A Devotional Journey
led by Dr Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
The book of Job was written sometime after 1200 B.C.
judging from the mention of iron in 19:24 (iron was not used in the Middle East until this time). The story itself could have taken place any time between 1000 and 2000 B.C.
The central issue is God’s justice and goodness
in the light of innocent human suffering (sometimes called theodicy
). The classic points are that God is either 1) not almighty (explaining why He cannot change the course of events), or 2) not just (explaining how he might actually enjoy
watching humans squirm). The third possibility which is regularly considered is whether the subject is truly innocent after all.
For the Israelites, God’s power and justice were unquestionable;
therefore, the only possible way to explain suffering was human evil or guilt in the eyes of God (a position still held by many present-day Christians, in spite of the biblical witness in
books like Job – compare 1 Peter).
The conclusion in Job
is that human beings may suffer apart from some direct link to their own guilty conduct, but that in the end God will prevail.
The opening chapters set the stage for what follows
through an encounter between God and one of his angels who attacks the integrity and faithfulness of the humans God has created. The name Satan here comes with an article
and literally means the accuser
. Whether this being is identical with Satan
the being whose name never appears with a definite article in either the Old or New Testaments or he is simply an officer whose title was later used to identify the fallen angel Lucifer and his primary activities is not completely clear.
The issue is simple
: will Job remain faithful to God if his property, family and personal health are suddenly taken away? Is Job’s commitment to God based on who God is, or on what God gives? By the end of chapter 3 it is clear that Job holds to God’s goodness, but is unable to understand how all this can be happening to him.
What is the basis of your loyalty to God?
Is it because of His blessings? In a very real sense it must be: Christ has died on the Cross for our sins and risen from the dead for our salvation – our faith and commitment is drawn out of that reality.
But is our faith based on the way we feel and what we have?
When you are depressed, do you ever decide God does not really care? When you are faced with pain – for whatever reason – are you ever tempted to turn away from God?
What we learn from the New Testament
is that our faith is a gift which comes from God’s Spirit working in our lives – not to give us things, but to strengthen our trust in the face of all contrary evidence. Faith is logical but it is not a matter of logic.
Today, ask God to show you where you are being tempted to doubt
His love and care, and to strengthen your faith at those points.
© A. Eugene Pearson 1999