Job
1-3 The Piety and Prosperity of Job 4-5 Job and His Children 6-8 The LORD Reminds Satan of Job 9-12 Satan Challenges the LORD 13-19 Job Loses His Possessions and His Children 20-22 Reaction of Job to His Loss 
The Piety and Prosperity of Job

1There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. 2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

In verses 1-31There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.3His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. we are told the dwelling-place, the name, the eminent characteristics, the family, the possession and the prestige of the principal person of the book. The Holy Spirit does this to show what is taken away from him. We see from what great height he is thrown down and how enormous the pain is that such a fall causes.

The book begins with the words “there was a man” (verse 11There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.). There is a man among the many people who live in the time in which the events of the book take place on whom the spotlight is turned. This man lives “in the land of Uz” and is called “Job”. Just as God knows where this man lives and what his name is, He knows that of every man – see, for example, Saul (Acts 9:1111And the Lord [said] to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,) and Simon Peter (Acts 10:5-65Now dispatch [some] men to Joppa and send for a man [named] Simon, who is also called Peter;6he is staying with a tanner [named] Simon, whose house is by the sea.”). No one can hide from God in the crowd. For Him there is no nameless mass either, but He is concerned with each individual, He has attention for each individual.

Possibly, as already suggested in the introduction, Job is a king of Edom (Jobab, Gen 36:3333Then Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah became king in his place.). If so, then his title has been omitted here. It is not about his position in society, but about his place as a man in creation opposite his Creator, opposite God.

There is more to say of Job than just that he is a man who lives in Uz and is called Job. These are external characteristics. Characteristics of this man are also mentioned that make it clear that he is in connection with God and lives in a way that is a joy to God’s heart (Acts 10:34b-3534Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand [now] that God is not one to show partiality,35but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.). Those are inner characteristics. These characteristics may also be visible in his life, but they come from his inner being, his heart. The virtues that are recorded of him do not come from his own mouth, but are the testimony of the Holy Spirit. God repeats this testimony – and thereby affirms it – in the face of satan (Job 1:88The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”).

1. He is first and foremost “blameless”, that is to say, inwardly perfect, sincere. Job stands right before God. This is so in the midst of suffering, right through the accusations of the three friends and the silence of God.

2. Immediately associated with this, he is said to be “upright”. This is evident from his testimony to those around him. He is not a hypocrite, not an actor. ‘Upright’ means as much as ‘going straight’. “Blameless” is inner. “Upright” is the expression of that. Job has a balanced character.

[This is also reflected in the numbers in verse 22Seven sons and three daughters were born to him., his seven sons and his three daughters. The number 7 is the number of perfection, and the number 3 has to do with revelation and testimony. Compare also the 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels in verse 33His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.].

3. The inner side (blameless) and the outer side (upright) we also have in the two following characteristics. The third characteristic, “fearing God”, is inner. His inner is directed towards God. In his heart is reverence for Him. Further on in the book he says: “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom” (Job 28:28a28“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
).

4. The fourth characteristic, “turning away from evil”, is outward appearance and indicates an attitude to life that is a consequence of his fear of God. Job confirms this when he says: “And to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28b28“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
).

By the way, all this does not mean that he is sinless (Ecc 7:2020Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who [continually] does good and who never sins.). This is evident from the course of the book.

After we are told how Job is related to God, the blessings of Job are mentioned in his family (verse 22Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.). He has seven sons and three daughters. Job sees his children as gifts from God (verse 2121He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
).

After his relationship with God and the blessing in his family his wealth is listed (verse 33His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.). This is done in terms that also describe the wealth of the patriarchs (Genesis 12-13). God has blessed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but in His grace He is able to go further and bless others as well, even though they have no part in the covenant He made with the patriarchs. God’s grace is not limitable, not restricted.

We see that with Job: Godliness and prosperity go hand in hand. This is not self-evident. People who are doing well are often people who abandon God. That is not the case with Job.


Job and His Children

4His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings [according to] the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Except that Job is blessed with many children, he is also blessed with a good bond among them. Children are a blessing. It is an extra blessing if the children also get along well with each other. When the children are out of the house, it is customary for some families to have a family day every year, for example. It is a great privilege when all the children come and like to see each other again.

The sons of Job organize a feast regularly and in turns, to which the sisters are also invited (verse 44His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.). There is no evidence to suggest that such feast are to swallow food and drink to get drunk. Unauthorized things are not likely to happen. Job has raised his children to independence and taught them to make good choices. It also seems that Job is not present. It doesn’t make him jealous or bitter. It is good that parents allow their children to meet without them being there.

Although Job was not invited to the feasts, he did not forbid them, but allowed them. That does not mean that he considers them too good for doing wrong things or making wrong choices. This becomes apparent “when the days of feasting had completed their cycle” (verse 55When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings [according to] the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.). Then he calls them to himself and consecrates them. For this purpose he gets up early in the morning and brings each of them under the power of the burnt offering he brings for each of them. He does this because he believes there is a chance that his children have “cursed God in their hearts”. This is not a one-off action on his part, but he does so “continually”.

We see in Job the involved father. He recognizes that blessing and satiety are the danger of his children ‘cursing’ God in their hearts (Pro 30:9a9That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
). Cursing God means that they disengage themselves from Him and withdraw from Him and His authority. Prosperity and feasting can easily cause us to forget that we are dependent on God. There are also circumstances in which one sometimes comes to statements or actions that one does not come to in normal circumstances.

Although Job is not present at the feasts organized by his children, he is closely involved in them. He is with them in spirit and sympathizes with them. He does not do this as a proud father, but as a father who knows the spiritual dangers to which his children are exposed, especially during family gatherings. It is there that one loses self-control easily. The fact that he knows his children and recognizes the spiritual dangers, shows that he also knows himself. He is a father who realizes that his children have the same sinful nature that he himself has.

Father Job, like the patriarchs, acts like a priest in his family. He rises “early in the morning”, which means that he hurries with the sacrifice. He makes sure that the children are there. Everything indicates that his children do not make any objections. They come and Job consecrates them. That means that he dedicates his children to the LORD again. It also means that he asks about their behavior during feasts. If they have done or said something that is not right, they can confess it. In this way they are consecrated again, i.e. in agreement with God. He then offers a burnt offering for each of them, which in a New Testament perspective means that he places them on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice.

Job knows his children and does not consider them too good to sin. But he does not only look at outward behavior. He looks deeper. Perhaps they have always behaved well, but in their hearts there has come a deviation from God. That is why he wants to consecrate them and present the offering to them. Job is the committed father who is actively committed to the spiritual welfare of his children. He is conscious of what Solomon later wrote down as a saying, that from the “heart … [flow] the springs of life” (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
).

Is this the way we look at our children (if we have them), and do we take to heart the mind of their hearts? Is that more important to us than their school results or other achievements? Does that also determine our dealings with God and with them?

Job realizes that his children are only pleasing to God if he places them before Him in the pleasantness of sacrifice. We know that God looks forward in this sacrifice to the work of His Son on the cross of Calvary. Job appeals, as it were, to that sacrifice for his children. That they are his children, the children of the God-fearing and exceptionally blessed Job, has no meaning for him. On the contrary, because they are his children, they are sinners and God’s judgment rests on them (Job 14:44“Who can make the clean out of the unclean?
No one!
). We must also be well aware of this in relation to our children.


The LORD Reminds Satan of Job

6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

From the earth in verses 1-51There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.2Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.3His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.4His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.5When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings [according to] the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. we now go to heaven (verse 66Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.; cf. 1Kgs 22:1919Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.; Isa 6:11In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.). In Job 1-2 we find several times a change of scenery. One time we are on earth, the next time we are in heaven. Because we are allowed a glimpse into heaven - that is, into the part of heaven where satan still has access – we learn that the suffering of Job – and of believers in general – is related to a battle in the heavenly places. We are made partakers of a conversation in heaven between the LORD and satan about Job, in which the LORD allows satan to test Job. Job himself knows nothing of this whole conversation.

We, Christians, know from the New Testament that since the ascension of the Lord Jesus we have an opened heaven (see for example the letter to the Hebrews). This conversation gives us light about events on earth that would otherwise remain a mystery to us. It makes it clear to us what the background is to everything that happens on earth, whether it concerns the life of a human being or whether it concerns nations. What happens on earth is governed by heaven. Heaven decides what happens on earth. The friends of Job and Job himself wander because they do not know the heart of God. They try to explain what is happening on earth without knowledge of its heavenly origin.

One day “the sons of God” come to the LORD. Satan is in their midst. We see here that satan has access to the throne room of God. Satan is “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:22in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.), of the fallen angels. When he is in the throne room, he is always there as “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:1010Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.; Zec 3:11Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.). The angels here are called “sons of God” (e.g. Septuagint, Job 38:77When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
; Gen 6:1-21Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.), for God is “the Father of spirits” (Heb 12:99Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?), which means that He created them; they came forth from Him. These angels come “to present themselves before the LORD”. They come because they have been summoned by Him to account to Him for their activities. They are there as subordinates (cf. 1Kgs 22:19-2219Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.20The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that.21Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’22The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice [him] and also prevail. Go and do so.’; Dan 7:9-149“I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took [His] seat;
His vesture [was] like white snow
And the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne [was] ablaze with flames,
Its wheels [were] a burning fire.
10“A river of fire was flowing
And coming out from before Him;
Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,
And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;
The court sat,
And the books were opened.
11Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.13“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.
; Psa 89:77A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
And awesome above all those who are around Him?
). The servants must stand (1Kgs 22:1919Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.), an attitude that indicates that they are ready to serve.

Further this is about the LORD and satan. The angels are the setting. They stand there and must listen. The LORD begins to speak, not satan. Whoever he calls to Himself must respectfully wait until He speaks. The LORD asks satan where he comes from (verse 77The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”). It is clear that it is not a discussion between equal persons. Satan must answer, simply because the LORD asks him something. He is completely subject to Him, just as the whole universe is subject to Him and must obey Him. And like men, they cannot see Him fully, for no one can ever see God (1Tim 6:1616who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him [be] honor and eternal dominion! Amen.). Even the seraphs cover their faces when they call out the Name of the three times holy God (Isa 6:2-32Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
).

Satan hates God, but must nevertheless do what God says and answer. God knows the answer, but He wants us to know it too. With the question “from where do you come?”, God commands satan to account for his activities. The answer shows that satan is a restless roamer, which also indicates that he is not omnipresent, which God is. His roaming about on the earth does not imply anything good. He roams the earth to see who he can hurt. The believer may know that the eyes of the Lord also move to and fro throughout the earth, but then to strongly support him (2Chr 16:99For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”; Zec 4:1010For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—[these are] the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.”).

Satan is here by way of exception introduced speaking. This does not happen very often in the Bible, although we do read a lot about him. Three times we read that he says something: here in Job to the LORD, in Genesis 3 to Eve in paradise (Gen 3:1-51Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!5For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”) and in Matthew 4, and in the parallel place in Luke 4, to the Lord Jesus in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-3,6,91Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
and
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
; Lk 4:1-3,6,9-111Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness2for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.3And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”6And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.9And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here;10for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’
11and,
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
).

In the speaking of satan to Eve in paradise and to the Lord Jesus in the wilderness, we see that these are extremely important situations. With Eve he has had success, through which sin has come into the world. With the Lord Jesus he had no success, through which the work of redemption could be accomplished. Against this background it becomes clear what enormous interests are at stake if he is also introduced into the history of Job. Will he succeed in making Job curse God, or not?

Not satan, but the LORD then directs satan’s attention to Job: “Have you considered My servant Job?” (verse 88The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”). The initiative for everything that happens to Job comes from God and not from satan. God knows what His servant Job needs. If He asks satan whether he has also considered Job, it is because He Himself has considered Job. And His testimony is even greater than what is written in verse 11There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.. God says here of Job that “there is no one like him on the earth”. This is not to praise Job, but is the result of His connection with God. Surely it must have made Job a special target of satan.

Satan cannot bring anything against God’s testimony about Job. God gives that testimony with a purpose. He also wants to use satan to achieve that purpose. Satan – who is very cunning, but knows nothing of God’s intentions – is only an instrument to fulfill the intentions of God’s grace. God keeps everything under His control, nothing gets out of hand. Everything goes according to His plan. That can be a comfort to us in all circumstances in which we feel a plaything of the evil one. God is at the beginning of it, not the evil one. He also determines the end and not the evil one. Between the beginning and the end is a path that is also determined by God and not by the evil one.

Job is a servant of the LORD. He does not belong to the covenant people of God, but he has his own unique ‘covenant’, his own relationship, with the LORD, and the LORD with him. Twice the LORD calls Job “My servant” (Job 1:88The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”; 2:33The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”). And at the end of the book He still calls him thus (Job 42:7-87It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.8Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you [according to your] folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”). Whatever happens between the beginning and the end, Job appears at the end as a faithful servant.


Satan Challenges the LORD

9Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” 12Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.

Satan must answer. He does so entirely according to the incorrigible depravity of his evil nature. He hates not only God, but all who live according to God’s will. He can’t stand it when someone is praised by God, because he himself wants to be praised. We see this in Saul’s attitude toward David. Saul is also jealous of the honor that David gets from the people, while he does not get that much honor (1Sam 18:6-96It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments.7The women sang as they played, and said,
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”
8Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?”9Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.
).

Satan cannot deny Job’s piety. What he can do, however, is if “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:1010Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.) suggests that Job’s piety is not real, but feigned. With his question “does Job fear God for nothing?” (verse 99Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?), he expresses the assumption that Job has good reason to fear God. Job fears God, not for Whom God is, but only because of the benefits it brings (verse 1010Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.). ‘Look’, he says to God, ‘all that you have given Job: protection of his family and all that he has; prosperity in all that he does; his territory is expanding. Quite logically, he fears You.’

Then satan comes up with a proposal (verse 1111But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”) that also shows his wicked nature and his cunning (2Cor 11:3,143But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity [of devotion] to Christ.14No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.; Eph 6:1111Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.). He challenges God to put forth His hand against Job and take away everything He has blessed him with. It is remarkable that satan does not tell God if God will allow him to take everything from Job. Satan also knows that everything is in God’s hand. God must turn his hand against Job to take everything away from him. Job later rightly says: “The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away” (Job 1:21b21He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
).

Satan says as it were: ‘Take away all these benefits, then something else will turn out!’ He supposes that Job will curse God right in His face for losing everything. Satan supposes that Job’s devotion is the result of God’s blessing. This shows that he is not omniscient, which God is. Satan questions both the uprightness of Job and the righteousness of God He shows in blessing him.

We see this reflected in the main characters of the book:
1. The friends of Job question his uprightness. They are sure that he has sinned in secret, but that he does not want to admit it.
2. Job, because he suffers innocently, cannot understand how God can allow him to suffer so. He therefore doubts God’s righteousness.

The big question in the book of Job is whether Job will curse God or not. Satan wants to use all the suffering in our lives to separate us from God, while God wants to use the suffering to get to know Him and ourselves better. Satan wants us to get worse, while God wants us to get better. If Job would curse God, Job would not be the loser, but God. However, God sees in Job what satan does not see: perseverance.

God allows satan to storm Job (verse 1212Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.). He gives everything of Job into the hand of satan, showing that satan is not omnipotent, which God is. It is remarkable that in verse 1111But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” satan speaks about God putting forth His hand against Job and that God now allows satan to put out his hand against Job. This shows that the hand of God is above the hand of satan. We therefore do not take the suffering from ‘the second hand’, that of satan, but from ‘the first hand’, that of God.

At the same time God determines the limit of the actions of satan. He also says that he may not put forth his hand against Job himself. Satan will therefore not exceed that limit by a millimeter. Without God the Father, no sparrow will fall to the earth, and even the hairs of our heads are all numbered (Mt 10:29-3129Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And [yet] not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.).

Satan departs “from the presence of the LORD”, as it also says of Cain (Gen 4:1616Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.), pleased with what he may do and what he will do quickly (cf. Lk 22:31-3231“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded [permission] to sift you like wheat;32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”). We see here that in heaven decisions are made, of which the consequences become visible in events on earth.


Job Loses His Possessions and His Children

13Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

From heaven we go back to earth. There will come a day (verse 1313Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,) when disasters will strike the life of Job. It is an “evil day” (Eph 6:1313Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.), a day which according to its content follows the day when the sons of God came to the LORD (verse 66Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.). Satan is in a hurry to perform his evil work, but he also knows how to wait for the right moment. In the disasters that occur in Job’s life, we hear or see nothing of satan himself, yet the disasters are his work.

The day when satan will carry out his evil intentions has been carefully chosen by him. It is a day when the children of Job are all together again to eat and drink (cf. verse 44His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.). Job will again feel richly blessed if he knows them together and at the same time realizes the spiritual dangers of such a gathering (cf. verse 55When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings [according to] the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.). It brings him, as usual, to intercede for his children. He looks forward to consecrating them again and offering a burnt offering for each of them when they have finished their feast.

Job is cruelly disturbed in his pious deliberations in the presence of God by a messenger who brings him a doomsday message (verse 1414a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,). The messenger reports to him a disaster that has come upon him. He tells of the oxen that were ploughing – from which we can see that it is autumn – and of the donkeys that were feeding in peace and therefore did not wander around. The servants looked after them. Everything speaks of care and a sense of responsibility for the work.

There is no carelessness or negligence, yet in this scene of peace and quiet a rough gang of Sabeans penetrated. They rob oxen and donkeys and kill the servants (verse 1515and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”). It shows that our prudence and thoughtfulness cannot prevent disasters from happening to us at times (cf. Psa 127:11A Song of Ascents, of Solomon.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
). It can happen at times when we handle our possessions responsibly.

This first disaster strikes Job in one of the evidences of his prosperity (verse 33His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.). It is the means by which he gained prosperity (Pro 14:44Where no oxen are, the manger is clean,
But much revenue [comes] by the strength of the ox.
). Only one of those who faithfully guard these means is spared. This is not because he is ‘lucky’ that the disaster did not affect him. He is spared as an eyewitness to be able to report in detail to Job what he has seen happen. This servant has not hearsay it.

While the witness has not yet completed his account of the disaster, a second messenger arrives (verse 1616While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”). The speed with which satan acts shows his malevolent desire to overpower Job and overload him with grief. Job has no chance of coming to terms with the shock of the disaster that has struck him and of recovering from it. Disasters become more difficult to bear the faster they succeed each other.

The servant who comes to tell Job about the second disaster is the only one who barely escaped the disaster, and also with the intention of telling Job about it as an eyewitness. This second disaster was not caused by a gang of robbers, like the first one, but by “the fire of God … from heaven”.

The escaped servant speaks of ‘the fire of God from heaven’. Like Job, he doesn’t know that satan is behind it. Satan is the prince of the power of the air and has received permission from God to use this fire against Job. The fire has hit Job’s sheep and destroyed another proof of his prosperity (verse 33His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.), as well as the servants who took care of them, except for this one.

The destruction of the sheep affects Job in his source of clothing and food. The fire of God speaks of His judgment. It reminds us of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:2424Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,) and to the men of King Ahaziah who are to capture Elijah (2Kgs 1:9-129Then [the king] sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’”10Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.11So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, “O man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’”12Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.).

The escaped servant has not yet finished speaking about the horrors caused by God’s fire, when another messenger is coming (verse 1717While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”). He interrupts his predecessor to inform Job of another disaster that has hit him. In this disaster, the third, people play a role again. This time it is Chaldeans. They have robbed the three thousand camels that Job possesses (verse 33His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.) and killed the servants with the sword. In order to rob that enormous amount of camels, the Chaldeans had divided into three bands. With this loss, Job was hit in his trading expedition. Also here one of the servants is spared to tell Job.

Job is not given the opportunity to think about what happened, because without a break, even while the third messenger is still reporting, a fourth messenger comes forward. This messenger, too, immediately begins to tell what has happened. He tells Job about his sons and daughters, who were eating and drinking “in their oldest brother’s house” and how a great wind  had suddenly come up from the east – “from across the wilderness” – which struck the house from all sides and caused it to collapse, resulting in the death of all his children (verses 18-1918While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,19and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”).

The fourth and final disaster is, like the second, another natural disaster caused by satan. We see here again that the prince of the power of the air – though under the permission of God – uses natural elements against one of God’s servants. We also see this in the storm on the lake that is being punished by the Lord Jesus (Mk 4:3939And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.). The Lord punishes that storm because it was unleashed by satan with the intention of killing Him and His own. The Lord does not punish acts of God.

This last disaster is also the worst. All the children of Job are killed. The only one who has escaped is a servant to bring the calamity to Job. Job always prayed for his children, they had a good relationship with each other, yet they all die prematurely – “the young people” –, suddenly and at the same time.

It indeed is hard that Bildad insinuates in his first speech that their deaths are the result of committed sins (Job 8:44“If your sons sinned against Him,
Then He delivered them into the power of their transgression.
). This harsh judgment proves that he has little feeling. Who, like Job, has ever buried ten children on the same day and stood at the graves of his ten children? A suffering unfathomable to us must have plagued his heart.

The tidings of the disasters reach Job in an unprecedented rapid succession. The misery piles up to unprecedented heights in a very short time. Not only do the disasters follow one another without a break, but they intertwine, because one has not yet finished speaking when the other is already beginning to tell. While Job listens to the last part of the report of one disaster, another disaster penetrates into the ongoing story. The disasters reinforce each other. The burden is unbearable.


Reaction of Job to His Loss 

20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
22Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Job’s reaction shows his deep mourning and intense sorrow, but also his submission (verse 2020Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.). He stands up to tear his robe and shave his head as signs of his mourning and sorrow (cf. Gen 37:3434So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.; Jos 7:66Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, [both] he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.; Ezra 9:3,53When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled.5But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God;). Then he falls to the ground, not in despair, but to bow down in adoration before the LORD. From one moment to the next Job has fallen down from happiness and prosperity, and is plunged into sorrow and poverty. But he hath not fallen down from the love of God into the cursing of God.

Someone’s response to a disaster that hits him reveals what spirit or mind is in him (verse 2121He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
). Job did not forget to honor God when he was prosperous. Now that he is in misery, that mind continues to characterize him. Job acknowledges that all that he possessed was given to him by God. He also acknowledges God’s right to take back what he has given (cf. Ecc 5:1414When those riches were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him.; 1Tim 6:77For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.).

Job does not say: ‘The LORD has given, the Sabaeans have taken’, or: ‘The LORD has made me rich, and the devil has made me poor’. Our tendency is to dwell on the external causes of our difficulties. Job doesn’t do that. He doesn’t look at the Sabaeans or the storm. He recognizes that the hand of God controls all of this – only he doesn’t yet realize that it is a loving hand.

The way in which Job accepts this loss puts satan in the wrong. Job’s reaction makes it clear that his piety was not in his own interest. His piety remains, even now that everything has been taken away from him, and he does not withdraw his trust in God. Satan wanted to drive a wedge between Job and God. The effect is that Job is driven closer to God. Instead of saying goodbye to God, Job praises him.

Accepting evil from the hand of the LORD is not the same as saying that the LORD caused evil. What Job says gives no ground for the assumption that God is the Author of evil, its origin, which suggests that evil comes from Him. There is “no darkness in Him” (1Jn 1:55This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.) and He tempts no one to do evil (Jam 1:1313Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.). It does mean that the LORD in His unfathomable wisdom has allowed it because it fits into His plan.

The statement of Job, “the LORD has given and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD”, has always been a comfort to many believers who had to lose dear relatives. However, grace is needed to repeat it in faith. It must not become a flag that does not cover the charge, a word that is imitated purely rationally or out of a faint resignation.

The fact that God created man with the ability to sin does not mean that He laid the principle of sin in man from within Himself. If it says that He creates evil (Isa 45:77The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these.
), it has to do with the punishment for sin. In this context it is also good to quote a word from Amos: “If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it?” (Amos 3:6b6If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?
If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?
). It is always, and certainly here, necessary to see the connection with the verses around it. Then it becomes clear that God is not the Processor, the Author of sin. Evil has a punitive character here. The idea that God would work sin is completely misplaced in all respects.

The closing verse (verse 2222Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.) testifies that Job does not sin with his lips. He is not sinless, which he knows well himself (Job 9:2020“Though I am righteous, my mouth will condemn me;
Though I am guiltless, He will declare me guilty.
), but he does not commit the sin of attributing absurd things to God. If we can’t reconcile things, it doesn’t mean they are absurd. Job does not understand God’s actions, but he does not call God to account for them. Later he will.


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