Wednesday, March 9
Reader: “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.”
Response: “Praise the name of the Lord!”
Scripture: Job 1:1-22
There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.
Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.
One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.
Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
Then the Lord asked Satan, “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.”
Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 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 it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
The last three days we’ve considered the temptation of Jesus by the devil. As we have mentioned before, temptation can be a form of testing. Today we look at a unique testing of a person in the First Testament, none other than Job. The consensus is that Job lived around the time of the patriarchs or roughly around 2,000 B.C. in the land of Uz, probably on the east side of the Jordan River.
This chapter gives us the setting of the familiar story. The numbers seven and three are numbers of great blessing (E.g. 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 7 sons, 3 daughters). Wealth was measured in possessions in this era. Put simply, Job was wealthy and blessed by God. One of the reasons we can get a rough idea of the historical time frame is that Job served as a priest to his own family. Job lived well before the founding of the nation of Israel. Under Moses’ leadership the priesthood was established in Israel with Aaron serving as the High Priest. Job was clearly a God-fearing man of great integrity. Though he wasn’t sinless, he was righteous in God’s sight in living a repentant life.
Satan, as we have been reminded over the last several days, is committed to doing whatever is necessary to sever people’s relation to God then and now. Here we see his attempt to do just that as God allowed him to test Job. You know the story. What is clear is Satan’s lack of understanding of trust because he is charging that Job only trusts God because of all the wealth God has given him. The devil’s test (and desire) is simple, take away the wealth and Job will reject God. Occasionally that happens in our world today when a person suffers financial or material loss, is stricken with a serious disease, or experiences the tragic death of a loved one and becomes embittered and blames God. Satan still works that angle.
In rapid succession Job learned that he had lost everything including all his children. Then we have his remarkable response. As was the custom of showing grief at that time in the Near East, he tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped God. What did those actions communicate? He trusted in the sovereignty of God. He clearly did not blame God for the terrible tragedy that had befallen him. Note his words (my paraphrase). “I came into this world by your hand Lord and I’ll leave this world by your hand. I brought nothing with me and I’ll take nothing with me when I leave. You have given me everything and it’s yours to take away. My life is in your hands. I praise your name.” Did you notice how Satan’s assertions always lead away from God? Job’s comments lead toward God. He does not blame God for his circumstances. Interestingly, God never did tell Job the “why” of his suffering nor of Satan’s test. Likewise, God does not nor is he obligated to tell us the “why” of difficult events in our world.
I want to share a brief personal story related directly to this account of Job. In 1966 when I was a freshman in college at Wheaton, I came home from a choir concert one Sunday night. I had a note in my mailbox to call my parents immediately. My mom ―answered the phone with these words of Job, “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. This evening your brother, David, passed away very suddenly.” I was devastated. We had shared the same bedroom our whole lives. At the time, David was a freshman in high school. Though mom and dad grieved deeply, I never heard a word of bitterness toward God from either of them ever. Their faith was unshaken. Six years later I got another call to immediately call home. Mom again answered the phone with another quote from Job (13:15), “‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.’ Dan, dad was killed in a farming accident this afternoon.” Mom and Dad understood in real life what it is to trust in every circumstance. Their example as parents responding to tragedy has had a profound impact on my life and that of my sister’s to this day. Job gave all of us the model.
Music: “Be Still My Soul” Voces8 Glorious!!!
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. ―Jude, 24-25