By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Job is the story of a righteous man, prominent and influential, who in a matter of minutes lost all his material possessions, children and health. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. His friends used the occasion to condemn him rather than comfort him.
Even worse, God did not respond to Job until the very end.
What makes this inspired story so perplexing is that Job was the most righteous man on the earth, the least deserving of such tragic affliction. This raises the question: Why does a good God allow tragedy to come to His children? It was God who removed His protection from around Job, allowing Satan virtually unlimited access into his life to bring soul-devastating destruction.
In the opening verses, the reader is informed of something Job never learned — he was a test case. Throughout the entire trial, Job never did understand why he was suffering. There were no explanations from God. In the absence of any God-given insight, Job’s faith was stretched to the very limits.
Permission Granted (8–12)
One day as the sons of God presented themselves before the Lord, Satan came with them. Once the highest archangel, Satan had been banished from heaven for his rebellion against God. Yet, mysteriously, he still could approach God’s throne in heaven.
God praised Job, His most trusted servant, knowing that he would remain faithful to Him when attacked by Satan. Satan responded by asking the Lord: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan accused God of “buying” Job’s worship.
There were people in the New Testament who followed Jesus because of the blessings He gave them, not because they desired to be His disciples. And today there are people who associate with the church for the benefits they obtain.
This is a question all believers ought to ask themselves: Would I fear God if there were no blessings in the here and now and greater blessings promised in the age to come?
Satan told God if He would allow him to take away Job’s material blessings, Job would curse the Lord. In His divine sovereignty, God granted Satan permission to attack Job’s life, with restrictions. Satan was given access to remove Job’s possessions and loved ones, but he could not remove his health or take his life.
The Attack Executed (13–19)
The Sabeans, merchant traders from Sheba, stole Job’s cattle and slaughtered his servants. Only one traumatized servant escaped to tell Job the tragic news. While this servant was still speaking, another lone messenger came and reported to Job that “God’s fire fell from heaven” (probably lightning) and burned his sheep and servants.
While this servant was still speaking, another messenger arrived and told Job that the Chaldeans had stolen his camels and murdered his servants attending them. He alone had survived the attack.
Facing tragedy upon tragedy, yet another dagger was thrust into Job’s heart. Another messenger came running and told Job that while his sons and daughters were together for an enjoyable family gathering, a powerful wind had destroyed the house and killed them all.
Trust Maintained (20–22)
When Job heard of the loss of all his possessions and children, he got up, tore his robe and shaved his head. These were outward expressions of his deep, inner sorrow and grief. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped the Lord. Job declared that all his possessions, servants, sons and daughters were gifts from God, who alone had the right to take them at His discretion.
Job responded with true faith in God. He did not sin by blaming God for these calamities. His high view of God caused him to offer praise to the Lord in the most tragic moment of his life.