Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 6 2019 - Job 1 – Job faces the loss of everything

We have looked at some of the wisdom material written by Solomon in the book of Proverbs and in the Song of Songs. We now turn to look at some of the other wisdom material in the Old Testament.

The Book of Job is a very difficult book to date. Some have argued that it is very ancient, maybe dating back to the time of Abraham or earlier. It does not fit into the narrative structure of the Old Testament but it is an example of the kind of wisdom literature found in many parts of the Old Testament and indeed in other cultures of the Ancient Near East.

The chapter we have read today introduces us to Job, a righteous, upright and God-fearing man. He was very wealthy and had a large family and many servants. He was not only concerned to live a righteous life for himself, he was also concerned for the spiritual wellbeing of his children, making burnt offerings for his children in case they had sinned.

In the dramatic language of this story, Satan presents himself before God. The name "Satan" means "adversary" or "accuser". The picture is that of a courtroom. Satan comes before God as an accuser of God's people. God brings the godly life of his servant Job to Satan's attention. Satan's cynical reply is, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" (v. 9). Satan is arguing that Job's apparent fear of God is just self-serving. He is careful to honour God so that God will bless and prosper him. But, says Satan, if you take away the things that Job really values – his prosperity and his family – "he will surely curse you to your face."

God permits Satan's accusation to be put to the test. In one day he loses his wealth as Sabeans made off with his oxen and donkeys, his sheep and the servants looking after them were destroyed, Chaldeans made off with his camels and the house in which his children were feasting together was destroyed in a violent wind that killed them all. It is hard to imagine anyone suffering a greater change in circumstances in one day. But Job did not "curse God to his face." We read rather that, "he tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I shall depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.’

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (vv. 20-22).

The Book of Job addresses the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people." We shall see Job and his friends trying to understand how this can be in the chapters that follow. But for today I want to focus on Satan's question "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Job's response to his loss shows that he does not fear God for the benefits it will bring him. In the words of Satan's accusation, Job does fear God for nothing – i.e. not expecting or demanding any return.

The supreme example of undeserved suffering is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was holy and entirely without sin and yet he suffered a cruel and agonising death upon the cross for our sake. We are blessed beyond measure not because of our goodness or our holiness but because of God's grace towards us in the Lord Jesus. God has blessed us for nothing.

Moreover, we know that the blessings that we enjoy in him can never be taken from us. We can lose our possessions and even our family. We may deeply mourn their loss. But we still have Christ and all the riches of God in him. These are things that Job was beginning to learn in the pain of his loss.

Father God, we love you not in the hope of gaining something from you. We love you because you have first loved us and given your Son for us. Help us to keep loving and trusting when we face difficult days of pain and loss as well as when all seems to go well for us. So may others be drawn to trust in you and not in the uncertain riches of this present life.

Peter Misselbrook