It is common to suggest that the purpose of the book is to answer the age - old question, “Why does God allow the righteous to suffer?” That is certainly the question Job raises, but it is worthy to note that he himself never receives a direct answer. Nor is one given by the author, other than to answer Satan’s challenge, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”. We are privileged to know of the challenge of Satan, and that God allows Job to suffer in answer to that challenge, but Job is never told of this. Therefore, I suggest that the purpose of the book is:
To answer the question, “How should the righteous suffer?”
While Job’s questions and complaints often come close to charging God with wrong, he never crosses the line and humbly submits to God when told that the answers to his questions are beyond his ability to understand. Thus the book shows us how the righteous should bear up under suffering (“You have heard of the perseverance of Job” - Jm 5:11)
- The book defends the absolute glory and perfection of God - It sets forth the theme echoed in Ps 18:3 (“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised”). God is deserving of our praise simply on the basis of who He is, apart from the blessings He bestows. Satan denied this (1:9-11), but Job proved him wrong (1:20-22; 2:10).
- The question of suffering is addressed - Why do we suffer? Who or what causes it? Why doesn’t God do something? Not all questions are answered, but some important points are made:
- Man is unable to subject the painful experiences of human existence to a meaningful analysis - God’s workings are beyond man’s ability to fathom. Man simply cannot tie all the “loose ends” of the Lord’s purposes together. We must learn to trust in God, no matter the circumstances.
- Suffering is not always the result of personal sin - The erroneous conclusion drawn by Job’s friends is that suffering is always a consequence of sin. Job proves this is not the case.
- Suffering may be allowed as a compliment to one’s spirituality - God allowed Job to suffer to prove to Satan what kind of man he really was. What confidence God had in Job!
- The book paints a beautiful picture of “patience” - The Greek word is “hupomone”, which describes the trait of one who is able to abide under the weight of trials. From the “patience of Job”, we learn that it means to maintain fidelity to God, even under great trials in which we do not understand what is happening.
- The book also prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ! - His coming is anticipated in several ways. Job longs for a mediator between him and God (9:33; 33:23), and Jesus is one (1Ti 2:5). Job confessed his faith in a Redeemer who would one day come (19:25); Christ is that Redeemer (Ep 1:7)!