A MESSAGE FROM GOD IN THE BOOK OF JOB
P.C. Johnson, U.K.
THE Word of God in His Holy Bible contains a truly vast amount of divine information, teaching us about Godand helping and supporting us on life's journey. We do not know who wrote Job or when it was written. To be present in the Bible at all, it must have been inspired by God. It is quite possible that Job may have been an Israelite. The book is considered to be one of the oldest books in the Bible.
At a first reading, understanding of its overall message may not easily follow. But careful study and prayer reveals a most important message for all mankind.
When studying the Bible we must always remember Peter's words in II Peter 1:20 -:
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation".
The meaning of this is that we may have to consider together some or all of the other references on anyone subject or any single prophecy in the Bible, in order to
understand the complete message and its true meaning. The same rule applies to any statement of doctrine. Sometimes God's truth on one subject is spread over
several references in the Bible. This is something like a jigsaw puzzle where all pieces have to be in place to get the whole picture.
The large centre section of Job between chapters 3 and 37 contains a mixture of the opinions of the three 'comforters' and Elihu talking to Job about the oracles of God. Many of their opinions are far from God's truth. Job alone appears to battle bravely to to state his belief in God's truth and his trust in God, in spite of his (Job's) great losses and later his physical disabilities at the time.
In the first two chapters of Job we are first told in chapter 1 verse 1 that Job was a perfect and upright man, one that feared God (had reverential trust in God)
and eschewed (hated) evil. Job had seven sons and three daughters and large numbers of sheep, camels, oxen, asses and a very great household. At the end of
verse 3 in chapter 1 we read -:
"So this man (Job) was the greatest of all the men of the east".
In verse 6 of chapter 1, in a scene which was probably in heaven, we are told -:
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD and Satan came also among them".
In verse 8 God says to Satan:-
"Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and eschewed evil?"
Satan, who is never lost for words, replies, 'doth Job fear God for nought' and goes on to say that God had protected Job and all his possessions and blessed his
activities, but take away that protection and all that he has and he will curse you. God replies in chapter 1 verse 12-:
"Behold, all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand".
So Satan promptly performs his evil. Notice here that God controls and limits Satan's activities. Satan does not dare to disobey!
Job loses all he had except his wife. But in verse 21 Job says -:
". . . the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD".
This statement by Job is a good reminder to the Christian in trouble! Verse 22 in the same chapter tells us -:
"In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly".
In chapter 2 God and Satan meet again and God praises Job's integrity which is still firm inspite of Satan's evil attacks on him. But. Satan says that if he attacks
Job's bone and flesh then Job will curse God to His face. In chapter 2 verse 6 God says to Satan -:
"And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life"
Job's wife, who was probably very frightened, did not comfort or help Job in their conversations in verses 9 and 10. At the end of verse 10 we are told -:
" . . . In all this did not Job sin with his lips".
In chapters 3 to 37 the three friends of Job the so-called comforters and the young man Elihu, far from comforting Job, in a vast torrent of words, more or less
accused him of being a secret sinner, and that God was punishing him for his sins, and that Job was a hypocrite, self righteous and lacking humility. All that Job really
needed was compassion and pity. Job states in chapter 13 verse 15-:
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him:"
In chapter 19 verses 25 to 27 in spite of his physical distress, Job was inspired (by God) to proclaim the immortal prophecy:-
"For I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."
This is of course the divine prophecy concerning the future resurrection of the faithful in Christ at the Second Advent of Jesus the Christ as King over all the
In Job chapter 21 verse 34 Job says to the 'comforters' -
"How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?"
At this point it is necessary to consider the words of Jesus. In Luke 13:4 and 5 Jesus says -:
"... those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell ye Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish".
Jesus is here speaking about the incorrect belief that God punishes us for our sins in this life. Punishment for sins will not come before the great judgement day in the distant future.We all die at the end of this mortal life because we all have sinned and those sins kill us. True repentance and belief will result in our resurrection as Job knew as we saw above from Job 19:25 to 27. Jesus makes it clear that repentance is essential; we cannot hope to survive and obtain eternal life without it!
In order to avoid suffering we need God's protection and safety which can come with repentance and belief. But some will say, 'but I have repented and believe in
Jesus, but Iam still suffering illness: or accidents or other troubles.
Yes! Here we come to the most important message to be learned from Job. As God said, he was an upright man, yet suffered the cruel acts of Satan. The book of
Job answers the question; why do the righteous suffer often with similar accidents and illnesses etc.as the unrighteous? Jesus answers this question in the parable in John 15:1-2:-
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
This means that we are dependant upon Jesus and His Salvation, even as the branches of the vine (us) depend on the primary stem of the vine (Jesus). If we do not repent and believe, we risk being cut off from the vine, that is, missing out in the future resurrection.
If we do repent and believe (even as God purgeth the vine branches) God may well chasten us in order to improve us, which is an ongoung purification process.
So then, let us make it clear, the upright true believers can expect chastisement by God in order to make them better servants and to cause them "to bear more fruit"! Whereas the unbeliever who does not repent and believe, may suffer some of Satan's attacks as in the Tower of Siloam disaster and in other troubles.
The story of Job was probably placed in the Bible by God in order to convey His Word to the then future generations to come.
After the discussions between Job, the 'comforters' and Elihu we read in Job 38: 1-2:
"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?"
God was referring to Elihu who had accused Job of the same. God goes on to say to Job in verse 3:
"Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me"
In chapters 38 to 41 God speaks to Job, and in these wonderful words, we can glean understanding, love and respect for our most gracious God! These chapters
must be read here.
In chapter 40 verses 3 and 4 Job, perhaps nervously, answers God
"Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth, once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice, but I will proceed no further"!
Finally in chapter 42:5-6 Job speaks again:
"I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes".
After this God rebukes Eliphaz and his two friends, saying in verse 8 of chapter 42:
"Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering: and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job".
Finally, God restored unto Job twice as much as he had before. In verse 12 of chapter 42 we read :
"So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning "
What then are the main lessons of Job for us all? God may chasten us to raise us to a higher level of purity and fruitfulness. Such chastisement is never penal (punishment for breaking the law). In Hebrews 12:6 we are told:
"For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth"
Again, in Psalm 94:12 we read:
"Blessed is the man whom thou chasteneth, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law".
God's chastisement then is always remedial for cleansing and purifying. It is also a supreme test of our faith. The lifelong passage for the Christian is by these
(1) The cleansing through the blood of Christ b ybelief in His salvation, and by God's subsequent chastening.
(2) Being aware of God's constant presence, never ignoringHim, sharing all activities with Him and talking to Him in our minds.
(3) Having no unconfessed or self unjudged sin.
(4) Trying hard to obey and follow all His principles, precepts and commandments.
Throughout the Bible we read how God often chose this or that person for whatever work God requires. Psalm 65:4 states :
"Blessed is the man whom thou (God) choosest, and causest to approach unto thee. . ."
Again, in II Thessalonians 2:13 we are told:
" . . . because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth".
James repeats a similar theme in his chapter 2 verse 5:-
"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and the heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?"
From God's Word in His Bible then it is abundantly clear that God chooses people as his followers to become His servants and enter into his service.
Sadly, try as we may, we sometimes fail in our efforts to remain true and faithful to our God! Satan achieves far too many successes in his efforts to persuade us to
We must keep the above four signposts of 'passage' for the Christian in mind always and above all pray for strength to resist the Evil One. Job's words of contrition in Job 40:4 and 42:6 give guidance for confessions:-
"Behold I am vile: Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes".
My friends, we are now seeing all about us everywhere tragedies, troubles, extreme iniquity, violence, dangers, natural disasters, and a pathetic lack of knowledge of Bible truth. This is the Bible description in prophecy for the times just before the Second Advent of Jesus the Christ. This is a prominent possibly last warning to us all. We do not know the date of this Seond Advent be it sooner or later. God Himself does know the date and He will certainly not miss it! Paul in II Thessalonians 2:3 states:
"Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day (of our LORD at the Second Advent) shaIl not come, except there come a faIling away (extreme iniquity) first"
Do not fear the troubles to come, God is always at hand. Trust in Him, He will not let you down. Wait patiently for His return to this sad world. Take comfort from Romans 16:24-27.
"The grace of our LORD Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever, Amen".
Recently here in Great Britain we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918 from the former old Royal Flying Corps of the First world war.
As with all British military units, the R.A.F. adopted an exclusive Latin emblem or motto which reads "Per ardua ad astra". In English the meaning is- "Through
adversity to the stars".
In the book of Hebrews chapter 12 verse 6 we are told:. "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth "
Such chastening can certainly be an adverse experience of adversity as we saw above in Job.
The stars occupy the vast (limitless?) space, which is the second part of God's Heaven. (The first part of heaven being the Heaven of the clouds, and the third part of Heaven God's abode).
All faithful believers in Jesus the Christ who obey His Laws and precepts, are promised eventual etemal life in Heaven.
God's chastening (adversity) administered (In Job's case by Satan) to the faithful, is along the path of life that we have to follow.Remember it is not punishment, but a test of our faith and God's way of making us better Chistians.
Lastly, when we experience God's chastening, let us be reminded of God's message in Job by this simile - 'Per ardua ad astra'.
24th February & 25th August 2008
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