Job’s Afflictions

The book of Job tells the story of how a “blameless and upright man [who] feared God and turned away from evil” was afflicted by Satan (chapters 1-2), of how he and his friends reacted to his affliction (chapters 3-37), and of how God responded to Job and his friends’ reactions to his affliction and restored him (chapters 38-42). In this post I’ll consider what chapters 1-2 suggests about the problem of evil, and next week I’ll consider what chapters 38-42 suggests about the problem of evil. Quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

The Source of Job’s Afflictions

Job 1:1-5 describes Job’s character and wealth.

Job 1:6-12 describes God’s asking Satan if in his going to and fro on the earth he’d considered “my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” Satan responded by attributing Job’s righteousness to God’s protecting and prospering him and asserting that if God would quit doing so he would curse God. God answered Satan’s challenge by telling him, “Behold all that [Job] has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch your hand.”

Thus the afflictions that happened to Job were brought about by Satan with God’s permission. This suggests that at least some of the evils that happen to God’s people (and others) today are brought about by Satan with God’s permission.

The Kinds of Afflictions That Happened to Job

Job 1:13-19 describes messengers coming to Job and telling him of these things happening:
1. The Sabeans took Job’s oxen and donkeys, killing his servants who were with them.
2. Fire from heaven burned up Job’s sheep and his servants who were with them.
3. The Chaldeans took Job’s camels, killing his servants who were with them.
4. A great wind killed all of Job’s children by causing the collapse of his oldest son’s house where they had been eating and drinking together.

Job 1:20-22 describes describes Job’s distress and his blessing instead of cursing God.

Job 2:1-6 describes God’s pointing out to Satan that Job “still holds his integrity” despite all that had happened to him. Satan responded by claiming that if God would afflict Job’s body he would curse God. God answered Satan’s challenge by telling him, “Behold [Job] is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Job 2:7-10 describes Satan’s afflicting Job with loathsome sores from head to toe, Job’s wife encouraging him to curse God, and Job’s refusing to do so.

Thus the afflictions that happened to Job included evil done by people (the Sabeans and the Chaldeans), evil done by nature (the fire and the wind), and even physical ailments (loathsome sores). This suggests that the evils that God allows Satan to inflict upon God’s people (and others) today can come through other people or through nature and can even include physical ailments.

The Evils That Happen to Us

Job 1-2 suggests to me that although God may protect and prosper His people, He may also allow Satan to test them by using other people, natural events, and even physical ailments to afflict them. Let us pray to God and trust Him that He will enable us to respond to such afflictions as Job did, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” and “Shall we not receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

In my next post I’ll consider what the closing chapters of the book of Job reveal about the problem of evil.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Job’s Afflictions

  1. Allison

    The part of Job’s story which I find most difficult to understand is why God would allow Job’s children and his servants to die. They lost their lives, apparently, because God was allowing someone else’s faith to be tested. God’s ways are sometimes a mystery.

    Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      One response would be that Job’s children and servants were sinners and thus deserved whatever happened to them. However, like you, I find it hard to understand why God would allow them to die in Satan’s testing of Job’s righteousness.

      Reply
  2. TERRY BURDIN

    MAYBE GOD TOOK THEM WITH HIM. GOD KNEW THE FUTURE AND KNEW THAT THE CHILDREN AND SERVANTS WERE GOING TO HAVE MAJOR PROBLEMS AND DECIDED TO TAKE HOME WITH HIM

    Reply
  3. Loretta

    Losing your children, and not losing faith, would be a huge test of character, don’t you think? The pharaoh stopped believing in his god when his 1st born son was taken.

    Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      Thanks, Loretta, for your thoughtful comment. I certainly agree with you that losing one’s children and not losing faith would be a huge test of character. However I couldn’t find confirmation that Pharoah stopped believing in his god when his firstborn son was taken. He responded to the death of his firstborn son in the same way that he’d responded to the plagues of flies, hail, and locusts–initially consenting to Moses’ demand but afterwards hardening his heart and rejecting the demand.

      Reply
    1. Bob Hunter Post author

      The only age that the Bible gives for Job is that he was 140 when he died. However it does tell us that he had ten adult children when his affliction started and that he had another ten children after his restoration. The Bible doesn’t indicate whether the second ten children were by the same wife as the first ten were. If they were, that would set a limit as to how old she was when she quit bearing children and thus suggest about how old Job was when he was afflicted. If they weren’t by the same wife, then there’s no way of even guessing how old Job was when he was afflicted.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: 7. The Bible’s Book of Job | Bob's Corner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s