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How to Read (& Understand) the Book of Job

I probably receive more questions of confusion about the Book of Job than any other book of Scripture.

Here’s a simple “setting of the table” that should make the book make sense to you:

Job's argument is this: “I don’t know anyone more righteous than I, yet I possess the worst circumstances, and greater sinners are all doing vastly better than I! This is unjust! God, this is not fair, yet I know You are both sovereign and just. What is going on?”

His friends assume what we call “proverbial wisdom,” which says, “Those who do good get physical blessings and blessed circumstances as a reward from God. Those who meet tragedy are being punished by God for their sins.” Their argument is true oftentimes, but is not true in the case of Job, per Job 1-2, which establish that Job’s circumstances of tragedy are upon him because he is the MOST righteous of all men on earth. The friends wrongly assume that Job has done some great sin, which he has not.

Much of what the friends say of God is true (God is just, powerful, and sovereign, indeed), yet they misapply to Job the proverbial concept that the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished, and they argue to him, “You are a great sinner, and we know this because tragedy has come upon you. How dare you deny your sin!”

Neither Job nor his friends are privy to the “bet” in heaven of Job 1& 2 between God and Satan. This lack of knowledge creates their confusion.

The bottom-line message of the Book of Job is this: life oftentimes is not just. The proverbial wisdom that says “the righteous are blessed physically and circumstantially now and the wicked are punished physically and circumstantially now” is not always true; sometimes it is quite the opposite.

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