Job’s Afflictions

Yesterday evening Leonora and I attended the first meeting of our Life group since the summer break. It was in the home of the group’s host and hostess, Roland and Sherry Loder. Three attended besides the four of us, and we worked through the following discussion sheet on Job 1-2:10. The discussion was followed by singing and a snack.

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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 afflictions (chapters 3-37), and how God responded to their reactions to his afflictions and restored him (chapters 38-42). We’ll study chapters 1-2 (except 2:11-13) this week, parts of 2:11-37:24 next week, and chapters 38-42 the following week, considering in particular what they suggest about the problem of evil.

We’ll divide this evening’s study into three sections: Job’s Character (1:1-5); Job’s First Test (1:6-22); and Job’s Second Test (2:1-10). I’ll guide the study by asking the questions given below.

Job’s Character (1:1-5)
1. What does verse 1 tell us about Job’s character?
2. What do verses 4-5 show us about Job’s character?

Job’s First Test (1:6-22)
3. What were the roles of God and of Satan in the testing of Job? (verses 6-12)
4. How was he tested? (verses 13-19)
5. How did he respond to the test? (verses 20-22)

Job’s Second Test (2:1-10)
6. What prompted the further testing of Job? (verses 1-6)
7. How was he tested? (verses 7-8)
8. How did he respond to the test? (verses 9-10)

Reflection Questions
9. If no evil can happen to good people without God’s tacit permission, what problems does that raise for you?
10. When bad things happen to good people, to whom do you give the credit (or blame)?
[The Reflection Questions are from The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups, 1988, and are used by permission of Serendipity House, Littleton, Colorado 80160.]

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I enjoyed the discussion, two reasons being that everyone participated and that their contributions included both facts from Job 1-2 and sharing of personal experiences and feelings. Among the ideas expressed were:
– Job was a good and righteous man.
– Both God and Satan were behind Job’s initial and further testing, God’s instigating it with a question to Satan and setting a limit on what Satan could do and Satan’s doing the testing through people, nature, and a physical ailment.
– Job responded to both the initial and further testing by recognizing them as coming from God but accepting them, saying, “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?”
– Evil and suffering experienced by Christians could be a testing by God, an attack by Satan allowed by God, or just a part of life in a fallen world.
– Evil and suffering experienced by Christians is particularly hard when it affects family, when it occurs in a series of bad things happening to them, and when non-Christians around them seem to have just good things happen to them.

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