January 8, 2014.
Daily Reading: Job 1-2.
Background: The book of Job is set in one of the earliest times in the bible, still in the Patriarchal age before the time of Moses, despite is position in the biblical cannon. Job could have been a contemporary with Abraham, though no one actually knows. Job lives in the land of Uz, referred to as being in the East (Job 1:3). There are different thoughts on where the land of Uz is located. Job was a very rich man; he was also a very righteous man. The Lord pays him quite the compliment, saying that “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil (see Job 1:8, 2:3). The story of Job gives a great insight to the character of God, a look into heaven and many practical lessons that we can extrapolate to our lives today.
Highlights and Key Concepts
1. Some of the hardest trials come because the one suffering was righteous: In the first chapter of the book of Job, we see that Satan, or the adversary/accuser, comes before God after he has been going “to and fro throughout the earth.” The implication was that he was looking for someone who he could devour, as Peter puts in it I Peter 5:8. Perhaps he was even looking for a challenge, for there were likely many in that day that he could have easily enticed. But when he comes before God, who does God suggest? Job. Why? Because Job was probably one of the most righteous men on earth at the time. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but God says “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” God basically handed Job into the hand of Satan all because He knew he was a very righteous man. Though Job never finds out why as far as we know (see chapters 38-42), we are given the background and third person perspective of what goes on in heaven. God knew that Job would not fail, and that’s why He presented him to the accuser. Satan would not be able to accuse him! He should have known this from the beginning when God suggested Job, but he tries anyway, to no avail (see Job 1:22, 42:7-9). James tells us that we should be joyful when we fall into various trials, for they will produce steadfastness (see James 1:2-4). If we are righteous, this does not protect us from falling into struggles in life. But it will deliver us through them, by the grace of God. We should not be discouraged when hard times hit, but rather view them as an opportunity to overcome.
2. Blessings come down from God, but your status in life does not necessarily correspond to your godliness: At the beginning and end of the book of Job, Job is a very wealthy and blessed man. These blessings, as all good gifts, came from the Father (see James 1:17), as Satan even cites these blessings from God as the reason Job served Him (see Job 1:9-12). Then the Lord gives all that Job has materially (and eventually even his health) into the hand of Satan so that he might test his faith. Job loses everything. Was it because Job sinned? No, on the contrary- it was because he was one of the most righteous men on earth. Blessings do come from the Father, but we should never use our material blessings and success to define our standing with God. There are very godly people in the bible that were very right (such as Abraham and David), and very wicked people who were right (such as Ahab and Jezebel). The opposite is true as well. Jesus even says that it is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle (see Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25 and Luke 18:25). Material blessings are not our measuring stick for righteousness.
3. If you lost all, would you still praise God? This is a very difficult question. At the end of the first chapter of Job, right after Job loses everything including his children, he falls down and blesses the Lord. And he loses it all at once. Yes, it is evident that he is in great distress, and understandably so, but he still worships the Lord. In chapter two he asks his wife if men were only to accept the good things from God and not the bad (see Job 2:9-10), showing his true devotion to the Lord. Ask yourself, if you lost everything today, your job, your house, your children- would you fall down and bless the Lord? Job did, and it is said that in all this he did not sin nor charge God falsely.
4. Sometimes the best comfort is simply your presence and silence: After Job has lost all, his three friends come to visit him for they have heard of his great sorrow. When they get to him, they don’t even recognize him and this causes them great distress. For seven days they sit in silence with him, simply giving him their presence. Then Job starts to speak and they respond, and it goes downhill from there. Job even calls them “miserable comforters” in 16:2. But this is only after they have spoken to Job and told him that he must have done something wrong. For the first seven days, they seem to have made the better choice. Sometimes when someone is going through something tragic, there are no wise words of comfort, or even no words at all. Sometimes we just need to sit with the person and offer our presence as support. This can be one of the best healing mechanisms; but all too often we let our words get in the way of comfort. It’s often hard to bear silence, but sometimes we simply need to embrace it.
Summaries, Lessons and Connections.
v. 1-5: In the first five verses we learn of a man name Job, a righteous man from the land of Uz, who was extremely wealthy. He had seven sons and three daughters, and a great many livestock and servants. Riches did not dissuade Job from the Lord, for he would even offer burnt offerings for his children every morning after they got together to eat and drink just “in case” they had done something that was not right in the sight of the Lord.
v. 6-12: It is interesting that there was appointed a day when the sons of God, probably in reference to angles (see Genesis 6:1-5), assembled themselves before the Lord. They seemed to be having some sort of meeting, and Satan, or the adversary/accuser as is denoted by the name in Hebrew, was allowed to come before God. Some believe that this was before Satan was cast out of heaven and banished to the earth (see Revelation 12:1-6) when the Christ came and redeemed mankind. Through this redemption, the accuser no longer was able to accuse the sons of God, for they had been washed in the blood of Christ (see Romans 6:1-11 and Revelation 7:13-15).
Regardless, Satan implies that he is looking for someone to accuse and God presents Job and says there is none like him in all the earth in terms of righteousness. Satan attributes Job’s righteousness to God’s overwhelming blessings. God knows that this is not true, so He allows Satan to destroy all the material blessings of Job. Satan is only not allowed to touch Job. It is interesting that Satan seems to have to be given permission to do anything to Job, and he doesn’t ask God for the power to destroy Job’s possessions, but rather he requests God to do it himself. This inability to get to Job could be part of the reason Satan makes a reference to a ‘hedge’ that God has put around Job in verse 10.
v. 13-19: Job loses everything, and all at once. Messenger after messenger comes to Job to give him bad news, one right after another, as he learns that all his livestock, possessions, servants and even his children have perished.
v. 20-22: In the mist of calamity, Job falls down and blesses the name of the Lord. After tearing his robe and shaving his head, he worships God. What faith! What humility! In all this, he did not sin or charge God falsely.
v. 1-8: The second chapter of Job sets a scene almost identical to the one in the previous chapter. There is another day in which the sons of God gather themselves before the throne, and there Satan is again. He has failed so far to cause Job to stumble, and staying true to his character, he blames this on not being able to destroy Job’s health along with his material blessings. God offers Satan another chance at His righteous servant, and this time He allows him to touch his flesh, with the only stipulation of not being able to actually kill Job. Satan strikes Job with “loathsome” sores, so that Job takes a pice of pottery to scratch himself.
v. 9-10: Job’s wife, probably not being able to bear seeing Job in the condition he is, tells him to stop holding to his integrity and to curse God and die. Many still today take this path out. When times get rough, they simply give up. Job was not that kind of person, which is part of the reason why God references him as one of the most righteous men on earth. Job indicates that mankind was not only to receive the good things from God, but also the bad things. His situation was not going to determine how he served the Lord. This is a good lesson for us to apply to our lives today.
v. 11-13: When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, hear of his calamity they come to comfort Job. Before they even reach him, they saw his condition and wept aloud, tearing their robes and sprinkling dust on their heads to show their distress. They sit in silence with Job for seven days, for there seemed to be no words for the situation. Another friend of Job, a young man, would later enter the scene (and disappear as quickly as he entered, at least from a textual standpoint) named Elihu (see Job 32). Though he is not mentioned, he seems to be present at least for the conversation that Job and his three friends would have in the following chapters.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 1-5.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.