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Analysis and Annotations
I. THE INTRODUCTION
Job 1:1-5 . We are at once introduced to the leading person of this book. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.” As already stated in the introduction, the land of Uz was east of Palestine and probably a part of Idumea, or in close proximity to the land of Edom. This seems to be confirmed by Lamentations 4:21 : “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz.” Uz is also mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20 . It must have been on the borderland of Edom, if it was not a part of it. In Genesis 22:20-21 , we read of the sons of Abraham’s brother Nahor; among them are two named Uz and Buz. (Elihu was of Buz, Job 32:2 .)
The meaning of the name Job is “persecuted” or “afflicted.” His character is described as most excellent. He was perfect, which of course does not mean that he was sinless, without any flaw in his character. He was a whole-hearted man with a well-balanced solid character. In his dealings with others he was righteous, always upright and doing the right thing. He feared God, walking in the fear of God, which proves that he was a child of God, born again; and therefore he shunned evil in every form. This brief description of Job shows that he was an unusual man. The Lord Himself bore witness to this fact, for He said to Satan, “there is none like him in the earth.”
Great blessing rested upon him and upon his house. His family consisted of seven sons and three daughters. Of cattle he had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she-asses and a very great household. He was in every way, in his character, in his enormous wealth, the greatest man of the children of the east. His was the position of a prince among men with a princely household. Then follows a pleasing scene, a sample of how he conducted himself. His sons and daughters lacked nothing; they feasted and enjoyed life together in the midst of the great prosperity with which God had blessed them. There is nothing to indicate that it was sinful pleasure in which they indulged. But Job had a tender conscience. He wanted to make provision in case his children had sinned and “cursed God in their hearts.” The Hebrew for “curse” is “bless” and the meaning is to renounce God, to forget and turn away from Him. Notice that Job feared some such thought of turning away from God might have entered their young hearts; and that is where all turning away from God starts. And therefore pious Job rose up early in the morning and besides sanctifying them he also offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. He knew God’s holiness and the true mode of approach, by a sacrifice, the shedding of blood “without which there is no remission of sins.” How far he himself entered into the joys of his family we do not know; nor does he mention himself as needing a sacrifice.
II. THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN JEHOVAH AND SATAN AND THE RESULTS
1. A scene in heaven, Jehovah’s challenge and Satan’s, accusation (Job 1:6-12 )
2. Satan’s power manifested (Job 1:13-19 )
3. Job’s great grief and great victory (Job 1:20-22 )
Job 1:6-12 . Suddenly the scene changeth. We are no longer on earth but heaven is opened and we read what is going on before the throne of God. While Job on earth with his loved ones is enjoying himself something takes place in heaven in which he is prominently concerned and yet he is ignorant of all.
The whole scene is intensely interesting. It is not fiction but revelation, and what is here recorded actually took place, and something like it still goes on in heaven. A parallel passage is found in 1 Kings 22:19 . The prophet Micaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left. And then the Lord permitted as a judgment upon Ahab, that a lying spirit should enter Ahab’s prophets to deceive Ahab.
Heaven as a place is not fiction. There is an uncreated heaven where God’s throne and dwelling place have always been. From the passage here we may gather that there are certain times when all heavenly tenants, good and evil, have to assemble before the Lord. The sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. The expression “sons of God” does not mean believers on earth (the sonship of a believer is a New Testament truth), but supernatural beings, the angels. According to this book these sons of God shouted for joy in the hour of creation (38:7). Other Scriptures speak of such heavenly gatherings. (See Psalms 89:5-7 ; Zechariah 4:1-14 , etc.) And Satan came also among them. He likewise must appear before the Lord. Satan means “adversary.” In this character, as the accuser of the brethren he is seen in the last book of the Bible and according to Revelation 12:1-17 he is still active in the same capacity as in the days of Job, and has still access to the throne of God, till the hour comes when his doom begins with being cast out of heaven. Destructive criticism pronounceth Satan a Babylonian or Persian myth, a reproduction in Hebrew literature of the Persian fable of Ahriman. But even the French infidel Renan said of the Satan of the Scriptures, “This is quite a different person from the Ahriman of the Zend-Avesta. It is not the spirit of evil existing and acting for himself.” He is not independent of God; as one has correctly stated it, “Satan can go only to the end of his chain.” The critical assertion that the belief in a Satan originated after the exile is historically incorrect. The serpent in Genesis 3:1-24 is Satan. Originally he was Lucifer, the son of the morning (Isaiah 14:1-32 ), the cherub that covereth (Ezekiel 28:1-26 ) and this great creature of God fell by pride. (See “The History of Satan” in Studies in Prophecy Our Hope Press, and the larger work on Satan, His Person, Work Place and Destiny, by F.C. Jennings.)
He is forced to give an account to Jehovah. He walked to and fro in the earth and walked up and down in it. He therefore is not in hell. The New Testament tells us that he is “the god of this age” and that his throne is here on earth. He still walks up and down and to and fro. Then God calls his attention to Job and approves his character that there is none like Job. Satan knew Job and hated Job, as he still knows and hates every child of God and is moved with malice towards God’s people. And so at once he sneers into the face of the Lord the challenge, “Doth Job fear God for nought?”--”Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath and he will renounce thee to thy face.” Then the Lord delivers Job to Satan; gives him the permission to take all that he hath, only upon the person of Job he was not permitted to lay his vile hands. But let us notice that the accusation of Satan is the result of Jehovah’s challenge. We quote another.
“It is carefully to be remarked here, that the spring and source of all these dealings is not Satan’s accusations, but God Himself. God knew what His servant Job needed, and Himself brings forward his case and sets all in movement. If He demands of Satan if he had considered His servant Job, it is because He Himself had. Satan is but an instrument, and an ignorant though subtle instrument, to bring about God’s purposes of grace. His accusations result really in nothing as against Job, save to disprove their truth by what he is allowed to do; but, for Job’s good, he is left to his will up to a certain point, for the purpose of bringing Job to a knowledge of his own heart, and thus to a deeper ground of practical relationship with God. How blessed and perfect are God’s ways! How vain in result the efforts of Satan’s against those that are His!” (Synopsis of the Bible)
The controversy then is not between Satan and Job, but between Jehovah and Satan. Job is not so much on trial as the Lord Himself. Is God able to keep His servants loyal when the greatest afflictions pass over them? Has the Lord the power to sustain them? To manifest this power, to show forth His own glory, He permits the suffering of the saint. There are many blessed and comforting truths connected with all this. The best is that we learn that the Lord lovingly watches His people, as He watched Job and spoke well of him and that it is an honor not chastisement when He permits afflictions and sorrow to come.
Satan could not attack the righteousness of Job, but he impeacheth his motives in serving God. In this he only revealed his own character. He attributes the godliness of Job to the selfishness in Job. Then comes his challenge. The conflict is on and it is to be seen if one who is the Lord’s, who trusts in Him, can be made by adversities to turn his back upon God and forsake Him; or is God able to keep?
Job 1:13-19 . “So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” The accuser now acts the roaring lion. And now his work against Job begins. But caution is needed here lest powers be ascribed to Satan which he in reality does not possess. Satan is only a creature and does not share the attributes of God. He is not omnipotent; nor is he omniscient, nor omnipresent. If he displays powers it is with divine permission only. Of course here are secrets which we cannot fathom nor fully understand. Questions upon questions might be asked on this subject which the finite mind cannot answer, problems are here which no human can solve. But we know that all God’s ways are perfect, yet past finding out.
And so here he is permitted to use powers to carry out his purposes. If God had not said, “Behold all that he hath is in thy power,” he would have had no power.
Four calamities overtake Job’s possessions and household. Satan stirred up the Sabeans (Hebrew: Sheba), a nomadic people, probably robber tribes and under his direction they plunder Job of his most valuable cattle and murdered the servants. No sooner had this happened than another messenger announced that the fire of God, probably not lightning, had fallen from heaven and the sheep and servants who were there had been completely destroyed. Then came the third calamity. The Chaldeans robbed Job of his camels and killed his servants who had charge of them. And then the last affliction which is the greatest of them all. A hurricane tore down the house and his loved ones were killed. His wife is not mentioned. Satan did not touch her for he intended to use her as a tool and as his mouthpiece. Thus suddenly, without any warning whatever, in the midst of earthly happiness, yea, real piety, Job, the great and prosperous Job had been stripped of all he had. Satan had done his work well. He knew how to be cruel and reserve the worst blow to the last. And all this happened not only under the all-seeing eye of God, but with His own permission.
Job 1:20-22 . And Job? Not a murmur escapes his lips. He arose; he expressed his great grief by renting his robe, shaving his head. But then he fell as a worshipper upon the ground and uttered the never to be forgotten words, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” It was a great victory. Satan had failed completely. The Lord remained the refuge of Job and underneath the everlasting arms.
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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Job 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30