There are people who, knowing a little bit about the Bible, picture themselves as the descendants of Job. They have heard about some Bible character who lost everything, and they remember his unusual name. He had been at the top of the world in so many ways, but every one of those avenues to success had been blocked, and then stripped away, like some sort of evil ambush. He lost his oxen and asses to marauding Sabeans, and at nearly the same moment three bands of Chaldeans rustled all the man’s camels. Immediately on the heels of that, a great wind, perhaps like an American tornado, brought down the house where all of Job’s children were celebrating something – a birthday, perhaps birth – something. Not long after that Job’s health broke. He came down with a terrible disease which ate away his very skin. When Mrs. Job could take it no longer she turned on her husband – “Then said his wife unto him. Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.”
Some of our half-educated neighbors picture themselves as grandchildren of Job, because these are troublesome times – much of which related to this Covid-19 problem. Not only have 39,000 Americans died, and 161 thousand people world-wide … But the reaction – the over reaction – of dictatorial governments, has effectually stripped millions of people of their camels, asses and oxen, taking from them the opportunity of earing a living. We are even forbidden, threatened, and sometimes fined for entering our houses of worship.
And we are encouraged to mask our faces. It is believed by some experts that Job was suffering from something called “Black leprosy.” Leviticus 13:45 – “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.” Despite his precautions, eventually Job had been struck down with the virus. He was forced to sit on an ash heap, keeping a respectful social distance from everyone else. “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.” When some of his acquaintances came to visit they knew enough to maintain practical social distancing. “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
I am going to acquiesce to those of you who look into Job’s mirror and see yourselves. But I’m not going to agree that every wart and wrinkle match yours or mine. I am going to pick and choose things from Job’s life and character, getting specific in some areas and generalizing in others. Does Job reflect you? In some ways I hope so, but in others I hope not. Among other things, Job was a great, troubled, perfect and blessed man.
But let’s first consider the fact that today he is a somewhat FORGOTTEN man.
Thursday, I was talking with an acquaintance of mine about the Book of Job. He mentioned the word “fable” when I spoke about some of the things contained in this book. There may be things we don’t understand in these 42 chapters – behemoths, leviathans, unicorns, dragons and other things – but this is not a fairy tale or a book of fables. And a part of the mystery of the book is Job himself. There really was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. It wasn’t the land of Oz, but Uz. And like many very ancient provinces – 4 to 5 millennia ago – we have lost nearly all of their history. Job wasn’t the wizard of Uz, but an honorable man who “feared Elohim and eschewed evil.”
Job was a wealthy and highly respected person in his day. He wasn’t a beduin tent dweller or a troglobite cave dweller. He was a well-established farmer/rancher, living in a spacious wooden home, surrounded by the luxuries of his position. He claimed to be living an outwardly righteous life, and no one could prove he wasn’t. He loved his children and sought the very best for them – including the blessings of salvation and godly religion. He appears to have been at the pinnacle of Uz’ society, living with the respect of everyone – because of his kindness and beneficence. But for many today, his name is only a proverb, and the land of Uz has been lost in the shadows of history.
And this is my first point. No matter who you are; how many grandchildren you have and how well you have provided for them… It doesn’t matter if you have left them large inheritances, or in lieu of that you taught each of them a trade and the principles of good behaviour in order to make the best of those skills… It doesn’t matter if you have been a great statesman, or a war hero, or a philanthropic benefactor… Job proves that if your name is not honorably associated with the eternal God, you and all your wonderful accomplishments will be forgotten – covered by the sands of time.
There may have been a hundred Jobs in his day, but they have all been forgotten. On the other hand, this Job, despite knowing only that he came from Uz, we know his name, because of his relationship with Jehovah. So my first two questions for you this morning are – “Do you know the Lord,” and “does the Lord know you?” John 10:27-28 is a very important scripture in which the Lord Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Job was known by God, and even yet today he is safely sheltered in the hand of the Lord. But are you?
Verse 3 tells us that Job was an exceedingly GREAT person.
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”
The Bible tells us that Job was a great man – “the greatest of all the men of the east.” The God who cannot lie – has given to us Job’s description. He was a “great man.” But what does that mean? What does the Holy Spirit mean when He speaks of “greatness.” What is your opinion of personal greatness? Who are the great men in the earth?
There may be 5 or 6 kinds of greatness. For example, there is the greatness of a high position – like that of President of the United States. It is a greatness of power – of executive order – of political pull. A second might be the greatness of high and heroic exploits. But these could be either good or bad. Alexander the Great was a great man, but was he a good man? There is the greatness which wealth confers – a great house, a fancy car, the best adult toys. Another man may be poor in wealth but his wisdom and gifts of intellect make him great. Someone else might be great in the eyes of others because of the good things he does. Any one of these might stand alone as “greatness,” or they could overlap.
In what way was Job “the greatest of all the men of the east”? The context of the statement defines the statement for us – in three ways. And the immediate context of his greatness was his earthly wealth – measurable in cattle.
7,000 sheep? How many flocks would that be and how much pasturage would be required? It would probably take a staff of several hundred shepherds to keep, move, feed and water that many sheep. Only a truly great man could have 7,000 sheep. And the wool from that many sheep would make him even greater every season.
500 yoke of oxen indicates teams of twos or possibly four, so a thousand or two thousand oxen. That is an almost unbelievable number. That would be like 500 tractors and trucks. That they were measured in teams, suggests Job may have been a farmer. So what did he grow and how much land did he have under cultivation? What kind of additional wealth did that generate season after season? Was he a dairy farmer with all those “she asses” or did he sell camel milk, which is better than cow’s milk? The sheer number of these things tells us that Job was very wealthy, and there is greatness in wealth. But – don’t forget – his enormous wealth was stripped from him in less than a day.
Job was “great” in other ways if we stick with the context. Within the Lord’s assessment was Job’s family of “seven sons and three daughters.” A large and healthy family, full of good kids and young adults and grandchildren is wealth impossible to measure.
But more important in the measure of the man’s “greatness” is the statement that Job was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” That would lead me to believe that this man was great in goodness as well as physical wealth. But throughout the book, his three “friends” try to say there was terrible sin in his life, something which Job vigorously denies over and over again. We see his religion and concern for sin in the constant sacrifice of burnt offerings for himself and even for his children. If you read the 42 chapters of his book, you will find no accusations of abuse of power, or lack of generosity, or overt selfishness, because there was no evidence of such things in his life. Among other things, Job was “great” because he was “good.” He had a greatness of noble aims and goals. And in those chapters you’ll also see the greatness of his knowledge – knowledge of God and creation. There is even a greatness in his intellect and ability to think – to reason things out.
I will come back to this, employing a different Biblical word, but first…
Job was obviously a severely TRIED and TROUBLED man.
We are told in the first two chapters of this book how Job lost everything. And we are given background information which was kept from the man himself. Satan was in the very midst of the man’s problems, but the Lord, as the sovereign King, was there too. “Now there was a day when… Satan came… before the LORD” – before Jehovah. “And the LORD said unto Satan… Hast thou considered my servant Job, that here is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright men, one that feareth God, and eschewth evil?” There was almost a dare in the Lord’s words to the wicked one.
And Satan responded with – “Put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” Satan was then given permission to touch and take all that Job had. But when the dust settled the great man “Arose, and rent this mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
When the Lord further challenged Satan, pointing to Job and saying that the devil misjudged him, Satan asked permission to break his health. As we have seen, that permission was also granted. “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.” When Job’s wife, who didn’t possess his spiritual strength said, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die,” Job without anger, but displaying a broken heart, told her that she sounded like one of the foolish, faithless women of town. “In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Admittedly, there were problems with Job’s heart – there was that pride which every one possesses, and eventually he accused God of wickedness. But at least initially, there was no outward sin, even in his words or the way in which he spoke.
Job was a great man, a troubled man and a man whom secular history has forgotten, but now I return to an earlier point.
Job is also described with the very confusing term – “PERFECT.”
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was PERFECT and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” – Job 1:1. Verse 8 – “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a PERFECT and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And Job 2:3 – “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a PERFECT and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
I don’t know about you, but “perfect” is a word which I generally avoid. It is because my standards are a bit high – or are they, in fact, too are low??? In the Book of Psalms David says, “As for God, HIS way is perfect,” and “the LAW of the Lord is perfect.” Then Christ Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” I realize there are different definitions and standards of perfection, but the first which comes to my mind is the Lord Himself, and that is the reason I think twice about using the word.
Thursday I passed a truck bearing the company name and logo of its owner, and I shook my head. On the side of the truck were the words “Immaculate Landscaping.” At least in my personal thesaurus,“immaculate” is a synonym for “perfection.” There is no such thing as “immaculate landscaping.”
But I have to admit that “perfect” is the word the Holy Spirit used when describing Job. Job, a fellow human being; one of our fleshly brethren, was called “perfect.” Job, a descendant of Adam, and therefore a sinner in the sight of God – suffered from totally depravity according to our church statement of faith. In fact, Job admits to being a sinner in Job 7:20. And in chapter 9, he adds “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it will prove me perverse.” At the end of the book, after the Lord reveals himself, Job says to God, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. Where I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” – in essence admitting his less than perfect nature.
Here is where the rubber meets the road as far as this message goes. Now is when I need you to take off your night-caps and put on your thinking caps. Throughout the Book of Job the word “perfect” is the Hebrew “tam.” The basic meaning of that word is “thoroughly complete” or perhaps – “consistent.” Something which is “tam” doesn’t have any missing pieces; it is not incomplete.
Job possessed all that was necessary to be a truly great man. He was a good employer, treating his servants respectfully and giving them a descent wage. He was a good father, not only supplying his children food and clothing, but also direction and character. He was a worshiper of God, giving to the Lord all the reverence and sacrifices required – and beyond. He was a complete human being and a complete saint. If I might add – he was someone redeemed by the grace of God.
“He feared God and eschewed evil.” If you are unfamiliar with the word “eschew” it means to “put away,” “depart from,” “shun,” or “avoid.” It was part of God’s description of the man that Job did his best to avoid evil. He was also “upright” which is a word sometimes translated “righteous” – he was outwardly holy in his behaviour. He was a religious man, but not in the sense of gold plated righteousness – he was perfectly righteous from the inside out.
Now, please bear down with me at this point; please don’t misunderstand or misapply what I am saying. Job confessed to being a sinner in the sight of God. But God confessed to seeing Job as “perfect.” Aren’t these things contradictory? They are not only NOT contradictory, but they blend in perfect – and essential – harmony. Because they look at the same person – a saint – first from the human perspective and then from the divine. But don’t confuse them, mixing the two perspectives.
In Hebrews 10 the Lord discusses the process of salvation as performed by the Lord Jesus Christ. After comparing His sacrifice to the sacrifices offered by the sons of Levi, Paul says, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” So the sacrifices of the Old Testament, including those of Job, were offered by faith or they were nothing at all. And they were repeated constantly – something with which Job was faithfully familiar. But the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was the completion and conclusion of them all, after which He sat down at the right of the God the Father, resting on His completed work. Hebrews 10:14 – “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered int one into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Job’s confession of sinfulness and God’s declaration of perfection meet together in the person of Christ Job’s Saviour. Those whom Christ has redeemed are “complete” in Him; they are righteous and “perfect” in the sight of God. The New Testament word is “justified.” They are declared to be “righteous” by the sovereign God our Saviour and as such are perfect in His sight. Those whom the Lord has saved are enrobed in the righteousness of the Saviour. There is no sin left uncovered and exposed, even though the saint knows himself to be a sinner. The righteous garment of the Saviour is large enough to cover all our spiritual nakedness – hiding all our deformities and ulcers. “For by one offering (Christ our Saviour) hath PERFECTED for ever them that are sanctified.”
Now, in the light of this, I need to return to a point I didn’t finish earlier.
Job was a troubled man – sorely tested by some of the plagues of life. How can we explain the disasters which befell him and continue to say he was a righteous man? For twenty-nine chapters Job’s 3 friends accused him of hidden sin, because in their mind bad things only fall on bad people. But they were wrong.
The truth of the matter is that God may do whatever he wants both with the rebels of His kingdom but also with his faithful subjects as well. As we saw earlier, God was pleased with Job, using him to shame Satan. The terrible things which befell the good man, accomplished their purpose in defeating Satan. And the debate which was sparked between Job and the others opened doors for instruction and brought further glory to God for several thousand years now. Then ultimately the Lord blessed His saint, restoring to Job twice his previous “greatness.” But that was only in this life. What reward was given to Job later? Only eternity will tell.
You may be suffering right now. You may have loved ones who are fighting off the Covid virus, or cancer, or diabetes or something else. You may have limited income, and perhaps your business will not reopen or it may never be the same again. But please remember, these things are temporal, they are earthly. They may, or may not, have anything to do with your personal sinfulness or God’s salvation. The Lord has a purpose which is greater and higher than any of us. I hope you read the statement made by John Kitto which I put in the bulletin last week: “God doeth all things well and by reason of His perfections, which render wrong-doing impossible to Him, we are bound to believe that what ever temps us to mistrust and misgiving, must ultimately prove to be consistent with eternal justice.”
More important than what you enjoy – or lack – today, what will your eternity include? How you spend eternity will be a reflection of your current relationship to the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have not been made “perfect” through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, your eternity will be spent in the Lake of Fire. If you, like Job, have placed your soul in the righteous hands of the Saviour, no matter what you experience in this world, it will all be eventually forgotten in the blessedness of eternity. But the question is: “Will YOU also be forgotten?” If Christ is your God, your Saviour and your eternal friend, you will never be forgotten. You are forever in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.”
So again I ask, Do you know Christ Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? Please contact us, if you have any doubt about your answer.