A lesson for our changing times

Job's Trials and Ultimate Victory


"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless

 and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1:1)



The wisdom and integrity of Job amazes me! Faithful to our Lord and true to His Word, he was highly respected in the ancient land of Uz (north-eastern Arabia) near the banks of the river Euphrates. A wise and kind man with a large family and huge flocks of sheep and camels, he served God and taught his family to follow His ways.


But suddenly and inexplicably his life changed, and Job crossed the threshold from success to utter disaster. His wealth, health, fame and honor were about to crumple, and his only refuge was his beloved Lord.


On that devastating day, even God seemed to have distanced himself from this faithful but bewildered servant. Disaster followed disaster, and the most heartbreaking calamity was the death of his ten precious children. They were suddenly struck and killed by "a great wind . . . from across the wilderness."


Yet, in the midst of the confusion and despair, Job stood firm in his faith.


The real culprit in this historical event is Satan. His name was probably no more credible to most people in the land of Uz than it is to Americans today. In fact, some of our readers may question the reality of Satan (i.e. the devil). Yet, through the ages, He has proven his might as well as his cruelty.


No person saw Satan on that devastating day when he triggered the death of Job's children and servants. Yet, his cruel deed served a particular purpose: one that will make sense at the end of Job's undeserved torment, when God finally demonstrates His victory.


Now as then, Job illustrates the dilemma of an innocent man who loses everything, yet continues to trusts God! His friends turned against him, his wife mocked him, and his physical agony seemed unbearable. Job himself longed for death. But during his time of pain and suffering, Job never denied God or blamed Him for his agony. And, at the end of his excruciating experience, Job once again proves to be a wise and kind leader respected by all.    

The First Test

"Satan has been allowed to attack Job's possessions; now his power is increased, and he is free to attack Job's personal inheritance directly. When a man is hit by undeserved destruction, the immediate result is a slander against God - 'Why does God allow this thing to happen? There are people today who are going through an onslaught of destruction . . .  the only things that will bring relief are the consolations of Christ. . . ."  (Oswald Chambers, p. 740-741)

     Ponder his dilemma:


There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. And seven sons  and three daughters were born to Him. His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys. . . .  (Job 1:1-3)

Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; and a messenger came to Job and said, 'The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

"While he was still speaking, another also came and said, 'The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!"

"While he was still speaking, another also came and said, 'The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants. . . .”

While he was still speaking, another also came and said, 'Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead. . . .”

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:    

 "Naked I came from my mother's womb,

  And naked shall I return there.

  The Lord gave, that the Lord has taken away;

  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

        In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong." (Job 1:13-22)


But Job's so-called "friends" did indeed charge Job with wrongdoing -- both for the initial deaths and for the horrendous pain and struggles that followed. They simply couldn't understand why God would allow such suffering if Job was actually guiltless. So Job responded with an honest answer:

"Miserable comforters are you all! ... I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s place. ...but I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief. " ( Job 16:2, 4, 5)

Job's response to his disloyal friends was a verification of his faith and endurance.  In the midst of the pain and horror, he steadfastly refused to blame God. Instead he honored Him to the end:


". . . I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth;

Even after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,

Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. 

How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:23-26)


Amazing! How would you and I have handled even a tiny portion of the cruelties aimed at Job?  


The Second Test  

"Job feels that in spite of all that is happening, God's integrity remains, and his own integrity. He cannot explain his suffering by saying, 'I am being punished because I have done wrong....' The friends have accused Job of being a hypocrite, but just at this very time Job gives expression to the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole Old Testament: 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." [Oswald Chambers, p. 758]

Satan was the master mind behind these agonizing losses. And now, once again, he would prove his might through devastating cruelties against God's faithful servant.  His aim was to crush Job's faith and loyalty by inflicting unthinkable pain and agony.

Then 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, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him. . . ."


Satan answered the Lord and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to your face!"


And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life." (Job 2:6)

Such a permission from God may seem totally irrational to compassionate Christians today. Why would our Lord allow His enemy to inflict such pain on a suffering believer?  Why burden Job with a new set of horrors? It doesn't make sense!


Or does it? After all, we do know that God had a special purpose for Job -- one that would surely make sense by the end of this terrible trial.

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And [Job] took for himself a potsherd [a broken pottery fragment] with which to scratch himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.


Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.


Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity. . . . each one came from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. . . .


And when they lifted up their eyes at a distance, and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe, and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:7-13)

Job never saw his real enemy. He didn't know why he was tortured by Satan. Nor would we understand the horrors of such a spiritual war. After all, the reality of Satan is anything but clear to most Christians today. We rarely mention his name, and few would consider the devil a threat to their life and happiness.  He is rarely visible to his suffering victims.


It would make sense to Job's friends if this tortured "victim" had simply confessed his supposed sins. But according to God's own view, Job didn't sin. Nor did he understand what was happening. He didn't realize the power behind the evil forces wielded by Satan. He was troubled and perplexed but never deceived by the evil one.  Instead, he trusted God -- even when the enemy seemed to take full control!


No wonder he longed for the old days:


"Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God watched over me; when His lamp shone upon my head, and when by His light I walked through darkness . . .  When the friendly counsel of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were round about me. . . ."  (Job 29:3-5)


"When I went out to the gate... when I took my seat in the open square . . . The aged arose and stood; the princes refrained from talking . . . .  I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame." (Job 29:7-16)


"And now I am their taunting son; yes I am their byword. They abhor me, they keep far from me. They do not hesitate to spit in my face." (Job 30:9-10)



The Third Test  

"A certain type of religious hypocrisy makes men hide what they feel, but Job has come to the place where he cannot hide it -- 'I cannot pretend I am comforted of God,' he says. If only Job could have taken on the pose that he had the comfort of God, his friends would not have challenged him, but he says, I have no comfort; I do not see God, neither can I talk to Him . . . . but I am certain that God will prove that He is just and true and right." (Oswald Chambers, p. 764)

Did Job become a victim of his own integrity?  Though he faced rejection, disaster, criticism and excruciating pain, no one stood by him. He was totally alone in the spiritual darkness sustained by Satan -- with God's permission.

God didn't explain why He had allowed such horrendous suffering -- both physically and mentally -- in the life of his bewildered servant. Nor does He owe us such explanations in our personal struggles! But those who truly know Him can count on His love, no matter what tests lie ahead.

When Job's three miserable friends had listed their complaints, Elihu appeared with this cruel judgment:

"Job has said, 'I am righteous, but God has taken away my justice; should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.'


"What man is like Job, who drinks scorn like water, who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, and walks with wicked men.  For he has said, 'It profits a man nothing that he would delight in God.' . . .


"Job speaks without knowledge, His words are without wisdom. Oh that Job were tried to the utmost, because his answers are like those of wicked men. For he adds rebellion to his sin . . . . and multiplies his words against God." (p. 787-788)

Finally the Lord turns to the suffering Job and tests him with these words: "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?"


Job's answer shows His faith and humility:

"Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer you?  I lay my hand over my mouth . . . ." (p. 797)


"I know that You can do everything and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from You. You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I have heard of you by the hearing of ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." [p. 799-800]

Then the Lord turns to Eliphaz and rebukes him:

"My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has." . . . So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who have been his acquaintances before came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him.  He also has seven sons and three daughters .


After this, Job lived one hundred and forty years and saw his children and grandchildren of four generation. So Job died, old and full of days."


God's Ultimate Victory

Job's time of pain, testing and confusion finally came to a joyful end. His faith and integrity led to victory: a worthy example for all who would listen!

Are we, like Job, prepared to live by God's Word and follow His way from day to day? Will we trust Him - even if all the paths ahead point to pain and perseverance? 

Moral decay is spreading through our land. And the masses -- including secular leaders, teachers, college professors, politicians, etc. -- are taking a stand: dismiss God's truth and stamp out Biblical Christianity.

In this corrupt culture, spiritual warfare is rarely the topic of conversation. Even Christians tend to ignore the hidden battles that rage in this fallen world. Such topics might seem offensive, irritating and inappropriate even to those who call themselves by His name. It's far more acceptable  to discuss the visible wars in distant lands than the unseen "wars" that fuel the transformation of America.

Today's cross-less, rebellious world is spreading its tentacles into every corner of our planet. Biblical Christianity and Judaism are the two main target in this invisible war, and relatively few are prepared to take their stand with God and face the consequences.

Are we approaching the prophesied end times? We don't know God's timing, but we recognize some of the signs. Christians in the Middle East face devastating persecution, and American Christians may soon face similar assaults. But whatever happens, our Lord will surely guide us through the tumult of  the world and - in the end - bring us safely to our heavenly home!  His is the victory - forever!  

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9)

All references point to The Oswald Chambers Daily Devotional Bible.

Published by Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. Copyright 1992