Heaven’s Perspective and Human Experience

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), January 19

The book of Job opens with heaven’s view of Job’s suffering. Few stories have that advantage. Job grasps by faith what God reveals before the heavenly council. God describes Job as a “blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (1:8; 2:3). Though Job is unaware of this heavenly assessment, he lives by faith.

Job understands that man’s relationship with God is not based upon personal merit but on an acceptable sacrifice. He responds to all of the revelation or light that he has about God, provided by the Creation Era stories passed down to him by oral tradition.

Little detail about Job is given beyond his immediate family. Job understands that sin separates a man from His creator and that sin is atoned through substitutionary death, “He would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of [all his children]. For Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did regularly” (Job 1:5b) This earthly and regular action provokes a heavenly response, and the LORD introduces Satan to Job: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (5:8). Job is oblivious to this heavenly conversation until the end of the story. All he has to ground his faith in God, in spite of terrible suffering, are the Creation Era stories. They teach faith-inducing truths about God. Sadly, Job’s faith is tested by an unexpected source: his friends, or shall we say, his frenemies.

Job’s frenemies share ideologies that seek to de-rail Job’s faith.

Eliphaz assumes an experienced-based, all-knowing position. Eliphaz sees life and evaluates suffering through an ideology that says, “Experience trumps faith.” Eliphaz elevates the powers of observation, feelings, and experience over revelation: “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (4:7). “Remember,” begins Eliphaz as he filters Job’s suffering through his “personal experience” filter.  He concludes that innocent people don’t suffer (partly because he saw himself as innocent before God and he certainly wasn’t suffering). He assumed, therefore, that Job must be guilty of some wrongdoing—“those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it”.

Job’s narrative teaches a number of truths:

  • Even during the earliest days of history a remnant existed who trusted and worshiped the Living God.
  • There is always more going on the the spiritual realm than eye can see or mind can grasp, but that faith can endure.
  • Human experience limits a person’s ability to comprehend spiritual reality. Only revelation from God discloses eternal reality.
  • Satan attacks men to discourage and defeat their faith in God.

Ezekiel mentions a triumvirate of men renowned for their faith: Noah, Daniel, and Job (14:14, 20). Could it be that Noah was Job’s role model? And that Noah and Job were Daniel’s role models? All three lived under dire circumstances, and all three persevered. Their faith in the veracity of God’s Word and the goodness of His character produced men of great perseverance under trial. James later recognized this truth, “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).

Questions from today’s reading (Job 1:1-4:21):

Describe Job’s understanding of sin, God and redemption.

What does God establish regarding Job’s righteousness in His conversation with Satan?

Eliphaz filters Job’s suffering through his own experience regarding suffering (4:8). What conclusion does he come to regarding Job’s suffering?