Heaven’s perspective overshadows earth's reality.
Job’s story transitions the reader from the Creation Era, which provides context to his unbelievable faith, to the Patriarchal Era. The stories of Creation, the Fall, Cain and Abel, the Flood, and the tower of Babel ignite his faith. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Little detail about Job is given beyond his immediate family. Job understands that sin separates a man from His creator and that sin is atoned through substitutionary death, “Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom” (Job 1:5b) This earthly and regular action provokes a heavenly response and the LORD introduces Satan to Job, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 5:8). Job is oblivious to this heavenly conversation until the end of the story. All he has to ground his faith in God, in spite of terrible suffering, are The Creation Era stories. They teach faith-inducing truths about God.
Satan’s attacks, through tremendous loss and physical pain, severely test Job’s faith. His drama captures the theological battle between trusting in the substitutionary death of the innocent on behalf of the guilty for righteousness (revelation) or listening to his wife, his friends and following their pursuit of righteousness via reason and logic, tradition, and experience. Those are topics for the following few days. In the meantime, Job's narrative teaches a number of truths:
- Even during the darkest days of history a remnant exists who trust and worship the Living God.
- There is always more going on in the spiritual realm than eye can see or mind grasp, but that faith can endure.
- Understanding God’s character provokes trust in the hearts of those who suffer.
- Satan attacks man to discourage and defeat his faith in God. Faith is the only thing that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) therefore, Satan seeks to strip Job of his faith in God.
Ezekiel mentions a triumvirate of men renown for their faith: Noah, Daniel, and Job (14:14,20). Could it be that Noah was Job’s role model of the faith life? And that Noah and Job modeled the faith that prevailed in Daniel's life. All three lived under dire circumstances and all three persevered. Their faith in the veracity of God’s Word and the goodness of His character produced men of great perseverance under trial.
“Indeed we count them blessed who endured. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Job, without any inclination of heaven's conversation until the end of his drama, persevered in trusting in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Believers today have a record of thousands of years of His Story to fuel our faith. We must immerse ourselves in these early stories to acquaint ourselves with the God of Abel, Noah, and Job.
God is good. He does good.
"Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
Like a train running on parallel tracks Job's life (and ours) run on the parallel tracks of the seen (the natural realm) and the unseen (the spiritual realm). There is always more going on than what the natural eye can see and the unenlightened mind can comprehend.
Reality is two-dimensional: one seen, the other unseen. The seen (the natural world) is usually the arena in which the drama of unseen reality (spiritual and eternal) is being played out. It is the unseen that gives meaning to the seen. Rather than negating the seen, the unseen frames it and gives it a reference point. It takes faith in God to trust Him with the seen and its trouble when the unseen remains hidden.
Job was oblivious to the conversations in heaven until the end of the story. All he had to ground him in the seen world was his view of God. God's confidence in Job was not misplaced. He knew that Job feared God and shunned evil. Job's fear of God is revealed in his understanding that men are sinners (including his children!) and that sin must be atoned for by the shedding of the blood of an innocent animal.
James uses Job's life to teach believers to trust God and persevere when your 'seen' world falls apart, "Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end entended by the LORD--that the LORD is very compassionate and merciful" (James 5:11). God never revealed to Job his intended end; Job didn't know that God would later restore rebuild his family and restore his health and fortune. His 'seen' world required faith in the goodness of God. Job's view of God came from the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Though his world fell apart his view of God remained intact.
Your view of God determines how you live when life in 'seen" falls apart. Can God trust you, like He did with Job, to trust Him with the unseen dimension?
May heaven's agenda and activity become my reality as I trust God in the here and now.
"While we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- FYI. Job lives approximately 500 years after the flood occurred. Noah's son, Shem, was still living. Job (and Abraham) had access to first hand accounts of the flood. Job obviously feared the Lord.
- What does Job understand about God? About sin? About burnt offerings?
- Where had Job obtained his knowledge about God?
- Who brings Job's name up first?
- What is God's view of Job?
- What does this story reveal about God? (2 Chron. 16:9)
- What do these opening chapters of Job teach about Satan? His power? His limitations?
- What does Satan think will cause Job to curse God?
- How does Job's wife response to Job's afflictions differ from that of Job?
- How do people typically view God when they are in the midst of suffering?
Ask the Spirit of the Living God to enlarge your understanding of the Majestic and Sovereign One.