Lessons in the Book of Job (3)
- A Man Tested Like Gold
The old story of Job has never lost its meaning for today’s readers. The theme of the dialogue between Job and his friends is the suffering of the righteousness. Why does the best man suffer the worst? This question continues to be a powerful theme in our own lives. When we read the Book of Job, we try to find out the answer; however, there is no answer even at the end of the story. While Job and his friends stopped arguing, the Lord started His speech from the whirlwind. As a consequence of the words of God, Job renewed his mind about God. He said to the Lord, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:5, 6). Job finally humbled himself and repented. He prayed for his friends, and then God rewarded him with a doubled amount of herds, and a new family, more prosperous than the one before.
A servant questions his Lord
When Job could not be comforted by his friends, he became disappointed and doubtful. He began to curse his birth and blurt out his anger to God. Job cried, “I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me” (10:2). Job wanted to know why he was in suffering, and he waited for an answer from God. However, God did not answer him. God’s speech was beyond the answer. When we listen to the speech of the Lord, we should keep in mind what once God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (1:8). Job is the trustful servant of God. God knows Job and loves him. God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but never allowed Satan to put his finger on Job’s life. The Lord and the servant is the primary relationship between God and His children. For this reason, when Job succumbed to his doubts, God had to speak to him. What is the duty of a servant to his Lord? How to be a faithful servant? Our Lord Jesus gave us two great commands, the first one was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Did Job love God like this? Job was “blameless,” but he was not sinless. When his self-righteousness was challenged by his friends, he lost patience. Righteous means a right relationship with God (See Romans 5:1). Only those who are in Jesus Christ are justified by God. Job’s impatience and protests exposed his inner sin of pride. Job’s story is a proof of the truth that Paul mentioned in his letter: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). Even Job is still far from perfection. Job needs self-sacrifice and molding by the Lord. In the speech of God (chapter 38-41), rather than giving an answer, God asked Job many questions (about eighty of them). God revealed His greatness and perfection through these symbolic questions. Job did not know anything about the questions. In the end, Job simply acknowledged that before, he had known God by hearing of His reputation. But now, he has experienced the power of God directly. The God whom Job had experienced is a living God. Job understood that his questions and protests were arrogant. Therefore, Job repented himself in dust and ashes.
The Lord molds His servant
The lack of the true knowledge of God causes Job’s inner pride, self-centeredness, and doubts of God’s justice. While the three friends seek the reason of the suffering in Job, Job seeks it in God. While the three friends declare that Job is sinner, Job declares that God is unjust. In the mind of Job, God should treat him better than the others because he was better than them. He even thought that his righteousness made him have the right to question God. God’s speech allowed Job to understand that no one, including himself, has the right to question God. God will not be questioned by someone who cannot explain God’s creation. God is the Creator of the universe. God is the Lord of all His creatures. God does not owe anything for anybody. God claimed to Job, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under the heaven belongs to me” (41:11).The apostle Paul warned us to not question God. He said, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this” (Romans 9:20)? God is Almighty, and God’s authority is not allowed to be challenged. After Job learned of God’s greatness, he humbled himself. He changed his self-centered mind. He knew that God was the God of the whole universe but was not only the God of his universe. The great problem of suffering becomes small when it is seen in relation to the universe. Job attains peace from God in the time of suffering even though the situation itself is as dark as before. Job does not know and does not need to know why he suffers, for God has personally revealed Himself to him. Job’s eyes are opened and his soul is restored by the words of God.
The love of God and the faith of servant
There are two lessons we learn from Job’s experience. One lesson we learn is how God loves his children. Although Job doubted, questioned, complained, even blasphemed; God did not punish him but still loved and blessed him. A man may suffer from the most horrible disease, and yet be in favor with God. Apostle Paul suffered most terribly from persecution for the sake of the gospel, but he has never lost faith. In his letter, Paul encourages us, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (Romans 8:35). Sometimes God does not answer our prayer, but God still loves us and is still with us. Another lesson we learn is how to be a faithful servant of God. God needs faithful servants. True faith needs no outward verification of health, happiness, and prosperity. On contrary, true faith needs to be tested through suffering. The story of Job tells us that suffering is not always a penalty for sin. In the same way, prosperity is not always a reward for being good. We trust God not because of what He does but because of who He is. Even when it appears that He is not doing anything for us, we should still trust him because He is God. To keep our faith in God means to obey Him wholeheartedly. For this reason, we should courageously accept the things God allows in our lives and remain firmly committed to him.