Job’s Prayer life
It is great to see the sketchy details of Job’s daily life before his terrible trial. From this point on, every thing we learn about Job will come by the way of conversations. The opinions of others and the stress of his suffering will color our view of him. However, in these early verses we can see Job from a purely objective point of view. We are told how his sons would take turns holding parties in their homes. They even invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them. After the partying had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning, he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their heart.’ This was Job’s regular custom.
Earlier we saw Job as a practical man immersed in the whirl of business and management; but in these verses, we learn something of his spiritual life in the midst of that whirl. In particular, we see him on his knees praying for his family. Job knew that family gatherings could be hotbeds of vice. Childhood wounds reopen, in-laws are treated like outlaws, and sibling rivalry hasn’t changed since the days of Cain and Abel. Then you have the families get together and try so hard, so frantically, so pathetically, so naively to have a good time when there is anger and resentment in there midst. When you add alcohol to the mix, you can have even worse problems. I can’t think of any sin that’s more shameful and scandalous. On the other hand, if a person is able to sincerely love their siblings and parents or cousins, then you have good reason to call that person loving. If you can get along with the closest people to you, then you can do it with anyone.
In addition, nothing says more about a person than the way he prays. The details about Job’s regular early morning sacrifices and praying suggest several important facts about his faith.
First, Job believed in the importance and effectiveness of mediation with God. He had implicit faith in repentance, sacrifice, and forgiveness. He knew that those kinds of things worked. His God wasn’t distant and unresponsive, but compassionate and gracious . . . slow to anger, abounding in love.
Secondly, like other heroes in the Bible, Job apparently served as his own priest. This takes us back to the original idea regarding the priesthood of all believers. Back to the time before the law when all the followers of God set up their own altars and got their own hands bloody and somehow found direct access to the throne of God, just like Christians do today.
Thirdly, Job not only practiced his prayer and sacrifice on his own behalf but also for the benefit of others. Job had a deep and sincere concern for others. This shows how joyously confident he must have been in his own salvation. Only when you are secure and happy in the Lord yourself can you pray effectively for others. Job’s devotions were looking outward and for the benefit of others. He took it on faith that his intercession had a practical effect on the lives of those he loved.
Finally, and most remarkably, Job’s prayers extended in the murky realm of inadvertent or unconscious sin. Job’s faith in forgiveness was big enough that it completely covered not just individual acts of sin, but sin itself and this shows a fundamental grasp of the gospel.
This last point is essential to a proper understanding of everything that follows. You see, in the gospel according to Job a person is either righteous or not. You cannot be a little bit righteous any more than you can be a little bit pregnant. Your sin is completely forgiven (including not just sinful behavior but the innate sinfulness of the heart) or it is not. If God accepts us at all, He accepts us wholeheartedly and he covers us completely with the spotless robe of righteousness. This robe of divine acceptance doesn’t come in gray, but only in dazzling white, and you either have the robe or not. You’re either righteous or wicked. Anyone who is wicked can have that status quickly amended by a trip to the cross.
So where are you on a spectrum of accepting His gift of righteousness? Do you cower in fear and trembling? Or are able to sit quietly in His presence and enjoy His love for you? He is offering you life–abundant Life, His very Life and Nature. All He is asking is for your allegiance. So where are you today? Don’t take another breath until you’re able to answer. He has set before you a decision of Life . . . or death. The decision is yours to make . . .
If you’re interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
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