Job: A Cosmic Overview—and Seven Truths to Prepare for Christ’s Return
November 3, 2022 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.
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It is not accidental that the first book of the Bible to be written, the first inspired writing God provided to the world through Moses, is the book of Job. It was written prior to the Exodus when Moses was still living in Midian. And the revelations in the book of Job were essential truths that prepared Moses to not only be God’s man who would lead the people out of Egypt, to not only author Genesis through Deuteronomy, to not only be the person through whom God would set up the sanctuary service, with its beautifully acted out illustration of the plan of salvation, but to also be a prototype of the Messiah, one who would function as a deliverer of the people and a representative from God, one who would speak with God face to face and then communicated God’s truths to the people.

And these same truths are essential for the people of God today in preparing for Christ’s soon return.

 

Essential Truths

Below are seven essential truths demonstrated in the book of Job that are foundational to understanding reality in God’s universe, rightly discerning Scripture, and properly comprehending events. It is vital for us to know them in order to become the “mature” people whom Scripture says “have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14 NIV84).

1.  The War Is Bigger than Us

The first chapter of Job (vv. 6–12) starts with a revelation of a war that is universal, a conflict that goes far beyond Earth and human beings, a controversy that began in heaven and is centered upon God’s character and trustworthiness. The Bible confirms this elsewhere:

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Revelation 12:7–9 NIV84, emphasis mine).

In this text describing the opening of Satan’s war in heaven, the Greek word translated as “war” is πόλεμος (polemos), from which we get “polemic,” which describes a war of words, a war of ideas—not one of physical combat. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and his primary lies are about God. As the apostle Paul said:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3–5 NIV84, emphasis mine).

Moses needed to understand that what was happening on the earth was part of a larger conflict involving the entire universe, a war over two antagonistic methods and principles. Is God love, the source of truth, a righteous being who gives of Himself for the welfare of His creatures, one who sacrifices self to uplift others (Philippians 2:5–11), a being who gives His intelligent creatures real freedom? Or is God no different than what Satan alleges, a powerful being who makes up rules and then uses power to enforce His rules with inflicted punishments? Does God run His universe upon truth, love, and liberty, in which all of His laws are design laws, protocols upon which reality is constructed to operate, or does God function no differently than Pharaoh, a power-monger who made up rules, punished rule-breakers, and enslaved people to do his bidding?

Foundational to understanding what is happening in our world is the knowledge that we are caught up in a cosmic war, a war that began in heaven and spread to the earth, a war over God’s character, law, methods, and principles, a war in which the sword of truth battles against the lies of Satan, in which the power of love fights against fear and selfishness, in which liberty stands firm against coercion and control, in which forgiveness destroys resentment and hate, in which kindness eviscerates cruelty, in which meekness overthrows pride and arrogance, in which grace overcomes guilt and shame, in which trust in God breaks down the gates of hell that entrap souls and restores hearts and minds to friendship with God.

The first truth Moses needed to understand, and the first truth we need to understand, is that the war is bigger than us, that it involves the entire universe.

 

2.  The Enemy Force Is Led by a Supernatural Deceiver

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12 NIV84).

The book of Job reveals that there is an enemy behind the scenes, a being of supernatural ability who wars against the kingdom of God. He is the father of lies (John 8:44), the destroyer, the one who holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). He is the source of rebellion, the originator of distrust in God, the fracture point in breaking away from God’s perfection, of deviating from His design laws of life and, thus, Satan severed the life-link of love and truth upon which God’s kingdom functions. Alienation from God is death, and Satan’s lies, when believed, break the bonds of love and trust and result in fear, selfishness, guilt, shame, ruin, and death—unless remedied by our Savior.

Moses needed to understand this truth in order to confront Pharaoh, in order to comprehend how Adam and Eve fell, how lies had tricked Eve into breaking trust with God and how that broken trust had changed her and her husband, who chose rebellion with her. They were changed from holy, righteous, loyal beings who lived in perfect harmony with God and His law of love into beings who distrusted God, who were filled with guilt and shame and were consumed by fear and selfishness. God’s law was displaced, and the law of sin and death infected their souls.

We, like Moses, need to understand that the battle between good and evil is not a physical struggle, not a war of might and power, but a conflict over two antagonistic principles vying for every intelligent heart and mind, a war instigated by a supernatural being seeking to replace God in our hearts and minds. To whom will we be loyal? Whose law and methods will we embrace and practice? Who will we trust?  

 

3.  Pain, Suffering, and Death Originate with Satan—but God Gets Blamed

Job, the first inspired book, reveals the truth that pain, suffering, and death do not come from God—they come from God’s enemy; yet, in this fallen world, God gets blamed.

As the various attacks upon Job were unleashed, one of his servants reported to him: “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” (1:16 NIV84).

The book of Job leaves no doubt that Satan was the one who caused the destruction, yet God gets blamed. We find the same thing happening throughout human history. A hurricane destroys a city, and God gets blamed. Insurance companies even label tornados and other natural disasters as “acts of God.” I have also had patients blame God for physical sickness, asking, “Why did God give my child cancer?”

The Bible reveals that God’s power is exercised in order to hold the principalities and powers of darkness at bay (e.g., 2 Kings 6:17). He sends His angels to restrain and limit Satan’s power. The book of Job demonstrates that God places limits on Satan, but when those limits are loosened, Satan destroys. But note: God gave Satan freedom to act in Job’s life; God did not mandate that Satan act destructively. Scripture elsewhere describes how Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8, 9). When God gave Satan freedom to act in Job’s life, the evil one could have given Job more wealth, inspired people make him their king, given him more earthly power and esteem—but he didn’t. Why? Because Satan is the destroyer and, when not restrained, he revealed himself to be the source of pain, sickness, suffering, and death.

Scripture tells us that God’s angels are currently holding back the four winds of strife as heaven waits for the servants of God to be sealed (Revelation 7:1–3), and when His people are sealed, only then will the angels let go what they have been holding back and the forces of Satan are freed to cause all kinds of harm.

As the final events unfold, and the four winds of strife are loosed, we need to remember the lesson of Job that God is our protector and Satan is the destroyer. God is the source of life; Satan is the source of death. God is our friend, benefactor, and Savior; Satan is our enemy, exploiter, and destroyer.

Some become confused on this point because there are examples in Scripture in which God did use power in ways that appear to be destructive, like the Flood or Sodom. However, there is a difference between a surgeon amputating a gangrenous limb in order to save a life and a marauder cutting of a limb of a defender as they advance their evil. Superficially, both acts appear the same—both are cutting off limbs. But the surgeon is seeking to save by cutting out pathology, while the marauder is seeking only to destroy. If you would like a more in depth discussion of God’s grace acting to save in ways that superficially appear to destroy see my blogs The Flood and Questions of Whether God Kills Part I and Part II.

 

4.  Family and Friends Can Be Used to Tempt and Discourage

The book of Job reveals that in trying times, our closest family and friends can be used to tempt and discourage us. Job’s wife encouraged him to “curse God and die” (2:9 NIV84), and his friends misrepresented God (42:7) and were “miserable comforters” (16:2 NIV84).

Moses needed to understand this because his brother and sister would turn against him (Numbers 12:1–16), and the people would constantly complain to him and about him.

Jesus experienced the same struggles. His brothers didn’t believe Him and sought to tempt Him to act contrary to God’s plan (John 7:1–5); Peter was used by Satan to tempt and discourage Jesus (Matthew 16:22, 23).

As we face the final events before Christ’s return, we need to remember this truth. We need to realize that we, like Job, Moses, and Jesus, may have family members and friends who tempt and discourage us. But we, like Job, must not listen to discouraging family and friends; we must remain loyal to Jesus.

 

5.  Bible Perfection Is About Unshakable Love, Trust, and Loyalty to God; It Is Not About Task Performance or Rule-compliance

After Satan presents himself before the heavenly counsel, God says to him, “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?” (1:8 KJV, my emphasis).

Job was not sinless; he was a sinner saved by grace, but God describes Him as “perfect.” Why? Job achieved what Jesus instructed us to achieve:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48 NIV84).

The perfection that Jesus is speaking of here is the perfection of love, trust, and loyalty. God is perfect in love, perfect in trust, and perfectly loyal. And we are to so mature in our love for God and others that no matter what trials come, we would rather die than break our trust with God. There have been many friends of God who achieved this maturity, this steadfast devotion to Him. This faithfulness, this loyal love, is biblical perfection:

  • Daniel would rather be thrown into the lion’s den than to betray God.
  • Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego would rather be thrown into a fiery furnace than to betray God.
  • And while Job had questions, while Job didn’t understand what was happening to him, he would not break trust with God.

This is what God wants for His people on the earth when the four winds are loosened. He wants us so settled into our love for and our trust in Him that nothing can shake us from Him. We must so mature that when the beastly powers rise, when “we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered,” that no matter what threat we face, “in all these things we [will be] more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:36–39 NIV84).

We must become like Job, sealed and perfected in our love for and loyalty to God; only then we will be among the victorious who “overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11 NIV84). This preparation for Jesus’ return is explored further in my blog Last Generation Theology.

The book of Job makes clear that Bible perfection is not about deeds and tasks but about loyal love to our Creator.

 

6.  Health and Wellness Are Not Evidence of Righteousness

The book of Job reveals that the righteous may suffer tragedy, loss, sickness, and poverty. It also reveals that being right with God does not equate with success in this world. Many people, including Jesus’ own disciples (John 9:2), have failed to realize this truth and have falsely concluded that if someone is poor or suffering with disease, it is because they have been abandoned by God, cursed by God, or are being punished by God, while being healthy and wealthy is evidence of being in good standing with God.

Jesus’ own life was one marked by poverty, abuse, mistreatment, rejection, torture, and death. His suffering and lack of material blessings were not evidence of being under God’s curse or punishment.

Moses needed to understand this to fulfill his mission, in order to return to the rich land of Egypt and not be tempted. He needed to know that his wanderer’s clothing and shepherd’s rod were not evidence of a lack of God’s blessing. And the people of God who are preparing to face the last days and for His soon return need the same truth—to build our security upon heavenly treasure and not earthly wealth.

 

7.  The Highest Calling for Each of Us Is to Say of God What Is Right

Ultimately, the book of Job reveals that the central issue in the war is the truth about God. As Jesus told us, life eternal is knowing God (John 17:3). If we want life, health, and happiness, we must return to the truth about God as revealed by Jesus. To reject the knowledge of God as revealed by Jesus damages the mind and corrupts the character (Romans 1:18–32).

The book of Job makes the truth about God the eternal central truth. The story begins in heaven with Satan alleging that God bribes, that God manipulates, that God is lying when He says that Job is perfect and righteous in all his ways. God’s character and trustworthiness are called into question. As the book unfolds, we see Satan doing evil and God being blamed. We see humans accusing God and mispresenting Him. But through all of this, Job stays faithful. He refuses to blame God. Instead, Job continues to take the position that if he could just talk with God that God would explain things in a way that made sense. And in the end, Job is commended with the highest commendation that a friend of God can receive; he is commended for having said of God what is right (42:7).

At this time in history, the true friends of God are called to do the same. We are called to say of God what is right. Revelation 14:7 calls for a people to present the everlasting gospel—the eternal good news about God—to the world, to give God glory by revealing Him to the world, because the time has come for everyone to make a right judgment about God. Satan has lied about God, and God has been blamed for all the evils that Satan has originated. God is still accused of being the source of pain, suffering, and death. He is still being represented as a cosmic dictator who makes up rules and uses His power to torment and execute those who refuse to love Him and obey His rules. Thus, God calls for His friends today, those who are like Job, to say of Him what is right, to tell the world that God is exactly like Jesus revealed Him to be, that He is the source of life, health, healing, and happiness, and that it is Satan and sin that are the source of pain, suffering, and death (Hebrews 2:14; Romans 6:23; James 1:15; Galatians 6:8).

Yes, Job was the first book of the Bible written, because the lessons of Job set the framework to understand the issues in this cosmic war. I invite you to learn the lessons from the book of Job and to be perfect like Job, perfect in your loyal love and devotion to God so that no matter what trials you face, what pain you suffer, what attacks you endure, or what questions you have, you will, like Job, remain faithful—trusting God—knowing that when you see Him, He will make everything right, heal all wounds, wipe away all tears, and explain all mysteries.

 

 

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.