As you’re cracking open your Bible in preparation to study Job today, you may be tempted to try and figure out just how this book applies to your life. You might be tempted to make it personal and draw some parallels. But before you do, remember to ask yourself, “What does this say about God?” I hope that you’ll be encouraged by the two clear attributes of God that we find in this passage. Remember, the Bible is about God! Now go ahead and read Job 1:6-2:10 and then keep reading here.
This portion of chapter one opens in God’s heavenly throne room when the sons of God (angels and other divine beings), and Satan come before the Lord. God asks Satan where he has come from and he confesses that he has been wandering around the earth. And then the strangest conversation happens. Check back to 1:8.
Who suggested that Satan should consider Job?
God. Not Satan. God suggested that Satan consider Job.
John Piper explains it this way: A robber goes into a jewelry store with a gun and a mask, demanding all of the fine jewels and precious stones. The jeweler says, “Well how about this one, my biggest and best diamond? Would you like to have that one?” Now logic would lead us to conclude that if we were being robbed, we would not want to give the robbers suggestions about more things they could take from us. How interesting that all of this was God’s idea, not Satan’s.
In 1:9, Satan brings an accusation against Job, saying that the only reason he remains faithful and fears God is because God has protected him and blessed him. He challenges God by saying that if he took all of that away from Job, he would curse God to his face. So God gives Satan permission to take away all that Job had as long as he didn’t touch Job himself. This brings us to the first thing we learn about God in this chapter:
God is sovereign.
He is completely in charge of every bit of what happens. Does this mean that God sometimes allows bad things to happen to us? Yes. He did it when he sent the flood that killed everyone but Noah’s family. He did it when Jonah got swallowed up by the great fish. He did it when Job lost everything he had. We don’t always know WHY, but we do know that God causes all things to work for good for those who love him.
In 1:13-19, Job loses everything he has because unbeknownst to him, God has placed him and all of his possessions and family in the hands of Satan. In verse 20 we see that Job grieved and then he fell on the ground and worshiped. Job had this interesting perspective that the name of the Lord should be praised when He gives and when he takes away. In all of it he didn’t sin or blame God.
As if all this weren’t enough, it happens again! The angels and Satan come before the Lord and God has the same conversation with Satan. Only this time Satan accuses Job of remaining faithful only because he wasn’t allowed to touch his actual body. So God, in his sovereignty, tells Satan that he can touch Job’s body, as long as he spares his life.
So immediately Satan goes out and strikes Job with a terrible skin disease.
Some of you may remember when I battled 9 months of chronic hives. I was covered from head to toe with incredibly itchy red welts that nearly drove me out of my mind. I saw every specialist possible, changed my diet, went through all kinds of tests, including skin biopsies, blood tests, and allergy tests. Nothing worked. The only thing that gave me any relief was a steroid that had terrible side effects. I was miserable and itchy and in pain. One day it stopped and hasn’t come back since. I still don’t know why that happened, but I know I can trust that God does!
Now Mrs. Job is another important character in this story, but we are left mostly wondering about her because Scripture doesn’t tell us much. In fact, it only gives us a few lines of what she has to say. This woman has also lost all of her livestock, her livelihood, her servants and worst of all, every single one of her children. She doesn’t have the same response as her husband because she tells him he should curse God and die. Job refuses to do that, of course. Mrs. Job had to suffer all of the consequences of her husband’s test. She wasn’t privy to God’s conversation with Satan. She didn’t even have any idea that it was her husband’s test and she sure wasn’t passing it if it had been hers. She was just suffering through a test that was meant for someone else. Sometimes that happens to us too.
So this week we leave Job and his wife, possessionless, childless, bald-headed and in ashes, scraping his skin and worshiping. Quite a place to be.
But this leaves us with one looming question. If God, in his sovereignty, allowed bad things to happen to Job (and Jonah and Noah and so many others), could he do that to me too?
The answer is our second point.
God is unchanging.
Malachi 3:6 says “For I, the Lord, do not change;”. James 1;17 tells us that the Father of lights does not change like the shifting shadows. Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
So the fact that God is unchanging means that the same God that allowed Jonah to be thrown into the ocean and sent a flood to destroy the earth is the same God that you and I serve today. He has not changed. If he wants to allow struggle and pain and hardships in your life, he will do it. If he sees fit to allow suffering to come upon you, for sickness and disease to ravage your body, he can do it. He has not changed.
But here’s the kicker: The same God that allowed Jonah to be thrown into the ocean is the same God that sent the whale to carry him safely to shore. The same God that allowed the earth to be destroyed by a flood also sent the ark to carry Noah’s family to safety. The same God that allowed sickness and disease and suffering and disaster to come to Job is the same God that (SPOILER ALERT!) will reveal himself in a mighty way to Job at the end of the book, restoring his home, his wealth and his family.
The same God that allows suffering and painis the same God that gives grace in the midst of it.
He is Sovereign.
He is Sovereign.
He is unchanging.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.