The book of Job deals with some pretty deep issues: The existence and role of Satan, the limits of Retribution theology, the reasons for human suffering and the inscrutability of God’s will, to mention the main ones. One web writer says, “It is no wonder this book is so neglected in the pulpit. Any sane preacher would look at these obstacles and shudder at the thought of trying to bring his modern day, internet savvy and text messaging obsessed, congregation through such a quagmire!”[1] Job 1:1 says, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

The book opens by introducing us to a man from the land of Uz.  Norman Habel suggests that the book should begin with the phrase “Once upon a time.”[2] This beginning, in my opinion, begins the story in such a way as to lead us to expect talking lions, tin men, and living scarecrows. Uz is not the same as Oz! Oz is part of a fairy tale, and Uz is a real place that existed in real history. Uz is somehow connected to Edom. Edomites were the descendants of Esau and settled in their own lands, which became “Edom.” Lamentations 4:21 puts Edom inside Uz. It says, “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz.” Jeremiah 25:20 includes the kings of peoples residing inside Uz in his prophecy that the kings will all drink from the cup of God’s wrath.  He lists many kings and includes  “all the kings of the land of Uz.” Most of the other kings mentioned can be demonstrated to be real kings of real places. Therefore Uz was a real place with real kings. Ezekiel includes Job in his list of three righteous men. We know the other two are real, so we need not doubt the historical nature of Job. He Includes Job alongside Noah and Daniel (Ezekiel 14:14). So, I doubt very much that there will be a yellow brick road leading to Uz.

The man’s name is Job. He gets glowing references in the opening verse. He was blameless and upright. He feared God and turned away from evil. Ash describes blameless very well, “When you see Job at work, when you hear his words, when you watch his deeds, you see an accurate reflection of what is actually going on in his heart. The word means ‘personal integrity, not sinless perfection.’”[3] Most agree that being “upright” has to do with Job’s dealings with others. He’s “a man you can do business with because he will not double-cross you, a man who deals straight.” Being a “God-fearer” suggests several things. Job “had a reverence, a piety, a bowing down before the God who made the world, so that he honored God as God and gave thanks to him.” Finally, it’s said that Job “turns away from sin.” This doesn’t mean he never meets it on the road of life; it means, as Ash concludes, “To turn away from sin is to repent. Job’s character was marked by daily repentance, a habitual turning away from evil in his thoughts, words, and deeds. So Job is a real believer, genuine in his integrity, upright in his relationships, pious in his worship, and penitent in his behavior. His life was marked by what we would call repentance and faith, which are still the marks of the believer today, as they have always been.”


[2] Reyburn, William David. 1992. A Handbook on the Book of Job. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[3] Ash, Christopher. 2014. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross. Edited by R. Kent Hughes. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.