About This Book:
The book of Job tells us about how a man named Job suffered even though he was upright and blameless. Even though he suffered, he still praised God. He did not sin.
The book has no author and no date when it was written. The date when it was written is mysterious. It’s historical background also provides no clues for the date when it was written. Job is a gentle patriarch like Abraham. His wealth is measured in terms of the number of cattle in his possession and servants in his employ. He is also the head of the large family for whom he serves as a priest much as Abraham did for his family. He offers sacrifices. His age exceeds those of the patriarchs. He lived 140 years after restoration. Job lived in the Land of Uz whose location is not clearly mentioned. He had the best understanding of God’s covenant.
The type of literature of the book of Job indicates it was written in the ancient near East. But it is nevertheless unique in many ways. It is a book that has deeply influenced Western literature through the ages. It has also captured the attention of literary critics.
The book’s theme is the eternal problem of undeserved suffering, and it is named after its main character, Job, who attempts to understand the sufferings that came upon him.
Job was a man who feared God and shunned evil. You know this by observing the way in which he was dealing with his children. They would have parties every day. But then the Bible says Job would sacrifice the next day, bringing all his children together, saying, they might have committed some sin or some evil. He had to get right with God. He was all the time concerned about the righteousness of his family and his life because he felt once he is righteous in everything, God would be with him. He was always thinking about himself.
But the time came when Satan accused him before God and said, if God touched his wealth and health, he will curse God. God accepted the challenge. Job got in between their challenge. He lost everything and he was afflicted with sickness. His own wife said, curse God and die. His children, wealth, name and fame were gone. He was in the streets scratching.
Three friends of Job believed that since Job was suffering, it must be due to sin. They were speaking from retribution theology, which says that God blesses the righteous but punishes the wicked. However, Job never agrees with this.
In the end, God appears to Job and he shows him His power and His mercy. He corrects Job by saying that Job was blessed not because of his righteousness, but because God loved him. Then he asks Job to show the same love to others. Only this way one can have a secure life in this world and Satan cannot touch them.
God also speaks to those who criticized Job. And he tells them to go to Job with a sacrifice, and have him pray for them. On hearing Job’s prayer for them He will forgive their sins. Job prayed for those who accused him, those who criticized him, and those who broke his heart.
After this, God made him happy by bringing everything back to him in double measure. His children were very beautiful. Job no more prayed for his children. There was no more a need to pray for them. They were Godly children. His wealth also came back and he could enjoy it. His health was restored and he lived for four generations. All the relatives came back and loved him and all the honor came back and God was with him. No evil could touch him.
God alone is the source of Wisdom. And he distributes wisdom as he sees fit. The proper human response, then, is repentance and submission.
The book of Job is not popular among some modern interpreters. This book addresses the significant problem of the suffering. There is some truth in this premise and that the Bible does teach that both obedience and sin have appropriate consequences.
The book of Job is a canonical corrective against this type of faulty reasoning. It guards against an overreading and mechanical application of a Biblical retribution theology.
The book of Job does not begin to explain all the reasons for suffering in the world. Job establishes once and for all that personal sin is not the only reason for suffering in this world.