Job 1:1-3, 6-8 (NKJV)
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
I have often been fascinated with the Book of Job. Every time I read through it, I find more lessons to learn. Maybe, like me, you have heard people make comments about “the patience of Job.” Or I’ve heard some say, “We have no right to complain about our problems – just look at what Job went through.” There was a lady I knew many years ago who had gone through some problems and someone mentioned Job. She became so upset and said, “If someone else says the name ‘Job’ to me, I’ll scream!”
When I think about Job, I think about his “before” and “after.” I don’t so much think about his suffering as I think about how God bragged on him for being “blameless and upright.”
“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’” Job 1:8 (NKJV)
What made God say that? Of course, God knew Job’s heart. He saw the inner man. There are a couple of things I saw in the scriptures that made me realize how Job could be approved of by God.
“My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.” Job 23:11 (NKJV)
Job said that he held fast or followed closely to the ways of God. His relationship was close enough to God that he knew the path that God would have him walk. We have to remember at that point in history, Job didn’t have the Bible to study and read. But he knew God. And because he had that relationship with a Holy God, he followed Him.
In our society, we hear the saying, “He’s following in his father’s footsteps.” Sometimes children go into the same field of work or business that one or both of their parents are in. Another saying I have heard is, “She’s looks just like her mother.” Many times when someone has a baby, people immediately start trying to pick out certain features of the baby to compare to another family member. When I read this verse from Job, it makes me want to live the kind of life where I can say, “I’m following in the footsteps of my Father and people say I look just like Him.”
“I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12 (NKJV)
Now, I like to eat. Especially sweets. Put something with chocolate in front of me and I can’t resist. Chocolate may not be a ‘necessary’ food (that’s up for debate), but Job was referring to the fact that more than he seeks nourishment for his body, he seeks nourishment for his soul. How often do we think about food? We get up wondering what we are going to have for breakfast. Half way through the morning we are making lunch plans. Then after lunch we begin planning the next meal. Most social activities we are involved in centers around food. A good majority of television ads are food related. Even many TV shows are about food or have food topics in them.
Now consider this. How much time do we spend thinking, meditating on and desiring spiritual things? This puts things in perspective. We claim to be God’s children but yet we spend a small portion of our day speaking to Him or allowing Him to speak to us. We may reserve a couple of hours a week attending worship services, but again, that’s not a big percentage of our time. We spend time thinking about anything and everything for our physical bodies, but we spend very little time concerned with taking care of the needs of our souls.
So if Job spent time desiring and seeking out fellowship and communion with God more than he worried about his physical needs, how could God not be pleased with him? As he spent time listening to God and trying to live up to God’s commandments, then his heart and soul, after being nourished on spiritual food, would dictate the strength of his walk for God. Just as the food we take into our bodies affects our physical health, the spiritual food we take in will affect our spiritual lives. We all need to ask ourselves whether we are well nourished spiritually or malnourished. Is our desire to seek out God stronger than our desire to seek out our next meal?
Check It Off
“12 Because I delivered the poor who cried out,
The fatherless and the one who had no helper.
13 The blessing of a perishing man came upon me,
And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
My justice was like a robe and a turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind,
And I was feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the poor,
And I searched out the case that I did not know.
17 I broke the fangs of the wicked,
And plucked the victim from his teeth.” Job 29:12-17 (NKJV)
The subtitle in one of my Bibles for Chapter 29 is, “Job’s Summary Defense.” Job begins this chapter by longing for the days before all of his current sufferings. His friends, or so-called friends, had been confronting Job with accusations that what he was experiencing was a result of sin he had in his life. Job maintained his righteousness before God and man. He began listing the things he had done in his life to prove he had been living a godly life.
In offering his defense, I imagine he was looking back on his life, bringing things to his mind and examining them one by one as he listed them. How many of us can look back on our lives, mentioning one thing at a time and after evaluating those things find that they had spiritual value? I know we could all try to bring up all of the good things we have done, but what if we had to go through a check list of each day. Starting from the time we got up until we laid our heads down at night, could each thing we had done that day pass for having been things of God? Could we list them one by one, saying that we had done this and that for God?
As Job had been listening to his friends, speaking as though they were righteous themselves, Job asked them this:
“Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal? Job 13:9 (NIV)
Job wanted them to look at themselves in light of all they were telling him. I think we all at some time or another are guilty of looking at others and either verbally or in our minds, we begin passing judgment on them. We try to look at the bad in others instead of looking at the failures in our own life. We need to remember this question the next time we are tempted to accuse someone else of something. We need to examine our own life to see if the things we have done are of God. But then ask ourselves, “If God examined this same list of things, would He come to the same conclusion we came to?” We can often fool the people around us but we cannot deceive God.
“For destruction from God is a terror to me, And because of His magnificence I cannot endure.” Job 31:23 (NKJV)
Where the NKJV says, “because of His magnificence,” the NIV says “for fear of his splendor.” The KJV says, “by reason of his highness.”
Another reason Job was such a godly man was because of his reverential awe of God. God specifically mentioned in His conversation with Satan in Job 1:8 that Job was “one who fears God and shuns evil.”
God is holy, loving and merciful. Through Christ we have forgiveness of all our sins. We love knowing that when we do fail Him, we can be forgiven and restored. But we need to remember that God is also a God of judgment. We need to be careful that we don’t take advantage of God’s mercy.
I have heard people say jokingly before, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission now.” Sometimes I think we have that attitude toward God. We don’t take time to really think about who He is and what He has done for us. It’s time we really think deeply about His magnificence, His splendor and how high and holy He is. We need to fear, be in awe of, the fact that Almighty God wants a relationship with us, even as sinful as we are. It’s time we let our fear of Him cause us to shun evil.
There is so much more that could be examined from the life of Job. I don’t desire to be tried and tested as he was, but I hope that when I am, I can stand firm in my faith in God. Even in the midst of his trial, Job knew he would get through it and be found right with God.
“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (NKJV)
And then this very familiar passage sums up his faith. He knew that whatever happened, he would one day see God face to face and he longed for that moment to come.
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)
It’s hard to live a godly life in this world. There is so much to take up our time and draw our attention away from God. However, I believe these things that Job did that gained approval from God, are things that we can, and should, do ourselves. We need to closely follow the Lord and the path He asks us to walk. We need to spend time praying and studying His word so that we can grow spiritually stronger. We need to continually examine our hearts and make sure we stay on course doing the things God would have us do. Then we need to have the reverential fear and awe of the fact that a Holy and Righteous God desires to have a relationship with us.
No matter what we go through, even when we have to endure a time of testing ourselves, we have the hope as a Christian that someday we will see our Redeemer face to face. And oh, how I yearn for that day!