It was late October, and the smell of rain was still in the air. Job, mounted on a pure white Arabian stallion, surrounded by armed servants, cam over the crest of a hill and looked down upon vast fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. Of all the "men of the East" there was no one greater or richer than Job, for the richest land in all of Uz belonged to him.
An old bearded servant pointed to where hundreds of servants were plowing behind teams of oxen. "The rains came just in time to soften up the hard, baked earth, O master," he said, "and all 500 of your oxen are plowing right now!--And in the pastures nearby, your donkeys are grazing.""Good, very good!", Job responded. "And what of the sheep, Shelkar?" he asked.
Job sat back in his saddle importantly "Yes, indeed He has! Because I've faithfully served Him for so many years, and done that which pleases Him, He has protected my possessions and mightily prospered me!"Now come, let's be off to the city. I have business there!", Job said.
Within an hour, the high walls of the city were in view, and Job's party came riding up to the South Gate. Merchant stalls lined the inside walls, and hundreds of people milled through the teeming bazaar.
Dismounting from his horse, Job walked over to the shade of the great stone gate where all the elders of the city had gathered and were engaged in a heated debate.
As Job sat down in his seat of honor all the elders, nobles and ancient men of the city rose respectfully from their seats. Prince Zabduel, who had been speaking, caught himself in the middle of a sentence and put his hand over his mouth, for not even a prince might speak in Job's presence without his permission! (Job 29:7-10)"What is the problem?", Job inquired.
Prince Zabduel pointed to a merchant and an old lady who stood there before the assembly of elders, and said, "This man has come to us for judgment. This widow is in debt to him, and he demands that she give him her two sons as slaves, in payment."
Seeing Job, the old lady raced forward and fell at his feet, crying out, "My lord, if he takes my two sons, I will be left destitute and without food! Please help me!" The eyes of the entire assembly were upon Job, waiting in absolute silence, to see how he would Judge the matter. (Job 29:21-25)
Job looked around at the elders, then, rising from his seat, said, "Give this woman her sons. I will pay her debt!" He removed a solid gold bracelet from his wrist and threw it in the dust at the merchant's feet! "That should be more than enough!", he said sternly. Quickly gathering it up, the merchant disappeared into the crowd, and all the elders began whispering in astonished praise at Job's righteous judgment and generosity!
As Job was leaving the Gate, one of his sons came up and said, "Father, tonight all my brothers and sisters are feasting in my house! I beg you to please come!"
Job answered, "Son, go ahead with your feast! But it would hardly be dignified for a man like me to join in youthful partying."
That evening, as Job sat dining with his wife, a dozen servants in attendance, a house guard entered the great chamber. "My lord," he said, "there is a group of 15 beggars at the gate. Shall I send them away?"
Job retorted indignantly, "Never! Let it not be heard in all of Ur that the poor were ever sent away from Job's gates without help! I would rather that my right arm were torn off at the shoulder!" Rising from the table, Job personally went down to the gate with his servants to see. (Job 31:16-19,22)
An old man stepped forward and said, Help, O good master! Many months ago Sabean raiders stole all of our flocks and possessions. Since then juniper roots have been our meat, and we have dwelled in the cliffs and caves! We suffer in the rain and the cold! We've toiled, day after day, naked and destitute, in the fields and olive-orchards of your neighbors, but still we go hungry!
Please help us!" (Job 24:2-12; 30: 3-7)
Job looked in pity at the bedraggled, dirty old man. Here was a man he would not even have hired to watch his flocks along with his sheepdogs! (Job 30:1) Yet still..."So! My neighbors have not fed you?!-Then I shall!", Job declared.
Immediately he directed his servants to give warm clothing and blankets to the cold, huddling group of beggars. He then had his servants bring out portions of his own meal for these poor to eat. (Job 31:16-22,31-32)
Job was very pleased with himself and slept well that night, but the next morning he was troubled. He thought about his sons and daughters feasting and drinking and worried. "What if they became drunk last night and cursed God in their hearts or sinned?"
Immediately he took ten lambs and sacrificed them to the Lord. "Please forgive My children if they have sinned!", he prayed. In the days that followed, as Job's sons and daughters continued their feasting, Job kept up his prayers and sacrifices for them early each morning. (Job 1:4-5)
High above far, far beyond the dusty plains and mountain 0f Uz, in an indescribably beautiful Realm beyond the sight of Man, a very unusual scene was taking place.
The sons of God, Angels great in power and magnificent glory, were presenting themselves before the throne of God. Suddenly a herald Angel announced, "O Lord God, Satan requests an audience with You!"
Knowing full well why the Devil had come, the Lord gave him permission to enter, and soon a dark figure swaggered across the shimmering Sea of Glass toward His throne. (Job 1:6)"Have you been thinking about My servant Job?", the Lord challenged. "There is no one on Earth like him; he is good and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil!"
The Lord replied, "Very well, you shall see--everything he has is in your hands. But on Job himself do not lay a finger!
Then Satan left the presence of the Lord, and went down to the barren Arabian desert. Soon he had turned the desert breeze into a "dust devil", and then into a howling sandstorm whipping its way across the barren rocks and sand towards the land of Uz.
To the East of Uz, there was a drunken party in the camp of the Babylonian traders. "Why should we by 100 of Job's camels?", the caravan leader shouted, "Look!-We're armed! We can steal them all instead!"
To the Southeast, there was a stir in the desert camp of the Sabean nomads. "Mount your horses!", Ras-Houid roared to his men, a fiery gleam In his eyes. "We've longed hoped to strike against the rich lands of Job, and now is the time!"
The warriors raced to saddle their horses, and soon there was a thunderous din as hundreds of savage raiders raced at breakneck speed across the desert salt-flats towards the land of Uz. Late in the afternoon of the next day, they reined in upon a hill overlooking the fields where Job's oxen were finishing their plowing.
"A terrible desert wind shall strike soon!", Ras-Houid observed, watching the sky grow black and turbulent.-"But we shall be long gone before it is here!" He slid his glistening sword out of its sheath waved it high above his head and shouted, "Attack!!"
Job was sitting in his house that evening with his wife, enjoying his meal. In the background, as he dined, his said-servants were softly playing a lyre and flute.
Suddenly a messenger burst into the dining hall! His clothes were ripped, his arm was bleeding, and he gasped, "My lord Job, the oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, when suddenly the Sabeans attacked and carried them off! They killed all your servants with the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped alive!"
In shocked disbelief, Job rose hastily to his feet, and had the messenger describe to him what had happened. While the messenger was still speaking, suddenly another servant burst into the room, his clothing and hair singed, and cried out, "Master! - Fire fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and your servants watching them! It was a disaster! Only I survived!"
While he was still talking, another messenger staggered into the room and said, "The Babylonians formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried all 3,000 of them off! They killed all of your servants! Only I am left alive!"
Job slumped backwards into his chair stunned!-But the worst news was yet to come! A final messenger raced into the room threw himself weeping at Job's feet and said, "Your sons and your daughters were feasting at the oldest brother's house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and smashed against the house! The house collapsed on top of them, killing them all!--Only I escaped from it alive!"
When Job heard this, he moaned, stood up and tore his richly-decorated robe from the top to the bottom! Throughout the sleepless night he paced back and forth in his mansion, torn apart with grief! All he had left was an empty house! His wealth, his servants and even his children were ... gone!
But the Devil was not done with him yet. Only days later, he obtained permission from the Lord to further test Job, and afflicted him with painful, festering boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head!
Job felt more wretched than any man alive, and finding a heap of ashes behind his house, he slumped down in it. Picking up a piece of a broken earthen pot, he began to carefully scrape away the pus oozing out of his sores. Even his own wife finally reviled him in disgust and told him, "Curse God and die!" But at least he refused to deny his faith in God, and replied, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!"-In other words "Even if He doesn't heal Me!"
As the days passed, Job continued sitting on the ash-heap, wearily scraping at his painful sores and scabs. His skin grew black and peeled, his body burned with fever, and one by one, his few remaining servants deserted him. His wife and all his relatives despised him, and even small boys and the dirtiest beggars avoided him except to stop and mock him and spit upon him. (Job 7:5; 19:13-20, 30: 1,7-10, 30)
Job had some very wealthy friends in Edom and other neighboring countries, who, after hearing of his calamity, met together and journeyed to his estate in Uz. How different it all looked! His usually well-kept properties were deserted and had begun to fall into ruin. When they saw Job from a distance, sitting on the ashes, covered with sores and so thin he was only skin and bones, they could hardly recognize him! (Job 2:11-13, 19:20) Dismounting from their camels, they sat beside him, weeping.
For seven days and nights they didn't say a word, for they saw that his grief was great. Finally Job's sorrow was uncontrollable, and he burst forth with bitter complaint that he had been brought to such great ruin! "The thing that I greatly feared has come upon me!", he cried out. (Job 3:1-14; 10:1; 3:25)
His friend, Eliphaz the Temanite from Edom, chided him for complaining that God was mistreating him. "Can a man be more righteous than God? Or can he be more just than his Maker?" he asked. (Job 4:17-18)
But Job was beyond listening to counsel, and bitterly complained that God was punishing him for no reason, that he had done nothing wrong! (Job 6:8-9)
Bildad the Shuhite, an Arab, protested, "How long will you say such things? Does God pervert justice?' (Job 8:1-3)
Again Job insisted that he was completely innocent, but Zophar the Naamathite from Northern Edom, contested, "How can you say to God, 'I am pure in Your sight?!' No man is completely innocent!" (Job 11:4)
Sarcastically Job replied, "Oh, doubtless you are 'the people', and when you die, wisdom shall perish from the Earth! But who doesn't know such things as you are telling me? I know all this already! I tell you, all of you are worthless physicians! If you would just keep silence, for you, that would be wisdom! Now shut up and let me speak!" - And again he began to protest his innocence! (Job 12:1-3, 13:4-5,13,18,23)
Eliphaz responded, "But how can you say you're totally innocent? What is man that he could be pure or righteous?" (Job16:11-17) "Know that God has wronged me!", he complained (Job 19:6-11)
Zophar replied that Job must have sinned, because God judges evildoers, not good men (Job 20:all), but Job answered that God often lets the wicked get away with their sins, so what was the point of serving God and trying to be good if He treated the righteous this way! (Job 21:7-14, 34:9)
Again, Bildad pled with Job saying, "How can a man be righteous compared to God?"
But Job snapped back, "As surely as God lives, Who has denied me justice, I will never admit that you are right! I will maintain my righteousness as long as I live!" (Job 25:4, 27:2-6)
Then Job began to argue, "Look! I have delivered the poor and the fatherless and the destitute that cried for help! I have caused the widow's heart to sing for joy! I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my judgment was like a robe and a royal crown! I was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame and a father to the poor! (Job 29:12-17)
"I have sworn that I would never look at a woman lustfully!", he cried. "And I've always treated my servants fairly. I wasn't greedy and covetous with my great wealth! No! Oh, if God would only weigh me in honest scales, He would know that I am blameless!" (Job 31:1,6,9-10,13-18,24-25)
Finally, the Bible says, "These three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes!" (Job 32:1)
It was apparent That Job's main problems was self-righteousness, but Job's three friends had not fully understood that. Instead, they felt sure that God had judged him because he wasn't righteous, and that he must have committed some grave crime or injustice! (Job 22:4-11) - Which actually was not the case, for Job had been very "righteous" and done many "good deeds". And Job knew it! - Which was why they hadn't been able to convince him!
A young man named Elihu had sat listening respectfully as Job's three old friends had argued with him, and now, as he clearly saw what the problem was, he became angry with them because, though they had not been able to come up with a valid reason for accusing Job, yet they had still critically condemned him! (Job 32:1-5)
Elihu was also angry with Job, "because he justified himself rather than God"! (Job 32:2) "In accusing God of unrighteousness," Elihu scolded Job, "you have foolishly blamed God for your troubles just like any wicked man would have done! Job this is rebellion against God!" (Job 34:7-9,36-37)
Turning first to the three friends, then to Job, Elihu said, "Job has said, 'I am righteous, but God has denied me justice!' Job, do you think this is right, that you have said, 'My righteousness is more than God's'?" (Job 34:5: 35:2)
Suddenly, just as Elihu finished speaking, the sky grew strangely dark and a great whirlwind moved across the land toward them! Above the fierce howling of the wind, out of the midst of the storm, the Voice of the Lord spoke to Job: "Your words are without knowledge! Will anyone who contends with God correct Him?" (Job 38:2, 40:2)
Job trembled, frightened half out of his wits and stammered, "Behold, I am vile! How can I answer You? I will put my hand over my mouth and speak no more!" (Job 40:3-5)
The Lord continued, 'Would you discredit My justice? Would you condemn Me to justify yourself?" (Job 40:8)
Job replied, 'O Lord, surely I spoke of things I did not understand! Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes! Forgive me!" (Job 42:3,6)
Job totally repented, now realizing that his sin had been self-righteous pride, and Job's three friends were quite pleased that he had finally confessed some sin!-But now it was their turn, and the Lord rebuked them for having been so critical and mistaken in their charges against Job, and told Job - now humble and repentant--to pray for Him to have mercy on them! (Job 42:7-10)
Then, soon after Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord healed him and soon made him prosperous again, and gave him twice as many flocks and possessions as he'd had before! Seven more sons and three daughters were born to him and he lived many, many more years, long enough to see his great, great grand-children!
Food For Thought:
1.) Most Christians do not understand "why the Lord treated Job so badly", and think that the main lesson of the Book of Job was his faith and great patience despite his "undeserved troubles and afflictions", they say. In mistakenly agreeing with Job's complaints that God treated him unfairly, they're missing the whole point of the Book!
2.) Why did God let the Devil afflict Job? - A.) To test his faith, and B.) to humble him, as up till that time, he was quite proud of his own righteousness! Job finally saw that he wasn't good and that only God was good - and that his own righteousness was "filthy rags" in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6), and he needed to depend utterly on God's mercy.
3.) Some people think that Job was right all along, and his friends were wrong, because in Job 42:7 the Lord says, "You have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has".-But God was referring here to Job's repentance!-Because up until that time, Job was doing nothing but complaining against the Lord and accusing Him of perverting justice!
4.) One of the most dangerous things anyone can do is start blaming God when things go wrong, saying, "Why me, Lord?!-Why do this to me when I'm so good?" Such murmuring is pure self-righteousness, and God won't tolerate it!
5.) Job's three friends were right in much of their accusations! They knew that something was wrong with him!-And it turned out that he did have a very serious sin: self-righteousness! All along Job had protested how good he was, and this in itself was a sin!-The worst of all sins, in fact!
6.) The Book of Job is a lesson in faith and patience (James 5:11), but more than anything else, the main lesson it contains is against self-righteousness! Job's sin was that he was so confident of his own righteousness and proud of his "perfection"! We've fallen prey to this same sin many times, but may we-like Job-learn that only God is righteous! "For by grace are ye saved by faith, and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9)
He came to Earth as a tiny, weak and helpless baby, born to a simple, humble young girl who miraculously conceived the Child, having never slept with any man! In fact, the news of her pregnancy was so shocking that when the man to whom she was engaged to be married learned about it, he promptly decided to break the engagement and call off the wedding.--Until a powerful Heavenly Being intervened and instructed him to stay with her and rear and protect this very special Child that she was carrying.
Although ordained and predestined to be a KING, in fact the King OF kings, He was not born in a palace with famous and glorious members of the court in attendance and the honour and praise of the System. Instead, He was born on the dirty floor of a barn amidst the cattle and the donkeys, wrapped in rags and laid to rest in the animal's feed-trough.
And though His birth brought no great fanfare or recognition from the institutions and governments of Men, that night on a nearby hillside, a motley crew of poor shepherds were awestruck as a brilliant, almost blinding light burst upon them from the starry sky and an host of Angels filled the night with their Heavenly declaration and song: "Glory to God in the highest! Peace on Earth to men of good will! For unto you this day is born a SAVIOUR, Christ the Lord!"
Far away in the East, another herald appeared in the Heavens, a bright STAR that caught the attention of certain wise men, who interpreted its meaning and followed it, crossing thousands of miles of desert, as it led them to the exact location of the young Child in that little town of Bethlehem, where they honoured Him with their precious gifts.
His earthly father was a carpenter, a humble hewer of wood with whom He lived and laboured, conforming to our human ways of life, custom, language and living that He might understand and love us better and communicate with us on the lowly level of our own limited human understanding!--He learned to LOVE Mankind. He saw their suffering and had great compassion on them, longing to not only heal their sick and broken bodies, but also to save their immortal spirits!
When the time came and He began his life's work, He went about everywhere doing good.--Helping people, loving children, healing heartaches, strengthening tired bodies, saving whom He could. He not PREACHED His message, but He LIVED it amongst us. He not only ministered to their spiritual needs, but He spent a great deal of time ministering to their physical and material needs, miraculously healing them when they were sick, feeding them when they were hungry and sharing His life and His Love!
He was so simple and His religion was so simple that He said you must become as a little CHILD to receive it! He didn't preach Temple worship, He didn't preach going to synagogue nor going to church, He didn't preach any complicated ceremonies or difficult rules.--All he did was preach LOVE and show Love, as He strove to lead God's children into the True Kingdom of God, whose only laws are to "love the Lord with all thy heart" and "love thy neighbour as thyself".
He had very little to do with the high-fallutin', rich-robed, churchy scribes, pharisees and hypocrites--the religious leaders of that day--except when they insisted on annoying Him with their critical questions. Then He would sock it to them, publicly exposing them as the "blind leaders of the blind" that they were, even telling them that they were like white-washed SEPULCHRES, which indeed appear beautiful, clean and holy on the OUTSIDE, but WITHIN are full of rottenness, corruption and stinking dead men's bones!
He was not a mere religious reformer, He was a REVOLUTIONARY! He refused to compromise with the false religious system, but rather worked totally OUTSIDE of it, reaching and sharing His Love with the poor and common folk who had long ago abandoned and been abandoned by organised religion. He never went into any bar with whip in hand, breaking up the bottles and throwing out the bartender. Nor did He ever enter any brothel, beating up the poor girls, overturning their beds and throwing the men out the window.--But He DID make a whip, go into their big beautiful religious Temple, overturn the tables, spill out the money and drive the money-mad money-changers out of the church, condemning them for turning what was supposed to be a house of prayer into a den of thieves!
He made Himself of no reputation, and was a companion of drunks and prostitutes, publicans and sinners, the outcasts and downtrodden of society. He even told them that they would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before the so-called "good" people, the self-righteous and religious leaders who re jected Him and His simple Message of Love. The power of His Love and of His appeal was so great and gave such great faith to the sincere truth-seekers that they didn't hesitate to drop everything they had and forsake all immediately to become His full-time followers!
Once, while crossing a lake in a small boat with His disciples, when a great storm arose and the boat was in danger of sinking, He commanded the winds and the waves to cease--and immediately there was a great calm! His disciples, astonished by such a demonstration of miraculous power, exclaimed to one another, "What manner of man IS this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!"
Throughout His ministry He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleansed lepers and raised the dead! In fact, so marvellous were His works that they prompted a leading member of the religious establishment that most bitterly opposed and resented Him to exclaim, "We KNOW that You are come from God!--For no man could do these miracles that You do unless GOD were with Him!"
As His Message of Love spread and His followers multiplied, the established reli gion and its jealous leaders realised what a THREAT this formerly unknown carpenter had become to them! His simple doctrine of Love was LIBERATING the people from the control of the hypocritical High Priests, the big-shot religionists, and was therefore destroying their entire religious system, their religious authority, their power and control and hold on people.
These powerful religious enemies finally had Him arrested and brought to trial on false charges of sedition and subversion. And although the governor found Him innocent, he was pressured and persuaded by these religionists to execute Him. Just prior to His arrest, He had said, "They couldn't even TOUCH Me without My Father's permission! If I would but raise My little finger, He would send legions of angels to rescue Me!"--But instead, He CHOSE to die--to save you and me! Nobody TOOK His life from Him, He LAID it down, He GAVE His life of His Own free will and accord.
But even His death did not satisfy His jealous enemies! To ensure that His followers couldn't steal His body and claim He'd come back to life, they placed a huge stone over the door of His tomb and posted a group of Roman soldiers there to guard it.--A scheme that proved futile, as these same guards became witnesses to the greatest miracle of all!--Three days after His lifeless body was laid to rest in that cold tomb, He ROSE from the dead, the Victor over all death and hell forever!
Death itself could not stop His work nor His Words! He rose to lead His tiny band of followers to ultimate victory--to overthrow the Roman Empire with Love and the power of the Gospel! And the Love of God simply rolled right on over His jealous enemies like a giant tidal wave to cover the whole Earth!--And they were left far behind--as dead and dry as He said they'd be!
Since that miraculous day nearly 2,000 years ago, this same man, Jesus Christ, has done more to change history and the course of civilisation and the condition of Man than any other leader, group, government or Empire before Him or since! He has saved BILLIONS from the death of a hopeless, Christless tomb and has given Eternal Life and the Love of God to all who call upon His Name. This man, Jesus Christ, is not merely a philosopher or teacher or rabbi or guru, or even a prophet.--He is THE Son of God! God, the Great Creator, is a SPIRIT and is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere and in everything--far beyond our limited human comprehension! So He sent JESUS, in the form of a MAN, to show us what He Himself is like and to bring us to Himself. And although many great teachers have spoken and taught ABOUT Love and ABOUT God, He IS Love and He IS God!--The only One Who died for the sins of the World and rose from the dead! So He's in a class all by Himself, because He's the only SAVIOUR! He said, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!--No man cometh unto the Father but by ME!"
How can YOU find out and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ really IS the Son of God, the way to Salvation?--The answer is simple: TRY Him! Simply humble yourself and sincerely ask Him to reveal Himself to you!--Ask Him to come into your heart, forgive you of all your sins and fill your life with His Love, peace and joy!
He's REAL and He loves YOU!--So much so that He DIED in YOUR place and suffered for YOUR sins so that YOU wouldn't have to if you'll just RECEIVE Him and His free Gift of Eternal Life! But He can't save you unless you WANT Him to! His Love is all-powerful, but He won't FORCE His way into your life. He KNOCKS at the door of your heart.--He doesn't kick it in or break it down. He stands there gently, meekly, in loving patience, waiting for YOU to open up and ask Him in.
Will YOU receive Him?--If so, He will be the most precious One in your life!--Your closest Friend and Companion Who will be with you ALWAYS!--For He alone is the Lover of ALL lovers, Who CAME for love and LIVED in love and DIED for love that WE might LIVE and LOVE FOREVER!
You can personally receive Jesus into your own heart right now by sincerely praying this simple prayer: "Dear Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I believe You died for me. I believe You're the Son of God, & I now ask You to come into my life. I open the door & I invite You into my heart. Jesus, please come in & help me to confess You before others that they may find You too. In Jesus' name I ask, amen."
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