|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4
11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7
21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11
31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15
41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21
51-60 cover Ch.22-33
61-68 cover Ch.34-42
Meditation No. 1
Meditation Title: Setting the Scene
Job 1:1-5 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom.
In these opening verses we find a broad introduction to Job. He lives to the east of the Jordan river which included the territory of Edom in the south. (Lam 4:21). He is described as the greatest man among all the people of the East which may be a description that comes out of a combination of his character and his wealth.
Let's deal with his wealth first of all. He has a big family, a massive number of animals, and servants to cope with it all. Now some commentators will try to link his affluence with his righteousness, but that is not said in this passage. A clear link is seen in the life of Solomon whose wisdom from God produced immense wealth, sufficient to make him the richest man in the world. So, yes God does bless some people with immense affluence but that isn't necessarily a sign of their righteousness. Righteous men can also be poor. Jesus was undoubtedly the most righteous man who has ever existed and yet owned very little.
Having said that, the teaching of the old covenant was, Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. (Deut 29:9) In other words, if you live according to God's design, you will do well. Similarly we find David instructing Solomon, So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go. (1 Kings 2:2,3). So yes, living God's way does bring His blessing, but that isn't explicit in these first five verses of Job. It's left more wide open than that. The key thing in this respect is that he is very wealthy.
Now there is a great danger in having great wealth and it is that you rely on your wealth and consider you don't need God. God had to warn Israel through Moses, when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deut 6:11,12). So important was this that he repeated it: When you have eaten and are satisfied .Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deut 8:10-14). This was the same mentality that Jesus warned against in his parable to that effect: I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. (Lk 12:19)
When we come to Job we find no such mentality. In fact we find exactly the opposite. When the family had a get together and feasted, Job was mindful that his sons and daughters could fall into this trap and so When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them." How good is that! This father always wanted to make sure his family never fell into sin in their attitudes over their wealth and so after every feast there was the sacrifice of a burnt offering to the Lord. We may give thanks before a meal but Job made sure after the meal that they did not forget the Lord and that, if in any way they had inadvertently sinned, then it was dealt with in the prescribed manner.
We thus see that Job is not only a wealthy man, he is also a godly man, a man with his heart focused on the Lord. What an example. How many wealthy Christians are as conscientious about their relationship with the Lord as Job was? Now it is possible, and we really aren't told that at this stage, that Job's relationship with the Lord was built on being good' and keeping the rules' and was in fact a relationship based on fear. At the end of the story, the Lord restores all he has, for no other reason than He, the Lord, has mercy on Job and mercy isn't something deserved or owed. There is a danger, therefore, in being pious. It is that our piety is based upon ourselves and not on the Lord's love and goodness. We are going to witness some terrible things happening to Job but it may just be that they are going to happen to teach him the greatest lesson of life that God loves you and you can't earn that love, just accept it. For those of us who seek to be good Christians' Job may be uncomfortable reading. If we put our trust in our righteousness (and we may be good by many standards) we are trusting in ourselves and not in the Lord. Is that a bad thing? It is when things go wrong, because then we doubt Him.
Habakkuk came to that place where his trust was entirely in the Lord: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Hab 3:17,18) That is the lesson behind Job. Watch for it.