Throughout Job’s ordeal, he maintained before his friends that he was innocent, that he had not committed any dreadful sin that would have caused God to send these calamities on him. But he also did not understand why God had allowed all this to happen to him. We have the advantage of knowing what happened in chapters 1 and 2 when God and Satan were talking together.
Although Job was correct in that he was innocent of any sin which brought the calamities on him, as we read his speeches he became more and more demanding of God, that God owed him an explanation. We sometimes say that Job was patient – when I read through this book I really don’t see a patient man, at least patient in the sense that we use the word today.
We get the idea of Job’s patience from the King James Version’s translation of James 5:11, which used an older definition of patience. Translations using modern English will use “endurance,” “steadfastness,” or “perseverance.” “Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11 NET).
The modern definition of the word ‘patient’ is “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious” (Oxford Dictionary of English). Job doesn’t quite meet this definition of patience, although he did endure his suffering and was steadfast in not giving up on God, as his wife had urged him to do at the beginning of his ordeal. “Are you still holding firmly to your integrity? Curse God, and die!” (Job 2:9).
Job was confident in God. He was confident that if he could only present his case to God, God would see that he was innocent and take away his suffering – or at least let him die in peace. “If only I had someone to hear me! Here is my signature – let the Almighty answer me! If only I had an indictment that my accuser had written. Surely I would wear it proudly on my shoulder, I would bind it on me like a crown; I would give him an accounting of my steps; like a prince I would approach him” (Job 31:35-37).
And God did speak to Job! After asking him question after question in chapters 38 and 39, Job realised how little he really knew in comparison to God. He replied, “Indeed, I am completely unworthy – how could I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth to silence myself. I have spoken once, but I cannot answer; twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5). If nothing else, Job had learned not to question the wisdom of God!
At the end of the book, after some further questions from God, Job acknowledged, “I have declared without understanding things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3). It is interesting that God then venerates Job in front of his friends – his friends had misrepresented God, but Job had spoken truly about God (42:7-8).
If we, as Christians, only had the confidence in God that Job had. If only we lived as faithful and pure lives as Job lived so that when we were accused of some dreadful sin, we knew that we were innocent and still faithful to God. If only we would remain faithful despite what we have to endure.
Satan is still active. Like a roaring lion, he is on the prowl, looking for someone to devour. He wasn’t able to have Job. Let us pray that we all can remain as steadfast as Job, resisting the devil and remaining confident in God.
Readings for next week:
2 November – Job 40
3 November – Job 41
4 November – Job 42
5 November – Exodus 1
6 November – Exodus 2