Was Job Historical or Fictional and What Can We Learn From It? (Come, Follow Me: Book of Job) – powered by Happy Scribe
The Book of Job is one of the most fascinating and complicated books in the entire Bible. When studying, the first question we’re confronted with is is it history or is it literature? On the one hand, the opening prologue where God and Satan debate the reason why Job is so upright is probably a literary invention. It doesn’t fit with what we know about God that he would debate Satan on the fate of one of his children. On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence that Job was a real person and not just a literary invention.
Job is referred to in the epistle of James in the New Testament, and the Savior himself makes reference to Job in his words to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, found in section 121 of the Doctrine of Covenants. So The Book of Job probably blends real events with literary flourishes to tackle some really difficult questions. This literary device is set up to help us just answer one question why do bad things happen to good people? When the book opens, Job is riding high. He has a great family, is fabulously wealthy, and deservedly so because God considers them to be among the most righteous people alive.
But Satan questions whether or not Job is really righteous or if it isn’t all just an act put on to gain God’s favor. Hast 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. But put forth thy hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. So God permitted Satan to test Job with one provision he was not allowed to harm Job himself.
Aside from that one provision, Satan does not hold back. Within a matter of moments, Job has lost everything his herds, his servants, and perhaps most painfully, his children. All of Job’s children were taken in an instant. Job is devastated. He shaves, his head falls down, but still continues to worship God.
Even in this extreme adversity, he still trusts God. Naked came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. Thither the Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. The record reads, in all this, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Now, if the story ended there, job would still be one of the most tested and tried individuals in history. But it doesn’t end there. Satan mocks Job by saying that he has endured much, but nothing has happened personally to Job yet. In the conversation, God allows Satan to afflict Job, but not to take his life. So in the next set of trials, job is afflicted with boils all over his body.
The pain is so severe that he uses a sharp piece of pottery to scrape his skin and covers himself in ashes. At this point, even Mrs. Job gives up on God. DOST thou still retain thine integrity? She asks.
Curse God and die. Job still refuses to give up on God. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? And in all this, did not Job sin with his lips? At this .3 of Jobs friends elofaz the team and height and Bill dad the shoe height and so far the neomatite all came to commiserate with Job and offer him comfort.
The rest of The Book of Job is a discussion among the three about why bad things happen to good people. So what is Job’s answer to the problem of the suffering of the righteous? The Book of Job doesn’t really offer any easy answers. Job and his friends run through a number of scenarios, contradict each other and circle back to the same problems in our own lives. Setbacks in our careers, the loss of loved ones or physical afflictions often cause us to ask the same questions.
And again, there are no easy answers in this life. The Book of Job may not teach us the answers to this difficult question, but it does show how we can find the strength to endure them. In the middle of the discussion, Job shows his faith by saying for I know that my redeemer liveth, 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. Sometimes there are no answers to the specific challenges we face right now, but there is always an answer to our reason for hope, and that is our redeemer. No matter what Job had to endure in the moment, he held on and knew that the story would have a happy ending.
Likewise, we cannot always find the answers right away to the questions we have. But there is a happy ending ahead of us. All of us with Job will stand with Christ in the latter days and receive a new body and an everlasting inheritance. In that day, the answers will be known and the test at last will be ended. While we may not always know the reason for our afflictions, we always know the reason for our hope.
If we can stand fast, trust in God, and not lose hope, we can find the grace and the strength to see the happy endings to all of our stories.