The man of patience
The Wealth of Job
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. (Job 1:1-5)
Q : What do we learn from Job giving a sacrifice on behalf of his children?
We learn that we also should make sacrifices for others and be a good example for them.
One day the angels came to present themselves before God, and Satan also came with them. Then God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. "You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” God said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands.”
One day a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants. The Chaldeans swept down on your camels and carried them off. Your sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in and struck the four corners of the house, and they are dead." At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. God gave and God has taken away; may the name of God be praised.” Then Satan afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 1:6 - 2:1-10)
Q : What do people think when a disaster falls on others?
Most people think that the disaster is a sign of God's anger.
When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. (Job 2: 11-13)
Q : What is the benefit of friends in people's lives?
We all need the encouragement of our friends and their advice to us.
Job in Pain
After this, Job opened his mouth. “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? I would be asleep and at rest with kings and counselors of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins. And there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout. The small and the great are there, and the slave is freed from his master. For sighing comes to me instead of food. What I feared has come upon me, what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3: 1-26)
Q : What is your opinion of people expressing their pain to others?
Some might express it out of sincerity and humility, but others do it to gain sympathy and attention.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: "Think how you have instructed many, you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. Your own mouth condemns you. What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water! He will inhabit ruined towns and houses where no one lives, houses crumbling to rubble. He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land. For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. If you return to the Almighty, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you.” (Job 4:1-7; 5:17; 15:6-34; 22:23-27)
Q : What was the mistake of those who blamed Job?
They judged him according to their limited human understanding.
Then Job replied: “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas. Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut me off! A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends. But what do your arguments prove? My body is clothed with worms and scabs. Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions.” (Job 6:1-25; 7:5-14)
Q : What do you think of the spontaneity and simplicity of Job's talk with God, expressing his real feelings?
It is the sincere heart expression that God requires so that we don't suppress it in our hearts.
Job Puts his Case before God
"But how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. Your hands shaped me and made me. Did you not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. But this is what you concealed in your heart. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps.” (Job 9:2-24; 10:8-13; 12:11-13; 14:7-16)
Q : Why shouldn't we rejoice over other people's disasters?
Because God could have a higher reason for it.
Then Bildad the Shuhite replied: "Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What he trusts in is fragile. Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers. The lamp of the wicked is snuffed out; the flame of his fire stops burning. Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls. It eats away parts of his skin; death’s firstborn devours his limbs. The memory of him perishes from the earth. He is driven from light into darkness and is banished from the world. He has no offspring or descendants.” (Job 8:1-20; 18:5-19)
Job’s Friends Annoy him
Then Job replied: "Miserable comforters are you all! I also could speak like you, if you were in my place. Men open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. My face is red with weeping. How long will you torment me and crush me with words? My kinsmen have gone away; my friends have forgotten me. My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger; they look upon me as an alien. I summon my servant, but he does not answer, though I beg him with my own mouth. My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own brothers. Even the little boys scorn me; when I appear, they ridicule me. All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth. Have pity on me, my friends. I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." (Job 16:1-16; 19:1-26)
Q : How should you face the blame of others, or their rejoicing when you fall into a disaster?
By asking God for patience and compensation, praying that He would help them to understand His wisdom and goodness.
Then Zophar the Naamathite replied: "If you put away the sin that is in your hand, life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. The joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though his pride reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him. He will spit out the riches he swallowed; God will make his stomach vomit them up. What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; he will not enjoy. For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build." (Job 11:1-17; 20:5-19)
Q :What should you do when you meet someone suffering like Job?
All possible encouragement should be given to him, until his trouble ends.
"Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. Their homes are safe and free from fear. They spend their years in prosperity. How I long for the months gone by. When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. I made the widow’s heart sing. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy. But now they mock me, men younger than I. And now their sons mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face. Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud. Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever. The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed. They prey on the barren and childless woman, and to the widow show no kindness. If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him— I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life.”
Q : Why is it impossible to find perfect justice in this world?
Because we're not living in the Garden of Eden, since Adam and Eve were put out of it. And we long for heaven where there is purity and righteousness.
But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused. He said, "For God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. The godless in heart harbor resentment.” (Job 32:5; 33:14-16; 34:10-12; 36:13)
Q : What do you think of an ignorant person who persists in advising others?
He is in a worse situation because he doesn't realise his greater need for the advice.
God & Job Talk
Then God answered Job out of the storm. He said: “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’"? Then Job replied to God: "You can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 38:1-11; 42:1-5)
Q : How can we increase our listening capacity to hear the whisper of God to our hearts?
By forsaking our image of pride with which we might surround ourselves, and by calming our souls in the presence of God with a lot of meditation on Him.
God Over-compensates Job
After Job had prayed for his friends, God made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble God had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. God blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.(Job 42: 10-17)
Q : Do you think that people always get their rewards or punishment in this world?
No. Otherwise what would be the use of the judgment that we are all going to face at the end of our days?