FAITH TESTED – Believer’s show the depth of their faith in adversity.
MEMORY VERSE: JOB 1: 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
The Old Testament character of Job learned that the answer to life’s mysteries and meaning lies in proper reverence for God. It’s been said that you don’t know God is all you need until God is all you have. In losing everything he had, Job discovered that God was all he really needed.
Solomon learned the meaning of life by gaining and acquiring everything life had to offer. Despite having everything, he found it was all futile and meaninglessness if God is not the central focus of life.
Job wrestled with the issues of human suffering and divine purposes, and ultimately teaches us to submit to the mysteries of God. Even still, Job reminds us that we can find comfort in the presence of God even when we cannot discern His purposes. In Job, we understand that the mysterious order of the universe is not fully revealed to mankind, and we must learn to trust in the God who presides over the universe.
Most of us hold to an idea that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But how do we explain bad things happening to good people? Adversity can blindside us and leave us reeling in shock and dismay. We struggle to look for answers, yet answers are not always found, just more questions. Job experienced unexpected tragedies in his life and demonstrated the depth of his faith as he faced them.
Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
Job honored and revered God, but even he had to deal with terrible suffering. Job is an example for us when we deal with circumstances we do not understand. Why did this happen to me?
THE CONTEXT (JOB 1:1-2:10)
The first few chapters of Job serve as a prologue, introducing us to some of the main characters and setting up the story line of the book. Job lived in Uz, which was outside of Israel. The first verse puts forth an excellent epitaph for the headstone of a faithful follower of God. Job was also a faithful leader of his family. Job’s fear of God led him to intercede for his children’s forgiveness of potential sin, concerned that they may have cursed God in their week-long parties (1:5).
The introduction of Satan, the accuser, sets the plot of the book in motion. The setting is heaven. While the “sons of God” (angelic beings) gather around God’s throne, the accuser takes center stage. Satan slanders and accuses God’s obedient servant Job. Satan lures and tempts people to sinful actions (1 Thess. 3:5, Matt. 4:3). Satan also inflicts physical suffering (Job 2:1-10); 2 Cor. 12:7) and schemes evil (2 Cor. 2:11; 2 Tim. 2:26).
During this conversation between God and Satan, we are introduced to the two-stage test of Job’s integrity through suffering. Would Job accept only good from God and not adversity? The accuser believed that if God removed Job’s blessing, then Job would curse God (1:11; 2:5). Job held on to his integrity. He did not curse God but in fact blessed God’s name (1:21-22).
PERMISSION GRANTED (JOB 1:8-12)
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied.
10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
The accuser (Satan) had been roaming the earth, God asked if he had come across His servant Job. Satan was quick to make an adversarial question, namely: why did Job fear God? Satan did not question Job’s ethical character; he questioned the motivation behind his ethical character. Did Job obey God as a means to prosperity? In other words, was Job more interested in the gifts or the Giver of those good gifts? If Job’s blessings were removed, would Job’s character crumble? As the text makes clear, God had blessed the work of Job’s hands.
Scripture does motivate godly behavior with rewards for the faithful. At the same time, isn’t godly behavior instructed regardless of the situation in which people might find themselves? The test proposed by Satan was cunning and would reveal the sort of man Job was. Satan made the question “Does Job fear God for nothing?”
Job passed the test because of his response in the face of the loss of his wealth and health. His response revealed no flawed motive for his love of God. Job was innocent in the sense that he did not deserve the tragedies that had befallen him. Satan painted God as some sort of cosmic vending machine. If one inserted tokens of obedience, then he or she could expect a reward. Satan was willing to bet that when all of Job’s material blessings were taken away, Job would curse God. However, there are no bets with God. God has no equal and does not wager.
12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
It is interesting that Satan is allowed into the presence of God. God allowed Satan to follow through with his proposal with at first one condition. Satan could not lay a hand on Job himself. Thus, Satan set out to destroy those close to Job and the possessions Job held close. Again, one must remember that the accuser is powerful but not equal to God. The full reasons for God’s permission to carry out this test are hidden in His mysterious providential will. Isaiah 55:9 reminds us; “For as heaven is higher, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We know from Scripture that God is good. Even when the evil one seeks opportunities to slander, abuse, and attack God’s faithful followers, we can hold fast knowing that God is good and faithful to us. The process of sanctification is a journey. And only God understands it completely.
ATTACK EXECUTED (JOB 1:13-19)
13 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house,
14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,
15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house,
19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
Satan left God’s presence with permission to execute the test on Job. On a day his children were celebrating in their oldest brother’s house, Job began to receive the reports of tragedy. All of these things happened in one day.
In ancient Near Eastern culture, it would have been understood the oldest son would have begun the seven-banquet cycle. The cycle would have proceeded to the next oldest and so on to the youngest. There is no hint that what his children were doing was sinful, but like any godly parent, Job was concerned for the spiritual well-being of his children. As the priest of his family, Job wanted to make sure all was well for his children in relationship to God. Job knew the power of prayer, and wanted the best for his family.
The first (1:14-15) and third (1:17) tragedies were executed by the hands of men, the second (1:16) and fourth (1:18-19) tragedies were caused by natural disasters. Satan was the one at work behind the scenes in all of them. But, he could only go as far as God allowed him.
Notice the compounding quickness of the reporting of these disasters. Note the repetition that each messenger was still speaking when another messenger came and reported. Each successive wave of tragic news came swiftly. The rapid sequence of hearing these things must have been overwhelmingly devastating to Job.
Without warning, his oxen, donkeys, sheep, and camels were all taken away. Job’s household had also fallen, for all of his servants were slaughtered by sword or destroyed by fire. Then a powerful wind swept through the desert and collapsed the house on his children who were celebrating with one another. Can you imagine the trauma of that moment? It is one thing to lose earthly possessions, but Job’s sons and daughters as well. Remember that the challenge Satan proposed was that none of God’s people love Him more than they love themselves. Satan wanted to prove Job’s love for God was self-centered.
This is one of the central issues of Job: the integrity of faith in spite of suffering. Within minutes, Job was hit from all sides with the most devastating news, and each announcement was worse than the one before, until the news reached a devastating climax. These four tragedies appeared to Job that all the forces of heaven and earth had turned hostile toward him. The readers have the sense of a man whose world was demolished.
It is important to remember that Job was not aware of the exhange between God and Satan and had no explanation for his losses. Believers are not immune from experiencing calamity and loss. Suffering is no respecter of persons.
TRUST MAINTAINED (JOB 1:20 – 22)
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship
21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
In verses 13-19, Job was brought to his knees in despair as the successive wave of tragic news crashed against him. His children were gone. His earthly wealth he had accumulated had vanished. All he had left at this point was his own health and his wife. One can only imagine the devastating grief that his wife felt at the loss of all her children at once.
Would Job spend the rest of his life blaming himself? Would he seek revenge on the Sabeans and the Chaldeans? Would he blame his children? Would he blame God? What did Job do? He stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He accepted his fate and acknowledged that God had brought all of this on him. In fact, he worshipped the Lord who had taken all these things from him. He made the same statement as Eccl. 5:15: Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.
Verse 21 is a simple and powerful reflection on the
transient nature of the blessings of this life.
Everything we have is a gift from the hand of God. All of us, including Job, come into this
world with nothing and leave with nothing.
What God gives and what God takes away is up to His sovereign will. Job understood this, as harsh as it may seem,
had a proper perspective on life. One of
the things this text teaches us is that believers should worship God even in
the midst of life’s challenges, knowing He is sovereign.
There is much in this life.that we don't understand. Many of our blessings will be given out after this life for eternity to come. As Christians we are challenged to be over-comers rather than victims. We persevere through trials.and suffering to make a godly influence on the people around us. All Christians have the following responsibility.
1Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.