There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) We saw previously how God may use disasters to call us to repentance. But with Job, we have a case where repentance was not the issue. Instead, the genuineness of his faith was being tested. Satan accused God of pampering Job with prosperity and that Job only served the Lord for the stuff he got from him. God knew Job better and allowed Satan to take away his large family and great wealth through various disasters at the same time. In the next chapter, he allowed Job’s health to be taken away as well. Satan asked “does Job fear God for no reason?” In other words, will he fear God if he doesn’t get anything out of it? And God’s answer through this trial was bluntly, “why yes, yes he does.” Job was content to have God alone, both now and for eternity. He didn’t need all the stuff to know that God was worthy of all his love and devotion. And even though he didn’t understand why the trials had come, he never questioned the goodness, wisdom, and majesty of God. Perhaps that point alone is worth reflecting over. How often do we start complaining against God for much smaller losses or crosses? What does that reveal about the condition of our faith? What does it reveal about what we are really trusting in for our well-being? How often is Satan’s accusation actually true against us, that we really only serve God for the stuff we get from him, and are not satisfied with God himself?
2) The response of Job revealed the character of his faith. The first thing he said after hearing the four messengers of doom one right after the other was, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” He did not curse or question God but blessed him and worshiped him. Is that your instinctive response to disaster? We see later that Job of course mourned severely and rightly so. He was not a cold stoic who cared nothing for his family or or livestock. He was obviously a hard worker and a family man. But he also knew that God owed him nothing. God created him “naked” and he would die so. Everything else he received in between birth and death was an investment God had put into his care as a steward. And God was free to give or take away from Job’s care whatever his perfect wisdom and plan demanded. And eventually God would take it all away at death. Could Job fault God for demanding it back sooner? Job recognized that it all belonged to God and was willing to serve and worship the Lord wherever God chose to put him, and with whatever God gave to him.
3) Notice God’s commentary on Job’s behavior, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” In other words, he trusted and obeyed the Lord after losing everything. He did not accuse God of any wrongdoing. He did not have an entitlement mindset, that God owed him anything. Like a good soldier, he was willing to accept whatever mission in life God assigned to him, whether that required serving with great wealth or great poverty, great health or great disease. In each case, God calls us to serve him faithfully in that situation, trusting him to work out the details we do not understand. God is our God, Creator, King, and Redeemer. He knows best what we need, when we need it, and will work all things out for our eternal redemption. Perhaps you are being tested in that way now? Perhaps the events of today are threatening to take away your wealth or health? Will you let God take them if God requires it for a time? Can you accept that God knows better than you what you need? Can you remember your place as a servant before the Almighty, who has your best interests at heart as he carries out his great plan of redemption? Too often, we fail the test of Job don’t we? But through that failure, God is teaching us too. By exposing our weak faith, he shows us what we need to work on, and peels away our idols, so that we find all our hope, strength, and sufficiency in God alone.