Lesson 1: Overview of Job
Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
1. To familiarize students in the basic themes and narrative of the first of the Old Testament Writings, Job
2. To personalize the story of suffering, faith, and perseverance in the lives of each student
3. To motivate students to consider trials a joy, realizing it is maturing them in their faith
Affliction, Burdens, Emotions, Endurance, Grumbling, Patience, Perseverance, Suffering
This is the message of Job summarized in the New Testament. It’s a long passage, but you should encourage students to commit it to memory.
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (5 minutes)
Begin your time with a game preparing students for memorizing Scripture. Make sure everyone has the same version of the Bible. Have them open to James 1:2-4. The goal is to go around your circle and have each person read just one word of the passage. If they read two accidentally (which will happen), you have to start over. Once you get through the passage once, challenge the class to do it faster.
Make it a goal to read the 3 verses, one word at a time, in less than 20 seconds. Good luck!
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
This verse we read talks about faith, trials, and perseverance. This introduces well our first stop on our journey through the Old Testament books of writing. Mostly poetry, these five books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) fall into the category of The Writings because they deal with various themes—wisdom, praise, etc.—not so much in a narrative format, but also not in the format of prophecy. They are supplementary to other historical books, and filled with great insight.
Again, our first stop as we go through The Writings is Job, the events of which most likely occurred during the time of Genesis. Some even believe these words were recorded before the events of Genesis were completed.
DIGGING IN (30 minutes)
We’re going to consider the story of Job in three different chunks. There is no way we can read the majority of this book, so we’re going to focus in on three sections. The first section occurs as Job suffers through great trials. The second chunk of scripture will be about his hearing from God concerning these things. In the third chunk, we’ll see that Job is rewarded for his faith. As we go through each, imagine yourself in Job’s shoes. Perhaps you can relate to his story at some level. Try to personalize this story, as that will help make it more applicable to your own life.
1. JOB LOSES
Read Job 1:1-3
1. How does verse 1 describe Job? (Upright, feared God, hated evil, etc.)
2. How many children does Job have? (10…7 sons and 3 daughters)
3. How many sheep did he have? (7,000) Camels? (3,000) Pairs of oxen? (500), Female donkeys? (500) Servants? (a large number.)
4. How does verse 3 summarizes Job’s social status, wealth & power? (He was the greatest of all the men in the East.)
Job was a great man. Not only did he fear God, but he had great wealth, a big family, and a thriving business. But things would not stay so great for Job, as we’ll see.
(TEACHER’S NOTE: We’re skipping over a part of this narrative. It includes a confusing passage about a meeting between Satan and God. We’re not skipping this passage because of this hard-to-understand text, though. We just don’t have time to deal with the complexities of the story in this overview.)
Read Job 1:13-22
Job loses much in these verses. Keep in mind, this seems to all have happened the SAME DAY. As we walk through what has happened, try to personalize these events.
1. Verses 14-15 state that Job loses what? (All his oxen and donkeys and servants.)
2. Job loses what in verse 16? (All his sheep and servants.)
3. What does Job lose in verse 17? (All his camels and more servants.)
4. Verses 18-19 indicate that Job loses what else? (All 10 kids and more servants.)
5. What is Job’s response in verse 20-21? (He worships.)
6. How do you think Job had the capacity to worship at a time like this?
Job loses everything, all his livestock, his children, all but 4 servants. Despite this, and in the midst of great anguish, he bows low to the ground and worships God. What a faith! The scriptures (v. 22) reveal that in doing all this, he did not sin or blame God. In chapter 2, which we don’t have time to read, Job is smitten with boils all over his skin. In desperation, his wife urges him to curse God and die. Yet Job will not sin, saying, “shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”
2. JOB LEARNS
The story of Job stretches along for many chapters. During this time, three friends come to visit Job. They try to talk sense into him. If you have time, read the entire book in one sitting. It’s a compelling story.
Eventually, as Job continues to suffer, mourn, and persevere, he learns some powerful lessons. That’s what I want to focus on next. What we’re about to read comes after Job asks some serious questions. He asks these as part of his discussion with his friends, particularly in Job 26-31. After a couple of different chapters filled with man’s response, we get God’s response in Job 38. What we read is powerful.
Read Job 38:1-18
This is a small sample of God’s words to Job. It goes on for the rest of chapter 38 (41 verses in all), the entirety of chapter 39 (30 more verses), and continues in chapters 40-41 (combined, 58 verses). These rhetorical questions come at Job without pause.
1. What do you think God is trying to teach Job by asking these questions?
2. How do you think Job responded? (See 40:3-5 for the answer.)
3. How do you think you would have responded?
4. What picture does God paint of Himself in these chapters? (Scan more of the dialogue if you need to.)
3. JOB GAINS
What happens next is pretty incredible. Job responds in humility. Let’s read the ending of this marvelous story.
Read Job 42:1-6 and 12-17
1. What do you think of Job’s response to God?
2. By how many times is Job blessed based on what he had before his trials? (Twice as much—14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, etc., 7 more sons, 3 daughters, their descendants to the fourth generation.)
3. Verse 16-17 resolve the story and tell of Job’s death. What do you think were some of his last thoughts before he died?
4. What would it have been like to be Job?
MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)
It is VERY likely that you will never experience suffering like Job did. But you WILL experience suffering at some point during your life. We need to take this Old Testament book of Job and put it to good use in our life.
In the New Testament, James summarizes what a believer’s theology of suffering should be. Turn to James 1.
Read James 1:2-4
1. Does it make sense that we should be joyful when suffering? Why/why not?
2. What does James say trials will do? (Test our faith, produce perseverance, help us mature in our faith.)
3. Did we find this true of Job? (Most definitely.)
Facing trials can be hard. Usually it’s because we find ourselves asking “why?” Like Job, we wonder why things have happened to us.
Below is a series of four questions that we should ask ourselves when we are suffering. After those questions, there are some suggestions about what we can do to make it through our trial.
|Question:||What To Do:|
Am I suffering a consequence of sin?
Confess your sin, repent.
|Is Satan attacking me because of my faith?|
Ask God for strength.
|Is my suffering a result of a natural consequence for which I am not responsible?||Recognize we’re in a sinful world, both good and evil suffer, God promises that one day all suffering will end.|
|Am I being trained for some special service?||Realize that your suffering can lead to great ministry opportunities. Ask God and others to help you realize these chances to help others who may suffer in the same way.|
You see, suffering is not fun, and it’s not easy, but it is often very productive. Despite the pain we feel, God can often use it for good. There are countless examples of this throughout scripture (Joseph, Jonah, Hosea, etc.). So it’s time to ask ourselves some really tough questions.
1. What is the greatest suffering you have ever had to endure? (Losing a family member, being abused, etc.)
2. How do you feel like you have dealt with that so far? (Angry at God, trying to hide it, etc.)
3. Is there any possible good you can see coming out of your trials? How can it improve your faith?
4. Are you taking steps to stop hurting and begin the healing process? How can this group of people help you do that?
CLOSING PRAYER (10 minutes)
It is likely that at this point a fairly serious time of prayer is needed. Encourage students to be very open about where they are and what they need prayer for. Then, as the adult leader, pray for each student and their hurt. Ask God to begin the healing process and take the trials that we’ve faced and glorify Himself through them. Take all the time you need and make this prayer time meaningful.