If not the oldest book in the Bible, Job certainly reaches back to the earliest of times – to the days of Abraham or before. The book tells the story of man named “Job” whose fortunes went from great to abysmal virtually overnight simply because of a conflict between Satan and God. The story of Job is set at a time when a family’s patriarch offered sacrifices on behalf of his children. Job is not listed in any of the genealogies of Abraham’s descendants and therefore he is not a part of Israel. He is from the land of “Uz,” a place whose geographical location is unknown.
Despite not being a Jew and of unknown origin, the story of Job’s faith is a treasure of Jewish literature. He is considered in the Old Testament to be one of three most righteous people (Daniel and Noah being the other two – cf. Ezekiel 14:14,20).
Chapters 1-3 set the stage for the story and introduce us to all the players but one. Job is a righteous man, well-blessed by God with everything a man can desire: wealth, respect in the community, family, and a close relationship with God. He is “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” God brags to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
It sounds more like a taunt to Satan. Satan replies: ‘Sure he’s good. Why shouldn’t he be? You’ve bought his goodness with all your blessings. Take them away, and he will curse you to your face.’
And so the conflict begins. God allows Satan to strip Job of everything – including his dignity. Job doesn’t know that he’s become a pawn in a holy war. He’s just confused that such awful things have happened. Despite then however, and despite encouragement from his wife to turn from God. Job remains true. He said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar come to provide support, and the condition they find him in leaves them speechless – at least at first. For Job’s part, he wishes he had never been born.
Chapters 4-31 contain three rounds of speeches where each of Job’s friends speak, trying to put things into perspective. Job replies to each of them.