October 25, 2023
The Book of Job is considered to be the oldest book of the Bible. And, for many, the least understood. But like every Word of the God-breathed Scripture, it is perfect in its intent and life-changing in its impact.
So, what was happening in this recorded account of one of the godliest men that ever lived? A man that God delighted in and said, “There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:8)
SATAN’S CYNICAL QUESTIONS
Satan, as a created yet fallen being, is allowed to come into God’s throne room. When questioned by God as to what he’s been doing, he reports that he’s been roaming on the earth. It is God who brings up the subject of his servant, Job. “Have you looked at him? Considered him?” God knew exactly what he was doing, for he was about to make a point developed throughout the whole story, the whole book. He was about to use Satan and Job to tell us something about ourselves and about Himself.
TWO QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE ANSWERED
Satan reveals his cynical, godless nature with two statements that reveal the two great questions of the book and foundational questions of life.
Question #1: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (1:9). In other words, “It’s impossible for any man to simply love and fear God honestly. He just loves You because You’re giving him gifts and protection. If You stripped that away, he would curse You.”
Question #2: “Have you not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side … put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (1:10-11). In other words, “You (God) are no better. You’re just manipulating him so he can love you. Your character is just as bad as Job’s.”
The bottom line questions are these …
One commentator defines it like this.
Cynicism is the essence of the satanic. The Accuser believes nothing to be genuinely good—neither Job in his disinterested piety nor God in his disinterested generosity … “Does Job fear God for nought?” He knows enough about religious people to be persuaded that they are in it for what they can get out of it. Doubtless this is sometimes true … The Accuser knows how hurtful a taunt it is to remind God of such disappointments. His argument is clever. Job’s godliness is artificial. It has never been proved by testing. And God is no better. He has made it easy for Job to be good. He has secured Job’s devotion by bribery, and shielded him from harm.
So the basic questions of the book are raised. God’s character and Job’s are both slighted. Is God so good that he can be loved for himself, not just for his gifts? Can a man hold on to God when there are no benefits attached? The Accuser suggests a test to prove his point. (Andersen, F. I. (1976). Job: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, p. 89). InterVarsity Press.)
It's hard to read the book of Job. Hard to understand God allowing Satan a temporary injunction to afflict this godly man so terribly. But God is proving something in this experience. He is answering questions that we all must have answered and giving us the ultimate hope. It can be summarized in two statements.
There is hope for us.
Job shows us that, by the grace of God, men can become genuinely great and godly. There is a path where they can come to know, love, and fear God so deeply that, even when the gifts of God are removed, they trust God’s character and love Him still. Job was such a man as were Abraham, Moses, and David; John, Peter, and Paul; John Hus and Luther; Bonhoeffer and Corrie Ten Boom; Jim Elliott and Joni Earickson Tada.
Millions of faithful believers through the ages give us hope that we can walk with God and become conformed to the image of His Son. Even though our beginning faith may be dependent on His gifts, a maturing faith sees God for who He is and loves Him regardless of any circumstances. Our love can be pure, not selfish; honest, not hypocritical. And the highest joy is to know God and enjoy Him forever.
We can hope in God.
And Job’s story reminds us that God is perfectly good. His goodness is not predicated upon His gifts. It is not manipulative, just to secure some feigned worship. His character is not defined by what He may give at one point or another. He gives to his beloved in their sleep. Even when He gives tests they are to help us and others understand things we could not otherwise see. He loves us because He is love and can be trusted at every turn, regardless of circumstance.
This extreme test in Job’s life finishes with the account of God’s return of the gifts—in even greater measure—after the test is complete. After both Job’s character and God’s are seen for what they are, He pours out His affection on His beloved servant, reminding us, as Spurgeon said that, “God is too good to be unkind and too wise to be mistaken. When we cannot trace His hand, we can always trust His heart.”
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