Well we might as well start right at the beginning and compare Job to myself:
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, his name was Job. And this man was perfect and upright, and fearing God, and turning away from evil.
2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him.
3 And his possessions were 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 greater than all the sons of the east. (Job 1)
So how do I shape up? Well I certainly do not consider myself to be either perfect or upright but I do fear God and will try to turn away from evil whenever I recognise it as such and will therefore try to overcome any desire I may have to commit any such offence. Sounds like about 4 out of 10? I can match his three daughters but I am going to have to concede his seven sons (3 out of 10?). As far as all his possessions are concerned, whilst I consider myself to be comfortably well off, I do not think I would describe myself as in possession of a very great household or being materially greater than all the sons of the East (which in my case would include Greater London and the English County of Essex!). Mind you some of the areas to the south and west of where I live are arguably rather more affluent than those! Joking apart, Job appears to be the equivalent of one of today's top billionaires. Given Job's love of God, this would certainly underline our President's words: ‘What's wrong with being comfortable?' Or even filthy rich so long as one has a righteous heart?
Now the next verse of interest set me to thinking:
5 And it happened, when the day of feasting had gone around, Job would send and sanctify them. And he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt sacrifices according to all their number. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. This, Job always did. (Job 1)
Clearly Job did not believe that his own righteousness with God would necessarily be inherited by his children so he made a point of praying and sacrificing on their behalf in the hope that his prayers would persuade God to forgive their sins as a blessing on their father. This is confirmed directly by Jehovah himself:
12 And the Word of Jehovah came to me, saying,
13 Son of man, when a land sins against Me, baring a faithless act, then I will stretch out My hand on it, and I will shatter the staff of bread to it, and I will send famine on it. And I will cut off from it man and beast.
14 And though these three men were in its midst, Noah, Daniel, and Job, by their righteousness they should deliver only their souls, declares the Lord Jehovah.
15 If I make evil beasts go through the land, and they bereave it, and it is desolate, so that no one would go through because of the beasts,
16 though these three men were in its midst, as I live, declares the Lord Jehovah, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; they would only deliver themselves, but the land would be desolate.
17 Or if I bring a sword on that land and say, Let a sword go through the land, and I will cut off man and beast from it;
18 even though these three men were in its midst, as I live, declares the Lord Jehovah, they should not deliver sons or daughters, but they only would deliver themselves. (Ezekiel 14)
This is very interesting to me personally. My three daughters are all very aware of my faith. From what I am able to perceive, each of them has a different perspective on their father's religion but none of them has adopted it for themselves. Indeed both my wife and I are somewhat concerned at certain aspects of the lifestyle that each of them has in fact adopted! Our church has the view that a baptised Lords' Witness visits the blessings that go with that status on to his offspring. Whilst I would accept that to be the case for children below the age of biblical consent, i.e. those that have not yet reached their twentieth birthday, for those that have grown into adults (since God's judgement is aimed at adults not children), as all mine now have, I am not so sure. I think they must answer for their own actions but, perhaps, a righteous father's plea for his children may well ensure that they are treated with some degree of clemency come judgement day. For those of you who are interested, I cover the blessing of faith of a Lords' Witness' family in some detail in my earlier Households paper. One personal lesson for me here is that I must learn to pray for my children's salvation rather more than I currently do which, I must confess, is seldom! (That sounds like 0 out of 10, ouch!!).
Let us continue with the book of Job:
9 And Satan answered Jehovah and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?
10 Have You not made a hedge for him, and for his house, and for all that is his all around? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land.
11 But put out Your hand now, and touch against all that is his, and see if he will not then curse You to Your face.
12 And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, all that is his is in your hand! Only, do not lay your hand on him. And Satan went out from the face of Jehovah. (Job 1)
This task is getting more interesting by the verse. Thank God for my illnesses! The four verses above are about Satan's challenging Jehovah on the basis that one of His faithful servants only fears God due to the fact that Jehovah is looking after Job's material wealth. To prove that is not the case, God invites Satan to challenge Job by placing a curse on everything that is Job's apart from his own soul. Now in today's terms, I consider that all members of the Fourth True Christian Church are likely targets for Satan and his demons. However they presumably would have to be allowed by God to carry out such specifically targetted vengeance attacks and I am not at all sure His permission would be either sought or given, since scripture does not offer to Satan what God offered in these verses upon other than Job (unless there is a greater meaning?). Also, whilst I would consider that there are some Lords' Witnesses who share my own comfortable status in life, I do not think there are any who fall into Job's billionaire category as far as I am aware. I would like to believe that we are all God's servants because we have faith in his offer of the salvation to come not in the comfort of our current existence. We consider today's existence to be considerably less comfortable than our prospective lives in the Kingdom of God to come wherein some of us live in the expectation of becoming earthly kings of the Kingdom. As for me personally, well Satan has attacked my person solely rather than my possessions or family (God forbid!) so this does not follow the pattern of Job's initial trial as explicitly delivered by Satan with God's explicit permission. Given that these illnesses have enabled my productive theological work to proceed apace, in way that they otherwise would not have been able to, I find myself even considering that the Holy Spirit may have visited these maladies upon my person for my and the greater good, particularly given the limited damage caused to my person. Otherwise I can only consider that this is a matter of time and circumstance stemming from God's original curse on Adam:
17 but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, dying you shall die. (Genesis 2)
11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9)
First off God allows Job's possessions to be taken from him or destroyed:
13 And a day came when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their brother's house, the first-born.
14 And a messenger came to Job and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses were feeding beside them.
15 And the Sabeans fell on them and took them away. And they killed the young men with the mouth of the sword; and I, I alone have escaped to tell you.
16 While this one was still speaking, this other also came and said, The fire of God has fallen from the heavens and has burned up the sheep and the young men. And it has consumed them; and I, I alone have escaped to tell you.
17 While this one was still speaking, this other also came and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands and swooped down on the camels. And they have taken them away. And they have killed the young men with the mouth of the sword; and I, I alone have escaped to tell you. (Job 1)
So, by a variety of different means, all of Job's livestock was taken from him which, presumably, represented the bulk of his worth. His servants were also killed which, I would have thought, would have represented more than mere material worth. It also meant that there were no holds barred from Satan's desire to challenge Job's faithfulness; he was allowed to commit murder (again!).
But wait, this is not the end of this phase of the story since Satan is yet to enact his evil worst:
18 While this other one was yet speaking, still another one came and proceeded to say: "Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their brother the firstborn.
19 And, look! there came a great wind from the region of the wilderness, and it went striking the four corners of the house, so that it fell upon the young people and they died. And I got to escape, only I by myself, to tell you." (Job 1)
Well, I have to say that this last curse from Satan to my mind is about the worse thing that a father can suffer: the early death of all his children before his own time is up. What could Satan do to test Job beyond this act, later on in this saga? I find myself now wondering what was in God's mind when he allowed Satan to hurt all that was Job's apart from his own soul. I can only think that Job's faith severely reduced the pain he felt, knowing his children would be going to a better place come the resurrection? But no, he had previously prayed for them since he clearly did not know how well they sat in God's justice. I think we had better read on before we draw too may conclusions at this early stage in events. I can only say that I would gladly suffer these illnesses in silence if it were to ensure that my daughters would not be taken before their time, innocent or no! But let us examine how Job reacted to his children's deaths:
20 And Job proceeded to get up and rip his sleeveless coat apart and cut the hair off his head and fall to the earth and bow down
21 and say: "Naked I came out of my mother's belly, And naked shall I return there. Jehovah himself has given, and Jehovah himself has taken away. Let the name of Jehovah continue to be blessed."
22 In all this Job did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God. (Job 1)
Well he was clearly very upset but seems to have had the view that his children were not his own but God's in which, of course, he is completely correct. Whilst I have the same intellectual view on this as Job, I have to say that I would envisage that I would react rather more paternally than this. Whilst God must have known this would be a fair test on Job, He would probably agree that this would not be a fair test on me with my relative lacking in righteousness compared with my esteemed forebear. I pray I never have to face such a circumstance. In all this, thus far, Job's wife has not had a mention. Hmm...I wonder what she was thinking. What would my wife be thinking? I think we would both be inconsolable. This is now beginning to bother me somewhat. I now find myself questioning Job's very humanity and wondering how this whole episode squares with Abraham's own test on God's justice by asking Him how many righteous men it would take for Jehovah not to destroy Sodom. All of Job's ten children were taken from him without any proof being provided in the scriptures that any of them were not righteous:
22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. (Genesis 18)
Interestingly Job also had ten children. So how can we judge God's justice in all this? In fact we should also make this argument on behalf of Job's servants also who died in these calamitous events since we are all God's children. The scriptures do not appear to give any clues in this respect largely since I suspect this is outside the purpose of the book of Job. I can only think that these ones died in support of proving a greater point from our God. One could well argue therefore that they were sacrificed for this purpose and for this purpose alone. If this is the case then there is no doubt that their places in the Kingdom to come are assured. Perhaps Job understood this which made him stoical in the face of personal disaster.
The Trials of Job
This discourse ended in the only way that it could have; Job repented of his previous words and thinking:
6 That is why I make a retraction, And I do repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42)
What follows in the rest of Chapter 42 provides me with more questions as did Chapters 1 and 2. The upshot is that Job apparently acquits himself well in God's eyes thereby proving Satan incorrect in his assessment as to the rationale for Job's faithfulness. Having proven himself to God's satisfaction, Job's former glory in all things material is restored back to double what he had before all the evil things were brought down upon him for no fault of his own:
12 As for Jehovah, he blessed the end of Job afterward more than his beginning, so that he came to have fourteen thousand sheep and six thousand camels and a thousand spans of cattle and a thousand she‐asses. (Job 42)
Well that sounds OK but what of the final verses of the book of Job?
13 And he had seven sons and three daughters.
14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Keziah; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch.
15 And in all the land there were not found women as beautiful as Job's daughters. And their father gave them inheritance among their brothers.
16 After this Job lived a hundred and forty years. And he saw his sons, and his grandsons, even four generations.
17 And Job died, being old and full of days. (Job 42)
It is all very well to say that he got more off-spring to replace those he lost but they were all different souls from his original family. Faith in some senses appears to me to be something of an inhuman and unfeeling way of life in this system. In reality Job's faith probably meant that he doubled his money and the true number of his children. Since a truly faithful man believes that all souls will be resurrected in the next system, Job could be looking forward to being reunited with all twenty of his children at the appropriate time(s).
So Job died fat and happy with all his belongings, his new family and a long life. The difficulty I have with this is that it seems to be setting a double standard to my mind. Arguably a faithful one should not need a full material life to be happy. Indeed the Christian ethic is anything but this:
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. (1Corinthians 7)
In his letter to the Corinthian congregation, Paul is counselling in favour of a lifestyle bereft of home comforts and without marriage which would, of course, lead to a distinct lack of legitimate off-spring. Paul had no wife, no children and few material possessions as far as we can tell. Job, therefore, does not appear to be in the same mould as Paul from this perspective since it was clearly deemed, both by God and Job, that he would benefit from a large and comfortable family environment. James confirms this in his letter:
11 Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured. YOU have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful. (James 5)
If pressed I think I would have to share that enjoyment of family and home in common with my esteemed predecessor. We are not all from the same mould; we all have our own strengths and weaknesses and our God knows all our individual foibles. God will not tempt us (or test us presumably) beyond our individual abilities to resist:
13 No temptation has taken you except what is human; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able. But with the temptation, He will also make the way out, so that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10)
Quite how happy I would be, however, with a new family to replace my earlier lost one in this life I cannot guess at but I am certain that I would continue to mourn my original lost children till my dying day. I suppose a long life, if comfortable, is a blessing but Job must have kept more than one eye on the life to come and to keep faith with God to have enabled him to die satisfied with his life. One point of particular interest here is the fact that Job lived to the ripe old age of 140 years. Since this is beyond the maximum Adamic age of 120 years, scripture is telling us that Job must have been made non-Adamic by God upon his repentance. If that is the case then this is what would have provided an immediate cure for his physical ills and would have enabled him to enjoy an illness-free life from that point up until his death (ref. Jesus Christ Superdoc). Not a bad reward I think! At my advanced years, and particularly given my current state of health, I can certainly appreciate the value of such a blessing! Except that the Alexandrian LXX states that Job lived to be 248 years of age! If so then Job could have lived before Peleg without being made non-Adamic. Well, given this topic is well outside the scope I set for myself within this particular paper, I am not about to enter into that particular debate right now. However, these references should prove helpful to the interested reader: refs. [Introduction 15 to The True Bible Code] 120, 240, 480, 960 and indefinite lifespan humans! and Are Job and Jobab the Same Person?
It is interesting that Job's wife was not mentioned again in all of this. I presume that she was the mother of Job's second set of children? Only the one wife of Job is ever mentioned and nowhere does the good book suggest that Job remarried. Presumably she was keen to share in her husband's extended family since I expect that she willingly obliged her husband in the business of procreation!
Several months prior to writing this paper, I recall a conversation I had with the Lords' Witnesses' President, Gordon, in which I expressed to him some feelings of guilt at the fact that we were relatively materially comfortably off in our lives compared with many other folks around the world. His interesting response was ‘What is wrong with being comfortable?' Indeed, on reflection, nothing is wrong with a degree of comfort, of course. Furthermore, it struck me that we would not have been capable of the deep bible research that we carry out, which stretches the logical and imaginative functions of our minds to the fullest possible extent, if we had to constantly worry about our physical well-being. On thinking this through, my guilt trip subsided a little.
Recently, I have found myself suffering from two illnesses at the same time. At my ‘venerable' age this is something to be slightly concerned about even though neither of those illnesses would normally be considered a serious or life-threatening condition. Ironically, whilst I was less ‘comfortable' with my illnesses than I was accustomed to being, I found that the physical discomfort, despite being accompanied with some psychological anxiety, opened the door for my being far more productive in my bible research than usual. My illnesses prevented me from performing most of my normal physical activities during the regular JLW weekly routine and freed up further time for my research. I found myself asking why the Lord was visiting these illnesses upon me. Was it a deliberate ploy on His part to teach me some new hard lesson or was this a case of mere time and circumstance?
I found myself comparing my plight to that of Job and considered that my faith would not have been able to withstand the ills that were visited upon that faithful one of God. So here, perhaps, was one reason that I found myself in this sorry state. Amongst the tasks that I already had in train I also set myself the two new projects of writing this paper and of writing a Sci-Fi novel based on the understandings, history and prospective future of our church. This latter particularly since one of these illnesses would likely incapacitate me over the period of the next few months, so hold the presses and look out for it on the shelves of your local bookstore in the New Year (maybe)! It is now available; check it out at: The Fourth Light. Eat your heart out L, Ron Hubbard! Neither of these activities had been in my immediate purview prior to my falling ill. So my task in this paper is to review the Old Testament book of Job to compare Job's circumstances and response to them with a modern day faithful Christian, i.e. me, when put under similar pain. I will also review any verses elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures that may reference that gentleman in any relevant manner. If nothing else, this exercise will no doubt familiarise me with that book well beyond my previous meagre knowledge of it.
Jewish Lords' Witness
Image provided by www.BiblePictureGallery.com.
Job in his deep affliction
Overall I find this to be one very hard but essential lesson in faith. One has to accept that this life, whilst important for establishing one's relationship with God, is nothing but a temporary staging post en route to our true destination. I always remember my father telling me, when I was a child, that life was but a dream. I did not understand what he was telling me at the time but I think I understand this now. Bottom line is that one's feelings towards this world must be subordinated to one's views of the world to come since this is our true destiny. This world is merely tactical, the next is strategic. This will inevitably cause certain aspects of a faithful one's behaviour to seem unnatural and harsh, to some of our family and friends who do not fully share with us in our faith, but I think I am able to understand that better myself now, having written this paper. We will all be tested in this life through various hardships and ills; the key for each of us is how well our relationship towards God fares during and after those times.
I hope this paper has been of some benefit to you, the reader, but it seems that the bulk of the spiritual benefit may have been mine. I am still, frankly, unhappy at the frailty of my human body at this point in time but it has enabled me the time and motivation both to write this paper and to go on to commence the sci-fi novel I had always promised myself to write: The Fourth Light. My body may be weak but I have found new ways to develop my spirit in lieu of my normal physical pursuits.
I have had to remind myself of Paul's first letter to Timothy to put things into a proper perspective:
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1Timothy 4)
Chapters 3 - 41
Chapters 3-41 provide various discourses between Job and his companions and with Jehovah his God. That is right; I have decided to skim over the bulk of the book of Job chapters 3 through 41. This is not because I have no regard for them, indeed some of them have caused me great thought, but because I think the value for the reader is in understanding the detail for yourself rather than looking at my own probably misguided interpretations. Except perhaps for an observation on Job's view of his own righteousness in Chapter 31 with the crucial summary of it appearing at the start of the following chapter:
1 And these three men rested from answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. (Job 32)
It is the latter part of the above verse with which I have a problem. I could have gone through the minutiae of Job's dissertation about how righteous he was and compare his views to mine regarding my own righteousness but that is not my point. Evil is visited on both good and bad folk in this life, so what is to be gained by comparing notes? My concern is Job's considering himself to be righteous. It sounds almost pharisaical to talk in glowing terms about our own good points to the exclusion of our bad tendencies. This is something we should all be guarded against:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18)
But then I am no Job! I suppose I consider myself to be a reasonably good person but I am certain that if I sat down by myself, without any input from the Holy Spirit, I should find much about my own behaviour that was less than perfectly righteous. We should never consider ourselves good enough in our own eyes; God knows the good in us well enough.
Thankfully my own observations on this element of Job's nature were supported immediately by Elihu, who waited his turn to speak seeing as he was the youngster in that esteemed company:
2 But the anger of E‧li′hu the son of Bar′a‧chel the Buz′ite of the family of Ram came to be hot. Against Job his anger blazed over his declaring his own soul righteous rather than God. (Job 32)
The young's man's tirade went on for several more chapters at which point Jehovah himself intervened. Elihu had provided the prologue for God's reproving of Job. Jehovah starts to put Job in his proper place:
4 Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? Tell [me], if you do know understanding. (Job 38)
Job received four chapters' worth of reproving from Jehovah. Scary perhaps but I do not know of anyone else who received so much wisdom from God all in a single one-to-one monumental sitting! Despite Job's faults, God obviously loved him very much for his faithfulness. God only reproves those He loves and knows are ready to benefit from His reproving.
I should point out that this paper on Job does not represent official Lords’ Witnesses’ teachings on the subject. That is to be found at the following web-link: http://www.truebiblecode.com/understanding229.html. The title of that LW Understanding is ‘U229 - Job's 7 Sons were Resurrected’, so I think the clue to the disparity of views is thereby clearly described. The Church President, Gordon, considers that Job’s seven sons were resurrected whereas his daughters were replaced. This runs counter to my own paper above which considers that all of Job’s children were replaced.
Having further considered this matter, whilst I can see Gordon’s point, I still find myself defending my position and substantiate it further as follows. Firstly I would argue that Job offered sacrifices for all his children even though he does appear, in most translations, to have specifically mentioned his sons (Job 1:5). However, the Hebrew word for ‘son’, בֵּן , in the plural can mean ‘children’ thereby including his daughters. This is likewise the case in Job 42:16 where I think it highly unlikely that Job did not have any grand-daughters. It is worthy of note that the Hebrew Interlinear NIV Bible does translate this latter verse as ‘children’.
Furthermore, let me remind you of the quote from Ezekiel that states that Job's righteousness would not of itself guarantee the salvation of his sons or daughters:
14 'And had these 3 men proved to be in the midst of it, Noah, Daniel and Job, they themselves because of their righteousness would deliver their soul,' is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
18 even were these 3 men in the midst of it, as I am alive,' is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, 'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they, only they themselves, would be delivered. (Ezekiel 14).
All these verses, taken together, say to me that all Job’s children were treated equally and probably were not resurrected since they would have to await Judgement Day like everyone else. For Job this would be a blessing though, since it did mean that ultimately he would double his family size since the new children were not resurrections of his original kids but additions to his family. Since the size of all of Job’s livestock herds were doubled in size perhaps this would also follow for his immediate family to complete the doubling of his entire household (compare Job 1:3 with Job 42:12)?
Job 42:13 states that he ‘had’ sons and daughters with no differentiation being offered between the genders of his offspring. This tells me that resurrections or new spirits they all had the same beginnings. The daughters being given names may have related to their being given an inheritance which may have been omitted from Job's thinking previously for reasons of the custom of the land:
8 And to the sons of Israel you should speak, saying, 'In case any man should die without his having a son, you must then cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. (Numbers 27)
The early deaths of all his children perhaps caused Job to value his new daughters as much as his sons? The word ‘had’ in Job 42:13 though compares with ‘born’ in Job 1:2 which could suggest resurrection although this would cover all ten of Job’s children not just his sons as U229 would have it.
Job 42:15 describes Job’s daughters as beautiful. Why was this not stated at the beginning of the Book of Job? This does suggest his final three daughters were not the same souls as his first three. Were the same female spirits resurrected into different bodies? Probably not I would think. So I would contend that they were replacement daughters. It is interesting though that his sons were not described as handsome is it not? Perhaps this is another example of Job learning to value his daughters as much as his sons through his loss?
So, on balance, I continue to support my original paper in that Job was given ten new children thereby giving him a total of twenty children, in the grand scheme of things, going into the Kingdom. However, Gordon’s argument is clearly not without merit so, no doubt, we will continue the debate to our mutual benefit in attempting to better understand the true meaning of the scriptures. Amen
3 And Jehovah went on to say to Satan: "Have you set your heart upon my servant Job, that there is no one like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad? Even yet he is holding fast his integrity, although you incite me against him to swallow him up without cause." (Job 2)
This does nothing but confound me further. In verse 3, God here is admitting to Satan that it is indeed He, Jehovah, who is visiting these curses upon his servant Job albeit at the request of Satan. This brings to mind the prospective sacrifice of Isaac by his faithful father, Abraham, in that the life of his children was secondary to his faith in Jehovah his God. This seems to be the mind-set shared with His later servant Job. Let us look at the explanation of Abraham's motivation as written by Paul in his letter to the Hebrews:
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11)
As the creator of life, Abraham correctly reckoned that, even if he had carried out God's demanding request of him, Jehovah had the ability and intention to resurrect his son Isaac. Presumably Job must have shared that view which would explain his apparently limited emotional reaction to the death of all his children. Now I would have to admit that is my mind-set also; I too look forward to the day when I will see my children in the Kingdom of God. However, perhaps this is a matter of degree rather than principle. Whilst I have this notion firmly in my mind, which helps me to live my life in a full and satisfied manner, how firmly based is this concept in my heart? If my kids were all taken out by a sudden hammer blow when they were all together, how forgiving of Divinity would I be? Frankly I do not know. I can only ask God that I never have to face that purgatory, since I expect that I might fail that very hardest of tests. My faith clearly and unsurprisingly would not match up to that of Job or his equally illustrious and faithful ancestor Abraham to whom we all owe a great debt.
So we now have an explanation for Job's behaviour upon hearing of his children's deaths. But what of Satan's next move in the matter of cursing Job?
4 And Satan answered Jehovah and said, Skin for skin. Yea, all that a man has he will give for his life.
5 But indeed put out Your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.
6 And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; but preserve his life.
7 And Satan went out from before the face of Jehovah. And he struck Job with bad burning ulcers from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. (Job 2)
Satan seems to have had the misguided opinion that a man will give up everything to save his life. This is presumably why he saved this second request until after he had destroyed Job's family, thinking it to be a harder test? Well I do not think that I am saying anything that any loving human father would not say, faithful or not, in that I would gladly give up my life if I knew that would preserve my children's safety. I think Satan's asking if he can damage Job's body demonstrates a fundamental lack of judgement on Satan's behalf. Did he really think that Job would fail this second test of his faith if he had successfully already passed that first most painful test? Satan foolishly seems to think that damaging Job's own body is a greater curse than killing his children. Happily, no doubt, Jehovah allows him so to do up to the point of not taking his life. God knows that this represents virtually no trial at all compared with the first test and that Job should get through this second test with flying colours.
I must say that I started out thinking this book was about Job, but I am now beginning to think that we are learning as much about Satan. Satan is telling us, I think, that he would gladly give up his own angelic children to save his own soul. Well no surprise there I suppose. Anyway let us move on to see how Job (and his wife for that matter) dealt with this latest tragedy:
9 And his wife said to him, Are you still holding fast to your integrity? Bless God and die!
10 But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish ones speak. Also, shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2)
Well it would appear that, once again as Jehovah had no doubt expected, his faithful servant kept his faith. However, I find a couple of things in the last two verses a little odd. Firstly Job's wife finally speaks up about her views on Job's suffering. She is clearly angry with God but why has she waited until Job's own physical suffering before she makes her views known; again I would have thought that the loss of her children was by far the greater pain for her? Also why was Job described as not sinning ‘with his lips'? This wording is significantly different than that in verse 1:22. Did this mean that he was sinning in his mind but did not make his true feelings known, perhaps because he was afraid of God? Certainly God, the reader of hearts, would have known what was in Job's mind if different from his spoken words. I doubt, though, that Satan would have been aware of anything but the external reaction from Job. After all, this whole exercise was for the ‘benefit' of Satan, so Job's verbal response would have been perfect for God's immediate purposes.
Now just in case we were in danger of underestimating Job's pain, this is made clear while he was sitting with his friends a littler later on. He was clearly suffering grievously over his total loss:
13 And they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. And no one was speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2)
So I think we must conclude from all this that Job's great pain was only transcended by his greater faith in God's promise of salvation for mankind. It is of such stuff that our holy patriarchs are made!