Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Book of Job

I just finished the book of Job. I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely. These are my own thoughts as I read the book, not those of a learned theologian!

Here is a righteous man that God used as an example for Satan. Job loses all his physical possessions and his children at the beginning, and his response is, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Then Job loses his health. He contracts painful and disgusting sores all over his body. He is absolutely miserable. His wife doesn't support or encourage him at all. Her response is, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" And Job this righteous man who trusts God, replies, " You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?"

Now Job's 3 friends come along to sympathize with him and comfort him. For 7 days and nights they sit with him in silence, seeing his misery. Finally Job begins to speak; in his anguish he laments the day he was born. At this one of his friends speaks, not words of comfort or sympathy or understanding, but words that accuse Job of evil. Job must have sinned greatly or God would not have done this to him. Job is understandably hurt; these are his friends and they should know that he had done nothing of the sort. He then brings his complaint to God, asking God why.

The next friend is aghast at Job's audacity. How can Job say that he does not deserve what is happening to him? Surely Job must have gross sin in his life! Job replies in utter anguish, "you are right, no mortal can be righteous before God. He is our maker." Job then states his need for an arbitrator between himself and God, and once more states that he'd rather not have been born.

His friends are becoming adamant that all he needs to do is confess and repent of his sin, and God will bless him. Job is becoming a bit angry as well. He points out that he has seen good men suffer and evil men prosper. And this is where he begins to expound the gospel. "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him." "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. Surely then You will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin." But right now, Job is in misery.

Once again his friends speak. "You must be wicked!" Job is growing more miserable with each speech. But even as he groans out his complaint to his friends and to God, he makes statements about his advocate and intercessor who pleads on his behalf to God. This pattern continues, the friends accusing him, Job groaning and wishing for an end to it all, yet trusting in God. "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Job trusts in the coming Savior and in the promised resurrection! But as the argument continues, Job says he does not feel God's presence, and he complains more and more out of his misery. His friends continue to pronounce his wickedness, he continues to defend his righteousness. Finally the last friend speaks, for the last time. He goes on and on, saying the same things.

And then, God comes. He speaks to Job. He says basically, "Who are you, Job?" God recounts creation and all that He has made, including an awesome description of fire-breathing dragons and Loch Ness monsters! God is not angry with Job, but He asks, "who are you to demand justice from me?" And Job's response is wonderful. "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Then God speaks to the 3 friends, and He is angry. "you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." And Job is the one who prays for his friends.

Job spoke to God out of his misery, he complained out of the bitterness of his affliction. He lost everything. He had no idea what this was all about, or why God was allowing it to happen. But through it all he trusted God; he knew that in the end he would be resurrected to a new life with God because of a Redeemer and an advocate.

I pray that in whatever affliction I face in this life, I have the faith of Job.
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