SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON PLAN - 6-6-2021 - JOB 1:8-22 - FAITH TESTED
INTRODUCTION TO STUDY: Today we begin a new teaching quarter in the OT that will comprise seven lessons in the Book of Job and six in the Book of Ecclesiastes. A few days back, I recorded an introduction on the church's Facebook Page that was designed to give you some perspective on understanding the Book of Job. I did this because the Book of Job represents a sharp departure from the "covenantal theme" that forms the backbone of the rest of the OT-that God's people prosper when they obey Him and suffer when they do not. In Job's case, we learn from the outset that God can and does permit good, faithful people to suffer. The book of Job raises questions in a world-the real chaotic, confusing, and messy world all of us live in (yes?)-where faithful people don't always prosper and evil people often do. The Book of Job is also unusual because both the identity of the author and the date it was actually written are uncertain. So you might ask: Why is it important for us to study and learn from it? The chief reason is very simply the counterbalance I just mentioned: That good things don't always happen to good people and bad things don't always happen to bad people. The Book of Job forces us to study and think with discernment. In the final analysis, the Book of Job provides us of one of the greatest examples of endurance under trial in all of recorded history. So, let's get started.
Read Job 1:8-12 - SATAN ALLOWED TO TEST JOB
8 The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But reach out with Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will certainly curse You to Your face." 12 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not reach out and put your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.
Note: In vv. 1-5, which are skipped, we learn in general that Job was a man of godly character whom God had blessed with great prosperity in terms of a large family (seven sons and three daughters) and abundant wealth (11,000 head of livestock and many people working for him); and vv. 6-7 report a heavenly council, which includes Satan (Heb. saw-tawn', lit. "adversary").
v. 8: "The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." - Right off the bat, the opening narrative-a face-to-face encounter between God and Satan-alerts us that we're being shown an unusual, behind-the-scenes event in heaven, and notice that all the initiative in this conversation lies with God. Satan is present only because God allowed him to be there. God's description of Job-"blameless and upright"-doesn't imply he's perfect but that his integrity and the way he lives his life is in accord with God's expectations.
v. 9: "Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" - Satan doesn't directly disagree with God's evaluation of Job but makes the accusation that Job's faithfulness depends entirely upon his continued prosperity. And we must stop and recognize that Satan is actually leveling this accusation at all of us-every human being on the earth.
v. 10: "Have You not made a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land." - Notice that Satan usually attacks with a question: e.g., he asked Eve in the garden, "Has God really said...?" Gen. 3:1). The "fence" Satan mentions is a divine hedge of protection based upon God's almighty and impenetrable power and "house" is a metaphor for Job's wife and children.
v. 11: "But reach out with Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will certainly curse You to Your face." Satan represents the personification of selfishness and pride and implies that Job is really no better: Take away his prosperity and protection, Satan says, and he will reject You and curse You to Your face. Satan also personifies evil, hating all things that are good and delighting in causing pain and suffering. It's not surprising that Satan instinctively hated Job and everything he stood for.
v. 12: "Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not reach out and put your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD." - Notice here what God does and doesn't do: He "allows" Satan the sovereign permission and power to test Job's faith by attacking "all that he has"-his family and possessions but not Job physically. This shows us that Satan's power is limited by the unlimited power of God and is always exercised under God's control.
APPLICATION (vv. 8-12): These verses form an important truth that all Christian believers need to see-that Satan had no power over Job, except what God allowed him to have. All Christians are under the same protection which surrounded Job; therefore, Satan cannot attack any believer unless God allows it. As we will see, Job's case represents an extreme example of the many trials of life in one huge episode. Job's trial was intended to show his loyalty towards God, and the various trials we encounter in life, like Job (usually on a lesser scale) are designed to test and strengthen our faith. James later described it like this: "Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4.
Read Job 1:13-19 - SATAN TAKES JOB'S PROPERTY AND CHILDREN
13 Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the female donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." 16 While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." 17 While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three units and made a raid on the camels and took them, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
v. 13: "Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house" - Verses 13-19 reveal that the multiple disasters that Satan visited upon Job took place in the span of one day. And v. 13 tells us that Satan didn't just pick any old day but chose a time when he could inflict the maximum harm and hurt upon Job. The text suggests that the gathering of the brothers and sisters was a special occasion, a time of joy and celebration that
scholars speculate may have been the oldest son's birthday.
vv. 14-15: "a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the female donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." - The first attack is human in origin: The Sabeans are thought to have been people of Arabian descent who came from a region southeast of Uz. These people were not only thieves who stole the oxen and donkeys but murderers who slaughtered all of Job's servants (workers), except the one who escaped to report the event.
v. 16: "While he was still speaking, another came and said, 'The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.'" - Before the first escapee can finish his explanation, another escaped victim comes to inform Job of a second attack in the form of a natural disaster. Scholars propose it was some kind of super lightning storm so intense that it incinerated everything-man and animal-In its path. The term "of God" doesn't imply that God sent it but was a figurative expression for any kind of unexplained natural phenomena. Commentators suggest that God allowed Satan to exercise power over natural forces in this particular instance.
v. 17: "While he was still speaking, another came and said, 'The Chaldeans formed three units and made a raid on the camels and took them, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.'" - As the second servant is still speaking, another escaped servant arrives to notify Job of another human attack. The "Chaldeans," who came-in in three waves to steal all of his camels and butcher all the servants with them, are a Mesopotamian raiders from an area northeast of Uz who would much later form the nucleus of king Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian army .
vv. 18-19: "While he was still speaking, another also came and said, 'Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.'" - A fourth escaped servant now runs up to report a fourth attack on Job in the form of new natural disaster. Satan was noticeably saving the nastiest and most crushing news for last: "a great wind" (probably an extreme example of a desert whirlwind) swept into his oldest son's house during the celebration and killed all ten of his children. As parents, I think we can all agree that losing a child at any age is our worst nightmare. In my former law/estate planning practice, when I had to ask clients what they wanted done with their property in the event all of their children predeceased them, they sometimes looked at me like I'd lost my mind-the very idea of it was inconceivable! And I'm sad to say that I've actually seen it happen.
APPLICATION (vv. 13-19): Bad things can happen to good people for reasons that we cannot begin to really comprehend? Yes? The text of these seven verses remind us that there is a "cosmic" (i.e., supernatural) conflict going on behind the scenes that we know nothing about. At the same time, however, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we must place all of our trust and faith in an all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful God who misses nothing and controls everything.
Read Job 1:20-22 - JOB'S CONFESSION AND CONFIDENCE
20 Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." 22 Despite all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.
v. 20a: "Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head" - This remarkable verse needs to carefully be examined against the backdrop of all the tragic events that have just been heaped upon Job. The key word is "Then": Notice that Job wasn't overwhelmed by the loss of his property-the animals and servants in vv. 14-17, then (see that?) the loss of his children in vv. 18-19 was the straw that broke the camel's back. He was totally crushed by this event. His reaction-tearing his robe and shaving his head-were all outward expressions of profound grief and mourning.
v. 20b: "then he fell to the ground and worshiped" - "Then" (again) Satan's plans had the opposite of what he intended: instead of cursing God to His face, Job "fell to the ground"-an attitude of complete humility and submission-and "worshipped"-a demonstration of his love and respect of God. Job's incredible strength of character, shown both outwardly and inwardly, set a very high bar for all of us: That when we are devastated by the ultimate trial of losing everything, including our loved ones, we should turn to God, completely trust Him, and seek refuge in Him.
v. 21a: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there" - Here, Job expresses a potent truth that everyone of us need to comprehend and take to heart. Everything we receive in this life-our families, our possessions, our livelihood-comes to us as gifts from God.
v. 21b: "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away" - This is a very familiar saying that people often use thoughtlessly in relation to the very real truth it expresses. At this instance, Job was completely unaware of the supernatural events that had taken everything from him, knew nothing of Satan's involvement. Yet, at the same time, he still understood that all he had lost really belonged to God in the first place, and if God chose to take all of it away, then (there it is again) Job believed that God's reasons must be just and right.
v. 21c: "Blessed be the name of the LORD" - Job was understandably perplexed-didn't comprehend why all these bad things had happened to him-but at the same time, Job did not allow his terrible circumstances to weaken or destroy his faith and trust in the goodness of God, so instead of cursing God, he praised Him.
APPLICATION (vv. 20-22): The central truth of this lesson is that God deserves our faith, trust, and worship on the basis of His character alone-for who He is (as opposed to the extent of His provision for us). Job understood this and challenges all of us to follow his example. Job dramatically shows us that even when God allows the physical blessings of life to be taken away, we must trust God and turn to Him for our strength and endurance. The Apostle Paul said, "No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13. We can't simply write Job off as a one-time, extreme example that could never happen any of to us. Severe trials, like those experienced by Job, have the tendency to cause one of two things: We can allow them drive us away from God or we can leap out in faith and let them draw us much, much closer to Him. So, here's the question: how far are you willing to trust God? There's really no part way-it's either all or nothing.
PRAYER: Dear God, today's lesson in Job is frightening. It presents us with the absolute worst of any worst-case scenario any of us could imagine. As hard as we try, it's always hard to understand why bad things happen to good people, especially when it happens to one of us. It's frightening, Lord, to know that there are things taking place in the cosmic realm that we know nothing about. Lord, we all know and believe that You are an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God who misses nothing and controls everything in our lives, down to the smallest details, and because of who You are, we must put all of our faith and trust in You. But Lord, that's easy to say and a lot harder to do. We need Your help. We need Your strength. In the name of Jesus, I pray these things, AMEN