by Rev. Ian Arnold

The Book of Job consists of 42 Chapters, it comes in our Bibles immediately before the Psalms, is the first of 5 books which, together, comprise the “Wisdom Literature”, these being Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon these 5 are books of poetry of Job it has been said that it is “perhaps the greatest poem in all literature”; also “as one of the most beautiful writings that man has ever known”.

It is about Job, a righteous and prosperous man who suffers dreadfully losing his property and children and his health (Chapter 2: 1 to 10) he is visited by his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar who in 3 successive cycles of speeches insist that suffering comes to the wicked, “therefore Job must be wicked.” (see Chapter 15: 1 to 35) but then a fourth, a much younger Elihu, speaks up (he says that out of deference to the much older other 3 he had to this point kept quiet) but not contradict Job’s friends and contradicts Job himself, insisting on God’s justice, goodness and majesty (Chapters 32 to 37) Job finally accepts that God’s workings are beyond man’s ability to fathom. Once more God bestows upon him even greater prosperity than he had enjoyed before.

In the Writings through Swedenborg it is said, that the book of Job is a book of the Ancient Church (Arcana Caelestia 2682) “but it is not of those books which are called the Law and the Prophets, because it does not have an internal sense which treats solely of the Lord and His kingdom.” (Arcana Caelestia 3540) Nevertheless, it is full of correspondences. (Doctrine of the Sacred Scriptures 20) You have the fascinating comment, “the Hells tempt men by falsities, as they tempted Job.” (Apocalypse Explained 740:14)

What the book is taken to be about

It is commonly believed to have been written to answer the age-old question, “Why does God allow the righteous to suffer?” (Although no final solution to the problem is offered.)

Another suggestion: “How should the righteous suffer?”

And, a book that highlights “the situation of unmerited or innocent human suffering”.

My own sense of what the book is about is, that it is about times when the Lord is working with us to take us onto another level of faith, commitment and conviction even spiritually, and for a time, things look fine and we seem to be prospering it is not that we are in any way obviously and outwardly evil. To the contrary our faith, commitment and conviction may be very real, very sound and very sincere but then we are stripped of what seems to be our spiritual prosperity the things that were so soundly in place are moved out of place the certainties we had and the sureness that was there is blown away we are left pretty well bereft and naked the losses seem undeserved and then also come attacks on us, questioning, probing, mocking us we cast around, deeply within ourselves, for what makes sense of what is happening and what has happened but if we can hold to the sovereignty, love and rightness of the Lord we will come through and He will bless us with an even greater spiritual prosperity.