In our study of the book of Job, we will look at Satan's big test to see if Job's faith would get him through the dark night. Whether we want to admit it or not, we Christians have all had tests of our faith that caused us to cry out in the night asking God why we were going through something. With this study, we will look at how a righteous man maintained his trust in God even in the face of extreme testing. This can help us in our walk with Christ as we come to understand more about the ways of God and things in the heavenly realm. We do not know who actually wrote down this story of faith but it was probably an Israelite who had heard this epic story of faith and was sharing it with someone else that was going through a great trial.
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In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
We are introduced to the man and not much is known about him or where he lived but the name is Iyowb in Hebrew and it means "hated" or "persecuted". The land of Uz was to the east of Jerusalem and was probably in the area of the modern city of Damascus Syria. Uz was a nephew of Abraham and tradition, as stated by the historian Josephus, says that he founded the city of Damascus. We see four things about this man and are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number four is associated with the trials and testing of man. The word that is translated as "blameless" is "tam" in Hebrew and is speaks of one who is gentle and loving. The word translated as "upright" is "yashar" which means "straight" in Hebrew and speaks of the fact that he was an honest man in his dealings with others. We also see that he "feared God" and the word "yare" is translated as fear but it speaks of reverence or holding high the name of God. Finally, we see that this man turned away from evil and speaks of the fact that, when he was tempted to do things in the way of the world, he chose to look at all things from a heavenly perspective. All of this is to show us that he was a "good man" and this will be crucial in understanding the entire book.
He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
The author goes on to introduce us to Job by describing the fact that he was truly blessed and we are reminded that the simple definition of "blessed" is "worry free". We see that he had seven sons and that number is associated with completeness as well as three daughters with that number being associated with the display of God's will. This man had a growing family and did not have to worry about whether his name would live on after he died. We also see that he was blessed materially more than all of the other men in the East. This was a man that did not have to bear the daily worry of wondering how he was going to feed his family. The "people of the East" refers to the people that lived in the desert that is located to the east of Jerusalem as all biblical directions are based on Jerusalem at the center. In short, life was looking good for this man of God but little did he know that he was about to face the darkest of nights.
His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. 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.
The man was blessed in many ways but we see that his main worry was for his children and their relationship with the Lord. They would get together for parties that could last for up to a week and, when it was over, Job would present burnt offerings on their behalf just in case they had sinned during that time. The death of the animals in the sacrifices was a picture of Christ the Redeemer and the fact that He paid the price for all of man's sins. This was a demonstration of the depth of the man's faith as he took his fears directly to God and we are reminded that the best preparation for the dark night of trials in our faith is to have a solid relationship with the Lord while the sun is shining.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.
Now, the scene shifts from the earth to heaven and we see that all of God's creation must answer to Him. The word translated as "angels", here, is actually "ben" in the Hebrew which means "sons" and speaks of the fact that these creatures were created by God. We are introduced to Satan and, in Hebrew, his name means "opponent" which reminds us of the fact that he organized an uprising in heaven and tried to ascend to God's position but was defeated. As odd as it might seem, this verse should give us all comfort. There are many times when we may feel that things are spinning out of control and often we feel like evil is winning. This verse reminds us that God is in control of all things and even Satan must answer to Him.
The Lord said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?' Satan answered the Lord, 'From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth in it.'
God knew what Satan had been up to but asks the question for our benefit as well as for the benefit of the rest of the creatures in heaven. Satan's answer reminds us that he is on this earth as our opponent and he wishes to destroy us which is what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8. So, why is Satan our opponent and why does he want to destroy us? He wanted to take God's place but was defeated and cast out of heaven where he had led the worship of God. He hates all men because we have the capacity to worship our Creator instead of him.
Then the Lord said to Satan, '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.'
Once again, God asks Satan a question that He already knows the answer to and that answer is yes. God holds up Job as an example of the fact that even a man (which was created to be a little lower than the angels) sees that He is the only One that should be worshiped.
'Does Job fear God for nothing?' Satan replied. 'Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.'
Satan's answer to the fact that Job worshiped God was to basically accuse God of bribing him to do so. The devil acknowledges that God has blessed Job and even protected him from Satan's temptations and attacks. He goes on to say that, if God would remove that blessing, then, He would find that Job would no longer worship Him. In effect, Satan was saying that God was unworthy of worship and proposed to demonstrate it with a test of the man. We notice that Satan did not have the power to strike the man's things on his own but had to ask God to drop His hedge of protection and allow the testing. We often forget this fact and give more power to Satan than he actually has but that brings up the question of why God would allow this to happen to this righteous man. (We will see the answer to this question later in our study.) Many times, we as Christians, can see someone going through a dark night of trials and testing and we automatically say that it is because there is "sin in their life". As we see here, that is not always the case as, even God, described Job as a "blameless and upright" man.
The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.' Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
God agreed to the test of the man but, as we see, He placed limits on what Satan could do to him. This can be a comfort to us as we face dark nights of trials with the faith that God is still in control and He has placed limits on what Satan can do to us as well.
One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, 'The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!'
And so the dark night of trials begins for Job as Satan waited for the proper time to do the most damage as the children were gathered for one of their parties. The Sabeans were from the southern desert of Arabia and, here, we see that the devil used them to take away the oxen and the donkeys. This is the first of the trials and, as bad as it seems, Job was a rich man and so he still had a lot to be thankful for. This brings to mind the question of: Did the Sabeans know that they were being used by the devil against God's people? The answer is no as they would not have known about the things of God or the devil. It is often the same way in our lives as Christians, the devil will use some unknowing person or persons to get into your life and to try and cause damage. When that happens, you can choose to blame the person or you can remember that it is not them but it is an attack from the devil. Even so, remember that God is in control and limits the actions of Satan.
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, 'The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!'" While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, 'The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!'
Here, we see that Satan used lightning to kill the sheep and the Chadeans to steal Job's camels. This reminds us that the devil does have some power as he was able to control the lightning to strike the sheep. Many times, when we see forces of nature at work, we jump to the conclusion that it is God sending a message or a judgment. While that is a possible answer, it could also be the work of the devil.
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, 'Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!'
The fourth messenger brings word of the death of Job's family and we are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number four is associated with earthly trials. This would have been devastating to the man as he lost his family but also as there was no more point in his custom of offering burnt offerings for them. Imagine, if you will, how Job felt in wondering whether they had cursed God as he had so often been afraid of and, now, it was too late for them to change their ways.
At this, Job got up and 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 will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.'
Immediately, the man went into mourning but still praised the Lord through his sorrow. He recognized the fact that God was in control even during this dark night of his life and did not curse God for letting it happen. This reminds us of the fact that it is easy to worship God when things are going well but you learn about the depths of one's faith during the trials. Here, we see that his faith ran very deep but we also remember the fact that he did not wait until the tough times to call on the name of the Lord as he was already in the habit of doing so.
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job's reaction was proper because he acknowledged the fact that God had the right to do as He saw fit with everything that He had created. Imagine the anger that Satan must have felt as he saw that Job remained strong in his faith.