Many people consider Job a great man and a champion of the faith. Job, you will recall, lost everything (his family, wealth and health), then sat on a dunghill scratching himself with a broken plate while having a theology debate with seminarians. As a result of this rich, life-affirming experience, many people now believe the following lies:
- God gives and takes away good things like children, health, jobs
- God uses sickness to punish or discipline me
- God puts me through hard times to teach me humility
- God uses Satan as a sheepdog to keep the sheep in line
I want to offer a different perspective. The Book of Job is not about a great man but a flawed man. The Job we read about was not the man of God many think he was, but a superstitious and fearful man who said some stupendously dumb things. His story is not about the triumph of the human spirit, but the awesome grace God gives to broken humanity.
“But Job was a righteous man.” Actually, he was a self-righteous man and basically an unbeliever, as we shall see. I’m not knocking Job. My purpose is to show you how grace changes broken people like you, me, and Job. By the time we get to the end of this short series, you’re going to be amazed at some of the good things God says about this imperfect man. But to finish well we must begin with a proper understanding of Job’s state apart from God. So here are ten little known facts about Job:
1. Job was superstitious
Like many religious people, Job believed in karma. He subscribed to the faithless wisdom of sowing and reaping. If his kids threw a wild party, Job would bring a sacrifice. “They might’ve sinned; I’d better do something about it.” Debits and credits. “This was Job’s regular custom” (Job 1:5).
2. Job was sin-conscious
Not his sins, of course, because he didn’t have any. (Cough!) He was a good man who kept the ledger clean. But Job viewed sin like kryptonite (see Job 31:11-12). He was terrified of it and thought about it constantly (see Job 31).
3. Job was full of fear
Job was insecure and bound with fear. He would’ve been the perfect customer for an insurance salesman because he feared calamities and disasters that would wipe him out (Job 31:23). When that happened he said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25).
4. Job was full of self-pity
Read Job’s words and you get a strong sense of “Woe is me.” Although his woes were legitimate, he was utterly focused on his own sorry state. He was self-indulgent to the point of whining. “I will give free rein to my complaint” (Job 10:1). And complain he did.
5. Job allowed bitterness to take root
Bitterness is a grace-killer, but Job allowed that evil weed to flourish in the garden of his heart. “I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11).
6. Job was self-righteous
Job’s confidence was not in the Lord but his own good behavior. “How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin” (Job 13:23). Like an indignant Pharisee Job had an inflated sense of his moral performance. “Let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless” (Job 31:6).
Job’s self-trust reinforced his victim mentality. “Can anyone bring charges against me?” (Job 13:19). Eventually his self-righteousness became so odorous that it even silenced the self-righteous men who came to counsel him. “These three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1).
7. Job thought God didn’t care
“Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing” (Job 9:16). Job’s self-pitying distorted his perception of God’s character. Like many people going through hard times, Job thought God was opposed to him (Job 13:24).
8. Job blamed God for his troubles
It is often taught that Job never blamed God (which is a misreading of Job 1:22; more on this later). However, Job did not hesitate to point the finger at “the Almighty, who has made my life bitter” (Job 27:2). A storm killed his kids and tribal raiders stole his herds, yet Job attributed his loss to a God who gives and takes away (Job 1:21). Again and again Job said God was the cause of his trouble (see Job 2:10, 6:4).
Given his good behavior, Job couldn’t make sense of this divine unfairness. “Don’t you have better things to do than pick on me?” (Job 7:20, MSG). God moves in mysterious ways, thought Job. At any time he might “crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason” (Job 9:17).
9. Job thought God was trying to kill him
“Although I am blameless… He destroys both the blameless and the wicked” (Job 9:21-22). Job actually thought that God was trying to kill him. “You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me… I know you will bring me down to death” (Job 30:21,23).
10. Consequently, Job despaired of life and wished he was dead
Job loathed his life (see Job 7:16). “Who can see any hope for me?” (Job 17:15). This so-called hero of the faith had a death wish. “I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine” (Job 7:15). Job had no faith in a God who heals and restores, but said, “the only home I hope for is the grave” (Job 17:13).
Many people honor Job as a giant of the faith who was renowned for his great patience. However, Job is not listed in Hebrews 11 among the other heroes of the faith and the only righteousness he exhibited was the stinky, self-made kind.
But stick around because we’re going to see that God’s grace is for imperfect people like Job. “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill” (Psa 113:7). As we will see, Job’s life had a second act. Before he met the Lord Job was a whiner who falsely blamed God for his troubles; but afterwards he become a brand new man, a man that God saw as righteous and upright. It is an amazing story and you won’t want to miss it!