This is not an easy book to sum up, for its aspects are many and diverse. We can draw conclusions regarding the historical or parabolic aspects. We can ponder on the likelihood of Satan ruining the world even if man had not sinned. Or, we can see how the suffering of Job relates to suffering in general. If we were to consider the last option then we would need to know Romans ch 8 and be aware of the many reasons a child of God will suffer, as shown in the bible. Some of those reasons are; 1. Because of the sins of others- we come into an imperfect world and inherit or are infected by the evil long established on the earth 2. We suffer because of our own sins, be that a breaking of God’s laws or just lacking the wisdom to go along with the natural laws set in nature. The law of gravity for example can be a real hazard to human beings. 3. It can be a test of our faith- we will think of this as we look later at Romans ch 8 4. It can be as a chastisement from our Heavenly father. as we read in Hebrews ch 12. 5. It could be for the glory of God. We say that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Our weakness can reveal God’s strength, our need can reveal his supply. In the gospels the disciples asked of a blind man, “Who did sin this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus replied “Neither, but for the glory of God”. Jesus could say “I AM the light of the world” by this miracle. He raised Lazarus from the dead that he might say- “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”. Did he not he promise Mary and Martha that if they believed they would see the glory of God? He also fed the five thousand, not because they were hungry, he could have sent them away (he fed the 4000 because they were hungry) but this miracle was to reveal his glory as He spoke the words “I AM the bread of Life” ( See John ch 6) 6. Then finally we have this reason which is shown clearly in the book of Job and Paul’s quotation from Psalm 44, in Romans ch 8. So let’s take a few moments to consider Romans ch 8. There are times when God deliberately hands some of his choicest saints into the hands of the enemy, simply for his own glory and the shame of the Devil. This he did in Job’s case, as we have discussed and also in David’s case as recorded in Psalm 44. Romans ch 8 is a fantastic passage of wisdom. Every christian should know it and understand it. We should not be surprised at suffering knocking on our door. If we are children of God, then surely the devil will know he has lost us, and then seek to separate us from God by destroying our faith in his love for us. Amazingly God allows him to do it. Paul quotes David’s Ps.44 experience, David tells God, how in the past they had heard of all the wonderful things God had done for his people. But now it would seem that God has left his people for they had gone out to battle and lost. How could God be on the losing side? Ponder on these verses; Ps 44:9-23 9 But you have cast off, and put us to shame; and go not forth with our armies. 10 You make us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. 11 You have given us like sheep appointed for meat; and have scattered us among the heathen. 12 You sell your people for nought, and do not increase your wealth by their price. 13 You make us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. 14 You make us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. 15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me, 16 For the voice of him that reproaches and blasphemes; by reason of the enemy and avenger. 17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in your covenant. 18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from your way; 19 Though you have sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; 21 Shall not God search this out? for he knows the secrets of the heart. 22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. 23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
Note carefully what David is saying here. David is saying, we have not sinned, either in Mind Heart or Will, yet we have suffered defeat. But note equally, his conclusion- God must have a purpose- “For THY SAKE... we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” - in other words, For the glory of God’s sake. Satan tries to break our faith, and much to his chagrin and annoyance, what he actually achieves is the strengthening of the faith of those who overcome, and refuse to allow anything to stop them believing that God loves them. Satan brings the adversity and then insinuates that adversity comes because God is not with us. 1. He can suggest that it is because we have sinned. But Paul reminds us that if God be for us who can be against us, and asks the further question “Who condemns us- it is certainly not Christ- for he died for us. 2. Then at times when prayers are unanswered we are reminded that if God spared not his only Son, will he not with him, freely give us all things. So we can believe that there must be a very good reason why God is not answering our prayers in times of trial. 3.We know that ALL things work together for Good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purposes. (Rom 8:28) I think it was Charles Price who once said that the ingredients of a cake, if tasted individually can taste pretty awful, but when mixed all together in the right proportions, and baked in an oven, they taste wonderfully. This is the meaning in Rom 8:28, when it says “all things” When all is said and done- on the last day, what a party we will have. What a massive cake we will feast upon. The cake of All Things. That is why Paul is quoting David’s experience here. He is referring to those few but precious occasions when God counts his people as sheep for the slaughter, following in the footsteps of their Master, the Lamb of God.(Is. 53) In Psalm 44 v 12 David claims that God sells his people for nothing and his wealth is not increased, but David is wrong- His wealth, and the wealth of his bride is increased with precious gems, which will shine forever in glory. If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with Him. It can be said that God’s ultimate glory depends upon man being ultimately glorified.
The world has its own answers to Suffering - mind over matter, medical research and knowledge, social reform, etc and etc. Endless amounts of money are thrown at these problems. But the devil is not paid off so easily. What a privilege it is to see the light. Yes- we will suffer, but only to the measure we can bear. Sometimes when we look back on episodes in our lives we wonder how we actually got through them. God didn’t seem to be anywhere at the time, but we got through. God knew how much strength was in us to overcome. We didn’t think it was there but God knew what strength he had put there. So we came through and now we thank God for the strength he gave us. Some of his servants have suffered extreme pain and torture for his Name’s sake. The Old Testament is a record of what God allows his servants to endure. The Apostle Paul and the disciples did not live in ease and luxury.Heb ch 12 tells us to look onto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross and despised the shame. Let’s consider Him, and the joy that is also set before us.
Job began rich and ended richer. He began with integrity as pure as gold, he finished as the purest gold. God allows these testings and trials, and at times it seems He has no interest in delivering us, but He is watching all the time to see how we react. In this Book God judged not only Job but his friends also, who thought they were speaking up for God- protecting his glory, no doubt. But they were not wise judges. They did not know about Satan. They did not know all the facts of the case and were partial on God’s side from the beginning. Job’s attitude and reaction were more akin to that of the Apostle Paul in his great doxology in Romans ch 11. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Him be glory forever’ (Romans ch 11 v 36.) These words seem to echo Job’s original statement. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes- blessed be His name!” By the time Job died he would hardly have been able to remember his illness period. In Job’s life it was but an incident but in the eternal plans, purposes and revelation of God to man, it has become a vital part of the jigsaw. It has been and still is, a massive source of insight, and inspiration to millions who have trod a similar, but not the same, pathway. It is the “end of the Lord ” that reveals his wisdom. Jesus said that wisdom is justified by the children it bears. Many a plant or tree looks dead and twisted, until the beauty of its fruit appears. Would the fruit have been born so beautiful if the tree or plant had been any other way. The strongest and most beautiful sons of God are those who have a quality which the bible calls endurance. It is faith which has endured tribulation. They are not strong and beautiful in spite of the tribulation they are strong and beautiful sons of God because of the tribulation, So it was with the Son of God himself. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. It does not tell us who it was that led him, but we see a picture in Gen ch. 22 Abraham led his son up the mountain, to sacrifice Him, so in Luke 22 we see Jesus being led up the mountain, and handed over to wicked men. In Ps 22 we hear that amazing cry, re-echoed in the gospel story, “My God My God why.... hast thou forsaken me” It is something akin to a child being taken to the dentists and accompanied all the way to the chair, and then the parent leaves the room. The child suddenly forsaken, and no doubt betrayed. There can be no doubt that scripture tells us that we are sometimes handed over to Satan, to go through what can only be described as a “God-less” situation. In Psalm 44, note the verses where David says, “Had the Lord been with us we would not have been defeated”? How true, God could not be on any side that knew defeat, or in any situation that could be called death, for he is the mighty God and the source of Life. Yet now we know that the cross was his sword of victory and by death destroyed the one who had the power of death over mankind (Heb 2:14) We might at times ask, Could God ever be in darkness without the darkness scattering in haste. Yet we who believe the promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” go through times when the world seems right to mock, by asking, “Where is your God now?” The righteous believer endures the punishment of the unbelieving sinner at times and those who judge by such things believe the worst about us. Thankfully, such experiences are the exception to the rule, for the rule is definitely that it’s a better life living within the safety of the Lord’s hedge, than breaking the hedge and allowing Satan access to our lives. At least when God is the instigator of Satan’s attack we know the hedge is simply drawn in, and His good hand is always upon us. When Jesus said “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation”, this is what he was talking about. Watch for there is an enemy and there is danger. Be alert and spend time in constant touch with heaven. Then if the line goes dead and you are cut off, you will know who has done it. We will avoid the temptation to start blaming God. We will keep our faith firmly anchored in the Love of God,, who has promised never to leave us nor ever forsake us. The God who formed the snowflake with such infinite care, will not deal harshly or uncaringly with the greatest, most precious and most delightful of His creatures. That is the message of the Book of Job.
WISDOM: LOVE: POWER:
The Final Analysis; Any final analysis is almost impossible because the final answer is as big as God himself. To be able to totally understand the full wisdom of God, in creating the world, we would have to contain God, rather than God contain us. However, we are His children and His purpose has been and is to educate us and to nurture us into a being like unto himself. He desires that we are children of Wisdom. Love and Power, the three characteristics of his Spirit. The natural man would like to think of himself as being a wise loving and powerful person. But because of his sin, much of his wisdom is really foolishness, much of his love is selfishness and issues forth in hate, (bringing sickness and disease), and much of his power, is a cover for the moral weaknesses in his will Ponder for a while, if you would, on the nature of this triune Spirit. For example, if a parent had but two of these qualities, such as Love and Power, the vast love would make them want to give, to the child and their vast power or ability to give would mean that they would hold nothing back from the child. What kind of child would grow from that environment.? Would not their child in all probability be spoilt, and with no appreciation of values, they would take everything for granted. But if the parent wanted their child to grow up with appreciation and generosity of spirit, then they are going to need a bit of Wisdom in their giving. The child, being a child, would no doubt have a few tantrums and fail to understand how, the parents could possibly love them if they refuse their requests. You may like to further consider the likelihood of expressing only Wisdom and Power in one’s relationship with a child. Without love, then no free will would be offered. “I know best and you will do as I say!”. The child would just be a robot of some kind. Then thirdly consider also the likelihood of Wisdom and Love without power, and what would be the purpose of such attributes. There would be none, for there would be no power to fulfil any purpose. “I love you my child and I know what is best for you, but unfortunately I can’t do anything about it!” So without all three qualities of wisdom, love and power, the end product of any two qualities on their own would lack perfection. Men question a God, who is all loving and all powerful, arguing that both could not have formed a world containing suffering. That is why Job is primarily concerned with wisdom, and why Ch 28 is the diamond in the centre. As God’s answer to Job reveals, God is God, and there is no way that man can compete with Him in wisdom. Until we accept His way, even though in the natural we think it folly, we will never be on the right path. Solomon in his proverbs states this continually. That is the reason the Holy Spirit has taken a judge, such as Job, to write this great legal document. Man declares God to be guilty. True wisdom vindicates Him totally. So I trust you see the truth revealed here and how the Character of God is called into question because men, like children do not understand the wisdom of their parent God. He desires that we become like Him. To grow up like Him. Wise, loving and powerful, For it is we who are to reign in the next world. The book of Hebrews tells us that He has not put the next age in the hands of angels, but in the hands of redeemed mankind. There can be only one ending to this magnificent, glorious, piece of divinely inspired literature and we share in the wonder and admiration of the Apostle Paul who having written his great “essay” on the gospel, (Romans ch 1-8) with which he begins by showing the poverty of the so-called wisdom of men, finally declares in Romans chapter 11 v. 33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! (cf. Job ch 28.) v.34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his Counsellor? (cf.Job ch 38 to ch 41. God’s answer.) v.35 Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again. (cf. First and last chapters of Job) v. 36. For of Him and through Him, and to Him are all things; To whom be glory for ever. (cf. The book of Job, The Bible, The Universe... Everything!!) Final exercise? May be you would like to make a chart as follows and tick