“. . . he was commended as one who pleased God . . .”
A Time for Reflection
One of the most important aspects of this story is to fully grasp the spiritual character of this man called Job. I want to take time out to review and expand on our understanding of Job. I realize I have covered this above, but it is so important to fully comprehend who this man was. As we read above, he was a man that was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that he was called a perfect or blameless man, simply in the sense of being whole-hearted and sincere in his loyalty to God.
He was not of a double heart. In other words, he was not trying to serve two masters, God and himself. This whole-hearted loyalty to God made him upright in his life before men. He feared God and consequently shunned evil.
I John 5:20 says, “. . . He has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true.” The understanding John refers to is the same as the Old Testament’s “fear of the Lord.” In other words, this is referring to an intuitive knowledge of God’s will—God’s heart—springing out of a close fellowship with God Himself. This is the natural outgrowth of an intimate relationship, a sharing of heart-with-heart. Job had this fear of the Lord to a marked degree and consequently, he abstained from anything evil. The one was an obvious result of the other.
The more intimate our relationship with the Father grows, and the more sensitive we become to His will and mind, the more we see the “sinfulness of sin;” the more sensitive we become to grieving the Lord.
In the Song of Solomon, as the maiden is drawn into the King’s chambers, she cries out, “do not stare at me because I am dark.” She was referring to the sinfulness that is glaringly exposed by the Holiness and bright, blinding light of the King. Isaiah cried, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips . . . for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” John the Beloved “fell at his feet as though dead” when he saw the resurrected Lord.
The more intimate your relationship becomes, the more you develop a godly awe of Him and dread to grieve Him. Even the most minute sin will grieve your own heart; it will cause you to cry out for forgiveness and righteousness.
The beauty of Job’s fear of the Lord is the fact it is carried out in practice and not simply given lip service. He doesn’t only avoid anything evil so far as he knew a thing to be evil, he also has an instinctive consciousness of the need for sacrifice, or the shedding of blood, for the remission of sin—even sin of ignorance. It’s almost as if he anticipated the law given many years later to Israel: “If a person sins or does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s command, even though he doesn’t know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible.”
Job knew the Lord in all of His splendor and holiness. Because of his love and respect, he had a hatred of sinning against Him. Every morning Job would rise early to offer sacrifice to God on behalf of his children. He did this just in case they went beyond the limit of restraint in any degree, had a thought of evil in their minds, or blasphemed God in their hearts.
Many view this as a weakness on Job’s part. “Where is his confidence in his children?” I hear them say. Or, “Where is his faith in God’s mercy?”
I can’t accept either of those arguments. What we see here is Job’s deep love and concern for his children as well as a glimpse into his knowledge of God. He understood that remission was needed even for a momentary forgetfulness of the presence of God, and that forgiveness was only available through a sacrifice.
You have to understand that to Job, God was preeminently the God of righteousness, the God of moral perfection. In these days, the majority of people assume God to be a vague, easygoing benevolent being, and it is difficult to appreciate Job’s heart. If you think about it, that was Paul’s problem when he was trying to explain the wonder of God’s solution to our sin
If we are prepared to grant the absolute moral perfection of God, eternally aflame with positive goodness, truth, and beauty, we can perhaps understand that any form of sin or evil cannot approach God without instant dissolution. This is as inevitable as, for example, the destruction of certain germs by the light of the sun.
How then, asks Paul, can man who has failed and, moreover, sinned deliberately, ever approach God or hope to share in His timeless existence?
Well, the first method that God offered was the Law. If men would fully obey the law of God, they would be free from taint and able to approach God safely. Unfortunately, as Paul points out at some length in the letter to the Roman Church, men have signally failed to keep either the Law revealed to the Jews or the universal moral law of human conscience. If they have broken all the laws or only a few, they have failed and are guilty. They can’t even do anything to remove their guilt. The Law, which was meant to be a signpost pointing to God, became nothing but a warning sign. That is the crux of Paul’s problem, and of Job’s.
The joy of the gospel is that God finally meets this deadlock by sending His Son, not to judge the world, but so that the world would be saved through Him, and whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. It has now become a matter of believing and not achieving.
The fact that this offering of sacrifices for his children was Job’s regular custom shows his fear of God was not sporadic, or occasional, when under some great pressure, but was a deeply rooted principal of his life governing all his actions.
As a father of four, I know the importance of praying daily for my children. Every day it is important to offer a sacrifice, a prayer of intercession for my wife and kids. I don’t do this because of a lack of faith, “Well, maybe the Lord didn’t hear me yesterday.” No, I pray because I need the wisdom and leadership from my Father on how to care for my family.
In short, Job’s one and only aim was to be true to God, upright in life, and clear of all that might be evil in God’s eyes, both for his family and himself. Job’s fear of God and walk of integrity before Him has to be clearly recognized or you will never understand the meaning of this trial. As I said, from Satan’s viewpoint Job was a city set on a hill that could not be hid. He could not live or die unto himself.
You see the same thing in our day. People wait expectantly for one of the religious leaders to fall. They rejoice when a believer is knocked down a few pegs. First, the religious leaders are ridiculed and scorned; people hate their message and consider them oddballs and kooks. In truth, the message is what threatens them. When a preacher gives a message against a particular sin, people are offended (read embarrassed and guilty). So rather than confess the sin and seek redemption—they persecute the messenger. When that preacher falls . . . they are off the hook, so to speak. “See, he’s a fake too! He preaches good, but even he can’t live up to it.”
Now, there is one issue that has not been addressed yet. How do we handle the suffering of the world, those who refuse to follow the Lord? In addition, what about those who profess to be Christians yet have no hunger for holy living? We all know there are many within our churches that attend every Sunday, yet during the rest of the week follow the desires of their lower nature and satisfy the lusts of their flesh.
When I was Pastoring I told my church there is one way to tell the difference between true believers and those just hanging around. Those with the life of Christ in them are not trying to get-away-with sin; they are trying to get-away-from sin. How can we be sure that we belong to Him? Simply by looking within ourselves: are we really trying to do what he wants; is our heart intent on obedience and love? You will always find someone out there saying, “I’m a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” Nevertheless, if he does not do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar.
On the other hand, those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God, and be drawn ever closer. That is the way to know whether you are a Christian. John the Beloved wrote in his first letter, “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”
So how can you tell the difference from the chastening of the Lord and the retribution of our sins? How can we tell if we are under some intense test or simply reaping what we have sown? Proverbs 19:3, from the Message, says, “People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does GOD always get blamed?” Just because you have been fighting cancer or having constant financial struggles is not an indication the Lord is putting you through a severe trial or test. Although, He is there for you any time to rescue you from those obstacles. But you need to ask a simple question: where is your heart? Only you can judge the purpose and intent of the suffering. Will you react with a yearning for understanding or rebel in anger? Have you been living a life of sin or one in the pursuit of holiness?
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
Other Bible Studies and Commentary are available at Doulos Studies.