The book of Job has fascinated all those who have read it, since the plight of Job has touched the lives of sufferers throughout the ages. To some people, the book of Job is offensive because of the meaninglessness and excess of Job’s suffering.
The traditional interpretation of the book emphasizes the theme of undeserved suffering and raises the question of why the righteous suffers. This interpretation is in agreement with traditional Jewish and Christian understanding of the book.
The book of Job has attracted the attention of scholars, poets, painters, and common people because of the plight of the main protagonist of the book. The concept of innocent suffering has a universal appeal because it is an issue that touches our common humanity.
The book of Job is a literary masterpiece, a supreme example of the type of wisdom literature to be found in the Ancient Near East. The book describes the suffering of a God-fearing man. Job was blameless and upright man, a man of perfect integrity, and one who feared God and turned away from evil.
The book of Job presents Job as a righteous man, a man who had a good and right relationship with God. It was the Lord himself who declared that Job was a blameless and upright man, a man who feared God and turned away from evil. The Lord also said there was no other man like Job on the earth (1:8).
Job was a pious, virtuous, God-fearing believer. The Babylonian Talmud considered Job a man more virtuous than Abraham: “Said R. Johanan: ‘Greater praise is accorded to Job than to Abraham’” (Baba Bathra 15b).
Job had three friends who rejected Job’s contention that his suffering was the work of God. They told Job that he was a sinner and that he needed to repent. In the end, after God revealed himself to Job, Job recognized that he was wrong about God. Job said, “I spoke without understanding” (Job 42:3).
God rebuked Job’s friends because of what they had said about God and about Job. Gold told Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends, “I am incensed at you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the truth about me as did my servant Job” (Job 42:7).
Because of Eliphaz’s false words about God, God told Eliphaz to repent, to offer a sacrifice, and apologize to Job. God said to Eliphaz, “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:8).
My pastor Jeff Griffin, Senior Pastor of The Compass Church will preach a series of sermons on Job in which he will deal with the issue of despair and hope in the book of Job. His series, “Shattered: Finding Hope in the Book of Job,” will consist of four sermons:
The first sermon will deal with the Prologue of the book of Job, chapters 1–2. In this sermon Jeff will address the problem of innocent suffering.
In his second sermons, Jeff will deal with the dialogue between Job and his friends, chapters 3–37. Jeff will focus on the wrong conclusions and advice of Job’s three friends.
The third sermon will deal with the theophany, God’s revelation of himself to Job, chapters 38–41. In the theophany, God revealed to Job the many mysteries of creation. One of those mysteries is the problem of innocent suffering.
4. “When Will This End?”
The final sermons will deal with the epilogue of the book and the restoration of Job, chapter 42. At the end of his trials, God blessed Job for his faithfulness. The sermon will emphasize that in this life, people will face trials and tribulations.
Suffering will end when we get to heaven, for in heaven God himself will comfort his people. In heaven God will wipe every tear from their eyes. In heaven there will not be any grief, crying, or pain. In heaven there will not be any more death for God will be the life of his people (Revelation 21:3–4).
You can watch each sermon live every week by visiting The Compass Church online.
To access the first sermon, “What Is Going On?,” on June 5th, you can go to https://live.thecompass.net. The sermon will be presented at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 11:00 a.m.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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