Summary: Job is a man with abundant blessings and a sincere faith. Still he experiences tragic loss.
Job 1:1-22 “When Bad Things Happen”
There are times when we believe in ideas that are not true. Though it may not make much sense here in the Valley of the Sun, but I grew up believing that if I didn’t dress warm enough for the harsh fall and winter days I would catch a cold. Linus, the Peanuts cartoon character believes in the “Great Pumpkin.” Though he has been surrounded by doubters for years, he still clings to his belief.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, a popular belief in the Middle East was that God punished the people who sinned and angered God. Catastrophes like those that Job encountered were thought to be the fault of the people to whom they happened. The book of Job is a proclamation that such cause and effect in regards to suffering is not true. This is a message we still need to be reminded of today.
A RIGHTEOUS MAN
The writer of Job makes every effort to show that Job is a righteous man.
• In verse 1 he writes that Job was, “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”
• Job had a large family and riches, which were both understood to be blessing of God to the righteous.
• Job would offer burnt offerings for his children in the morning just in case they had displeased God during the night (vs. 5).
• God says that “there is no one like [Job] on the earth” (vs. 8).
Bad things do happen to good people. Of course there are times when we suffer the natural consequences of actions—baiting the class bully is not necessarily conducive to one’s health. Let it never be said, though, that God is punishing us. This makes a mockery out of the cross of Christ.
Life is fragile. Neither our righteousness nor our wealth can prevent us from tragedies. Life is also unfair. It is the unfairness of life that the writer of Job addresses next.
ON A BET
The story moves from the outlandish description of Job to the absurd. One day the heavenly beings have come together at the local coffee shop. Over espressos and lattes they share what they have been up to. Satan confides that he has been going to and fro on the earth. The Lord inquires if Satan has observed Job—God is proud of Job’s righteousness. Satan counters that Job is only righteous because God has blessed him. Satan hints that if God removes those blessings that Job would curse God to God’s face (vs.11). God and Satan then make a bet.
The writer of the book of Job is not saying that God bets with our lives. He is, however, trying to make the point that life is capricious. Often there is no direct cause and effect relationships. That proverbial substance happens. There is the verse in Roman’s where Paul writes that all things happen for the good for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is true, but we may never understand some things that happen or see the good in them.
Blaming oneself or getting angry at God is not helpful. Pouting and yelling at God that if God doesn’t play your game you’ll stop believing in God won’t change the situation.
Job demonstrates a better response.
IN GOD’S HANDS
After Job’s world falls apart Job is grief stricken. He tears his rob and shaves his head. Job also fell on the ground and worshiped God (vs.20).
During his worship Job declares, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (vs. 21).
Job feels the pain and grief. At the same time Job:
• Acknowledges the sovereignty of God,
• Places his trust in God presence and power, and
• Praises God for God’s steadfast love.
As followers of Jesus we do not roll over and play dead. We may have to wait and we may need to endure. All the while, though, we are looking to God our rock and our redeemer.
This weekend we celebrate our freedom even while we are threatened by terrorism. We may not be able to put an end to terrorism, but we can still live free with our trust placed firmly in God.