|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. 2
Meditation Title: God the Initiator
Job 1:6-8 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD , and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD , "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
Here we find our first reference in this book to Satan, the accuser, but we will leave consideration of him until the next meditation because he is really only a secondary player, an administrator of God's purposes, if you like. No, our starting place must be with the Lord Himself. He is the all-important one. Job and his three friends may take up most of the space of this book, but it is really all about the Lord. This book is really all about revealing the Lord, and we must see it like that. It is also all about what we think about the Lord, so we had better be very careful. Here is an opening challenge: John the apostle in his first letter twice declares, “God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8,16) Now he doesn't say, “God has just become love” but “God IS love,” meaning “God is ALWAYS love.” Now if that is so, and I am sure that it is, then everything God says and does is an expression of love, and our task when reading the whole of the Bible is to see how what is happening is an expression of love. Bear that in mind as we consider this book.
So here we have this picture of heaven and we find, One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD. Now what is slightly strange about this is that if you look in your Bible it shows that there is an alternative given for the word ‘angels'. It is ‘sons of God'. Now some try to make something out of this. I simply suggest that the angels appear to be have been part of God's prior creation, made before human beings but, and here is the point, like human beings they are created by God and in that sense they are ‘sons'. Angels are lesser beings than God. We must be very clear that the Lord is The Supreme Being. Angels are his servants (Heb 1:7) and so in that respect they are not free agents; they can only do what God tells them to do or allows them to do – as we shall see in the studies to come. But it seems that in heaven the angels have to come before the Lord for a time of accounting, for when the Lord speaks to the Accuser, it is to ask what he has been doing. Now the Lord never has to ask questions to find out things for He already knows everything, so when He asks questions it is to get the person or being to speak out and confess what they have been doing.
Possibly the Lord has other realms where the angels can go because Satan's answer is that he has been wandering the earth. The earth is going to be the area for the coming conflict. This is going to be all about how mankind responds to life. It is because Satan makes reference to the earth that the Lord introduces the subject of Job. Job is a dweller on the earth. This book is also about how human beings respond to or struggle to cope when things on earth appear to go badly.
Now we need to note something very early on in this book that is vital. It is that God is an initiator. God is the one who starts things going. What follows would not happen if God had not taken the initiative and started this ball rolling! The Lord could have ignored Satan, but he makes a point of pausing to talk to him. Now in what follows we must see that God doesn't make Satan do what he does, but He permits him to do it. He knows what Satan is like (and we'll come to that in the next meditation) and so knows if He raises the subject of Job, how Satan will respond to that. The Lord doesn't tempt and the Lord doesn't harm; He leaves Satan to do that, because that is what Satan is like, but the Lord sets him off.
This whole book of Job is initiated by God because it is God who starts everything off. God created the world. There was no one else there to prompt Him to do it. It was entirely on His initiative. Many years after the Fall it is the Lord who takes the initiative with Abram and starts off a new level of relationships within mankind. After Israel end up in Egypt, it is the Lord who takes the initiative with Moses to bring them out. Finally it is God who sends His Son to the earth. We had nothing to do with it; it was entirely His initiative.
Now there is something we would do well to consider in understanding this book, and it is the fact that everything that happens in the Bible after Genesis chapter 3, happens in a fallen world. It is a world where sin abounds and things go wrong. The reasons they go wrong are many and varied. Sometimes they go wrong because of the sin of mankind, sometimes because of the sin of specific individuals, and sometimes because of the activity of Satan. Because this is so, we also need to see that whenever God acts He is acting into a fallen world and quite often He takes and uses the sinfulness of mankind or the activities of Satan. Merely because He does that it does not mean that He ceases to be a God of love. What it does mean is that we have to discern His end goal, a goal of love. For example, Peter on the day of Pentecost was able to say, “This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2:23). In other words, Jesus being crucified was certainly part of God's purpose but He achieved it by using the sinful activities of men who put His Son to death. In many places in the Bible we find God using people, circumstances or even Satan to bring about His purposes.
God of love? Was it loving to have Jesus crucified? Yes, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (Jn 3:16). This was obviously the only way that the sin of the world could be dealt with and so it was an act of love on the part of the Father and the Son. Now when we come to the outworking of the story of Job, we're going to see things going seriously wrong – from a human standpoint at least – but they are part of the bigger picture which is to bring Job (and us) into a place of greater understanding what it means to have a relationship with the Lord. Bear that in mind as we progress with this story.