—Job 1:6-7 (NASB)
For the next four weeks the Walk with the Word reading schedule takes us through the book of Job. Because the reading schedule is roughly chronological, Job comes between Genesis and Exodus, the person of Job being a contemporary of Abraham. This book was originally memorized and passed down from generation to generation orally before being written down many hundreds of years later. So if you want to understand what the early Israelites knew about God before Moses came along, you have to imagine knowing nothing except Genesis and Job. Job is first and foremost a book for believers.
Those who casually study Job mistakenly characterize it as a book about suffering. Suffering definitely takes place, but it actually addresses a much larger issue, how a believer is supposed to live and act when great evil comes upon them. People often question why a loving God would allow evil in the world; the book of Job establishes it’s not only here, but to be expected. The problem when we ask why a loving God would allow evil in the world indicates that we have the wrong perspective, that we think everything begins and ends with this life. And Job has everything to do with providing the proper perspective.
It’s not just about how man sees things, it’s not just how God sees things, but it turns out it also matters how angelic beings see things. It turns out that what transpires on earth is a reflection of events unfolding in heaven. The spiritual successes and failures of mankind are not just a testimony among themselves, but to everyone in every place both in heaven and on earth. The ultimate perspective is that this life is just a part of the bigger picture and what is really going on transcends physical boundaries into eternity itself.
But one of the comforting bits of information we get out of coming to terms with the fact that there is evil in this life is that the chief author of that evil is limited. You may have noted from this passage that Satan is not like God — omnipresent, so as to be in all places at once. Satan has to roam from place to place. He’ll visit his attacks whenever possible, but greater is He who is within us. Ultimately the answer inferred by the book of Job is that life is not a test of knowledge but a test of faith. Evil isn’t something that can be clinically understood because overcoming it requires endurance, trust, and faith — things which by definition don’t operate on information alone.†††