Today we started to read the book of Job: it has a powerful message, indeed an important message for us. But it is a strange book in the way the message is conveyed. We have come to the conclusion that it is an extended parable although built on an actual person and events. We need to read it exercising our minds on the events which lie behind this parable and what these led to..
Our understanding is that “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan (the ESV footnote says, ‘the adversary’ – and this is the meaning of the Hebrew and how it is translated in passages such as 1 Sam 29 v.4, 2 Sam 19 v.22, 1 Kings 5 v.4 &c) … Satan came among them” [Job 1 v.6] This is picturing, we suggest, how the LORD sees the hearts and attitudes of those assembled for worship before him (cf Rev, 2 v,23) and in doing that he perceives any jealousies in their minds.
Job “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” [v.1] But because he was so successful in material things, another worshipper was jealous and thinks in his mind, and maybe says aloud to some, “Does Job fear God for no reason?” [v.9] He is thinking Job is only in attendance before God for the material benefits of doing so. This ‘parable’ illustrates that this is not the case and this is another lesson for us..
Job’s response to his wife, after calamities befall them and she says, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die” was to say, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” [2 v.9,10] It is interesting to study the various contexts in which the Hebrew word, translated here as ‘evil’ occurs, for e.g. Psa. 10 v.6 where it is translated, “adversity.” Consider all the “evil” Paul experienced when he turned to serve Jesus.
It is not until we come to the end of the book that we see the essential point the book is conveying to us. Job confesses to God, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I repent in dust and ashes.” [ch. 42 v.5,6] We can say, we have read of God and reasoned in our minds as to what he must be – but how fully do we “see”? Paul told the Ephesians to have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened” [1 v.18]
The ‘parable’ is complete in the final verses of the book when Job’s losses are restored “And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before …and the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” [v.10,12] We can see its application to the fulfilment of the promise of resurrection and the glories of God’s kingdom, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” [Rev.2 v.10]
Let us hold fast to our integrity – and “receive the crown of life” – not being distracted by present adversity or adversaries.