Whom Can I Trust?

Have you ever been hurt by someone who was a close confidant and then found that your secrets were being spread around publically? Have you been blessed by reading and studying the book of Job? I know that I have. However, there is another aspect of the Book of Job that needs to be considered. Apparently, Job never knew the backstory of why he had gone through extreme loss and pain. In fact, God had plenty of time at the end of the book to explain it to him but didn’t. It is almost as if the point of the book and the trust that Job had shown had already been established. Job trusted God completely and therefore, really didn’t need an explanation. Actually, would an explanation of Satan’s accusations have helped Job to have more trust? No, because he had already said, “even if He slays me, I will still trust Him.” Is it possible that an explanation to Job might have been more confusing to him? Interestingly, the end of the book ends with God asking a whole lot of questions but giving no answers or reasons for why Job had suffered.

And yet, God inspired Moses to write Job’s story and to include the challenge that Satan had brought against God — that God bribes people with material blessings to love and obey Him. The fact that God has revealed, at least in a small way, the inner workings of the council of the universe, shows us that He is not afraid to be fully examined, questioned, or even criticized for the way He conducts the affairs of the universe.

Has the devil operated in a similar manner? Has he also been open and self-disclosing in how he operates? The fact that God has shared with us short glimpses of how heaven works — such as the book of Job — proves that Satan does not want to be known, is trying to hide, and does not want humans to understand any of the back story. In reality, we would know nothing about the Devil except what God has told us (Revelation 12, Genesis 3, Job 1 & 2, Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, Zechariah 3, Matthew 13:24-30, and Luke 4:1-13).

In very little ancient literature can we find any reliable information regarding the presence of evil and suffering. When you do find concepts about the Devil, it is usually a cartoon character. Would this not indicate to us who can be trusted? The One who is not afraid to be questioned and who discloses the open discussions that occur in heaven; or a being that hides in the shadows and presents himself as a cartoon character, jokester, or fable to disguise his true intentions?

Cannot these principles be seen within our times, operating in governments, organizations, associations, and even churches, as humans either try to hide embarrassing facts or operate with transparency?

Therefore, the very existence of the book of Job, the story of his faithfulness, the inclusion of the backstory, even as one of the first written books of the Bible, all testify that God can be trusted in our good times as well as all kinds of trials.

Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University.

Photo by Chetan Menaria on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9808


The experience of Job is a good reminder of conflict with our unseen Adversary. It is good devotional. Thank you for this. Although the ancient works are not much helpful in providing us the information on this subject, we are fortunate to have such information made available to us from the past three centuries (16th,17th &18th). Here are some sources which take us beyond the Bible to the invisible realm:

The Wonders of the Invisible World, 1692, Cotton Mather (1663-1728); Satan’s Invisible World Discovered,1685, George Sinclair (1654-1696); The History of the Devil, 1726, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731); The Paradise Lost, 1667, John Milton (1608-1674), Paradise Regained,1671; Modern Spiritualism, 1855, E. W. Capron. Adventists are greatly indebted to Milton for his contribution to Ellen White’s lifetime Great Controversy themes, and Defoe’s book can be consider as the first book ever on the great controversy theme. Besides these, Ellen White has written written more than any author on Satan and she had many encounters with Satan, in visions as well as in person.

The best cartoon characters and descriptions of the Devil are portrayed by Ellen White in her works:

"But the expression of his countenance is full of anxiety, care, unhappiness, malice, hate, mischief, deceit, and every evil. That brow which was once so noble, I particularly noticed. His forehead commenced from his eyes to recede backward. I saw that he had demeaned himself so long, that every good quality was debased, and every evil trait was developed. His eyes were cunning, sly, and showed great penetration. His frame was large, but the flesh hung loosely about his hands and face. As I beheld him, his chin was resting upon his left hand. He appeared to be in deep thought. A smile was upon his countenance, which made me tremble, it was so full of evil, and Satanic slyness. This smile is the one he wears just before he makes sure of his victim, and as he fastens the victim in his snare, this smile grows horrible” (1SG, pp. 27, 28, 1858).

The devil is no more a secret agent, he is fully exposed through the Bible and the life Jesus as an open adversary. Therefore we are warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” – 1Peter 5: 8.

The book of Job should be read as an allegory


Can you explain this idea more, please? What advantages do you see in reading it as allegory? Do you have other cultural background stories in mind? Curious.

The clue is that Lucifer is back in heaven challenging a God. God is not tested by the Righteousness of man.To test my take reread Pilgrims Progress. Adventism takes the view that there will be a final generation of Jobs. The test is of faith not works. Our testimony is what Christ did not what we have achieved. my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.


I was never persuaded that the book of Job was literal. It’s too weird to be reality. It must be an allegory. Though I have no problem with the fact that some people take it literally. If it’s okay for them, that’s fine.


Thank you. I’ll flip through Pilgrim’s Progress.

“Weird” … you mean no one talks pages after pages in poetic form with his mates … or God making a bet with Satan … or the parallels to the Babylonian wisdom text Babylonian Job … ? Truth can be more than just historical events. Although, I haven’t quite decided on this question yet, and let each come to their own conclusion.


For me, the content of the story is not literal. It’s only figurative.


The book of Job has meant different things to me at different times of my life, and I appreciate Dennis sharing what it means to him.

One message I found very meaningful was the one Aileen Andres Sox drew from the book when she re-wrote the Primary SS lessons (this was before GraceLink). I didn’t hang onto the document, so I’ll paraphrase: “When God spoke to Job and his friends, He did not explain what had happened to Job. He did not talk about people’s ideas about God. But when God had finished talking, Job knew that God was in charge, and that God cared about Job.”

During a time of disappointment about a decade later, I found great comfort in God’s bracing assurance that our human losses do not mean that everything is ruined: the mountain goats still calve, the stars sing for joy, the ocean knows where to stop. Our personal catastrophes do not disrupt God’s plan.

When I teach Bible as Lit, I like to point out that the question is whether God has any friends (as opposed to self-seeking and parasitic hangers-on) and that the book interrogates the deuteronomistic principle (“Lo, I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose life, that you and your children may live”).

Thank you, Dennis, for reiterating that “[God] is not afraid to be fully examined, questioned, or even criticized for the way He conducts the affairs of the universe” and for raising the comparison with Satan–whether he discloses his methods of operation and is open to interrogation. Very good to revisit the story with you!


What is crucial to remember about Job is his trust in God never wavered, no matter what response he received from God, be it favorable or not. Trust is developed and fostered when a child’s mother is attuned to the child’s attachment behaviors during his early childhood years and is strengthened and solidified as his needs are met consistently and regularly. It becomes visceral in nature in addition to being felt emotionally and once established, it is not easily destroyed no matter who disappoints him, be it the devil or God, nor whether the reason is explained or not. It is more reflective of the individual’s character.

Of course we see this among children who have been abandoned and neglected and yet have never lost trust in their parents. It is a contributing factor to the phenomenon called resilience.


Happy Birthday, George! :+1::sunglasses::rofl:


He is catching up to you!


Archibald MacLelish used Job to write “JB”, his award winning play (in verse).

The book of Job was written in two stages. Originally, it was only the base story, starting with the dialogues; while, what’s called the “Prologue” had been added later.

What makes this NOT an actual account about what actually happened to this guy, Job, is that all the other people in this story are only props. Even Job’s family is, what’s called, “secondary characters”. God doesn’t seem to care about anybody but Job. He arbitrarily kills off Job’s wife and his kids just to make a point - to Satan? If any of us did that just to make a point, we would be called a sociopath.

It has been my understanding that God does not make anyone sin. So, God, killing off a bunch of people just to make a point, doesn’t compute. On top of that, Job is supposed be thankful when he ends up with a new wife (presumably) and a whole set of new kids - great ending for Job, but what about God’s love for these other people in Job’s life. I would never read this to my kids. This is definitely X rated.

I have heard excuses about the wife and kids being “hopeless” anyway. Are we supposed to get real-life explanations from this, as to why people we love are taken from us?

The shocking statement Job makes, is that even good people suffer; and that God does not rain down health and wealth based on our goodness, or lack there of. This was a hard pill to swallow for the Hebrew psyche, being God’s favourite people.


There seem to be conflicting opinions about the story of Job on this discussion. Whatever be the general opinion, I believe Job’s story to be a real life experience – of real man and his family and friends; real country; real situation; real challenge between God and Satan; real conversation between God and Job with a triumphant ending.
Any one denying this should also discredit the Genesis narratives, eventually the whole Bible as “Allegorical”.
The Bible itself testifies of the authenticity of the Book of Job: Ezekiel 14: 14, 18, 20. "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.

" Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves".

Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness”.

Let me add, according to the narrative, Job’s wife was not killed by Satan.

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OK, Job’s wife didn’t die. It’s been a while since I’ve read Job.

Whether Job is an allegory, or if there actually was a man- Job, makes no difference as to the message of the book of Job. For me, the idea that God would kill off anyone to prove a point, doesn’t help my faith; and it doesn’t make sense. Of course, in referencing Job, along with Noah and Daniel doesn’t change Ezekiel even if Job only represents a faithful man. We can, even today, refer to charters of antiquity, whether actual or not simply because they represent a particular quality.

Whatever works to bolster your faith…


Thanks Elmer.
This thing still keeps happening once a year… :laughing:


You have to believe in order to be religiously convicted. It matters not whether the belief is real or not, what matters is the belief is real and it should never be subject to testing, otherwise it would be categorized as science and be subject to refutation which will destroy the whole essence of what a religious belief is.


Where truth doesn’t matter, liars prevail.


Instead of asking specific questions, are you claiming that faith has no place in religion? Can you prove physically that Jesus was born from a virgin mother or were the gospel writers just a bunch of liars?

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