Ten Little Known Facts about Job

Job_on_the_Dunghill

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!

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27 Comments on Ten Little Known Facts about Job

  1. Thankyou Warren, of South Carolina. I understand your concern for my intentions. I know that others read these posts, I have been enlightened by posts and responses to posts by others. I will pray for Leroy and thank you for mentioning it. At the time I felt like there may be somone who would read what he had written and be given cause to stumble, as is spoken of in I Corinthians 8:11, it has happened to me. Satan does not need a whole door to be opened to work his way in, as you are aware, all he needs is to get a foot in the door, just a litttle doubt or leaven. Stop the leaven before the leaven gets a chance to infect others. That’s what I was thinking anyway. You are greatly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved my brother Warren, thanks again.

    • Warren (South Carolina, USA) // October 28, 2015 at 5:05 am // Reply

      Thanks John. I am the worst offender so don’t feel bad, just learn from it as I have / had to do. Let your motivation always be the love of God IN you.
      Blessings,
      Warren (South Carolina, USA)

  2. Hi Paul, I like the challenge of thinking differently about Job and the narrative. I was also reminded of two verses in Ezekiel, where Job is mentioned twice by God in the same breath as Noah and Daniel, highlighting their righteousness. What’s your take on Job in this context, also in the light of God speaking of Job being blameless in Job 1?
    Thanks!

    • In my opinion Romans 4:3, Gal. 3:6, James 2:23, which all refer to Gen. 15:6 concerning Abraham also apply to Job. Which through the New Covenant of Grace now applies to us as well. Job, as well as Abraham, was under grace, it was the Hebrews and their attitude that brought about the Law. I’m looking for at least 5 points for this reply :).

  3. Paul

    Have you ever considered that the Book of Job is a parabilic story meant to teach that God is in control, and that those who hold on to God, even in great adversity, will reap blessings in the end. Remember, the whole thing that happens with Job begins with a wager between Satan and God!

  4. This is such a gross misinterpretation of Job. It was God who declared that Job was a “blameless &upright man,who fearsGod & turns from evil” Job 1:8. Your fan club would do well to read the account of Job for themselves and see the truth.

  5. Elizabeth Behan // September 23, 2016 at 2:19 am // Reply

    A friend passed this on to me. Wow- what a game changer! Say, do ya have a similar study of David? David and I have just never been able to play nice. I just see a thousand crummy ex-boyfriends in him and I can’t ever wrap my heart around him as ‘ a man after Gods heart” or fully around Gods heart for him. Although let me be clear- I am always open to the idea that I could be the thousand ex- girlfriends and David just hits too close to home. Either way- to understand what Everyone else sees in David if it’s what God sees in David ( and in me) would be a good thing. Looking forward to the rest of Job. Thank you

    • When someone asked why David was a man after God’s own heart someone will inevitably say that David was quick to repent. I never really saw that, that he repented after all the bad things he did. My opinion is that 1. David really believed in the goodness of God, in how much God loved him. You couldn’t write the most loved psalm without having a genuine experience of God’s love in your life. And 2. Idolatry was simply not part of David’s makeup. He was satisfied with One God. He was tempted by pride, lust and many other things but there were no other Gods for him. I think when we are ALL IN with the one true God and in his goodness toward us it makes all the difference.

    • Bob took the words out of my mouth. The thing about David is not that he was a better man than others – he wasn’t! – but that he had an incredible grasp of God’s goodness. While others marched to the drumbeat of law (Nathan) or were seduced by the siren call of sin (Saul), David walked to the true heartbeat of God. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the Psalm he wrote after committing a most heinous crime.

  6. Jobs 3 friends who blames him and keeps telling him to repent, in the end is told by God Himself to take sacrifices and have Job pray for them before He (God) punishes them. What you are saying about Job is exactly what his 3 friends were saying about him, that he (Job) had sinned. It breaks my hart that Job after all his ordeal and trying to prove his innocence still has to do so today and this after God Himself said that He (Job) had spoken correct about Him (God) and his 3 accusing friends not.
    What a pitty that we always have to over-analyze and break down characters that God Himself reckons as blameless.
    I wish you blessings none the less in the Holy name of Him that calls Himself The I Am.

  7. Adriaan Hattingh // March 15, 2017 at 2:33 am // Reply

    Hi Paul I did a little study on Noah recently and came across a references to Job’s righteousness in Ezekiel 14 :14,16,18,20. Most commentators seem to go for the explanation in Job 1. Any thoughts on these passages?

    • In Ezekiel 14 the prophet is speaking to the elders of Israel and confronting their hidden idolatry. The Lord speaks through Ezekiel about the severe consequences of Israel’s sin – famine (v.13), wild beasts (v.15), and war (v.17), and plagues (v.19).

      Remember, this is under the old covenant where the Israelites signed up to a system of rewards and punishments for good and bad performance.

      These sin judgments will be so severe that you would have to be as righteous as Noah, Daniel, and Job to escape them (vv.14, 16, 18, 20). None of these three men was perfect (Noah was a drunkard, Job was a whiner), but they weren’t breaking the law like the Israelites were. God punishes wrongdoers, not right-doers.

      God is not saying that Noah, Daniel, and Job were saved on account of their righteousness. He’s saying men like that would not be punished because they hadn’t sinned.

      • Adriaan Hattingh // March 15, 2017 at 10:28 pm //

        Agreed, thank you so much Paul.
        I learned valuable lessons from this:
        1. Read the entire portion of scripture. Bad conditioning led me to read only the pericope, Jerusalem will not be spared, containing those verses. Going back to verse 1 however as you did I got the picture.
        2. A greater understanding of the goodness of God and His opinion of us although not yet manifest in us. I read your pieces on Job’s Grace Encounter and Psalm 51 The Badness of David Versus the Goodness of God and it just amplified the message that our only appeal is to His goodness and to His provision in Jesus.

  8. Soooooooo, then why would God be so confident in His servant Job, to call him blameless. Upright. And a man with integrity. This whole statement looses it’s credibility in the first short chapter of the book..

  9. Boy,do you need to read YOUR bible!!!Calling Job “superstitious”,”full of self-pity”,”self-righteous””blaming God for his troubles”????????What kind of INSENSITIVE SNOB exactly are YOU??????God called him “a perfect and upright man,one that fears God,and eschews evil”.I wil go with GOD’S assesment rather than your’s,thank you very much!!!”Blaming God for his problems”?”thought God was trying to kill him”?,”bitterness”???……….OF COURSE Job acted that way,he suffered great pains and hardships he did NOT deserve,and,from impulsive reaction,said rash things he DIDN’T MEAN!!!!Can’t you GET THAT?????You see my friend,it’s always SO EASY for any “nay-sayers” to be skeptical and critisize someone’s REACTION when they are suffering!Especially from some of our plush and lavish lifestyles!The HARD thing to do is actually BE THERE,and suffer ourselves,and LEARN what we are criticizing!!!!”10 little known facts about Job”????”little known” because God does not see those “facts”.You should entitle it “10 of MY(your) opinionative statements about Job”!!And leave it at that,and do not lead people to CONCEITED DECEPTION!Some more firm but friendly advice,my friend,psalm 105:15 Touch not my anointed,and do my proppets no harm

  10. Dr. Ellis, the blogger, says, “The Book of Job is not about a great man but a flawed man.”

    GOD Himself says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”

    I’m sorry, but where a mere man contradicts God, I’m going with God every time. Neither your doctorate, nor mine, nor anyone else’s, empowers or authorizes us to overrule what God says. There’s some interesting stuff in the rest, but its credibility is overshadowed by the author’s presuming to be smarter than God.

  11. Great post! Job is not a Christian model. He’s can’t be a Christian because he was pre New Testament. Actually he was even pre Old Testament. No finished work of Jesus, no Holy Spirit indwelling as a New Creation… Job is not our example!

  12. I have such a huge, GIGANTIC problem with you saying or implying that Job was not saved. You say/imply such a thing in this post and I have seen you do the same on your other “Job” posts. That is such incorrect information, it is not even funny!…

  13. Rick reneau we // May 23, 2018 at 8:29 pm // Reply

    Listed in the 11:00 because he was not Hebrew don’t know what Bible interpretation y’all are reading from but you need to get something a little bit better the book is about God’s power it’s not nothing about Job you’re missing the point people but considering it’s the only book of the Bible that points out that God never called an angel son there for the sons of God were actually Suns and it’s one of the few books that God actually talks in

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