The book of Job is a masterpiece of the Bible. It is very ancient (some say the oldest literature in the Bible), it is beautifully written, and it tackles some tough questions that we all ask: Why does God allow the innocent to suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where is God when it hurts? Down through the centuries, God has used the character of Job and the message of the book that bears his name to encourage people who are suffering. So many times in my ministry people have told me, “Pastor, I never paid much attention to the book of Job until life had knocked me flat on my back – but then I read it, and God used that book to build my faith.”
Job was a godly man (v.1). The distinguishing characteristic of his life was that he was “blameless”, or spiritually whole and mature. He was “upright”, literally meaning “to be straight”. Job was a man of integrity, following the straightness of God’s way. We are told that he “feared God”, meaning that Job knew the Lord, and his consistent response to this knowledge was trust and reverence. And he “shunned evil”, consciously confronting sin in his life and rejecting it. We see him rising early to spend time with God (v.5) and taking seriously his role as spiritual leader of his family.
Job was a blessed man. He was healthy, wealthy, and godly. He had a well-ordered, happy life — but oh, how quickly things can change!
Verse 6 mentions “the sons of God”, a term for the angels God created to serve Him. Apparently all angels, including fallen angels like Satan, have to answer to God and report on their activity. As Satan reported, God mentioned Job. (Note: Job was unaware of what was happening on the other side as God and Satan discuss his life. If he had known about this conversation, it would have made his problems easier to handle. But he didn’t, and he just had to endure his trials by faith.) God pointed to Job as an example of what a godly man ought to be, but Satan accused Job of being a hypocrite: “The only reason Job serves You is because he is so blessed. Take away all those blessings – everything and everyone that is precious to him – and he will curse You to Your face!”
With God’s permission, Satan left to attack Job’s personal possessions and his children. In the space of only a few hours Job heard report after report of devastating loss, and when the day was over all his possessions and his children were gone. Maybe you can relate to Job: you’re still getting over one issue when another one arises. It feels like your problems are multiplying, like you can’t get a break – and you don’t know if you can take any more. How did Job respond to his parade of tragedies? According to verses 20-22 he grieved over his losses, but he turned to God.
What an awesome display of faith! What an embarrassment to Satan! He had said, “Let me take away everything that is precious to Job and he will curse God to His face.” But Satan didn’t know who he was messing with! Job didn’t curse God — he did the opposite. He bowed down to worship and he blessed the Lord.
One sign of the depth of your faith is what happens when tragedy, loss, disappointment, or failure come. When it happened to Job, the depth of his faith was revealed in his direction: he did not run from God, he ran to God. How about you? What is your direction?