JOB 1:1 – 3:26 and ROMANS 2:1–29
We are introduced to a fascinating character by the name of Job. Many speculate as to when this book was written and who its author might be. Most figure that he lived during the time of the patriarchs. The entire book focuses attention on this man. He is cited by Ezekiel as one of the three most righteous men along with Noah and Daniel (Eze 14:14, 20). He is also cited by James for his patience (Jas 5:11). There are many lessons to be gleaned in studying this man. Job is a man who will be contended for by Satan. He is a man who will demonstrate loyalty to God even through the most painful of ordeals. Satan wanted to have Job to be an example of one who only serves God for the blessings and benefits. This has been Satan’s all time argument to God; people only serve God for the blessings and favor of God; Job will prove otherwise.
Job was a man who feared God and was described as being perfect and upright. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He also was a man of extraordinary wealth. It appears that the families feasted on occasions which allowed for them to gather at their varied houses on specified days. Job was faithful in praying on behalf of his sons just in case they had sinned against God.
We now have a scene that plays out in heaven where the sons of God (angels) present themselves before God. We find that Satan is among them (vs 6.) The Lord asks Satan as to where he has come from. Why would the Lord ask this question since He is omniscient and knows all things? Satan’s answer helps to give insight into his nature. “From going to and fro throughout the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (vs 7). A couple things we can learn from Satan’s answer. He is one who has no peace seeing that he is here and there in the earth.
Isa 48:22 There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.
Isa 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
We also can conclude that Satan has an access to the earth and parts of the heavenly realm. He will hold this position up till the time of Revelation 12 when he will be cast down in the last 3 1/2 year period of the church age. The conversation between the Lord and Satan now turns towards Job. It is the Lord who initiates the interest in Job. He asks Satan as to whether he has taken note of this outstanding man; that there is none like him anywhere; fearing God and avoiding evil. This elicits a quick response from Satan where he says “does he serve you for naught?” He goes on in verse 9 to speak about the hedge drawn about his life and the fact that you (God) have blessed all the works of his hands. “Of course he loves and serves you it’s because you have poured out great blessings upon him.” He then goes on to say that if he could touch his substance and life he would no longer have such reverence towards God (vs 11). This is another insight into the character of Satan and one we must recognize and learn. He is an accuser of both believers and God. It is one of the titles given to Satan which is seen when he is cast down from his heavenly perch.
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
As believers, we must know this about our foe. He constantly seeks to barrage our minds with doubts, fears, guilt and anxieties. Satan does not just accuse believers but he is an accuser of God. He charges God as being unfair after his being thrown out of heaven at the time of the rebellion. This is a charge that God is going to answer through the integrity and character of Job. As we move along in this narrative we will try and address several questions as to why this Book and story is part of scripture. Some would suggest that God was using Job in an unfair way to prove a point to Satan. Many are quick to highlight certain flaws in Job that opened the door for the Satan’s relentless attacks upon him. In my opinion both of these viewpoints miss the mark. There is so much that we will learn about God and His redemptive nature. There is much to learn from the life of Job that helps to illustrate the beautiful work of sanctification. We also gain great insights into the nature of Satan and how he functions and operates. We also will learn through the three friends of Job what churches can be like as we examine their approach in ministering to Job. Finally, we will see a picture of the Holy Spirit through the words of Elihu which takes place later in this narrative.
This is an account of a man who is being contended for by both God and Satan. There are many who would argue that God would never allow such judgements and physical ailments to come upon Job if it was not warranted. There are many who would speculate that it was because of a lack of faith or some inner complaining to God that opened the door for Satan’s attack. If this were true then we would all be in trouble. Yes, there were internal issues that eventually came to the surface in Job. Still, God gave Job the privilege; yes I say the privilege of being an object of God’s answer to Satan. Job passed a test where Satan failed and yet was able to maintain his integrity through extreme suffering. He is marked throughout eternity as an emblem of those who serve God for more than the blessings. In the natural Job had it all and within a heartbeat lost it all. In addition, he suffered physically in his body. In Job we see how embedded the enemy can work within a life and what it takes to flesh him out (Job 41).
He receives a double portion in the end but more than that has an eternal name that is linked with the likes of Daniel and Noah. There are times when our lives may seem to be in the balance. Joshua the high priest was a man who also was contended for during the period of the Restoration. His life represented a threat to the kingdom of darkness so Satan sought to have him. The Lord intervened and put upon Joshua a new set of priestly garments in addition to greater authority (Zech 3). If you are seeking God with a whole heart do not surprised if you experience a similar contending’s over your life. This truth should help us to appreciate the bigger picture. The Book of Job gives us insight into a remarkable man but is also helps us to see the dealings and workings of God from a higher perspective.
The Lord eventually gave permission to Satan to touch Job’s family. The Lord established a boundary around Job that Satan could not touch. Within a day his entire family was killed due to a brutally strong wind. How did Job respond? What did he do after hearing of each and every tragedy involving his substance and family? He fell down in deep anguish and was yet able to worship the Lord (vs 20). This is another example of what it means to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). In one day he lost his entire family with the exception of his wife. Think of it, how would we respond? What kind of counsel would we look to give to Job? Amazingly, in all of this he did not sin and make complaint against God.
There must have been a passing of a few days where the sons of God again presented themselves before God. Once again, Satan is amongst them. The Lord asks him the same question and Satan responds as he did before. This helps us to realize that Satan is a driver of men. The Spirit of God leads which is a big difference. When one is being led he is left with choices as to whether he or she chooses to be led. The Spirit of God is helpful in teaching us to make right choices in our lives. Satan however pushes and drives. It can be likened to stepping into a river with strong rapids; one gets quickly caught in its current making it difficult to go against the flow. The Law of the Sabbath (Rest) is but one of the countering measures that the Lord uses to help keep harmony in balance in our lives and His creation.
In verses 3 and 4 we have a similar account and dialogue between God and Satan. The Lord was upholding and honouring Job while Satan sought opportunity to go after his health (vs 5). God gave him permission to go after Job but made clear he was not to take his life. May we never forget that God is always in control and is the one who sets the boundaries through which His enemies may operate. Yes, Job suffered greatly but his life could not be taken by Satan. Job is not only suffering greatly in his body but he is being encouraged by his wife to curse God and die (vs 9). In spite of her words Job still maintained his integrity and did not sin with his lips. Job is literally being forsaken by all who could offer him true comfort and help. A wife who takes that kind of position does not make life any easier; in fact she can become a tool of the enemy to further discourage Job.
It is here where we are introduced to the three friends of Job who go by the name of Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz. They come from their respective places to seek to comfort their friend. They get a glimpse of his suffering from a distance and are horrified at his condition. Job’s suffering was so great that they respectfully stayed alongside him for 7 days without saying a word. Can you imagine what this scene must have looked like? The imaginations of these men must have ran wild thinking how such a calamity can come upon such a good and upright man. It could not have made sense seeing in how they knew Job while having a so called understanding of the ways of God. Something in all of this clearly does not add up. Their upcoming counsel to Job will confirm their confusion and uncertainty.
The magnitude of the pain and anguish of Job is now heightened as he begins to curse his day and the time of his birth. He did not curse God but was clearly in such a lamentable state that he could hardly contain his pain. Job spends considerable time on the season of his birth in his wailing before God. In verses 3-9 we see a stark contrast to what is was like at the time of the Saviour’s birth. Let’s think what life would have been like if Christ was never born as the Son of man; there would be no hope for any of us seeing that there was no saviour. It was a glorious and majestic night in Bethlehem when Jesus came to earth as a babe. Job looks at his birth quite differently; he wishes he were never born due to the unspeakable suffering he was now bearing. He is careful not to curse or accuse God but one must wonder what was going through his mind knowing that he served God faithfully throughout his life. If he were not born he would not have to try and reconcile these events. We cannot minimize the mental and emotional trauma that Job must have been going through in addition to his great pain and suffering coupled with the loss of his family. We must not forget that the enemy is working overtime to try and get Job to curse God and die as his wife was exhorting him to do. It should be added that God Himself had to be struggling greatly through this ordeal. He suffered greatly in allowing His Son to become the sin sacrifice and it would be no less so with Job’s ordeal. Remember, it is God that gave Satan the permission to touch Job in his family, his wealth and health.
Job begins to ask further questions from his position of anguish. To me these cries of Job help to give insight into the power and appeal of suicide. There seems to be no way out of his situation since the pain is unbearable and crippling. He reasons that those who seek and find death are happier (vs 21). In the day and age we are currently living in the suicide rate is climbing at an exponential rate. It must be countered and we can glean some keys from the life of Job. He laments his birth but he still holds his integrity in his current state. There is a grace that is sustaining him though he might not feel it. Job cannot see his future and what this trial will produce but we do know the end of his story and it is glorious. God can see us through any storm or hazard of life. It is during such times when the enemy seeks to narrow our world so that all we see is the impossible circumstance that we may be in. God’s ways and thoughts are not ours and we must seek to see situations through His perspective (Isa 55:8-9). Just think of the eternal regret that Job would have if he took his wife’s advice. Satan would have been proven right and Job would have fallen far short in all that God had planned for him. We now come to one of the more controversial verses in the Book of Job.
Job 3:25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
It is so hard for me to believe that many attribute Job’s suffering due to this statement. It is a condescending remark that holds no water. Do we somehow think of ourselves as better than Job? To me that is what is implied. It is God who has given permission to Satan to move against Job; not because of anything he has done but due to the quality of man he was. God said there was no other man like him in all the earth. When viewed through the lens of eternity we can say that God honoured Job in being such a candidate of His grace. God can forever point to Job as a reminder to Satan and the world that not all men serve God for naught. This is one of the major dynamics of this Book.
Paul continues his thrust in sharing on the depravity of man. We mentioned in chapter one as thinking of our journey through the Book of Romans as being like a bus tour. The first chapter had some preliminary introductions and initial hopeful signs as the passengers saw the possibilities of growing in the righteousness of Christ from faith to faith (Rom 1:17). Immediately afterwards the bus tour took an adverse turn. The signpost spoke of the wrath of God being brought upon those who hold the truth of God’s Word in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). The road started out a bit murky but became darker and more treacherous as the bus continued onwards. The journey thus far has not been all that pleasant; it is about to get even worse.
Paul is the tour guide and he must know what he is doing and why he is leading this contingent of passengers down such a road. He is now impressing upon the people about the danger of judging other men. It is a reminder of what Jesus shared in Math 7:1-5. Paul is very clear that if you are going to judge others you too will be judged in much the same way (vs 1-3). It is clear that this group is lightly regarding the true treasures of God by way of His goodness and forbearance. They were a people who were secure in their relationship with God. Paul in this tour is out to show them that it is a false sense of security. Paul had no tolerance for those who took God and His treasures for granted. This tour down the Roman Road is a hard hitting one that is shaking the people to the core. In verse 5 Paul makes clear that it is a heart related issue that is at stake. He speaks of them having a hardened heart which prevents them in their ability to grow in the faith while suffering the wrath at the release of God’s righteous judgement.
Paul makes the statement that God is no respecter of persons (vs 11). God is consistent and just in all of His dealings with man. There is now the problem of how a man would be judged. The Jew would be judged by the revelation as expressed through the law. The Gentile, who had no law, would be judged according to their measure of light of natural law (vs 14-15). God knows the heart and will answer every man according to his deeds and what is within their heart. We will find throughout the study of Romans that Paul will be addressing both the Jews and Gentiles. He has a unique skill in effectively navigating to his respective audience. It is here where he is speaking to the Jewish people who were putting their boast in the Law. Paul puts great emphasis on being doers of the law and not hearer’s only (vs 13). These believers were putting their boast in the law so Paul asked them a few questions from the law. As teachers of the law regarding stealing are you one who steals? As a teacher of the law regarding the sin of adultery do you do it yourself? As you are a teacher of the law against idols do you commit the same sacrilege? If you boast in the law and then go about breaking it you then dishonour God and your testimony (vs 23). You give no witness to the Gentiles through your actions. Paul then goes into the subject of circumcision. The act of circumcision was a physical token that pointed towards a greater truth which is the circumcision of heart. Just because you have been circumcised does not mean that you have fulfilled the law. Paul makes the case that one that is uncircumcised yet keeps and adheres to the law has actually come to know the true circumcision. He sums up this matter in the closing two verses:
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
This journey is about to become even more discouraging as we progress to chapter 3. Paul wants to leave no doubt that we are all sinners and in need of a saviour. His pulling no punches method of teaching is having an effect on the touring passengers. There are so many religions which highlight salvation by works. It is important that we be strong in good works but it cheapens the work of the Cross if we leave it there. Good works will not save any man and Paul wants this to be clearly understood. He should know a thing or two about being strict regarding Old Testament Law. His Damascus Road encounter with Jesus forever changed his life and theology. It is on full display in his Roman address to both Jew and Gentile.