Job is part of the Wisdom Literature section of the Old Testament, along with Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Although we are not given direct information that dates the book of Job, it could be the earliest of the Scriptures to be put in writing.
If it is the earliest book committed to writing, it is appropriate, for the book of Job addresses some of the most fundamental philosophical questions humans can ask, including:
THEMES AND LESSONS
From Job we gain an understanding that God has a specific design for humans. However, although God is sovereign, He interacts with humans, and our choices are real. It appears that humans play a key role in a grand, cosmic drama to determine who should rightfully rule the earth. Through faithful living, humans can repudiate God’s enemy.
We also learn from Job our natural tendency to treat God in a transactional manner, and seek to bend Him to do our will. However, that is not possible with God, because He is God (not us). Rather, it is our greatest privilege to seek to know God, our greatest source of fulfillment. And this life is our one and only opportunity to come to know God by faith.
Three of Job’s friends, key characters in the story of Job, express a perspective indicating that they can manipulate God through their actions. These three are soundly chastised by God, although He forgives them through Job’s intercession. Job, on the other hand, suffers greatly from adverse circumstances, but is the one who is presented as being greatly blessed. Job gives us insight that allows us to adopt a heavenly and eternal perspective, and equips us to view our earthly journey as a unique, once-in-our-existence opportunity to gain the immense blessing to know God by faith. When combined with other promises (such as Revelation 3:21) the picture that emerges allows us to view any circumstance as an opportunity.
In Job’s story, we see a full manifestation of the New Testament promise that God causes all things to work together for our good, and that the ultimate good for each of us is to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-29).
With Job, we also see an illustration of Jesus’s statement that the greatest fulfillment of life (which He calls “eternal life”) for any believer is to know God (John 17:3). Job comes to know God in a much deeper and fuller manner through God’s interaction with his circumstances, which greatly enhances Job’s human fulfillment. Since Job is presented as someone that God highly favors, Job’s faith is an inspiration. Through Job we can discover timeless wisdom, and how to prosper and flourish in any circumstance, whether we enjoy plenty or suffer scarcity.
Job is a righteous man who fears God. He lives in the Land of Uz, somewhere in the Fertile Crescent of the Ancient Near East, probably in the days after Noah but before Moses. By all accounts Job is prosperous. He has ten children, is incredibly wealthy, and owns multiple businesses.
Job has been blessed by God with seven sons and three daughters. His children would host feasts for themselves, rotating at whose house the party would take place. When each feast ended, Job would summon his children and make sacrifices on their behalf, so that they could be forgiven in case they had sinned in their hearts.
The scene changes to court of God in heaven. Satan appears before the throne of God after roaming the earth. God boasts about how righteous Job is. Satan scoffs, claiming that Job only fears God because God protects Job, and has given him wealth and many children. Satan claims Job only does what is right because of the transactional benefit he gets from God. God permits Satan to test Job, but not to harm him physically.
Satan orchestrates multiple disasters for Job, all on the same day. The Sabeans steal Job’s oxen and donkeys. Fire from the sky consumes his sheep and shepherds. The Chaldeans steal his camels and slay his servants. Worst of all, a wind blows against the house of his son during a feast, and the house collapses, killing every one of Job’s children.
Job mourns these circumstances, but he worships God all the same. He knows that nothing belongs to him, and all material things will not last. Job does not blame God; he praises Him.