Editorial by Elder Joe Caterson (CBSI Teaching Leader)
The Book of Job begins with a picture of a man with whom God is pleased. God points him out 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.” (Job 1:8) Following this introduction, Satan unleashes a violent attack upon Job to show God that Job does not really love Him but only loves His blessing and benefits.
In quick time Job loses all of his possessions, his children and his health. His wife suggest to him that he should curse God and die to bring an end to his suffering (and hers?). But Job clings to his hope in God and declares, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him!” (Job 13:15). Job did not sin in the way he responded to all of his difficulties and despair but, like all of us, he was human and far from perfect. There were still aspects of God that he did not fully appreciate. The reason for his adversity, the sudden change in his situation, weighed on his mind. The apparent hopelessness and helplessness of his new condition led him to demand an audience with God to defend himself against what he perceived as God’s angry judgment directed at him, “Surely, O God, you have worn me out…” (Job 16:7f)
Job’s story ministers on a number of levels but here are a few ways in which it spoke to me.
1. How confident are we about God’s love for us? We learn that Job was not fully confident. He said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 Consider his regular morning sacrifices in Job 1:5, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”
1 John 4:18 tells us that, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” If we fully love/trust God we will not be afraid but will patiently wait on Him – for His intervention/deliverance in this life or the next. Isaiah 40:31 tells us that, “Those who hope in (wait on) the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Despair and complaints often arise from a lack of confidence in God’s love and care. But God heard Job and was concerned enough to answer him, forgive him and restore his wealth, family and social status.
2. In this life we are surrounded by so much noise and misinformation seeking to distract/divert us away from the truth. Like Job amid the many sincere and profound pronouncements from his friends we wonder what is real, what is true, what is reliable. Job’s encounter with God totally changed his perspective – after hearing from God he had no further questions or complaints. In fact, he saw the ignorance and arrogance of his earlier words and covering his mouth, he had nothing further to say.
God’s closing rebuke to Eliphaz is noteworthy, “I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7-9 They had to bring seven bulls and seven rams so that Job could make sacrifices on their behalf and pray for God to forgive them.
Not everything you hear is of the same value! Be careful to give priority to what God says (as revealed in His Word). In the end, that is what truly matters.
3. It is often the ‘bumps’ along the road of life that cause us to wake-up and grow-up (even though we do not like them). Job went through a horrible experience but in the end he had a better understanding of God and himself and life. It is worth noting that Satan does not feature again in the story after Chapters 1 and 2. It is Job’s trust/faith in God and his response to God’s Word to him that sustains him and transforms his situation. When we look to Jesus and trust in Him we can resist the taunts and temptations of Satan and overcome the challenges of life. Let us seek, hear and obey the Word of Lord when difficulties arise. Do not turn away from God at such times but towards Him!