Who caused Job's suffering? God, Satan or Job himself?

Question / Comment -  Who or what was responsible for Job's suffering? Was it his fear?

I have a few inquiries regarding God's sovereignty. During my initial bible study years ago, I was instructed that He allows evil, which was based on the account of Job and the adversary seeking permission to afflict him. However, I later encountered a teaching that contradicted this notion, stating that He is not the originator of evil. Job's fear ultimately led to the unfortunate events that occurred to him. In the New Testament, in Luke 22, He tells Peter that the adversary requested permission to sift him as wheat. Once again, I find myself contemplating this matter.

JPN Reply:


I will answer this but I want to see what you think when you read the account. Try to forget about what you have heard - whether that is about God's sovereignty or Job being fearful, and just read the account. Note what the Bible says about Job and specifically what God and Satan say about Job. So specifically Job 1:1-12, 2:1-10. That should be enough to know if what you heard is right or not. I'm doing this because we all have to go back to the Bible and test what people, even so-called Bible teachers, have to say. We should be a Berean. So what does a simple reading of these passages say? 

Thanks ?

Their Reply

Good morning Iain,

Well, Job was a man of great integrity. He feared God, meaning, Job had a deep reverence for the Almighty and was blameless. He was also well off. 
However, the adversary argues that Job's fear of the Almighty is because of the hedge of protection God placed over his life. To test Job's loyalty, the adversary challenges to remove his protection and find out Job's true colors. 
In Job 2, we learn about his second test, this time the adversary brought sickness to his body. Despite this hardship, Job remained faithful. 
You know, I think this book is so rich, it has a lot to explore and learn about building faith and character. I want to draw your attention to Job 3:25.
Job 3:25 For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.
Job feared a tragedy could strike his life. He allowed fear to have a place in his life. So it ended happening. We can't give access to fear for the Lord has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Secondly, the commentary said Job didn't have a blood covenant as we believers in Jesus Christ do. Ok, let me know your thoughts, please. 

Peace and grace to you.
JPN Reply:

Thanks. Yeah the book of Job is very interesting and rich as you said. You have done a good job in your summary. Though I wouldn't agree that his suffering was due to his fear. But let's backup a little first and start with that which we do know.

  • The Biblical summary of Job: The Bible says he was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. (Job 1:1)
  • God's own words concerning Job: The Lord said "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." (Job 1:8)
    God repeats this even after Job lost his children and livelihood: "Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." (Job 2:3)
  • Satan's assessment of Job: Satan suggests that Job fears God because God has placed a hedge of protection around him and if this was removed, Job would curse God (Job 1:9-11). But he can't pinpoint any specific sin.

It is worth noting that God says nothing bad about Job, only positive. Even after Satan inflicts Job the Lord tells Satan that 'you incited me against him WITHOUT ANY REASON'. Satan himself can't even point to any actual sin or fear. All he can propose is what Job 'might' do if God removed His hand of protection. So there is no thought whatsoever that Job had anything in his life that caused his sufferings. Nothing. This included fear. It is never mentioned. Instead God say he is blameless and there was no reason in Job for his affliction. We should believe God and not some mistaken commentator on this. 

What I feared has come upon me

With that as the background, let's look at Job 3:25. As you quoted, in the midst of terrible suffering Job says 'the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.' What was it that he feared previously? The Bible doesn't say. Some believe it was a tragedy involving his children. This is proposed because the only thing that we do read that Job feared, or was concerned about, is related to his children sinning:

Job 1:5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom.

This may have been the fear Job was speaking of. Or it may be more general to do with calamity coming against him. Whatever it was, here is the main point:

Job's fear didn't cause his suffering and Job's suffering is not punishment. Let's be clear on what the Bible says and doesn't say. Job, or the Bible, doesn't say 'because I feared it has happened to me.' Or 'because I had fear Satan was allowed to afflict me'. His suffering wasn't the result of fear or sin. The fact is that we all have fears. It doesn't mean that that causes the thing we fear to happen. And it is superficial to only think of suffering as a result of sin. This is the main argument of Job's 'friends' who basically said that he was to blame for what came upon him. Right from the start they said things like:

Job 4:7-8 Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? (8) As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.

Job 11:14-16 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, (15) then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. (16) You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.

This is essentially the same thing that the Bible commentator you have heard, has said. So what did God think about Job's friends? Did He think they gave good counsel to Job? Nope. He was angry with them!

Job 42:7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

If God was angry with Job's friends for blaming Job for his suffering, do you think He is pleased when people say the same thing today? 

The Word of Faith nonsense

As a related note, there is a movement called the Word of Faith. You may have heard of them. It is the health and wealth, name it and claim it, blab it and grab it nonsense. They believe that we essentially have the power to control everything by the power of our words and thus believe that suffering comes from a negative confession, sin or fear. So they have to find something to pin Job's sufferings on, and instead of just believing God's repeated testimony concerning Job, they latch onto that statement in Job 3:25 and say that Job's fear gave Satan a pathway into his life. As we have seen, this is rubbish. It didn't. Job's fear caused him to always consider God. There are many who still teach such things... and shouldn't! But neither God nor Satan brought it up and God repeatedly said Job was blameless. So we should believe and accept God's testimony about Job!

Bottom Line - What or who caused Job's suffering? 

The reality is that a simple clear reading of the book shows that God allowed the suffering of Job. He raised the subject of Job's righteousness with Satan. He didn't initiate any of the events that occurred to Job so it is false to say that He was the 'originator of evil'. Satan asked to test Job as he did Peter later in the Gospels. But clearly God, in His foreknowledge, had a purpose in it right from the beginning. And what did God want to achieve? 

  • For Job personally: The eventual blessing for Job through knowing God better. Job got to really know God through this darkness. When we get to the end of the book we see a whole different Job. One who has experienced God in the midst of great difficulty and has come out better for it. He doesn't just know 'about' God - He now knows God! And we see that God bless Job in the natural, as well as the spiritual, as well:
    Job 42:5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You."
    Job 42:12-13 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. (13) He also had seven sons and three daughters.
  • For all believers: Secondly the book has been a great comfort for countless believers throughout the ages. The fact is that all of us have times of great uncertainty. We don't know what is going on. But the book of Job uniquely gives us insight into what takes place in the heavens. 
    • It teaches the sovereignty of God even when things don't make sense down here or Satan is attacking. 
    • It teaches the blessing of suffering (though we might not like to hear that), showing that we too get to know God better in difficult times.
    • It teaches that God is able to make all things work together for good... even when it seems the opposite to us! 
    • It teaches the God is able to completely change a desperate situation and bring us out - that God can make a way! 
    • It teaches that God understands all things and takes everything into account when dealing with His sons and daughters. 

A famous quote (which I have used a few times because I really like it!) by C.S Lewis is found in 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' when Lucy and Susan first hear about Aslan (a picture of Jesus). We would do well to think about what Lewis was saying:

"Is -- is he a man?" asked Lucy.
"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion -- THE Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh!" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he -- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

I trust this helps. God didn't blame Job so never should we. God is not always 'safe' as we would like, but He is good and works all things for good.


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