As Job’s children were dead, Job’s own death would be his end.
Many people believe such ideas. But the Bible does not teach this. The Bible says that heaven and hell are real places. Unfair things often happen in this world. But, in the future, God will be the judge of everybody (Philippians 2:9-11). If we trust God, we should not be afraid of death. God has prepared a wonderful home for us in heaven (Philippians 1:23).
Job’s friends wanted to help him. They tried to teach him about God. They tried to show Job his errors. And they wanted to encourage him.
But their words did not help Job. They never understood the real reasons for Job’s problems. And the friends did not believe that Job was a good man. So they blamed Job, although Job was innocent.
People who advise must be careful. They should make sure that they know the true facts. They should sympathise with someone who suffers. And they should pray carefully before they advise.
In these verses, Job described his troubles. He blamed his enemy for these troubles.
Job thought that God caused these troubles. Job did not know that the devil was responsible. But Job was very careful about his words. He knew that he should always respect God. So Job did not want to accuse God unfairly. And Job did not want to blame God. So Job only mentioned God once, in verse 11.
Job said that his enemy attacked him like a wild animal. Animals like dogs and lions are fierce. They do not just kill when they attack. They also cause terrible injuries and great pain.
And Job said that his enemy was like a bold soldier. Soldiers did not have guns at the time of the Bible. Instead, soldiers used swords to kill their enemies. If the sword was not sharp, it might be difficult to kill someone. The soldier might need to use the sword many times before the enemy died.
Job thought that God was attacking him. But Job also realised that wicked people caused his troubles (Job 1:15; Job 1:17). So, in verse 11, Job said that God allowed these wicked people to attack Job.
Job’s troubles seemed to prove that Job was guilty (verse 8). Job’s friends believed this (Job 22:4-11). But the Bible does not teach this idea (John 9:1-3). Job was sure that he was innocent. And God agreed (Job 1:8).
Job’s words in verses 7–18 seemed hopeless. But then Job spoke about his ‘friend’. Job did not say who this friend was. But Job did not mean Eliphaz, Bildad or Zophar. This friend was in heaven. He was like a lawyer, because he spoke to God on Job’s behalf.
Job lived centuries before Jesus was born. But we think that these words describe Jesus. Jesus sympathises with our troubles (Hebrews 4:15). He prays for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is our priest (Hebrews 7:24). Because of Jesus, we can be friends of God. Job did not know anything about Jesus. But Job thought that God was his friend. God would hear Job’s prayer. God would help Job. And God would prove that Job was innocent.
So Job thought that God was not merely Job’s enemy, but also his friend. This thought confused Job (Job 10:8-9). Job knew that God does many good things. So Job thought that God might also do some bad things (Job 2:10). God had given many good things to Job. So God could take these things away (Job 1:21). But Job believed that God would still deserve honour. And Job would continue to praise God, whatever happened. Job had this attitude because he was a genuine servant of God (Job 2:3).
But Job’s ideas were not all correct. God is our father in heaven. He looks after us (Matthew 6:9-13). Ordinary fathers look after their children. But God is much better than a human father (Matthew 7:9-11). God is kind and generous (Matthew 6:25-30). God does not do evil things. God loves us (John 3:16).
Job thought that he was dying. His friends were with him. But they did not speak kind words to him. Instead, they accused him of many evil deeds.
Job’s friends could not help Job. And Job thought that God was attacking him (Job 16:9-14). But Job still respected God. And Job still trusted God. So Job asked God for help (Job 16:19-21).
In fact, God did not cause Job’s problems. The devil was responsible for Job’s troubles.
Job’s friends did not know that Job was innocent. And Job thought that God had caused this situation. So Job prayed that God would declare him innocent.
Job was right to say that such a person is very evil. But we do not believe that the person’s children should suffer. Each person is responsible for his own evil deeds. (See Ezekiel chapter 18.) So each person must confess his own evil deeds to God. And each person must invite Jesus into his life (John 1:12; John 3:18).
Job was innocent, but he suffered greatly. Jesus was also innocent, and he too suffered greatly. Sometimes Job’s words remind us about Jesus’ death. See also Psalm 22 and Isaiah chapter 53. The authors of these books wrote these passages before Jesus was born. But these chapters describe well the troubles that Jesus suffered for us. Jesus died so that God would forgive our evil deeds (1 Peter 2:24).
Job’s situation impressed other people powerfully. Good people admired Job’s attitudes. Job’s troubles did not frighten them. Instead, their determination to do the right things increased.
Paul had a similar experience when he was in prison. See Philippians 1:12-14.
As Job spoke about other good people, he himself felt more confident. He was not afraid of his friends’ speeches. He knew that they supposed him to be an evil man. So he told them to speak their opinions clearly. He felt ready to reply.
Job accused his friends. They said that his life would get better (Job 11:15-19). But Job’s troubles were real troubles.
Job expected to die soon. He did not realise that his spirit would then go to heaven. Later, he would start to understand this (Job 19:26-27).
Job knew what happens to dead bodies. And he thought that he was almost dead. He had no hope for the future. He did not know that God would rescue him (Job 42:10-17). Job simply wanted to prove that he was innocent. He wanted to show that he did not deserve these troubles.
It seems that Job did not speak quietly. He felt strong emotions. Bildad thought that Job was angry. But Bildad thought that his own opinion was important. He did not want Job to interrupt. So Bildad told Job to be calm.
In other words, Job could not change the world. Bildad thought that Job needed to learn about reality.
Bildad’s only idea in this chapter was that a wicked man is never successful. Bildad did not actually say that Job was wicked. But Bildad clearly had this opinion.
Bildad was sure that the wicked man could not continue to live. A candle can only burn for a few hours. Then, there is darkness. Bildad thought that a wicked man would only live for a short time. Job expected to die soon (Job 16:22). So Job seemed to be like this wicked man.
The wicked man tries to make trouble for other people. But he himself suffers from his own evil schemes. He is like a stupid hunter who walks into his own trap.
Job said that God caused his troubles. Perhaps Bildad thought that Job caused his own troubles.
Bildad described something terrible that chases the wicked man. Bildad did not actually say that he was thinking about a wild animal.
So the wild animal is just a description of the wicked man’s troubles. His troubles seem to be everywhere. And the troubles become worse and worse. In the end, the man dies because of his troubles. And his death is a terrible death.
Job had terrible skin troubles (Job 2:7). His troubles seemed impossible to escape from (Job 16:9-12). And these troubles were getting worse and worse (Job 16:13-14). So Bildad thought that Job must be a wicked man.
When Bildad talked about the man’s tent, he did not simply mean a home. He also meant the man’s life. A tent may seem to be a good home. But a tent is temporary. So a wicked man’s life is like a tent. His life cannot last for long. He will soon die.
The thought about a tree gave comfort to Job (Job 14:7-9). A tree that seems dead can live again. But Bildad thought that Job’s idea was not reality. He reminded Job that a tree can really die.
Bildad thought that Job was wicked. So Bildad warned Job. Nobody would remember Job after his death. Job had no children alive (Job 1:18-19). Job trusted God to prove that Job was innocent (Job 16:18-21). But Bildad thought that Job’s situation was hopeless.
Job thought that his troubles had some good effects (Job 17:8-9). Bildad did not believe this. A wicked man’s death may upset everyone. But a wicked man’s death would not help anybody.
Bildad said these things because he wanted to help Job. Bildad wanted Job to confess his evil deeds to God. If Job did this, then God would forgive Job (Job 8:5-6). But Bildad never really understood that Job was a good man (Job 2:3).
The friends upset Job because their speeches were not correct. The friends suggested that Job was a wicked man. But Job was a good, honest man (Job 1:1).
Job knew his own conscience. The friends did not need to accuse him. And they did not need to speak so many times. They were trying to force Job to agree with them. But Job was suffering. They ought to have shown more sympathy.
The friends accused Job so often because they were proud. They wanted to prove that they were right. But Job’s troubles did not prove that they were right.
In fact, the devil caused Job’s troubles. But Job did not realise this fact.
Job felt as if a robber was attacking him. But when Job called for help, nobody came to assist.
If a path is dark, the traveller cannot see the way ahead. If there is a fence, the traveller must stop. Job felt like that traveller. The traveller could not continue his journey. And it seemed that Job’s life could not continue.
Before his troubles, Job was a great man (Job 29:7-9). But nobody respected him now.
Job continues Bildad’s story about a tree (Job 18:16). If Job was like a tree with dry roots, God caused this situation. Job was not responsible, because Job was innocent.
Job was sure that God was attacking him. But we know from Job 2:3 that God was not angry with Job. God was proud of Job. God considered Job to be a loyal servant.
Other people are often not loyal when someone suffers. Job’s family left him alone. Job’s servant did not answer Job. Even Job’s wife advised Job to insult God. She thought that it would be better for Job to be dead (Job 2:9).
Job loved his three friends. They came a long way to comfort him (Job 2:11). And they sat with him silently for a long time (Job 2:13). But their speeches did not help him. The friends accused Job. And they warned Job. Perhaps Job thought that it was God’s duty to punish him. But Job’s friends did not need to punish him. And Job really wanted them to comfort him.
Bildad said that everyone would forget the wicked man (Job 18:17-19). But Job did not want anyone to forget that he was innocent (Job 16:18). So Job wanted someone to write his words in a book. Then people would remember them always. And, of course, we still have the Book of Job today. It may be the most ancient book that still exists. Job wanted a permanent record of the things that he and his friends discovered about God.
These verses may be the most important verses in the Book of Job. Elsewhere Job explained his troubles, fears and doubts. But in these verses, Job explained the reasons why he still had hope.
Elsewhere Job had been doubtful whether he could ever prove himself innocent. He prayed. But he was not sure that God would ever help him. But in these verses, Job felt confident again.
Elsewhere, Job argued that death would be the end of everything. He did not think that a dead person could ever live again. But in these verses, Job was sure that God could make a dead person live again. And Job believed that he himself would meet God.
These are very important verses. But they are not easy verses to translate. Bible students are unsure about the exact meaning of many phrases.
But we understand enough to be confident about Job’s main ideas here:
· Firstly, Job was developing his thoughts in Job 16:19-21. There, Job said that somebody in heaven was helping him. He described that person as a lawyer or a friend. Job probably meant God himself. With our knowledge of the whole Bible, we can add that these passages describe Jesus well.
· In Job 14:7-9, Job remembered about trees. A tree that seems dead can often live again. And in Job 14:13-17, Job prayed that this would happen to Job himself. Here in chapter 19, Job seems confident that God will answer that prayer.
· Job used a special word in verse 25. In the original language of the book (called Hebrew) this word is GOEL. A GOEL frees someone by either of two particular methods. Either the GOEL may pay a debt for that person. Or the GOEL may fight to free the person. The English word for GOEL is a redeemer. So:
(1) In the Book of Ruth, Boaz freed Ruth. He loved her. So he paid her debts and he married her. He was her redeemer or GOEL.
(2) God is often called a GOEL or redeemer. For example, Psalm 19:14 and Isaiah 63:16.
(3) The Bible teaches that Jesus is our redeemer (1 Peter 1:18-19). When he died for us, he freed us from the devil’s power. The price for our freedom was Jesus’ death.
(4) In Job 19:25, Job uses this special word to describe God. At last, Job trusts God completely. God will rescue Job, even if God has to take Job from the grave to save him. God will rescue Job, even if God must pay to rescue him. And God will rescue Job even if God must fight for Job.
· Job realised that his body would die. But Job now knew that death would not be the end. In verse 26, the words ‘in my body’ might mean ‘without my body’. The translation is difficult but the meaning of Job’s words seems clear. After Job’s death, Job would see God. And Job desired that day, like Paul in Philippians 1:21-23.
Bildad argued this in Job 18:7-10. Job warned the friends not to be unfair. God would punish them if their words were evil.
The three friends were sure that Job was guilty. They did not think that God would punish an innocent man. And even Job wrongly agreed that God caused Job’s troubles. But Job insisted that he was innocent.
So Zophar brought a new subject into the argument. Job seemed to think that evil people had successful lives. Zophar wanted to prove that this idea was wrong.
When Job lived, people respected older people and their ideas (Job 32:6-9). So the people believed that ancient wisdom was very important (Job 8:8-9).
Zophar did not argue that wicked people are never happy. Everybody can see that wicked people often enjoy their evil deeds. But Zophar said that his happiness could not last.
He was partly correct. An evil life does not really satisfy anyone (Luke 15:13-17). Only the things that God gives can really satisfy us (John 4:13-14). So we need to believe Jesus (John 7:27-28). Moreover, in the end, God will be the judge of everyone. God will punish evil people who have not confessed their evil deeds to him (Revelation 20:12-15).
But Zophar argued his ideas for a particular reason. Zophar wanted to prove that Job was not innocent. So Zophar imagined the things that might happen to a wicked man. Zophar wanted Job to realise that similar things had happened to Job.
God opposes proud people – Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; Luke 1:51. This proud attitude is very evil. This man does not respect God.
This wicked man may be powerful while he is alive. But when he dies, nobody will even remember this man.
Perhaps the wicked man was proud because of his wealth. But he cannot keep his wealth after he dies (Luke 16:19-24). When the man dies, other people will take his money (Proverbs 13:22).
The man’s evil deeds are like poison. Poisonous food may taste very good. And the man’s evil deeds seem to bring pleasure. But poisonous food makes a man ill. And evil deeds spoil a man’s life. In the end, the poison may kill a man. And a man whose life is evil may die because of his behaviour.
This man lived in luxury. He stole his wealth. But he will not continue to enjoy his wealth. God gives good gifts to his people. But this man will not receive these gifts. Instead he will die. And Zophar believed that death is a fair punishment for such a man.
Money cannot save anyone from death. We all shall die. And the wicked man’s money cannot save him from God’s punishment.
God is a fair judge. He will punish a wicked man. A man might be able to escape from his enemies. But nobody can escape from God.
Zophar thought that everybody would agree with him. But, as Job would explain in chapter 21, Zophar had forgotten one important point. Many wicked people are very successful during their lives on earth. They do not die when they are young. It is true that God will punish them in the end.
Zophar was wrong to suggest that Job was a wicked man. Job had a terrible life, but he was still a good man. And a wicked man may have a successful life. But that man is still evil.
In chapter 20, Zophar insisted that the happiness of wicked people could not last. He thought that everybody would agree with him. But Job could not agree.
Job knew that many wicked people are successful. Moreover, they seem to be successful for their whole lives. Such people may have loving families. Even when wicked people die, their graves may be beautiful.
Of course, the Bible teaches that God will punish evil people (Jude 13). Sometimes he punishes them during their lives on earth (Deuteronomy 28:15-19). God does this because he is kind. He is warning such people about their evil deeds (1 Peter 3:9). He wants everyone to confess their evil deeds to him. But if they do not confess their evil deeds now, God will not forgive them. And their punishment will be terrible after they die.
Job was unhappy when he thought about the success of wicked people. He could not explain why he was suffering. And he could not explain why wicked people may be successful.
This idea made Job afraid. Job did not suppose that it is better to be evil than to be good (verse 16). Job was a holy man. He always tried to do the right things. He wanted to please God.
But Job had to explain this idea in order to answer Zophar.
Job described the good lives of some evil people.
Previously, Job had lived a good life like this. He had many animals. And he had many children. And Job’s own children enjoyed their parties. Job was a good man. But thieves had taken his animals. And his children were dead.
Job knew that many evil people still enjoyed such good lives.
Evil people do not want to serve anyone. Especially, they do not want to serve God. They only care about their own pleasure. They do not pray because they say, ‘We will not benefit if we pray. Prayer is a waste of time.’
Job did not behave like them. He was glad to serve God (Job 1:5; Job 2:3). He would pray even if he received no benefit from his holy life. And he did not care if evil people lived better lives than him. He would not obey wicked people’s advice (Job 2:10; Psalm 1:1). Job respected God. And Job loved God. God mattered more to Job than Job’s wealth. In fact, God mattered more to Job than anything else.
God mattered more to Job than anything else. But Job would still complain about his situation. He agreed that God should punish evil people. But Job did not realise when God will punish them. Job already knew that good people would live again, after the death of their bodies (Job 19:25-27). But he did not yet know what would happen to evil people after death (Revelation 20:13-15).
This is like Job’s earlier words in Job 3:13-19. Job described well the death of the body. But he did not describe what happened to the men’s spirits. See Luke 16:19-26.
Perhaps Job’s friends did not know any evil people who were successful. Today we often read about such people in the newspapers. Then, people would hear the news from travellers.
In verse 26, Job thought that an evil man’s death was very much like the death of a good man. The bodies of both men would lie next to each other in the grave. But as Job thought more, he was not sure about this. Even the death of an evil man seemed better. He would have good funeral, and many people would be there. Perhaps even his grave would be better. Men might guard it, so that his body was not alone. Even the soil in the grave might seem pleasant to his dead body.
Zophar supposed that a wicked person would soon suffer terrible troubles. But Job proved that many wicked people have successful lives. Neither Job nor Zophar thought about such people’s spirits, which continue to live after death. Both men said many true things. But neither could explain the whole truth.
When Eliphaz heard this discussion, he wanted to reply to Job. Eliphaz thought that he could now explain Job’s problems. Job did not say that anyone should ever be evil. But he did say that wicked people have successful lives. So Eliphaz thought that Job approved of an evil life. And Eliphaz decided that Job must really be evil. The three friends had already suggested this. But they were too polite to accuse Job clearly. And they had no evidence.
Now, however, Eliphaz would blame Job for all the troubles that Job suffered. Eliphaz would accuse Job clearly.
In Job 21:14-15, Job spoke about the attitudes of wicked people. Such people will not serve God because there is no benefit for them. But Job would not behave like them.
Even when Job lost all his possessions, he praised God (Job 1:21). Job was still loyal to God when his children died. And when Job became ill, he still trusted God (Job 2:10).
Job was a good man because he respected God. So Job did not expect to benefit from God (Job 21:23-26). But Eliphaz had made a list of many benefits that God gives (Job 5:20-26). And Eliphaz believed that prayer has real value (Job 15:4).
They were both right. God gives many good things to us (Matthew 5:3-9). But we should not serve God merely for the benefits that we receive (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Whatever happens, we should still trust God (Matthew 5:10-12).
Job thought that good behaviour brought no benefits for the good man (Job 21:23-26). Eliphaz thought that this was nonsense. Eliphaz thought that our good behaviour cannot benefit God. Eliphaz thought that God is too great to care about anyone’s behaviour. But Eliphaz was wrong. God knew Job personally. God was proud of Job’s good behaviour (Job 2:3). In fact, Satan opposed Job because Satan wanted a reason to accuse God (Job 1:9-11; Job 2:4-5).
At last, Eliphaz accused Job clearly. He said that God was punishing Job for his evil deeds. But Eliphaz was wrong. Job was a good, honest man (Job 1:1).
Eliphaz began his list of Job’s evil deeds. Job did not really do any such things. Eliphaz had no evidence, so he was guessing.
Many people today would say that such deeds are not evil. These people would agree that it is wrong to steal. Or to murder. Or even to lie. But they think that a businessman should be clever. And they think that a wealthy person does not need to be generous. And that an important person does not need to use his power to help other people.
Job’s friends realised that such behaviour is evil.
They thought that such behaviour was the reason for Job’s troubles.
God is in heaven, so he sees all our actions (Psalm 139). And his knowledge is perfect. So he knows our errors.
Evil people imagine that God cannot see their evil deeds (Psalm 14:1).
The three friends told Job to learn from ancient advice (Job 8:8-9; Job 15:10; Job 20:4). But Eliphaz knew that some ancient advice is wrong.
Perhaps this refers to Noah’s flood (Genesis chapters 6-8). God destroyed the ancient world by a flood, because its people were very evil.
Eliphaz agreed that God gave good things to these evil people. But they would not serve God, so God punished them.
In the second line, Eliphaz repeated Job’s words in Job 21:16. Eliphaz refused to obey the advice of wicked men because they do not appreciate God’s good gifts. But Job refused to obey their advice because he respected God.
Job was afraid when he thought about the lives of wicked people (Job 21:6). But Eliphaz was glad to think about their troubles. He was sure that God would soon punish them.
Eliphaz did not accuse Job in order to upset him. Eliphaz wanted to help his friend. So Eliphaz hoped that Job would confess his evil deeds to God. Then God would forgive Job. And Job would have a successful life again.
But Eliphaz was still wrong. Job was an innocent man. And Job already was a true servant of God.
These are good words. Eliphaz realised that real success is not money. Nobody should trust their wealth. We should trust God. Eliphaz emphasised his ideas with humour. Men used to find gold in the rocks (Job 28:6; Job 28:10). So Eliphaz told Job that his gold belonged in the rocks. Job should return his gold and trust God instead.
Job wished that God did not watch him (Job 7:19). But Job hoped for the day when he could speak with God (Job 14:15).
Eliphaz promised a good life to Job, if only Job would confess his evil deeds. And Eliphaz’s advice would be good advice if Job were an evil man. But Job was a good man. Job already trusted God.
Eliphaz’s words were sincere. But they had a meaning that Eliphaz did not expect. Job was already a good man (Job 1:8). And Job’s prayers mattered to God (Job 40:1-5), although Job did not yet realise this.
In fact, Job’s troubles would end when Job prayed for his friends (Job 42:7-8). In the end, God told the three friends that he was angry about their unfair words. God told them to ask Job to pray for them. And God forgave them when Job prayed. God forgave them because Job was a true servant of God.
Job’s final speech begins here. It continues to the end of chapter 31. Bildad interrupts briefly in chapter 25. Some people think that there are other interruptions too. For example, they think that Job 26:5-14 is by Bildad. And they think that Job 24:18-25 and Job 27:13-23 are by Zophar. But the Bible does not name these speakers. And elsewhere the Book of Job always names the speakers. So we think that the complete speech in Job chapters 23 to 31 (except chapter 25) is by Job.
In Job’s society, if somebody needed help, that person would go to the judge’s court. The person would explain their problems to the judge. The judge might not only act as judge, but also as the policeman. So he would be an important man, and everybody would respect his judgement.
Job was confident that God is a fair judge. Job could not explain why God seemed to be punishing him. But Job knew that God’s answer would be right.
God is not like a human judge, whom Job could visit. God rules heaven and earth. He works everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10). And nobody can control him (John 3:8).
Job did not know where God was (verses 8-9). But God knew where Job was.
Job was starting to understand the reason for his troubles. His troubles were like a test (Job 1:8-12; Job 2:3-6). Job had been a wealthy man. Now he was poor. The purpose of the test was to see whether Job would still serve God. But the test would also improve Job. Job was learning to trust God more and more. See 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Sometimes men test whether gold is pure. They use a very hot fire. The fire burns away anything that is not gold. And only the pure gold remains.
These are wonderful words. Job did not behave as Eliphaz supposed (Job 22:4-9).
Job’s attitudes were good. Job loved God’s law. Job always wanted to obey God. See Psalm 1.
Job loved God. But Job was still worried. He did not know God’s plans. And Job was afraid of the future.
Job did not need to be afraid. God’s plans for Job were wonderful (see Job chapter 42).
And God’s plans are wonderful for everyone who trusts him (Revelation 21).
God wants to help us (Mark 1:41-42). He wants to do good things in our lives (Acts 2:38-39). He gives us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). And he will always provide for us (John 14:2-3). So we should trust him (John 14:1).
Job was patient (James 5:11). He suffered greatly. But he was waiting for the day when God would help him. On that day, God would be like a judge. He would listen to Job. And God would rescue Job (Job 23:7).
Verse 1 explains Job’s main idea in chapter 24. God’s servants are the people who trust him. They are waiting for the day when God will help them (James 5:7-8). And many are suffering like Job. But God does not always rescue them immediately (1 Peter 1:4-6).
There are also many wicked people. Such people cause other people to suffer. Zophar thought that God would punish them quickly (Job chapter 20). But often, these evil people will continue to be evil until they die.
Some evil people steal things. But other evil people are just cruel. The widow in verse 3 owed money. The lender thought that it was right for him to take her cow. But that lender was cruel and evil. The widow needed to have a cow in order to look after her land. Without the cow, the widow will become very poor. The lender has taken her strongest animal away from her.
This passage is very sad. These people struggle to find food (verse 5). They get cold and wet (verse 6). They have nowhere to live.
Job said that they are like wild donkeys (animals). God answered Job in Job 39:5-8. God reminded Job that he knows about wild donkeys. And God provides their food. We know that God cares about poor people. They are his people (Proverbs 22:2). So Christians should care about them too.
Many poor people suffer because of the evil actions of rich people.
This behaviour is the opposite of normal behaviour. Normally, we work during the day. And we do our other activities during the day. Before people had electricity, this was especially important. People needed light to see what they were doing.
But the people that Job described hate daylight. They prefer darkness. They carry out their evil deeds in secret. See 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8.
Wicked people may continue their evil behaviour for a long time. But in the end, they will die. And then, they cannot continue their evil deeds. They will not return from hell. They will never carry out their cruel activities again.
God decides how long a person will live. And God decides when these wicked people will die.
A wicked man may be powerful. And nobody may dare to oppose that man. But when God acts, that man will die. Nothing can prevent that man’s death.
Such men are like corn during the harvest. A farmer decides when he will collect the corn. On that day, the corn plant cannot remain in the field. Its end is certain.
Bildad interrupted Job.
Bildad was not pleased to hear about the troubles of poor people (chapter 24). He knew that God is very great. So Bildad thought that God controlled everything.
Bildad also thought that people are unimportant. And he thought that people do not deserve God’s help.
These verses are correct. God is powerful. He is the ruler of heaven. Everybody should respect him. He has a vast army of angels. (Angels are God’s servants from heaven.) The angels obey God’s commands. They oppose the devil and his servants.
Bildad repeated the ideas in Eliphaz’s first speech (Job 4:17-19). Bildad was right that every person does wrong things against God (Romans 3:23). But Bildad did not say that God wants to forgive us (Romans 3:24). God forgives us when we confess our evil deeds to him.
So nobody is really perfect. But Job was a good man (Job 1:1). In fact, God himself said this (Job 1:8). So we know that Job confessed his evil deeds to God (Job 31:33).
Job trusted God. And God forgave Job’s errors.
These words are not correct. God appointed men and women to rule the animals. God made them in the ‘image of God’ (Genesis 1:26). This is, God wanted people to share his special character.
So Bildad did not really care about the poor people whom Job described in chapter 24. But God does care about them.
God protects people who are poor and weak (Psalm 12:5). Even the animals are special to God. But Jesus taught that people are more valuable to God than animals (Matthew 6:26).
Jesus became a man like us (Hebrews 2:6-9). He did this so that people could become the children of God. And he did it so that people can become members of God’s family (Hebrews 2:11-14).
Bildad’s interruption did not impress Job. Such words would not help Job, who was still suffering. And Job thought that Bildad’s description of God was very poor. Job had studied wisdom (chapter 28). So Job believed that words about God should not merely come from the human mind. Rather, such words should come from God’s Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
Bildad’s words about God were not accurate. Instead, Bildad was confusing the facts to make his own ideas seem correct. This is a terrible thing to do (2 Peter 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19). People who explain about God to other people must be very careful (James 3:1).
Job then showed Bildad what Bildad should have said. And we think that Job spoke the words in Job 26:5-14 by the power of the Holy Spirit.
· In chapter 25, Bildad’s speech seemed to describe vast spaces. He spoke about heaven. He spoke about the moon and stars. He spoke about the soil. And he referred to graves. But Job’s reply seems to describe even more vast spaces. Job spoke about hell as well as heaven. He spoke about the sky and the clouds. He spoke about mysteries, for example the horizon and the rain. (Although we understand these things today, they seemed to be strange mysteries then.)
· Job also spoke about some events in verses 12-13. We do not know much about these events. We may not even be sure whether these are past or future events. But the Bible seems to mention the same events elsewhere.
· Some people think that Job was referring to stories from other ancient societies. For example, stories from the region called Mesopotamia. We do not agree. There were many ancient societies and they all had stories about their false gods. Job did not believe in these false gods. So he would refuse to listen to such stories.
Job described hell. Elsewhere, Job was not sure whether hell exists (Job 3:13-14; Job 21:22-26). But in these verses, Job was not explaining his own ideas. Instead, he was speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many ancient people thought that the earth was on poles. Even Job mentions these poles elsewhere. But Job’s words here are correct. Scientists have proved that an empty space surrounds the world. God balances the world on nothing.
God’s design of this world is wonderful. We need the rain for our crops. Nothing holds the rain in the sky. But the water in the clouds is often very heavy.
God’s royal seat is in heaven. We cannot see him. But he is still ruling. He is greater than any human king. And his rule will continue always.
God designed the day and the night. God designed the shape of the world. Wherever the sun shines, it is day. And in the shadow, it is night. This is God’s plan. He shares the daylight over the whole world in each period of 24 hours.
God is very powerful. He created the world by his words (Genesis 1:3-26). So God’s emotions are also powerful (Psalm 2:4-6). Nobody can successfully oppose God.
Verses 11-13 seem to describe a particular event.
The original language of the Book of Job is called Hebrew. To understand these verses we need to look at the Hebrew words.
· The proud enemy in verse 12 is called RAHAB in Hebrew. This word is also in Isaiah 51:9. Isaiah seems to be describing a terrible sea animal. But he uses the animal as a description of the army from Egypt. Or, as a description of the sea. When the army from Egypt attacked God’s people, they could not escape because of the sea. But God made the sea dry. So God’s people escaped (Isaiah 51:10). But the army from Egypt drowned (Exodus chapter 14).
· The enemy in verse 13 is called NACHASH in Hebrew. This word usually means a snake. In the garden called Eden, the devil appeared as a NACHASH (snake). And he told Eve not to obey God (Genesis 3:1-4). This word is also in Isaiah 27:1. Isaiah described the same event as Job 26:13. But in Isaiah, the NACHASH has another name too. This name is LEVIATHAN. The word LEVIATHAN is in Job 3:8 and Job chapter 41. We have translated LEVIATHAN as ‘crocodile’. A crocodile is a dangerous animal that lives in rivers. The crocodile seems to be the animal that God described in Job chapter 41. But in both Isaiah and Job, LEVIATHAN really seems to mean the devil.
So, in the end, God will punish the devil (Revelation 20:10). This is the event that Isaiah described in Isaiah 27:1. But the words in Isaiah 27:1 are similar to Isaiah 51:9. So we think that Job was describing the devil’s final punishment in verses 11-13.
God has done great things. But we do not hear about all his great deeds. God is much greater than we can ever imagine (John 21:25).
Job had suffered terrible troubles. And Job supposed that God caused these troubles. But Job still trusted God.
Job’s friends insisted that Job was suffering because of his evil deeds. Job argued that this was not true. Job was a genuine servant of God. Job loved God. And Job refused to do evil deeds.
Chapters 27-31 are like the words of a man in a court. In chapter 27, Job promised to speak the truth. In chapter 29, he described his good behaviour before the troubles began. In chapter 31, he explained that he refused to do evil deeds.
In Job 23:1-7, Job explained that he wanted God to be his judge. So in chapters 27-31 Job was speaking as if God was already his judge. And Job was speaking as if he was already in God’s court.
Job was sure that he was innocent. He said that he would continue to argue this for the rest of his life.
Later, we see that Job’s attitude was wrong. Job should have insisted that God was right. But instead, Job argued that he himself was right (Job 32:2).
In chapter 21, Job argued that God does not seem to punish wicked people. In Job 24:1, Job thought that he was waiting in vain for God to act as judge. But in chapter 27, Job was speaking as if he was already in God’s court. Job knew that God is a fair judge. So Job knew that God would punish wicked people.
Job really loved God. Unlike wicked people, Job received pleasure from God (Job 23:12). Unlike wicked people, Job prayed often (Job 1:5).
In verse 12, Job recognised that his friends had already said such things. But their speeches were foolish because they were trying to accuse Job. For example, when Zophar spoke about wicked people (chapter 20), he was really thinking about Job.
These words are like Zophar’s words in Job 20:29. And Job’s ideas in verses 14-22 are also similar to Zophar’s ideas in chapter 20.
Job argued with his friends. But the friends were right about many things. For example, God will punish wicked people And, everyone should confess their evil deeds to God.
The friends were also wrong about many things. For example, they supposed that Job was suffering because of his evil deeds.
Perhaps Job thought that these children would be as evil as their father. Or perhaps Job thought that the children would suffer because of their father’s evil deeds. The Bible teaches that God will punish each person for that person’s own evil deeds. If the child of an evil person serves God, then God will not punish that child. See Ezekiel chapter 18.
When the wicked man dies, other people will receive his possessions. It is as if God is storing these possessions to give to other people.
In other words, the wicked man might seem powerful. But his life is weak. He can die in a moment (Matthew 7:26-27; Luke 12:16-20).
In Job 3:16-19, Job thought that death is like sleep. But in Job 26:5, Job had a different idea. He described how people tremble painfully in hell. So perhaps in verses 19-23, Job was also describing hell. When the wicked man wakes in hell, God has taken away that man’s wealth. The home in verse 21 is like that man’s body (see verse 18). But the man’s spirit has left his body. The man’s body might seem calm (Job 21:32-33). But his spirit is afraid and unhappy.
Or perhaps in verses 19-23, Job was describing the wicked man’s life after God punished that man. It is an awful description. It sounds like hell!
A wicked man needs to change his attitudes immediately. He must confess his evil deeds to God. And that man must ask God to forgive him. Otherwise, that man will suffer a terrible punishment.
This chapter is very special. In this chapter, Job described many wonderful things. He spoke about secrets. He talked about people who have great skills. And he spoke about the most beautiful things.
Finally, he spoke about wisdom, which is more wonderful than anything else.
All metals were precious when Job lived. Men seemed to make metals from ordinary rocks. But the process needed great skill. The workmen had to search for the right rocks. Then they would burn the rocks in the hottest fire. In the end, they would produce a tiny quantity of pure metal.
In fact, the rocks that men needed to make metals were special rocks. To find these rocks, a man would have to go underground. The man would squeeze his body through cracks in the ground. He would enter a cave. He would descend further on ropes. (That is, strong strings that men tie together in order to make them even stronger.)
The soil where plants grow seems so ordinary. But nothing is ordinary underground. A man needs a torch to see anything. But, with his torch, the man may find precious things.
Animals do not live in such places. But men have learned the skills to go there.
But the man is not gentle when he enters this special place. He is like a thief. He breaks the rocks. He takes away everything that is precious. He destroys everything so that he may become rich.
This man has many skills. But he is still a fool. He may discover gold and silver. He may become rich. But wisdom is better than gold or silver. If the man does not learn to be wise, that man is stupid.
This man does not appreciate wisdom. And he does not care about wisdom. He only thinks about his own wealth.
The man will not discover wisdom underground. Other men dive into the sea to find precious things (verse 18). But they will not find wisdom there, either.
Some things matter more than money. A wealthy man cannot buy wisdom. And a poor man may be very wise.
Wisdom is precious. Wisdom is perfect. And wisdom is valuable. In other words, wisdom is much better than anything else. Job was emphasising the importance of wisdom.
The country called Ethiopia was a long way from where Job lived. And the precious stone called topaz was very, very rare. And so it was very expensive. But it is better to be wise, than to own much topaz.
Topaz (verse 19) may be beautiful. But it is not useful. God and silver (verse 15) are valuable. But money cannot teach us how to trust God. So wisdom is better than all these things. But wisdom is not something that you can just discover. In fact, wisdom does not even belong in this world.
In verse 21, Job spoke about things that are alive. In verse 22, he spoke about people who are dead. Neither life nor death can teach you how to be wise.
You may think that it is impossible to learn such wisdom. But wisdom is God’s gift to people (James 1:5). God wants everyone to learn to be wise (Proverbs 1:5).
These verses are similar to Proverbs 8:22-31. God himself used wisdom when he created the world.
Wisdom is not merely the thoughts of human minds. And wisdom is not clever ideas, like the ideas of Job’s friends.
God chose wisdom as a quality that people need.
God recognised that wisdom is important.
God made sure that wisdom is good.
Then, God recommended wisdom to us.
So God used a careful process when he recommended wisdom. This process is like the workman’s process to make metal in verses 1-11. But God achieved more than the workman did. God showed us how to be wise.
Wisdom will benefit our whole lives. And wisdom will bring us to heaven when we die.
This is a very important verse. It explains how we can be wise. Like Job, (Job 1:1) we must:
· respect God, and
· refuse to do evil things.
See also Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 3:5-6.
This was also Jesus’ message in Mark 1:15. He told the people to believe God’s message. In other words, he told them to respect God’s words. And Jesus told them to stop their evil behaviour.
If we respect God, he will teach us. He will show us how to please him.
Then, we shall learn to be his people.
But, in order to respect God, we need to obey his commands. So, we should refuse to do evil deeds. We shall make many mistakes. But if we confess our errors to God, he will forgive us (1 John 1:9).
Job had a very successful life before his troubles began:
· God was protecting Job (Job 1:10). And God was providing for Job.
· Job became rich (Job 1:3) because God gave many possessions to Job (Job 1:21).
· Job had a large family (Job 1:2).
· Job’s farm was very successful. The oil was from trees called olive trees.
Before Job’s troubles began, everybody used to respect Job.
In ancient times, walls would surround a city. There would be a square by the city’s main gate. People would gather there for meetings. The rulers would make important decisions there. And the judges’ court would be there.
Job used to go to the meetings of the rulers. They considered him important. They wanted to hear his opinions. They knew that Job was a wise man.
Job did many good things. He even helped people whom nobody else would help. And Job wanted to do good deeds every day (verse 14). Job did these things because he was a servant of God (Job 1:8). So Job was doing the work of God. But God did not force Job to do these things. Job chose to do these things (verse 14).
Many people want to impress God by their good deeds. They think that God will help them if they do the right things. But such people are unwise. We must be humble when we pray to God. God will not help us because of our good deeds. God helps us because he loves us (Titus 3:5). And God helps us because Jesus died for us. So we all need to trust Jesus.
Job thought that he would always be successful. His troubles surprised him.
Sometimes God changes our lives. We did not expect that anything would happen. But God has other plans for us. We might feel confused. But we should continue to trust God. God helps us when we are successful. And God also helps us when we suffer terrible troubles.
These people were glad to hear Job. They loved him. His words seemed precious to them. Nobody would argue with Job then. They thought that his speeches were always right.
But after Job suffered his great troubles, everything changed. Even Job’s friends did not think that his speeches were right. Bildad said that he would prefer to listen to the wind (Job 8:2). Job’s own friends argued with Job. And they seemed to agree with nothing that he said.
Formerly the most important people would gather to listen to Job. And they respected Job greatly.
But now, the worst youths would gather to see Job. They would insult Job. And they would laugh at him.
Job had known the fathers of these youths. But the fathers did not impress Job. Job would not employ them. They were too lazy. They did not want to work.
These fathers were not responsible men. Perhaps they were drunks. Perhaps they were always asking other people for money. So the people in the city forced these men to leave.
These youths were like their fathers. They swore. They insulted Job. They laughed at him. And they caused trouble.
And these youths even thought that they were better than Job.
Job watched the youths as they talked. And Job thought that they were making plans to attack him. Job felt too ill to avoid them.
Of course, a city cannot move when its enemies attack. So Job thought that he was like such a city.
At the time of the Bible, walls surrounded a city. So, before soldiers attacked the city, they would make plans. They needed to climb over the walls. Or, they needed to break through the walls. The soldiers would make traps so that the city’s inhabitants could not escape easily. And they would destroy the roads. Then anyone who managed to escape could not move quickly.
Job felt like the inhabitant of such a city. He was merely waiting for the youths to attack. And he could not escape when they did attack.
Before Job’s troubles, Job was confident. He thought that people would respect him for his whole life. He had great security (Job 29:18-20).
But Job’s feeling of security was not real. And his honour did not last.
Job was suffering pain because of his illness. The pain reminded him of clothing that someone cannot remove. So the pain affected Job’s whole body. The pain also reminded Job of a collar. It felt as if something was holding Job’s neck. Soon, Job might be unable to breath. So Job would die. His friends would place his body in the mud of his grave. In the end, his body would become like dust.
Job accused God. God seemed so powerful. And Job was very weak. Job thought that God was using his great power to kill Job.
It seems strange to remember Job 2:3. The truth is that God was proud of Job. The devil had fiercely attacked Job. But Job continued to praise God. Whatever happened, Job would still trust God. Job would always be loyal to God. Job did not always realise that God was helping him. But soon God would send a man called Elihu to Job. And then God himself would speak to Job.
Job did not deserve these terrible troubles. Good people do not always have good lives.
In verses 28 and 30, Job spoke about the terrible illness that affected his skin. Job had painful spots over his whole body (Job 2:7). In these verses, Job explained that his skin had become dark. And it felt too hot. Job called for help. But the people did not want to help him. His voice sounded like a noisy animal to them.
Formerly, Job played music. Then the sounds that he made were happy, like the sound of the children in Job 21:12.
But now the sounds that Job made were sad. He would cry because of his pain. He sounded like someone at a funeral.
In Job 22:4-9, Eliphaz accused Job. Eliphaz supposed that Job was guilty of many evil deeds. Eliphaz made a list of particular evil deeds. But Eliphaz was guessing. He had no evidence.
Job replied to Eliphaz in chapter 31. Job made a list of many more evil deeds. And Job insisted that he was innocent. Job agreed that a guilty person deserved a terrible punishment. But Job was not guilty, and he did not deserve his troubles.
Job was careful about his deeds. And he was also careful about his thoughts. Jesus warned about such thoughts in Matthew 5:28.
Job knew that God was his judge. So Job was careful about his behaviour. A man might hide his evil deeds from other people. But nobody can hide from God (Psalm 139:1-10).
Job was careful not to lie. Other people may believe a person who lies. But God always knows the truth.
Job was careful about
· his actions,
· his thoughts,
· and his behaviour.
An evil person does not deserve success.
A husband and wife should only have sex with each other. And unmarried people should not have sex. This is God’s command (Deuteronomy 5:18). Jesus also taught this (Matthew 5:27-28). Jude also warned about such behaviour. He associated this behaviour with the fire of hell (Jude 7).
Of course, God will forgive people who confess their evil deeds to him. But this was not what Job was saying. Job was explaining that he was innocent. So he wanted to show that he knew the serious nature of such behaviour.
Often a wealthy man does not respect his servants. That man might be very proud. He might think that he is more important than other people. James warned that such attitudes are very evil (James 5:1-5).
Job was fair to his servants. If they complained, he listened. He was their employer. But he did not imagine that he was more important than them. And Job himself was a servant of God (Job 2:3). Jesus taught that only a wicked servant would be cruel to other servants (Matthew 24:48-51).
Many people today do not think that they should help poor people. And many people are only generous to their own friends and family. But the Bible teaches that we should be generous to other people also (Matthew 25:34-36). Paul explained that God will reward the giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).
Job helped many poor people. He helped widows. He helped children who had nobody to look after them. He gave gifts to the poorest people.
Sometimes we can use our money to help people. But sometimes they do not need our money. So Job chose carefully how to help each person.
· Job was kind to the widows in verse 16.
· The child in verse 17 needed someone to look after him. Job acted as if he was that child’s father.
· The poor man in verse 19 was cold. Job gave him a good, warm coat.
· The child in verse 21 needed help in court. Job acted as his lawyer.
Job did all these things because he respected God. God had made Job rich. So Job shared his wealth with these other people.
Money becomes like a false god for many people. They think that money can rescue them from any trouble. And they would do anything to get more money. See Matthew 6:24 and 1 Timothy 6:10.
Job had been wealthy. But Job trusted God. Job did not trust his money. We have seen this already. After Job lost all his possessions, Job immediately praised God (Job 1:20). So God was much more important to Job than money.
Many people chose the sun and the moon as their gods. In areas that do not have lights in the streets, the moon is very impressive. And, especially in a hot country like Job’s, the sun is very powerful.
But Job did not pray to the sun or the moon. Job only prayed to the real God who is in heaven.
Many people want revenge. In other words, they want their enemies to suffer. But the Bible teaches that such attitudes are wrong (Romans 12:19). Instead, we should pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). And we should even be kind to them (Romans 12:20-21).
Like Job, we should be kind to strangers. We may invite people to our homes. We may provide a meal. The Bible says that sometimes people have invited angels (God’s servants from heaven) to stay with them. And these people did not even realise that angels were their guests (Hebrews 13:2).
Adam was the first man. He refused to obey God’s command. Then Adam hid from God (Genesis 3:8). But the second line of verse 33 could also mean, ‘I do not hide my evil deeds, like other men do.’
Job did not hide. He allowed his friends to accuse him. In fact, he was outside (Job 2:13). So anybody could speak to him. The youths laughed at Job. But nobody could come with evidence of Job’s evil deeds.
Job did not pretend to be better than he really was. Later God would show Job’s errors to him. And Job confessed his mistakes (Job 40:2-5; Job 42:1-6).
This should be our attitude too. We should not try to hide our evil deeds. We should confess these things to God (Proverbs 28:13). And God will forgive us (1 John 1:9).
Job allowed anyone to accuse him (verse 34). And his friends did accuse him (Job 22:4-9). Job did not really want his friends to accuse him. They had no evidence anyway. But there was someone whom Job wanted to accuse him.
Job believed that God caused Job’s troubles. Job could not explain why God would do this. So Job wanted to go to God’s court. Job was confident that God would listen. And Job was confident that God would be fair (Job 23:4-7).
Job thought that God was his accuser. But chapters 1 and 2 teach us that this idea was not correct. Satan (the devil) was Job’s accuser. And Satan caused Job’s problems.
Job respected God greatly. So Job believed that God’s words would be wonderful. Even if God accused Job, God’s words would still be wonderful. Through all his troubles, Job hoped that God would speak to him.
God’s words were very precious to Job (Job 23:12).
Job would be like a prince or a ruler when he met God. Job had always been loyal to God. So, unlike Job’s friends, God would not act as if Job was hopeless. God would give to Job the honour that Job deserved.
The Bible says that Christians are God’s royal priests (1 Peter 2:9). And Revelation 1:6 describes us as kings and priests. Such is the honour that God gives to his people. But we must not be proud. We are only God’s people because Jesus died for us. Without God’s love, we would be hopeless.
Job finished his speech with words about the ground.
He had often spoken about the soil at the end of previous speeches (Job 7:21; Job 10:21-22; Job 17:16; Job 21:33). The Bible says that God created man from earth (Genesis 2:7). And when a person dies, his body returns to a grave in the soil (Genesis 3:19).
Of course, the ground is not a person. So it cannot really accuse anyone. But it seemed to Job as if the ground was trying to reclaim his body. If the ground had been a person, it would have no reason to accuse Job. Job was fair to his farm workers. Job’s respect for God showed in everything that Job did.
Job thought that he would soon die. Then his friends would return his body to the ground. Nobody would cultivate the soil of Job’s farm. And weeds would grow instead of wheat.
Job finished his speech with these sad words.
Job had finished his speech. And his friends were silent. But a young man called Elihu wanted to speak.
People have different opinions about Elihu. Some people say that Elihu was foolish. And, they say that his words merely repeat ideas from the speeches of Job’s friends. We do not agree. We think that Elihu was wise. His speech was fair and accurate. And in the end, Elihu introduced God himself.
Elihu’s main idea was that God is fair. Job’s other friends said that they believed this. But they themselves were unfair to Job. However, Job was not always sure that God is fair. If God was always fair, Job could not explain his troubles. But Job felt sure that God would be a fair judge.
Job wanted a friend who would act like a lawyer (Job 9:32-35; Job 16:19-21). Job probably thought that God himself would be this lawyer. And today, we know that Jesus is such a friend. Jesus, of course, is God himself.
In the Book of Job, Elihu acts like this lawyer. It is as if Elihu arranged for Job to meet God. Elihu was just an ordinary young man (Job 33:6). But his words were special because he spoke by the Holy Spirit (Job 32:8; Job 36:4).
Job protested that he was innocent. And he blamed God for his troubles.
In fact, Job was a good man. His behaviour was right. But nobody should accuse God. Job should have insisted that God is good.
We do not need to prove that we are right. Instead, we should trust God. God is a fair judge. And in the end, God will give to each person whatever that person deserves (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).
The three friends blamed Job for his own troubles. They were being cruel to Job. They had no evidence. But they still accused Job.
Jesus warned that we should not act like judges. Of course, there must be real judges in the courts. And the Bible gives great honour to these judges. But many people who are not judges pretend to be like judges. They accuse other people. Jesus warned such people that God would be their judge (Matthew 7:1-2).
Elihu was polite. He respected the older men. He did not interrupt them.
Older people are usually wiser than young people. Older people have learned many valuable lessons in their long lives.
But there is a difference between human wisdom and God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:27). So we need God’s Holy Spirit to teach us about God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). Job had complained that his friends were not speaking by the Holy Spirit (Job 26:4). So their statements about God were not always accurate (Job 25:6).
Elihu did not want to copy their error. So he would speak by the power of the Holy Spirit. Elihu would only speak the things that God taught him (Job 36:3).
Elihu spoke like a lawyer. He had listened to the other speeches. He thought carefully about them. But the three friends’ arguments did not impress him. He saw that they had no evidence to accuse Job. He believed that Job’s speeches were better than theirs.
The three friends had failed to prove that Job was guilty. But they were still accusing Job (verse 3). They did not say, ‘We were wrong.’ Instead, they said, ‘God will prove that Job is wrong’ (verse 13). Elihu thought that they were unfair to Job. But Elihu would not be unfair.
In Job 2:13, the three friends were silent because Job’s words upset them. But now they had argued with Job. And so nobody wanted to speak, except Elihu. He had waited patiently during their long speeches. And he was desperate to speak.
In the Bible, many holy men are called prophets. These men did not merely speak their own ideas. Rather, they spoke by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). They described their experience in different ways. Sometimes the Spirit felt like a wind that was blowing through them (John 3:8). In fact, in the original languages of the Bible, the words ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same.
Sometimes the need to speak felt like a heavy weight (Nahum 1:1; Malachi 1:1).
A workman needs to put a heavy weight on the ground. And a prophet needed to speak the words that the Holy Spirit had given.
Elihu spoke like a lawyer. He promised to be fair to everyone. So he realised his own responsibilities.
Elihu would not lie to try to prove his ideas. His words would be sincere. He knew that God was listening to his words. And God was not merely Job’s judge. God was Elihu’s judge too.
Elihu was ready to begin his speech. He would be sincere and honest. He was a good adviser. He would not try to confuse anyone. And he would not lie in order to make his ideas seem more impressive.
In the original language, the word ‘spirit’ also means ‘breath’.
The Holy Spirit is essential for our lives. God’s Spirit gave to us the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Elihu did not want to use his own ideas when he advised Job. Instead, Elihu would speak by the Holy Spirit (Job 32:8; Job 32:18).
Job’s three friends acted as if they were wiser than Job. But Elihu was humble. If Job replied, his words would not upset Elihu. And Elihu would not be angry if someone proved him to be wrong. Elihu wanted to know the truth.
Elihu sympathised with Job. Elihu reminded Job that they were both ordinary men. The Bible says that God made man from the earth (Genesis 2:7).
Someone may say, like Elihu, that they are speaking by the Holy Spirit. But we should not just agree with their words. We should remember that people may also speak by evil spirits. Or a person may make a genuine mistake. That person may think that he is speaking by the Spirit. But really, his ideas might come from his own mind. So, we need to use the Bible to check the person’s words. We need to check that such a person believes the truth about Jesus. And we need to pray about that person’s advice. See 1 John 4:1-3.
Elihu did not repeat Job’s actual words. Instead, Elihu chose words that would emphasise Job’s main ideas. Job argued that he was innocent. And Job blamed God for Job’s troubles.
Job blamed God. And Job thought that God might never help him (Job 24:1). But God is always good. Even when Job was suffering, God was helping Job.
God had a message for Job (chapters 38-41). But while Job was complaining, he was not ready to hear God’s message. So Elihu taught Job about God. Elihu used his speech in order to prepare Job to meet with God.
‘God speaks in many different ways. But we do not always hear him’ (verse 14). Elihu used two stories to explain this idea. The first story is in verses 15-18. This sounds like Eliphaz’s strange dream (Job 4:12-21). The second story sounds rather like Job’s life.
In both stories, the man was not expecting God to speak. But God had an important message for each man. Each man’s life or death depended on his reaction to God’s message.
This dream is like Eliphaz’s dream (Job 4:12-21). But there are important differences:
· In Elihu’s story, God spoke by the dream. In Eliphaz’s dream, a strange spirit spoke.
· In Elihu’s story, the message was that the dreamer himself must stop his evil behaviour. But in Eliphaz’s dream, the message seemed to be that Job must stop his evil behaviour.
Perhaps Eliphaz’s dream really was from God. Perhaps God was warning Eliphaz to stop his evil behaviour. But Eliphaz had his own ideas. Eliphaz became proud and he even accused Job (Job 22:2-10).
Perhaps God was speaking to Eliphaz. But Eliphaz did not hear God’s message.
This man sounds like Job. But we are not sure, because of verse 27. The man in the story was evil. But Job was not evil. And Elihu was angry about people who accused Job without evidence (Job 32:3).
This servant may be an angel. Angels are God’s special servants from heaven. But Elihu may be describing a person who brings God’s message.
This servant is very special. He is one among thousands. And he chooses to speak to God on behalf of the man. Job had spoken about such a servant (Job 9:32-35; Job 16:19-21). He described this servant as a lawyer or a friend.
This servant prays to God on behalf of the man. And the servant asks God to save the man’s life. The man could not save himself. But someone else has paid the price to save that man.
These verses remind us about Jesus. We all deserve to die because of our evil deeds. We deserve God’s punishment. And we cannot do anything to save ourselves from that punishment. But God is kind. He sent Jesus. Jesus’ death was the price to save us from our punishment. God forgives us if we confess our evil deeds to him. And God becomes our friend when we invite him into our lives.
God has changed this man’s life. The man is grateful. He praises God. Job wanted to be like this man. Job wanted God to hear his prayers. Job wanted to meet God. And Job was happy to confess his errors to God (Job 42:1-6).
Job had argued that God never spoke to him (Job 30:20). But Eliphaz insisted that God had a message for Job. Perhaps Job was not yet ready to believe God’s message.
The man in verses 27-28 did not argue, like Job, that he was innocent. That man only wanted to give honour to God. But Job insisted that he himself was right. Job should have insisted that God is always right (Job 32:2).
Elihu was humble. If he was wrong, he wanted to hear Job’s reply. But if Elihu was right, then he wanted to continue. He had more wisdom that he wanted to teach to the other men.
Elihu heard the other men’s arguments. They all insisted that they were wise. If they really were wise, then they should be ready to listen to other people’s opinions. When they had heard Elihu’s opinions, they could think about his words. Then they could decide what was right.
Job said such things in his speeches. Job always argued that he was innocent. And that God was not fair to him. Elihu did not agree with these ideas.
Elihu was saying that Job’s words sounded like the words of a wicked man. Elihu was not saying that Job was evil. But evil men do say things like those that we read in verses 5-6. Job seemed to copy an evil man’s ideas. Job was a holy man. But he was actually arguing that it is better to be evil than to be good. His words seemed as if he was laughing at God.
These are important verses. The Bible clearly teaches such things.
· God is not evil. It was the devil, not God, who caused Job’s troubles. We should never blame God when evil things happen.
· God is fair. Job thought that God was unfair (verse 5). But Job was wrong. Later Job realised that his words were foolish (Job 40:1-5). God is the greatest judge. And his decisions are always right.
· We must not accuse God. We must always respect him. He is the ruler of the whole world.
God created our lives. And God could suddenly end our lives. But God is kind. He loves us. So he allows people to live so that we may choose to know him (Acts 17:27-28). Peter wrote that God is patient. Today, God is waiting so that people have the opportunity to trust him. But in the end, God will destroy the world (2 Peter 3:9-10).
The Bible teaches that God is the ruler of the world.
· Pilate thought that he had power over Jesus. But Jesus replied that Pilate’s power came from God – John 19:10-11.
· When King Nebuchadnezzar did not give honour to God, his mind became ill. For 7 years, he behaved like an animal. Other men ruled his country. But then Nebuchadnezzar became humble. He praised the true God. And God appointed Nebuchadnezzar to be king again (Daniel chapter 4).
· King Herod died an awful death soon after he refused to give honour to God (Acts 12:21-23).
God is the judge of even the most important people.
We cannot hide from God (Psalm 139:11-12).
In Job’s country, a judge would select a day when he would act as judge. Everyone who needed the judge’s help would wait for that day. But on that day, they could go to his court. On that day, the judge would help them.
Job knew that God was a judge. But Job thought that God’s servants were waiting in vain (Job 24:1). Job thought that God may never select a day to act as judge.
Elihu did not agree. He explained that God is much better than any human judge. God is always acting to help us. He does not need to select a date. He does not even need to ask questions. He already knows our deeds. And he is very powerful.
Job spoke about poor people who cried to God. Job thought that God would not help them (Job 24:10-12).
Elihu did not agree. God heard those poor people. And God will act to help them at the time when he decides. He will punish their cruel rulers. And he will appoint new rulers.
But God does not always stop the rule of evil men immediately. Sometimes he allows evil men to rule nations. We should pray (1 Timothy 2:1-2). But we should not complain that God allows such men to rule. Instead, we should trust God. We should obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19).
There are many evil rulers. We might think that God should end their rule. But God allows some evil things to happen now. He is patient with the people of this world. He is waiting:
· for people to confess their evil deeds to him (2 Peter 3:9)
· for Christians to declare God’s message to the people of all nations (Matthew 24:14)
· for God’s plan about the people of Israel to be complete (Romans 11:25-26)
· for Christians to know the freedom that comes from God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:18-22)
· for the time when God has chosen for Jesus to return (Mark 13:32).
Job and his friends agreed that God should punish evil people. In fact, God prefers to forgive people. However, God will not forgive everyone, whatever their attitude may be. People must confess their evil deeds to God. They must want to change their behaviour. And they must invite God into their lives.
This principle is very important to God (John 3:16). But Job seemed to forget this principle. He thought that only death would end the cruelty of evil people (Job 24:18-24).
Job complained that God did not act immediately to punish such people (Job 24:1). But Job did not say that God was waiting for them to confess their evil behaviour.
Elihu also spoke about this subject in Job 33:27-28.
If Elihu asked wise men for their advice about Job, they would all agree. Job’s behaviour was good. But his speeches were not always wise. He spoke about subjects that he did not understand (Job 42:3).
Job accused God (Job 33:9-13). And Job said that he himself was right, rather than God (Job 32:2).
Job wanted God to be his judge (Job 31:35-37). Job knew that God would be pleased with Job’s behaviour. And Job knew that God would be pleased about Job’s attitudes (chapter 31). But God was not pleased about everything that Job said (Job 38:1-2). In fact, sometimes, Job was even speaking as if God were Job’s enemy (Job 16:7-18).
In other words, Job was saying, ‘God does not care whether a man is innocent or not. I thought that God would help me because of my good deeds. But in fact, I am suffering as an evil person deserves to suffer. So when I did these good deeds, I was wasting my time.’
Elihu disagreed. This was a stupid attitude. Job’s words were like the words of an evil man.
Christians do not do good deeds in order to impress God. And we do not pretend that our actions will change God’s attitudes. Whatever we do, God remains the same (Hebrews 13:6). God is always good. God is always kind. God is always fair.
Perhaps Job imagined that, because of his good deeds, he would never have to suffer (Job 29:18-20). If so, this idea was wrong. Many Christians have to suffer. But they can still be joyful (happy), because God is their friend (1 Peter 1:6).
Paul wrote a joyful letter, called the Book of Philippians, while he was in prison.
Some people imagine that they can earn the right to go to heaven by their good deeds. But the Bible teaches that this idea is wrong (Ephesians 2:8-9). Heaven is God’s gift. To go to heaven, we must confess our evil deeds to God. And we must invite Jesus into our lives.
It seems as if Job had forgotten the reason for his good deeds (Job 29:12-17). Job did these things because he was a servant of God (Job 1:8). A servant carries out his master’s work. And Job was doing God’s work.
Every Christian should do good deeds, because we are servants of God (James 1:1).
We should do the things that God wants us to do (James 2:14-19).
Nobody who helps other people is wasting their time. But somebody who does evil things causes other people to suffer.
In Job 24:1-12, Job spoke about the poor people who were suffering because of their cruel rulers. And Job complained that God was not helping these people. Elihu’s answer to Job was in two parts:
· Perhaps those poor people did not deserve to suffer (Job 34:23-28). Whenever they cried, they prayed to God for help. Elihu believed that God would often help such people (Job 34:28). God listened to their cries. So God would punish their cruel rulers.
· But perhaps those poor people were evil (Job 35:9-13). They were too proud to pray to God. They did not realise that God is good. They were not grateful for all God’s good gifts. Instead, they were angry. And they complained. God would not listen to their hopeless cries.
Job had not thought about this. He imagined that poor people would always be innocent. He heard their cries. So he supposed that they were praying. He did not imagine that they might be opposing God.
Job too had been complaining about God. Job was not thanking God for his good gifts. Instead, Job was constantly arguing that he himself was innocent. He was constantly insisting that God should help him. Job was acting as if God deserved blame for Job’s troubles. This was a terrible error.
God was good to Job (Job 35:10-11). God made Job’s body (Job 10:8-12). At the saddest times, God gave music to comfort Job (Job 30:31). God taught Job things that the animals did not know (Job 28:8). And God taught Job to be wise (chapter 28).
God had not vanished (verse 14)! God was with Job. God knew about Job’s troubles. And God cared.
Job did not need to wait until God had time for Job (verse 14). God can act as judge at any time (Job 34:23).
God punishes evil people (verse 15). Job himself realised that they would have to die (Job 27:13-19). And Job also learnt about hell (Job 26:5-6).
So Job needed to learn more about God. And Elihu was ready to teach Job.
Elihu was bold when he spoke these words. But we do not think that he was proud. Elihu was speaking by God’s Holy Spirit (Job 32:8). In other words, Elihu’s knowledge came from God (Job 36:22). Elihu was not merely explaining his own ideas.
Whenever someone explains their own ideas, that person will make many mistakes. But God’s knowledge is perfect (Job 37:16). And often in the Bible, God sent men to speak his words (Isaiah 6:8-9; Jeremiah 1:4-10; Exodus 4:14-16). These men did not speak their own ideas. They spoke God’s words by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 2:21).
Although God is powerful, he is not like an evil ruler. An evil ruler uses his power to cause trouble for people. But God uses his great power to do good things. He is a fair judge. He punishes evil people who hate him. But he helps good people who trust him. He gives to them the honour that they deserve.
God is kind. He is even kind to people who are proud and evil.
Elihu described a man whose attitudes were terrible. This man was both proud and evil. Job’s friends thought that God would kill such a man as a punishment. Job agreed that God should punish that man. But Job thought that God would not punish that man. And Job did not understand why.
Elihu explained that God wants such a man to stop his evil behaviour. God wants the man to change his life and to trust God. So God may cause troubles that make the man think about his life. And God may warn the man.
God gives an opportunity for people to confess their evil deeds to him. God wants them to trust him. But God does not force anybody to change. In the end, God will be the judge of everybody.
Some people refuse to listen when God warns them. These people are wicked. We can be confident that God will punish them.
In verse 14, Elihu mentioned men whom other people hand over for an evil life. These men belonged to a cruel religion. During a ceremony, they had to have sex with other men. They had a terrible life. And Elihu said that wicked people deserve such a terrible fate.
God helps good people who suffer. He was teaching Job, even while Job was suffering. Job was learning about heaven (Job 19:25-27) and hell (Job 26:5-6). Job was learning about wisdom (chapter 28). Job was learning to trust God (Job 12:4). And Job was even learning about Jesus (Job 16:19-21).
Job thought that he was merely waiting to die. But God had wonderful plans for Job.
Job did not deserve these troubles. But while Job was suffering, God was making Job into a better person (1 Peter 1:6-7; Job 23:10). Soon God would rescue Job (chapter 42). Soon God would answer Job, and Job’s troubles would end. But at this time, Job had to be patient (James 5:10-11). This does not mean that Job could do nothing. When we suffer, we should pray for help (James 5:13). We should ask other people to pray too (James 5:14-15). If we have done evil things, we should confess them (James 5:16). And we should always pray with confidence (James 1:6-8; James 5:17-18).
Elihu had almost finished his advice for Job. But in these verses, Elihu warned Job about three dangerous ideas:
· In verses 18-19, Elihu spoke about money. Many people fail to obey God because of money (Matthew 6:24; 2 Timothy 4:10). Job’s friends thought that God gives money to good people. And that, if God rescued Job, Job would become wealthy again. These ideas are wrong. Our security should always come from God, not money. Many good Christians are not rich (James 2:5). But if we are wealthy, we must not trust our money.
· Verse 20 is a difficult verse to translate. We think that Elihu was speaking about death. Job often said that he wanted to die (Job 10:18-22; Job 17:13-16). He merely wanted his troubles to end. But this attitude was not good. Paul knew that after death, he would go to heaven. And he knew that heaven is a much better place than earth. But Paul wanted to be a loyal servant of God. So he was happy to do God’s work on earth, although he would have to wait for heaven (Philippians 1:20-25). And Paul explained that death is not a good thing. Death is like an enemy of God. In the end, God will defeat death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). In other words, nobody will die in heaven. And in the end, God will change his people on this earth so that they will not die (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
· Verse 21 Sometimes an evil person seems to have a better life than a good person. Sometimes Job suggested that an evil person’s life was better than his. But these are unwise ideas. We must always think about God. God has a plan for our lives. God never wants anyone to do evil things. We must not allow money or anything else to tempt us. ‘It is better to suffer troubles than to behave in an evil way.’ Read Luke 6:20-26.
Many people advise their friends about God. And perhaps such people speak well. But their words are only ideas. They never guide their friends to have a real experience of God.
Elihu did not want to make this mistake. So he did not continue to speak about Job. Instead, Elihu spoke about God. He told Job and his friends that God would teach them. God is the best teacher (verse 22). Elihu warned them not to try to control God. God is always right. So they should trust him completely (verse 23). Elihu reminded them to praise God. God deserves our honour (verse 24).
Soon, the men would have an experience of God’s greatness. They would watch a powerful storm. Afterwards, God would speak.
In Job 26:14, Job said that man’s experience of God was like a whisper. But God’s greatness was like the thunder. (Thunder is the loud noise that follows lightning.) But Job and his friends would soon have a greater experience of God. A storm was approaching. Elihu described the storm. The men were sitting outside (Job 2:8; Job 2:13). So they carefully watched the storm.
First, the men saw the clouds (verses 27-29). Elihu explained that God uses the clouds. By means of the clouds, God sends rain. This shows that God is kind. He provides water for us and for our crops.
Then the men saw the distant lightning. And they heard the distant thunder. It was not raining yet. But the storm was coming closer. Even the cows realised this. When a storm approaches, cows do not continue to eat. Instead, they sit on the ground (verse 33).
For many chapters, Job and his friends had talked about God. Some things that they said were correct. But other things were wrong. Job and his friends were talking about things that they did not know (Job 38:2).
Soon, the men would have an experience of God’s greatness. God himself would speak to Job. Then the men would start to realise how great God is.
Elihu had a special task. First, he advised Job by the Holy Spirit. Elihu corrected some errors that Job and his friends had made. Then Elihu introduced God to the men.
But God is too great for a mere man (Job 33:6) to introduce him. Nobody can control God (Job 36:23). Nobody can force God to act (Job 34:29). So really, God introduced himself.
God speaks to people by many different methods (Job 33:14). Elihu described a dream (Job 33:15) and a servant of God (Job 33:23). Sometimes God has spoken to people in a very quiet way (1 Kings 19:11-13). But God spoke to Job from a storm (Job 38:1).
Before God spoke, Elihu described the storm. There were lessons about God that people could learn from the storm:
· The storm was powerful. And it was loud (verse 2 and verse 4). Nobody could continue to work during the storm (verse 7). But God is much more powerful than any storm.
· Things happened during the storm that surprised the men. There was snow (verse 6). And there was lightning (verse 11). And God’s deeds often surprise us. For example, the first Christians did not expect that God would send them to tell God’s message to foreigners (Acts 11:1-18).
· Sometimes rain is good news, because the rain provides our water supply. But a terrible storm is bad news (verse 13). So whenever God acts, he helps good people. But he punishes bad people.
God does all these wonderful things. No person can do such things.
Even today, people cannot control the weather.
So we should learn that God deserves honour. He is greater than anybody else. We must respect him.
This was Job’s greatest error. In his speeches, Job concentrated on his own life (chapter 29 and chapter 31). He emphasised that he was innocent. He spoke about his own rights. But Job did not realise that God is always right (Job 32:2). Job should have spoken about God’s greatness. But often, Job preferred to speak about himself.
We have no right to speak to God, except the right that God has given to us. We do not deserve God’s help. Everybody has done evil things. God will only forgive us because of the things that he himself has done. God himself sent Jesus to suffer the punishment for our evil deeds.
If God wanted, we would all die instantly (Job 34:14-15). But the wonderful news is that God loves us. God even wanted to speak to Job (chapter 38). God wanted to forgive Job’s friends (Job 42:7-8).
God is great because of his power. But God is also great because of his love.
Perhaps Elihu realised that God would speak soon. So Elihu told the other men clearly that they must respect God. In verse 23, Elihu reminded the men about the main ideas in his speech.
The men had argued about who was the wisest. But God is wiser than any man. In fact, even if God were foolish, his words would still be wiser than any man (1 Corinthians 1:25). But God is never foolish. He is wise and we all must respect him.
In Job’s speeches, Job said that he wanted to meet God. Job wanted God to act as a judge. Then, Job was sure that God would help him. God would declare that Job was innocent. So Job would feel like a prince when he met God (Job 31:37).
However, Job thought that God caused Job’s troubles. Job even spoke as if God was a cruel enemy (Job 16:9-14). So Job argued that he himself was right. And he argued that God was unfair (Job 32:2).
In God’s speech, God did not explain Job’s troubles. Instead, God taught Job. God gave a list of many things that Job could not explain. These things are the work of God. Nobody else could do such things.
Job had spoken as if he himself was very great. He even spoke as if he should be advising God (Job 23:13-17; Job 24:1). But when Job heard God’s speech, Job realised his error (Job 42:1-6). Job was not a proud man. His words might sometimes seem proud. But really, Job was speaking about things that he did not know.
God’s speech is rather like Jesus’ reply in Luke 12:13-15. A man asked Jesus to act as a judge. The man wanted his fair share of his family’s wealth. But Jesus refused to be the judge. Instead, he taught the man that money cannot provide real security. So, we should trust God.
God discussed many subjects in his speech. He spoke about the world, the sea and the sky. He described the behaviour of birds and animals. And he explained why no man should ever accuse God.
Job had spoken about the clouds in front of God’s throne (royal seat) (Job 26:9). God spoke during the storm.
Elihu had already explained this to Job (Job 34:35).
In the original language of the Book of Job, God’s speech is a long list of questions. These questions were a test for Job. But Job did not know the answers. Or, the answers reminded Job that God was much more powerful than Job.
In Easy English, we prefer to use statements rather than questions. So our translation gives a list of the things that God does. Or, our translation explains the things that Job could not do. This is just the style of our translation. The meaning is the same.
God created the world. This was a wonderful event (Proverbs 8:22-31). This event showed God’s wisdom and God’s skill. God’s servants in heaven were so happy to see God’s work. Job did not even see this great event. But Job had spoken as if he was wiser than God (Job 23:13-17).
God controls the sea. Job and his friends realised that the sea was a dangerous place. Strange animals lived in the water (chapter 41). The men spoke about terrible floods (Job 22:11). But a great animal, called the hippo, was not afraid of the water (Job 40:23).
God described the sea as if it were a child. People cannot control the sea.
But God decides its boundaries. And God will not allow the sea to flood the whole world (Genesis 9:11).
The men were afraid of the night. During the night, evil people seemed to be more powerful (Job 24:13-17). And the darkness reminded the men about death (Job 10:21-22).
God explained that he causes the morning to begin. The dawn reminds us that evil people cannot always continue their evil behaviour. Their activities by night must end when the day begins. And so the day will come when their lives will end. They will die and then God will be their judge.
Job did not know where people go after their deaths. He thought that they remained in their graves (Job 3:16-19). Later, he thought about hell (Job 26:5-6). Job’s words seemed to confident. But Job did not really know about such places. He did not even know the size of the earth, where he was actually living. So he could not know about places that he had never visited.
Job did not know where the sun went after nightfall. Today we know that the sun is lighting the opposite side of the world. And Job did not know what happens to the darkness during the day.
God was using humour in this verse. The men thought that older people would be wiser (Job 12:12). Job spoke as if he was a very wise man. God joked that Job could not be old enough to be that wise!
God begins to discuss a new subject in these verses. That subject is war.
Job was not sure that God would ever act as judge (Job 24:1). But later, Job remembered that every evil person will die (Job 24:18-24). An evil person cannot continue to cause trouble after his death. So his death is like God’s judgement. And the evil man’s death has two effects. That evil man suffers the punishment that he deserves. And God makes life better for people who were suffering because of that man.
In the Bible, God also used wars. In these wars, God did not belong to one side or the other (Joshua 5:13-14). Instead, God was carrying out his own plans. He was punishing evil people. And he was rescuing good people who trusted him.
God did many wonderful things to win these battles. In Joshua 10:13-14, God delayed the end of the day. In the same battle, God caused large hailstones (ice) to fall from the sky (Joshua 10:11). These things happened to show that God’s people did not win the battle by their own strength. God won the battle. God was punishing evil people. And God was helping his own people.
The Bible describes a future day when God will punish evil nations (Joel 3:2). On that day, there will be a terrible battle. God will use the sky as he fights to save his people (Joel 2:30-32; Joel 3:16). Afterwards, God’s people will not suffer again (Joel 3:17-21). Today, God’s people suffer like Job in this evil world (James 5:10-11). But we should be patient, like Job, because God’s day will come (James 5:7-9). Many people doubt this (2 Peter 3:3-4). But such people forget that God has already punished the world by a flood (Genesis 6:5-8). The Bible says that God will punish the world again by fire (2 Peter 3:5-7). Then he will create a new world, where we shall not suffer (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1-4).
God continued to discuss war in chapter 39.
God controls the weather. And he uses the weather for his own purposes. He even waters the grass where nobody lives (verse 27). A man would not choose to water that grass. But God controls the whole world. He looks after all the plants and animals.
Ancient people used to watch the stars for important reasons. The stars are like a calendar, because different stars appear in each season. And the stars also helped travellers to work out the correct direction for their journeys.
So Job knew the patterns of stars. But he could not explain how God arranged these patterns.
Today we know much more about the stars. Each star is powerful, like the sun. And there are millions of stars that we cannot even see. The distances between the stars are immense. The Bible teaches us that God created the stars. People study science. And they discover many things. They might think that they are very intelligent. But they are merely discovering things that God has already done. They are merely describing his work.
Job and his friends had just watched a storm. And the storm impressed them. The lightning was very powerful. The rain changed the solid ground into mud. Job had said that God’s power was like the power of a storm (Job 26:14). But really, God is much more powerful than a storm. In fact, God directs the storm.
There is a difference between the behaviour of lions and ravens. Ravens are large birds.
Lions are strong animals. But most of the time, they rest. They might wait under a bush. It is as if they are waiting for God to provide their food.
Ravens are noisy birds. They do not wait for their food to come to them.
So they are like poor people who wander to search for food. And their noises sound like people who call to God for help (Job 24:10-12). But God said that he provides for ravens as well as lions.
We may be rich or poor. But we all depend on God to supply our food.
In chapter 39, God taught a lesson about the animals. Job supposed that God did not really know Job’s situation. And that this was why God did not rescue Job. But Job’s idea was wrong.
God created all the birds. And God created all the animals. Each bird or animal has its own character. In other words, the behaviour of each bird and each animal is different. This was God’s plan. And this fact shows God’s great intelligence.
Jesus taught that God even knows about the death of a little bird. But a person is more important to God than a bird. And God knows everything about us – Matthew 10:29-31.
The animals in these verses are called goats, donkeys and oxen. (Oxen is the plural of ox.) These animals are common animals on the farms in many countries. On the farm, these are tame animals. But God was not speaking about the animals on a farm.
There are also wild goats, donkeys and oxen. These wild animals behave as God intended them to behave. And they will not obey a man’s instructions.
Wild goats are shy animals. They live in the mountains. They stay far away from people. The young goats are not loyal to their mothers. When the young goats are old enough, they leave their mothers. And they do not return.
A tame donkey is a loyal animal. It is a small horse that can carry heavy loads. But the wild donkey does not obey any man’s orders. It is not like the army horse, which fights men’s battles (verses 19-25). Instead, the wild donkey does not care about people’s arguments. It is not a responsible animal.
But freedom is not always a benefit. Unlike the tame donkey, the wild donkey must find its own food. The wild donkey searches for any green plant to eat. Sometimes the donkey will be hungry.
An ox is a strong animal. The ox was very useful on the farm. Job used to own 1000 oxen (plural of ox) – Job 1:3.
But a wild ox would not help the farmer. It might wander into the fields. But it would not obey the farmer. Instead, it would spoil the crops. The farmer could never trust a wild ox. The ox would be happy to take the crops. But it would eat the crops itself! It would not take the crops to the farm house, like a tame ox.
God has made some very strange birds and animals. The ostrich is a bird with wings. But it cannot fly. Some birds are very careful about their eggs. But the ostrich leaves its eggs on the ground. And it does not even seem to look after its own young birds.
God did not teach the ostrich to be wise. But God did teach the ostrich to run. And the ostrich can even run faster than the horses in the battle. God taught the ostrich to run so that it could escape from danger.
The army horse is like a loyal soldier. In fact, it is better than a soldier. It is brave. And it is strong. Nothing frightens it.
Ostriches are like cowards! They run away from the battle. But army horses do the opposite. They race into the battle. They are not even afraid of death.
This hawk is a bird that migrates. In other words, it flies to a different country for the winter. Some birds fly thousands of miles each year. But they do not simply go anywhere. They fly to a particular place. And even the young birds manage to find the right place.
Hawks and vultures (verse 27) are both birds that eat meat.
In verses 19-26, God described a terrible battle. After the battle, the vultures come. Vultures are birds that eat dead bodies. They do not hunt for anything that is alive. Perhaps they are eating the dead horses. Or perhaps they are eating the bodies of soldiers.
See Revelation 19:17-21. Before Jesus returns, there will be a terrible battle. God will use this battle to punish the evil nations of the world. But God will save the people who trust him.
Job spoke to his friends as if he knew everything. He had thought carefully about his troubles. So he was confident that his speeches were right. And he was sure that he was wise.
But then God spoke. And Job’s ideas did not seem important. God’s words were wonderful. And God’s deeds were much greater than anything that a man could do.
We think that Job did not really want to accuse God. Job was a servant of God. And Job greatly respected God. Job spoke some foolish words, because of his pain. Job complained when he should have praised God. But Job did not continue to complain when God pointed out Job’s error. And Job did not continue to accuse God when God spoke.
In his speeches, Job spoke as if he were wiser than God. Job even made a list of things that God should do. Job could not explain why God was not doing such things. So Job would complain about God’s behaviour.
But a man should not complain about God. God is always fair. And we should always trust him.
So God tested Job. God’s test would prove whether Job was as great as God. Of course, Job would fail the test! The test is in verses 9-14.
God pointed out Job’s main error. Job imagined that God was unfair. Job said that he himself was right, rather than God.
So Elihu’s opinion about Job was correct (Job 32:2).
These verses describe Job’s test (verse 7). The purpose of the test was to prove that God was greater than Job. And the purpose was to prove that God was wiser than Job.
Firstly, God reminded Job about God’s great power. Job was not as powerful as God (verse 9).
Then God reminded Job about God’s importance (verse 10).
Then God gave a list of how Job would like God to act (verses 11-13). God can do such things. But Job could not do these things. So Job should not be telling God to do these things. And Job should not complain if God decides not to do these things.
Job clearly failed his test. Nobody is as great as God. So God uses humour in verse 14. If Job could carry out his great ideas, then even God would respect Job! But Job could not do these things. So instead, Job should trust God. God alone could save Job from his troubles.
In fact, Bible students are not sure about the animal in this passage. In the original language (called Hebrew), the animal’s name simply means ‘a great animal’. But the hippo behaves as God describes. It is a large animal that lives near the river. It is strong (verse 16). It eats plants (verse 15). It is not cruel to other animals (verse 20). And the hippo can swim (verse 23).
The hippo shows us that some strong animals have a calm and confident character. Such animals do not normally fight. They enjoy the food that God provides. They like to rest and to watch the other animals.
Perhaps people can learn from the hippo’s character. If we have troubles, we do not need to argue with God. God will always win, anyway (verse 19). But instead, we can trust God when we have troubles. Even a flood does not upset a hippo. And our troubles do not need to upset us.
At the end of God’s speech, God described another strong animal. We think that God was describing a dangerous animal called the crocodile. The crocodile lives in rivers. But it can also walk on the land. Some crocodiles are very large. And they are very fierce.
Job imagined that God was responsible for Job’s troubles. But chapters 1 and 2 explain that, in fact, the accuser called Satan was responsible. Another name for Satan is the devil. Satan attacked Job because Satan wanted to accuse God. Job was God’s servant. But Satan thought that he could make Job insult God. And, that Job would not trust God if Job was suffering.
The devil behaves like a crocodile:
· Nobody can control the devil, except God. And no person can control a crocodile.
· The devil is a fierce enemy. And a crocodile is fierce. It never tries to escape from trouble. Its reaction is always to attack.
· A person cannot defeat the devil by his own skills or intelligence. We need God’s help. And even a strong man cannot fight a crocodile. Even today, the most skilled experts in a zoo must be very careful if they need to catch a crocodile. The crocodile wants to kill them.
· The devil is very proud. And the crocodile behaves as if it is the proudest animal. (See also my notes on Job 26:12-13.)
People keep many animals as pets. But nobody can train a crocodile to be a tame animal. It is out of control.
You can kill other river animals for their meat. But it is very difficult to kill a crocodile. The crocodile is too fierce. And its skin is too hard to cut with a sword or another long knife.
The crocodile would probably kill the person who touched it. But if that person escaped, he would not dare to touch another crocodile.
God created all the animals. So God is more powerful than any animal. And God is also more powerful than the devil. So people who trust God do not need to be afraid of the devil. Instead, they should trust God to help them.
We would not normally describe a crocodile as graceful. But perhaps God meant the skin of the crocodile. Today, crocodile skin makes an attractive leather.
This description explains why a man cannot attack a crocodile. The crocodile would try to bite the man. And no part of the crocodile’s body seems soft enough to cut, even with a sword.
These verses are difficult to understand. In the EasyEnglish translation, we have put some words in brackets (…). These words are not in the original Book of Job. We have included these words to help you to understand one possible meaning.
Some people think that fire actually came from the animal’s mouth. But no real animals can do this. And the other animals in God’s speech all seem to be real animals. So we do not agree with such people. Instead, God was describing what seems to happen. In other words, if a crocodile approached a man, this would be his experience:
· First, the man would hear the crocodile. The sudden noise would surprise the man.
· The man would look to see what animal made the noise. But he would not see the animal immediately. He would see the water that reflects the light. Then he would see the crocodile’s eyes.
· There would be water, like steam, in the air round the crocodile. This water would look like smoke. And the water would reflect the sunlight. So the man might think that a pot was boiling. And the light might look like a fire.
· Then the man would realise what he was watching. And the crocodile would start to leave the water.
· The man may be curious to see the crocodile. But he would also be very afraid.
If the man was curious, he might see the crocodile. But if the man was sensible, he would run away.
Many towns are near rivers. So a crocodile could enter a town. The inhabitants would want to frighten it. Perhaps it will return to the river. But the people cannot attack it. The crocodile is not afraid of a sword or a knife. And the crocodile would hurt anyone who tried to fight. So the people must stand at a distance. They might throw stones. But the crocodile is not afraid of stones.
The crocodile leaves when it chooses to leave. Its legs are short, so its body leaves a track in the mud.
It stirs the water as it returns to the river. And the crocodile also leaves a track of bubbles (called foam) on the surface of the water.
Everybody will be glad when the crocodile leaves.
Some animals seem proud. And some people are very proud. But nobody can continue to be proud when they see a crocodile. Their proud words cannot protect them from such a dangerous animal.
The devil is also very proud. The devil is not afraid of any person. The devil is so bold that he even accuses God. But God is much more powerful than the devil. So we need to trust God. God will help us when the devil opposes us (1 Peter 5:8-9). We should learn how to be strong Christians (Ephesians 6:10-18). And we should use the Bible against the devil as Jesus did (Matthew 4:1-10).
Psalm 104 is similar to Job chapters 38-41. Psalm 104 also describes many animals that God created. It is a song to praise God for his wonderful deeds. Similar passages include:
· Psalm 104:11 and Job 39:5-8. These passages are both about the wild donkey (a small horse).
· Psalm 104:18 and Job 39:1-4. These passages are both about the wild goat.
· Psalm 104:26 and Job chapter 41. These passages are both about the animal called the crocodile.
· Psalm 104:7-9 and Job 38:8-11. These passages both describe how God made a boundary for the sea.
· Psalm 104:21-22 and Job 38:39-40. These passages both describe how God provides food for lions.
There are also other similar passages.
In Job chapters 38-41, God was testing Job (Job 38:3; Job 40:7). God wanted Job to realise that God had done many wonderful things. And that no man could do such things.
Psalm 104 is like an answer to Job’s test. The Psalm praises God, who did all these things by his wisdom (Psalm 104:24). So we should give honour to God. We should always trust him. He will save his people. But he will punish wicked people (Psalm 104:33-35).
Job had heard God’s speech. So Job realised his error. He was not an evil man. But he had spoken unwise words about God. Sometimes Job complained about God’s behaviour. And sometimes Job accused God.
Job was humble. He asked God to forgive him.
Job was a servant of God, even before Job began to suffer. Then, Job trusted God because other people had told him about God.
When God spoke, Job had a new experience. Job learned many things from God’s speech. And now Job trusted God even more. Job had become an even better servant of God.
We know that God forgave Job because of verses 7-9. In those verses, God emphasised that Job was a servant of God. If we sincerely confess our errors to God, then God will always forgive us. God is not cruel. He wants to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
These verses may seem strange to some people. Such people do not know why God was angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Job’s friends were sometimes wrong, but sometimes Job was wrong too. So, you might think that they all deserved the same punishment.
The explanation is that Job was a servant of God. In other words, Job had a special task to do. A servant carries out his master’s work. And Job had decided to do God’s work on earth (Job 29:14). So Job was acting on behalf of God.
Job was already God’s servant when his troubles began (Job 1:8). And Job was still God’s servant during his troubles (Job 2:3). In verses 7-8, God emphasised 4 times that Job was God’s servant.
At the time of the Bible, there was a special relationship between a servant and his master. Someone who insulted a servant was also insulting the servant’s master. See Mark 12:1-9. A master would try to punish the person who insulted his servant. The master would feel that the person was insulting the master’s own honour.
In 2 Kings 2:23-24, some youths insulted a servant of God called Elisha. This was a terrible thing to do. It was as if they were insulting God himself. Animals called bears came from the wood and attacked those youths. If those youths had insulted an ordinary man, such a terrible thing would not have happened. But Elisha was acting on behalf of God.
Eliphaz said that Job was very evil (Job 22:5). This would be a stupid thing to say about any innocent man. But Job was not merely an ordinary man. He was a servant of God. So Eliphaz’s stupid words were insulting God. In other words, Eliphaz insulted God’s servant. So Eliphaz was also insulting God. And the three friends were responsible for another wrong thing also.
A servant must be loyal to his master. And Job tried hard always to be loyal to God. Job was even loyal to God when he heard his wife’s foolish advice (Job 2:9-10). Job did not blame God in chapter 3. But then Job’s friends accused Job. And Job felt that, in order to defend himself, he had to accuse God. Job only blamed God because of the friends’ arguments. So they were partly responsible for Job’s errors. They had caused Job not to be totally loyal to God.
So God was angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. The Bible often tells us that God is angry because of our evil deeds (Romans 1:18). But God is not cruel. He is kind. And he wants to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
God could have punished Job’s friends. But instead, God wanted to forgive them. So God told them to kill some animals. Then, they should burn the animals as gift to God. In other words, the animals would suffer the punishment that the friends deserved. And God would forgive the friends. God often wanted such gifts before Jesus came. When Jesus died, he suffered our punishment. So, he suffered instead of us. And God forgives us, because of what Jesus did (Hebrews 10:1-10). We must confess our evil deeds to God. And we must invite Jesus into our lives.
Job prayed for the friends because he was God’s servant. So Job had a special relationship with God. Job was even able to pray on behalf of his friends. We all can have that special relationship with God. First, we must invite Jesus into our lives. And then we can allow God’s Holy Spirit to pray through us (Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 14:15; John 7:37-39).
Job’s friends obeyed God. And God forgave them.
Note that God was not angry with Elihu. Elihu said the right things about God.
Originally, Job thought that he would be wealthy for his whole life (Job 29:18-20).
Then Job thought that he would die because of his illness (Job 7:21).
In the end, Job was wealthy again.
Our lives often change like this. We should learn to be content whatever happens (Philippians 4:11-12). Whether we are rich or poor, we should always trust God (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
These people avoided Job when he was suffering (Job 19:13-19). But, at the end of Job’s troubles, God allowed these people to help Job. They comforted him. And they sympathised with him. It seems that they did not know the reason for Job’s troubles. They still thought that God caused Job’s troubles. But chapters 1 and 2 explain that Satan (the devil) really caused these troubles. God permitted Job to suffer. But God did not attack Job.
Job had twice the number of animals that he had in Job 1:2.
And Job had a new family.
Job looked after his daughters carefully. At the time of Job, usually only the sons would share the family’s wealth. Job’s gift to his daughters also shows that he was very wealthy. He had enough money to provide for his daughters as well as his sons.
Job’s life was much longer than people live today. The people in the Book of Genesis also had very long lives (Genesis chapter 5).
After the flood, God said that men would not continue to live for more than 120 years (Genesis 6:3). And Psalm 90:10 says that a normal life is 70 or 80 years.
Because of verse 16, some people think that Job lived in very ancient times. If so, the Book of Job may be the oldest book that still exists.
Job was a great man. He was wealthy. He had a large family. And he lived a long life. He achieved many things in his life. All these things seemed important to Job before his troubles began.
But Job learned something new when he suffered his great troubles. He learned that it is more important to be a servant of God than anything else.
Various writings and sermons by C.H. Spurgeon, J. Wesley, G. Whitefield and other important writers.
The Book of Job by A.R. Fausset - in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown
A Handbook on the Book of Job – William D. Reyburn (United Bible Societies)
Job by Roy B. Zuck - in The Bible Knowledge Commentary edited by Walvoord and Zuck
Various articles from The Temple Bible Dictionary edited by Ewing & Thomson
Why do the righteous suffer? by Gordon Lindsay (Christ for the Nations)
Christ in all the Scriptures by A.M. Hodgkin
Young’s Analytical Concordance
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by B. Davidson
Bibles - NIV, KJV, TEV, RSV, Moffatt, Jewish translation (1917), occasional use of Hebrew text, and other translations.
© 2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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