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                           "THE BOOK OF JOB"

                          Concluding Thoughts

In preparing this material and teaching the book of Job, I have found
it to be one of the more challenging books of the Bible.  Its challenge
was related to several things:

   * Knowing God would later rebuke Job and his friends for things they
     said, it was difficult to discern when to take what they said as 
     "gospel", and what would incur God's wrath.

   * Some of the illustrations or points being made were difficult to 
     follow.  This may be due to cultural differences, or perhaps the 
     Hebrew proved to be a challenge for the translators in conveying
     the thoughts of the speakers.  Or maybe it was just my own 

   * Elihu remains somewhat of an enigma to me.  The Lord neither 
     condemns nor approves what Elihu had to say.  There are times it
     seems he is saying the same thing as Job's three friends, that Job
     is suffering due to his sin; e.g., when he says that Job "adds
     rebellion to his sin" (34:37).  I do see a major distinction
     between Elihu and the others, in that Elihu focuses on Job's
     suffering as a disciplinary expression of God's grace, as opposed
     to simply a punitive manifestation of God's wrath.  I also see how
     Elihu's admonition for Job to "stand still and consider the
     wondrous works of God" (37:14) prepares Job for what is to 
     follow when the Lord finally speaks.  Perhaps it best to say that
     Elihu serves as a transition between Job's friends and the Lord 
     himself, presenting thoughts that will make it easier for Job to
     consider what the Lord Himself will actually say.

Despite its challenges, I find the book of Job fascinating and filled
with much good for the Christian.  Studying the book of Job, we can
learn of God's power, wisdom, and sovereignty in the world; we can see
how men of God grappled with the question of God's justice; and we can 
observe that God does take notice of the righteous.

The book also provides an answer to the challenge made by Satan.  There
are people who will serve God even in adversity, for God is worthy of
our praise apart from the blessings He provides.  May we be such
people!  That doesn't mean we won't have questions for which answers
can't be found in this life.  But with the book of Job we can learn how
the righteous should suffer, how careful we should be in comforting the
suffering, and to accept the fact that we can never fully comprehend 
God's working in our lives and in the world.  From this book of Job, we
should see the need to have the faith beautifully expressed by the 
prophet Habakkuk:

   Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;
   Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no
   food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there 
   be no herd in the stalls;

   Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my 
   salvation.  The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet
   like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

                                  (Hab 3:17-19)
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