And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, the book of Job.
And Taylor, I don’t know a better way to start the Book of Job than the first few lines of have a beloved hymn. I know that my redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives he lives who once was dead, he lives my ever living head. You’ll notice that most of our hymns, they come to us in these poetic, beautiful phrases that often rhyme. Well, we jumped today into the Book of Job, which to just orient us in where we’ve been, where we’re now going to be, and where we’re going to go. Remember that we had the first five books of Moses called.
And I’m going to point out again that word literally means instruction. And what instruction are we talking about? God’s covenantal instructions and the stories of how people responded or did not respond to that covenant instructions to be faithful to God follows actually the format of the Book of Mormon.
It’s beautiful. Then you get so that’s section one of our Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible or what our Jewish friends would call the Tanak. The tea in the Tanak stands for the Torah. Then we enter into this phase of the Old Testament where we got the history books. So as Deuteronomy closed, you picked up Joshua Judges. Ruth, first and second Samuel, first and second Kings, first and second Chronicles. And the Chronicles are kind of a repeat of the same period of time, told from a different scribal perspective. And then you get into Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther last week when we ended the Esther episode, that closes the history timeline section of the Old Testament. So that was all fairly chronological with that little retelling of the Chronicles. Now we open up a section of the Bible that is often referred to as the wisdom literature, and it’s filled with poetry. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that there wasn’t poetry in some of the songs of, say, Moses or some of the other elements that we’ve already covered in the history, but it really becomes prominent in the wisdom literature. And that is going to start with Job and then a little bit of the wisdom literature in Psalms intermixed, but a lot of poetry in the Psalms and then Proverbs ecclesiastes.
And many in the Christian world and in the Jewish world would consider Song of Solomon or the Song of Songs as the final element of the wisdom literature. Joseph Smith, of course, comes to that and says, this is not Scripture, so don’t we really spend a lot of time on that? And then we would get into the final section of the Old Testament, which is the words of the prophets. And those are not in chronological order, nor are they clustered by Northern Kingdom. Southern Kingdom. It’s multiple profits that have covered various times stamps within the history literature. But it comes there. So that’s just the kind of oriented where we are at this point in our study of the Old Testament. We now open the chapters on wisdom literature.
The English word history and the English word wisdom both come from the same exact ancient root word which has to do with seeing an insight. And so what we’re getting here is ancient scribes giving us insight about why things happened. It’s a history of how well the people follow the covenantal instructions. Wisdom is often pithy statements or compact statements of ideas that you could apply generally to your life. Now, you might look at the wisdom literature and sometimes it’s competing literature or sometimes it’s competing ideas. For example, even in our culture today, we talk about too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. And it’s kind of a wisdom saying we have. But we also talk about the power of multiple perspectives in a community when you’re discussing something well, that’s also a wise saying and there’s sometimes an odd at one another. And so wisdom literature is intended to be general statements that should be applied judiciously to specific contexts but not slavishly that in all instances every single thing here has to be applied at all times, just like our wise sayings today. And furthermore, when we get into the wisdom literature, it provides a perspective that is more of like the cultural milieu of the people where these are the things that you would have heard people saying around the dinner table or out in the marketplace.
Whereas the history is the edited version from a trained inspired scribe or prophet who’s helping people to see here’s what happens when people live or do not live. God’s covenant obstruction. So in some ways the history is more of like the official view of what was going on. Whereas the wisdom literature might more represent the common perspective that you might find out in the street or in the home.
It’s very helpful now as we jump into the book of Job, knowing this won’t get you into heaven, but it does help, at least for some of you, to frame your study of the Scriptures. The reality is Job chapter one and two. It’s not written in poetry form, it’s written in prose still. It’s more like a history of what’s going on. It’s just telling you events in Jobs life in those first two chapters and then chapter three opens up and all of a sudden in the Hebrew, and I’m not a Hebrew expert, but I know a lot of people who are and reading their work and their research. There’s a distinct shift in the writing style of the Hebrew starting with chapter three. And it’s going to continue in that Hebrew poetry form all the way down to the very last chapter 42, verse six. And then in verse seven it’s going to pop out of that Hebrew structure of poetry form and go back into a prose to tell the final part of the story, which, by the way, let’s begin with the end in mind here that Job is going to start with 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yolk of oxen, 500 she.
David is how it refers to them. He’s going to lose all of those. And in the very last chapter, in the very end of the book, he’s going to end up with a doubling of every single one of those that were listed in chapter one. You’re going to have 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels, thousand yolk of oxen, and 1000 she asks. By the time he ends. He’s going to lose his seven sons and three daughters in the beginning of the story and he’s going to have seven sons and three daughters at the ending of the story. And he’s going to live many, many years beyond these trials and tribulations that he faces. So as we now dive in to the story, there are many of you who are probably scratching your head and wondering, I just want to know, is this an actual guy or is this more like an allegory, a parable? Is it an instructive wisdom literature story to teach about human suffering? And why do bad things happen to good people? This is probably one of the oldest philosophical questions in the history of the human race is why are these bad things happening to me?
What did I do wrong? And there are a lot of people with a lot of opinions who have spilled a lot of ink trying to address this question. And again, it’s not unique to us back in ancient Mesopotamia, what’s the belief with regards to I’m suffering? What happened?
So it’s fascinating as we look at Job, how God provides answers about why people suffer and the nuanced distinction it provides compared to what we see in other ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature where people in surrounding cultures to the ancient Israelites people suffered and they wondered, why are these bad things happening to me? And typically in the ancient Mesopotamian world, when people suffered, they believed they had done something wrong. They had transgressed some boundary knowingly or unknowingly. Now, remember, in the ancient world, it was polytheistic. Many gods and every god had his own little domain and was supposed to control different aspects of society. And imagine having like 100 bosses, but only knowing ten of them. And they all have their different rules of how work is supposed to get done and you’re just doing your day and you get sick, you’re like, oh, I, Mary, have offended one of my bosses and they’re not even sure who that boss is. This is how the ancient Mesopotamian thought about it. So they would confess. They’re like, oh, God or gods, whoever you are, because I don’t know all the gods. I’m sorry that if I have transgressed some boundary, help me to know what ritual I need to do to get myself back into a good state with you.
Now, our world has changed a lot. And with Job, he understands there’s actually only one God. It’s very significant that Job protests his innocence the entire time. At no point does God say, job, you have transgressed and therefore this is why you’re suffering. So again, in the ancient world, most people believed that when they suffered it was because they had done something wrong. It was a pervasive mindset. And Job. He knows differently. He enos that he has been covenantly aligned with God. And so he does have this very persistent question why would God allow me to suffer when I have been covenantly faithful to him? Now, Joe may not have been perfect in the sense of like, never ever doing anything wrong, but he was in that covenant relationship with God, totally loyal and not transgressing. And what we have at the end of the text, and I confess it’s a bit confusing, but essentially what God gives as an answer to Job is that the profundity of who I am as God, my depth and breadth, no one can find out. And that ultimately it’s about trust. God, he has a plan and he will bless all of his children who turn to him, which is quite distinct from what you get in mesotemia.
And what I love is in the Doctrine of Covenants, we have another prophet who cries out wondering in his suffering, why am I suffering, Lord? And we get very powerful answer.
Yeah. So if we cast our mind back to the Liberty Jail experience so the winter of 1838 to 39, joseph Smith in these terrible conditions and after months of being in this deplorable place, not necessarily because of anything thing, he transgressed from an eternal law perspective. You get that famous section 121 where he pours his heart out to the Lord saying, oh God, where art thou and where is the pavilion that covers thy hiding place? How can you see all these bad things happening and stay your hand? What’s going on? As part of the Lord’s answer, I think it’s highly significant that he actually invokes the name of Job and the whole story of Job here after telling Joseph my son, peace be unto thy soul, thy adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment and then if thou endure it well, god shall exalt thee on high and thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Now listen to this next part, verse ten. Thou art not yet as Job. Thy friends do not contend against me, neither charge thee with transgression as they did Job to me. I don’t know how you want to interpret that or how you want to look at that, but from my perspective, I think it’s possible that the Lord could invoke a story or a name of something that maybe wasn’t actual, maybe it was a parable and allegory to teach this really profound principle.
But to me, from my view, it feels significantly less powerful to invoke a quote unquote fictional character who was trying to teach a great principle, whether it be in our own world today, somebody like a Luke Skywalker or a Bilbo Wagons, or pick your favorite story of somebody who faced incredible odds and struggles and overcame them. It’s nice to be reminded of those stories. But wow, in this case, where the Lord is invoking the name of Job to me implies, hey, this is a real guy. But at the end of the day, my testimony isn’t going to be rooted in whether or not Job is actual or allegorical.
I love the fact that the same God we have in the Old Testament is the same God we have in the Doctrine of Covenants. Now, I confess that sometimes how we emphasize different characteristics of God might make it seem we’re talking about different people, but it’s still the same God. The Book of Job provides a very similar answer to what we have in Doctrine and Covenants and 122. Now. The Book of Job is interestingly. It’s one of the most complex pieces of literature we have in the Bible. And frankly, in the ancient Near East. Scholars have looked at this piece of literature. Compared to other literature in the ancient Near East, it is one of the most complex pieces of literature. So that’s not an invitation for us to avoid it. But just know that when you’re engaged in the Book of Job, if it’s a bit confusing or sometimes feels a bit over your head, guess what? I still feel that way. But the summary statements here are that God himself has a purpose and a plan and he is in charge. Now, that’s a little bit different than the ancient Mesopotamian version of why people suffer.
People thought, I’m just in trouble because I did something wrong. I don’t know what it is. There wasn’t a sense that the gods in the ancient Middle East had a grand plan for people’s health and posterity, prosperity and salvation. We know better that God does have a plan for us. And let’s hear what God said to Joseph Smith in what I believe is the most powerful explanation for why suffering happens here in Doctrine of Covenant, section 122, verse seven. Know thou my son or my daughter, that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good. I think back to creation. Creation was chaotic, or there had been chaos. Maybe we could call it suffering. And God comes with a plan and he takes the chaos and he makes good. If you look at the stages of creation, god continuously declares at the end of each stage of creation, it is good. So let’s imagine our lives. There’s chaos, there’s suffering. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Actually, a lot of times it doesn’t make sense. And God is working with us to create something good. We’re still in process if the suffering is still going on, there’s still creation happening.
God will pronounce. It is good. It should be for that good. Now, I do want to say I’ve had some pretty intense moments of suffering, and even this very comforting phrase sometimes didn’t provide all the comfort that I needed, because I felt like, Lord, I think I have the lesson that you want out of this. I’m ready to be done with suffering. And God has not always responded the way I have wanted. Sometimes he has allowed my suffering to last longer than I wanted or in ways that I would not have chosen for myself. And so we empathize with all those who, in their mortal experience, suffer. We empathize, we feel, with Job and Joseph Smith, why is this happening? But I have come to learn, as Job expresses and as God shares, that ultimately, if we fully trust God, we will feel, know and experience the good. And we will see God’s plan working itself out to our salvation in our lives.
He lives to bless me with his love. He lives to plead for me above. He lives my hungry soul to feed. He lives to bless in time of need, which doesn’t always mean he’s going to take away the suffering. In fact, a CS. Lewis quote that we’ve used before, but it’s worth repeating again from his book The Problem of Pain. He says, quote, God whitmer to us in our pleasures. He speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Suffering seems to be the quickest way to get our attention and to help us recognize our complete and utter dependence upon Him as we try to move forward. Now, with all of this background, all of this foundation, let’s jump in to Job chapter one, into the first two chapters. The story part of this book, it introduces verse one there was a man in the land of us. There’s no real indicator that he’s even an Israelite. We don’t know if he is a descendant of Abraham. It could be implied that he is, but it doesn’t ever give us his genealogy, which tribe he’s from.
If he is, it doesn’t even tell us what time period he’s living in. We’ve jumped out of the history block. We have no markers in the entire book of Job that would tell us definitively this is the time period or the dynasty in which he lived, or the kingdom in which he lived, under whose rule we know he’s from Buzz.
We don’t even know where it is.
And biblical scholars will debate that to no end because we don’t know where US was. There are a lot of theories out there, but we just don’t know.
It’s important that we live here in the 21st century, and we really like to have all of our facts straight. We want to know exactly when something happened, where it happened, all the genealogy and we live after the scientific revolution where we care about these kinds of facts. The ancient writers, for them, that wasn’t the point of the story. They’re trying to focus on the character and the learning experience that person had. So sometimes if we get into the questions like when did he live and how long did he live and where did he live, we may actually miss the purpose for why the story was preserved. I’m not saying those questions are bad. We just have to remember that when we come to the text, we bring our culture. And when we try to bring it into the 21st century culture, into the ancient world, we might find there’s a disconnect that the scriptures don’t always function the way we want them to. And so if we just put on pause for a bit our 21st century mindset and say, let me listen from their perspective, oh, they’re trying to teach me about how God works with people.
And the time frame, ultimately is the material. Because should it matter if he lives here or here? It just doesn’t because God has a plan for everybody to bring goodness out of the chaos of suffering.
I love that. I love that approach that the very book begins with intense ambiguity regarding the guy, Joe, who he was, where he lived, what time he lived. So we right out of the gate. We’re faced with ambiguity, which should be a good preparation for us to understand the ambiguity, the intense ambiguity and gray areas that we’re going to wrestle with as we go through the rest of the book regarding suffering and how to work with people and how to understand God and his justice and all of these elements that you and I wrestle with in mortality today. So it’s beautiful. As we jump into the story now, you get introduced to his prosperity and all of the amazing things that Job has been able to accomplish in his life up to that point.
I should add to this, the superficial rationality of people anciently was that if you had material prosperity, that meant that you were wise and that God was with you. And the truth is that that is part of how God shows that he’s with you, but not the only thing. But that was just superficially. And think about Solomon. He has all this wealth and he was claimed to be the wisest person. So superficially, the more wisdom, the more righteousness, the more wealth. And this text actually complicates that and says you can be very righteous and wise and have everything fall to pieces like it did for Job. I find that powerful because it kind of provides a fuller perspective that we get in other parts of the Old Testament about what wisdom and righteousness really lead to.
Beautiful. You get verse two, he gets blessed with seven sons, three daughters. Then it gives you all of his goods in verse three that we already talked about, everything in verse three is going to get doubled by the time you get to chapter 42. Then you have verse six. The story gets really complicated. Now, there was a day when the sons of God, joseph Smith changes that word from sons to children, becoming more inclusive. I like that. Now, there was a day when the children of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan came also among them.
You notice in the English King James translation, it has capital S, but the Hebrew wouldn’t have capital letters. It literally would just say a Satan, which means an adversary, somebody who tries to turn you out of the way or to give you a test or a challenge. And does God actually ever give us test or challenges? Yeah, not to turn us out of the way, but he sometimes challenges and tests us and the text does not give us all the answers. And sometimes we spend so much time debating things that we miss. The essence of the text is suffering is borne out for the chaos of our lives. God is in creation mode with all of us, and he will eventually make good out of everything that he has created, and that includes you.
What’s actually happening there? Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth? By the way, the name Job comes from this Hebrew word yob, which means hated, persecuted. Fascinating that his very name. As Taylor will often say, the name is the lesson. Here’s this guy who is hated and persecuted, and yet he did nothing wrong. Now, instantly, for me, that triggers something in my mind. A red flag goes up and says, wait a minute, that sounds really familiar. Hauntingly beautiful symbolism starts to ooze out of this story that Job in that context, becomes a beautiful type of Christ, a symbol, a metaphor for the Lord Jesus Christ, who did nothing wrong, who never broke any moral law and yet suffered the most and was hated and despised and rejected of men precisely because he was so good. And the irony becomes so thick. So as we go through this story of Job, don’t ever have the Savior be far off in the side of the stage of your mind or off in the wings. To me, this is a beautiful lens to better understand the Lord Jesus Christ and what he endured for us in the face of intense opposition.
So if you really want to ask the question, why do bad things happen to good people? The best setting to ask that question in is in the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ. Why did infinite agony happen to Him when he was the only one who was so perfect? So as we wrestle with our own ambiguities and our own struggles in our sphere, let us never forget the Lord’s infinite suffering. So look at these other descriptions in the rest of our state. There is none like him in the earth. A perfect and an upright man, one that fear of God and a stewart evil. Once again perfect descriptions of Jesus. But now we’re talking about Job, this man who is hated and persecuted.
These are good covenantal terms. So we use the word perfect for Job. It probably doesn’t mean that he has never in his entire life ever done anything that was wrong. We got to think about this from the ancient context when it’s applied to humans and not just not to God, but to humans. It means somebody who has been covenantly, loyal and faithful to God. This is what it is. Upright man. That means you have lived the covenant instructions, fear of God. It means you respect God. God said to do things and he went and got them done. So we want to just remember that all of us have the chance of being perfect through Jesus Christ. But it’s our loyalty that God wants. When you go to the sacrament table every week you are declaring your loyalty to God, your faithfulness to Him. And that’s what God wants. He wants your faithfulness in the covenant.
So we’ve set the stage with all these rich and abundant blessings that Job has been granted in his life. Reminds me of verse two of this, one of my favorite hymns that we’ve been referring to. He lives to grant me rich supply, he lives to guide me with his eye, he lives to comfort me when faint, he lives to hear my soul’s complaint. And now we hit the turning point in the story. Satan says to the Lord in verse nine, doth Job fear God for not has thou not made a hedge about him and about his house and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands and his substance is increased in the land. Basically. He is so privileged of course he’s going to love you, of course he’s going to serve you. He has no other option. Look how abundantly rewarded you have made him. So the Lord says to him, okay, behold all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and now you begin this segment of where it took years to gain all of these possessions and all of these blessings and this abundant outpouring of the Lord’s rewards perhaps for Job.
Well now they’re all going to be taken away. So somebody could say, well maybe they weren’t rewards after all. So in verse 14 and 15 we lose the oxen and the sheases. Verse 16 we lose the sheep. Verse 17 we lose the camels. Verse 18, the sons and the daughters and the house of this oldest son, we lose all of it. It’s all taken away. And notice Job’s response when servant after servant after servant escapes alone to come and bear these bad tidings. The closing of chapter one is pretty profound. For any of you who have experienced intense, difficult loss, these words will resonate with you. Verse 20 then Job arose and rent his mantle and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshipped. You’ll notice at that point Job has a decision to make. He’s either going to fall down in worldly sorrow or he’s going to fall down in meekness and humility. And instead of choosing to curse God in this case, he’s going to choose to draw closer to God through his suffering. Look at verse 21. He said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
Thither the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. I love that phrase. For any of you who have lost, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord is one of the most profound statements that we could remind ourselves of when we’re struggling so that we don’t turn in anger and in this cursing sort of an attitude towards heaven, but rather this meek, humble submissive willing to submit to all things which the Lord sees fit to inflict upon upon us, like a child submits to his father. To quote Mosaic chapter three. It’s this beautiful turning moment. So listen to these last lines from verse two. He lives to silence all my fears, he lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. He lives all blessings to impart. Which now brings us to chapter two. So you would think, okay, he’s still faithful. Now let’s give him the reward for his faithfulness. So we go back up to this conversation up in heaven. And the Lord says to Satan in verse two, from whence comest thou? And Satan answered again, as he did in the first chapter I’ve been going to and fro.
And verse three, the Lord said, hast thou considered my servant Job? That there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God and a stewart evil. And still he holds fast his integrity, although thou movest me against him to destroy him without cause. Have you noticed how he’s still choosing to love me? Well, then this Satan character says, well, of course, because he still has his own help. But if you took his help away, then he would curse you. So the Lord says, Go ahead, take it away. Which by the way, for some people is very troubling, this idea that God would do that or allow that to happen. But at the end of the day, I think if you and I are honest with ourselves and if we step back from our daily grind of working through mortality, if we get a bigger picture, the question that really begs. Asking here is what is the purpose of life? Was the purpose of life to come down to an earth so that we could gain possessions and have perfect health and have everything work out for us 100% of the time and just be prosperous?
Was that the intent? Or did we actually leave heaven, this place of perfect living with our heavenly parents, to come down to this earth to actually learn some things that we didn’t already know in a perfect environment, to learn some things not just about ourselves, but about heaven and about the Lord and about our heavenly Father? And that means that some of those lessons are only going to really stick and be taught through these furnaces of affliction as we are going to watch the rest of the story play out. I think if Job were standing here today talking to us, I don’t think he would say, I wish I hadn’t had to go through any of those trials. I wish life would have been simple. I could be wrong. And I can’t speak for Him, but I can guess that he wouldn’t say that. I can assume that if he were here, he would say, oh my heavens, let me tell you what I learned about myself and about the Lord through this incredible, difficult, long, grueling process of major trials and loss. And so you and I, in our own struggles could be reminded that when we’re called to pass through these furnaces of flexion that it probably isn’t a sign of divine disfavor.
But as long as we’ve been on that covenant path doing our best, it’s probably a sign that God is giving us another course in this curriculum of mortal life to learn, to grow, to progress, to become more like Him. So this next part of the story leaves us with verse seven. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smoked Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. So now Job is sitting there. He’s lost everything that he had, including now his health. And his wife comes to him in verse nine and says, DOST thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest is 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? That little question that he just asked is beautiful. Are we only going to receive good from the hand of the Lord? And when that happens, then we love the Lord, we believe in Him, we worship Him, we pray to Him. Yes. But then when he gives us difficult trials and tribulations and we experience some struggles, then we turn away from Him.
We’re not willing to receive everything that he’s the most intelligent being of the universe. Who knows what is in our best interest? We’re going to tell him no, that was not in my best interest. This is a valid question that he’s asking for all of us to grapple with for a minute. And then verse eleven, we introduce three new characters in the story.
I love this part. This is in some ways one of the most beautiful aspects of this entire book of what these friends initially do for Job. Now, when Jobs three friends heard of all this evil and by the way, the word evil really could be translated as bad or misfortune. When all this misfortune that was come upon him, they came everyone from his own place. Ellie Faz, the temmonite and build that the shoe height and so far the Namathite, where they had made an appointment together to come to Moroni with him and to comfort him. That’s what friends do.
Isn’t that amazing? The two words that ended up in our King James English. Here they came to do two things to mourn with him and to comfort him. That sounds vaguely familiar to Mosaica chapter 18 when Alma is out at the waters of Mormon preaching to these people who he’s about to baptize and have them enter into this covenant with God. And two of the agreements that they’re making as part of their covenantal connection with God is that they would be willing to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. So all of a sudden, this story from ancient somewhere at some point in the history that we don’t know, comes full circle to us today to be able to see ourselves in these three friends who came to mourn with him and comfort him.
The base word of comfort is a fort, a place of strength. So they are together trying to provide strength for somebody who is in a moment of weakness. And maybe not just one moment, but maybe a long, many series of moments of weakness.
So you’ll notice as they arrived, they didn’t even recognize him. He’s in a way worse state than they thought. They’ve heard about all the bad things that have happened and now they show up. This is terrible.
And when they lifted up their eyes afar off and knew him not, they lifted up their voice and wept. And they rent everyone his mantle and sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven. So ripping your clothes is a sign of extreme distress in mourning. And dust or ashes are signs of death or suffering. And so they’re trying to symbolize that we are humbled to the Dust. In fact, the word humility in Latin literally means dust. And so when you’ve been humbled to the dust, you are put back into your fallen nature state that we come from the dust and we return to the dust. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word unto him. But they saw that his grief was very great.
Just sitting with Him. How often have we all suffered? And really what we need is just somebody to just be with us. How often have you been in a circumstance you saw somebody suffering and you didn’t have the right words, but you know that just being with them would be enough? I think about the angel who came to Jesus in his suffering. We don’t know if the angel said anything, but the angel came there, strengthening Him or comforting Him, making him stronger. Sometimes that’s just what we need, somebody to sit with us.
Yeah. And you even see that as Jesus was walking into Gethsemane, he leads the eight apostles. Then he takes Peter, James and Jungles a little bit further. And then his instruction to them is, sitting here and watch with me while I go and pray yonder as this intense agony is starting to descend upon Him, he wants them to watch with Him, to stay with Him, to at least be aware. Not that any of them could fix the problem, not that any of them could take away any of the suffering, not that any of them could prevent it from happening. That’s not what he wanted. He just wanted somebody to watch with Him, and then that angel comes and strengthens Him. This principle is profound in my mind, honestly. Verse 13 is the finest moment for these three friends in the entire 42 chapters. They’re going to do a lot of things with Job, but nothing that they did is better than what they did in verse 13 when they sat down with Him upon the ground. In that verse, they take on what, quite frankly, becomes for me yet again, another symbol of Christ. So again, we’re playing with these symbols where Job is a type of Christ.
Well, now in this case, the three friends become a type of Christ to sit with, comb fort. This strength with Job is very similar to what the Lord does with us sometimes, because, you see, sometimes you can hear his voice, sometimes he gives you instruction, sometimes you can’t hear anything, but you can sense a comforting presence with you, a steadying influence to see you through, to make sure you’re not walking that lonely, dark, painful road all alone. So I love that. And it ties in now to these next words from this beloved hymn. He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend he lives and loves me to the end he lives and while he lives I’ll sing he lives, my prophet, priest and king in connecting with this element of these three friends, just sitting for a whole week with Job and not saying anything, have you noticed how often we as human beings, when we go into a difficult situation? For many of us, we want to fix it, we want to make it better. We want to give people the solution to their problem. We want to relieve suffering so badly that we want to explain everything and give them a reason as to why they might be suffering and come up with that solution and fix it and make it all better.
There no more suffering. Have you noticed how rarely that actually works? So one of my favorite stories that I’ve ever heard on this subject came in the October 2010 general conference from president Henry B. E. Ring. When he said this we need not worry about knowing the right thing to say or do when we get there. There being to the bedside or to the home or to the side of somebody who’s suffering. The love of God and the holy spirit may be enough. When I was a young man, I feared that I would not know what to do or say to people in great need. And now president Irene shared this story. Once I was at the hospital bedside of my father as he seemed near death. I heard a commotion among the nurses in the hallway. Suddenly, president Spencer W. Campbell walked into the room and sat in a chair on the opposite side of the bed. For me, I thought to myself, now, here is my chance to watch and listen to a master at going to those in pain and suffering, which, by the way, if you know anything about president Spencer W.
Kimble, you know that was a man who had known his fair share of intense pain and suffering and operations and physical hardship. President Kimball said a few words of greeting. Ask my father if he had received a priesthood blessing. And then when dad said that he had, the prophet sat back in his chair. I waited for a demonstration of the comforting skills I felt I lacked and so much needed. After perhaps five minutes of watching the two of them simply smiling silently at each other, I saw president Kimball rise and say, henry, I think I’ll go before we tire you. I thought I’d missed the lesson, but it came later, in a quiet moment with dad after he recovered enough to go home, our conversation turned to the visit by president Kimball. And dad said quietly, of all the visits I had, that visit I had from him lifted my spirits the most. President Kimball didn’t speak many words of comfort, at least that I could hear, but he went with the spirit of the lord as his companion to give the comfort. I realize now that he was demonstrating the lesson president Monsoon taught.
How does one magnify a calling simply by performing the service that pertains to it? I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like president Kimball. In this context of when people are suffering, perhaps I should talk less and try to fix less and just be still, and let the lord and the spirit guide that interchange to the point where they feel of heaven’s love for them and know that they are not suffering alone. They’re not walking that dark, lonely road in isolation. He lives and grants me daily breath. He lives and I shall conquer death. He lives my mansions to prepare. He lives to bring me safely there. And he doesn’t always do it with a lot of words, does he?
So we talk about these friends who did such good comfort for Job, and then they get into the typical mode of they want to now fix things and explain things. Now let’s just give these guys a bit of a break. They are coming from their own cultural context and these friends believe they have an answer for Job. Now, we sometimes think, oh gosh, they’re saying that he’s got to repent, but he must be sinful and wicked. And again, from their cultural context, the idea was people in the ancient Middle East, people believed you only suffered if you had transgressed some boundary, if you had offended one of the gods that was out there. And where the book of Job is so different from other ancient Middle Eastern literature is that Job, both himself and God, declare that Job was covenantly, loyal and faithful and righteous. And so you have this long dialogue that goes on throughout the text, expressed in poetic verses between Job and his friends. And they’re essentially trying to say, job, the only reason that you could be suffering is that there’s something in your life that’s a miss that you got to investigate and fix.
And Job is saying, I don’t I am good with the Lord and I am simply suffering. God is allowing me to suffer. And of course, the Job is also saying, why is God allowing me to suffer? So we’ll just map out really briefly the overarching structure of this book. And again, it’s a bit of a complex book. We’ll give you the overview so you can see the course of the dialogue that concludes with God telling Job, I am God. You weren’t there in creation. You don’t know the profundity and the totality of all that I’ve done and created. You just need to continue to trust me that I have a purpose and a plan that will be resulting in goodness of developing creation from the chaos of your suffering.
Which, by the way, is fascinating because as you go through this dialogue and Taylor is going to walk you through some of the structure of Job, you’re going to see that it begins with chapter three of Job lamenting his condition. And at that point, the three friends aren’t telling him he’s a sinner. They’re not saying he has to repent. They’re not questioning God’s justice or the natural laws. They’re watching. And so this is a line upon line, unfolding as they start to have these dialogues. So it begins with Job and then his first friend is going to give him some of what he thinks is his wisdom. Job is going to respond with some additional questions, then the other one’s going to jump in and this conversation and it’s going to turn into a debate between them. And it’s fascinating to watch this unfold.
So this is just a high level overview and you can find other expressions of this on the Internet. The Bible Project has a really great video that maps out visually the structure of the Book of Job. So we have this dialogue beginning in chapter three. It goes through chapter 27 among all these friends, ellie Faz, Bilda so far, and Job. And again they’re going back and forth trying to comfort Job and also trying to investigate what’s the source of the problem. And in the ancient Middle East, if you’re suffering, you must have offended somebody somewhere. And Job continues to protest his innocence and even God will back up Job and saying Job actually has been loyal to me. So their worldview is partially off because of the culture they’re from. And this is what’s significant for the ancient Israelites who heard the story. It would have been revelatory for them because they would have been familiar with the worldview of elephants build up. And so far that you’re suffering, you have a problem, you got to go fix it and you have offended God in some way. Now, it is true that sometimes our suffering happens because we’ve offended God or other people.
The Book of Job is not arguing against that. But in this case the friends don’t see the larger perspective that God allows suffering at times, even when we have been righteous, so that we can experience lessons. So you just dialogue people speaking together. Then you have all these monologues going on from chapter 29 to 41 where just one person is speaking and declaring a set of ideas and principles. So if you’re reading to the Book of Job, you can look at this dialogue, all these chapters, about 24, 25 chapters, and then look at these long speeches that go on. And the conclusion before you get to chapter 42 where you have the final concluding narrative, god shows up and gives a final monologue. And it’s quite dense and it’s very significant because again, he uses all sorts of poetic and very symbolic phrases to show Job that God himself enos all things. He’s in all things, he has a plan for all things and that Job should fully trust God. That’s what it means to be in covenant relationship with God. So we hope that this high level overview structure might give you a bit of guidance as you get into the Book of Job more deeply.
So we don’t have time to cover all of these chapters or even a portion of them really. So let’s just grab a couple of concepts first from this dialogue section with Elephants Buildad and Zofar and I guess we could say so far so good. We’re in chapter 19. This is one of the most famous chapters of the entire story of Job. It’s where he’s responding to some of their pushback and some of their questions. And notice this testimony that comes out verse 25. For I know that my Redeemer livesth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Now, keep in mind, he’s sitting there with boils and he’s been scraping his skin. His skin seems to be falling off of him at this point of the story and he’s invoking this imagery of, yeah, after the skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. This is one of our most profound statements in the Old Testament to teach the doctrine of resurrection and the corporal nature of the eternal aspect of our existence.
That even though my skin and my body is going to rot and crumble to its mother earth, to use Jacob’s wording from the Book of Mormon, and yet in the flesh shall I see God.
The fact that he uses redeemer is deeply, deeply important here. If you reflect back to the Book of Ruth, ruth, who is this stranger in a strange land. So she’s a Moabitus who goes into the land of Israel, but she has essentially a legal connection to her former husband’s homeland, but she needs a Redeemer to restore to her what she no longer can provide for herself. And it’s fascinating how this works, that Job is essentially saying, I have a set of blessings that God will restore to me. He will put back into my life or give me my life back, redeeming what was once mine. God, as the redeemer, has the responsibility and the authority to give back to people, to restore to them things that they once had. So it’s a very powerful word and I think it’s very deliberately used by Job to declare a key characteristic of God and the fact that he uses it around resurrection and restoration. He’s forward looking to Jesus Christ who dies and is resurrected. And because of that, we all will get our bodies back. We will all be restored to things that we once had.
God will redeem us. Now, the idea of redemption is a bit broader than that, but this perspective that Joe provides is a very powerful one. And wherever you’re at in your life, you could do a tally of the things that God has promised to redeem in your life to restore back to you, including the idea of having your body back and being back in his presence, being restored back into his presence. So I find this phrase very comforting, very encouraging, which and by the way.
We’Re going to skip through all the rest of this and jump down into this section here to tie all this in that Taylor has been talking about these chapters 38, 39, 40 and 41. If you’re feeling like you’re lost, if you’re feeling like you’re very distant from heaven if you’re feeling forsaken, left alone by the highway side, begging and not able to move forward, well, God never intended for you to be your own redeemer. That wasn’t the purpose of coming down here. It was to find yourself in situations where you have to rely on the Lord to redeem you. And you watch as the Lord gives these incredible statements. And it’s beautiful poetry, even in English, translated from the Hebrew. So we lose much of the beauty in the plays on words, the structure of the sentences, as it would have come to Hebrew listeners back in the day. Even then, even losing all of that, it’s still profound because what you get is the Lord God speaking in such a way that shows that his thoughts and his ways are so much infinitely higher than our thoughts and our ways and our perspectives. And that is a very profound section of chapters for you to contemplate, especially when you’re struggling, because he’s going to go through all kinds of things.
Do you have any idea about the creation? Taylor has already mentioned this, but how the earth was created? Do you know the laws of nature? Do you know how all of these things work in the animal kingdom, in the plant kingdom, in the solar system? Do you know any of this? And are you going to counsel he who does all of this on what he should do differently? It’s a really profound set of chapters.
And perhaps we could summarize the main trust and purpose of the book of Job as trust and reliance on God as your redeemer. I really think that would be the main lesson that God is trying to convey here. And if you want a single sentence, that may be it. God just sometimes loves more beauty than that and would provide 42 chapters of prose and poetry that can be a little deep and profound, a little dense.
To get through it. It’s a little hard. So if you now go to chapter 42, verse six, and if you want, you don’t have to do this. This isn’t going to get you into heaven if you do it. But if you were to draw a line between verse six and verse seven, this is a shifting point. Again, like we said before, this is where the poetry ends at the end of her six. And this is where the pros or the normal storytelling picks back up in verse seven. Now, why is that significant and why would we care? I don’t know. But perhaps one thing to consider is these final two verses here in the context of closing down this huge poetic structure that has come from multiple chapters here’s. Job, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine, I seeth thee wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.
See, there’s nothingness before the Lord like in King Benjamin speech.
So he’s been the entire time he’s been telling his three friends, I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m good. This is not divine disfavor. And here at the end, in the Hebrew context of repenting, which is to turn it’s to kind of refocus look somewhere else. He’s clearly repented in that Hebrew context of he’s turned to God, he’s turned to heavenward. And instead of just hearing him, he acknowledges, oh, now I see him. And when he sees him, it causes him to recognize his own, as Taylor said, his own nothingness, his own dustiness, if you will. And it’s a beautiful turning point in the story where at the very end, you’ll notice the last phrase of this huge poetry section is that he repented in dust and ashes. You don’t have to have committed a serious sin to need to repent. In fact, you don’t even need to have to commit a sin at all to repent in this context, because to repent here means that you turn to the Lord and you say more than you had in the past, here am I, send me, I will be thy servant. I will do whatever thou askest of me.
And it’s a beautiful closure to that huge poetry section which now shifts us to verse seven. And it was so that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said unto Elephaz the Temamite, my wrath is kindled against thee and against thy two friends, for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right as my servant Job hath. So it’s this incredible moment of vindication for Job, and yet Job isn’t saying, oh well, okay, I’m good, I don’t need to change anything, I don’t need to make any adjustments, I don’t need to repent at all. Just because he’s vindicated doesn’t mean that he still doesn’t need to keep this focus on the Lord.
And I’ll also just provide brief context here, anciently, to put yourself back into a covenant context of somebody. There’d be a sacrifice and a meal. The meal represents you’re no longer at enmity. You’re friends. Only friends have meals together. Think about sacrament. It’s the Last supper, it’s dinner with God, and he’s asking us to make a sacrifice come to him with a broken heart. Broken heart, contrary spirit. This is what he’s asking Ellie Foss to do. I want you to come to sacrament and get back into covenant relationship with me. You were trying to teach things to Job that were not totally correct. You’ve now seen you have an updated perspective what’s true and come back to sacrament table and declare your covenant of loyalty to me. So back then they slaughtered an animal and cooked a meal. Now we do bread and water and God has invited us back every single week to get back into covenant to relationship with them. So these themes just play out throughout the gospel narrative across all of human history.
Verse ten says, the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. Also, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. So if we were to diagram the story arc for Job, he starts pretty prosperous, seems to lose nearly everything, and by the end of the story, the Lord gives him twice as much. I wonder if that could be a story arc for you that when we left heaven we had a lot. But we come into mortality this period of testing and trial and suffering and ambiguity and questions and accusations and pain and loss. And if we endure it well, then God shall exalt thee on high. So we go back to his presence, we go back to Heaven, but it’s different than when we left. We go back added upon, because we’ve become something through those lessons learned through our suffering, through our trials and our opposition that we’ve worked through with the help of the Lord. And it ends in verse twelve. So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning. And then it gives you how many of these animals and possessions he gains, including children.
And verse 16 tells us after this lived Job 140 years and saw his sons and his son sons, even four generations. So don’t you love the fact that it ties in this ancient Hebrew concept of family? You get your identity in a group setting, not as an individual. And it’s this generational faith that seems to be implied here, that it’s not enough for me to want to be able to return to Heavenly Father and live with Him. If my wife isn’t there with me, if my children aren’t with me, then it’s not quite heaven for me. And so we need a redeemer to help, not just with us, but with our posterity and our loved ones and with those who are suffering all around us. So to finish this story of Job, we want to end with the final words from that beloved Him. He lives all glory to his name he lives my Savior still the same oh sweet the joy this sentence gives. I know that my redeemer lives. And we leave that with you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Know that you’re loved and spread light and goodness.
Come Follow Me Insights
Taylor and Tyler testify of the Savior’s presence in each of our lives through the book of Job.
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Casey Griffiths explains that the book of Job probably blends real events with literary flourishes.
John Hilton III tells us that true hope is found in Christ, and how Job is a great example of looking towards Christ in the midst of trials.
Lynne Hilton Wilson helps answer the question, “Why do good people suffer?”
Jasmin Gimenez Rappleye describes what being forsaken feels like and how we can overcome it.
Taylor Halverson teaches what wisdom literature is and what it has to do with the book of Job.
Annette Tillemann-Dick dives into Job 39 to tell us how this chapter helped her through the loss of a loved one.
Marianna Richardson compares the Lord’s arm and the arm of flesh.