Dave and I, along with many others, are reading through the Bible in a year. If you are one of those who joined the challenge, you are reading in the book of Job right now.
There are a few notable characteristics of the book that are helpful to know. The first two chapters and the last chapter are prose; the other thirty-nine chapters are poetry. The first two chapters also give the reader backstage information the characters in the book, namely Job and his friends, do not enjoy. As the omniscient reader, I know that God considered Job blameless and righteous in everything he did and God allowed Satan to interfere in Job’s life. You see, the book of Job is not a test of Job as much as it is a test of God.
Let me explain.
Chapter one begins by telling the reader that “one day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.” This was a casual meeting between God and the heavenly court, including Satan.
God asked Satan where he had been and Satan said he was roaming around the earth noticing everything that was happening. God asked if he noticed Job and Satan said he had indeed seen him. It is here that the test of God is introduced. Satan says this:
9Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”Job 1:9-11
In other words, Satan says the only reason Job is faithful is because God protects him. If God removed his hand of protection, Job would turn away and curse him. God allowed Satan to interfere in Job’s life. He believed that Job’s faith was deeper, a reflection of relationship. So the test was really for God — was his relationship with Job strong enough to endure hardship.
This reminds me of the three men taken captive to Babylon who were being forced to bow down to a statue of Nebuchadnezzar. When they refused, Nebuchadnezzar threatened them with the fiery furnace. The three men responded in this way:
16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:16-18
These men’s faith was not predicated on God behaving in a certain way. Their faith was solidly in the goodness of God, regardless of what the king would do.
I want to have the faith of Job and these three men. Regardless of what life might throw my way, I want to remain faithful and convinced of God’s presence in my life. Job had lots of questions, but he also never wavered from his belief that he was blameless before God. Even when he didn’t understand.
Does it feel like life is falling apart? Things are going from bad to worse? I want to tell you, in the midst of it all, God is still your friend. He knows everything about you and he has not abandoned you. Stand firm! Can you say with the three men, “Even if he doesn’t…”