Why Job? For the purpose of this article that would be the Bible character, not the work. Although, the answers could be surprisingly similar. 🙂
I’ve been teaching from the Old Testament for a Wednesday night Bible class for a couple of years now. We began with the book of Joshua and have worked our way through Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and now, 1 Samuel. It has been interesting, and sad, to hear participants who have been Christians and involved in church for many years comment that they had never before been in a Bible study that had gone through an entire Old Testament book. They’ve been taught the highlights — the quotable moments — but not usually much context around it. We may well say that we believe God when He says all scripture is profitable, but do we practice that? God included each book for a purpose. Not only is the information in each meant to be transformational, it also helps provide context and greater understanding of other passages and the Bible as a whole. I know for me, our study of 1 Samuel this past year has really brought greater depth and meaning to my daily reading in the Psalms.
As I thought about these comments, I wondered what gets overlooked the most. I know there are verses and teachings that we avoid or skip over because we find them too controversial, divisive, hard, convicting, difficult to understand, challenging, old-fashioned, restricting, . . . you get the idea; but I’m thinking from a Bible book perspective, what would make the bottom of the list in books studied in their entirety? Unfortunately, I’m sure there are several that would be in the running for that bottom spot. I think Job would be one of the books on that list. I know I don’t recall ever teaching through the book of Job or being involved in a study through the book that someone else was leading.
It made me think, “Why not Job?” As I’ve pondered this question, the answer that keeps coming up is interesting. Could it be that we avoid the book of Job, other than a few quotable verses, because the answer to another question is “too controversial, divisive, hard, convicting, difficult to understand, challenging, old-fashioned, restricting, . . . you get the idea”? We’re not sure what to do with the question, or the answer to the question, “Why Job?”.
But is that really the question that catches us? If you’ve read the book, or at least started to read the book, you know the answer — God! And that’s the answer I think we struggle with. Not so much the answer to “Why Job?”, I don’t think most of us really care that much about Job, rather the majority of the time someone is asking, “Why Job?”, they are really asking, “Why me?”! We focus on the loss and suffering we face while being misunderstood by everyone around us and we go to the book of Job for answers — after all, he lost much, suffered greatly, and was misunderstood by those closest to him. Yet to go to the book of Job searching for an answer to the question, “Why me?”, forces us to at least consider the answer may be the same as the one Job received — “None of your business!” Yes, you read that right! We have the opening commentary that gives some explanation to what was going on but there is no indication that Job was ever let in on any of that. To boil it down, the answer God finally gives to Job at the end of the book sounds a lot like, “I’m God. I know what I’m doing. Trust me.”
So, what do you do when the foremost question in your mind is “Why me?”. Do you hear God say, “I’m God. I know what I’m doing. Trust me.”? Do you believe it? Can you look at the book of Job differently than perhaps you ever have before? You see, I’m not convinced that the primary theme of Job is the loss and suffering that we often connect with the book — I think the primary theme is faithfulness!
Jesus said in Matthew 19:29-30, “And everyone who has left [lost] houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Isn’t that the heart of the story of Job? He lost nearly everything for the sake of God’s name yet through faithfulness it was restored many times over.
Why Job? Because no matter what happens and no matter how little or much you understand, being faithful is the only way to live! It is not the swift who receive the prize, but only those who remain faithful to the end. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'” (Matthew 25:21)