Saturday, Apr 10th

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Job 2

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In the book of Job we find many deep questions and answers concerning the human frame, even that of believers. It is not, then, just a piece of history… it is also about each one of us as we tackle life in general.

Verses 1-3

  1. Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

  2. And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

  3. And the LORD said unto 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 escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

Some readers might think the opening verses in chapter 2 are a repeat of chapter one, but they are not. This chapter begins with “Again there was a day”, meaning ‘tomorrow’ or ‘the next day’ or soon thereafter. No sooner had Satan brought an onslaught of disasters upon Job, than he began another phase of his evil intent. Remember – GOD did not test Job, Satan did.

Satan again mingled with a gathering of God-fearing men, to scorn God and His people. A second time God asked why he was there. God did not ask because He did not know, but so that the words of both He and Satan were preserved for posterity. Satan replied as he did before – he was coming from his wanderings on and around the earth, where he roared like a lion ready to devour his prey. He is still doing that today, and will continue to do so until time itself is ended by the Lord.

To the reader, including myself, there seem to be missing words, a ‘lead-up’ to why God said what He said. On the other hand, God already knew why Satan was mingling with His faithful people, so He brought up the subject before Satan did. Note how Satan pretended to be one of the people… a common tactic used even now, as Satan, sin, and a wicked character, cause many to mingle with the righteous, pretending to be holy or saved. Their aim is to spread dissent and lies, so Christians fail and fall, not particularly of their own volition, but because they allowed evil people to join them and speak. The evil ones whisper sinful things, often subtly, so others think what is said is holy. That is how hundreds of thousands were lost to lies during the evil period of the Toronto Blessing. It is why others join together with countless cultic movements (including charismatic), soothing their own consciences, and continuing in godless beliefs. It is why Christians have favourite speakers who they treat as mini-gods, losing their sense of questioning and not testing the spirits. All this is an easy road to follow, until they suddenly realise their error, possibly too late. It is not for nothing that such human beings can be labelled ‘satanic’, the worst of whom may even be called ‘Satan’. Think you can recognise a satanic person in your midst? If so, why do you accept error and heresy in your midst?

Jehovah repeats His claim, that Job was the most righteous man on the earth at that time. Even though Satan delivered violent blows to the man, Job remained true, “still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause”. Of course, God did not act against Job in any way. He told Satan he could tempt Job to sin in any way, but could not take his life. This is because the Lord knew Job would not sin, no matter what evils befell him.

To us, what happened to Job was a wickedness to be marked up against God, but this is to misunderstand Who God is. God did not turn against Job in any way. He was ‘proving a point’ to the Great Adversary, Satan. We might argue that this is itself evil, but it is to again misunderstand Who the Lord is. He can do whatever He wishes to His creation, including His human creatures. The whole point of our existence is not our human desires and emotions, but His glory and praise! Handing Job over to Satan for a season was not nasty or unholy, it was God’s intention, to thwart Satan. Yet, how many would act like Job? How many would buckle immediately and sin against the Almighty? I think we know the tainted answer. Surely any of us in the same circumstances would have a fit of anger against God when under such extreme pressure? Maybe so, but Job did not fall to sin, so why should we? As already mentioned, I believe Job’s attitude and responses were part of his daily life of righteousness and constant holy dealings with God. So, when evil came, he was internally ready and continued in holiness.

Verses 4-6

  1. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

  2. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

  3. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

Satan would not, however, concede. Even today, if he sees a tiny chink in our armour, he will force it open into a bigger gap until he can enter our lives with vicious vengeance. It does not take much, so beware – ‘nip it in the bud’, even if it appears to be like a rose! As soon as temptation arises, cast it out with vigour; a temptation caressed becomes an actual sin.

We are warned not to look directly at the sun, because a few seconds of gazing will destroy our eyes. The same goes for looking at the merest possibility of sin. It shows we have heeded temptation, and sin is born in our soul, ready to drag us under the frothing waves to a spiritual grave. These possibilities are around us night and day. Guard your soul for Satan is out to destroy you and take you into the pit he himself fears and will enter. He cannot do so if we belong to the Lord, but he will tarnish our lives and even expose it to open sin if we allow him to do so.

Satan boasted about “skin for skin” (a saying at that time, meaning ‘life for life’), or, he will lay Job’s life bare so all can see his sin. He continued that Job would finally give anything to retain his life, even to acting sinfully. As if to tempt God Satan scorned – ‘Go on, make his body uncomfortable and he will soon turn against you!’ God cannot be tempted nor can He sin, and He replied – ‘Go to Job and do what you will, but leave him alive’. Christians can be pushed to their very limits, but God does not allow us to go past what we can bear. Thus, even if we suffer (mainly because of our own fault), He will stop us ‘going over the edge’.

Sadly, many today JUMP off the edge because it is easier than facing life and God. And so their lives are miserable and they perceive all kinds of reasons that prevent them from being holy… except for the vital single reason for their misery – their own sinful nature. Thus, the slightest pressure on their lives ends in turning back to sin and refusing to act righteously, preferring neurotic behaviour to truth, because it is easier to give in than to live righteously. Job retained his holiness by constantly living in holiness. It was his ultimate safeguard. And though he suffered beyond what any man can usually take, He did not sin, but remained holy.

Verses 7-10

  1. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

  2. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

  3.  Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

  4. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Satan’s only desire is to hate God and His saved people, who he wants to reduce to filth and evil. Believers are the real prize, because they represent the Lord, and Satan knows he cannot touch God in any way. So, he will take second-best – believers. He cannot remove their salvation, but he certainly can make their lives a misery or a bad witness. And so Satan hit Job hard with painful boils, head to toe. The word used, šiḥîn, can mean leprosy, but in this text it appears to mean erupting inflamed skin. I shudder as I see what Job did to try to alleviate the burning pain…he scraped his skin with bits of sharp pottery so as to give relief from intense itching. But, applying such a stark method only makes things worse. As he attempted to relieve his symptoms blood and other matter (pus, etc) fell upon the earth Job sat on ash to absorb residues. We can imagine his misery.

The last thing a man needs when suffering such malady is to have someone offer bad advice! It is like adding salt to an open wound. And, as often happens, the bad advice came from someone very close – his own wife. It is possible she was party to Job’s previously holy way of living, but it shows just how different people are; it also shows that each of us stands alone before God. Job’s wife asked why he was still trying to keep his holy integrity, tummâ (personal innocence; rooted in tōm, meaning uprightness, perfection). So, she was telling Job to lose his righteousness in order to gain relief by cursing God! As I hope readers know, cursing someone for harming you does nothing except make you feel temporarily better, but with no actual benefit!

To ‘curse’, bāra, is to blaspheme. Oddly, the same word can also mean to bless, but not in this text. In effect Job’s wife was saying that he should blaspheme against the Lord (here, ‘ĕlōhîm) so He would strike Job down. Thus, his death would finally relieve him of his physical torture. It is possible the wife had Job’s wellbeing in mind and really thought that death would be better than such agony. Even today, wives will take a man to another country to be put to death by doctors, rather than watch them suffer greatly. BUT – what a deception! Did she not know that after death comes another form of life, for eternity?

We do not know if the idea of Sheol* was widespread at that time, so we can only assume her words were well-meant but horribly skewed. Why should anyone want temporary relief when it is followed by an eternity of condemnation and suffering? No doubt she did not think of the consequences! Many today seek relief from fear, anxiety, depression, etc., by taking medications, or even commit suicide. But, these are very bad decisions and ways to live. What is the point of having a moment’s relief or hiding from reality, when the end result is eternal damnation? (* See Outline on the subject, O-266).

Job instantly called her a foolish woman. He reminded her that everything human beings receive is from God, whether good or evil. The good, ṭôḇ, refers to everything fine, best, prosperous and lovely. Evil, ra’, means hurt, trouble, affliction, adverse, harm. God does not send sin upon us, but He can allow it to overcome us if we refuse to listen to Him or disobey. Job did not know that it was Satan who was bringing him down, not God, but, assuming his misery came from God, Job simply accepted it as a punishment for an unknown sin.

There are times in Christian lives when a believer does not know if an action is from God or Satan, but the answer is always to assume oneself to be sinful and to repent of known sin. If none is known, to rest in God and endure what is suffered, while still calling upon Him for respite. So, even when under great duress and pain, following on from intense personal losses and grief, Job did not sin against the Lord when pressed to do so by his wife. Even if God HAD been responsible for Job’s woes, he resolutely believed that whatever God did was just and true.

Verses 11-13

  1. Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

  2. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

  3. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

We now come to the three friend’s usually called ‘Job’s comforters’! That is friends who by their attitude and words make people feel even worse! Strictly, ‘three’ can literally mean three… or thirteen, or 60+13. It can even mean ‘stories’ or ‘forks’, or ‘often’. In this text we know the word refers to three, because the friends are named. They heard news of the calamities upon Job and came to offer support and counsel.

The friends were Eliphaz (‘my God is fine gold’), Bildad (‘confusing by mingling love’), and Zophar (‘sparrow’). They decided to visit to ‘comfort’ him and to mourn his loss of animals and children. Their hearts were ‘in the right place’, by visiting him when he was in his darkest hour. They felt his woes, and sat silently in moral support, for seven days and nights. In itself, this was true friendship. But, after the initial actions things went downhill…

(Eliphaz was a Temanite, a descendant of Esau. Bildad was a Shuhite, from farther east. Zophar was a Naamathite, from a tribal area now unknown). The three friends agreed to come together to travel to visit Job. They arrived as one – all three appear to have come from the east. When they reached Job’s land they could see him sitting on the ground. They must have been close enough to see his face and demeanour, and when they could see his misery they felt an intense emotion, and wept. Each ripped his outer garment in sorrow and threw dust onto their heads.

They reached Job and silently sat down around him on the earth, and stayed that way for seven days and nights, in a show of real friendship and empathy. None said anything because they could see how deeply grieved Job was. Sadly, good intentions are not always suitable as answers.

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Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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