There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. Job 1:1-3
Job is an interesting character for the church. He’s another one of those men to look up to, and to follow as an example for us in our own walks. Blameless and upright is how he is described in the beginning of this book, and there is a sense in the following verses, that his personal accomplishments listed are the reason he can be called that. He is blessed with wealth, a large family, and herds of animals. He really did have it all! It must have been because he was blameless and upright, right? This is how I’ve always heard it taught. That’s why he gained it all back at the end. Job lived such a perfect life before God, even looking out for the spiritual care of his children, how could God not bless him after all of that.
My main problem with that line of thinking is that this is a book of suffering. It’s a book of pain, and heartache, and lament. It is a book designed to remind us that, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes it away, blessed be the name of the Lord”(verse 1:21). Perhaps because of that, I find the most important aspect of the beginning of the book of Job, is the first few verses. I tend to separate what he was considered to be by God, with what he had in his life. I separate his position in God, from his possessions he’s been blessed with. I do this because Job is a sinner like any other man. We know this because of Adam, and the curse that is upon all men as a result. Job can’t be fully and completely blameless and upright. We know only one that holds that distinction in all of scriptures. Therefore, that brings Job down to earth for me. “Be like Job!” Well, Job was a sinner just like us. So, what was it that distinguished him as righteous and blameless in God’s eyes? I seem to recall similar words in another passage of scripture:
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:8-9
Noah fits a similar description as Job in that he is being called by God, blameless and righteous. Prior to that, it says that Noah found favor with God. Could Noah, Job ,or any of us do anything to curry favor with God? Of course not. This favor of God was and is a gift of grace. It seems that God may have been saying to Noah, and Job, I call you righteous and blameless, not of your own works, but because of my good will in planting faith in you. The faith I have given you that you now exercise in trusting in me, is what makes you righteous. It is that faith that can be seen doing righteous things. It is not you doing the righteous things that make you blameless. Those righteous things, include repentance, and again, you repent because you have faith which I have given you.
We are the same. Because of Christ, who is the fulfillment of the faith of the Old Testament saints, we are righteous and blameless before God. We have found gracious favor with him by no action of our own. We have been given faith, and though we still sin, we are blessed ridiculously by Him still calling us righteous. That blessed gift of faith brings us regularly to our knees in repentance, and we trust him to forgive us, and still call us blameless. It is that faith delivered to us, and to Job, that compels us to fear the Lord and to pray for our children, and walk, though imperfectly, before God, striving for his will in all things
The description of Job’s abundance of physical blessings seemed less a declaration of how great his faith was, but how much it was about to be tested.
We need this picture in our heads, to see how much has been removed from Job’s life. We need to see how far he falls, to know how much he holds fast to the faith given to him despite his circumstances. This man has been called by God, and with all earthly possessions gone, and health failing, he does not reject him, even as his “loving and doting” wife encourages him to do so. This man who like us, has the undeserved favor of God, and the gift of faith, fears God, and God has gripped him so much so that he will not turn his back on him.
This is the take away for me. Many of us in America have never had a “Job-type” life, but we may have had Job moments. We have had struggles with sin, and sickness, and death, and the list could go on and on for infinity. What matters in that moment, is not that we do the best we can so God will heal, bless, remove, or whatever it is you may think will happen because of your “good” responses. It’s not about how great Job’s faith is, but how great is the object of that faith. What matter is that we remember in the helter-skelter of our lives, God still calls us blameless and righteous because of Christ. This is what he is saying about Job:
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Job 2:3
What does God determine Job is doing that he is holding fast to his integrity? What great work is he doing?
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:20-22
Job in his lamenting, worshipped God. He acknowledged that whatever may come, God is still good, and he would not turn away. Job’s faith remained. He held onto this great gift of God. He would not walk away from God. He wasn’t looking at it as a way to regain what he had lost. He was saying God is sovereign over all things and if this was his fate, he would not slander God.
If there were anything for us “to do”, a phrase which makes me shudder, it would be this one thing in the midst of all our lives, remain faithful. Don’t be concerned about whether your faith is great. Your faith could be as small as a mustard seed, or it could require you to cry out to God for the unbelief you need help with. Let that faith continue to trust Christ for your salvation, for your righteousness, and for your blamelessness before God. Whether he takes something from you, or gives you more, in every situation know God is God, and his Son is always your hope. He is your hope in pain, in fear, and in the midst of great depression and sorrow. We will be challenged by circumstances, and by people in the middle of our own Job-like moments. Those are moments to remain still and trust him. Those are not moments to get up, get moving, and do your best, so God will do the rest.
So if we truly want to “be like Job”, then be less concerned about what was before, and what may, or may not come later. Just remember that your hope was born for you, your hope died for you, and your hope was raised for you!
Let your faith remain in the hope of Christ in every situation.