SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Job 1:1 through 37:24
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
The suffering of faithful Job took place in the land of Uz, believed to have been a large valley located along the border of Palestine and Arabia, about fifty miles east of Edom. Job lived in an era when wealth was measured primarily in terms of property, animals, and servants, and Job had all three in abundance. He knew, however, that his wealth came from God. We learn from Scripture that he was faithful, highly respected as a judge and benefactor, and widely regarded as wise and generous.
The beginning of the Book of Job (chapters 1-3) and the end (Job 42:7-17) relate the circumstances of Job’s life. The main body of the book is a dialogue between Job, his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar), a younger bystander (Elihu), and God. Job’s “comforters” (Job 2:11) were convinced his suffering was caused by hidden sin. Job insisted he was innocent, and challenged the supposition that sin and suffering are linked in a cause-and-effect relationship.
It is vital to compare the statements made in the Book of Job with the full message of Scripture. In Job 42:7, God states that Job’s friends had not spoken “right” about Him. Thus, it cannot be assumed that every statement they made is correct. Job himself was in a dark and confusing place in life, so even his statements do not give an accurate picture of God or reflect Job’s enduring sentiments. While he expressed feelings of being overwhelmed and isolated from God at times, his faith was still anchored in God.
The Book of Job does not offer solutions to all of life’s troubles, but it depicts patience in the midst of trials and shows us that a godly person can love God because of who He is, even in the absence of good health and material benefits. This lesson explores God’s refining process in believers, which is necessary to our spiritual growth.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- From the outset of the Book of Job, we are made aware of God’s regard for Job’s integrity. In the opening discussion between God and Satan, God identified Job as “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8). Satan did not dispute that characterization, but asked God, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” (verse 9). What was he implying by this question?
Satan’s implication was that Job’s devotion to God was based upon selfish and self-serving motives — that he served God only in order to obtain material blessings from Him. In essence, Satan was stating that loyalty and obedience to God can be bought. Scripture examples that negate this supposition abound. Ask your class to name some Biblical figures whose lives prove this assumption false. Possibilities include Elijah, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Paul, and many others.
You may wish to bring out to your class that this dialogue between God and Satan shows that man has a free will. Satan’s statement, “Put forth thine hand . . . and he will curse thee to thy face” (verse 11), clearly shows that Satan realized Job had a choice in the matter.
- Satan was allowed by God to afflict Job (1:6-12; 2:1-6). What was Satan’s objective? What can we learn through this about Satan as the adversary of our souls?
Satan’s objective was to get Job to curse God to His face, and in his attempt to achieve that objective, he was allowed to destroy all Job had and then to afflict his body.
In answer to the second question, we can learn that Satan will use any means within his power to force us into discouragement, doubt, and death. You may wish to bring out that Satan is characterized as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and an accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Though we must guard against the attempts of Satan, remind your class that Satan can never go beyond the boundaries God establishes. We can be assured no trial will come our way that God does not allow, and He will always make a way of escape or give us grace to endure.
- Three of Job’s friends came to “comfort” him, but instead, they blatantly accused him and cited hidden sin as the reason for his suffering. Eliphaz backed his accusations by a dream (Job 4:1 through 5:27), Bildad by old proverbs (Job 8), and Zophar by experience and reason (Job 11). What was the basis of their wrong conclusion regarding the cause of Job’s suffering?
Class discussion should lead to the conclusion that they were wrong in their understanding of God himself, and of how He works. They seemingly believed God unfailingly blesses the righteous with a sheltered and comfortable existence, and punishes the wicked with misery and destruction. In the face of the physical suffering Job was experiencing, that led to their conclusion that Job must have sinned.
You may wish to expand your class discussion by pointing out that the “prosperity Gospel” of our day is based upon the same concept: if a person lives right, he is somehow guaranteed a prosperous and trouble-free existence. However, that viewpoint is not supported by Scripture. This is a good opportunity to bring out the importance of day-by-day obedience, for then we can have confidence before God, whether or not we prosper temporally.
- Scripture gives us insight into the thoughts of Job’s heart during his time of trial and accusations by his friends. Review the following passages and briefly summarize the “nuggets” of Scriptural truth that Job proclaimed even though he was in the midst of terrible suffering. Job 1:21; 13:15-18; 14:14-15; 19:25-27; 23:8-12.
• Job 1:21 — Everything we have is from God, and it is His prerogative to take it away.
• Job 13:15-18 — No matter how extreme our circumstances, we can maintain our trust in God.
• Job 14:14-15 — Some day our physical bodies will be resurrected.
• Job 19:25-27 — We have a personal and living Savior, and because of Him, there is a glorious future ahead.
• Job 23:8-12 — Testing will refine us, and we will emerge triumphant when the trial is over.
After your class summarizes these verses, you may wish to point out that in spite of his terrible suffering, the fact that Job was anchored in his trust of God was revealed in the trial. It is often made plain in the trial where one has been with God before the trial. In the midst of his questions and discouragement, the truth in Job’s heart was irrepressible.
- In Job 28:1-28, Job speaks on the topic of wisdom, leading up to the key question of the chapter, which is found in verse 12. In essence, Job was asking, “What is wisdom?” What are some of the points he makes about wisdom, and what was his eventual answer to the question?
Class discussion should bring out the following thoughts: Man has not found wisdom in his search for wealth (Job 28:1-12); man cannot buy wisdom with his wealth (Job 28:13-21); and God alone knows the place of wisdom (Job 28:22-27). The answer to the question in verse 12 is found in verse 28: to fear God and depart from evil is wisdom.
This may be a good time to discuss the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge can result from the acquisition of information, but wisdom (or understanding) is learning how to apply knowledge, and is based on a correct view of God and His principles for living.
- Affliction may impact us physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. How did Job describe the effect on him in each of these passages? (Job 7:4; 10:15; 13:24; 16:12-14, 20; 23:8-9). What does this indicate about our possible spiritual and emotional condition during trials?
Job experienced sleeplessness (Job 7:4), confusion (Job 10:15), and a sense of rejection (Job 13:24). He felt broken (Job 16:12-14), lonely and sad (Job 16:20), and abandoned (Job 23:8-9). Job’s response to his circumstances gives us Biblical evidence that individuals with faith in God still experience a wide range of emotions and even physical symptoms as a result of extreme trial. Bring out that the natural reaction to grief — which Job clearly was experiencing — includes the emotions of shock, bewilderment or confusion, questioning, guilt, and depression. These feelings, however, do not necessarily indicate a spiritual problem. And whatever emotions and feelings may occur in such times, God is well able to help us overcome by His abundant grace (2 Corinthians 12:9), just as He helped Job.
- While enduring affliction is not easy, it actually can bring a positive outcome in our spiritual lives. What are some potential benefits of going through a time of suffering?
Ask your class to describe some of the positive results of trying times based on their own personal experiences or knowledge. Thoughts brought up may include such benefits as: a heightened sense of gratitude for God’s blessings, a closer walk with God, increased faith, and a heartfelt empathy with others who suffer. Romans 8:28 is a good Scripture to support this point.
We know we can trust God, but can He trust us to endure even in times of trial?