The main message of the book of Job has been skewed over the centuries.
Whenever believers talk about healing, or God being the author of life and not death, we seem to have the story of Job in the back of our minds as a big question mark.
I have heard Job preached that God is the one causing the destruction that happens in the world and that He does it through the agency of Satan, as if Satan is on God’s leash. This teaching is simply not true.
The book of Job is without a doubt one of the most misunderstood books in the Bible, but the good thing about God’s word is it can be understood with a little bit of study.
In this article we are going to do just that and attempt to clear up some of the confusion so we can get a clear look at the main message of the book of Job.
When we start reading or studying God’s word we always need to look at context. Just picking a scripture to read without understanding what is happening around that scripture leads to confusion.
So before we start quoting straight from Job, we need to establish a couple things.
The timeline of Job: Job lived before Moses and probably before Abraham, which means that he had no Covenant with God. Job was not apart of the Old Covenant, so he had no promise of the blessings found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, nor was he a descendant of Abraham so he didn’t have access to the blessings of Abraham. We live in a time where we can enter into Covenant with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection, but Job did not have that opportunity. Which means that God blessed Job solely on mercy.
Satan is the god of this world (Ephesians 2:2, John 12:31, 1 John 5:19): Since Job had no Covenant with God, he was under the dominion of Satan. It did not matter how many righteous acts Job committed, he was still under the kingdom of darkness because Jesus had not yet come. We must understand this if we want to understand the book of Job.
The Right Translation
“The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge 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. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:7-12)
In the scripture above it appears that God is giving Satan authority and then limiting him to accomplish only a certain amount of destruction in Job’s life.
But that is not what is happening at all!
God is simply telling Satan that Job is already in his power. We know this because (1) God said, “all that he has is in your hand.” And (2) God says, in a correct translation, “only put forth your hand.”
Most translations say something like “only do not put forth your hand on him” as if God is limiting Satan. But the phrases “do not” and “on him” are not in the Hebrew.
In fact, every time the Hebrew word “Shalach” is used in the book of Job it is translated “put forth.”
“But stretch out (Shalach) your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:11)
“But stretch out (Shalach) your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 2:5)
So, the true translation of God’s response to Satan is: “All that he has is in your hand. Only put forth your hand.”
In other words, Satan is saying, “Job only serves you because you blessed him, but take away everything he has and he’ll curse you.”
God replies, “He’s in your dominion, so prove it.”
After Satan came before God in chapter 1, he went out and destroyed all that Job had. His possessions, his land, his livestock, and even his children. But Job still didn’t curse God, and he held fast to his integrity.
The same thing happens in Job 2:1-6.
“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
In these verses, we see another mistake the translators made. It appears that God is saying that Satan incited Him to destroy Job without a reason. But do we really think Satan can incite God to do anything? No I don’t think so.
The translators added the word “me” to that sentence.
So, the correct translation is: “although you incited against him to destroy him without a cause.” Another word for incite is to move, which is how the KJV translates it. Satan moved against Job to destroy him. God had no part in destroying Job.
The Main Message Of The Story Of Job
Those few miss translation and lack of context has confused countless believers.
The book of Job was meant to bring a message of calm and peace to those who are going through attacks from Satan.
It was meant to reveal to God’s people that it is Satan at work doing the evil, and as long as we hold our integrity until the end God will redeem the situation. But instead it has been preached that God is the one allowing the evil to happen!
Satan wants to prove to God that people only love Him for what He can do for them, and not for who He is, and he is willing to destroy God’s people to prove it.
Hold fast your integrity in the midst of trial. The story of Job revealed who the winner will be.
“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10-11).
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