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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Was Job's Patience Commendable?

10  Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.  James 5

Job was commended by God and honored over his three friends because Job could see that everything that happened to him came from God.  His friends tried to convince him that things happened to him because of things that he had done or not done--the idea of karma, that good produces good and evil produces evil.   "Bad things have happened to you, Job, and that means that you have done evil things."  They were wrong.

Job wanted to talk to God about his troubles.  He knew that he was not perfect, but he had done far more in following the Lord than anybody he knew, so how could his friends be right?  When news of his misfortunes came to Job, he said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."   When his wife told him to curse God and die, Job replied, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God,and shall we not receive evil?"

In spite of this, Job was no stoic and no nihilist.  He knew the difference between prosperity and poverty, between health and sickness, between family and desolation.  He felt his misery very keenly, and cried out to God in his misery.  He cursed the day of his birth and said many things that are hard to defend.  But one thing he never forgot: his business was with God, whether in want or prosperity, in sickness or in health.  He did not plot to get even with those that robbed him; he did not shake his fist at the wind, the earthquake, or the lightning; he did not organize bands to chase after the Sabeans and the Chaldeans.  Instead he cried out to God.

His fault, corrected by God who replied from the whirlwind after everyone had had his say, was that he did not recognize that God may have a great many other purposes for Job's life than Job recognized.  Job's sufferings were also for the glory of God.  "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world?" is God's reply to Job's complaint.

We place ourselves at the center of our universe, and it is tempting to think that we are the center of God's universe, also.  But Job is humbled.  Job wished again and again through many speeches that he might be able to talk to God and lay his complaint before him, yet when God answers from the whirlwind and says, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?  Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me," Job has nothing to say except, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.  Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." [42:5,6]

Job was not without sin, as he himself confesses (9:28ff).  He does not minimize this and says that God had sewed up his transgressions in a bag (14:17) as prosecutors would seal up the evidence of crimes to present to the judge.   But he could also say in faith, "I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another...." (19:25-27).  Hence, being redeemed he could say, "My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live."  (27:6)   Job, this ancient man, knew the reality of redemption, as did Jacob and the other fathers [Gen. 48:16 and Isaiah 63:8ff].

In spite of this, Job was one of the best men who ever lived.  Ezekiel spoke for God in Ezekiel 14:12-14: "12 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD."  --Ezekiel 14

Would that we could remember the patience of Job, whether in prosperity or in tribulation.  Our business is always with God and we must seek Him only in Jesus Christ, who has made Him known.

Hebrews 4:"13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do [have our business]. 14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

What Job longed for and saw but dimly, we have clearly revealed in our Mediator, Jesus Christ.  Job 9:"32  For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. 33  Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. 34  Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
35  Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me."   "Daysman" means a referee, or a mediator as in Job 16:21 "O that one might plead [mediate] for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!"

Being both man and God, Jesus of Nazareth alone can perform this service for both man and God as in Romans 8:34: "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."  By His death on the cross, He endured the arrows of God's wrath against the sins of His people and arose and sent for the Holy Spirit to work peace in our hearts to love God and our neighbor.

Amen and Amen.
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