Story of Job: Every Man’s Path to Paradise
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The story of Job offers an answer to the question that always seems to be raised when tragedy strikes man: “Why did this happen?” Suffering in a world that God loves is difficult to grasp, especially to those who believe, as the author of Job stated, that all things are controlled by God. Man often wonders, “How could a loving God allow this calamity to occur?”
Story of Job under girded by two presuppositions of all things created.
Even to begin to struggle with understanding the why question—“Why do bad things happen to good people”— there are two presuppositions that must be recognized. First, the natural created process of the ways of life causes physical things to be prone to weakness, inclined to decay, and disposed to die (1 Cor. 15:42-44). Secondly, cruel and violent behavior is often perpetrated on other creatures by the degradation of the human mind (Rom. 1:18-32).
Ultimately, the answer to the why question will evolve out of understanding why these two negative presuppositions are permitted to exist in a positive world. It is to understand why God “placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24).
The first presumption can be illustrated by observing several examples of the way of most things created. The sunrise only occurs after the sunset. The day follows the night. The bloom of the flower comes out of the planting of the seed. Spring occurs after fall. God explained this profound mystery of good coming out of what is often perceived as that which is less than good to Noah. After the great flood, God said “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). In others words, a day of life for the creature will always have an evening and a morning (Gen. 1:1-31).
In the beginning of creation according to the author of Genesis, God made the darkness and the light, the earth and the heaven, the sea and the land, the ground and the grass, the sun and the moon, the water and the fish, the ground and the living creatures, and the male and the female. Mysteriously, it is not only impossible to have one without the other, but also the manifestation of one occurs only in the absence of the other.
Jesus proclaimed this great mystery when he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). Everything in the natural process of life does have its seedtime and its harvest, its hot and its cold, its day and its night, and its evening and its morning. In the wonder of the created world, the potential for much fruit of the planted seed occurs only when the seed falls to the ground and dies.
Story of Job is not about wickedness and goodness of man.
With the physical (temporal) being animated by the spiritual (eternal), it will require all things physical to be renewed to perpetuate their existence: “In the morning [all things physical] flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening [they are] cut down, and withereth (Ps. 90:6). The seed falling to the ground and dying, the setting of the sun to usher in the night, and the withering of the fall do not occur because of their wickedness. Neither do the tasteful fruit, the glorious sunrise, and the bloom of the spring occur because of their goodness. This natural progression of withering and flourishing of all things physical, without any failure or merit of their own, is the order of every created entity.
So it is with man. Since the treasure of life for man is in an earthen vessel, the experiences of life will occur in a physical body that is prone to weakness, inclined to decay, and disposed to die (1 Cor. 15:42-44). This natural process of all things physical to be weak, to decay, and to die does not occur because of an innate wickedness of man. Paul simply stated, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).
He would also add that, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Many experiences of life just naturally happen to man because the treasure of life is in an earthen vessel without any regard to wickedness or goodness.
Story of Job is a tale about what goes on in Job’s mind.
In addition to recognizing that many things happen in the physical world simply because of the ways of life (Acts 2:28), it also must be understood that many times bad things happen because God has given freedom to the thinking process of man. Although every living organism will fight to survive and even kill to get their food, there is only one order of created beings that continually create death camps, mass genocides, and shootings in public places. Sadly, it is only the human species of creation that acts with such cruel and wicked behavior.
Since this behavior is exhibited only in the human being among all living organisms, there must be something innate in the nature of man that will allow this unnatural behavior to occur. The innateness of this behavior, however, is not because man was created with a cruel, wicked nature. The record is clear that the creation of man was judged by God to be nothing but “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Man was not created nor is he born into the world with any kind of defect in his nature. Yet, that defective, violent nature can and often does evolve. Again, it is a behavior (death camps, mass genocides, and shootings) that is exhibited only by the human being.
Man was created with a mind unlike any other mind found in any living organism. He can do with his mind what no other species of creation can do with their minds. Because man not only thinks, feels, and wills with his mind but also has the capability to think about his thinking, he can develop a reservoir of knowledge by which to guide his actions. It is in the reality of this characteristic of what it means to be human as opposed to any other created entity that allows the possibility for wicked, cruel behavior to be developed.
Man is given, as an act of creation in the birthing process of life itself, the ability to comprehend, the ability to learn. Again, this unique ability is a freedom that can only be expressed ultimately by the mind of man. In addition, this freedom is also unique only in the mind of man.
In other words, once this freedom is exercised by the mind of man to develop a reservoir of knowledge to guide behavior, the exact behavior guided by the reservoir of knowledge will occur. Once the freedom to exercise this freedom occurs, man is no longer free. He becomes a slave to his thinking. One of the early followers of Jesus simply summarized it as, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom. 6:16). Once the freedom to exercise the freedom to comprehend occurs, all men become slaves to what they comprehend. Every man becomes guided by his own perspective.
Story of Job reveals that men becoming slaves to what they comprehend.
It is within the freedom given to the mind of man to be able to comprehend that enables the possibility of faulty or defective thinking to exist. It is the reason why man, created perfectly good with no inclinations to wickedness, can develop imperfect behavior that is far from the goodness of which he was created. Wickedness is not hereditary; it is always the product of the human mind. More specifically, it is the product of human thinking gone wrong.
Paul illustrated this point when he wrote to the Romans, “Because that, when [the ungodly and unrighteous men] knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). The problem began before they were ungodly and unrighteous when they were intimately experiencing God as an undifferentiated being. Their failure was, although they were experiencing God, they never “glorified him as God, neither were thankful.” The ground of their failure, according to Paul, began with the vain imaginations of their mind.
Just how long did it take in the original creation of man before Eve began to perceive how good it would be to discern for herself what was good and what was evil? She was given the freedom to comprehend, but her learning took her down and away from God by the act of her comprehension. She, also, in her vain imaginations began to perceive that this ability to discern would make her wise (Gen. 3:1-6). Once partaking in the freedom of her mind to perceive, she, too, became a slave to her comprehension (Gen. 3:7-14).
The real paradox of the freedom of the mind to be able to think about its thinking is the seeming impossibility to do anything else but begin to perceive that it can control its own destiny. When the knowledge of the mind comes through the observations of the senses instead of the illumination of the Spirit, the mind itself will begin to think that it is the core of its existence. The exercise of the mind through its sensing network will become the sole architect of its behavior. With the ability to comprehend, unique to the human mind, comes the ability to comprehend wicked and cruel behavior.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, further explained this process of the downward road to destructive behavior. He wrote:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
He further stated,
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
Finally, he wrote,
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom. 1:18-32).
Again, the process of this downward road to wicked and cruel behavior began with, “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” The end of the descending road culminated with, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” The human mind created to be very good, after exercising its freedom to comprehend, becomes very bad in its comprehension.
All of the atrocities ever perpetrated on man can be found in that long list of the consequences of a reprobate mind. To emphasize, the “inventors [a discoverer, that is, contriver] of evil things,” according to Paul, is the product of human thinking. Again, wickedness, even extreme cruelty, is not hereditary; it is always the product of the human mind.
With the literal meaning of reprobate being “worthless mind (translated “debased mind” by one translation), Paul implied that wicked, cruel behavior is the comprehension of human thinking gone wrong. He describes this fall of the human mind to the Philippians:
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things (Phil. 3:18, 19).
Story of Job is the challenge of the human mind.
The glory given to the human mind to be able to comprehend, to gain comprehension, becomes the shame of man when the exercise of that mind is turned to earthly things. When the human mind begins to perceive that its own thinking can be as God, the results can only be the development of wicked and cruel behavior. Mysteriously, this man of sin must first be revealed before man can become the man of righteousness (2 Thess. 2:1-4).
In the wonder of the created mind of man, the wickedness of man is a perquisite before man can come to know the goodness of God. The good can only be known by experiencing the bad. It is, as in the story of Job, every man’s path to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
Again, as Paul wrote to the Romans, this process that occurs in the natural working of the mind happens
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
All men know (intimately experience) God from the beginning of their existence. In other words, whether it was by the original creation of man or by the birthing process of every man “without him [the Expression of God] there was not [and is not] anything made that was made” (John 1:3). God is the light that lights every man who comes into the world (John 1:9).
At a very early age, possibly soon after the infant takes the first breath, man begins to exercise his mind largely through and by the sensing network. This truth is illustrated again by Paul in his description of the downward road. He wrote to the Roman saints:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Rom. 1:18-21).
The meaning behind the word used by Paul that is translated the wrath of God is “properly desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind.)” It, in turn, is derived from a root word meaning, “to stretch oneself, that is, reach out after (long for).”
How long after the birth of the child does the mind begin to reach out after or long for what it observes?
The reaching forth of the mind through the observation of the senses eventually develops the belief of independence as a differentiated being. The glorifying of itself starts the mind down a long downward road to destruction unless God intervenes. The punishment at the end of the road is the natural result of a mind consumed with itself. In other words, God does not punish man because he has committed sin. The wrong done by man contains within itself the punishment of the wrong done.
The story of Job proclaims when man exercises the freedom to comprehend, he becomes a slave to what he has comprehended. Eventually, the bondage of the potential and now active destructive behavior in the sin drives the man to despair. The man of sin has been revealed by the circumstances of uncontrollable wicked behavior. God has so worked in the natural to prepare the way for the coming of the spiritual.
The “wilderness experiences” in the story of Job
In the time of Jesus, the man called John the Baptist illustrated this profound truth by his life. He not only was the man who prepared the way for the coming of the God-Man Jesus, he is the great parable, the ultimate metaphor, of the preparation of all men for the coming of Jesus into their lives. The Gospel of John simply declared: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe” (John 1:6, 7).
It is the wilderness experiences of all men, as illustrated by the life of John, which prepare the way for the coming of Christ into their lives. Hear the cry of one who experienced such calamities:
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils [danger] of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (2 Cor. 11:24-27).
After experiencing these many wilderness experiences, Paul was still able to say to others who were going through similar rough places, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [literal translation of angels is messengers]” (2 Thess. 1:7). It is always the wilderness experience, the messenger of God, who prepares the way for the coming of Jesus to bring deliverance: “As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee” (Mark 1:2). This is what is happening in the story of Job.
In addition, Paul stated, concerning them who were causing the rough places, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you” (2 Thess. 1:6). He also added, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess. 1:8, 9). Those who act in cruel and wicked behavior will receive their just punishment. You can rest assured that no one gets away with anything. The story of Job illustrates this point.
Story of Job is the anguish of a suffering soul.
Finally, the why question, above all else, is the cry of a suffering soul as death is being experienced. As Jesus was dying on the cross, his cry was, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). His cry did not come out of a failure to understand the ways of life. He knew that He would be raised from the dead. His cry did not come from a lack of understanding that mean-spirited people have the capability for cruel and wicked behavior. His cry was the anguish of a suffering soul.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” is actually a testament to the power of life. It there was little pain in experiencing the dying process, then there would be little joy in the living process. Jesus knew that he would be raised from the dead, but the glory of the resurrection is inseparably tied to the agony of death. The why question is ultimately the cry of a person who knows he has this treasure of life in an earthen vessel.
Story of Job questions man’s trust in God.
The real thought that should come to man when bad things happen to good people should not be just the why, but ultimately the issue in experiencing the dying process is trust. Story of Job proclaims that bad things will happen in life, not only from the natural order of the ways of life, but also from the degradation of the human mind. Story of Job has Job not only suffering from natural calamities, but also he was suffering from the cruel behavior of wicked men. It is a hard lesson to learn, but regardless of how man experiences the mortality of his existence, can he trust God?
Can man trust God to build around him a cocoon of protection, as in the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly?
Can he trust God that a great metamorphosis is at work in his life?
Can he trust God that something very beautiful is coming out of something that is perceived to be very ugly?
Is this not the real story of Job?
The author of the book uses a powerful metaphor of a man named Job and his interaction with his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, to reveal the process of perfection—the path to Paradise. The story of Job reveals the great metamorphosis of how God works through the circumstances of life to bring man to where he is intended to dwell.
Created to abide in Paradise, man participates in the way of the Tree of Life (with its why and trust issues) which takes man through his dependency, his independency, and finally to his interdependency. This glorious union of God, Job, and his family and friends is the ultimate expression of soul-satisfaction in the world. The story of Job is the metamorphosis of experiencing the way of the Tree of Life in Paradise. This is the great lesson of the story of Job. It can also be your story.
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The struggle of the human mind to exist in a constantly changing world is the story of Job. The actual physical events in the life of Job are recorded but it is how Job responds to those events that is the real story. The account of Job and his life, as I have come to understand it, is nothing more or nothing less than the struggle of one man’s mind as it encounters God at work in his world. I think we will be able to see through the story of Job how that in the life of every man the human mind can become and often is the adversary to the ways of God at work in his life.
The life of Job can be summarized by three different statements by the author of the story. The beginning of the story is found in Chapter One:
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:1-3).
The end of the story is found in Chapter Forty-Two:
“So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch” (Job 42:12-14).
The author has given us the beginning and the end, the before and the after. But the heart of the story is neither the beginning nor the ending. The story of Job, a journey to perfection (the capture of Paradise), is about what goes on between the before and the after.
The essence of the heart of the story is actually summarized in Chapter Forty-Two:
“And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold” (Job 42:11,12).
With the word captivity meaning “exile; concretely prisoner” with its root meaning “transport into captivity,” the essence of the story of Job, basically thirty-nine chapters, reveals the struggle of man’s mind as it encounters the work of God in the world. It is the story of how the mind of man is transported into captivity when it becomes consumed not with the voice of God but with the advice of men.
The captivity of Job would only come to an end when he prayed for his three friends. With the word prayed meaning, “to judge (officially or mentally); by extension to intercede, pray,” the prison bars of Job’s captivity began to breakdown when he began to realize the foolishness of man’s wisdom. Job found relief from his mental prison when his intellect, his emotions, his will, and his conscious (the real friends of Job) were overcome by the voice of God. The successful navigation through that which is called evil by the author of Job can never be by the mind of man. It is only the Expression of God that can capture Paradise.
In this struggle of the human mind which always produces captivity for the besieged mind, the author of Job gives a special meaning for evil. First, one thing is clear in the telling of the story; the author of Job declares again and again that the evil Job experienced came from God.
For example, notice how the author of Job ties evil to the working of God. Besides the straightforward statement at the end of the story, “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him [Job]” (42:11), the author is clear in his many references that the “bad” things that happened to Job came from God:
“. . . Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).
The author of Job continued “. . . still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me [God] against him, to destroy him without cause” (2:3), “. . . [God] put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (2:5), “. . . the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away” (1:21), and “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil” (2:10).
Surprisingly to most in the modern world, evil not only played an integral part in the process of how God moved Job to his perfection but also plays an essential part in the working of God in the world. A more clear understanding of why the author of Job ties evil to God can be seen in the actual definition of the term. The word translated evil in Job and in the entire Old Testament means, “bad” from its root “to spoil.”
Are not the leaves falling to the ground, the winter coming, the rose wilting, and the sun setting a vital part of what God created? If spoiling does not occur in the reality of the created world, there can be no refreshing of the tree, no spring time, no beauty of a new, fresh rose, and no glory of the sunrise.
Shockingly, again, to most in the modern world, evil came into being by a created act of God. After God had finished bringing into existence his creation, he past judgment upon that creation: “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). In that proclamation that all of creation was very good is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9).
Although the tree of good and evil is very good, an integral part of how God keeps refreshing his presence in the created world, wickedness occurs always when man thinks he can control or produce the good and the bad. The wickedness that is produced by man when he begins to think he can control his life is the reason why God told man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gloom, despair, and agony are always produced in the mind when it begins to think it can control the process of life.
This is the story of Job, the story of the capturing Paradise. It begins with “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.” The setting of the story commences with an earthly scene. Job has been greatly blessed: he has a great family, great procession, great physical health, and great religious consciousness.
The scene of the story in telling the events of Job’s life then shifts to the heavenly realm, the metaphysical realm. The author of Job wrote, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord” (Job 1:6). All that God had created, called sons of God, came before the Lord. Among those that God created was one that seemed to stand out and above the rest of creation. The unique feature of this son of God was he could think, feel, and act.
As we will see, because this son of God has been created a personal being with intellect, emotions, and will, he will always use the working of that mind to challenge God. In the entire created world, this son of God with his intellect, his emotions, and his will becomes the only rival, the only adversary, to the mind of God. This creation of God, in the story of Job, constantly attacks God with an accusatory spirit. This rival is so prevalent in the story of Job that the author personifies the thinking of man as Satan (Hasatan, in the original), which is not a name but a title, the great rival to God.
God says to this personification of the mind of man which can think, feel, and will, “Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8)? The rival to God answers the Lord: “Doth Job fear God for nought” (Job 1:9)? He adds, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:10,11). God, in turn, says again to the personification of the mind of man, “Satan . . . behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD” (Job 1:12).
The scene shifts back to earth. The author of the story records that in one day Job met calamity after calamity. He lost all his oxen, all his donkeys, and all the servants watching over them; all his sheep and all of the servants herding them; all his camel were stolen and the servants killed, and all his children were killed by a great wind that destroyed the house where they were feasting.
The author of Job has Job first responding to these calamities:
“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:20-22).
The next scene of the story takes place back in the heavenly realm. Again, all that God had created (sons of God) came before the Lord. God said to them, particularly to the only one that could rival God “. . . still [Job] holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). To which, Hasatan responded, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 2:4,5). God simply said, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6).
After God spoke, the story shifts back to an earthly scene: “So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:7). This is the only reference that infers the rival of God actually did something to Job (one verse out of 1,070 verses). Job was covered from the soles of his feet to the top of his head with burning ulcerated inflammation (Just how much physical sickness is directly connected to the thinking of man’s mind?).
This illness was evidently repulsive to Job and everyone around him. Job took “a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes” (Job 2:8). Eventually, he would set on the ground for seven days and seven nights and not speak a word.
While sitting in the ashes on the ground, his friends would join him. The advice from his friends would soon begin. The consultations that would take place between Job and himself, Job and his wife, Job and his three friends, Job and a “young” observer present throughout all the consultations, and Job and God are the heart of the book of Job (39 of the 42 chapters). With the author of Job beginning his story with “There was a man in the land of Uz [meaning, land of consultation]” and 39 of the 42 chapters actually being consultations, the essence of the story will be the advice given to Job and what he will do with it.
Something had happened to Job in the seven days and seven nights of sitting in the ashes and not speaking a word. Before sitting down in the ashes, Job responded to what had occurred in his life with “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21) and speaking to his wife said, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil” (Job 2:10).
After dwelling in the ashes for seven days, Job responded: “[He] opened his mouth, and cursed his day . . . and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived” (Job 3:1-3); “Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly” (3:11); and “why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in” (Job 3:23). Something, indeed, had happened to Job, while sitting in the ashes.
There is a New Testament passage that explains the shift in Job’s thinking. Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:7,8). As we will see later, Job became intoxicated with the anxieties of life and it devoured him.
Job’s anxiousness about life would even become worse:
“Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. [(Job 6:2-4) and] Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death” (Job 10:18-21).
The entire book will center on the mind of man as it responds to the work of God in the world. The mind of man is seen as one of the sons of God who presented himself to the Lord. The mind of man is seen in the only son of God that challenges God and becomes a rival to the mind of God. The mind of man is seen in the devastation of Job interacting with his intellect, his will, and his emotions. The mind of man is seen with Job’s fourth consultation after the other three had ceased. The mind of man is seen in its final submission to the voice of God.
In the beginning of the story, Job is cursing the day he was born. Eliphaz, Job’s first friend, finally speaks:
“Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed” (Job 4:7-9). He believes that Job is suffering because he has sinned.
Eliphaz’ answer for Job is “Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good” (Job 5:27). Notice, he is emphasizing the intellect. He says the answer is to know. How many times have we heard ourselves say, “I should have known better?”
Bildad, Job’s second friend, then speaks, “How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice” (Job 8:2,3)? He also believes that Job is suffering because he has sinned.
Bildad’s answer for Job is, “If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous” (Job 8:6). Notice, he is emphasizing the will. Bildad’s answer is doing. How many times have we heard ourselves say, “I should have done better?
The third friend of Job, Zophar, now speaks, “Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified” (Job 11:2)? He then says, “And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth” (Job 11:6). He also believes that Job is suffering because he has committed sin.
The answer that Zophar gives to Job is “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope” (Job 11:13,16,18). He is emphasizing the emotions as the answer. Job just has to think differently to solve his problems. How many times have we heard ourselves say, “I should have not let that get to me?”
The ultimate answer for Job would not come from knowing, from doing, or from thinking positively. Job would finally say to his three friends, the personification of his intellect, his will, and his emotions, “Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it. What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God” (Job 13:1-3).
Job begins his plea for someone outside of himself: “Who is he that will plead with me? For now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost” (Job 13:19). “O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour” (6:21)!
Job’s plead for help would be heard. It began with Elihu, Job’s mysterious witness of all that was happening, when he said, “Behold, I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what to say. Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words: Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man” (Job 32:11-13).
The statements of Elihu, the personification of the Spirit of God, had a curious effect upon the three friends of Job: “They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking” (Job 32:16). How many times when our intellect, our emotions, and our will are finally controlled by the Holy Spirit we begin to hear God speaking to us?
God speaks to Job and declares his majesty:
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding (Job 38:1-4). Job begins to understand where the answer to his problems would be found: “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth” (Job 40:4).
In what we know as Chapters 38-41 of the story of Job, God speaks the words that begin to bring Job to the proper thinking of his mind. These four chapters can best be summarized by Paul of the New Testament:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36).
The words of God broke through to Job’s heart. He responded,
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).
Coming face to face with God and hearing his voice brought a profound change in the life of Job. Job said, “I abhor myself.” What caused Job to come to spurn himself? It was not his three friends (his intellect, his emotions, and his will). It was coming face to face with God and hearing Him.
Job was “turned from his captivity when he prayed for his three friends” (Job 42:10). With prayed meaning, “to judge (officially or mentally); by extension to intercede, pray,” Job came to know what had put him in captivity. It was not the circumstances he faced. It was how he faced those circumstances. It was his intellect, his will, and his emotions that put him behind prison bars.
Once again the early follower of Jesus, Paul, gives insight to this mystery of the struggles of life. He wrote to the believers at Rome, after he stated,
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36), he then wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). Paul reveals the mystery of good and evil in the statements: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” and “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” There will be a sacrifice, the spoiling of the good by the working of God, to bring forth the refreshing of God presence in the world.
Notice, that Paul is saying that this presenting your bodies is by the “mercies of God.” Paul had previously revealed something that is remarkable in the plight of man to understand his struggles in life and crucial to understand the story of Job. He had told the believers in Rome, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:15,16).
Do we not have somewhat of a mystery? Paul said, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” and “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” If it is not of him that willeth (a decision) and not of him that runneth (an action), how does one then present his body a living sacrifice?
Could it not be that the presenting of your body a living sacrifice in Romans is akin to abhor yourself in Job? Paul would add after “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” a powerful truth of the mystery of understanding evil. He stated, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Do not be conformed to the spoiling that naturally occurs in the world in order that you may experience the metamorphous of your life.
In the light of “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things,” is not Paul saying that the believer should not let the circumstances of life shape the experiencing of the life that he is living? In other words, do not let your intellect, your emotions, and your will take you into the captivity of your soul. You can be children of the free. You can be turned from your captivity. Your latter end can be greater than your beginning:
“So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren” (Job 42:12-15).
As Paul would say, “You can now by the spirit cry, Father, Father” (compare Rom. 8:15; and Gal. 4:6). You can call God Father because He brought you into existence. Moreover, you will not curse the day that you were born because now God has brought you into a greater existence. God is Father because he creates you. God is Father because he perfects you. The latter end (perfection) will be greater than the beginning (creation). You can now know that you are living life in Paradise.
The three fairest of the fair daughters of Job reveal the latter end. I have come to realize that it is actually the end for which we all were created: the consummation of our lives. God has brought Job to where he not only experiences God but he is now able to know, to appreciate, and to revel in the joy of the life of God. The beginning of life (Genesis) has been brought to the end (Revelation) of life. It is experiencing Paradise.
As was the custom of the day, Job named his first daughter to commemorate what was happening in his life at the time of her birth. The name Jemima means “warm affection.” Job now knew that he was being loved.
The name of his second daughter, Kezia, means “to strip off, that is, (partially) scrape” as to strip off the bark of a tree. As this point in the life of Job, he had been stripped of the controlling influence of his intellect, his emotions, and his will. He had been delivered from his captivity. He has been brought to a place of completion (perfection).
Job named his third daughter Karenhappuch. It means “horn of cosmetic.” Like a horn of plenty, Job was experiencing at this moment the abundance of the life of God. He knew the great Cosmetologist had beautified the experience of his life by placing him back in the Garden of Eden. The Expression of God had prepared Job a wonderful mansion to spend the days of his life.
This is not only the story of Job; it is the story of every man. You can know that you are loved. You can know that you are experiencing fulfillment. You can know that the great Cosmetologist is beautifying your life. God will so orchestrate your life through the good and the evil, of which both are an integral part of the created world, to bring you to be the fairest of the fair. You can dwell in Paradise all the days of your life.
Is this not what Jesus said?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:3-12).
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad because the place you now dwell in life is controlled by the heavenly realm as opposed to being controlled by the earthly circumstances. You can be a beautiful person: one who how knows, now appreciates, and now revels in the joy of the life of God that you are experiencing. God has prepared a special dwelling place for you. This is the story of Job. It is the story of every man’s path to the Paradise .
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