Job Chapters 1 and 2
Have you ever met a truly good man? A man who you could trust to do the right thing by God and by man? The book of Job tells us that there is in the land of Uz a man named Job who is honest, a family man, wealthy and pious. He cares about his family deeply and sacrifices to God on their behalf regularly. He is the most influential man of his time and culture. As I read about Job I think I would like him and be pleased to be his friend.
Even God thinks highly of Job. We know this because right after being introduced to Job, we get to look into the throne room of God. On this day the angels have come before God. Along with them Satan appears. God singles Satan out and asks him where he has come from to which Satan casually replies “going here and there, checking things out.” The next thing out of God’s mouth brings a catch to my heart. God asks Satan if he has considered His servant Job (really God? Please don’t point me out to Satan!). God seems to be proud of Job, impressed by his integrity and devotion. He leads Satan to consider this upright man. Evidently Satan HAS considered Job and thinks of him as God’s pet, God’s favorite. He accuses God of putting a hedge of protection around Job and implies that this is all the reason that Job is such a man of integrity. And then comes that which is so incredibly hard to accept … God gives Satan permission to take everything from Job except his health.
God knows Job well. After Satan has done his dirty work and taken Job’s herds, his servants, and his children, Job is crushed and goes into mourning, but he speaks nothing against God. In fact he worships God and accuses Him of no wrongdoing.
A bit later we go to the throne room again. Once again the angels and Satan appear before God. God again draws Satan’s attention to Job’s integrity and Satan argues that if you take a man’s health away, then he will curse God. So God gives Satan permission to take Job’s health, but not to kill him. Satan afflicts Job and we soon see him sitting on a trash heap, scraping his oozing sores with broken pottery, while his wife tells him to curse God and die. But Job maintains his integrity saying that he will take from God both the good days and the bad. Once again he does not sin and says nothing against God.
I hate to admit this, but when I read through this story I want to rail against God. So many questions and emotions are raised up. God and Job appear to be in relationship, even to the point of friendship, but what kind of friend would do this to his companion? Did God feel the need to prove something to his enemy Satan? Why? And why prove something to his enemy at such huge expense to His friend?
I’ve experienced the shock of sudden loss, the death of a daughter. When I consider Job’s loss of seven children in one tragic blow it completely overwhelms me. But I relate to Job beyond grief and into worship. I know in the depths of my being that God is not some arbitrarily homicidal megalomaniac who shores up His sagging ego by watching us maintain an attitude of submissive worship in the face of personal atrocity. I know that He is good and His ultimate purposes are good. I take comfort in the fact that nothing can touch us without His permission, not nature, not Satan, not death. And I know that I know nothing. My understanding of the person and purposes of God is much less than my puny grasp of the vastness of the universe.
I think Job’s response to his situation is pretty much perfect.
Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. GOD gives, GOD takes. God’s name be ever blessed.’ Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God. Job 1:20-22 The Message.
His wife said, “Still holding on to your precious integrity, are you? Curse God and be done with it!” He told her, “You’re talking like an empty-headed fool. We take the good days from God — why not also the bad days?” Not once through all this did Job sin. He said nothing against God. Job 2:9-10 The Message.
Job shows a perfect understanding of who he is in the eternal scheme of things. Everything he is and has is a gift from the hand of God in the first place. It simply makes no sense to curse God for gifts He owns and gives … even when those gifts are taken away.
I can’t pretend to understand the interchange between God and Satan. I don’t know why it seemed right and needful to God to allow Satan this siege of His friend Job. What happened in heaven is beyond my ability to grasp. But I do know that at least at this point of fresh wounding Job responded in a right way, a righteous way. And I know that I want to be like Job.