Nov 242013 14 Responses

37 Questions (and answers) from the Book of Job

(We recently wrapped up a study on the Book of Job at Community Bible Church. We concluded the series with a time of Question and Answer. These were the questions asked and a summary of the answers given.)

Here is the main idea from each sermon:

1. God controls our darkest days.

2. Total understanding is never a requirement for total obedience.

3. Disobedience is always a revelation of our heart not our circumstances.

4. When life is not okay, we can pray with a humble transparency.

5. Grace is better than karma.

6. God often reveals himself through suffering.

7. We are never called to make others suffer or to suffer alone.

8. True wisdom comes from God.

9. God is not silent.

10. The “who” always trumps the “why.”

11. Mercy received always becomes mercy given.


For a quick review of the sermon series, watch:

1. Can the Book of Job be considered a work of fiction?

I don’t see anything in Scripture which would point to the book being a parable or fable. It seems like a real account.

2. How was Satan able to be in God’s presence when sin cannot be in God’s presence?

Apparently sin/evil can be in God’s presence. This shouldn’t surprise us since Jesus was able to be in the presence of sin. The view that sin can’t be in God’s presence primarily comes from Habakkuk 1.13 which says, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up then man more righteous than he?” This seems to be more about God’s holiness than what he is capable of experiencing. In Isaiah 6, the prophet was in God’s presence even though he was a sinful man.

3. How do you explain to a person that their health does not depend upon the strength of their faith?

Point to Job. Clearly he suffered in a way which is difficult to imagine yet the Bible makes it abundantly clear this was not a lack of faith and might have actually been because of faith. Notice the description God gave of Job in chapters 1, 2, and 42. What was true of Job is true of us. Faith can influence health, but we cannot assume that because someone is sick, they have sinned. (See: Healing: Faith, Sickness and the Bible and Don’t Believe the Lie ‘If You Have Your Health’)

4. If God is our maker, why does he want us to be afraid of him?

The “fear of God” as used in the Bible is different than being afraid of God. The fear of God is an awe and respect. He wants us to respect him, but he doesn’t not want us to be afraid of him. He has made his loving nature clear throughout history and ultimately through Jesus. Of course those who reject Jesus and have not received forgiveness of their sins should be afraid of God because he has the power to expose their sin and judge it as he sees fit. One of the great aspects of being a Christian is that we are not afraid of God because we understand his great love for us.

5. Should we be scared of God?

No and yes. No if you are a follower of Jesus. If you have experienced the forgiveness of God as found in Christ, there is no need to be afraid of God. His love has been proven and we can trust him. However, if we have rejected Jesus, we should be afraid of God because a day will come in which we as imperfect people will stand and be judged in the presence of a holy God. That will be a scary experience.

For an original song from our worship pastors, watch:

6. What was the point of the “bet” between God and Satan regarding Job?

I’m not completely sure beyond God has used it to further reveal himself to us. I’m sure more was at work than this, but this is enough for us. Our understanding of God, ourselves, Satan, this world, good/evil, friendship, etc are much deeper because this event occurred.

7. What would have happened if Satan won the bet?

I’m not sure. Of course there was probably no chance of this happening since God said Job would be faithful. God would not be wrong.

8. Did God ever tell Job of the conversation that happened between God and Satan?

Not that we know of. It’s one of the great questions I’ve had about the book—why didn’t God let Job know? I assume it was one of the great experiences of heaven as Job saw what had happened. So it will probably be for us; when we get to heaven we will see all the times God was working in ways we did not understand.

9. Does Satan control events in our life?

The book of Job seems to imply that Satan can get permission from God to test us, but anything he does happens under the umbrella of God’s divine permission. This is good news—nothing happens to us without God allowing it.

10. How do you start again when you were a believer that has doubts or has stop believing due to suffering?

Seek the truth. Chances are, any faith which has been lost was probably not a real faith. It was probably a faith built on false assumptions. Losing one’s faith can actually be a positive experience since real faith can’t be lost. Losing a false faith might open us up to real faith.

11. At what point do you continue to pray for negative people in your life or at what point do you cut them out?

Continue to pray, but don’t hesitate to distance yourself from their negativity if it is having a negative influence on you.

12. How can we respond and begin to heal in the midst of suffering when our heart has been broken or our pain has been caused because of the choices of someone else?

Dive deeper into the grace of God. Look for ways in which you were finding identity and satisfaction in the other person or circumstance. Learn how God sees you and defines you. Pray for the other person and that God might give you empathy toward them. Don’t hesitate to get help.

13. Why does God allow our feelings to lie to us (i.e. someone might feel alone but God is with them)?

It’s part of being fallen people in a fallen world. We chose to rebel and one of the consequences of our choices is we are prone to deception. We often put trust in our feelings more than God. All of this should point toward our need for him.

14. How do you explain to an atheist that God controls our darkest days?

I’m not sure you can. Instead, I think you begin with the concept of God. Atheism is a system of beliefs. Every belief has a consequence. In the same way a non-believer has every right to ask difficult questions of a believer (i.e. how can a loving God allow evil, etc) so too, we have every right to ask an atheist about the consequences of their decisions. If someone truly believes we came from no one and we are going no where, there are consequences of that belief. No God  would imply there is no Truth, no right or wrong, no moral standard. It means love is nothing but a chemical reaction and that humanity has no greater value than any other organism. Of course, most atheists don’t believe all these things. At some point they live in a way which is contrary to their belief. Find the spot and question it. Do so kindly, fairly, and in love, but ask the questions. Be prepared to give a Christian response to each question. Examples of places Christianity gives a clear answer and atheism doesn’t: Why is humanity more valuable than other creatures? Why is it wrong to murder? Why do good people do bad things and bad people do good things? Why do we long for order? Why do we ask why?

15. What happened to Satan after Job? Did he give up?

I assumed he moved on. Maybe he always spoke to Job through his memory—what if you were wrong, what if Eliphaz was right, did God really say…, what if it happens again? We do know he still seeks to disprove God by pointing to unfaithful servants.

16. Does God really cause suffering?

See: God Controls Our Darkest Days

17. Would Satan had won if Job hadn’t prayed for his friends?

I think so. The text doesn’t say, but I think that would’ve proved Job’s disobedience which would’ve been Satan’s point.

18. Should there be a concern that this leads us to pursue a relationship with God only during suffering and then ignore him when things are good?

Coming to know God through suffering should result in us seeking him in times of ease. While human tendency is to ignore God when things are good, this is an illogical approach. The same God who controls our darkest days also controls our brightest days. This fact should cause us to seek him at all times.

19. Considering how hard the book of Job is to read and understand the first time, what is the best way to communicate the lessons to someone else?

I wouldn’t feel pressure to explain everything. I would try to understand these lessons for ourselves, live by them, and be prepared to assist people in the midst of suffering. However, my goal would not be for the person to completely understand as much as it would create in them a desire to know. Pray that God would give you the words to say which will whet their appetite for more.

20. What ever happened to Job’s wife?

The text does not say.

21. How do you start putting your life back together after it has fallen apart?

There are no pat answers, but I would start here: 1) Recognize your need for God. Everything begins with poverty of spirit. This should result in humility which 2) gives you the courage to ask for help. We can’t handle life on our own and we shouldn’t try. With the help of others, 3) make wise choices. Whether your life has fallen apart because of your choices or the choices of another, we need to choose wisely in every situation. This can only happen as we seek God. See: The Main Thing I Pray for My Children

22. Did Satan have the power to strike Job’s children dead? Did they have to die to prove God is in control?

It seems as though he did. He only did because he received God’s permission, but chapter 2 implies it was his doing. I don’t know why they had to die; I only know they did. In much the same way, I often do not understand why things happen, only that they do. I can trust that God is at work in the midst of even the greatest of tragedies.

23. What words would God say to comfort those who are experiencing the deep pain of divorce?

I don’t know. I assume: “I love you. I want your identify found in me. Grace is bigger than your circumstances. I see you. I haven’t forgotten about you.” I can say what I would say: Understand the power of God’s grace. Seek to understand and repent of any sin on your part. Make any amends necessary in response to what you learn. Study yourself and what happened in order to prevent it from happening again (this cannot happen alone, it requires a community). Choose wisely if getting into a new relationship.

24. If suffering is guaranteed, how do we deal with the fear of something happening to loved ones or ourselves?

The promise of suffering shouldn’t add to our fear because it is a reality we all experience. Knowing God’s ability to use suffering for our good should deepen our love for him. It should empower us in the midst of trial and encourage us whatever comes our way. The promise of suffering is not a uniquely Christian idea—everyone knows we will suffer. What is unique about Christianity is the understanding that God can use suffering for our good and the good of others.

25. Is suffering necessary for proper perspective and appreciation of life?

I think so. It’s hard to know since suffering is a part of the human experience. We don’t know of life apart from suffering. However, we do know that it is in suffering in which God most often makes himself known. See: How We Respond to Suffering

26. Job was an adult; what do we as adults tell children about the suffering they experience?

All we can do is to assist them in the midst of suffering. It’s important that we are not an Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar as a parent. Our children do not need trite answers or parents who deny the realities of life. They need God in the midst of their suffering. This world hurts and they will be stung by the sorrows of this world. In those moments, our children need us to be able to point them toward truth. We may not be able to understand everything, but we can provide deep truths—God is in control; He loves us; He uses suffering to reveal himself to us; and this world is not our home and won’t be made right until Jesus returns. The experience of suffering by our children should drive us to know God more so that we can tell them about him.

27. Does one need to have the blessing of God to rebuild one’s life?

Yes and no. People without faith can build meaningful earthly lives without God. They can find a sense of satisfaction. But for lives that eternally matter, we need God. It’s only in him that we can rebuild a life that truly matters.

28. When God uses suffering to get someone’s attention yet they refuse to do so, does God continue to allow them to suffer or does he bring more suffering until they repent?

I don’t know. I assume sometimes he allows suffering to continue, sometimes it gets worst, and sometimes the suffering is removed.

29. How can we find a God of love amidst the groaning of this world?

Seek him and you will find him.

30. After 41 chapters of tension, how do we not let chapter 42 reinforce a notion of karma or health/wealth theology?

Notice the grace of chapter 42: God wasn’t forced to bless Job, he chose to; God was gracious to the three friends instead of giving them “what they deserved.” Like any book, we have to read everything within it’s context. The whole of Job makes it clear that karma is not God’s operating principle; grace is.

31. Does suffering have spiritual value?

Without question it does. It only has value because God uses it. Suffering by itself is not valuable. God working through suffering is valuable.

32. How do we use the book of Job to prepare for future sorrows?

Learning from someone else is one of life’s great teachers. By seeing how God worked through Job’s life, we can understand how he will work with us. Many lessons from Job will apply to any form of suffering which we might experience.

33. If God chose Job in part because of his faith, how do we use this story to encourage us toward faith?

Read the whole story. No one could reasonably understand all of Job’s life and then question whether or not obedience is wise. Job never regretted obedience and neither will we.

34. If we stay faithful through suffering will we automatically get rewarded?

God rewards faith. This doesn’t guarantee an earthly reward, but heaven is promised for every believer.

35. Would God allow me to suffer just to touch the life of another?

I doubt the “just” part of the question. God can do 1,000 goods and isn’t stuck with a simple cause and effect. Would God allow you to suffer for the primary purpose of touching another—yes. Our temporary experiences are not greater than his desire to make himself known.

36. Based on Job 1, does Satan have control over Mother Nature?

I don’t know. We do know from Job 1 that natural events were used to accomplish what Satan desired. To what extent Satan is allowed to use natural events is unknown.

37. I have never suffered like Job, how does this book apply to me?

Everyone suffers. We should never compare one suffering to another. While each suffering has unique characteristics, they also share common qualities. Even if we haven’t suffered to Job’s extent, we can learn from his experience. We should never diminish someone’s suffering as insignificant because it appears less than ours.

14 Responses to 37 Questions (and answers) from the Book of Job
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