Job apparently lived some four millennia ago at the time of the patriarchs. Like Abraham who reached the age of one hundred and seventy-five years (Gen. 25:7), Job lived at a time when God gave to humanity incredible longevity in comparison with the average lifespan of a man or woman of our times (Job 42:16). It was the time before Moses and the Levites, the era in which men of God would readily take on the function of priests. Job was one such man of God. Festive occasions came and went, his children gathering to eat and drink. The pattern of Job was ever the same. He would arise early, offering burnt offerings, realizing that his children may well “have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5). He would act in their behalf providing an atonement for their sins.
What may we learn from this man of antiquity, “the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3)? Job shows that a person of deep piety and high morals may undergo suffering beyond the imagination. The book opens with the affirmation that “Job was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). God himself even expresses his delight with the designation “my servant Job” (Job 1:8). Yet as soon as we learn of heaven’s approbation the narrative suddenly turns to the storms of adversity that poured upon him in rapid succession. There were the raids of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans. There were the disasters of nature. Blow after blow soon reduced a great man to nothing. Wealth and family had become a thing of the past (Job 1:13-19). The aftermath of the first wave of destruction brought no relief. A second wave surged forward without warning. Satan now smote Job. Boils erupted from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7). Itching ensued (Job 2:8). Maggots crawled in his sores (Job 7:5). His skin peeled off, turning black and fell from him (Job 30:30). Infection ran through his system. His bones burned with fever (Job 30:30). A prince was now disfigured beyond recognition (Job 2:12). His friends made their way to him, an outcast seated among the ashes. They lifted their eyes upon him. Overcome by horror and grief, “they raised their voices and wept” (Job 2:12).
You may be in a season of suffering. Your health has declined, and you are not what you once were in terms of physical strength and mental sharpness. Perhaps you have been struck with a debilitating disease. You know that your days are numbered. At such times as this, we need to remember that our suffering is not necessarily the result of sin. Job shows us that suffering may come upon the person who is living a blameless life, pleasing to God in all that he does.
What was behind the events that are outlined in the Book of Job—the suffering a good and righteous man? In our next study we shall reflect upon the cause of the suffering that overwhelmed Job when he was in the prime of life.