Jun 7, 2011

Job, not about suffering and all about faith

The Book of Job was one of the first books of the Bible I ever read. The first time I read it was over six months ago. I didn't have nearly the perspective of this book as I do now. I have been reading a wonderful book called The Bible Jesus Read (about the Old Testament), and God lead me to read Job again, with new eyes and an open heart. 

The Book of Job is a book in the Old Testament, possibly the oldest ever written. Among the three different kinds of books of the Bible (historical, poetical, and prophetical), Job is one of the Poetical Books. In brief, it is about a man after God's own heart who lived in the land of Uz. Satan was convinced that the only reason Job was so faithful to God was because God conditioned his heart to love Him and blessed him with many things. God allowed Satan to bring suffering onto His servant to prove to Satan that Job would still be faithful.

If you have not read the book of Job, or haven't in a while, most know it to be the Bible's most thorough account of pain and suffering. That's what I thought the first time around. I definitely suggest reading it more than once, and keeping Chapters 1 and 2 in mind throughout the book. Be very prayerful, asking God to show you truth. After reading it this time around and learning more about the Old Testament, I am seeing the personal God that I have grown to love.

Here are a few things God placed on my heart this time around:

We serve a personal God:

"The Lord 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.' " - Job 1:8

God looks at each individual heart of every child He has made. He loves us, and our faith matters to him. 

When we cling to God, Satan loses the battle

"But stretch out your hands and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." - Job 1:10c

Despite the suffering, Job clings to God. He questions how just God is, but he doesn't stop trusting him. His faith remains, and Satan loses the battle.

There is spiritual warfare that we cannot see

We are living amongst a battle ground of faith. Just read Chapters 1 and 2. That is the most important part, to remember these two Chapters. C.S. Lewis once said "There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan."

Job is never told even after coming face to face with God that he was being tested. God does not even begin to explain to Job the purpose of his sufferings. Instead, God looks straight at the heart matter, the position of faith. 

God is never absent

"Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?" - Job 38:25-27

This brought to my mind  Matthew 6:26 when Yeshua said  "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

God is never absent, and in so many ways, He makes that clear to us. It is so easy to get lost in our sufferings, but when we see the greater picture and the works of God we can rest assured that He loves us and is taking care of us. So, when it seems like God has abandoned us, He is most present. In the sufferings of Job, in the wilderness with the Israelites, and even at cross with His son - it was these times God was most present. 

God gives reassurance  to our hearts that we will be reunited with those we've lost

"The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. 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." - Job 42:12-13

 In Job 42:12-13 God blesses Job and doubles his sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys, yet his children are not doubled in number. Although the book doesn't touch on afterlife, these two verses show us that one day Job will be reunited for eternity in heaven with his ten children he tragically lost. 

One person's faith does make a difference

"In all these sufferings, large and small, there is the assurance of a deeper level of meaning, of a sharing in Christ's own redemptive victory." -  author Philip Yancey

"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." - Romans 8:10

Even if just one single person remains faithful to God, clings onto Him even among suffering, think about what that means to the world and what this means in the sharing of a spiritual victory and God's ultimate victory!