By Mike Dawson
Retired Baptist pastor
Focal Passage: Job 1:8-22
“Poor as Job’s turkey” is an expression from my boyhood. But the Bible doesn’t say Job ever had a turkey! One thing is certain: if there was one, it would’ve been lost with all Job’s animals, children and possessions. So maybe the expression should simply be “Poor Job!”
JOB THE BOOK is one of the five “Poetry” books in the Bible (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon). Poetry doesn’t mean these books have lines that rhyme; it means they have a writing style different from the prose of other O.T. books.
Job is apparently a very ancient book; several things appearing often in the Bible story — yet nowhere in Job — would indicate this. Therefore many ‘chronological’ Bibles place Job right after Genesis.
Today’s passage (Job 1:8-22) introduces us to JOB THE MAN. God Himself calls Job His servant, unlike anyone else on earth, and “a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” In a fascinating conversation with Satan, God confidently ‘brags’ on Job, and Satan does not dispute God’s evaluation.
But Satan does question Job’s motive, implying that he was good only because of God’s blessings, not because of his faithful love. Satan’s old technique of doubting one’s motive is a reminder: we shouldn’t claim to know other people’s motives — only their actions.
If you struggle with this account of God and Satan dialoguing, remember that the Bible speaks of other heavenly ‘councils’ where God and angels plan their activities on earth and where angels give an account (i.e.1 Kings 22:19-23). Creator God has complete power and authority over all angels, good and bad — Satan being the ‘worst’ angel.
Sovereign God never has to explain Himself. Someday He will help us understand “why bad things happen to good people.” Why does God permit Satan to devastate Job’s family and property?
I’ve recently pondered this as I — and our extended family — have had a series of major health issues. In the midst of it all, our youngest grandson, in childlike fashion, asked, “Is our family under a ‘cuss’?” Another family member questioned, “Is this an attack of Satan, or is it a test from God?” THAT is the question of the ages! With Job it was both — a God-permitted attack from Satan and a clear test from God, who saw the outcome ahead of time. None of us need to know what ‘kind of test’ we’re having; we just need to know that no Satanic test or trial can touch us that has not been filtered through the loving hand of our Lord.
And don’t forget:
No suffering = no cross.
No cross = no Gospel.
No Gospel = no salvation.
There’s NO salvation without suffering!
So, the test began, and Job got an A-plus! He remembered he had brought nothing into this world and he’d take nothing out. And he spoke the triumphant words of Job 1:21.
I heard a great funeral sermon by Dr. E.V. Hill, using Job’s statement: 1) “The Lord gave:” The GIFT of a beloved one. 2) “The Lord has taken away:” The GRIEF that comes with a loved one’s death. 3) “Blessed be the name of the Lord:” The GLORY of trusting and praising God, no matter what. Amen, Job! B&R — Dawson is pastor emeritus at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and also serves as transitional interim around the state.