The Book of Job

If you grew up in church then you know the story of Job as this:
Job was a wealthy and righteous man. One day Satan came before God and asked to test Job and God agreed. Job lost all of his children, his possessions, and his health. Everyone told Job he should curse God but he refused. God then restored Job and blessed him with twice as much as he had before. The end.

That is the version of the story I went in with when I began studying The Book of Job. What I found went far beyond the children’s church basics. At times I was frustrated with Job and his friends. I became confused with what they were saying, too. I was also in awe at the things God revealed to me in my studying. Studying Job was an adventure in itself and it is one I believe I need to share with all of you. We don’t learn or go through things simply for our own selves, right? So today I will start laying out all that I discovered in this book.

All that Job has…

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 [with reverence] and abstained from and turned away from evil [because he honored God].

Job 1:1

Job was a wealthy and prosperous man, but all of that was rooted in his heart for God. In fact, we know by Satan’s own words that Job’s prosperity came from God’s hand.
“Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not put a hedge [of protection] around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands [and conferred prosperity and happiness upon him], and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:9-10)

Even as God gave permission to test Job, God kept His hand of protection upon him.
“Behold, all that Job has is in your power, only do not put your hand on the man himself.” (Job 1:12)

I think that’s something that is very important to understand. God knew what was going to happen, he knew all the ways Satan would test Job, He even knew all the tests Satan was contemplating and discarded. Yet God remained faithful to Job. God did not turn away from Job and He did not abandon Job. In all of Job’s pain, God was still there in full access to the man. Even when God allowed Satan to afflict him with sickness, still God instructed that Job’s life be spared. (Job 2:6)

So in one day, Job loses just about everything. Three different bands of thieves come in and steal all his animals and kill his servants; lightning strikes causing a fire that burns up his flock of sheep and the shepherds; a house falls in on his sons, daughters, and their servants. (Job 1:14-19) In all these only one servant per situation survives. All three of these servants come right on top of the other to give him the news of all that has befallen him. So what does Job do?

Then Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head [in mourning for the children], and he fell to the ground and worshiped [God].

Job 1:20

Job must’ve been confused and in shock, certainly in the beginning stages of grief, but his first instinct was to praise God. He didn’t question God, asking “Why?” or “How could You let this happen?” Instead he humbled himself and began worshipping God.

Job was so set in the practice of worshipping God that it was his first reaction. The questioning definitely came later, but in that moment, Job spoke of God’s wisdom in all things.

Personally, I want to be like that. So habitual and set on praising God that no matter what I am faced with, my first instinct and reaction is to turn to God and praise Him.

Have You Considered…

The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered and reflected on My servant Job?

Job 2:3

Something that caught my attention is God’s use of the word Considered. To consider something is to study it, to look at it closely. The OJB translation says, “Have you considered in your meditation…”
God chose this specific phrase in His questioning of Satan. It implies that Satan should take a very close look at Job.

Satan wanders around seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and in all of his wanderings, he would’ve come across Job. Satan would’ve known of Job’s devotion to God. He probably even thought of ways to lure Job away from that devotion.

Satan doesn’t pick at random. The powers and principalities of darkness don’t play Russian Roulette and whomever they land on is their target for the week or the month. No they carefully consider. In order to know all the ways to tempt us, they focus on our weaknesses. It is not just God or man who pays attention to us.

The enemy studies us, considers our ways and our weaknesses, and draws up a battle plan against us. He seeks us out and it’s not always obvious it is him coming for us. (2 Cor. 11:14) That is why we have to be on our guard, consistently and habitually worshipping and seeking God.

What’s the Point?

Shall we indeed accept [only] good from God and not [also] accept adversity and disaster?

Job 2:10

By the end of Chapter Two, Job has lost his wealth, most of his family, most of his servants, and he has been struck with a sickness. People are probably starting to whisper about him and call him cursed. His wife, and probably other people, too, are telling him to just curse God. To them it would be better for him to curse God and die than to continually suffer. (Job 2:9)

But Job responds with sensible words of wisdom. His wife speaks as one who is looking at the temporal, the immediate situation. Job speaks as one who knows that God must have a plan beyond the immediate. Job doesn’t know what that plan is, but his foundational trust in God is firm. God has a plan and in all of this I will bow to Him.

When bad things happen to us, what is the point of turning on God? Why make the situation harder all for the sake of self-pity or for having someone to blame?
We should be clinging to God instead. Sometimes He is the only good thing we have in a bad situation.

Sit with Me

We end chapter two with Job and his friends sitting shiva. If you don’t know, sitting shiva is a ritualistic period of mourning and comfort after the death of a close relative. This time period precedes all of the speeches full of questioning and seeking that makes up the rest of Job’s book.

The elders of the Daughter of Zion sit on the ground keeping silent; they have thrown dust on their heads, they have covered themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground

Lamentations 2:10

While this is a ritual, it is also an invitation to sit with God. A time when we can be silent and seek His comfort. A time when we can put everything else aside and seek His face even in the midst of our mourning or our confusion and shock.

We see Job and his friends being silent during this time, and I think that’s important to look at. When we’re in grief, we want to speak. We want to scream. We want to question and blame and bargain. And maybe those things still happen in our mind, but by sitting in the silence there is a reminder to focus on God. To find Him, not for answers, but for solace.

It is, in a sense, a fasting of speech. The purpose of any fast is to focus on and draw closer to God. So in fasting our speech, we open ourselves to His Word.

I bring up the verse in Lamentations because to me, the book of Lamentations is the heartfelt journey of a people finding their way back to God. They sit in their grief, contemplating and pouring out the grief in their hearts. It is a cleansing, a renewing, because what is poured out is then filled up by God.

I’m not saying we have to take seven days to sit in complete silence, but when things happen, the storms and trials come, we need to take the time and answer God’s invitation to sit with Him. To find our comfort in the Comforter and not what is comfortable to our flesh. Seeking Him, sitting with Him, our Father and Creator, makes all the difference in whatever we are facing.

Another thing is that Job was not alone. Sitting Shiva is a time for friends and relatives to comfort those who are hurting. We are called to mourn with those who mourn. (Rom. 12:15) God’s comfort can flow through us or to us by others. Yes, we need to sit with God, Himself, but God also sends people to help comfort us.

The shortest verse in the bible is Jesus wept. (John 11:35) However, Jesus did not weep alone. He was there with Mary and Martha, crying over their brother Lazarus.

Eventually we will speak. We will have questions and confusion that needs to be voiced. When that happens, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow disciples of His way, to speak with and bring our focus back to God, back to His Word, and His loving-kindness. Because just like Jesus, we are human, too, and we need our people.

Have you studied the Book of Job?

What revelation have you received in the first two chapters? I’d love to read about it in the comments.

Happy Friday!

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