Where do you go for answers to the Big Questions in life?
Ones like where did we come from? What’s my purpose?
What’s the source of all that’s wrong in our world?
Fortunately, God hasn’t left us without answers and the answers to these questions and more are found in the books of Genesis and Job.
Below is the podcast and below that, the text of it.
Genesis & Job
-Foundational Answers to the BIG Questions of Life, part one
Teacher, Yvon Prehn, Bible805
• As you start through the Bible in chronological, historical order you may be asking WHY we are reading Genesis and Job together—
• That’s a great question and I have some detailed answers for you in this lesson!
• When you open your Bible, it starts with the book of Genesis.
• Then, in most Bibles the book of Job is close to the middle of the book, just before Psalms.
• However, in many chronological Bible plan readings it is placed near the beginning of the book of Genesis.
• What is going on?
The books are put together because they belong together
• As you will soon see….
• They were written down by the same author—Moses.
• Though in both cases he is more of an editor than an author in the way we think of an author as creating the content.
• The words are not originally his—revealed from God and the records, oral and written from others.
• And they were written down at the same time, and in the same place.
• In this lesson we’ll go into why this is so and why it is incredibly important to correctly read Job early in Genesis, not just because it is chronologically correct but for how the two books give us answers to the Big Questions of Life.
What are the Big Questions I’m referring to?
• How did we get here?
• What messed things up?
• Who is Satan and what power does he have?
• Is there life after death?
• What about people who have never heard of Jesus?
• Why do innocent people suffer?
• How can we help people who are suffering?
• What does God want from us? What is our purpose in life?
Benefits of answering these questions
• It seems many people today are drifting in fear and frustration.
• They don’t know who they are or why they do what they do.
• They stumble through their days and fear the end of life.
• But imagine what life would be like if you KNEW, why you are here, what caused humanity’s problems and how we can live meaningful lives in the midst of them.
• God gave us that information, we have the answers in Job and Genesis.
• But the question is, why don’t most people know that?
The pervasiveness of an anti-supernatural mindset
• This is the mindset where people approach any spiritual or religious topic and books in the Bible with the belief (and it is a belief without any concrete evidence) that supernatural events cannot happen.
• This mindset does not believe in a real Satan or God.
• The anti-supernatural mindset also believes that the book of Genesis is not a true account of reality but that it is a creation myth intended to explain the beginning of the world.
• It also relegates Job to a book written much later and makes it into a literary fable, with Job as a mythical character.
• It follows then (to the anti-supernatural mindset) that the recording in Job of the interactions of God and Satan and of Satan’s direct effects on Job’s life are myth, not a report of true events.
• The results are devastating when, sadly even some who call themselves Christians, do this.
• It robs both books of the power of answering the previous Big Questions I mentioned and leaves us without the involvement of a personal and powerful God in human history from the start of creation to our lives today.
• In contrast if they both come from God and were God’s earliest communication to humanity, what they have to say is incredibly important for all human history.
In addition, if you approach the Bible with an anti-supernatural bias, where do you stop?
• Does that mean you do away with any content in the Bible that is difficult to understand or appears to have a super-natural component?
• If you accept the Bible as a valid historical document, and many people who do not identify as Christians do that, how do you pick and choose between what you consider true historical statements in the Bible and false ones if it doesn’t depend on facts, but on your apriori belief?
• For example, two Biblical writers, accepted by many as historical persons, considered Job a real person.
• The first was Ezekiel, a priest and exile from Israel who was deported from Israel to Babylon, prior to the fall of Jerusalem. In a passage where God is giving him a message about coming judgement he writes “Even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 14:14).
• God speaks and Ezekiel repeats his words with the clear sense that these three are real persons.
What point would it make to mention them if they were only fables?
• Remember Daniel was Ezekiel’s contemporary who was obviously a real person as he lived at the same time and in the same place as Ezekiel did.
• And the historical reality of Noah is verified by Jesus when he used him to illustrate how the world would be prior to his second coming in Matthew 24:37-38
• Reading it in the sense that the two other men as verified by history and Jesus, were historical persons, it follows that Job would be also.
• But that isn’t the only verification of the historical reality of Job by a Biblical writer accepted as a historical person.
In the New Testament James refers to Job as a real person
James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
• Is James using a fable to affirm God’s compassion? It would be like saying that the story of Cinderella assures us that every woman will find a Prince Charming. And though sadly some do believe that we know it isn’t true.
• To make Job a mythical representation of suffering reduces it to the level of a fairy tale, no matter how patronizing accompanying comments might be about what a great literary masterpiece it is.
• To make Job a fictional character you would have to discount Ezekiel and James and what they taught (both about God’s judgement and his mercy) using Job and others as examples. What do you do with Jesus’ affirmation of Noah as a real person? Most people believe Jesus wouldn’t lie.
An anti-supernatural viewpoint is logically exceedingly difficult to sustain.
• It is much easier to simply accept the Bible as it defines itself as a true record of true events and to approach the book of Job as the record of real interactions between Job, God, and Satan.
• If you haven’t listened to or read How truth and history confirm we can trust the Christian Bible, a series of 4 lessons please do as it is important not only for the study of this book, but for all you read in the Bible.
• In that series we look at the various ways history helps us determine what is true.
• To review, among other things we look at geography, the dating of events both when they took place and when they were recorded; we look at what others wrote and when they wrote.
• With objective criteria in mind, let’s look at what sources outside the book of Job that confirm the reality of Job instead of approaching him and this book with an anti-supernatural bias.
• We have already looked at how the historical writers of the Bible wrote about Job as a real person, but what other evidence do we have?
Additional areas that help us conclude the historical reality of Job
• Let’s look at the witness of Tradition–the IRC website describes it well
• “Uniform Jewish tradition ascribed the book of Job to Moses and also accepted it as part of the true canon of Scripture. This ascription seems quite reasonable if Moses is regarded as the editor and original sponsor of Job’s book rather than its author. Undoubtedly Job himself was the original author (Job 19:23,24), writing down his memoirs, so to speak, after his restoration to health and prosperity. Moses most likely came into possession of Job’s record during his forty-year exile from Egypt in the land of Midian (not far from Job’s own homeland in Uz), and quickly recognized its great importance, perhaps slightly editing it for the benefit of his own contemporaries. It was all probably similar to how he compiled and organized the primeval records from which he has also given us the book of Genesis.
• [That being the case] the book of Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. It contains more references to Creation, the Flood, and other primeval events than any book of the Bible except Genesis and provides more insight into the age-long conflict between God and Satan than almost any other book. ”https://www.icr.org/books/defenders/2603
• As I’ve considered it, it seems that Moses needed the wisdom of Job for the work he was called to do. Forty years of leading complaining, ungrateful people required a compelling vision of God, faith, and trust in His eternal purposes—which Job would have given him.
Let’s now look at Geographical & Historical evidence
• Geographical evidence: Biblical archeology and geography places Uz (where the book takes place) near Midian (as the previous IRC quote states)—where Moses spent 40 years.
• It was not an accident God sent him to that specific place where he would have heard the oral history of Job and perhaps had access to written documents of Job’s story.
• Historical evidence on dating the book: contextual evidence then gives us the time the events in the book of Job took place
• Reading the book shows it took place during the time of the patriarchs because it obviously describes a time that was:
• Pre-law, as evidenced by Job’s personal sacrifices for his family, also there was no formal priesthood or temple structure or overall strong, central government mentioned.
Summary and review of the evidence so far
• Based on tradition, Biblical confirmation, and the historical and geographical evidence we have, we will read Job believing that….
• He was a real person who lived about the time of the Patriarchs
• What took place in the book are true events
• That what happened in the book was supernaturally revealed to Job and recorded in its final form by Moses.
• For us, it follows then that this book (as with all the Bible) “was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right” (2 Tim. 3:16 , TLB).
• That is why we can use the books of Job and Genesis to answer the BIG Questions of Life, so let’s get into it…..
Now let’s look at an overview of the book of Job and then from it and Genesis answer some of the big questions of life.
In the following lessons we will cover some of the othermaterial in Genesis.
1st an Overview of Job
• The book opens describing has as God’s ideal man—we will talk more about what made him that later.
• Satan appears before God and challenges God that Job only serves him because God blesses him.
• To see if that is true, God allows Satan to harm Job and he loses wealth, family, and finally his health.
• Three friends (and a fourth later) come to comfort Job, but instead, accuse, and repeat false beliefs about God.
• Job consistently defends himself and demands a defense before God.
• God responds and shows his power.
• Important to note—God never answers Job’s questions.
• Job repents and is restored. ate Job answers
How did we get here? Answered in both books
• “In the beginning God” is how Genesis starts and the book continues with a record of God’s creation of all things.
• God as Creator is confirmed in Job when God confronts him and begins by establishing who He, God, is on the basis of creation, when He says—
• Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined, and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)
This reality that God created us
is a foundation for His claims on us and the answer to our questions for meaning and fulfillment in life
• The rest of the Bible affirms God’s creation as in Ps. 100:3 where it says: “He made us….”
• And in Acts 17:28, where it says “In him we live and move and have our being.
• ” No such things as a “self-made man”
• Humanity is not the result of time plus chance.
• We are created by a loving God, who knows what is BEST for us and designed our lives for meaning and purpose.
• We sometime trivialize the description of the Bible as the owner’s manual and for the best functioning of life we tell people to “read the directions” but it is so true.
• C.S. Lewis put it this way “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
Knowing a good God created us, what messed things up? Genesis tells us that part of the story
• Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan rather than God.
• God gave humanity only ONE negative command—
• “Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”
• But we know they did – and we call this action “the Fall”
• Consequences of the Fall—
• They were driven from the Garden and the Tree of Life.
• They would now experience death, physical and spiritual.
• Sin nature would be passed on to their children.
• Work cursed (work itself is a gift); creation is cursed.
• Satan established as the prince and power of the air.
• In grace a Savior promised—which is the rest of the story of the Bible—how paradise will one day be restored, and people will once again forever walk with their Creator.
From this we learn the core of temptation never changes:
• Satan is not at all original
• What he used then, he continues to use now
• Did God really say…..
• Sin always begins with questioning if God really does know what is best for us and it then progresses to an alternative that sounds good, but is ultimately destructive
• To stand up against that takes two things
• You need to know what God’s Word says, what He wants you to do
• You need to exercise your will, even when it hurts or is difficult, to do what He wants
• Which we know is hard because we have an enemy who fights us every moment. But though Job tells us that enemy is real, it also tells affirms
Satan’s power is limited
• Most importantly we see that Satan is Subordinate to God—no dualism in the Bible—not two equal powers
• Job 1 Satan appears before God in an obvious place of submission
• God questions him, limits him—we see this as a foundational lesson in Job, also it is
• An assurance repeated in the New Testament “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them [Satan and his influence]: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
More about Satan
• Once a place of honor before God, but he rebelled and removed from his place
• “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground—mighty though you were against the nations of the world” (Isa 14:12, TLB).
• Ezek. 28—more details, read when you have time, continuing in our current lesson
• Job shows us that Satan has access to God and is allowed to initiate:
• Natural disasters
• Crime and death
• But again, they are ALL UNDER God’s control and limitations
• Satan is a restless, he wanderers the earth and he is an accuser of God’s people—then and now
• We see in Job 1:7 “The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.’”
• In the New Testament, we see he hasn’t changed, “Be careful—watch out for attacks from Satan, your great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart” (1 Peter 5:8 TLB).””
• And we are reminded “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world”(Eph. 6:12,TLB)
In that wandering, he accuses God’s people
• Job 8, God point out the blameless life of Job, and Satan responds, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
• Satan will twist even every good thing in our lives to something evil.
• That chatter in your head constantly telling you what a mess you are is seldom from God
• God’s voice of conviction gives you a way to do better, Satan simply pounds you—don’t listen to him.
• Evaluate your life in light of God’s Word, confess your sin if necessary and press ahead assured of God’s love and forgiveness.
• Also, this is why slander, gossip, thinking evil of our brothers and sisters, of anyone are SO wrong—we are doing Satan’s work when we do that.
• Don’t do that.
But this will not last forever
• Satan is under God’s control, limits
• We see early in Job, God gives Satan permission to do certain things, but sets limits to them.
• Even that will someday come to an end and Satan will be thrown in the Lake of Fire.
• The accusing chatter in our minds will cease.
• ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’” (Revelation 12:10).
But will we be around to see that?
Is there Life after death?
• Is there Life after death?
• Job 14:14-15 is a great passage to answer that
• 14 If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come. (chaliyphah—a change of garments, a renewal) 15 You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
Job: 19: 25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin (basar) has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh (basar) I will see God;
27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
• A few notes, on v.14—Similar to the Apostle Paul taking about his earthly tent being exchanged for a heavenly one. 2 Cor 5:1
• “basar” skin in this life; flesh in the next. Resurrection to the Christian is tangible; solid; a renewal into what we were created to be.
Even early in his struggles, Job knew
• As the passage we just discussed shows, that his earthly pain was not all there was to his story.
• There are sadly many, including some in the church and some who teach the Bible who will say that “in the Old Testament there was no clear belief of life after death.”
• That is simply not true as this passage in Job and many others show.
• I am revising and re-recording a previous lesson,
Is there Life after Death?
….YES! Is the answer of the entire Bible as this lesson proves,
• It will be on the Bible805 podcast and Bible805 Academy as soon as it is done, but I wanted to address it briefly here because…..
This is incredibly important to understand
• Because as the Apostle Paul told us, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).
• The other lesson will go into detail on how the truth of life after death is clearly taught throughout the entire Old Testament and back to our current lesson it is important to understand that this teaching was clear in Job, which is possibly the earliest book of the Bible written down and most certainly the earliest in oral form.
• Of the many Big Questions of Life this book answers, this is definitely the most important because it literally puts all else that happens to us into proper perspective.
• As one commentator said, if we honestly believe in the promised joy of a fulfilling, meaningful eternity spent with those we love and a God who loves us, even the most horrible experiences of life will seem like one night spent in a bad hotel.
• You might be in that horrid, bad hotel now, but be assured that as the book of Job shows us and the rest of the Bible affirms, joy will come.
• There are more questions and answers in Job and Genesis, but we must stop here for part one.
In our next lesson we will answer these questions
• What about people who have never heard of Jesus?
• Why do innocent people suffer?
• How can we help people who are suffering?
• What does God want from us? What is our purpose in life?
• We find the answers to all these questions in Job when it is correctly dated and understood.
• Learn them well for a solid foundation in your Christian life.