Job’s story is a rather remarkable tale that offers a rare glimpse into realms that usually aren’t included in Biblical narratives, and reveals faith and trust so inspiring, that a Gentile from the East would become a Judeo/Christian icon. It is still said to this day “the patience of Job.”
We are introduced to Job, a man who “was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” He had seven sons and three daughters and a thriving estate. Job was so secure in his place with God, that his concern was for his loved ones. His kids liked to get together for feasts from time to time, and Job would offer sacrifices on their behalf, lest one of them should offend the Lord during these parties.
The story of Job begins up yonder when the sons of God report for a meeting with the boss. Satan crashes the confab to which the Lord asks him ‘where did you come from?’- (and what do you want now?)
God already knows what Satan is up to, because he is God, and because Satan is pretty much a one trick pony when he’s around the throne: He accuses the brethren (Rev. 12:10) day and night. It would appear that listening to these constant complaints is one of the tasks Michael the archangel is lucky enough to enjoy (Jude 1:9). The Lord sees an opportunity to win another battle in the war against the accuser, to further invalidate the ever decreasing set of arguments the Devil employs when he argues against God and his children.
“Hast thou considered my servant Job?” the Lord asks. As a matter of fact, Satan HAS considered Job, and he has considered him quite a bit. And he has concluded that the reason Job is so good is because God keeps giving him stuff for being good. “Take away his stuff and he won’t be so enthusiastic” the Devil said.
God trusts Job and Satan is allowed to persecute Job- but not hurt him personally. As we know, Satan causes various tragedies that take away his cattle, servants, and children. Everything. How does Job respond?: 20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
The game is already over. God knows it and Satan knows it too. Job has transcended selfish cares and is in the service of others. What he feared most (3:25) has come to pass and he stayed strong. Yet, Satan desperately next argues that afflicting him personally will turn him (2:4-5). He is allowed to afflict him and causes a horrific infection that covers him in boils so bad that his wife despairs and his friends can’t recognize him. And yet, Job stays strong.
We learn that Job’s wife is a Calvinist- she believes in pre-destination. She tells Job that in spite of all the righteousness he has attained, he has clearly been pre-destined for Hell. She tells him to ‘curse God and die’- quit fighting and get on with it. Sister Job can be forgiven- she has suffered quite a loss herself we must remember.
Then Job’s ‘friends’ arrive to ‘comfort’ him. They have just rolled out of the mega tent and they could clearly see that Job was not living the Good Life now.
Job’s friends believed in the Prosperity Gospel- that if you but say the words- it will all be sunshine and roses and money. Lots of money. They looked only upon the outward man. And because righteous Job was in great suffering- therefore they knew he was a great sinner.
And the bulk of the Book of Job consists of soliloquy’s whereby Job’s friends accuse him of being a great sinner and living in denial, and Job saying he hadn’t done anything to deserve all this. As concepts of suffering and pain are debated, the real lesson in the book of Job is revealed when Job declares (19:25): For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
Enduring through pain, being long-suffering and patient- these are all lessons taught in Job. But the real meaning is that declaration. In other words, “Bring it on Satan. Give me your best shot. It doesn’t matter because what matters is: When all this is over, my Redeemer- not you- will be victorious. He- not you- will be the King!”
Job’s friends manage to push him into a self-righteous mode with the constant attacks. He knows he hasn’t done anything to deserve this, but they argue that there is no other explanation. They manage to cause doubt to enter Job’s mind- that somehow the Lord has erred in cursing him this way.
Now the Lord appears in the whirlwind to put all this to bed. He tells the friends they do not know anything, and tells them how to get back on the right path. He then gets down to the brass tacks with Job: “Do you think the Lord has made a mistake? You don’t know what all is going on in this Universe- which I hold in balance at all times. You are part of something bigger- remember your place, as you always have.
If you think you can do better- I can just dump you off in outer space somewhere and we will see what you can do?”
Job apologizes and realizes and explains that in defending himself, he should always defend the Lord and his judgements as well.
And all ends well. Job is restored and many people learn what it means to be a true follower of the Lord.
Rev 12:10- And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Jude 1:9- Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Next Sunday: the friend of God