Have you Considered My Servant Job?

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Could these be descendants of Job’s livestock?

I like to systematically read through the Bible because otherwise there are lots of parts that I would normally skip in favor of my favorite parts.  The book of Job is one of those parts that I would skip.  Let’s face it, Job is a painful book.  God calls him perfect[1], and yet lets the defeated enemy take everything away: his children, his wealth, and his health, leaving only his shrew of a wife[2] and his fair weather friends[3].  And those friends don’t just accuse Job once, they take turns accusing him again and again throughout the whole rest of the book, like tag-team wrestling a defenseless man.  All the while, Job proclaims his innocence because he is innocent, which just brings on fresh accusations[4].

And in reading Job, you can hardly avoid thinking that if God would allow the defeated enemy to do all this to a perfect man, what about me?  The book of Job goes against my pain-avoiding human nature.  If this is how God treats His friends, I’m not so sure I want to be His friend.

But Job has some really amazing stuff in it.  This morning I had arrived at the first chapter of Job.  I have read through the Bible many times in many different translations, so this is all very familiar to me, but this morning as I began to read in the first chapter, the Holy Spirit revealed some interesting things to me that I had not ever considered before, starting with:

And the day came to be when the sons of Elohim[5] came to present themselves before יהוה, and satan also came among them, (Job 1:6).

And the Holy Spirit said, “Why did satan come and present himself before God?”  And if you think about it, there really is only one reason: God had summoned him.  Yes, he is brazen enough to come before God, since he has aspirations of supplanting God.  But to come and present himself before God together with all the holy angels doesn’t sound like something he would willingly do, unless he had been commanded to come that day.  Imagine how galling it must be every time he sees God sitting on the throne that he wants for himself.

And יהוה said to satan, “From where do you come?” (Job 1:7a).

God knew where the defeated enemy had been and what he had been doing.  He speaks like this with His creatures for our benefit, not His.

And satan answered יהוה and said, “From diligently searching in the earth, and from walking up and down in it,” (Job 1:7b, emphasis mine).

This begs the question: what was he searching for?  The name satan is not really his name.  He lost the rights to the name that God had given him: lucifer[6] when he chose to rebel against God.  The title satan means accuser.  The Bible calls him the accuser of God’s people:

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night,” (Revelation 12:10, emphasis mine).

So the defeated enemy had been “diligently searching in the earth . . . walking up and down,” why?  Because he was looking for someone to accuse.  Let’s read on:

And יהוה said to satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a perfect and straight man, one who fears Elohim and turns aside from evil?” (Job 1:8).

God knew where this conversation (and the next one in chapter 2) would go.  He pointed out Job to the defeated enemy as a perfect man.  God knew that the defeated enemy would leap at the chance to attack Job for two reasons: first because he hates all of humanity, and second because he wanted the chance to turn Mr. Perfect against God, thus attacking God, Himself.

Knowing all this, why did God allow—and even invite—this attack on Job?  Because God had it in mind all along to double Job’s blessing.  The defeated enemy would have screamed “Unfair!” if God had merely doubled Job’s blessing.  So, knowing that Job wouldn’t sin even under these extreme circumstances, God invited the attack—and the defeated enemy played right into His hand.  None of this was a surprise to God.

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country.  Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.  I have purposed it; I will also do it, (Isaiah 46:9-11, NKJV, emphasis mine).

And was it terrible for Job to go through this?  Absolutely!  He was so upset that he cursed the day he was born[7].  And the defeated enemy took advantage of Job’s misery to entice his friends to accuse him of some secret sin.

When their accusations failed to incite Job to sin, the defeated enemy sent Elihu.  We didn’t even know that he was there or when he arrived, but I suspect that he had heard most of this discourse.

We know that only three friends came to mourn with Job: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  These three were real friends.  Upon seeing Job in all his misery, they wept, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat with Job for seven days and nights in silence.

One of the defeated enemy’s favorite tactics is to incite your closest friends and family against you.  So when Job cursed the day of his birth, only then did they break their silence and start accusing him.

But who is this Elihu?  We don’t know very much about him except his lineage[8] and the fact that he was younger than the rest of them[9].  I suspect that for the love of Job, his three friends didn’t blast him with all of their accusations—after all, they gave Job a chance to answer and defend himself.  But Elihu was probably still young enough to believe that he knows more than the grown-ups (remember when you were that smart?).  So he vented all of his defeated-enemy-inspired rage and accusations against Job—six chapters worth!

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end, (Proverbs 29:11, NIV, emphasis mine).

Then God shows up in a whirlwind, challenging the presumptions against Job.  And Elihu?  Well the Bible doesn’t say, but I suspect that when God showed up he ran for his life.  We never hear another word about Elihu.

In the end Job repents for having arrogant thoughts against God.  Repentance is something that the modern churches seem to undervalue.  Some churches promise new converts that God will prosper them and make their lives great, and all they have to do is believe.  All that is great, and God is a generous Father, but it leaves out the most important part:

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38).

Many modern churches downplay repentance because they see it as a negative message.  Let’s face it, being convicted of your sins is a very unpleasant feeling.  And many of today’s pastors don’t want to risk losing people (and therefore tithes) because the message is an uncomfortable one.

But think of it like a root canal: if you don’t deal with the infection (in this case, sin), it’s only going to get worse.  So the convicting message is that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God[10].  We are all in need of a Savior because the wages of sin is death[11].  That’s the uncomfortable part.  But the Good News is that God sent Jesus to die in our place[12].  That means that He took our punishment and we can take His righteousness.  You take two steps toward God, and He will give you the two most amazing gifts:

Step one – Repent and turn to God.

Step two – Be baptized.

Gift one – Forgiveness of your sins (and eternal life).

Gift two – The indwelling Holy Spirit.

Anyway, back to Job: he repents for his arrogant thoughts toward God.  Then God speaks to Eliphaz, telling him that he and his two friends have not spoken rightly about Him.  Then God tells him to go to Job with offerings and let Job pray for them.

They did as God commanded and Job prayed for his friends.  Then God did what He had in mind to do all along: He doubled Job’s wealth and blessings:

Chapter One Chapter Forty-Two
7,000 Sheep

3,000 Camels

500 Oxen

500 Female Donkeys

7 Sons

3 Daughters

14,000 Sheep

6,000 Camels

1,000 Oxen

1,000 Female Donkeys

7 Sons

3 Daughters[13]

 

So if you’re going through a trial, it could be because God wants to give you a double blessing.  Remember to do like Job and bear it patiently.  And never forget: no matter what you’re going through, God is good!

[1] Job 1:1, ISR (also KJV).  The version I’m currently reading in my morning devotions is the ISR—Institute for Scripture Research.  So all the quotes from Job will be from the ISR with minor changes (i.e. I will use the common English names, like Job instead of the ISR’s IYOḆ.  I will also continue my policy of not capitalizing any appellation of the defeated enemy, even when quoting Biblical text).

[2] Who wants him dead now that he’s poor and covered in disgusting boils (what the ISR calls loathsome sores [see Job 2:9])—probably so that she can be free marry someone else.

[3] Who accuse him, saying that because of some hidden sin, Job has brought all this upon himself.  With friends like these, who needs enemies?

[4] If anything it’s worse now because on Facebook people can accuse you publicly—even people you hardly know—even friends of people you hardly know.  Gossip and slander have reached a whole new disgusting level.

[5] Whenever you see the phrase sons of Elohim (God) in the Bible, it means angels.

[6] Meaning light-bearer.  There was no darkness in the universe before his rebellion.  Darkness is not even a thing (according to Einstein), but merely the absence of light.  So his rebellion took light from large parts of the universe.  Notice that the defeated enemy is not capable of creating anything, so he takes away from God’s creation any time he can.

[7] See Job chapter 3—he spends the whole chapter cursing the he was born.  Anyone who has struggled with depression can understand how he felt.

[8] i.e. that he was the son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram (Job 32:2).

[9] See Job 32:6.

[10] Romans 3:23.

[11] Romans 6:23.

[12] John 3:16.

[13] You may be wondering why the kids weren’t doubled like the animals were.  That’s because God was counting all of his children.  Although the first set were and are as dead as dead can be to Job on earth, to God in Heaven, they’re alive and live forever.  He’s the God of the Living (Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:27, & Luke 20:38).

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