Job 1 - 27
Teacher: Rebecca Murdock
A Complex Story About Suffering:
The Book of Job deals with a question that religious systems have tried to answer throughout history: "Why does suffering happen?” In this book, we will compare the reasons given for suffering and discuss some of the following important themes:
- Why is Job such a complex book? It is considered a “polyphonic” book…meaning that authors may have added pieces of it over time, explaining how God sounds different in different parts, or how Job’s attitude seems different in different parts. Or how Elihu is added in as a 4th friend toward the end of the book.
- Was Job a real person? He may have been a real person who suffered, who then became the basis for a poetic parable about suffering. This is often called historic fiction.
- Were Job’s friends right? We see that amidst the angry response from God at the end of the book, God vindicates Job’s protests in 42:7. Job has said that his experience of righteousness should not merit such injustice and God agrees that merit is not part of the equation. (Though the second part of the book will be addressed by Stephen the following week.)
- What does “merit” have to do with suffering? The older perspective of God is very tied to “retribution theology” - the idea that you deserve the suffering that you receive, based on your sins. As the Bible progresses, it starts to fight this type of theology. Here in Job, we see that the friends are incredulous that Job is receiving suffering without having sinned. Later in John 9, we see the same type of conversation where the disciples ask Jesus who sinned - “this man, or his parents?” - and Jesus’ response is “neither.”
- Then why does suffering happen? The good news is that the book of Job helps us unhinge the idea that sin and suffering must be connected. The bad news is that we must find a new reason for the existence of suffering, which can easily cast blame upon God unless we acknowledge the presence of a third “player” in the equation - the “Satan” or the “adversary.”
Looking forward to a good discussion! See you on Sabbath!
Listen to the book of Job from BibleGateway: ESV, KJV, MSG, NIV, NKJV
Short Outline of Job from Today's English Version
- Prologue (1:1 – 2:13)
- Job and his friends (3:1 – 31:40)
- Job’s complaint (3:1-26)
- The first dialogue (4:1 – 14:22)
- The second dialogue (15:1 – 21:34)
- The third dialogue (22:1 – 27:23)
- In praise of wisdom (28:1-28)
- Job’s final statement (29:1 – 31:40)
- The speeches of Elihu (32:1 – 37:24)
- The Lord answers Job (38:1 – 42:6)
- Epilogue (42:7-17)