top A Study Of The Book Of Job Friday, August 18, 2017
A Study Of The Book Of Job
By, James & Mary Lee Thornton
Why study the Book of Job? At one time or another, almost everyone has felt like Job. While going through trials and times of suffering, we are often overwhelmed by self-pity. We want an explanation for why God allows trials to happen to us. Many books have been written on this particular subject. The Book of Job records the troubling questions, the terrifying doubts, and the very real anguish of a sufferer. The Book of Job can help us in the time when we are surrounded with troubles by giving us a glimpse of God’s perspective on our suffering.
The Book Of Job is probably one of the oldest books in the world, so what value does it contain for the modern reader? Is it allegoric, or fiction, or is it a real story of real happenings to someone many centuries ago, or was it yesterday? All of these questions we will attempt to answer to the best of our knowledge.
The Book Of Job centers around Two Questions.
1. First Question: Can a man be good from other than selfish motives? The basic verse of the whole book is a question posed by Satan, “Doth Job fear God for naught?” Job 1:9. Is not Job pious, as any other man, in exchange for his privileges? In other words it pays to be religious. Is there a man on earth faithful to God for the sake of God, or is it because it presumes God’s favor? Is there such a thing as ‘true worship’?
2. Second Question: Is it true that sin and suffering, happiness and virtue, are inseparably, and inevitably linked with each other? Is it true that a man gets just what he deserves? That the man who lives righteously and noble enjoy all the material advantages of life? And that the man who lives badly is swiftly and inevitably over-taken by misfortune and trouble. In other words does trouble and suffering come because of sin?
In his misfortunes Job gives an answer to both questions. He himself is made to prove that a man may be unselfishly ‘good,’ that he may love the good because it is ‘good,’ and right.
The Book Of Job reveals God’s direct intervention in Job’s life and thereby His intervention in the human race. Thus the uniqueness of the Book of Job is not in its approach to the problem of suffering, but in its revelation of the sovereign God to whom everyone must properly relate. Sufferer and non- sufferer alike must humbly trust in God’s sovereign grace.
Because Job and his friends were ignorant of Satan’s challenge to God, the Book of Job contains much bad theology and misapplied truth. It is important to read passages in the Book of Job in light of the message and purpose of the entire book. The only proper response to the omnipotent God is submission and faith.
In the end God lowers Himself to Job’s level in order to answer Job’s questions. In the process, He reveals to all people that He is completely free, but also truly good. God asks 70 questions that science and theologians have contemplated for eons.
He is the sovereign and benevolent Creator who continues to determine the course of the universe according to His own hidden plan. Just like Job, we must learn to submit to the Almighty God and accept by faith that He has a good plan for us.
2. Job, The Ideal Man
3. The Ideal Home
4. A Scene In The Unseen World
5. Satan Begins By Slandering Job
6. Tested By Prosperity
7. Satan, Take The Hedge Down
8. God Accepts Satan’s Challenge
9. Satan Begins His Attack On Job
10. Job’ Reaction To Calamity
11. Everybody Has His Price
12. The Second Visitation Of Evil
13. Another Look At Job’s Wife
14. The Arrival Of Job’s Friends
15. The Ministry Of Silence
16. The Depths Of Despair, Job 3
17. The Impatience Of Job
18. Eliphaz The Temanite Opens The Long Dialog
19. On Preaching To One’s Self
20. Is Life Just A Game Without An Umpire?
21. I’m Innocent Yet My Friends And Family Forget Me
22. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
23. Job Looks Far Into The Future
24. Job’s Words Are Ended
25. God Answers Job
26. Job Humbles Himself Unto God
27. The End Of Job’s Life.
29. The Mystery Of Human Sufferings
30. An Overview Of The Three Counseling Sessions
Like Joshua, Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, and Esther, The Book Of Job bears as its title the name of the hero-Job. Along with Proverbs and Ecclesiastes it has been called The Book Of Wisdom. In the Hebrew Manuscripts The Book Of Job is found among the Holy Writings, usually after Psalms and Proverbs.
Job was not considered part of the Canonical Scriptures until after the end of the first century A.D. However Paul quoted from it. “For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness”
(1 Corinthians 3:19; Job 5:13). James 5:11 also mentions Job, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” And also in Ezekiel 14:14.
The Date Of The Book Of Job: It has been dated all the way from Abraham’s day to the time of the restoration of Israel (538 B.C.), a difference of 1500 years. So the date of this book has never been determined nor is even its approximate time generally agreed upon. So it is needless to attempt to fix the date of The Book Of Job.
A Literary Masterpiece: The Book of Job has been called “the literary masterpiece of the Bible,” this statement has never been seriously questioned. In fact it stands in company with, and excels most of greatest masterpieces of the world. It is ranked with Dante’s Divine Comedy and with Milton’s Paradise Lost, with Homer and with the Greek tragedies, with Virgil and with Shakespeare. However these were unknown by the author of the Book Of Job.
The Book Of Job is perhaps the most original work in the literature of mankind. It fits into no sphere or category. The abundance of its literary forms and of its moods and thoughts defies any classification devised by the critics. All these fail to define or do justice to it. It rises above all of them to dwell in a place of its own. It can only be termed a Spiritual Epic.
Specific Subject: The specific subject of the Book Of Job is the argument between Job and his friends and it’s explanation of Job’s misfortunes. Why is he, a just man, seemingly punished for sins of which he is innocent? One sees from the beginning of the long arguments that there is a great mental and spiritual gulf between Job and his three well-intentioned friends. Their purpose in talking with him is to explain and to justify his sufferings. “Job you are suffering for your sins,” is their thoughts.
And throughout all his questionings Job remembers, as a never-to-be-forgotten assurance, those days that are past when, he walked by God’s light through the darkness of life, and when God’s visitations had preserved his spirit.
The Author: It is idle to guess at the author. Like much of the Book of Genesis it is so ancient that written language was in its infancy, so it was probably handed down by oral tradition until someone like Moses wrote it in its present form. So the human author remains a mystery.
All scholars unite in claiming the possession of great learning by its author. The sureness of his style, his command of language, the freedom of his thoughts, and his amazing knowledge of the natural world assume an extraordinary intellectual resources as well as in-exhaustible imagination. There is no consensus about who wrote the Book of Job or when it was written. Suggestions for an author include Job, Elihu, Solomon, and even Moses.
The knowledge we have of the Author, however, is only that gathered from his book. Although he sheds light upon the darkness of the minds of men, the actual facts of his life and character remain forever in obscurity. But fortunately, for us, the Bible itself discloses the real author. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). So God Is The Author of The Book Of Job, using some unknown amanuensis.
Some Bible scholars have thought that The Book Of Job is definitely intended to represent the Nation of Israel, it’s calamities, it’s sufferings, it’s perplexities, and agony. Many felt that God had deserted His people and this is an allegory of that event.
TIMELESS: Happily the interest and value of The Book Of Job ARE ABSOLUTELY INDEPENDENT OF ALL QUESTIONS OF DATE AND AUTHORSHIP. It is a book for all time and for all people.
It could have been written this week of someone we know, possibly ourselves. So if you know someone who has endured a trial, or someone who has a terrible affliction, I hope in our study of this book you get a better understanding of what is really happening.
The Principle Characters are God, Satan, Job, and four of Job’s friends. Job’s wife comes before us only once very briefly.
2. Job, The Ideal Man:
Job 1:1. “There was (once upon a time) a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”
2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
4. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
The Setting of The Book Of Job is the Land Of Uz. A land lost from all records, often thought to be some part of Edom.
Job Was The Ideal Man, a righteous man, the best of men, God bearing him record. “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth (honors and respects) God, and escheweth (avoids habitually) evil” (Job 1:8).
Job is the ideal of the good man at its highest. The Old Testament reaches to no grander vision of man than in the life of Job. It would be many centuries before another man, Christ Jesus, would come to surpass him in righteousness.
Job is pictured as a man who had all that a man could want; seven sons, three daughters, and enormous wealth (Job 1:1-3). This enormous wealth Satan would try to use as a proof that Job served God only for material benefits.
Job Was Great In His Benevolence:
“I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him (generosity)
“I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy” Job 29:13.
“I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame Job 29:15.
“I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out (I went looking to see if I could help those who were hid from sight) Job 29:16.
“I comforted the mourners” Job 29:25.
“The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveler” Job 31:32.
Job Exhibited The Grace Of Kindness:
No One can be truly a Christian without The Grace Of Kindness. Paul tells us, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,” Ephesians 4:32. It is the spirit of Jesus manifesting itself in us. Kindness has a winning influence. Kindness reconciles worldly men to religious people.
“Devout people are, as a class, the least kind of all classes—religious people are an unkindly lot. If they would add a little kindness to their uncommon graces, they would convert ten where they now only abate the prejudices of one” (The spirit of Father Faber).
Job Had The Quality Of Justice,
The Love Of Fair Dealing,
The Spirit Of Right:
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and as a diadem” “I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth” (when he sat as judge in the market-place) Job 29:14.
Job Was A Man Of Integrity. “Doest thou still retain thine Integrity?” (Job’s wife after the loss of all his wealth, family, and then being inflicted with boils, and sores). Job lived by a firm adherence to a moral code of moral values. “Thus did Job continually” Job 1:5. “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” Job 1:22.
Job Was A Man Of Prayer.
Job prayed for his family Job 1:6.
Job Prayed for himself Job 42:1-6.
Job prayed for his friends Job 42:8-9).
3. The Ideal Home:
Job 1:4. “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.’
In these scriptures we are introduced to a happy family. The seven sons of Job seemed to take turns having great feasts in their homes. And much to their credit they did not forget to invite their three sisters to share in the merriment. These feasts must have lasted for several days. “.., when the ‘days’ of their feasting were gone about..” Job 1:5.
In all of Job’s love and confidence towards his children there was just one fear in his mind concerning them. He feared lest in their enjoyment of life they might have forgotten God. So many things can happen in times of merriment. Feasting and forgetting.
Sin Has Many Disguises. “It may be that my sons have sinned, and have cursed God in their hearts (not out loud, but inwardly have left God out) Job 1:5.
Job was anxious lest inadvertently (by not keeping their mind on the matter) they may be enticed away by the ceaseless round of pleasures, and become forgetful of Him who is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
So there was never a day that Job omitted to pray, or forgot to offer sacrifice for his children. He did not take a chance; he never allowed his faith and repentance to be interrupted on their behalf. “Thus did Job continually” (early in the morning—his first duty) Job 1:5. (We will meet his wife a little later).
4. A Scene In The Unseen World:
In Job 1:6-12. These seven verses set the story at once on a high place (behind an earthly veil). In these words we are transported from the plains of Uz to the halls of heaven. There like an oriental King, Jehovah holds His court. We are given access, for a moment, to his secret counsels of the Most High.
In these seven verses (Job 1:6-12) we are provided with information that Job is unaware of. We see Job and his family silhouetted against the far-away landscape of eternity. We could call it Earth’s Struggle In The Footlights, Heaven’s Secrets In The Shadows.
We are to understand from the very beginning that Job is not being punished; he is not even being disciplined. Let us listen to the conversation between Satan and God.
Job 1:6. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
8. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9. Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10. Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
So with these words the roles are assigned and the stage is set. We have already said in these seven verses we are, at once, transported from the plains of Uz to the halls of Heaven. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” (Supernatural, Spiritual Beings).
Apparently at certain seasons the sons of God came to the heavenly assembly to give a report of the way in which their duties have been performed. Each probably has his fixed Province, since it was thought that each kingdom had its own angel-prince.
Daniel 10:13. “Prince of the kingdom of Persia.”
Daniel 10:20. “Prince of Grecia.”
Daniel 10:21). “Michael your Prince.”
They seem to be responsible for the order of their Provinces.
And who is this that appears among them? “And Satan came also among them.”
Satan, the adversary,
Satan the opposer,
Satan “the accuser of the brethren” Revelation 12:9-10.
Satan is called “accuser” 34 times. (prosecuting attorney).
Satan is called “adversary” 48 times.
Job 1:6. is only the 3rd time that Satan walks across the pages of the Bible, and only the second time his name is called. The first time was in the Garden of Eden where he is pictured as a serpent tempting Eve. There we have the first confrontation between God and Satan. A face to face meeting, and clashing of the forces of good and evil, which will terminate at Armageddon Revelation 16:16.
The second time Satan is mentioned is in 1 Chronicles 21:1. “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” So we have a large span of time, 3,000 years, between the first and second time Satan is spoken of. So Job may not have been aware of his evil. Not Noah, not Abraham, not Moses speak of him.
The entire revelation of Satan did not come until the time of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel; tell of his once glorious heavenly state, and of his fall from heaven. He came down with a grudge and in an avengevile mood attempting to thwart God’s work. But his end is in sight.
But in the meanwhile he is working vigorously to destroy everyone he can. His entrance into the Bible story is as a Serpent; his final portrait is as a Dragon Revelation 20:2. He can be mean, nasty and ugly, “as a roaring lion.” We think of Satan in the atmosphere of worldly temptations—the honky-tonk, the dance halls, etc.
We know he is there and we are on guard against even going there. But among “the sons of God,” in the holiest of settings, the presence of God himself. NEVER!! Oh, Yes! He shows up! He showed up, uninvited, in the meeting between the sons of God Job 1:6.
He is detected and separated from the sons of God by the all-seeing eye of the all-discerning God. He is immediately confronted by God. “Where did you come from?” As if God didn’t already know. “Why are you here?” “You’re up to no good.”
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Job 1:7
Satan, with his hands in his pockets, and a shrug of his shoulders, “From all Over.” “I have no fixed province,” “I’m a roving commissioner,” “sort of an ambassador at large.”
5. Satan Begins By Slandering Job:
Job 1:8. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9. Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10. Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”
In this exchange of words Satan acts in keeping with his name. He begins to slander Job—he sneers at him. From out of his evil heart Satan can see no genuine goodness in Job.
This is the penalties of an evil heart—the man with an evil heart cannot believe in goodness. So how we look out upon men is totally dependant upon the conditions of our heart. Men take upon the hue and color of our heart. What do we see in people, mostly evil, mostly hypocrisy? So the evil man is always an accuser of his brethren. A good man, out of a good heart, finds it easy to believe in goodness. The pure in heart see God; they see God in their brethren.
Jesus saw good in the most unexpected people. He saw it in the publican, the harlot, the thief—but Satan sees no good in any man—no such thing as good. He is the accuser of the brethren Zechariah 3:1-4. So He insinuates his doubts as to the genuineness of Job’s Righteousness.
6.Tested By Prosperity:
Job 1:9. “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10. Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.”
Satan says, “There is no such thing as perfection, I can find flaws in any man.” “No wonder he respects you—look at all you have done for him.” “How do you measure perfection?”
So Satan makes a two-fold charge with respect to Job’s religion.
1. “His religion is based on self-interest.”
“Job is religious for what he could get out of it.”
“He is religious only because he thought it paid.”
“If his prosperity were suddenly taken away from him, his religion would suddenly vanish and he would renounce God to His face.”
2. Also, says Satan, “His religion is dependant on his circumstances.”
“Break down the hedge, expose him to the buffetings of adverse fortune.”
“Let temptation assail him and he will cures thee to thy face.”
Tested By Prosperity: To some people this is a harder test than adversity. Solomon said, “..give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
9. Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30:8.)
Moses warned the people of the dangers of prosperity when they had come into Canaan. Deuteronomy 8:12. “Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13. And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14. Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;”
Now let us study these accusations of Satan against Job. It is certainly true that there are rewards in living for God. Paul says, “But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8. Sure It Pays To Be Religious.
Godliness makes for those qualities which tend to produce success; it makes men diligent, conscientious, and trustworthy. Godliness builds character. It brings men the respect and honor of their fellowmen. And in the world to come it finds its final justification, eternal life.
Yes, Godliness Is Profitable: It pays to be honest, and just not simply because of its rewards, but because honesty is right. Job would prove that there is such a thing as duty, love, devotion. And it is certainly true that a good environment is conducive to religious development.
7. Satan Says, Take The Hedge Down:
Many of us owe our Christian experience to the religious atmosphere in the home we were raised in. We call it the result of the “hedge,” or the protected environment. We must create the “hedge,” Satan was speaking of, to protect our children from the evil influence of the devil. We must instill in their youth qualities that can live outside the “hedge.” (When they go to school, to work, out in the neighborhood).
The test of the reality of faith is not, can it live in favorable circumstances, but can it live anywhere. Does our faith ‘hold’ in any company, any environment, and any circumstances? Where the commandments are not the law? What happens when the “hedge” comes down and we are thrust out to face temptations alone?
Satan says, “you will fail when the hedge comes down”—he says, “they all will fail.” Satan himself failed in the Holiest of environments—Heaven. Eve failed in the Holy atmosphere of Eden. David failed in the comfort of the palace. Take the “hedge” down and Job will fail too.
Satan is certainly true in many cases. There must be another “hedge” created besides the home environment, and Church affiliation, there must be an inner “hedge,” there must be some inner “braces” which have been created by our faith and trust in a Holy God, an inner “fear,” “reverence,” “Holiness,”
There will come a day when young people will have to leave the “hedge” of the Holy atmosphere of Church and home and go out into a world of ungodliness, wickedness, temptations, and sin of every sort. Then Satan comes with the challenge that you can’t live for God outside the “hedge.” Unless you have been “rooted and grounded” in the truths of God’s word you will also fail.
8. God Accepts The Challenge:
Job 1:11. “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” And God Hides Behind A Cloud:
Not My hand, says the Lord, thy hand. “All that he hath is in thy power; only touch not his person.” And swiftly, eagerly, Satan is gone, to bid his time. How near he comes to winning his wager, the story will disclose. And yet how far short—by what length, and width, and height, and depth? We cannot tell.
The Psalmist realized his precariousness, “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Psalms 73:2-26.)
Satan is not pitted against Job. He is pitted against God. Satan leaves the presence of the Lord to plan his attack on Job. But Thank God The Adversary Also Has An Adversary. God has put reins, a check, on him, he can only do what God permits.
And God Hides Behind A Cloud:
9. Satan Begins His Attack On Job:
The action quickly shifts back to the world of men and Satan heads straight to the Land of Uz where Job and his family are going about their daily routine until disaster strikes suddenly.
Job 1:13. “And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
14. And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15. And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
16. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
18. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
19. And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Our attention is focused with anguish and pity upon Job.
1. A rich man made poor.
2. A sheik stripped of his heirs.
3. A godly worshipper smittem with unexplainable adversity.
These disasters are attributed by Job to God himself. “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me” (Job 6:4.)
We also, when natural disaster strikes, when storms tear down, or floods invade our homes, or some undeserved thing happens to us, accident, sickness, loss of job, etc. are quick to question God, almost to blame Him.
Because Jesus revealed His inner struggle with Satan (Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4),
We along with Paul are able to say, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11.)
Job is being tried, and not because God Himself intends the trial, it was Satan’s idea, God permits it, not as testing, but confidently and proudly proving that evil does not rule in the universe.
The oxen and the asses were carried away by the Sabeans, their attendants slain.
The sheep and their shepherds were struck by a fire storm.
The camels were stolen and their drivers slain by the Chaldeans.
His sons and daughters perished in a great storm.
Each bearer of bad news escaped alone to tell the news, and was still speaking when the next bearer of bad news arrived. One hour, Job possessed everything he could wish, the next hour, he is stripped bare, penniless, and childless.
10. Job’s Reaction To Calamity:
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 first word in the hour of a person’s direst calamity reveals the very soul of a man. Could anything have been greater? No finer example of Godly character is revealed to us in scriptures.
“He fell down and worshiped.”
“Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
“In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
Again later Job would say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 13:15.
Jesus would say. “Thy will be done.”
“Yes,” says the eternal God of Sinai, “a man will serve God for naught.” There is nothing any more in Job’s hands that could possibly account for his faithfulness to God.
His head is bowed to the ground, yet on his lips is a prayer. In his heart no sign of a thought that God dealt unjustly with him. There was not the slightest murmur against God.
Never did Job say,
“God, it isn’t fair!”
“This should never have happened to me!”
“I don’t deserve it!”
None of that escaped Job’s lips.
“In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
Satan said, “He will curse thee…”
But instead Job blessed the name of the Lord.
“El Shaddai, the Almighty, Yahweh, Adonai, Blessed be His Holy Name Forever.”
Job, Gods servant, “there is none like him in the earth,” God is still proud of him. The first round with Satan is over—the liar, the father of lies. And in Job’s victory God has won.
11. Everybody Has His Price:
Again the scene shifts beyond the human range, back to the courts of heaven where the son’s of God are again gathered once again in a meeting with the Creator, and who shows up, Satan, the accurser of the brethren.
Job 2:1. “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.
2. And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
4. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
Let us analyze this conversation.
“And Satan came also.”
Jehovah, “Whence cometh thou?”
Satan, “From all over.”
Jehovah, “Hast thou considered my servant Job? That there is none like him?”
Jehovah, “And still holdeth fast his intergrity, although thou movest Me against him without cause.”
Satan, “Yea, but everybody has his price.”
Jehovah, “I don’t think so.”
Satan, “All that a man hath will he give for his life.”
Satan, “Let nobody fool you—his possessions are gone, and his children are gone, but with Job it hardly matters.”
Satan, “Where he is concerned, what counts the most with him is that he himself is still safe—unharmed.”
Satan, “If that were changed, just put forth your hand now and touch his bones and flesh—let him suffer physically—and he will curse thee to thy face.”
Jehovah, “Beyond the wrong, and out of its reach, is an integrity which cannot be bought or had, with threat or bribe.”
Jehovah, “I’m willing to risk it with anybody”—“Behold not My hand, but thine—I will leave him in your hand—though not his life.”
And God Hides Behind A Cloud: So Satan was gone, again to bid his time. He would come again, and this time he would be cruel. Life Is So Precious: “Yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.”
It seems that our days are so few—each one should be spent wisely. We could probably say that the love of life is an instinctive principle; we cling to life, we grasp at straws. The will to live helps to extend our endurance to unimaginable limits. Yet To Live Is Sometimes A Curse—As Job Would Learn.
Life is sweet, or, at any rate, living is sweet. It’s a fruit that must be poisoned until it grows bitter indeed before we cast it away voluntarily.
“All that a man hath will he give for his life.”
Is That So? No! There are things too precious to be given away even for life. Love Is The Only Thing Which Will Cause A Man To Give His Life.
12. The Second Visitation Of Evil:
Job 2:7. “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.”
“Sore boils,” “Evil Inflammation.” The original word (shehin) was one of the worst forms of leprosy. The same word (blains) is used to describe one of the 10 plagues which God sent upon Egypt (Exodus 9:9-11); bloch, (Deuteronomy 28:27). Sometimes believed by modern interrupters to be shingles.
It sometimes appear suddenly and reaches almost at once an acute stage. It was particularly common among adults with vigorous vitality. Job describes himself as such 14 times. He seemed to be in the prime of life.
These boils are characterized by bulbous inflammation which produce intense itching (2:8). Atrophic changes arrear on the face (2:12). Generalized blistering and produces offensive odor. These all terminate by relapses which reveal constant deterioration, until death eventually comes, sometimes after many years.
Job 19:20. “My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.”
Job 30:18. “By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.”
Job 30:27. “My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.”
Job 30:30. “My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.”
Job 7:3. “So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.
4. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? And I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.
5. My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome.
6. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.”
Job had made his way outside of town to the refuse heap where the fires burn continuously and where the scavenger dogs prowl among the ashes. There Job sat through “Nights without end’ (7:4), and “Days spent without hope (7:6). Amid such pain and agony could anything worse come to him? We shall see.
In our own trials we sometimes are made to feel that things just can’t get any worse. But if we have friends to encourage us, and a faithful, loving companion to stand by us, we should give thanks to God.
A man may be rich in this worlds goods, but if he have none to love and be loved by, he is a pauper. Whereas a man may lose all his property even his health, and yet be rich, if he has those whom he loves and those who love him. How much we need those who are close to us when tragedy strikes.
13. Another Look At Job’ Wife:
Job 2:9. “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
His rhetorical question, urging the acceptance of both good and adversity from God, anticipates one of the central messages of the Book of Job: The person of faith will trust in God through prosperity or adversity, even while unable to understand why bad things happen.
Job’s wife walks across the stage and only gives one comment and the world has passed judgment upon her by this one statement. First of all if we interpret the book of Job literally we come to the conclusion that Job’s wife lived to an extreme old age, 180 to 200 years old, maybe more.
During such a long period of time she must have said and done many noble things. Yet it is a pity that the verses which we read (2:9-11) are the things she is remembered by. Satan is glad that they are written and he wants to make sure that they are always read in a sarcastic tone.
Satan would like for us to always remember the lowest point in her life. Likewise Satan also wants us to be remembered by our low points.
Satan bounces it back like an echo.
With Satan there is no such thing as repentance,
No such thing as forgiveness.
The earliest critic of Job’s wife, and the first to assassinate her character, of which I can trace, was Augustine; (354-430 A.D). Augustine called her “The Adjutant of the Devil.” “A spiritual sister of the woman in the Garden of Eden, (Genesis 3:1-24) for she tempted Adam to forsake his creator.”
Adjutant = “One who assists the commanding officer and is responsible for messages sent.”
On this sense who of us is not guilty of delivering a message from Satan?
In a time of anger,
In a time of deep hurt,
In a time of despair,
Satan is there to provide words to wound, to hurt, to discourage.
In times like these let us guard our thoughts, lest Satan take advantage of our feelings and move us to speak words we don’t want to be remembered for.
The sorrow of Job’s wife has never been adequately dealt with—perhaps never will be—certainly by a man. It was her children who were dead, her possessions gone; her husband was now an invalid, an outcast from society. Yet her part in the sorrow is unexpressed and unrecognized. Her problem seemingly brushed aside. Yet surely she had her problem too. I feel she has been treated unkindly by thousands of preachers.
Job’s problem was intellectual, hers emotional. His was of the head, hers of the heart. Remember in all that happened to this family Job did not suffer alone. Job found a man’s way out at last, the rest of the book reveals this. Did his wife ever find a way out, or had she no use for God ever afterward? I Think We Can Find An Answer.
There is an old Indian proverb which says, “Never judge another person until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
God would not let Ezekiel prophesy to Israel until, “Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days” Ezekiel 3:15.
I don’t feel that we have the knowledge to judge Job’s wife until we sit where she sat, or lay where she lay, or stood where she stood in these times of undue stress. I want us to look back a few years previous to these troublesome times and into a time of great joy and happiness in Job’s wife.
The happiest day of her life was when a young man brought two cows or was it five sheep to her father’s tent in exchange for her hand in marriage. She knew from what she saw that this young man was the choicest of all the young men in Ur. Word of his kindness, his generosity, his God fearing spirit had spread everywhere. Although at this time Job did not possess very much (Job 8:7) the Lord God blessed him and increased his substance.
The second happiest day of her life came several months later when she brought forth her first born son after a time of pain and labor. In the weeks and months which followed she enjoyed her little son, nursing him, bathing him, changing him, cuddling him; she remember his first words, first step. During the next several years she would go to that tent of labor nine more times until there were seven sons and three daughters. There was always something special about each one.
In the meanwhile their substance had increased until the hills, valleys and plains for miles around were covered with sheep, camels, oxen, and she asses which belonged to them. They had need of nothing, in fact they shared their wealth with those in need. Now in late-middle life Job’s wisdom and kindness had exalted him above all his fellows.
Job’s wife was so happy with her family which shared everything together. She, herself, was like a queen of a small kingdom—like Sarah in Abraham’s world. God had built a ‘hedge’ around this family to shelter them from all the trouble of the world. This ‘hedge’ was built upon the prayers and sacrifices and continuous good deeds of both her and Job—so what could possible go wrong. Her thinking, live right, love God, and keep his laws and commandments and you will always be happy—nothing can ever go wrong.
Then one day, in one hour, everything changed. Her world came apart—blows, after blow, fell upon her--the sheep are gone, the camels are all gone, the oxen are gone, the she-asses are gone, so are the sheep along with all the servants who cared for all the livestock. All of a sudden she is a poor woman again. Then another messenger is there—all ten of your children are dead, killed in a storm.
We cannot imagine the inexplicable anguish, the extreme grief, the awful feeling of pain and distress of body and mind which must have come over her all at once. At first she would try to deny it—“It’s not true,” “I’ll wake up and it will all be just a bad dream.” She tried to block it out of her mind, but the sorrow just kept it before her at all times. Job tried to comfort her, yea, no doubt they received comfort from each other.
Then all of a sudden her husband, Job, was stricken with these awful sores all over his body. His pain and anguish was so great that he was driven by his affliction to the ash pit on the edge of town where he spent his days and nights mourning out his sorrow and pain.
Blake (English artist, poet, mystic—1757-1827), represents Job’s wife as the faithful attendant upon all her husband’s misery. This is when many wives cop out. One edition of the Book of Job has illustrations, and the illustrations are by a woman, and the pictures of Job’s represent her as utterly overwhelmed by grief. She has thrown herself across Job’s knees, as he sits on the ground, his brow shaded with sackcloth, his mouth half hidden with his hand, his eyes bewildered and heavy, as with sleeplessness.
She lies across Job’s knees, her left arm holding her head, which is hidden; the right arm hangs long and helpless, till the fingers touch the ashes. It is at this moment she says to Job, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die.”
Not the cynical jeer, surely, of one who had never known belief, but the last gasp of a passionate heart broken in its desolation. “Can you still keep your faith? Mine is gone—I care for nothing any more.” It’s the cry of a woman forsaken by God—she thinks. Do you ever think that God has forsaken you? Have you ever come to that place in your struggle, your pain, your distress, your sorrow?
Forsaken By God—when not even an Egyptian Bondswoman (Hagar) was forgotten by Him—nor the widow of Nain.
Job’s wife (tradition calls her name Mona) had at first gone to the tent of labor, but now the tent of sorrow, the tent of remorse, of despair, she felt alone, lonely, hopelessness.
Those words (Job 2:9), the only ones recorded for us which she spoke, seems to have been inspired by love and common sense. In other words, this desperate and bewildered woman, still confident in her husband’s integrity, and unable to hope for healing, and sympathizing with his condition, the only answer she feels is just being allowed to die—Mercy Killing.
Death by any means is better that this kind of life. In this expression (Job 2:9), she is crying out against the whole horror of the situation. But Job did not fall into this temptation, and in his stand reached out a hand to ‘stay her’ in this dreaded hour.
Isn’t it marvelous that we don’t all fall into that pit of extreme depression at the same time—or we would all perish? God always has someone who has a reserve of strength for that hour to pull us through. Like a husband and wife team. With words of kindness, of love, of hope—Job reaches for her, First he was courteous. H did not accuse his wife of being a fool but using a fool’s language.
He understood that she too was suffering in agony. His final expression of trust in God was a living attempt to win her over to his own submission to the Divine will of God. He spoke on her behalf, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
In time of great distress, thank God for love, for kindness, and for a hand to ‘stay’ us when our own faith fails. She would rise out of the ashes to become the queen God intended her to be (Job 42:10-17). No doubt, at her death Satan would come to contend for her body, but no, Job had prayed (Jude 9).
I am reminded of the poems of Martha Swell Nicholson, born 1899, and died 1957 after suffering almost constantly from birth, many diseases. Crippled by arthritis and bedridden most of her life, she overcame the pain and self-pity and lived above it in spite of unbearable afflictions. She wrote over 900 poems.
In one of her poems, which she calls “The Thorn,” she speaks of a pauper standing before God, begging for one priceless gift to call her own.
She took the gift from His hand, but as she departed she cried, “Lord, This Is A Thorn, and it has pierced my heart—this is a strange gift which thou have given me. God replied, I love to give good gifts—I Gave My Best To You.”
“I took it home,” she wrote, “and though at first, the cruel thorn hurts sore, as long years passed I grew at last, to love it more and more. I Learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace—He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face!”
“There will be another day,” she continues, “some glad day I shall walk like others! All memory of helplessness, of crutch, of iron braces, will melt like mist when I behold the beauty of His face! And so I wait. On swift wings comes that blessed moment when He’ll take my hand, and smiling, teach me how to walk again!”
14. The Arrival Of Job’s Friends:
Job’s misery must have been going on for several weeks maybe months, for news traveled slow in those days, yet three of Job’s friends heard about his calamities, and they were concerned enough about him that they came to see about him.
We can only wonder how they established contact with each other, as they lived many miles apart. Again our mind can only wonder how they, and Job, had established and maintained such a strong friendship in spite of the miles and primitive modes of travel and communication. They had been grieved to hear of Job’s calamities, and they meant the best they knew. These men came with the highest motive in mind. Tragedy has struck an old and dear friend we must go to comfort him.
They had come to weep with him, not as hired mourners, but expressing pain, and genuine sorrow with Job. They came, not only to share his grief, but to help bear his grief, and to try to alleviate his grief. During such times many there are how come expressing sorrow, but not trying to alleviate or do anything about it.
Job 2:11. “Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
It is a mistake to deal harshly with these men, they have been held up to the external ridicule of all the world as “Job’s Comforters.” Even from Job himself Job 16:2. That they failed in their mission should never have fastened on them the stigma they have borne through the years. The only thing that can be said of them is that they were poorly equipped for their ministry of consolation. They meant him the best.
By studying them, and in their faults and shortcomings, we can gain an insight into the way to comfort those who are suffering. There is nothing more lovely or more difficult than to be a comforter. It is best done by the tender-hearted and the strong in faith and love. Not by stern, or hard, or severe of nature, or forbidding, gloomy people.
Three of these friends are named Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar; another is named later Elihu who was younger and reserved his statements until later. The first three were very wise and good; they were old men, very old, and had a great reputation. Much of the enjoyment and comforts of life comes from acquaintances and friendships. These men seemed to be some of Job’s best friends. They were not sent for but came on their own, with, I feel, sincere hope of helping Job through his troubles.
The very first sight of Job from a distance they did not recognize Job for he was so disfigured from which the disease had wrought upon him. Looking upon him thus so miserably altered, they did not want to leave him uncomforted so they rent their clothes and sat down with him in the ashes and lifted up their voices and wept. This indicates they wailed loud and long. (wept aloud).
No doubt, they had sat many times on his couch, around his table, and had enjoyable fellowship together. So these men did not cut their visit short and just leave him to his misery, but “sat with him seven days and seven nights.”
15. The Ministry Of Silence:
They waited for Job to speak, not daring themselves to begin. “Silence Is Golden,” says an old proverb. There are times it is best to be quiet. There are times when words become empty phrases, when words are to shallow to reach the depths of despair.
Did you ever ponder, as you were on your way to the side of someone who had just experienced tragedy? “What will I say to them when we meet?” You try to find words which would comfort them, or at least tell them your sympathy for them. As a Pastor I have come to this place numerous times. Then when you meet, hands grip, you fall into each other’s arms—you don’t have to say anything, Words seemed so inappropriate—they would have been out of place.
There is such a thing as fellowship of silence. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10.
These men sat in silence with Job seven days and seven nights, weeping with him. What more could they have done? His soul was sick even to death, and they sat down and watched in silence. If we would be a comforter to a man in great sorrow, we need not talk much to him—the less the better.
Silence is older than speech,
Silence is older than song.
Silence is older than prayer.
In silence God built the temple of the sun and the sanctuary of the stars. When God had finished His handiwork—“the morning stars sang together” Job 38:1-7.
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was great.”
16. The Depths Of Despair: Job 3
Job 3:1. “After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.”
After weeks and perhaps months (Job 7:3) of solitude, and seven days and nights of friendly presence without words, Job himself breaks the silence. To this point in the book Job has only spoken seven times, all in three verses.
The first time he spoke, (1:5) Job is practicing his religion by offering a burnt offering for his children’s sake. “.. For Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”
The second time Job is worshiping his God even after the loss of his possessions and his children. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21).
The last time Job spoke (2:10) was from the height of submissive faith, but after a long silence he has fallen into a deep depression of hopelessness. Would Satan at last win his wager with God? Does every man indeed have a breaking point, as Satan had said?
“…Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath will he give for his life. Put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:4-5)
We have discussed the horrible affliction which Satan smote Job with. And now, after months of mental anguish over the loss of his children and his possessions, and Job’s physical body tormented beyond description, Satan has him where he wants him. Remember all this took place before hospital care and pain relievers. It was a long siege by Satan. And God Was Hid Behind A Cloud:
Now, he is in a state of hopelessness, or despair. This is a dangerous time for any one who is assailed by Satan. In this Chapter 3, the flood gates of Job’s soul open wide, not in a prayer, as might be expected of one so exalted among men, but a curse against his day.
It is as though God is becoming a stranger to Him. This is which, little by little will prove to be the most terrible thing of all. “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” Job 3:25. The anchor is beginning to drag in the storm (Acts 27:29). The lines that have held Job fast to eternity are giving way. I feel the thing that Job feared the most was the loss of his integrity (Job 2:9).
But remember which, in our own lament, God did not move, we did. God has not pulled back from us. We pulled back from God. God is still there—unchanged in His love for us. He is like the North Star, always in place, He never moves. Put your Sextant bearing on Him.
The Bible is a story about a God of love—“For God is ‘Love.” (1 John 4:8 & 16).
It’s a book of Life,
It’s a book of Restoration,
It’s a book of Rehabilitation,
It’s a book of Regeneration,
It’s a book of Repentance,
It’s a book of Forgiveness.
Don’t preach about the fall without telling the story of redemption, of Samson, of David, of Moses, of Lot, of Jacob, of Peter—so don’t stop reading about Job in chapter 3, read chapter 42.
But for now the shadows which grip Job will not lift until the old relationship can be restored. Job broke into a curse, not against God, but against his own existence.
He expresses three wishes.
1. That he had never been born (Job 3:2-10).
2. That he had died at birth (Job 3:11-19).
3. That he might die now (Job 3:20-26).
Job 3:2-3. “And Job spake and said,”
“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which I was said, there is a man child conceived.”
“Let that day never have been—“ “Let darkness reign,”
“Let those that make up the calendar leave that day out.”
“I just wish I had never been born.”
Job 3:11. “Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”
13. “For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
14. With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
15. Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
17. There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.
18. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor.
19. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.”
Job 30:23. “For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.” (The grave is where all end up, rich or poor, bond or free)
Or Why Can’t I Just Die Now?
Job 3:20. “Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;
21. Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
22. Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?”
The sad thing is there have been multitudes, before and after Job, who faced this philosophical dilemma. Thousands stand in that same condition today, many longing for death, others just struggling to get through another day.
To some it was a passing thought—but others it is a genuine desire. Many a human being has said sincerely in the time of weariness and trouble, “I wish I was in my grave.” This does not necessarily show a weakness of faith, of mind, of character. The best of the race have been known to look forward with a sigh to that perfect calm when all sorrow is passed away, and a hand wipes away the last tear.
Paul, one of the strongest of our race, looked for it, yea even longed for it. “Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” Philippians 1:23 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Corinthians 15:19.
The Psalmist David, a giant killer, a king, a warrior, a statesman, a singer, a songwriter, summed up all he wanted in one phrase. “…, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” Psalms 55:6-8.
Abraham “Looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. .” “but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,” “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly:” (Hebrews 11:10, 13, 16)
Job could cry out, “Why, why—Why not? “Why me?” “Why this, Lord?” “Why not this, or that, or some other thing?” But God Is Hid Behind A Cloud:
One could often wonder if the choice had really been left to us—what would we have chosen, but, Omniscience made the choice for us—and it was not simply made, or without pain for Him, and with wisdom, beyond our own, reckoning on the power that “all things work for the good to them who love the Lord, and are the called according to his purpose.”
We here today can read Job 3 in the light of the New Testament. We know that Jesus is the resurrection and the life to all his people. These words in, Job 3, speak of a better world, where there will never be an unkind word, never an unfriendly look, never any pain, nor a tear, “There the wicked cease from troubling” Job 3:17.
Not wicked men only, but everything wicked; evil spirits, evil thoughts, evil influences, our own weakness, all danger, all temptations, will trouble us no more.
In Job 3:22. even though Job longed for death, he was not considering suicide. The context of other passages indicates that Job merely wished that the Lord would let him die (7:15–21; 10:18–22). The strong Elijah came to that place (1 Kings 19:4). And in 3:23 Job bemoaned that God had hedged him in so that he could not die. The irony is that Job perceived God’s protective hedge around him as keeping him from a desirable death. This is a typical feeling of those who suffer.
17. The Impatience Of Job:
Throughout Chapter 3 Job let’s loose the pent-up torrent of his anguish. So we want to look at a verse in the New Testament which gives us a view of Job.
James 5:11b. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
I feel that this phrase has been long been misunderstood and misapplied. Some have used this to tell us we need to take everything that happens to us without any reaction on our part, without any retort, without any complaint, and with out any answer. Now I did not say to retaliate. Job never did attack his antagonist, he never struck back, and he only aired his complaint and defended his integrity
The tension between the “patient” Job, and the “impatient” Job, contributes to the overall message of the book. It shows Job as a real person. He was no “stone saint,” who suffered stoically and without reaction. Instead, he struggled with his emotions and feelings as we do today. The Book of Job teaches that it is not wrong for a person to ask the question why, as Job did repeatedly (chapter 3). But these questions must not grow into accusations against the sovereign Lord.
Patience: What is the Bible meaning of this word? Jesus says, “In your patience possess ye your soul” Luke 21:19. Paul says, “..That tribulation worketh patience” Romans 5:3. James says, “…the trying of your faith worketh patience” James 1:3. So, According to the Bible patience is an important attribute of a Christian. But notice also in almost every verse how patience is attained—during a struggle, a trial, or test.
Do we think that patience is to assume a humility and quietness of spirit by refusing to wrestle with the contradictions which life and experience seem to throw our way in the face of God’s goodness? The Bible gives no such meaning to the word patience. Paul says, “that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” Romans 15:4.
The very word itself in the Greek is a twisting and turning; a holding on, a wrestling match, warfare. Like Jacob to the Angel, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” Genesis 32:26.
Endurance in trials,
Holding on, Persistence,
Job did all of this and it earned him the acclamation “The Patience of Job.
18. Eliphaz Opens The Long Dialogue:
Job 4:1. “Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
2. If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?
3. Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
4. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
5. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
6. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?”
After Job’s outburst in Chapter 3, his friends, who had come “to mourn with him, and to comfort him,” undertook their task with reservations. There is no reason to think that the friends came to Job with hostile intentions. From all the information concerning them we must believe that they were highly religious people as was Job. Their knowledge of God’s ways is displayed in ways that are not shown in other parts of the Bible.
They traveled from great distances in order to comfort Job (2:11). Their 7 days of silence probably was due to respect and compassion as well as bewilderment—not really knowing what to say or how to begin. But when Job had shown in his lament (chapter 3) that he could not accept his fate with fortitude, (grin and bear it) they felt compelled to speak.
All Christians Can Fall Into The Same Mood Or Disposition They Fell Into: Every person who attempts to console, comfort, or in any way help a person who has fallen into dire straights needs to take heed unto themselves that they do not become critical, judgmental, and try to assess, or weigh them on their scales. Many good people, with good intentions, do great injustice to people by their judgmental mood.
We all want friends to whom we can pour our hearts out to. To whom we can trust to know what’s bothering us. We want friends to whom our tongue can release the pent-up fury of our mind, the release that so often comes when the sufferer finds himself among those who will assuredly understand, and not take amiss anything we say. Pray, “God give us such a friend, one with empathy, and understanding of our situation, feelings, and motives.”
Eliphaz, who seemed to be the oldest and wisest, begins his speech apologetically. “If we assay (try) to commune (talk) with thee, wilt thou be grieved (offended)? Job 4:2. “If one ventures a word with you, … will you be offended? (R.S.V.).
Tactful and cautious, Eliphaz does not intend deliberately to start such a long and agonizing discussion as follows in the next 34 chapters. He knows that even a considerate reproof will hurt Job’s feelings.
An old proverb says that friends should reprove as well as sympathize. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” Proverbs 27:6; “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friends” Proverbs 27:17. It may be that reproof is at times in order—but the right spirit, attitude, or manner is worth more than the words. To reprove does not mean to ‘rub in.’
Eliphaz, “but who can withhold himself from speaking?” (4:2). “Yet who can keep from speaking” (R.S.V.). He suspects he should remain silent, but cannot stand any longer the seemingly incoherent ramblings of Job in Chapter 3. Without any feelings for what Job has endured, Eliphaz cannot endure what Job has said.
What Job needs is the compassion of a human heart. What he gets is a series of absolutely beautiful religious expressions and moral remarks which were cold, formal, and indifferent. Remember, the soul in its deep distress seeks understanding not counsel.
It will help us in our efforts to condole (to feel another's pain), and console (comfort, and support) those whom we have the opportunity to comfort, if we take the time to study their plight or situation in the light of true empathy (compassion).
There is nothing more lovely, or more difficult that to be a comforter. It is best done by the tenderhearted and compassionate, and above all long-suffering.
Not only did Eliphaz, Bildad, And Zophar fail in their attempt to comfort Job they became an added extension of his misery. They undertook their task with the premise, “God punishes the evil and rewards the good.”
This was their logic—
“God’s mercy is towards them that fear Him---and His wrath is upon the disobedient, that they may forsake their wicked ways and live.”
“The man whom catastrophe overtakes, that man has sinned.”
“Let him repent and his deliverance is sure.”
“If he will not repent, the very stars in their courses will fight against him.”
That was the Hebrew faith straight out of Deuteronomy and the Prophets—and it was their faith. And they could not go along with anyone who would break with this tradition, and Job had broken with it, they felt.
This had been Job’s Faith too, (all through the Book he gives God credit for all his calamities Job 1:21; 2:10; 3:23), but now realizes it does not always hold true. He had done nothing to deserve all this evil. Job maintains his innocence. The three friends twisted, and squirmed, and guessed, and supposed, and hurled it back at him over and over again.
“How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in peaces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me; ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me. And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:” (Job 19:2-5).
It was by their traditional religion that Job was goaded into a passionate fury, while round by round their words turned to venom. Less and less did they concern themselves about the sufferer, more and more it was the principal of the thing that mattered.
19. On Preaching To One’s Self:
As much as we disdain the attitude of these three friends of Job, we must also acknowledge the wisdom and advice that is given in their many speeches. There are so many topics that were covered in The Book Of Job that to cover all of them would take a thousand pages or more. But let us not “throw out the baby with the bath water,” because even their speeches are full of great sayings of wisdom which makes great preaching.
Who has not read some of these great wisdom passages and not stopped to think deeply about them? What preacher has not preached from chapter 4:12-17, where Eliphaz describes his fearful vision, designed to humble the pride of creatures before God? And again in chapter 33:14-18 we find the same kind of thing.
Eliphaz To Job:
Job 4:3. “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
4. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
5. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
6. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?”
The point Eliphaz makes here is this, Job had in his time been a teacher and helper of others. His ministry had been a ministry of encouragement and consolation, “But now it is come to thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.”
The man who was so successful as a preacher to others was not quite so successful as a preacher to himself. The consolations he had ministered so profitably to others somehow seemed to fail him when he needed them for himself. Remember the calling out to Jesus, “Physician heal thyself.” Luke 4:23. “He saved others; himself he cannot save” Matthew 27:42.
We that are so ready and have so many sermons and advice for other people, have we any sermons left for ourselves? When, “it comes upon thee?” Lest—“It toucheth thee:” Job, in the day of his calamity, had not one sermon to preach to himself.
Paul, the greatest of preachers, next to our Lord himself, closing a sermon, full of passion of the Gospel, full of urgency, full of lofty ideals, all summed up in the phrase, “So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway”
1 Corinthians 9:24b-27.
Paul, the greatest of all evangelists, Paul the most able of all ministers, “Lest I myself should be a castaway.” So Paul preached his sermon over again to himself, and as he preached it again it fell upon a broken and contrite heart.
Eliphaz “Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and uprightness of thy ways.” Job had said in his outburst of anguish; “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me” Job 3:25. Is it that Job feared that if catastrophe came to him that he would have no reserve to overcome it? This should be the fear of every man.
We can gather from theses verses that in spite of Job’s wealth, family, standing in the community, and loyalty to his God there was a constant nagging fear always just in the back of his mind. I feel Job’s fear can be summed up by the natural fear of every person of standing.
1. I am afraid I cannot maintain this place of honor.
2. I am afraid I will lose my wealth.
3. I am afraid I will lose my children.
4. I am afraid I will lose my health.
5. I am afraid I will lose my integrity.
6. I am afraid God will turn against me and become my enemy.
Of these 6 fears I feel the last is the one which was Job’s greatest fear. First of all Job is beginning to attribute his calamity to God. “Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in” Job 3:23.
The ‘hedge,’ in Job 1:10, which was his shelter, has now become a prison. The barrier which God had fashioned to keep the danger out—was the ‘wall’ which God now seems to have built in order to keep the misery in.
20. Is Life Just A Game Without An Umpire?
“The terrors of God do set themselves in array against me” Job 6:4.
Many in this world do not understand that in the background God is in control and governs every event that takes place good or bad.
Job 9:2-10. In these verses Job describes God as ‘all-terrible.’
“Exciting extreme alarm or intense fear.”
“Formidable in nature.”
“Having qualities which discourage approach or attack.”
“Tending to inspire awe or wonder, awesome.”
Job 9:2-10. (paraphrased) “Nobody has ever been able to stiffen his neck like as an ox resistive under the yoke, plant his feet in the ground, and hold out against God—Who rips mountains wide open with his fire and hardly even knows it. Who could possibly answer the questions He could ask? Even one question in a thousand?” Reminds me of a song Sister Thornton wrote, “How Great Is My God.”
Job went on to say:
V6. “He shakes the earth to its foundations.”
V7. “Blots out the sun with storm clouds and eclipse.”
V7. “Shuts up the stars in their secret place.”
V8. “Stretches out the heavens like a tent.”
V8. “Tramples down the waves of the sea.”
V9. “Frames the constellations against the blue evening sky.”
V10. “Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.”
What is all this but the glitter, the power, and the glory of “God the all-terrible?” Such power without love is intolerable. One leader said, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But with God, might not only makes right, right is transformed into might.
Just because “He that sitteth in the heavens” does not sign His name in monstrous letters, when something awful happens, the world tends to think He has not spoken.
An Old Hymn:
“Come hither, ye faithful sing;
Come see in the manger the angel’s Dread King!”
But “Dread King” was too strong, for many the lines had to be made softer.
“O come, all ye faithful,
O come ye, O come ye
Another Old Hymn:
“God the All-Terrible!
King Who ordainest.”
Later it was made to read,
“God the Omnipotent..”
This was still too strong for many congregations, so the stanza was omitted from many hymnals, and the song began with, “God The All-Merciful.” Then later it was amended again to read, “God the All-Righteous One!”
Three-fifths of the original had been lost in interests of sweetness and light. They said world is getting better and no longer needs strong messages of God’s wrath and power, they said. Give us something about love and mercy and kindness.
Then God entered the pulpit and preached in His own way by deeds—and His sermons were long and taxing, and they spoiled the dinner, His voice shook the earth. Two World Wars followed, earthquakes, violent storms, epidemics and uncontrollable diseases, world-wide violence—lack of control of crime runs rampant.
This lets us know that Life Is Not A Game Without An Umpire.
Job 9:32. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
33. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.”
Job complains that God is not a man who would go to court with Him (Job 9:3). Neither does Job have an impartial mediator between God and himself—a mediator who can present his case before God. The desire for a mediator between God and humanity is a key theme in Job (16:19; 19:25), and it anticipates the New Testament emphasis on Jesus as the true Mediator between God and all of humanity (1 Timothy 2:5).
In his complaint Job longs for his day in court, but he sees no way for this to happen. He felt that life was a game without an umpire, with God making up the rules as it went along. “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us,..” One with power and authority to “Lay his hand upon us both, ..”
The Need Of A Mediator
Job 9:30. “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
31. Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.”
Like the Psalmist, Job realizes that he cannot wash himself and make himself pure—He feels that the absolute remoteness of God makes intimacy with God impossible. There is no meeting place between heaven and earth. God and man may not “come together in judgment,” since “He is not a man as I am.”
Job had no idea of the Incarnation—of a God made into human “flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory” John 1:14. So his lament lingers on, “Would there were an umpire a mediator or daysman between us” Job 9:33.
21. I’m Innocent Yet My Friends And Family Forget Me:
Job 19:13. “He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are quite estranged from me. 14. My kinsfolk have failed, and my known friends have forgotten me.”
There is nothing more painful in breaking of the heart than when friends turn away from us. It is worse than the worst of bodily pains brought on by afflictions. It crushes us when our last friend forsakes us.
Of all the tragic things which has happened to Job this seems to bring a complete break-down. Through everything else job had fought back—but now he is losing the will to fight on. Battered into submission he is not able to rise from the ground again.
Then we hear him wailing, “Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me…” Job 19:21. But Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar would not be moved. They are dead set against him.
Let The People Decide: Then Job, turning away from them, makes his appeal to future generations. Job wants the record of his innocence put in writing, printed in a book, grave it in the rock that it might last forever Job 19:23-24. And that all generations to the end of time might read—The Denial Of His Guilt. And when they had listened to his story, let them judge his case—let the people decide his case.
What If Judged Not Guilty: But what if every man who reads his story judged him innocent? Is that enough? No! No! A thousand time No! Job needs more—and he shall have more.
Job’s confidence in his conscience, though shaken by Eliphaz, and Bildad, and Zophar, was not subdued—his conscience says, “Not Guilty,” “Innocent Of All Charges.”
22. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth:
Job wrestles with God, and he does stumble, but the faith that God had planted in his heart remains true. It is out of the lowest dept that Job’s mind leaps to its highest height. He feels that behind all the darkness, behind all the chaos, there is a face that looks kindly on him. It is the face of a living God with whom he walked in fellowship, who knows his innocence and who shall make it known to the world.
This God with whom he had fellowship in days past, this God still lives, and is still what He ever was. And at that instant his faith rises and leaps the chasm and spans the gulf that separates man for God. JOB’S HEART IS TRANSFORMED: And his tongue utters the grandest expression in the Old Testament.
Job 19:25. “For I know that my redeemer liveth,..”
In this statement Job is abandoning the hope or the illusion of defending himself.
“I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVETH! and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:”
This has been called, “The Highest Expression Of Faith In The Hebrew Bible.”
It has it’s counterpart in the New Testament, “And we know that we are of God ... and we know that the Son of God is come, … (1 John 5:19-21).
Job spoke these words after the most scathing condemnation by Bildad in the entire book. In the hardest of all speeches in chapter 18, in which Bildad pictured the awful fate of the sinner. Under this terrible picture he says: “Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked” Job 18:21. And he held it up before Job. It was meant for him.
The malignancy spoken in Job 18:13-15, “The first born of death,” which consumes the sinner’s limbs, was an allusion to Job’s leprosy. Another will occupy his dwelling after it has been disinfected with sulphur. With stroke after stroke Bildad paints an awful picture of the sinner and with each a gesture indicating to Job, “You are the man.”
Up until chapter 19, Job’s complaint and misery is almost completely hopeless and despairing. He wonders, “Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; (Job 3:20-21). One question after the other follows. And then, miraculously, the Spirit brings Job a revelation of someone who will rescue him from his despair. Job realizes God is not his enemy and cries out, “for I know that my redeemer liveth, …”
Job is not rejoicing because he believes his trial is ending. He is rejoicing because he now believes, by the Spirit, that he has a Redeemer, a heavenly kinsman who will come to his aid. The role of the kinsman-redeemer was well known in the ancient Near East, and it is this Job is referring to. The next of kin was to redeem (buy back) his (relatives) property, and restore it to him if in any way he had forfeited it or been obliged to sell it; to defend him against injury and wrong, especially, to avenge his blood if he had been unrighteously slain.
Job now sees God as his redeemer, and although he is convinced that he will shortly die from his disease, he confidently announces that even after his skin has been destroyed, he will in his flesh see God. In Job’s sorely tried heart, God is no longer his enemy who is pursuing him unjustly; He is now his friend, his Redeemer, his next of kin.
We also have a “next of kin,” “a redeemer” “a brother,” someone who has come to our aid. We’ve studied His words and observed His life. We know that our Redeemer lives and we will behold Him one day! Galatians 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. We are no longer strangers or slaves, but we are children of God.”
The true knowledge of God humbles all his creation, and places us on our knees before Him, which is our rightful place.
TRUTH FROM A TRANSFORMED HEART, A HUMBLED HEART:
Job 42:5. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
6. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
After Job exclaimed that his “Redeemer Liveth,” there was a dramatic change which came over him, from this point on the course of his complaints change. That’s not to say he no longer struggled or sought to determine why the wicked prosper; it’s just that the deep despair and bitterness is gone from him. He receives council of Elihu, the younger of his friends, who helped prepare him for the astounding council from the Lord. His heart is prepared: Job is about to receive the most precious treasures ever imagined. In the longest, and most awesome conversation from God recorded in the Bible, Job is brought to his Knees.
“Now my eyes see thee,” and “I am humbled,” “I repent in dust and ashes,” is Job’s final speech. Job is humbled, instructed, and comforted by God’s sustaining grace, and in the end God is glorified. What was God’s purpose in Job’s trial? It was to silence the lying tongue of Satan, but that was not the only purpose. His purpose was to open Job’s eyes to who He is, a God who is compassionate and merciful, and to sustain within him a steadfastness that would be spoken of for thousands of years.
Do you know that your Redeemer lives? I hope that you do. Do you want to exalt Him and see His glory exemplified in your suffering? God knows that you do, He knows this, and loves you, and will see that your life annuls your enemy’s lies. And it will bring Him great joy, when on that last day you stand on the new earth with your near Kinsman and gaze upon His beautiful, compassionate, and merciful face.
Repeat these words with me, “That I with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ: who with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head. He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live for Him” Amen.
23. Job Looks Far Into The Future:
In the following verses Job arose to stand on the highest pinnacle of belief in the Old Testament. This is one of the few references in the Old Testament of a future life.
Job 19:26. “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
I believe that this is a clear statement of Job’s belief in a future life. It was a real belief on Job’s part in a life after death in which he will see God and be vindicated. Call it intuition, which to the man of faith, is that something within that is set there to instruct and to lead.
After all that had happened, Job battered by blow after blow, lying almost helpless, at the mercy of his friends and his God, yet there was something within him that would not quit—in spite of the insurmountable circumstances—That Something Was Faith. “For I know that my redeemer (umpire) liveth, and that he will stand at the latter day upon the earth:” Somewhere in the framework of time. Future Generations Will Bring A Redeemer—Who Will Stand Upon The Earth!
Job says, “I will see Him with my restored body, His coming will set me free from all the bondages of this day.”
24. Job’s Words Are Ended:
Job 31: 40b. “The words of Job are ended.”
Chapter 31 contains the highest moral conscience to be found in the Old Testament. In this Chapter (31) Job ends his series of speeches or monologue with the most solemn and elaborate protest of innocence that he has ever tried to express. He examines a series of sixteen conditions of sinful acts, each one beginning with the word “If” in the following verses, 5, 7, 9, 13, 16, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 29, 31, 33, 38, and 39.
In verse 1 he speaks of a covenant of purity. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think (look) upon a maid?” Job knew, centuries before Jesus proclaimed it, that sin began in the mind before an act was performed.
Verses 9-10 “if he has committed adultery, let his own wife belong to another man, and let him perish in the fire.”
Verse 13-15 The idea that slaves have rights established by the Creator for all men. 30 centuries before the “Bill Of Rights,” Job had this awareness of equality of birth among men.
Verses 16-23 Job turns to sins against the poor—and emphasizes charity and social responsibilities. “If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; 17. Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;”
Job fed the hungry and he covered the naked, for he had experienced hunger and cold. They were always at the seat, or the source, of his social conscience and was deeply committed to the will of God who cares for all men.
Thousands of years before Jesus told the world to “Love your enemies,” Job was already practicing this principal. In a day when most Bible Characters rejoiced at the destruction of the enemy, Job says, “If I rejoice at the destruction of him the hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him; neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul” Job 31:29-30.
Job asks for an audience with God. “Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me,” Job 31:35. This is not the first time Job had requested an audience with God. “I would give him an account of all my steps—like a prince I would approach Him” (verse 37).
He comes in supreme confidence, like a prince to appeal his case before the highest court to ultimate justice which must be in God. If there is love in the heart of the Eternal God it is bound to speak.
And Speak He Does Out Of The Whirlwind It Speaks!
The words of Elihu are an intrusion upon the cry for justice of Job in Chapter 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and on he went in Chapter 37. Many Bible scholars feel that this is interpolated by some editor and not a part of the original text, but probably not, because God refers to it in His speech.
A Sudden Storm Interrupted Elihu’s Speech:
25. God Answers Job:
Job 38:1. “Then the LORD answered Job out of the “whirlwind, …”
At last Job has his wish. He has been longing to meet with God and praying for God to reveal himself. The time has now come for God to hear his prayer and make his will known. This is far more important than man’s speculations.
The time of his coming: God comes last: The three friends have had their say, reiterating till they weary us. Job has been free to vent his grief and his despair. Elihu, more enlightened, yet not quite attaining to the full light, has uttered his long harangue. All have said all they had to say, and throughout God has been silent. God Has Been Hid Behind A Cloud: Now it is his time to appear.
God will have the last word in every controversy, in every life’s story, in the great world’s history. “In the beginning God” “In the end, too, there is God. Christ is the Alpha and also the Omega.” We have but to wait in patience. The end is not yet; when it comes God reveals himself.
The manner of his coming. “Out of the whirlwind.” When Elijah met God the Lord was not in the whirlwind. God uses various vehicles of revelation — the “still small voice” for Elijah, the whirlwind for Job. He is not tied down to any routine. He has no rigid ceremonies. He adapts his methods to circumstances and requirements. Anything God has made may be a chariot in which he will come to visit his people. Sometimes it is best for him to come in storm and tempest, to hush our vain babble and subdue our wayward spirit. The noisy debate of men is drowned in the whirlwind of God.
God had heard what preceded, He had been listening to every conversation, every argument. He may not make his presence manifest, but yet he is a silent Auditor at all our conferences, debates, quarrels. He hears our trusty words. He perceives our foolish doubts. God’s treatment of us is not heedless of our action. He takes account of all we do and say, and his action is adjusted accordingly.
Thus God answers man. He meets the doubt, takes up the difficulty, handles the complaint, deals with the prayer, and replies to the question. We may have to wait long for the answer. It may not come in this life. But as it came to Job, so at last, in God’s time, it will assuredly come to us, and when it has come no more need be said. It will certainly be full, sufficient, satisfying.
God answered Job in words. The Lord spoke out of the whirlwind. God usually answers us on earth by deeds of providence, or by the voiceless pleading of his Spirit in our hearts. But he has given us words in the messages that prophets have brought to us and that are recorded in the Bible. For us, however, God’s great answer to every question and every prayer is the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. The gospel shows that God has not left us to work out our problems in the dark. It reveals God speaking to us, and his message in Christ is one to give light and peace.
Why God Came Down: To meet Job’s desires. Repeatedly and earnestly had the patriarch expressed a wish, at first with uncertainty, or doubt, but afterwards with something like defiance, that God would admit him to an interview, that he might have an opportunity of stating his case and pleading his cause (Job 9:34, 35; 13:3, 22; 23:3; 31:37).
Well, in amazing condescension to this almost impious demand, Jehovah, “who giveth not an account of his matters” (Job 33:13), stoops down from the serene altitudes of his eternal palace, riding on a whirlwind, thundering with his voice, sending forth his lightning, causing the solid globe to tremble beneath the tread of his glowing feet (Psalm 18:9-14).
When God Speaks not always do we hear what we want or expect to hear. In Chapter 38, 39, 40, 41, God broke the long silence with an awesome address concerning His power and majesty.
There is nothing in God’s response to answer all the questions which Job had asked. Nothing is explained or made clear—no reasons at all are given for his struggle. Nothing is said about the wager with Satan, nothing about God’s confidence in Job.
There is no justification given for Job’s suffering, no acquittal, no public vindication. Someone has said that it is always exceedingly difficult to get a direct answer from God. The Jews rarely got one from Jesus.
God challenges Job to answer him; Job 38:3. “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
I will ask the questions, you give the answers. God, by His mighty works, convicts Job of ignorance: And even until today a score of sciences have struggled to provide answers to some of those questions. God’s wisdom and power are truly beyond man’s grasp and man cannot go beyond the bounds of his humanity—we are limited but God is not.
God’s challenge to all, “Come sit on the throne of heaven and do a better job if you can—if you think it is so easy to govern the creation. Job 38:21 “Do you know the answers because the number of thy days is so great.”
26. Job Humbles Himself Unto God:
All of God’s words are designed to bring men to repentance. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:12.
Job 40:3. “Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
4. Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
5. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.”
Job 42:1. “Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
2. I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
3. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
4. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
6. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
At last Job is brought near to the state of mind that God desires to see in him. Proud and defiant before the unwise and unjust attacks of his human accusers, he is humbled in the dust in the presence of the revelation of God. Job has seen a succession of vivid pictures of the works of God in nature. They all transcend human efforts. Then how great must the Author of nature be! How small are we in his awful presence!
Pride is always a form of godlessness. We forget God when we exalt ourselves. Our self-exaltation is only possible while we shut ourselves up in a little world. When we see God we are humbled.
Now, this is not only because God is supremely powerful. There is some heroism in the weak maintaining their right in the presence of the strong. But God’s greatness in nature is seen in intellectual and moral features. The wonderful thought of God impressed upon his works reveals a mind infinitely greater than the human mind; and the care with which God provides for all his creatures — wild asses, heedless ostriches, and repulsive ravens, as well as those creatures that seem more deserving of his providence — shows us how good God is.
Thus the wisdom and goodness of God, added to the power that makes resistance useless, crown the revealed character of God with glory, and invite our humble adoration.
SILENT HUMILITY IS A PREPARATION FOR EXALTATION:
At the end of the book we discover that God exalts Job and loads him with favor and prosperity. But he must be humbled first. The later honor is only possible after Job has abased himself. So long as he justified himself and arraigned the justice of God, he could not be restored and exalted. Thus the book shows to us the way in which God disciplines his servants and prepares them to enjoy his goodness.
Humility is the door to honor. This is a very Christian truth. It is taught by Christ: “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” It is gloriously illustrated in the life and death and exaltation of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).
27. The End Of Job’s Life:
We have come to one of the most beautiful portions of the Book of Job. After months of suffering, both bodily, mentally, and spiritually, there was a break-through by the Lord into the arguments between Job and his friends, with one of the longest and most eloquent conversation of God that is recorded in the Bible. Then God turns his attention to Job’s three friends with a scathing reprimand.
Job 42:7. “And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.
8. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
9. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
God Magnifies And Blesses Job:
10. And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
Sacrifice for sin and intercessory prayer. The friends are directed to perform an act of worship (a sacrifice), the character of which appears to point back to early times (Genesis 7:2, 3; 8:20: Numbers 23:1). All outward sacrifices were the visible expression of inward feelings, of thankfulness and joy, of reverence, and especially, as here, of the desire of the penitent to renounce his sin and to be right with his God.
Again, the passage brings to notice the privilege of intercession. “Pray for one another, that ye may be healed” As the intercession of Abraham for Abimelech is honored, so now Job is appointed a mediator and intercessor for those who have forfeited a measure of Divine grace, and thus the prophecy of Eliphaz (Job 22:30) is realized. We are encouraged in the New Testament to pray for one another. The great law of mediation and prayer runs through life, and this is one of its illustrations. Who can measure the value attached to good men’s prayers.
The cessation of his trial. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job;” that describes its joy, it was like the coming home from exile; “when he prayed for his friends;” that specifies its time, when Job was interceding with Heaven in behalf of others.
A Final Note Concerning The Prayer Of Job For Eliphaz, Bildad And Zophar: I feel that it was this prayer of Job for these men, who were introduced in the story as Job’s ‘friends’ that won for him the complete restoration of his fellowship with God. These ‘friends’ had cut Job to pieces, accusing and vilifying him in countless ways, and it would have been very hard for their friendship to have ever been the same unless this had took place.
If Job had simply turned away from these former ‘friends’ and never spoke to them again he may have never gained the honor and glory of his later life. Friends can hurt us more that anyone. And it is easy, we say, to just write then off after a quarrel. But in this prayer for his ‘friends’ Job, not only won them back into his fellowship, but God took note of Job’s prayer and healed him and them also.
This happened many centuries before Jesus brought God’s thought on forgiveness to the world’s attention.
Matthew 5:23. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Matthew 6:12. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Our forgiveness from God is dependant upon our willingness to for give others.
The Return Of His Prosperity. “Also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before;” They who lose all for God on earth will not be losers in the end. Job received twice as much as he had before. Christ’s followers are promised “an hundredfold more in this world, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
The Sympathy Of His Friends. “Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before.” During the time of his desolation they had deserted him, as he pathetically complained (Job 19:13-19), thinking him an object of Divine displeasure. Now they return with the first symptoms of returning prosperity. “And they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.”
A little of this would have cheered him when in the depths of despair; but, then it was lacking. Let it not, however, be asserted that their display of sympathy was purely superficial, that in fact they were a company of hypocrites, since they at least offered a small token of their honesty in every one presenting him with gifts. “Every man also gave him a piece of money and every one an earring of gold” (Job 42:11).
The Happiness Of His Old Age. Surrounded by a family of fair daughters and sons, as in the beginning of his days, and possessed of a constantly growing estate, the devout patriarch glided peacefully along the stream of life, till at length he reached the grave an old man and full of days, having lived after the cessation of his afflictions a hundred and forty years, and seen his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. This last sentence indicates, by Job’s great age, that he lived during the age of the patriarch, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“So Job died, being old and full of days.” (Job 42:17).
The poem ends in undimmed brightness. The great ends of suffering have been answered. Job has been put to the proof and tried, and he has been found faithful. God has permitted all the joy and light of his life to be wiped out. His faithful servant of whom it was said, “There is none like him in the earth,” has been subjected to the severest tests; yet, according to the Divine assertion, he has spoken of God “the thing that is right.” He has been completely restored as the former days.
There are Counsels in heaven concerning man’s life on earth.
Every man’s life is an object of interest in heaven.
This is a sublime thought, and full of comfort for every man who trusts in the goodness of God. Every man’s life is a plan of God’s. Even of men who do not consciously know God or own his providence, this is true. Their career is controlled by a mysterious direction; their mistakes or misdeeds overruled for good. Of Cyrus, for example, it is said, “I have called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me” (Isaiah 45:4).
But in how peculiarly happy a sense is this true of every good man’s life! His way is often entangled, perplexed, darkened to himself; but never so to God. From the bright scene of heavenly light and meditation, where the map of every life is spread open to view, we are soon to plunge into gloom and sorrow by the side of the afflicted servant of God. But let us carry the memory of this glimpse of heaven through all the windings of the maze of grief which soon we are to tread in fancy, and may no day follow in actual experience.
Already let us take the lesson home — that the way of God’s children is not hidden, their cause not passed over, by the Most High. Their steps are ordered by him. In their blindness they will be led by paths they have not known. They may seem to themselves exiled from joy, banished from light and love; but he will yet make darkness light before them, and crooked ways straight, and will never forsake them. For in the life of the flower and the bird even, so much more in the life of man, there is a plan of God.
Every Man’s Life Is The Object Of Opposing Influences: Of good and evil, pleasure and pain, happiness and misery, heaven and hell. Nowhere is this grand secret of the mechanism of our being more distinctly disclosed than in The Book Of Job. The presence of an evil influence, ever curious and busy about our life, is distinctly acknowledged; its origin left in mystery. We must recognize this dualism of influence on man’s life without attempting to solve it. After all that has been thought and said on the subject, we can only acknowledge that it is a fundamental condition of our earthly existence.
To ignore it, and try to live in some fool’s paradise of extreme optimism, is to expose ourselves to disappointment and to danger; or to fall into the other extreme of a gloomy, desponding pessimism, is to be unfaithful to that instinctive sense of God’s goodness which is deep-seated in the heart. Scripture guides us in a middle course between these extremes — places before us, in equal distinctness, the two poles of thought, the opposing currents of influence; and this makes the practical duty manifest, to abhor the evil and cleave to the good, to fill the heart with reverence and trust for God, and to depart from evil in all its forms.
Thus there rises before us, in this concluding trait of the character of Job, the picture of one who sought first the kingdom of God, and to be right with him. Job brought before us an example of paternal love and piety; of one who identified, like Joshua “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (24:15), his household with himself in the service of the Eternal. By the pleasing art of the sacred writer, our interest, our sympathy, is always powerfully drawn towards the hero of his story.
The curtain falls on this bright life-scene as if with the good wishes and prayers of all spectators. May the shadow of Job never grow less! May his path be as the shining light, increasing to the perfect day!
May he continue blessing and blessed in the bosom of his family and household, advance to “old age with honor, troops of friends,” and come to his end in his season, as a shock of corn, fully ripe!
This remarkable book we close with the persuasion that whilst its separate statements are full of teaching, the whole idea is to be summed up in a few plain and obvious lessons; such as the following:
1. The good man may receive tokens of the divine blessing in the form of health, honor, and family joy.
2. The good man, though maintaining his integrity, may lose his possessions, his health, and his family joy through the testing and temptations of Satan.
3. That the honor of even a good man may be temporarily overshadowed by untoward circumstances.
4. That the loss of all things, and the endurance of sufferings by the faithful, are not always to be interpreted into tokens of the divine displeasure.
5. That it is possible for the good to maintain their integrity unimpaired amidst great loss, pain, and sorrow.
6. That Satan sometimes has a very real part in our lives.
29. The Mystery Of Human Suffering:
Bildad’s speech to Job can be summed up: “You got what you deserved.” Bildad and Job’s two other friends Eliphaz and Zophar had concluded that Job’s suffering was certainly evidence of some sin in his life.
Job’s friends were not reciting falsehoods; much of what they said was theologically sound at least in the abstract. The Scriptures, especially Deuteronomy 27; 28, indicate that the righteous can expect God’s blessing and the wicked can expect God’s curse. Both Eliphaz (Job 15:17–35) and Zophar
(Job 20:4–29) conceded that sometimes the wicked enjoyed temporary prosperity as Job had.
However, they asserted, as the Book of Proverbs does (Proverbs 1:17–19; 6:14, 15), that eventually the wicked would be punished. Conversely, Elihu declared that God would reward the righteous with prosperity and security (Job 36:7–11).
The Book of Psalms teaches the same doctrine, that whatever the righteous person does “shall prosper” (Psalms 1:3). With this type of reasoning, all of Job’s friends came to the same conclusion: Job’s suffering was a sign of sin in his life (Job 4:7–11; 8:11–22).
So where did Job’s counselors go wrong? Their mistake was that they misapplied an abstract truth. Yes, in the end God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. Moreover God Himself had declared to Moses that He would not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7). But Job’s friends did not have God’s perspective on Job’s situation.
Like Jesus’ disciples, they automatically assumed that when catastrophe struck, it was God’s punishment on that person, “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents:” (John 9:2–3). But Job’s story and Jesus’ response to his disciples (John 9:3) indicate that human suffering is not always the sign of God’s judgment.
In this fallen world, sometimes the innocent suffer. But even through their suffering, God accomplishes His good will. In Job’s case, Satan’s false accusation was refuted and God’s sovereignty was proven. The suffering of the blind man made it possible for Jesus to demonstrate His healing power and to transform the man into a witness to Jesus’ deity (John 9:3; 30–33). Often our suffering or the suffering of others blinds us to the reality that the sovereign God is working His own good purposes through a fallen world.
30. An Overview Of The Book Of Job
An Over View Of The Counseling Sessions: By, James & Mary Lee Thornton
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This Study Prepared by, James & Mary Lee Thornton