I must admit that when I began my initial study of the book of Job some years ago, I had some personal misgivings.
First of all, after reading the introductions to various commentaries, the tone of “proceed only with caution” gave me the sense that I might be opening myself and my family up to a sort of mysterious vulnerability. I began to seriously wonder if perhaps ignorance truly was bliss and if I could be tampering with some kind of Pandora-like box that would be better left sealed tightly in abstinence and ignorance.
As I considered the undertaking, I could not reconcile the notion of greater knowledge placing one in a position of heightened vulnerability. While knowledge does place the seeker in a different accountability bracket, it certainly does not make one more likely to become a suffering example of morality or lesson in virtue for the present generation or potentially those beyond.
After all, Job was not privy to the great heavenly wager involving him, neither could he have benefited from the wonderful assurance of Romans 8:28. I concluded that since Job’s ignorance did not protect him from discomfort, my expanded knowledge would not sentence me – particularly in light of the repeated admonitions to “study,” “seek,” and “increase learning” throughout Scripture.
Our lives are in the hands of a loving God governed by His sovereign purpose. “His kingdom come. His will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Mat.6:10).”
Secondly, I was definitely intimidated by the task of accurately deciphering the message of what seemed to be such a complex, highly controversial book.
With the Psalmist I could only humbly pray, “Open Thou mine eyes…let me not wander…teach me Thy Statutes. Make me to understand the way of Thy Precepts: so shall I talk of Thy wondrous works (119:18,26,27).”
Along with my daily plea to the third person of the Trinity, our holy tutor, for guidance, I must give much credit to Dr. Henry Morris whose commentary on Job provided the interpretational framework for my study.
The uniqueness of Dr. Morris’ approach is captured by Bible scholar, author, and long-time executive with Liberty University, Harold Wilmington in the “Foreword” to his commentary.
“Most commentaries on Job emphasize its literary style or attempt to analyze its philosophical content. They usually conclude that the book simply records the utter despair of a godly man (either real or mythical) enduring great suffering as he vainly attempts to find some divine purpose for his pain.
This is not the approach taken by Dr. Morris…he reveals that the book of Job…
¹ serves as an overview of Satan and his wicked activities
² supports a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and provides additional details
³ does not deal primarily with the problem of suffering in the lives of godly people.
He concludes that…Its earthly purpose is to re-emphasize the importance of God’s original creation. In fact, Morris shows that creation is the basis of true Christology, faith, salvation, fellowship, and peace among human beings.”
Dr. Henry Morris opens his commentary entitled The Remarkable Record of Job with these arresting words.
“A masterpiece of literature, the book of Job has intrigued readers for many generations. Though the book is ancient, its insights are remarkably modern, and its message is needed more today than ever before. Its long discourses, though sometimes difficult to follow, and seemingly redundant, sparkle with beautiful poetry and vibrate with deep emotion, thus contributing to the fascination that grips the thoughtful reader. Its insights penetrate human nature, offer foresights into modern science, and probe the very heart of God.”
The purpose of my study was to understand, by expository means, the events and the dialogue described in the book as well as to appreciate its historical value as an authoritative anthropological resource and contextual supplement to the post-Flood record of Genesis.
In order to set up the proper framework, the study must begin by answering a few questions.
1) What was the historic timeframe of the events described?
2) Where was the geographic setting?
3) Who was the author?
4) Why was it preserved?
This brief article series will endeavor to satisfy these questions thereby positioning the student for an accurate approach to this most significant record.