Learning from Job 1-14
Satan is very busy - ‘going to and fro on the earth...walking up and down on it’. Why is Satan ‘roaming through the earth’? - ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’(1:7; 1 Peter 5:8). If, like Job, you ‘fear God and turn away from evil’, Satan will make you his target. He will do all that he can to make you stop worshipping God and start cursing Him (1:1,11). Satan is very powerful - but he can only do what God allows him to do (1:12; 2:6). There is a greater Power than the power of Satan - ‘the Power of God’. When you face Satan’s onslaughts, remember - God is in control. His Power is at work in us to keep us in the way of faith, the way which brings ‘praise and glory and honour’ to Him (1 Peter 1:3-7).
‘I’m reaching the end of my tether’- Do you ever feel like this? What are we to do when, like Job, we find ourselves sinking into a state of deep depression? Remember Jesus. Remember His suffering - ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?’(Matthew 27:46). He suffered for us. He suffers with us. In our suffering, we need Jesus. We need His love. Some may say, ‘You’ve only yourself to blame’. They will tell us, ‘Pull yourself together’. What good will this do - without the love of Jesus? Without His love, things will only get worse. Jesus knows how we feel. He’s been there. He went to the Cross - for us. Behind His suffering, we see His love. He has ‘suffered’. He has been ‘tempted’. He feels our pain. He comes to us with ‘mercy and grace’. He is our ‘Help in time of need’(Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).
Eliphaz sounds so ‘spiritual’. He speaks of ‘a word’ being ‘brought’ to him. He speaks of ‘visions in the night’(4:12-13). Sadly, there is, in Eliphaz, a lot of pride and not much love. There’s no suggestion, from Eliphaz, that Satan might be behind Job’s suffering. ‘It’s all your own fault’- This is what Eliphaz is saying to Job. When we listen to this kind of talk, we become despondent - ‘What have I done to deserve this?’. There are times when we cause problems for ourselves. There are other times when we must say, ‘This is the work of Satan’- ‘An enemy has done this’(Matthew 13:28). There are times when we must pray, ‘Forgive us our sins’. There are times when we must pray, ‘Deliver us from the evil one’. From the Lord, we receive forgiveness and victory. Let’s give all the ‘glory’ to Him (Matthew 6:12-13).
Job calls on God - and there is no answer. The happy days seem to be gone forever. From the Cross, Jesus cries out in agony, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’. There is no Voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’(Mark 15:34; Matthew 3:17). What are we to make of this? Job is suffering. Jesus is suffering. Where is God while all this is happening? What is He doing about it? Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said this to His enemies: ‘This is your hour, and the power of darkness’(Luke 22:53). God allows Satan to have his ‘hour’. ‘The power of darkness’ appears to have the upper hand. This is not the end of the story. There is ‘a happy ending’. Job is raised from his depression (42:10,12). Jesus is ‘raised’ from the dead (Acts 2:23-24).
Bildad speaks as a ‘know-it-all’. He sees what has happened to Job, and he thinks, ‘Job must have forgotten God’. If Bildad had not been blinded by his own ideas of how things must be, he would have noticed that Job had not forgotten God and he would have realized that bad things can and do happen to people who love God as well as people who don’t love Him. When things are going badly, don’t forget God’s long-term purpose. He is preparing us for ‘eternal life’(Matthew 19:29). Sometimes, we wonder what’s going on in our lives. We must remember that ‘God’s ways are higher than our ways’(Isaiah 55:8). We must learn to look beyond our sufferings. They are ‘slight and short-lived’. We must look ahead to the ‘eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine’(2 Corinthians 4:17).
Job thinks that God is ‘against’ him. He thinks that he is condemned by God (10:2). Where do these negative thoughts come from? Do they come from God? No! God has a very positive view of Job - ‘My servant Job’(1:8). Job is being attacked by Satan, ‘the accuser’ of God’s people (Revelation 12:10). Satan puts negative thoughts into Job’s mind. What are we to do when Satan attacks us in this way? Look to the Cross of Christ, rejoicing in God’s love for us (Romans 5:8).Take our stand in Jesus Christ - ‘There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’(Romans 8:1). Remind Satan of Christ’s victory - ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against’ us. Resist Satan - ‘Get behind me, Satan!’- , confident that ‘we are more than conquerors through Christ’(Matthew 16:18,23; Romans 8:37).
Zophar had all the answers - so he thought! It was all so simple - according to Zophar. ‘He must have done something pretty awful to deserve this’- That’s what Zophar thought of Job and his suffering (11:6). For Job, nothing was simple. He didn’t have any answers. He was very confused. He had been ‘a righteous and blameless man’(12:4). Now, he was suffering. Was he being punished by God? Job listened to Zophar. It didn’t ring true! Job didn’t fully understand what was going on. He did know this: Zophar didn’t know what he was talking about. He was shouting his mouth off about things he knew nothing about. Job was not taken in by Zophar’s pious words. He responded with this ‘understanding’- ‘The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one’(12:3; 1 Corinthians 2:15).
When you don’t really know what you’re talking about, it’s a case of the less said the better. That’s how Job feels about his ‘friends’- ‘Oh that would you keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!’(13:5). They are no help to him. What does he do next? He takes his problem to the Lord. Nothing seems clear to Job. He seems to be bogged down in his own suffering. There is, however, a glimmer of light. A question comes into his mind - ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’(14:14). Later on, Job gives the answer of faith: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives...Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God in my own flesh’(19:25). ‘Christ has been raised from the dead...Death is swallowed up in victory...Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’(1 Corinthians 15:20,54,57).