October, November, December 2016

Want to learn more about Job? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 14-part series.

Lesson 1: The End (Job 31, 38-42)
The End? Why would you start a new study of the book of Job and call the first lesson, "The End?" Ask my wife. When she reads a book, she reads the end first. I've never done that, but my wife wants to know how things will come out because that gives her comfort as she reads the book. Following in the tradition of my wife, let's dive into the study of Job by looking at the end!

Lesson 2: The Great Controversy (Job 1)
A famous Christian book starts out, "It's not about you." Job teaches us this understates the situation. Not only is life not about us, but it is about being willing and able to give up our interests to advance the Kingdom of God. The interesting thing about Job, and "giving up our interests," is that Job both started and ended as the richest man around. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 3: "Doth Job Fear God for Nought?" (Job 2)
Last week we felt sorry for Job as he lost his children and his wealth. Recall that while God permitted these tragedies, God restrained Satan from harming Job himself. Job 1:12 ("on the man himself do not lay a finger"). God won round one. Satan's prediction was wrong: when Job suffered these losses he did not curse God, rather he praised God (Job 1:21). Are you someone who could prove Satan wrong? Let's plunge into the story of Job and see how the battle progresses!

Lesson 4: God and Human Suffering (Romans 1, Job 6)
This week we take a break from progressing through the Job story. Instead, we will spend time studying the issue of God and human suffering. When we suffer, or those we love suffer, are we tempted to think there is no God - or at least no loving God? That would be natural. If there is a loving God, why would He allow suffering? What evidence do we have for God? Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 5: Curse the Day (Job 3 & 7)
Recall that in Job 2:9 Job's wife advised him to "curse God and die?" Job refused. Instead, we learn this week that Job cursed his own existence. Do you know someone who has ended their existence? When I was young, my mother was concerned that I would take my life because of a break-up with my girlfriend. I don't recall my thoughts then, but I doubt that Mom had a reason to be worried. When I hear of someone who killed their spouse, I think, "Why not divorce?" My attitude is the same about suicide, why not just change my life? If you are like me and do not understand such thoughts, Job introduces us to the desperate thinking of those in the depths of depression. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 6: The Curse Causeless? (Job 4)
Job's friends came to visit him and they were shocked at how bad he looked (Job 2:12). Have you had the same experience when you visited a sick friend? It is hard to know what to say. Certainly, "You look terrible" would not be a good idea. Job's friends, as we have discussed before, initially said nothing (Job 2:13). But, they could not stand that for very long and they started to try to explain Job's sufferings. That is when trouble began. Let's plunge into our study of Job and learn more!

Lesson 7: Retributive Punishment (Job 8-9, 11-12)
I love logic! So, does Bildad, one of Job's friends. Bildad knows his theology, he knows his logic, and he deduces that Job's children deserved to die. You could call that real "Retributive Punishment." Sometimes logic lets us down. Sometimes our view of how God operates is mistaken, and thus our logical deductions are also wrong. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and find out about love, logic and retributive punishment!

Lesson 8: Innocent Blood (Job 10 & 15, Proverbs 3)
We see a pattern in the accusations of Job's friends and Job's response to them. The friends say that Job is suffering because of his sins. Job denies that he is guilty, and he challenges God to justify what is happening to him. This makes Job's friends angry, because they see this as an attack on God. Is this an attack on God? Is the human response to suffering misguided because it expects God to justify suffering? Is the human response to suffering too focused on us, rather than on God? Let's dig into our study of Job and see what we can learn!

Lesson 9: Intimations of Hope (Job 13)
A theme we keep seeing in these lessons is that we must trust God no matter what happens. The question is, "Trust God to do what?" Our assumption is that we trust God and He will make things better. If we are suffering, we would hardly want to trust God that things would remain the same or get worse, right? One reason we trust God is because the issues are not about us, they are about the larger conflict between good and evil. But, even though we might intellectually agree that "it is not about us," our trust is that God wins that larger conflict so that at some point in the future our suffering turns to joy. We call that "hope." Let's plunge into our study and learn more about our hope!

Lesson 10: The Wrath of Elihu (Job 32 & 34)
What do you think is "righteous anger?" I think this is anger over slights to God's reputation and program. Regular anger arises because of slights to me. As I understand it, righteous anger is fine and regular anger is not. Do you agree? Ephesians 4:26 says, "In your anger, do not sin." That seems to suggest that some anger is fine. We have seen that Job's friends engage in what they surely believed was righteous anger because they thought that Job was slighting God and His program. This week we focus on the anger of Elihu, one of Job's friends. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about whether Elihu's anger is appropriate!

Lesson 11: Out of the Whirlwind (Job 38-42)
We know the arguments, right? Job's friends argue the normal rule: that disobedience brings problems and obedience brings blessings. Job must have disobeyed because he has lots of problems. Job counters with his claim to be righteous and undeserving of what he is suffering. An injustice has been done to him and he wants God to give him a hearing so that he can address the charges against him. As an audience to the true facts, we can say that both sides have truth on their side. The friends are right about the normal rules, and Job is right about his righteousness. This week, God enters the picture. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and listen to what God has to say!

Lesson 12: Job's Redeemer (Job 10 & 19, John 1 & 12, Galatians 2)
What does Job teach us about grace and works? A central part of grace is that God saves us, we are not up to the task of saving ourselves. Certainly, the story of Job shows us that we are not competent to deal with Satan. Consider how God made all the difference in Job's life. We saw that Job started out great and ends up great - but all of this depends upon God. We also learned from Job that God wants us to do well, while Satan is the instigator of harm. Thus, one purpose of God's law is to help us to live well. When we rely on God we ally ourselves with the One who has both the inclination and the power to bless us. Let's dig into our Bible study and learn more about grace!

Lesson 13: The Character of Job (Job 1, 29 & 31)
Job was God's champion. In the controversy between good and evil, God nominated Job as His warrior in the contest with Satan. Interestingly, Satan chose himself to be the warrior for his side. Does this remind you of anyone else in the Bible? What about Adam and Eve? They were the focal point of the battle between God and Satan. What about Jesus? This time God nominated Himself, but in the form of humanity, to be the Champion for good. Have you ever thought about whether you are a warrior for God? Does it matter in the controversy between good and evil whether you succeed like Job and Jesus, or fail like Adam and Eve? I think it matters. This week we will look at how Job lived to see what points we can pick up about being champions for God. Let's jump into our study of the Bible!

Lesson 14: Some Lessons From Job (Job 1 & 42, 1 John 2, John 8, Hebrews 4)
We come to our last study in the book of Job. I trust you have enjoyed exploring what God has to teach us through Job's story. This story contains some critically important principles. In this last lesson, let's stand back and contemplate some of the big picture issues presented by God. Some of the more important issues deal with our place in this world and our relationship to God. Let's dig into our study of the Bible!

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