What Was Job’s Sin

In the Book of Job, what is Job’s sin? What is the point of Job’s prophecy? Is Job righteous or unrighteous? How does this text apply today and always?

Job’s only sin was the friends he chose, the company he kept. I say that in jest. The Bible records at least twice the Job did not sin, even in what he said about God. When Job’s wealth is taken from him and his children die,

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20–22, ESV)

Unlike anyone who reads the conversation between God and Satan in Job 1-2, Job doesn’t even know that Satan exists. He has no idea that God has given Satan permission to do what he did. All he knows is God is the only one who exists.

Job’s theology is that God either causes everything that happens or allows things to happen. So he attributes both good and bad to God. Satan makes it look like God is the one who brought the wind supernaturally that destroyed the home of his children.

While we sing songs of faith about the Lord giving and taking away, Job literally believed that God gave his children and then took them away, but doesn’t know the reason why. Even though he has suffered heartbreak and attributed it to the wrong person, he still blesses the Lord’s name.

I suppose we could understand that whether we are in suffering and trial or victory and blessing, the Lord is to still be blessed. We have a limited human perspective and don’t understand all of his ways or plans all the time. From that point of view, if that is what Job is saying, then he is not charging God with evil.

Either way, the Bible says about Job that in everything he said he didn’t sin against the Lord (Job 1:22). So he did not sin.

Later in Job 2, we have almost the same conversation between God and Satan in heaven. Once again, Job is not privy to the conversation as the reader of his book is. He has no idea Satan exists.

He doesn’t know that God allowed these things to happen to prove that Job was faithful to him not because of his wealth, success, or blessings, but because he loves God. His faith existed before his trials and it stays through them. It was the only thing that got him through it.

Our trials on the surface and the suffering we endure must not be allowed to dissuade our faith. We have faith before the trial and after it. We suffer, but we rely on our faith, the rock of our salvation. And so Job does as well.

This time, Satan wants to kill him, but God only makes the concession that he can do anything to his health except kill him. So Job lives through a painful disease for a time. Even his wife tells him that she’s had enough, to curse God and die.

But even that doesn’t deter Job’s faith. Continuing on the same train of thought, that God is allowed to do good and evil to any person, he asks her, “Shall receive good from God, and not evil?” (Job 2:10)

He still understands that everything comes from God directly. Because of his understanding, Job still does not sin against God. The confusion on the possibility of Job sinning against God comes from the rest of the book, especially the conversations he has with his three friends.

Most of the book of Job concerns his friends instead of trying to help him understand God, accusing him of sinning as the explanation for his sudden suffering. Already dealing with debilitating disease, Job must also defend himself against his “friends.”

At the end of the book, God rails against the three friends and the youngster because they don’t know what they’re talking about. So you see that Job does not sin against the Lord. The Bible even says that he is blameless and innocent in all that he says to them.

I believe God allows us to falsely understand him but gives us much grace in a misunderstanding. We can misspeak against the Lord (in some circumstances) in an attempt to still have faith despite what we think we understand. But he doesn’t hold it against us when we don’t understand from our limited human perspective.

This doesn’t mean we get a pass on every circumstance. We must be trying to understand God out of a place of faith. If we try to understand him from a place of doubt, we will receive his judgment instead of his grace.

The book of Job applies to us as leaders today because we don’t understand God completely. We never will this side of heaven. What we know of him is what he holds us to. We learn about him through his Word. We do the best we can to apply our understanding to our life. Even when we don’t understand everything, God is gracious when we try to apply our understanding by faith.

Image by Tabitha Guarnieri from Pixabay

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