Term 2 2021

Job: The Wisdom of the Cross

Job can be an intimidating book. It deals with why a good God would allow an innocent man to suffer.
It is long. Really long! And much of it is poetry.
In 2021 our world is wrestling with questions of suffering. The questions being asked in Job aren’t academic. As we read Job together my prayer is that God will bring comfort to the afflicted. We see Job approaching suffering because he is a believer, and as a believer. Job foreshadows Jesus both in his blamelessness and in his perseverance through undeserved suffering.
A helpful book to read is “Job: The Wisdom of the Cross” by Christopher Ash.

Out of the Whirlwind   Job 38:1-11   6th June

  1. How does God’s response to Job in Job 38:1-3 answer Job’s demands in Job 23:3  Job 31:35? How does God speaking to Job turn the table on these demands?
  2. Read Job 38:4-38, which describes the inanimate created order. Why do the angels sing for joy in 38:7? Why doesn’t Job have joy like the angels?
  3. In the bible ‘the sea’ regularly symbolises watery chaos, danger, evil, death, and the opposite of the ordered creation. So in verses 8-11 what is the significance of the sea being shut in? What does it say about the place of evil in the creation? How might this perspective on evil be a comfort to Job and us? Read Revelation 21:1 – will evil last forever?
  4. In 38:16-18 who alone knows the place of the dead? Can you think of one man in the bible who does know the place of the dead and has returned victorious?
  5. How would Job feel receiving all these questions he cannot answer? Is he supposed to be ashamed or honoured, foolish or wise
  6. Read 38:39 – 39:30, which deals with wild animals and life and death.

Wisdom That Can’t Be Found   Job 28   30th May
Job 28 is a break from the chapters surround it. There are no back and forth speeches about Job’s wickedness or integrity, nor is there complaining about injustice. Instead the chapter is a poem about a costly search for a valuable object that cannot be found.

  1. Read 1-11. Where can precious jewels be found?
  2. In 12-19 the poem turns to wisdom. Like buried treasure, it too is precious but so hard to find.
    Why is wisdom priceless and valuable (15-19). What is the benefit of wisdom? If wisdom is about understanding how this world ‘fits together’ why might that be valuable to Job? How might wisdom like this be valuable to any suffering believer?

A word on wisdom. Someone has described wisdom as ‘the architecture of the universe’. See Proverbs 3:19. Wisdom is about more than than the order science can observe and goes to the order and purpose of creation. When Job asks why he is suffering he calls into question God’s wisdom – is there some underlying order to what seems like chaos and injustice? Job wants to understand the world as it is.

3. Read 12-28. Why is the search for wisdom frustrating?
4. Why will the search for wisdom fail? (vv13-14, 21-22)
5. In verse 28, God speaks to humans for the first time in the book. What does he say? Does this verse change the nature of the search for wisdom from the ‘architecture’ to the ‘architect’?
6. Read Colossians 2:2-3. Where is wisdom revealed today?
7. How does this chapter make you feel?

Is God For Me Or Against Me?   Job 19   23rd May

  1. Read Job 2:8 – 3:26
  2. Is God for Job or against him? What kind of God does what he did to Job, trapping a believer in a prison of suffering, loneliness, pain and misery? Why would Job ask this kind of question?
  3. Look at v7. How are Job’s cries for help and justice met?
  4. Look at v12. The image of an army laying siege to a tent seems comical. But what does it teach us about how Job feels?
  5. Is Job right in verse 21? Has the hand of God touched him? (read 1:11-12, 2:5-6)
  6. Job seems to want to be proved innocent. His comforters will never agree with this. But Job wants his words recorded (v23) so that he can be proved right one day. Can you think where Job’s words have been recorded?
  7. Read verses 25-27. Here Job uses the image of a ‘redeemer’ – this is a person who was usually a relative, who would stand in for you when you were wronged. If you were murdered he would see the murderer was punished. If your widow was childless he gave her a child. The book of Ruth tells the story of Boaz as a redeemer for Naomi and Ruth. Job is confident that he has a redeemer who lives forever who will vindicate him. Who is the redeemer that Job is thinking of? How can God be the one who causes Job to suffer and the one who will redeem Job from suffering?
  8. When does Job expect to be redeemed/vindicated? (vv25-27)
  9. Read Romans 8:31-39. Can every Christian be sure of the things Job hoped for? How does the resurrection of Jesus give us confidence and good reasons to hope?
  10. How does this chapter help us with undeserved pain in our lives? What can we do with those sorrows?

Stupid things that should never be said   Job 18   16th May

  1. Read Job 18.
  2. What does Bildad say will happen to the wicked in vv5-6?
  3. If the image in 5-6 is light being snuffed out, the image in 7-10 is of falling into a trap. Does Bildad describe a way out of the trap?
  4. In vv11-14  why is the wicked terrified?
  5. Does Jesus use similar language to describe hell? (See Luke 17.29-30, Mark 9.47-48, Matthew 25.41)
  6. What becomes of the wicked in v21?
  7. How would Bildad answer this quiz? How would you?
    The universe is an ordered place. True/False
    God punishes the wicked and puts them in their place. True/False
    If Job is suffering he must be wicked. True/False
    Wicked people sometimes prosper. True/False
    Blameless believers sometimes suffer undeserved grief. True/False
  8. What is the problem with Bildad’s tone? Is he too sure he is right? Is he honest about what he doesn’t know?
  9. Why isn’t Bildad sympathetic or loving?
  10. What does Bildad say about Satan?
  11. What does Bildad say about waiting for judgement? How does that differ from the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13.24-30)
  12. Can you think of a character in the bible who is innocent but who suffers punishment from God?

The dark despair   Job 3, Mark 14:32-42   9th May
Recap: In Job 1-2 we watched Job, the blameless believer, suffer heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss. We got to listen to conversations in heaven that lay behind this loss. The Lord had given permission for Satan to torment Job. Job is not being punished for his sin. In fact the reverse – he is suffering because he is godly. In his suffering he shows faith – not blaming God, but blessing him. In chapter 3 though, we see that Job curses the day of his birth. In his grief and sorrow he keeps expressing his despair.

  1. Begin by praying, asking God to reveal himself in his word.
  2. Read Job 2.8-3.26.
  3. How is grieving expressed in your culture?
  4. Why does Job curse the day of his birth and conception? (3:3-10)
  5. How does this chapter make you feel?
  6. Someone has said in depression you can only look backwards with despair. Hope looks forward. Are there times when genuine believers are consumed with despair and cannot see hope?
  7. Read Mark 14:32-42 & Mark 15:34. How is Job like Jesus?

The Terrible Testing   Job 1:1-12, James 5:10-11   2nd May

  1. Begin by praying asking God to reveal himself in his word
  2. Read Job 1:1-2.10 in this way: Have two people read. You will notice there are a series of alternating scenes that jump between heaven and earth. Have one person read the scenes on earth and the other the scenes in heaven.
  3. Go around the group and share what most jumps out at you from the passage. Different things might impact different people – that’s ok – it can be interesting to see what impacts others.
  4. What evidence is there in 1:1-5 for describing Job as ‘good and great’?
  5. In 1:6-12 a ‘heavenly council’ is described. For more background on this imagery look at Genesis 6.2, 1 Kings 22:19-22, Psalm 29.1, Psalm 82:1,6, Psalm 89:6,7. What does this scene teach us about the way the world is governed?
  6. What does God say about Job in 1.8? (By the way, do remember this very positive assessment God gives Job. Job’s character and conduct is going to be questioned by Satan and Job’s friends throughout the book. But we have got a peek into heaven and heard God’s verdict on Job – he really is godly and blameless. So we know in advance that God isn’t punishing Job for evil.)
  7. What does Satan say motivates Job’s fear of God? (1:9-11) Why does God allow Satan to test Job? (1:11-12)
  8. How can suffering test if Christian faith is real? (See 1 Peter 1:6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.)
  9. What happens to Job in 1:13-22? The suffering here is extreme but does it remind you of other suffering As you think about suffering and testing, remember the perspective of the wheelchair and the armchair. Are there times you’ve felt your faith tested by suffering?
  10. Satan said Job would curse God to his face when he suffered. Instead he blesses God. This might seem to close but instead the scene jumps back to heaven (2:1-7)
  11. Why does God allow Satan to test Job a second time, and this time to torment him?
  12. How is Job like Jesus?