If you have never read the Book of Job, I highly recommend that you do! Job is the oldest book in the Bible, dating back approximately 600 years before Christ. It's about a man named Job who was considered blameless before the Lord. He was a described as a man of integrity. He feared the Lord and stayed away from evil. Chapter 29 highlights Job's heart towards God and his community. He assisted the poor and cared for widows and orphans. He helped those without hope and served as eyes for the blind, and feet for the lame. He was also highly revered and respected by all social classes, from the poor to the highest officials which included princes who “stood in silence before him.” Job states, "Everyone listened to my advice. They were silent as they waited for me to speak."
Chapter One describes Satan, the Accuser coming to the Heavenly Court after patrolling the earth. When God asks Satan if he noticed Job, Satan replied, "Yes, but Job has good reason to fear you. You are have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosperous." Satan mocks God stating that if everything is taken away from Job, he will curse God. So, God gives Satan permission to test Job, with the condition that he won't harm him physically.
Satan goes on a rampage and begins attacking Job. He steals his animals and kills his farmhands. He burn all the sheep and shepherds. He steals his camels and his servants. He creates a powerful wind from the wilderness and hits the house where his children were, and all his children die. Can you imagine being hit with such horrible news? We struggle with getting cut off in traffic, not getting a promotion at work, and not being liked by some people. I can’t imagine getting the new job got, with back to back traumatic let downs!
When Job heard this news, he tore his robe in grief, shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship! In his grief, he said, "I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
Can you imagine responding to these circumstances with a heart of worship, praising the name of the Lord? Honestly, take a minute to consider how you respond to even an ounce of bad news. For me, well...this is certainly a wake up call! I sincerely have to check my heart!
Satan approaches the Lord again and once again, the Lord says, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless - a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity even though you urged me to harm him without cause." Satan replies, "Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!" The Lord give Satan permission to take away his heath, but he has to spare his life. He is not allowed to kill him. So, Satan strikes Job with terrible boils from head to foot!
After losing her children, her home and her wealth, and now, watching her once strong husband fall into horrific ill-health, Job’s wife tells Job to curse God and die! The Book of Job does not talk much about Job's wife, but I can only imagine how depressed and grief-stricken she must have felt! Despite her command to curse God, Job continues to hold on to his integrity and says, "You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things that come from the hand of God and never anything bad?" Again, I am amazed at Job's response. Despite this full-on demonic attack, he continues to have a heart of worship!
The majority of the Book of Job revolves around back and forth discourse between Job and his three friends who come from distant lands to comfort and console him. Because they saw that his suffering was too great for words, they sat with him in silence for seven nights and days before speaking. Job breaks the silence by cursing the day he was born. It's at this point that we begin to see the sinful nature that exists in Job.
Job falls into the same pit that most of us fall into when bad things happen: self-pity! Self-pity is defined as "excessive, self-absorbed unhappiness over one's own troubles." In my opinion, self-pity is a form of pride. Pride is often viewed as the outward expression of arrogance, while self-pity is an inward expression of “all about me”. Since self-pity does not "look like" pride, people often have a hard time believing they are stuck in pride. This is a very dangerous place to be because if sin goes unnoticed, then it grows and eventually leads to death (James 1:15).
As Job is wallowing in a deep state of depression, his friend, Eliphaz, responds to him in twisted truths. I honestly don't think Eliphaz's response was his own because Job 4:12-21 says that his "truth" was given to him in secret, from a disturbing vision at night, when fear gripped him as a spirit swept past his face and his hair stood on end. In the silence he heard the a voice say, "Can a mortal be innocent before God? Can anyone be pure before the creator? If God does not trust his own angels then how much less will he trust people made of clay!"
I believe Satan was still at work bringing accusation and condemnation to Job through the mouths of his friends. Isn't this how demonic attacks hit all of our lives? Satan knows the Word of God. He is a fallen angel. He uses twisted versions of God's Word to kill, steal and destroy humans, the only creation that was made in the image of God!
Job's friends continued to respond to Job's complaints of self-pity with words like, "God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve," "If only you would prepare your heart and lift your hands in prayer! Get rid of yours sins," and "You are nothing but a windbag...your sins are telling your mouth what to say!" Their judgmental and condescending remarks only fed Job's desire to proclaim his innocence, which digs the "self-pity pit" even deeper!
One of the biggest struggles I have as a follower of Christ is falling on the continuum of truth and grace (judgment and mercy). Job’s friends speak so much truth about God's character and expectation, yet their judging approach is does not show love, gentleness or humility. Their comments actually make Job feel more condemnation that he already does. At the same time, Job understands God is all powerful and nothing happens with His approval. He knows God to be the ultimate judge.
This is a battle we all fall into today, isn't it? I see it all over over social media and the news. Christians who desire to proclaim God's commands and “fight political injustices”, but are so judgmental that it pushes people farther away from the gospel. They lack humility and do not show the love of God to others. Yet, there are also self-proclaimed Christians who don't know the Word of God and make up their own truths based on their own beliefs. The Word calls these people "foolish and unwise" for they do not fear the Lord. The Lord declares that his thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways are higher than your ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Our society believes there is no one truth, and that everyone is entitled to follow their own truth (beliefs). Once again, we see that the enemy's best method of attack is to twist the Word of God.
The struggle is real, and it does not bypass me! I struggle all the time with trying to live in both truth and in grace. I want to love everyone. I want everyone to feel valued and appreciated, yet more than pleasing people, I want to serve My God and follow his truth and his ways! I continually have to get on me knees and ask God for his forgiveness because I know that every day I miss the mark!
Aside from the revelations I have already mentioned, the Book of Job has reminded me of two great truths about God, He is both truth and grace. He is the complex, synergistic conceptualization of how the whole is greater than it's parts. God is greater than the "two sides of a coin of truth and grace." He is the immeasurable version of love in it's purest form!
Job was bestowed with amazing wisdom. Job came to the same final conclusion that the wisest person to ever live (King Solomon) came to: " was the wisest person to ever live came to, "And this is what he says to all humanity, the fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding." This is what Solomon says, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion to the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecc 12:13-14)." True wisdom comes when we acknowledge God's holiness and understand that He alone is judge.
At the same time, God's mercy and grace was found throughout the Book of Job! 600 years before Christ came in the flesh, Job states, "If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more (Job 9:33-24), "Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend (Job 16:19-21)," "At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant (Job 14:7-9)," “If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made (Job 14:14-15)," and "I know that my redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand on the earth (Job 19:25)."
I don’t know how any does life without Jesus! He truly is the only way! Without a mediator, we are left to our own destruction! Thank you Lord for opening my eyes not only to the sovereignty of God, but to His great love for us! Even before Job asked, God already had a plan to redeem us! A wonderful mediator who sits at the right hand of God and make our requests known to God.