This is an outline I turned in for my Old Testament Poetry class in college. Dr. Jaeggli was a great teacher! Just dug it out on request of a friend and thought I’d share it. Written 10.08.2002.
OUTLINE: LESSONS FROM JOB
Thesis: The book of Job defends the absolute glory and perfection of God.
I. God is perfect and absolutely glorious, and therefore He is worthy to be praised.
A. God is worthy of praise based on Who He is.
God is unfathomable in all His attributes. God is sovereign; this means He is in absolute control of everything (chapters 38 through 41). Even the affliction we suffer from Satan is limited by God (1:9-11). God is omniscient: He knows all (38:2-3). God is omnipotent: He has all power (38:12-15). Does this scare us? It could, but we need not be afraid because God is also all-loving. Ephesians 1:5 and 12 say, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,/to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” This causes us to fear Him–to have reverential awe towards Him. From salvation to glorification, all is to the end of His glory and praise.
G. Matheson, in his Times of Retirement, comments on Job 11:7, “‘Canst thou by searching find out God?’ No; and why? Because I never begin to search for Him until I have found Him; God alone can create the search for God. . . . When a man goes out to seek for gold you may infer that he is materially poor, but when a man goes out to seek for God you may conclude that He is spiritually rich” (qtd. in Hastings, 22). “Literally the verse reads: Canst thou find the deeps of (or, that which has to be searched out in) God; canst thou reach to the perfection (the outmost, the ground of the nature) of the Almighty? The word is the same as that translated in xxxviii.16 ‘recesses’ of the sea” (Hastings, 23).
B. God is worthy of praise based on what He bestows.
God is gracious in His bestowments. Job starts with 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and many servants (chapter 1). After having all that taken away, he received double that again: 7 more sons, 3 more daughters, 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (chapter 42). God enjoys blessing those who bless Him.
C. Though God’s praise is attacked by Satan, Satan is proved wrong.
Satan accuses the Lord of only being worthy of praise when Job is we–stocked, when he seems to “have it all together.” “Job is wealthy and popular; of course he will praise You!” (my paraphrase of Job 1:9-11). Satan asks God to test Job. In reality, he is testing the praiseworthiness of God! Satan to God: “He [Job] will surely curse You to Your face.” But after all his wealth was gone, his family deceased, and consequently his “friends” became foes, Job still praises God. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Application: Often it seems hard to praise God. We see what He gives, but we forget Who He is. Or maybe we do not even know Who He is! It is so important to develop not only a knowledge of, but a relationship with, God. We must formulate our own theology of God before trials occur. The key root of the matter is that I must get to know my God so that I can praise Him properly. He is perfect! He is absolutely glorious! I must know Him! He is unfathomable in all His attributes; He only partially reveals Himself to us at this time. Therefore, I must trust Him.
II. Suffering reveals the absolute glory and perfection of God.
A. God is perfect.
God allows suffering (chapter 1). God is infinite: He is in no way limited. God reveals His omnipotence and omniscience (chapters 38 through 41). Chapter 28 is a poem on wisdom by the Holy Spirit. Since He is part of the Godhead, He is qualified to speak on wisdom. The end of the chapter reveals the true source of wisdom as the fear of the Lord.
God says He is “without cause” to destroy Job (2:3). Likewise, Psalm 69:4 says, “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head.” “This prophetic reference to Messiah’s suffering focuses on the single event of history that puts all our suffering, even Job’s, into proper perspective. Who could ever suffer more cruelly and undeservedly than the spotless, holy, harmless Lamb of God? Henceforth, we must gauge our attitude toward our own suffering not by the experience of others but by the experience of Christ” (Kidner, 59-60).
B. Man is Imperfect. This point is necessary to see God’s glory more perfectly.
Man is unable to comprehend the meaning of suffering. While God is infinite, man is finite. God bombards Job with questions about nature and the universe, massive creatures and intricate features. But Job’s wisdom is finite too. His “friends” accuse him of sin. This reveals man’s faulty logic. Sin is not always the reason for suffering. Chapter 28 details man’s futile search for wisdom.
Because man is imperfect, he must trust One who is perfect. Job 13:15 says, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” This can also be translated, “I will wait for Him.” D. Davies, in his The Book of Job, writes, “Job, in saying, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I wait for him,’ practically says, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I not try to escape from Him, or evade Him, I will wait for Him. If I am to be slain, it shall be with my face, and not my back, toward Him; and if I am to fall, I will fall at His feet! Was there ever a more daring expression of faith than that?” (qtd. in Hastings, 39). Yet, the end of Job 13:15 says, “Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” Job in his finiteness still wants to debate with God because he lacks God’s wisdom as of yet.
C. Suffering is a means of God to perfect man.
Suffering is often an impetus to seek God’s wisdom. But still, why must man suffer? Job questions God about this (chapter 29 through 31). Not only sinners, but the righteous, will suffer. The way to have wisdom is to fear the Lord–to know God and obey God based on that relational knowledge (chapters 28). Job 42:11 reveals the recognition of all of Job’s friends and relatives that the “afflictions” were “brought on” by the Lord. He grew and blessed God more because of these afflictions. And he died, being “an old man and full of days” (42:17). “Knowing all that it would entail and how it would end, God not only permitted Job’s circumstances but also initiated the whole process of Job’s suffering” (Talbert, 146).
Application: Suffering is from God. “Who among all these does not know/That the hand of the Lord has done this,/In whose hand is the life of every living thing,/And the breath of all mankind?” (12:9-10). We cannot always know the meaning of suffering, therefore suffering becomes an impetus to trust God. We cannot trust someone we do not know. Thus we must be in His Word, daily communing with the sovereign God of the universe, that we may know Him better. When we trust the perfect God, He is glorified in that. If we did not have to trust, we would not need God. But the fact is that we do need God. Suffering drives us to abandon dependence on self and to seek God’s wisdom. With God’s wisdom, we can understand and assume our role as creatures created for dependence.
III. God’s absolute glory is revealed in the preparation for the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
A. Christ is the Mediator between God and man.
Job longs for a mediator between himself and God. Job asks for an “umpire,” someone to intercede, to mediate (9:33). He asks for an “angel as mediator” (33:23), the “Daysman” (KJV). Job realizes he has a “witness” “in heaven” and that his “advocate is on high” (16:18-22). This advocate is Christ.
B. Christ is the Redeemer.
Job 33:28-30 says, “He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit,/And my life shall see the light./Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men,/To bring back his soul from the pit,/That he may be enlightened with the light of life.” Ultimately, Job looked to the coming Messiah as His Redeemer. Job 19:25-26 says, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. And at the last He will take His stand on earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God.” He believed he would be resurrected with Christ. In this, Job finds absolute satisfaction. Even though he could not understand it, he knew enough about the Lord Jesus to have hope. Christ is the Redeemer.
Application: Job had to look ahead to Jesus. And he still had hope. We can look back to Jesus and ahead at His return. With Christ in us, we have “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Christ is my Mediator. I Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I John 2:1 tells us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Christ is my Redeemer as well. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” I must know God as my Mediator and my Redeemer, and thereby give Him glory as the Perfect and Absolutely Glorious One!
Conclusion: God’s perfection and absolute glory are revealed in His praiseworthiness, His sovereignty in man’s suffering, and in His gift an intercessory redeemer for us (Jesus Christ, God’s Son). The book of Job reveals these three truths vividly. God is worthy of all praise, insufficient as it may be because it comes from man. God is in control. We must trust Him. And even when it feels like there are situations we cannot handle, He is still working everything into a beautiful picture for our good and His glory. That is His ultimate goal. And His goals are accomplished: if not now, they will be in eternity. God is good all the time, and I must know Him–intimately, personally, relationally. I say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and . . . I shall see God” (19:25-26). To Him be glory and praise! Amen
The following is a portion of a poem by John Piper:“Behold the mercy of our King, Who takes from death its bitter sting, And by His blood, and often ours, Brings triumph out of hostile pow’rs, And paints, with crimson, earth and soul Until the bloody work is whole. What we have lost God will restore– That, and himself, forevermore, When he is finished with his art: The quiet worship of our heart. When God creates a humble hush, And makes Leviathan his brush, It won’t be long before the rod Becomes the tender kiss of God”
*Note: The thesis and major points are adapted from points in the Wayne Jackson source. All Scripture references are NASB unless otherwise noted.
Hastings, James, ed. The Great Texts of the Bible: Job to Psalm XXIII. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.
Jaeggli, Randy. “Old Testament Poetry: Job.” BI 400, sec. 1. BJU. Greenville, SC, Fall 2002.
Jackson, Wayne. “Some Lessons from the Book.” The Book of Job. Quality Pub. 03 Oct. 2002 <http://www.bible.ca/eo/job/job_01.htm>.
Kidner, Derek. The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985.
New American Standard Bible: Updated Edition. La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1995.
Piper, John. The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002.
Talbert, Layton. Not by Chance: Learning to Trust a Sovereign God. Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2001.