THE GOD OF ALL GRACE IN THE LIFE OF JOB
Part 1 – BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD; Job’s Confession of Faith.
There are few books of Scripture so applicable and appropriate for this current time in which we dwell, as Job. The grief and the pain experienced by this man assist us in understanding the mysteries of providence , in permitting His people to suffer. In many respects the words of 1st Peter 5:10 are an exposition of God’s purpose in permitting Job to experience such pain; as such they explain the mysteries of dark and frowning providences in every age, including our own:
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
Therefore, this short series of studies examines five key texts which illustrate this God of all grace, who worked in the midst of Job’s calamities.
The first key text looks at the defining words for which Job is so famous
“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.”
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD; Job’s Confession of Faith.
1: Miraculous Words
These words of Job were miraculous from the perspective of His terrible afflictions.
He had experienced the sustained attack of Satan, which God permitted.
As a consequence of this attack his herds, flocks and servants were lost in one day. One cannot begin to imagine the thoughts that must have filled Job’s mind as three messengers followed one after the other bearing a stream of bad news. His entire business collapsed in a few brief hours.
But the news was about to get considerably worse!
When the cattle die and sheep perish farmers are comforted that the trouble is outside the home. But for Job this was not to be the case.
There are indications that his seven sons and three daughters were a spiritual disappointment. They habitually gathered together for festivities, gatherings which obviously excluded their father. When we first meet Job he is offering sacrifices and prayers for his family, with words that sound rather like a lament; “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5).
How then did he feel at the sight of a fourth messenger, moving with haste? The news was the most catastrophic of all – a sudden storm tumbled his eldest son’s home where all his sons and daughters were making merry. There were no survivors.
Consumed with grief Job was a broken man.
Miraculously he declared – “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
When God allowed Satan to touch Job’s person with boils which covered his body, his own wife turned against his faith, urging Job to curse God and die; there is nothing left to live for – still Job did not charge God foolishly nor did he sin with his lips.
There is no accounting for such painfully calm fortitude in the face of such an onslaught apart from the grace of God. Job felt his sufferings acutely, he was plunged into the darkest valley imaginable but still he blessed the name of the Lord.
Whatever our sufferings and our sorrows we take the greatest of encouragement from the faith of Job. Faith that was echoed by Horatio Spafford, as he wrote these words after learning of the death of his four precious daughters in a shipping accident:
“Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul”.
2: Grateful Words
Job displayed a sense of gratitude when facing his calamities.
One might well ask, ‘What did he have to be grateful for?’ He reflected back to what he had lost and the enjoyment that these blessings had given him. This filled him with humble thanksgiving for all that had been given.
“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away”
He saw himself as one that was totally undeserving of ten children and all the riches associated with a farming empire. God had opened his hand and had given richly. Therefore the God who gave had a right to take away; but Job in his sorrow was grateful that God had provided to begin with.
This is Christian realism at its very best. Natural man boasts of achievement, success and endeavour. True Christianity teaches us that all things are God’s precious gifts, but they have only been borrowed for a time.
Let us today think about the privileges of life and health, the love of our spouses, the gifts of our children, and all of our provisions whether they be homes, careers, businesses, finances, food and clothing – then we must humbly praise the one from whom all blessings flow; the Lord giveth. But with the same breath we ought to acknowledge His right to take away what He has given. That nothing is ours as of right; all things are His gifts.
As Job heard the devastating news that his family had been taken so suddenly he must have been grateful that he had prayed for them at the beginning of that day. As a Father, he had taught them by word and example, as a priest he had prayed and offered sacrifices for them. He had no regrets concerning his use of the time and gifts that God had given. Let us look around at all that we have today and may God give us the grace to be good stewards of His beautiful gifts. May God help us to glorify God with our bodies, within our homes, with our money and with the time that He has granted because the Lord has given.
Before the Lord takes from us what we have, while we have time and opportunity, while we have the blessing of life, while we enjoy the love of family – let us glorify God with urgency because the night can swiftly come when no-one can work.
3: Submissive Words
In not charging God foolishly and in refusing to sin with his lips, Job was absolutely submissive to God. A careful study of Job will show that he considered the providences of God to be mysterious. He felt abandoned by God and by man. His friends were miserable comforters who accused Job of being a sinful man with whom God was dealing harshly. Job felt himself to be in the darkness of despair – there were no answers. Yet he insisted that through it all he would always trust:
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15)
He knew that God retained the absolute right to take everything away – therefore this submission gave him a heart of peace.
As Christians we feel the brokenness of this world everyday, especially in these days. When sickness arrives , when the hand of death knocks, when the income drops – we know that God is in control.
Writing to Christians worshipping and working in Ancient Rome who soon would be driven as sheep to the slaughter, the Apostle Paul employed the memorable words which have been such a help, to believers in every age:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28)
As we look at this fearful and troubled world, we are anchored by this faith, the same faith that Job had, which Paul recommended and which Peter believed in – that God would be present in the darkness, veiled by the darkness of the night, but still there, present, working, planning and loving.
4: Humble Words
Job was a rich man, a powerful man and a famous man – the greatest of all the men of his generation. He never once, however, rose above his station and considered himself to be greater than he was. This spirit of humility was always present in the character of Job but in the darkness of his night it shone as brightly as the mid-day sun.
Troubles and pressures have a knack of finding us out; of probing us and discovering the truth about our spirituality. Satan believed that Job’s faith was based entirely upon the many advantages that God had given him. He thought that when permitted to remove Job’s wealth, family, health and friendships that this man would turn against God. Not so – even when Job’s wife wished her husband dead the man himself did not falter in his faith.
Job never was motivated by selfish concerns. His trials proved that his religion was never about personal gain – it was always and constantly about the glory of God. Therefore, as one who had given his time and soul to sitting patiently at the feet of the great Creator and Benefactor, he had learned the art of godliness with contentment; great gain indeed! Like Mary whose devotion gave her something, which Christ said would never be taken away – so Job too had a humble adoration and submission to God which Satan could never touch. He would inspire cruel enemies to threaten, steal and kill, he could provoke lightening strikes and stir up terrible storms, he could afflict Job with poverty, sickness and bereavement BUT he could not destroy the man’s humble dependence upon the God of heaven.
The proud person thinks that God owes but the humble person considers himself to the debtor, deserving of nothing. It was this spirit that grounded Job. It is this spirit alone that will anchor us in these uncertain times.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)