Have you ever felt like everything was going wrong in your life? Even if it was for a just a moment? I think we all have at times; I certainly have felt that way. There are many people in the Bible that have gone through hard times, and honestly – they commonly had it worse than most of us will ever face.
There was a guy in the bible who had everything you can imagine go BOOM and then some. His name is Job.
This is his story.
It is written that Job was a righteous man, and an attentive father — often offering sacrifices up to God for anything that his children did (known and unknown). He wanted to have all of his bases covered. For himself and for others.
You could almost say he was hyper-righteous.
The “accuser of the brethren” i.e., Satan, comes before the throne of God one day, and after words are exchanged, God goes,
“Have you considered my servant job? For there is no one like him (on) earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.
Satan then answered Yahweh and said, “does Job fear God for nothing? Haven’t you made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will renounce you to your face.”Job 1:8-11, WEB
A side note… if you read this in the Hebrew it is more akin to God saying something like [You have been thinking about my servant Job, haven’t you? Of course, someone like you would. Since there is none like him in the earth in terms of faith. Oh, you destroyer… I know the evil intents of your heart.]
God isn’t tempting the tempter. He is calling him out.
It goes on to say that God lets Satan go off on his killing spree, provided he doesn’t touch the life of Job.
Satan leaves the throne room and starts wreaking havoc on everything Job has. His livestock, children, and all that he owns are destroyed with a vengeance. Some by natural disasters, and some by evil men.
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”Job 1:20-22, WEB
Satan appeared back before his throne soon after. Probably seething I’d imagine.
God acknowledges him again and says, *paraphrased* “Are you really still thinking about my servant Job, how unique he is; how blameless and upright he is, and about he respects me and turns away from evil? I have news for you. He still holds fast to his integrity, although you incited me to allow you to destroy him without reason.”
Satan says, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”Job 2:5, WEB
Again, according to the story, God lets Satan make Job sick, provided Job’s life is spared.
Another side note, Jewish authors often described God as having a relationship with Satan in using/letting him cause malice and mischief in peoples lives for some purpose — maybe to test, maybe to trim something, etc.
Jesus made it clear that He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are staunchly against such actions towards people.
So, if this story did happen (I believe it did) — it was described with the preceding mindset… not the better New Testament understanding.
That’s why I’m paraphrasing the verses a bit.
Back to the story.
Job gets incredibly painful boils, and even still – he doesn’t curse God, or lose his integrity.
His wife prods him to do so, and yet he doesn’t.
“You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”Job 2:10, WEB
*You can see that mindset of God using evil right here.*
For the rest of the book, Job’s three friends (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite) go back and forth with him about how these terrible happenings must be punishments from God for some hidden sin.
Long winded are their monologues, yet they remain the same – endless attacks against Job.
Miserable are their consolations to a grieving friend.
Job constantly defends his righteousness in the face of their nonsense, yet sadly fails to defend the righteousness of God for a time. It is more than understandable given his position.
The almost Shakespearean epic between them ends in frustration and futility.
At the end of the verbal death battle — a hero emerges. A man who defends the honor of the God, and above all — one who proclaims the righteousness of the creator.
His name is Elihu. It means “my God is he” in Hebrew. You can definitely say that Elihu is a fan of God.
You can see his passion for God’s goodness from the things that he says about him.
“Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding… far be it from God, that he should do wickedness, from the old mighty, that he should commit iniquity.”Job 34:10, WEB
He asserts that God is good and good alone; that it is far and foreign to him that he should even desire to use evil against any man (and I mean all humankind).
“Yes surely, God will not do wickedly, neither will the almighty pervert justice.”Job 34:12, WEB
If anything, the view that Elihu describes is this — instead of God punishing people he will let a foolish one stumble (not make… let).
“For God speaks once, yes twice, though man pays no attention. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, in slumbering on the bed; then he opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.” WEBJob 33:14-18, WEB
It suffices to say that after Job is done speaking… there’s a grand manifestation of the Holy Spirit, as a whirlwind (if not a literal one). God defends his nature, and he shows just how little Job knows of him.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be restrained. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ therefore I have uttered that which I didn’t understand, things too wonderful for me, which I didn’t know. You said, ‘Listen, now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you will answer me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”Job 42:1-6, WEB
Job sincerely confesses his pride and lets go of his misunderstanding of God’s nature. He makes sacrifices to God on behalf of his friends to atone for their offenses.
True to form… God pours healing and restoration into Job’s life, and he has more after the whole ordeal than he ever had prior.
It’s a story of loss; revelation, and restoration… yet I also think it’s a story of something else.
Considering it is one of the oldest stories in the bible — it is fitting that it would touch on this often-missed point.
What is the point?
The dangers of self-righteousness, and the supreme danger of not operating in the right understanding of the grace of God.
In my eyes, I do feel Job had more of an opening to the power of the devil working against him because in his mind he was responsible for his own righteousness, and he failed to understand that God is good alone. He is pure, and potent grace alone.
I’m in no way saying all that happened was Job’s fault; rather, I am making the point that he perhaps had a hand in making the opening for attack wider than it had to be.
When we operate thinking it is “me” instead of a proper “we” (co-working with God) — it opens the door for us to act outside the protective all-providing grace of God, even if we don’t mean to do anything wrong.
An example of this is imagine someone that hurts himself purposefully because he thinks he is worthless. Everyone in his life says to him that he is good, and kind, yet… can he feel it?
He can only feel the scotch making him dizzy… day after day.
He can’t let go of the notion that he has to “do” the perfect thing to be made whole.
It is sad because this way of viewing things is so common.
Many other things can happen when what we do is never “good enough” to us, even when we are humble. We can just surmise that we will never be good enough to partake at the table of the joyful feast of God, or others.
We have to earn that right.
No we don’t.
That right is in Christ, and it is placed in our hearts.
That’s the gift.
That’s the Grace of God.
It makes sense that Job would fail to miss the memo… we’re speaking about the Old Testament times.
“Grace? What’s that stuff?”Ancient quote from Job.
For context, in their world a god or a king having favor was at best unpredictable. It was a straight guessing game.
Back then, the word of Kings was the LAW. His (or rarely her) words were life and death. Far too often kings were quite childish in their administration of this power.
I mean… if you as much as looked at them the wrong way, or if they caught wind of you saying something that you didn’t like about them — they had every right to utterly destroy you in the most painful way you could imagine and beyond.
Long story short (for them)… king = God.
Even today this ancient mindset remains. Deep in our psychology, we yet have the archetypes of ruin and reward enthroned as forces beyond our ability to apprehend and control.
They are our kings.
And many of us pursue means to control these unseen forces by whatever we feel will effect them. Taking up the mission of mastering the masters of fate.
Too often it is futile.
But if one looks at Christ Jesus (the King of Kings) — it can be seen grace was the mainstay of his works.
Completely the opposite of the norms of Job’s day.
He healed whomever he could, whomever would let him.
He restored whatever he could; he fed the hungry; girded up the sick, and yes — he bore the sins of the world upon his shoulders.
And when he came back (just as he died)… He came back with open arms.
Grace returned in Victory.
In the very least, who would not want to be friend to such a God? Should such a God exist?
It is foolish if one wouldn’t.
In this Job knew well, for he stood faithful to God even when things were going so horribly wrong.
Yet, in operating in the way that he did. He was two feet from the cliff of hell when it never had to be the case.
And even when all hell broke loose… who showed up?
That’s right. God.
To heal, restore, protect, and serve.
Where the only law and word of this King is this… grace.
And there in his grace is eternal love.
The only job had, and we have, is to let God love him/us. Not to play “god”.
“(Submit) *Better word* therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.”James 4:7-10, WEB
The word for submit in the Greek means to “accept the authority of someone”. It has more to do with acknowledgment than obedience here.
For example, it is like the emperor of Rome telling his people that a newly instated general is his general.
It’s not the emperor saying “Obey this man! For he is my general.”
It is the declaration of authority invested in someone and the acknowledgment thereof; rather, than the command to obey that authority.
So, if we submit therefore to God — it is the admonition to embrace his rule of love; in turn lovingly do what he puts on the heart.
With Christ, obedience is a fruit of love acting and changing us inside and out.
With the kingdom of sin, obedience is a poisonous duty we carry out because of the fear of punishment if we don’t listen.
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.Romans 13:8, WEB
It can then be said that the law of the Lord is love. The only real job that we have is to let him love us, and out of the overflow of the heart we can then love others even better.
Thankfully, Job lived to see his life restored… when he took the righteousness of God (freely given) as his own; God’s love (freely given) as his own, and when he submitted to the heavenly glory freely.
I imagine it felt good for him to take some time off.
So, fellow seeker of truth… I will ask you this.
What job shall you choose?
I’ll let you answer that.