Who was Job in the Bible?Job was a man in the land of Uz who was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1). He is renowned for having endured great suffering and "in all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong" (Job 1:22).
In the book of Job, he is introduced as a chief (Job 29:25) with great wealth measured in livestock and servants (Job 1:3). In fact, it says, "this man was the greatest of all the people of the east" (Job 1:3). Job had seven sons and three daughters and acted as priest for his family, regularly offering sacrifices to God on their behalf (Job 1:2, 5). His character was above reproach and his earthly possessions were seen by his community as a reward from God for his righteousness.
After this introduction, though, the book of Job explains that Satan came into God's presence. God pointed out Job to Satan, remarking on Job's righteous and humble attitude toward Him. Satan stated that Job's attitude would change and that he would curse God if all those blessings were taken away. So God allowed Satan to destroy his earthly possessions. In one afternoon Job learned that his livestock, servants, and all ten of his children had perished. Instead of cursing God like Satan had predicted however, Job "tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground [all modes of mourning] and worshiped. And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD'" (Job 1:20–21).
Later, Satan was given permission to afflict Job's physical body as well. Job endured "loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head" (Job 2:7). When his wife saw the calamity that had befallen him, she advised him to "Curse God and die" (Job 2:9). But he said that she was speaking as a foolish woman and asked, "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10). That being said, Job did mourn deeply and even cursed the day he was born (Job 3:1–26).
Job's friends suspected that he must have sinned in some way to deserve such suffering and they began to accuse him of possible sins, calling on him to repent. However, Job maintained his innocence throughout their lengthy accusations. He also never impugned the character of God. Job knew that God is mighty and just and that his only hope was in God's mercy. He said, "If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty! If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him? Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse" (Job 9:19–20). Job so fully trusted God that he stated, "Though he slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job 13:15). Job explained this hope in chapter 19, verses 25 to 26 saying, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God."
After losing all his earthly wealth, his children, and his own health, while enduring false accusations and disdain from his community, Job continued to hope and trust in the Lord. In his final speech, Job said, "As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit" (Job 27:2–4). Job declared, "God understands the way to [wisdom], and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens" (Job 28:23–24).
Job did call out to God saying, "I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me" (Job 30:20). Job ended with "Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!" (Job 31:35).
Astoundingly, God replied to Job and his accusers in chapters 38 through 41. God began, "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you will make it known to me" (Job 38:2–3). God continued by delineating His power and control over all of creation and then questioned Job, "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it" (Job 40:2). Job replied, "Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?" (Job 40:4; cf. Job 40:3–5). God again spoke of His power of creation. Then Job responded, saying "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know… I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:2–6).
God also rebuked Job's accusers for speaking falsely about Him and His character, requiring that sacrifices be made on their behalf. After Job offered a prayer for them, effectively forgiving them in his own heart, God restored Job's fortunes. He had seven new sons and three new daughters (Job 42:13) who were given "an inheritance among their brothers" (Job 42:15). Job's reputation was restored in his community and "all who had known him before, [came to him] and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him… And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold" (Job 42:11). Job ended up with "twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). "After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days" (Job 42:16–17).
Job's suffering was beyond what most people will experience in a lifetime, so his continued faith in God during difficulty stands as an example for others to follow in their own times of distress.
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