The story of Job, a remarkable account of a righteous man, has brought help, comfort and enlightenment to thousands over the centuries. From the beginning, we are assured of his blamelessness, and recognise that Yahweh delights in him. “Have you thought about My servant Job?” He asks, “For there is no one like him…He is without blame…” [Job 1:8]. What a tribute!
In an extraordinary encounter during a heavenly council, Satan is given license to strike out at everything Job has [1:11-12]. The attack which follows is immediate and violent. In one day Job is stripped of his wealth [in flocks and herds], most of his servants and, tragically, all his children. It was a wild and vicious assault, but Job held steadfastly to his integrity [1:20-22] and Yahweh continued to delight in him. He was so sure of Job that He even allowed a further attack, a very personal one!
It’s impossible to imagine how badly Job was affected [2:7-8], though we are given some clues. There were painful, festering sores over his whole body [7:5]; he had nightmares [7:14]; his scabs were peeling and turning black [30:28,30]; he looked revolting [2:12&19:19]; his breath smelt [19:17]; he had lost weight [17:7&19:20]; he was in relentless pain, and feverish [30:17,30]! When his friends arrived they scarcely recognised him and were so shocked they began to weep and mourn, sitting down beside him, in total silence, for a week!
When these friends did begin to talk they were outrageous. They continually held Job responsible for the ‘mess’, despite his constant assertion that he was blameless. They offered no comfort, they only talked, refusing to listen! When Yahweh eventually showed up [38ff] He was very angry with them [42:7], even though they had praised Him passionately! How do we treat our friends?
I found Yahweh’s response to Job unexpected. There was no apology, no explanation, just pointers to His omnipotence. Eventually there was a public vindication [42:7-8] and later total restoration [42:12-16]. Yahweh, however, had trusted him with the unexplained! We are not privy to the meaning of many things in life, some of which hurt deeply; can Yahweh trust us with the unexplained?
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