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I am a bit puzzled by the outcome in this book. It looks like Satan was right - Job DID lose his faithfulness toward God after Satan took away from Job all what God had given him except for his life (he "cursed" the day he was born (Job 3:3-4)). And in the end God had to appear to Job in order to restore his faith. Does that mean that the Satan was able to prove to God that Job was not as faithful as God thought in the beginning of the book?

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    the way I read it, God does not appear in order to restore Job's faith; he appears to affirm his majesty. Indeed, God affirms that it is Job, not Job's friends, who have spoken rightly. Apr 27, 2023 at 16:05
  • @SonofaBeach - Done.
    – brilliant
    Apr 28, 2023 at 4:42
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    Sorry, I'm misunderstanding something. I'm trying to figure out why you stated that "Job DID lose his faithfulness toward God". I can't see how you come to that conclusion, or why you posted that. I thought that you added (via a post edit) the "he cursed the day he was born" to support your original statement. But I can't see that it does support your original statement. So I'm just trying to figure out what is your reasoning for your "Job DID lose his faithfulness" statement. If that is not your belief, then can you please explain further why you posted it. Apr 28, 2023 at 4:50
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    Thanks for your explanation. I disagree with the logic, but thanks for following up. It might be worth editing your question to make it clearer. Apr 29, 2023 at 7:11
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    Just that “he cursed the day he was born” means he lost his faithfulness. I don’t see it that way. But it’s just my opinion. Apr 30, 2023 at 11:12

8 Answers 8

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No, Job never lost his faithfulness to God. So Satan lost and God won the first argument (that a righteous person will remain faithful although the blessings were removed). But the second argument between Job and God about why God allows a righteous person to suffer, was NOT resolved.

Nevertheless, Job never lost his faith in God demonstrated below:

  1. Did he ever curse God? No. Some may say that Job "cursed" the day of his birth (Job 3:1), but this BH.SE answer explains that we should interpret it in context, that the whole Chapter 3 is a lament of his condition, appealing to God asking what God wants him to use his remaining life for (v. 23) that by then is hanging by a thread (vv. 20-22). Implicit in the lament (and elsewhere) is Job's faith in a God who is sovereign over his birth and whole life, and to whom he needs to glorify by living righteously despite no earthly rewards.

  2. Job's faith in God was also implicit throughout his speeches in that he strongly believed that the righteous God MUST have an explanation if He only deigned to explain himself in the Heavenly court. Since Job knew his own heart, the unknown was God's heart, though by faith Job believed Him to be just AND (for Job) was to be the redeemer who WOULD vindicate him and his good name in the Heavenly court (Job 19:25-26, see interpretation here), since Job seems to be losing in the Human court of his 3 friends.

  3. Even in the face of his 3 friends's entreaties that Job must have done something grievous to deserve the suffering, Job maintained his innocence by saying he had nothing new to repent and refused their simplistic explanation that suffering MUST be the result of sin, which reduces God's justice to transactional motivator to be good, common to the ancient near eastern understanding (that the righteous are blessed and the wicked are punished, the retribution principle). That's why God rebuked those 3 friends. In contrast, Job believed His God values character and relational faithfulness ABOVE simple rewards and punishment.

  4. Elihu's message was a lot better because he recognized that Job's demand was valid, acknowledged a mystery about God's allowing the suffering to happen, and rebuked the 3 friends for condemning Job. But he then advised Job to respect the great disparity between creatures and Creator and that the Creator is under no obligation to answer. That's why God didn't rebuke Elihu. BUT STILL, unlike a Stoic who just endures, Job refuses to withdraw his demand to be heard, which (in my opinion) is yet another sign of faith in a good God who wouldn't let His righteous people hanging like an abandoned child.

Thus God appearing to Job in the end was not to restore his faith, but to comfort him and to aid Job in his later life of faith. But although God refused to explain why such great misfortunes happened to Job specifically or to a righteous person in general, God DID:

  • grant him vindication of innocence
  • restore his honor (seems very important in the Ancient Near Eastern culture, as seen also in the Psalms)
  • treat him as a person

In that personal response to Job, God showed himself righteous, so God's own righteousness was vindicated while reserving His right not to disclose everything.

Today's application

God's refusing to provide full accounting is similar to our situation today where there is no perfect theodicy and that every individual Christian needs to struggle with his/her own personal unexplainable suffering, although after Jesus came we are in a much better position than Job: Jesus (in his solidarity with the sufferers and in his future judgment of our enemies) gave us comfort as well as additional 2 reasons not described in the Book of Job, namely our sanctification and the greater good of the church. Like God's appearance to Job, God's incarnation in Jesus helps us to remain faithful like Job, to not lose hope, and most importantly to STILL believe God to be perfectly good and perfectly just, worthy of our continued worship and obedience.

In his crying out to God, Job is similar to the Psalmist who sometimes asks why God DOES NOT YET ACT when he, who remains faithful by keep trying to remain in the righteous path, repenting when he realized his sins, was mocked or even persecuted by the wicked. Like Job and the Psalmist, it is okay to implore God to rescue and bless us so we have reason to praise God (the common trope is how can a dead person praise God, or Job's asking why he should have been born in the first place), while at the same time trusting His own ways and timing befitting a Creator who is much greater than us and whom we have no right to understand completely.

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    Actually, I like your answer. Thank you. In Job 1:11 Satan said to God about Job, "...he will curse thee to thy face." Did Job finally curse God before God appeared to him?
    – brilliant
    Apr 27, 2023 at 14:54
  • Even though God didn't provide Job the requested explanation, God did, however, vindicate Job against false charges by rebuking the 3 friends who falsely condemned him out of their defective notions of God's justice. We also see how God in the end uphold the "retribution principle" after all, in the greater scheme of things. This is indeed the hope of every Christian, that every wrong will be made right in the end which includes: Day of Judgment, wiping away every tear, rewards for those who suffer for Christ, and eternal happiness. Apr 27, 2023 at 15:20
  • + 1 Thank you for your defense of Job as well as your basic answer, although I have to say that in the end the retribution principle is an insufficient answer. I agree with those who see the epilogue as not being part of the original work, a Disney ending to an intentionally ambiguous story. Apr 27, 2023 at 16:19
  • @DanFefferman I agree with you that God's upholding the "retribution principle" does NOT exhaust the entirety of God's character. The Book of Job indirectly testifies to this. Even in the rest of the OT it has already been made clear that God's relationship with Israel is more characterized by "unfailing love" and "faithfulness" symbolized as husband and wife, and who protects the weak, contrasted with relationship with other ANE gods which is more of a master-slave relations. Apr 27, 2023 at 18:13
  • @DanFefferman I can agree that the prologue & epilogue being added later, maybe an attempt to adapt a similar ANE theodicy story to into "suffering as a test to improve character", which even later (in light of the canon, and even later after NT canon) can ALSO be used as theodicy that includes an eschatological dimension which I alluded in my comment above. Apr 27, 2023 at 18:15
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Without building a massive outline of the book of Job, here are just a few salient points:

The first round of Satanic attack ends with this statement:

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. - Job 1:22

The second round of Satanic attack ends with this statement:

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. - Job 2:9-10

The commonly held belief that Satan's attack on Job ends in chapter 2 with Job, covered in boils and sitting on an ash heap rebuking his wife, is not necessarily true. Job's three friends come along and, through a long series of monologues and responses that make up the bulk of the book, in which they consistently assert that given what has happened Job must have committed sin, they eventually get Job to the point that he begins to justify himself before God.

A summary of Job's final appeal in chapter 31 is something like this: If I had done anything wrong then God would be justified in bringing this calamity. In this chapter Job begins to see his circumstances as unrighteousness from God. In verse 6 Job pleads to be weighed in an 'even balance' so that God can see how good he is even though he has made clear very often in answering his friends that God knows him (and everyone) completely:

Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. - Job 31:6

In chapter 32 God sends a young man named Elihu to strongly rebuke Job's three "friends" and starting in chapter 33 he turns his rebuke towards Job:

Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. - Job 33:8-12

For Job has said, ‘I am in the right, and God has taken away my right; in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’  - Job 34:5-6

And so Job begins to charge God foolishly. Does this mean that God was wrong about him? No, although Satan might think so, God sees the end from the beginning and calls things that are not yet as though they are. Just as those who believe are called already glorified, so Job is called perfect and blameless.

Would that Job were tried to the end, because he answers like wicked men. For he adds rebellion to his sin; he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God. - Job 34:36-37

This goes on all the way through chapter 37 and Job does not answer Elihu one single word ... then God shows up and, accusing Job of "darkening counsel by words without knowledge", tells him to put on his big boy pants and answer His questions. By the end of God's speech Job is undone:

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. - Job 42:5-6

Job repents, prays for his friends, and God restores to Job more than he had before.

In chapters 1 and 2, when God describes Job to Satan as a "perfect and upright man", what God is describing is not the righteousness of Job alone but the righteousness that Job has from God. God could say that Job was unlike any other man in the earth because God foreknew that He would step in and that Job would repent.

There is no one who can be found perfect and blameless unless God steps in and rescues them. Those who trust in their own piety will have a much more difficult time responding to grace. There is only one righteousness and it is from and of God, fully revealed in the Gospel of Christ:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. - Romans 1:16-17

and it is received through belief:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. - Romans 3:21-26

If we believe in God we should act in righteousness (as Job did). As we act in righteousness we must be careful never to trust in those righteous acts as though they were our own (as Job did). This is the trap of Satan wherein we puff ourselves up, accuse or excuse one another, and charge the Almighty with injustice. Compare Job's plea to be weighed in an 'even balance' before God with Paul's assessment of himself:

For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. - 1 Corinthians 4:4

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    Very good presentation of the very essence of the concept of justification in Christian faith! Thank you. In Job 1:11 Satan said to God about Job, "...he will curse thee to thy face." Did Job finally curse God before God appeared to him?
    – brilliant
    Apr 27, 2023 at 14:56
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    @brilliant I haven't seen a place where Job cursed God. Apr 28, 2023 at 11:59
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Yes, at the start of Job's speeches to his friends, he cursed the day he was born, wishing he had never been born. But he did not curse God. At no stage in the account did Job ever curse God. In all that transpired, Satan's claim (that Job would curse God to his face if everything he had was taken away from him) was proven false. The accuser lost his argument.

But God did a lot more than merely "win the argument". He set up the whole scenario in order to teach all mortals (who would read with understanding) that no matter how uprightly we live our lives, we are still far below any ground for challenging God (as is the want of the accuser and all those in league with him).

At the end of the book, God had not been disappointed at Job's questions and complaints. He knew at the start of the account that Job was imperfect, and that testing would put him under immense stress. Nobody can surprise God. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 21: & 22:13). He is omniscient.

The whole event proved God to be utterly righteous, no matter what others thought. It also served to show that God can question us, but that when we question God we ought to be prepared to be humbled and to learn vital lessons. That's what happened to Job. He had been taken up with how unjust it was for such a supposedly righteous believer as himself to suffer so. He couldn't understand it. He felt that people like him should be seen to be blessed, to prosper, and to enjoy life. Others should look up to an elder like him, and he should counsel them (Job 4:1-6).

Of course, Job's friends suspected him of harbouring wrong thoughts or deeds, and that was what they hoped to winkle out of him - confessions. They failed, and so they "stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes." (Job 32:1) Yet, at the end, the youngest friend who had kept silent all that while spoke up. Elihu admirably pointed to God, to gain a clear perspective - read from chapter 32 (verse 12, "But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you have answered his arguments") to the end of chapter 37.

After that, God answered Job out of the storm, putting the self-righteous Job in his place, so that he said to God, "I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (42:6). God then instructed Job to pray for Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Job had spoken according to his own perspective of suffering, but he was not accused of speaking folly, as God accused those three. He questioned God, because he could not understand what was going on. After all, he had not been privy to the challenge Satan gave to God in heaven. So, although the bulk of the book is taken up with Job's arguments (in defense of himself), both they, and Satan's argument, are shown to be wrong, and God is utterly vindicated. At no point did Job lose faith in God, even though his suffering was so severe that he wished at one stage never to have been born. He never turned his back on God and walked away; he cried out to God, trying to lay hold of him, to obtain understanding. And he did!

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Since Satan does not appear again after the prolog, we do not know the outcome of the question, which I'd call a kind of wager rather than an argument. However, God does affirm that Job has prevailed in the dialog with his friends:

The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." (42:7)

In that sense, God has won the wager with Satan. God supports Job's viewpoint, and Job has insisted throughout on the very point that God originally made: that Job was righteous all along:

The Lord said to the accuser,[the satan] “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” (1:8)

Job insists consistently he has not sinned, while his friends insist that this cannot be the case or he would not suffer so terribly. They claim that God, being just, protects the righteous and punishes only those who deserve it. But the narrator and even God have affirmed that Job is righteous. In chapter 38, God explains that His ways are higher than ours, and we cannot understand the problem of Evil in simple-minded formulae such as proposed by Job's pious friends. God's words to Job are meant for each of us:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? (38)

In the end we are not told who won the argument/wager. And this is appropriate, because God alone is sovereign. Neither Job nor his friends, nor even Satan, can "box with God."

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I would say that God wins the argument by the argument being irrelevant. Whether Job was justified or not -- the testing that God intended was performed by Satan, and once the testing occurred, Satan was never mentioned, not even as an afterthought.

The climax of the speech sections in Job, is God saying that is so powerful that he was able to create the Behemoth and the Leviathan, creatures who cannot be tamed:

Job 40:19 It [the Behemoth] ranks first among the works of God, yet its Maker can approach it with his sword. Job 40:24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes, or trap it and pierce its nose?

Job 41:1-2 Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook? Job 41:33 Nothing on earth is its equal — a creature without fear.

In Genesis, Satan is likewise portrayed as an unrivalled beast:

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.

However, unlike the Behemoth and the Leviathan, in Job, Satan is portrayed as being easily led and manipulated. Once Satan has set in motion the trials to achieve God's purpose, Satan is tossed aside and never mentioned again.

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Satan's argument was: 'put forth thine hand now, and touch his flesh, and he will curse you to your face' Job 2:5

Job cursed the day, but never cursed God.

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1 “You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Yes Job got angry but did not curse God.

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The whole premise of the question is factually incorrect

God was not trying to prove anything to the accuser, God instigated the conversation, it was God who started the discussion, God was seeking an end and was simply looking to find a means of accomplishing Hos goals while remaining righteous, holy and consistent to His word.

The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?”” ‭‭Job‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ ‭

“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?”” ‭‭Job‬ ‭1‬:‭8‬ ‭

It was God who was leading the Accuser on, almost putting words in the Accuser’s mouth, the responses and reasons the Accuser gave were beside the point. They were also very weak arguments but they were sufficient grounds for which God could resist Job and get Job’s attention to repent. God had issue with Job, an issue Job would need to go through a lot of loss to uncover and repent of.

This divine council meeting with the benei ha’elohim was unfolding as standard.

Ahab’s death was in order according to God and God in the divine council consulted with the benei ha’elohim where there was also present a lying spirit. God asks, there is back and forth and then God decides who to send to accomplish His decree

“And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’” ‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭18‬:‭18‬-‭21‬ ‭

What could God possibly have against a man like Job that was in God’s own words upright and blameless? Please note that God in the ENTIRE book of Job NEVER speaks of Job as being righteous, upright and blameless, yes but not righteous. This is significant.

Firstly Job didn’t have a relationship with God, Job obeyed purely on a transactional basis, “if I do good and never sin with my mouth then God won’t do me harm but instead bless me” that appeared to be Job’s philosophy and it was working for Job.

After the Accuser was sent to take away Job’s wealth

“In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” ‭‭Job‬ ‭1‬:‭22‬ ‭

Notice Job was very disciplined not to charge God with any wrong doing. After all He was the source of Job’s remarkable life. There was still something that Job was holding onto that meant more to him than children and wealth, it was his self righteousness.

This starts changes when Job loses his health

God was all too quick to hand Job over to the Accuser. God wasn’t defending Job’s uprightness and blamelessness, no God was instigating the accuser against Job and God then sets the limitations, quick and to the point.

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”” ‭‭Job‬ ‭2‬:‭6‬ ‭

That wasn’t God showing off with Job, that was God resisting Job’s prideful self righteousness

“But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his LIPS.” ‭‭Job‬ ‭2‬:‭10‬ ‭

The Spirit was careful to emphasize that job didn’t sin out loud, but what was happening inside Job’s soul?

So what was God trying to purge out of the life of Job? Self righteousness, which is pride

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16‬:‭18‬ ‭

This is why the punishment was so harsh, God takes pride very seriously. Where does it say that Job was self righteous?

“So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.” ‭‭Job‬ ‭32‬:‭1‬ ‭

And to whom does righteousness belong to? Even if He imputed it, to whom? To whom shall we ascribe righteousness?

“I will get my knowledge from afar and ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” ‭‭Job‬ ‭36‬:‭3‬ ‭

Job finally realizes the error of his way and Job admits, it’s a genuine confession, it’s not a confession without basis

“Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”” ‭‭Job‬ ‭42‬:‭1‬-‭6‬ ‭

Job was unaware that over time he started to attribute God’s righteousness to himself and God resists and stands against the prideful. And Job genuinely repents and is disgusted with the way he had mishandled God’s righteousness. God forgives Job.

Ultimately God loved Job and God knew Job had good intentions but God’s righteousness and holiness would have demanded even if no one brought accusations against Job, God would not have tolerated Job’s self righteousness and would have had to damn Job for eternity. Instead God saw that it was better that Job suffer loss and learn the errors of his ways and afterwards God would restore everything back two fold.

So God proved that Job was unfaithful toward His righteousness, upright and blameless Job was but righteousness is God’s. Job repented, changed his ways and God restored Him because God loved Job and didn’t see what benefit it would be to Job to live a full life and be damned to hell to a sin God would not tolerate in Job when Job could live eternally with God whom Job loved and wanted to serve but it would come at a high cost and a lot of pain, short term but still painful

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