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Tag Archives: the book of Job

With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√The Prologue: Chs. 1-3, Part 1)

As we saw from our outline of the book of Job on December 5, we want to deal with what is called “The Prologue” (Chs. 1-3) to the book. We want to cover these chapters slowly and carefully, doing our best not to overlook any of the critical truths which are given to us here.

I. Job’s Character (1:1-5)
As we discussed earlier, Job is presented to us as a real historical person who lived in a specific place, was marked by a godly character, and had a large family. (vv. 1-2). He was quite wealthy as shown by the number of his livestock and his large number of servants. It is not surprising that he is described as “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (v. 3).

Job’s godliness was no private matter. He cared deeply for his family and was concerned that they would wholeheartedly follow the Lord. Holding birthday feasts was a common, perhaps almost weekly or monthly, occasion. These ten children would indulge in a period of feasting which brought with it the possibility of committing the sin of cursing God. It was hardly likely that any of Job’s children would publicly curse God, but Job’s concern was for their internal character. So he would make arrangements for them to be purified.

Although we don’t know the details of those purification ceremonies, we are told that early in the morning Job would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them (that’s ten sheep that had to be slaughtered and offered to the Lord). And we are actually told what Job was thinking as he made these sacrifices. He thought to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” (v. 5). Job’s actions in offering sacrifices for his children were for the sheer possibility that they had dishonored the Lord! And we are informed that this was Job’s regular custom. His holy habit was to intercede for his ten children just in case they had cursed God in their hearts.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2022 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (The Historicity of Job)

One of the most fundamental questions regarding the book of Job is its historicity. Is this a book about a real person? Is it an epic fable? What do the rest of the Scriptures teach us about the person of Job?

Evidences of Job’s Historicity:

1. The book of Job itself. The book begins with the words, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

This is not a story on the level of the wizard of Oz. Job is from the land of Uz, not Oz! It would be worth investigating if there has been any archaeological evidence found for “the land of Uz.” But there are many locations in the Bible for which we have not yet found physical evidence. So, that means nothing.

This introductory paragraph is written in such a way that it intends to be understood as historical. Job is located in a physical place — “the land of Uz.” Job’s moral character is immediately highlighted, for it is a pivotal question throughout the book. We read that “This man was blameless and upright.” Now, it may well be that Job wrote this book himself, but it reminds one of another book (one written by Moses) in which Moses writes the following words: “Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3). The fact that the writer himself testifies to his own godly character does not negate the truth of that description.

Religiously, we learn that this man Job “feared God and shunned evil.” Job’s fear of the Lord and his moral conduct will be repeatedly questioned by his good friends over thirty chapters of “counseling.” The book begins by setting the moral stage for the coming drama in Job’s life.

We are then informed about Job’s family: seven sons and three daughters (v. 2). It is fascinating that his wife is not mentioned here. When she enters the story later it is anything but complementary to her. This is the story of a real man, located in a real place, of outstanding moral and spiritual quality, with ten real children.

What one owns often determines one’s place in society. And Job “owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen (= 1000 oxen?), and five hundred donkeys (v. 3). This amount of specificity smacks of historical reportage. Job was a real person with great wealth.

Job could not handle all those 11,500 animals by himself, so we learn of his “large number of servants” (v. 3). Most of those servants will lose their lives in Job’s tragic story. But these were real people with real jobs and real families. And real funerals.

The book of Job itself gives the direct declaration that Job “was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (v. 3). Again, this sure sounds like the beginning of an historical narrative in real space and time.

2. Other Scriptural Evidence about Job

Does the Word of God anywhere refer to Job and his trials? Absolutely! In Ezekiel 14 we read of God charging Israel with deserting the Lord, replacing Him with their idols. Ezekiel is commissioned with commanding the people to repent and turn from their idols (v. 6). God promises to judge those who “set up idols in their hearts” (v. 7) and will remove them from God’s people. This act of judgment, the Lord says, will cause people to “know that I am the Lord.” (v. 8). Prophets who utter a supportive prophecy of Israel’s idolatrous practices will be destroyed “from among my people Israel” (v. 10). Such judgment will cause the people of Israel to no longer stray from the Lord and He will once more “be their God” (v. 11).

We then read that if a country sins against the Lord, He will cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals. Ezekiel then writes, “even if these three men — Noah, Daniel, and Job — were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness” (v. 14).  The Lord then says that if He were to send wild beasts throughout the country and they leave it childless so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts, “as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate” (vv. 15-16).

The text goes on to describe the possibility of the Lord’s bringing a sword against His people and His saying, “Let the sword pass throughout the land” to kill its people and their animals (v. 17). We are told once again the words, “as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.” (v. 18).

The Lord then threatens a plague to pour out His wrath and to kill its people and their animals (v. 19). We then read, “as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness.” (v. 20).

What have we seen in this Ezekiel passage? The Lord’s hatred of idolatry is clearly expressed and He threatens four different kinds of punishment on His own people: (1) famine (v. 13), (2) wild beasts (v. 15), (3) the sword (v. 17), and (4) a plague (v. 19). Each of the threatened kinds of punishment is concluded by the expression “even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.” Who are “these three men“? Threat number one and threat number four make it quite clear that these three men are none other than Noah, Daniel, and Job. If Noah and Daniel were historical figures, then it logically follows that Job was as well.

We receive one other reference to Job — and that in the New Testament. In the book of James we read, “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (5:11).

The passages we saw in Ezekiel 14 referred not to Job’s trials, but to his godliness. In fact, he was a member of what we could call The Holy Three. The other two members were Noah and Daniel. And the point of referring to those three godly men was that their righteousness would only save them, and no one else, from the wrath of God.

Here in James the allusion to Job is to his perseverance in his trials. James makes the point that his audience was acquainted with the story of Job’s steadfastness in enduring his sufferings sent by the Lord. And James adds that the conclusion of the Job story is something that “the Lord finally brought about.” James’ use of the word “finally” is interesting because reading the extended story of Job’s sufferings is, indeed, painful. And the reader longs for his testing to be concluded. James clearly affirms the historicity of Job to make the critical point that “the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Does It Really Matter?

But one might ask, does it really matter if Job were historical? Does it matter if Noah and Daniel were historical? Does it matter if Jesus were historical? Of course it does! One might glean a moral lesson or so from Aesop’s Fables, but historical material deserves to be treated as historical material.

Some point to the fantastic scenes early in the book of Job between God and Satan and thus wish to see Job as a religious parable with a moral message. But the Bible is full of fantastic scenes of God interacting with His people in space/time history.

So we will be treating the book of Job as an historical account of an incredible life filled with suffering, profound and unedited questions, and real friends who thought they were helping their broken and afflicted friend.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2022 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√An Overall Outline of the Book)

Friends: As we dive into this incredible book, it might be helpful to get a kind of bird’s-eye view of the book of Job as a whole. Here’s a basic outline which we will follow:

I. The Prologue: Job’s Suffering (Chs 1-3)

II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One (Chs. 4-5)

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Chs. 6-7)

IV. The Badgering of Bildad: Round One (Ch. 8)

V. Job’s Response to Bildad (Chs. 9-10)

VI. The Zingers of Zophar: Round One (Ch. 11)

VII. Job’s Response to Zophar (Chs. 12-14)

VIII. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round Two (Ch. 15)

IX. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Chs. 16-17)

X. The Badgering of Bildad: Round Two (Ch. 18)

XI. Job’s Response to Bildad (Ch. 19)

XII. The Zingers of Zophar: Round Two (Ch. 20)

XIII. Job’s Response to Zophar (Ch. 21)

Zophar only has two rounds!

XIV. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round Three (Ch. 22)

XV. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Chs. 23-24)

XVI. The Badgering of Bildad: Round Three (Ch. 25)

XVII. Job’s Response to Bildad (Chs. 26-27)

XVIII. Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found (Ch. 28)

XIX. Job’s Final Defense (Chs. 29-31)

XX. The Exasperation of Elihu (Chs. 32-37)

XXI. The Lord Speaks (Chs. 38-40:2)

XXII. Job’s Response to the Lord (Ch. 40:4-5)

XXIII. The Lord Continues to Speak (Ch. 40:6-41)

XXIV. Job’s Response to the Lord (Ch. 42)

XXV. Epilogue (Ch. 42:7-17)

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2022 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (A Few Notes on Unit-Reading)

Friends: I just unit-read the book of Job and it took just a little bit over an hour. Here are a few notes that I took as I read. I would be very interested in seeing any notes that you’ve made as you’ve unit-read the entire book!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2022 in the book of Job

 

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“Though You Slay Me” (Shane and Shane song)

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2019 in the book of Job

 

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“Why the storm?” (a message from Pastor Paul)

Our pastor, Paul Cochrane, concluded our series on the Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 8.26.04 AMbook of Job with this message on the WHY of suffering.  I believe he did a terrific job.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in suffering

 

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Our last message on Job: “With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness” (a sermon)

Here’s the most recent sermon that Pastor Paul and I preached, Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.29.13 AMin concluding our sermon series on the book of Job.
Comments welcome!

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (Message #4 Pastor Paul)

Friends:

My Pastor and I are doing a series through the book of Job.  I preached Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.29.13 AMthe first two messages (and posted them on this blog).  Here is his second of Paul’s two messages which is #4 in the series.  He does a great job of handling a large section of Job.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in the book of Job

 

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“With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness” (Message #3 by Pastor Paul)

Friends:

My Pastor and I are doing a series through the book of Job.  I preached Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.29.13 AMthe first two messages (and posted them on this blog).  Here is his first message which is #3 in the series.  I think he does a great job of handling a large section of Job.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in the book of Job

 

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Message #1: “With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness”

This past Sunday I began this series at our church. The Pastor and I will be sharing four messages that survey the whole book of Job. I will do my best to post our sermons.
For this 1st message (on Job chapters 1-3), I drafted four men from the congregation to reenact the four messengers bringing the bad news to Job. The sound quality of the lines isn’t very good, but you’ll get the idea.
Here’s my 1st sermon — I appreciate any comments you might have.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in friendship

 

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