The Book of Job

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What's the significance of the setting in the book of Job, and how does it impact the plot?

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The biblical book of Job is set in “the land of Uz,” a pagan land that scholars think may have been southeast of Israel, perhaps somewhere in the northwestern part of Arabia, and this setting is critical to the story because it means that Job is likely not an Israelite. Let's look at this in more detail.

Job is a rich man in Uz. He has many animals and all kinds of servants and a large family. In fact, he is “the greatest of all the people of the east” (1:3). Yet Job does believe in the Israelite God, which says a lot about Job's desire for truth and integrity. He wants to make sure that he is worshiping the true God.

God recognizes Job as His servant even though Job is not part of Israel. This points ahead to the days when God will incorporate all peoples into His covenant family. But God also allows Job to be tested. Satan does not believe that Job will still love God if all of his blessings are taken from him.

So Job loses everything, his family, his animals, his wealth, even his health. Yet he does not curse God. He complains a lot, but he remains faithful. Considering the book's Israelite audience, this is an important point. The Israelites, too, have experienced plenty of hardships over the years. God has tried them. Yet they have often failed to remain faithful. Notice the contrast here. A foreigner like Job remains faithful to God, but God's own people do not always do the same.

God rebukes Job firmly for his complaining, but at the end of the book, He restores Job's health and wealth in an even greater measure than he had before. Job also prays for his misguided friends. Again, we should think about how God cares so deeply for this foreigner and how He prospers him. And we should note that this foreigner intercedes for his friends. God's people of Israel should trust that God will do the same for them and should also pray for others.

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