People take all kinds of measures to build hedges around their lives to keep suffering and pain at bay. And yet, often without warning, suffering and pain intrude—and life is never the same again. Their arrival prompts a search for answers to renew hope and strengthen resolve to go on. The book of Job offers wisdom to navigate the dark and perplexing territory of human suffering and pain.
Contents — The first two chapters present the problem of evil and describe Satan’s assault on Job. Chapters three to thirty-seven contain three cycles of speeches in which Job’s friends misrepresented God by claiming to know why Job was suffering and by thinking that they knew why and how God does what He does. The final chapters present Job’s humbling encounter with God and the restoration of his fortunes.
Purpose — The book explores the mystery of human suffering and the question of divine justice. The Bible teaches that no one sins with impunity and that trust and obedience to God are rewarded. Job, however, does not fit neatly into that pattern. A pious and upright man, Job was buffeted by waves of indescribable suffering. His friends erroneously concluded that he was being punished for some terrible sin. The book challenges the notion that all suffering is caused by sin and suggests that God may have other purposes for suffering.
Themes — The opening chapters introduce the theme of why one serves God. Satan contended that people like Job serve God because of God’s blessings and not because of God Himself. The theme of undeserved and unexplained suffering is introduced when God allowed Satan to unleash his fury against Job and his family. The book also explores the theme of God’s sovereignty.
Writer and Date — The Scripture does not supply the answer to the authorship of Job. Although the book offers few indications of its date, some scholars believe it was written either prior to or in the days of the patriarchs because of the absence of any clear reference to any known historical event.