About Job I
Having learned of how Job went through the trials, most of you will likely want to know more details about Job himself, particularly with regard to the secret by which he gained God’s praise. So today, let us talk about Job!
In Job’s Daily Life We See His Perfection, Uprightness, Fear of God, and Shunning of Evil
If we are to discuss Job, then we must start with the assessment of him uttered from God’s own mouth: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil.”
Let us first learn about Job’s perfection and uprightness.
What is your understanding of the words “perfect” and “upright”? Do you believe that Job was without reproach, and honorable? This, of course, would be a literal interpretation and understanding of “perfect” and “upright.” Integral to a true understanding of Job is real life—words, books, and theory alone won’t provide any answers. We’ll start by looking at Job’s home life, at what his normal conduct was like during his life. This will tell us about his principles and objectives in life, as well as about his personality and pursuit. Now, let us read the final words of Job 1:3: “this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” What these words are saying is that Job’s status and standing were very high, and though we are not told whether he was the greatest of all men of the east because of his abundant assets, or because he was perfect and upright, and feared God and shunned evil, overall, we know that Job’s status and standing were much prized. As recorded in the Bible, people’s first impressions of Job were that Job was perfect, that he feared God and shunned evil, and that he was possessed of great wealth and venerable status. For a normal person living in such an environment and under such conditions, Job’s diet, quality of life, and the various aspects of his personal life would be the focus of most people’s attention; thus we must continue reading the scriptures: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:4-5). This passage tells us two things: The first is that Job’s sons and daughters regularly feasted, eating and drinking; the second is that Job frequently offered burnt sacrifices because he often worried for them, fearful that they were sinning, that in their hearts they had cursed God. In this are described the lives of two different types of people. The first, Job’s sons and daughters, often feasted because of their affluence, they lived extravagantly, they wined and dined to their heart’s content, enjoying the high quality of life brought by material wealth. Living such a life, it was inevitable that they would often sin and offend God—yet they did not sanctify themselves or offer burnt offerings as a result. You see, then, that God had no place in their hearts, that they gave no thought to God’s graces, nor feared offending God, much less did they fear renouncing God in their hearts. Of course, our focus is not on Job’s children, but on what Job did when faced with such things; this is the other matter described in the passage, and which involves Job’s daily life and the substance of his humanity. When the Bible describes the feasting of Job’s sons and daughters, there is no mention of Job; it is said only that his sons and daughters often ate and drank together. In other words, he did not hold feasts, nor did he join his sons and daughters in eating to extravagance. Though affluent, and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings because of his wealth, much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, and was not greedy or hedonistic, nor did he fixate upon quality of life, as a result of God’s blessings to him. Instead, he was humble and modest, and cautious and careful before God, he often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God. In his daily life, Job often rose early to offer burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. In other words, not only did Job himself fear God, but he also hoped that his children would likewise fear God and not sin against God. Job’s material wealth held no place within his heart, nor did it replace the position held by God; whether for the sake of himself or his children, Job’s daily actions were all connected to fearing God and shunning evil. His fear of Jehovah God did not stop at his mouth, but was put into action, and reflected in each and every part of his daily life. This actual conduct by Job shows us that he was honest, and was possessed of a substance that loved justice and things that were positive. That Job often sent and sanctified his sons and daughters means he did not sanction or approve of his children’s behavior; instead, in his heart he was fed up with their behavior, and condemned them. He had concluded that the behavior of his sons and daughters was not pleasing to Jehovah God, and thus he often called on them to go before Jehovah God and confess their sins. Job’s actions show us another side of his humanity: one in which he never walked with those who often sinned and offended God, but instead shunned and avoided them. Even though these people were his sons and daughters, he did not forsake his own principles because they were his own kin, nor did he indulge their sins because of his own sentiments. Rather, he urged them to confess and gain Jehovah God’s forbearance, and he warned them not to forsake God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment. The principles of how Job treated others are inseparable from the principles of his fear of God and shunning of evil. He loved that which was accepted by God, and loathed that which repulsed God, and he loved those who feared God in their hearts, and loathed those who committed evil or sinned against God. Such love and loathing was demonstrated in his everyday life, and was the very uprightness of Job seen by God’s eyes. Naturally, this is also the expression and living out of Job’s true humanity in his relations with others in his daily life that we must learn about.
The Manifestations of Job’s Humanity During His Trials (Understanding Job’s Perfection, Uprightness, Fear of God, and Shunning of Evil During His Trials)
What we have shared above are the various aspects of Job’s humanity that were exhibited in his daily life prior to his tests. Without doubt, these various manifestations provide an initial acquaintance with and understanding of Job’s uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil, and naturally provide an initial affirmation. The reason why I say “initial” is because most people still do not have a true understanding of Job’s personality and the degree to which he pursued the way of obeying and fearing God. Which is to say, most people’s understanding of Job doesn’t go beyond the somewhat favorable impression of him provided by his words in the Bible that “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” and “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Thus, there is a great need for us to understand how Job lived out his humanity as he received God’s trials; in this way, Job’s true humanity will be shown to all in its entirety.
When Job heard that his property had been stolen, that his sons and daughters had lost their lives, and that his servants had been killed, he reacted as follows: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped” (Job 1:20). These words tell us one fact: After hearing this news, Job was not panic-stricken, he did not cry, or blame the servants who had given him the news, much less did he inspect the scene of the crime to investigate and verify the whys and wherefores and find out what really happened. He did not exhibit any pain or regret at the loss of his possessions, nor did he break down in tears due to the loss of his children, of his loved ones. On the contrary, he rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshiped. Job’s actions are unlike those of any ordinary man. They confuse many people, and make them reprimand Job for his “cold-bloodedness” in their hearts. At the sudden loss of their possessions, normal people would appear heartbroken, or despairing—or, in the case of some people, they might even fall into deep depression. That is because, in their hearts, people’s property represents a lifetime of effort, it is that which their survival relies upon, it is the hope that keeps them living; the loss of their property means their efforts have been for nothing, that they are without hope, and even that they have no future. This is any normal person’s attitude toward their property and the close relationship they have with it, and this is also the importance of property in people’s eyes. As such, the great majority of people feel confused by Job’s cool attitude toward the loss of[b] his property. Today, we’re going to dispel the confusion of all these people by explaining what was going on within Job’s heart.
Common sense dictates that, having been given such abundant assets by God, Job should feel ashamed before God because of losing these assets, for he hadn’t looked after or taken care of them, he hadn’t held on to the assets given to him by God. Thus, when he heard that his property had been stolen, his first reaction should have been to go to the scene of the crime and take inventory of everything that had gone,[c] and then to confess to God so that he might once more receive God’s blessings. Job, however, did not do this—and he naturally had his own reasons for not doing so. In his heart, Job profoundly believed that all he possessed had been bestowed upon him by God, and had not come off the back of his own labor. Thus, he did not see these blessings as something to be capitalized upon, but took holding on to the way that he should by tooth and nail as his living principles. He cherished God’s blessings, and gave thanks for them, but he was not enamored of, nor did he seek more blessings. Such was his attitude toward property. He neither did anything for the sake of gaining blessings, nor worried about or was aggrieved by the lack or loss of God’s blessings; he neither became wildly, deliriously happy because of God’s blessings, nor ignored the way of God or forgot the grace of God because of the blessings he frequently enjoyed. Job’s attitude toward his property reveals to people his true humanity: Firstly, Job was not a greedy man, and was undemanding in his material life. Secondly, Job never worried or feared that God would take away all that he had, which was his attitude of obedience toward God in his heart; that is, he had no demands or complaints about when or whether God would take from him, and did not ask the reason why, but only sought to obey the arrangements of God. Thirdly, he never believed that his assets came from his own labors, but that they were bestowed unto him by God. This was Job’s faith in God, and is an indication of his conviction. Are Job’s humanity and his true daily pursuit made clear in this three-point summary of him? Job’s humanity and pursuit were integral to his cool conduct when faced with the loss of his property. It was precisely because of his daily pursuit that Job had the stature and conviction to say, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,” during the trials of God. These words were not gained overnight, nor had they just popped into Job’s head. They were what he had seen and acquired during many years of experiencing life. Compared to all those who only seek God’s blessings, and who fear that God will take from them, and hate it and complain about it, is Job’s obedience not very real? Compared to all those who believe that there is a God, but who have never believed that God rules over all things, does Job not possess great honesty and uprightness?
from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
b. The original text omits “the loss of.”
c. The original text omits “that had gone.”