Theme: Undeserved Suffering in the Angelic Conflict – Sovereignty, Suffering, Repent, Restoration; Key Verses: Job 13:15; Job 37:23-24; Job 42:5-6 (Updated December 1, 2004)

Undeserved Suffering and Free Will in the Angelic Conflict

November, 2004

  • There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Job 1:1


  • Suffering without knowing why, the angelic conflict, and 1 Peter 5


  • Undeserved Suffering and Free Will in the Angelic Conflict—Sovereignty, Suffering, Repentance, Restoration. A believer may not know why everything is going wrong. Sometimes, as with Job, God allows Satan or Satan’s ministers to bring suffering into a believer’s life, but in these cases God is in control and has a reason. Satan wants to discourage the believer’s faith while God is demonstrating His own goodness and mankind’s free will and faith. Furthermore, other people—whether family, friends, believers, or unbelievers—may view the sufferer through self-righteous and know-it-all eyes and give bad advice instead of mercy, prayer support, and encouragement. When this kind of suffering and testing come, the believer needs to trust God, God’s wisdom, and God’s plan. God is just, gracious, and compassionate. He will work all the things together for good for the believer.

History Overview

  • The book of Job is poetic wisdom literature. Job lived many years ago, likely during Abraham’s era. The book was probably written soon after the events.
  • Location: Uz is mentioned in Job 1:1; Jeremiah 25:20; and Lamentations 4:21. It is SE of the Dead Sea, adjacent to Edom in North Arabia. According to Gleason Archer (ASOTI 454), Job was from North Arabia and the book has an Arabic setting.
  • Job was a real person who lived at a specific time in Middle East history. Both Ezekiel and James accept Job as a real person (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; James 5:11).
  • Job was his family’s priest (Job 1:5), just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The patriarchal family clan was the basic family unit.
  • Job counted his wealth in livestock (Job 1:3), which was similar to Abraham’s time.
  • Job lived 142 years after he was restored (Job 42:16). This length of life fits with the patriarchal age.
  • The divine name Shaddai (Almighty) is used 31 times. This, too, is similar to Abraham’s time (Exodus 6:3). It is used only 10 times in post-patriarchal Old Testament books.
  • The book seems to be unaware of the Mosaic Law. At the least, it has no clear references to that law.


  • We do not know who authored Job.
  • The book was written soon after the events or by someone familiar with the history and culture of Job’s life and times.
  • Moses may have written the record of Job’s suffering. This is the view of the.
  • .Others suggest that the book was written in Solomon’s time; and a few favor Manasseh’s time, Jeremiah’s time, or later.

Key Verses: Job 13:15; 37:23-24; 42.5-6

  • Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.
  • Job 37:23-24 “The Almighty—we cannot find Him; He is exalted in power And He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness. 24 “Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise of heart.”
  • Job 42:5-6, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”

Key People and Satan


  • (Genesis 3:1-7; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:11-19; Matthew 4:1-11: Matthew 25:41; John 8:44; 12:31; John 16:11; John 17:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Peter 5:8-11; Jude 9; Revelation 20; and others). Satan was God’s highest creation. He is an angel who rebelled against God and therefore condemned with those angels who followed him to the lake of fire. Satan is he temporary ruler of this present world system. As rebel and temporary ruler he accuses believers before God, blinds the minds of unbelievers, instigates and dominates the present non-biblical worldview, heads up his demon organization, and seeks to destroy the spiritual life of believers.


  • Job lived in the patriarchal times, somewhere east of the Jordan River, probably in the area around Edom. He was a real person. Job was wealthy and righteous. Satan claimed that Job followed God because God had prospered him. God allowed Satan to remove everything from Job but his life. Job suffered undeservedly. Three friends gave him advice as to why he was suffering. They concluded that he had sinned. Elihu, a younger man gave better advice: God is just and wise; Job was wrong to critically question God. After the men had their say, God taught Job through rhetorical questions about creation, life, wisdom, righteousness, and sovereignty. In the end, Job recognized that he had spoken without understanding; he retracted and repented. God restored Job’s fortunes.


  •  Eliphaz is the first of Job’s acquaintances to speak (4, 5, 15, 22). He concludes that Job has sinned and God is disciplining him.


  • Bildad is the second acquaintance to speak (8, 18, 25). He concludes that Job that God does not pervert justice; Job is wrong to question his plight; Job has sinned.


  • Zophar is the third to speak against Job (11, 20). He concludes that God recognizes false men, and their triumph is short; Job is obviously guilty of sin.


  • Elihu is the final advisor to speak (32-37). He is younger than the three advisors and Job. He waited until the others had exhausted their arguments. Elihu’s message is much closer to the truth: God is greater than man; he is always just; Job should consider God’s creation and listen to God.

Key Words and Phrases Used

  • Sons of God (1:6; 2:1; 38:7), refers to angels.
  • Wisdom, 21X (e.g. 4:21; 11:6; 26:3; 28:18, 28; 38:36).
  • Fear of God (4:6), Fear of the Almighty (6:14), and fear of the Lord 28:28).
  • Worthless physicians (13:4)
  • Proverbs of ashes (13:12)
  • Windy knowledge (15:2)
  • Sorry comforters (16:2)

Overview Outline of Job

  • Job’s status, Satan’s accusation, God’s verdict, and the test (1-3).
  • Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar argue with Job. They say all suffering, including Job’s, is because Job sinned (4-31).
  • Elihu speaks to Job. He says that God is infinitely greater in all ways than man. God is right in whatever He does (32-37).
  • God then speaks to Job; Job finally understands that God is indeed just and infinite; after that God restores Job to temporal prosperity (38-42).

Job Chapter Titles

  • Chapter 1: Satan: Does Job fear God for nothing? (Job 1:9)
  • Chapter 2: Satan: Skin for skin; Lord: only spare his life. (Job 2:4,6)
  • Chapter 3: Job cursed his birth. (Job 3:1)
  • Chapter 4: Eliphaz: Now it has come to you. (Job 4:5)
  • Chapter 5: Eliphaz: Don’t despise God’s reproof. (Job  5:17)
  • Chapter 6: Job: How have I erred? (Job 6:24)
  • Chapter 7: Job: Have I sinned? (Job 7:20)
  • Chapter 8: Bildad: If you are upright. (Job 8:6)
  • Chapter 9: Job: God is not a man. (Job 9:32)
  • Chapter 10: Job: Let me know why. (Job 10:2)
  • Chapter 11: Zophar: God knows false men. (Job 11:11)
  • Chapter 12: Job: Lord has done this. (Job 12:9)
  • Chapter 13: Job: You are worthless physicians. (Job 13:4)
  • Chapter 14: Job: Man is short-lived. (Job 14:1)
  • Chapter 15: Eliphaz: Your mouth condemns you. (Job 15:6)
  • Chapter 16: Job: You are sorry comforters. (Job 16:1)
  • Chapter 17: Job: The grave is ready for me. (Job 17:1)
  • Chapter 18: Bildad: You hunt for words. (Job 18:2)
  • Chapter 19: Job: God has struck me. (Job 19:21)
  • Chapter 20: Zophar: Triumph of the wicked is short. (Job 20:5)
  • Chapter 21: Job: The wicked live on. (Job 21:7)
  • Chapter 22: Eliphaz: Your great wickedness. (Job 22:5)
  • Chapter 23: Job: When He has tried me…gold. (Job 23:10)
  • Chapter 24: Job: God ignores folly. (Job 24:12)
  • Chapter 25: Bildad: How can man be just with God? (Job 25:4)
  • Chapter 26: Job: These are the fringes of His ways. (Job 26:14)
  • Chapter 27: Job: My integrity…you act foolishly. (Job 27:5,12)
  • Chapter 28: Job: Where is wisdom and understanding? (Job 28:12,28)
  • Chapter 29: Job: As in months gone by. (Job 29:2)
  • Chapter 30: Job: Taunt and byword, dust and ashes. (Job 30:9,19)
  • Chapter 31: Job: If I have…, then let him weigh me. (Job 31:5-6)
  • Chapter 32: Elihu: Elihu’s anger burned. (Job 32:2-3)
  • Chapter 33: Elihu: God is greater than man. (Job 33:12)
  • Chapter 34: Elihu: God will not act wickedly or pervert justice. (Job 34:12)
  • Chapter 35: Elihu: The case is before God. (Job 35:14)
  • Chapter 36: Elihu: More to be said in God’s behalf. (Job 36:2)
  • Chapter 37: Elihu: Consider the wonders of God. (Job 37:14)
  • Chapter 38: Lord: I will ask you, and you instruct Me! (Job 38:3)
  • Chapter 39: Lord: Do you know? (Job 39:1)
  • Chapter 40: Lord: Gird up and instruct me. (Job 40:7)
  • Chapter 41: Lord: What about Leviathan? (Job 41:1)
  • Chapter 42: Job: I repent and retract. (Job 42:6) Lord restored fortunes.

Trace the Theme

  • Undeserved Suffering and Free Will in the Angelic Conflict—Sovereignty, Suffering, Repentance, Restoration
  • The events begin in chapter 1 with Satan challenging God that Job only follows Him because of what God gives him. The events then move to earth where Satan causes Job’s world to fall apart (1) and then attacks Job’s health (2). God allows Satan to test Job, and Job through his free will eventually demonstrates to Satan that he accepts and trusts God in spite of all his undeserved suffering. The entire story of Job is meaningless to God, to Satan, to Job, to Job’s acquaintances, and to the world if Job and mankind do not have free will. Job has three acquaintances: Eliphaz (4, 5, 15, 22); Bildad (8, 18, 25); and Zophar (11, 20) give him lots of advice—essentially their conclusion is that Job suffers because he has sinned. The last acquaintance to speak is younger Elihu (32-37), who more accurately advises Job. After Job has responded to all these men, God steps in and through a series of questions demonstrates that only He is trustworthy, holy, all powerful, and sovereign (38-41). Job gets the point. He repents of his criticism of God (42). The book ends with God disciplining the advisors and blessing Job. Job gets the point. He repents of his faltering faith and criticism of God (42). The book ends with God disciplining the advisors and blessing Job. Satan has seen, much to his dislike, that Job and mankind can and will choose to believe God and submit to God from their individual free will.

Key Doctrines

  • Angelic conflict (Job 1:1-2; Ephesians 3:10; 6:10-20: 1 Peter 5:8-9).
  • Free-will (Job 1-3; 42; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Jonah; Matthew 4:5; 23:37; John 7:17; Acts 17:29-31; James 4:7-17; Revelation 22:7, 17).
  • Undeserved suffering (Job; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11; 1 Peter 4:12-19; James 1:2-12).
  • God’s character or divine attributes (Exodus 3:5-7; Deuteronomy 32:1-4; Hebrews 13:8; 1 John 1:5; 4:8).
  • Self-righteous friends (Job).
  • God’s faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 119:89-90; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; Hebrews 10:23; 1 John 1:9).

Lessons For Us Today

  • How do I think about God while I suffer and do not know the exact reason why?
  • When I am suffering or under great pressure, am I confident in God’s character—that God is my comforter, strengthener, and restorer?
  • Do I give quick and unsympathetic answers to people who are suffering; do I criticize and judge them; or am I available to encourage, support, and pray for them without interfering?
  • What is my part in the angelic conflict?
  • Am I thankful for my free-will and do I seek to make right choices?

Closing Scripture

  • Job 42:5-6, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”