20 Pentecost, October 7
Long ago, the God of all creation summoned emissaries to the throne of grace for a full account of their labors. “One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan (the accuser) also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it’” (Job 1:7). The Lord asked, “Have you considered my servant Job?”
The accuser had already considered Job, and set a trap, a way to test the integrity of Job’s worship. Satan asks, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land” (1:9-10). Job, the accuser suggests, merely appears to be blameless and upright, gives a public show of godly fear as insurance against the prospect of disaster. Things go well for Job, so Job is good with God. Job’s devotion is conditional and utterly untested.
He has a lot to lose. “There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants; so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east” (1:3). God accepts the test, and allows Satan to ravage and destroy Job’s children and all his possessions. Still, Job persists in his integrity. Job is, in a sense, the man of Psalm 26. Job walks with integrity, trusts in the Lord, does not sit with the worthless or consort with hypocrites. He avoids the company of evildoers, does not sit with the wicked, washes his hands in innocence, processes around the altar of God, sings songs of thanksgiving, and tells of God’s wonderful deeds (Ps. 26:1-7). Job is blameless and upright.
With Job already bereft of his family and goods, a second test is proposed. “Skin for skin!” Satan says. “All that people have they will give they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 2:4-5). In this world of Bible folklore, the Lord agrees to the second test. “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (2:7). Job accepts good and bad from the hand of God, and in all this his lips do not sin.
Has he passed the test? Does Job love the God who has allowed this? For a time, Job shows a stoic indifference to all his loss. Is he in shock? Then, following the first jolts of trauma, Job finally speaks all the loss and rage of his heart and curses the day he was born. Is that a failure?
Have you seen my servant Job, how he sits upon the earth covered in loathsome sores, how he grieves the loss of his family and all his goods? Have you seen this lonely man? “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam. 1:12). This is a suffering person, a weak person, a dying man. We might recall that when Jesus takes children in his arms and blesses them, he is taking “the least of these.”
The test is this. We serve God and we curse God. God has taken it, on a bloody cross.
Look It Up
Read Psalm 26:9.
Think About It
Even a blameless man is nervous.