Today we start reading the book of Job, a most challenging book to understand. Today’s chapters are the only ones in which the word ‘satan’ occurs. The ESV Bible has a footnote that this Hebrew word means “the adversary”. One can find many verses in the Old Testament where it is translated that way (see 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4; 11:10,23,25; and the adversary is named – it is a specific human being).
We are inclined to think that this book, although based on a real historical person and event, was written as a drama or play to teach a spiritual lesson. Its climax in the last chapter relates back to the first chapters and we need to remember that to get a true picture of the message.
This adversary says to God, “all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (2:4,5). But ‘Satan’ is wrong! Then Job’s wife, in a sense, becomes an adversary telling him to “Curse God and die”. But he says to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (verses 9,10).
God allows the bad experiences in life to test us, to shape our character. No sailor learns to sail if the sea is always calm. At the end of the book (42:1-6), we see the events of the first 2 chapters in their context with the early ‘disasters’. In the end Job has dramatic contact with God leading to a deep appreciation of his position before God and a relationship with God that he never previously possessed.
All he had lost is restored to him – and more. This is a picture of the blessings in store after the resurrection. If life is all smooth sailing, with no challenges to our faith, we will not develop an urgent sense of the need to develop a full relationship with God and His Son. Also, we will not achieve a true sense of humility and submission to God’s will. Can we say to God, like Jesus did, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)? The book of Job has valuable lessons for the diligent reader.