Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read:
Job 1: God and Satan arrange the first test
Job 4 and 6: Portion of the first dialog and Job's response
Job 32 - 33: Elihu begins to explain
Job 38: God explains to Job
Orientation Job is book #18 of 39 in the Old Testament. It is considered a book of Poetry. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis Job is a faithful, wealthy man; who is minding is own business, when God and Satan have a conversation - in which Satan suggests Job is faithful only because of his good fortune, and if he lost it all, he would curse God. God disagrees, and allows Satan to test Job. Job loses his servants, animals, family, and contracts a skin disease. Job's wife is not too supportive (2:9).
Job's three "friends", Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zaphar, come and try to convince him that his misfortune must be due to his sins, therefore it is his own fault. This consists of three poetic roundtable dialogues in which each of the three speak and Job responds. Then, a young bystander, Elihu, offers his own explanation. Finally, God speaks directly to Job, reprimands the friends, and blesses Job so he becomes even wealthier than before it all started.
Major Characters Job, a wealthy man, subject of a test between God and Satan
Eliphaz, Job's friend #1
Bildad, Job's friend #2
Zaphar, Job's friend #3
Elihu, an insightful observer and bystander
Major Events Test #1 (1:6-22) Job loses family and wealth
Test #2 (2:1-10): Job stricken with disease
Three roundtable dialogues (4:1 - 27:23)
Elihu's speeches (32:1 - 37:34)
God explains (38)
The friends reprimanded and Job is blessed (42).
Activities Create a list of the sequence of speakers and their chapters. Relevance Discuss: Does God still permit suffering in the same way as Job? That is, as a test to strengthen us? Have you encountered personal tests in your Christian life, which resulted in you becoming stronger than before? Connections In the account of Jesus healing the man born blind (John 9: 1-12), it is seen how firmly the people believed that suffering is the direct result of sin. See Exodus 20:6 for a possible source of this belief. Also see Ezekiel's statements of personal responsibility for sin in Ezekiel 18:18.
The book of Habakkuk deals with the same subject - in which Habakkuk asks why God sits by and allows good people to suffer.
For source citations see the home page. Revised May 18 2015
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