God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II (Part Four)
Job’s Unshakable Integrity Brings Shame Upon Satan and Causes It to Flee in Panic
And what did God do when Job was subjected to this torment? God observed, and watched, and awaited the outcome. As God observed and watched, how did He feel? He felt grief-stricken, of course. But, as a result of His grief, could He have regretted His permission to Satan to tempt Job? The answer is, No, He could not have. For He firmly believed that Job was perfect and upright, that he feared God and shunned evil. God had simply given Satan the opportunity to verify Job’s righteousness before God, and to reveal its own wickedness and contemptibility. It was, furthermore, an opportunity for Job to testify to his righteousness and to his fear of God and shunning of evil before the people of the world, Satan, and even those who follow God. Did the final outcome prove that God’s assessment of Job was correct and without error? Did Job actually overcome Satan? Here we read of the archetypal words spoken by Job, words which are proof that he had overcome Satan. He said: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.” This is Job’s attitude of obedience toward God. Next, he then said: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.” These words spoken by Job prove that God observes the depths of man’s heart, that He is able to look into the mind of man, and they prove that His approval of Job is without error, that this man who was approved by God was righteous. “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.” These words are Job’s testimony to God. It was these ordinary words that cowed Satan, that brought shame upon it and caused it to flee in panic, and, moreover, that shackled Satan and left it without resources. So, too, did these words make Satan feel the wondrousness and might of the deeds of Jehovah God, and allow it to perceive the extraordinary charisma of one whose heart was ruled by the way of God. Moreover, they demonstrated to Satan the powerful vitality shown by a small and insignificant man in adhering to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Satan was thus defeated in the first contest. Despite its “hard-earned insight,” Satan had no intention of letting Job go, nor had there been any change in its malicious nature. Satan tried to carry on attacking Job, and so once more came before God …
Next, let us read the scriptures of the second time that Job was tempted.
3. Satan Once More Tempts Job (Sore Boils Break Out Across Job’s Body)
a. The Words Spoken by God
(Job 2:3) And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved Me against him, to destroy him without cause.
(Job 2:6) And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life.
b. The Words Spoken by Satan
(Job 2:4–5) And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.
c. How Job Deals With the Trial
(Job 2:9–10) Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
(Job 3:3) Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Job’s Love of the Way of God Surpasses All Else
The Scriptures document the words between God and Satan as follows: “And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). In this exchange, God repeats the same question to Satan. It is a question that shows us Jehovah God’s affirmative assessment of what was demonstrated and lived out by Job during the first trial, and one that is no different to God’s assessment of Job before he had undergone Satan’s temptation. Which is to say, before the temptation came upon him, in God’s eyes Job was perfect, and thus God protected him and his family, and blessed him; he was worthy to be blessed in God’s eyes. After the temptation, Job did not sin with his lips because he had lost his property and his children, but continued to praise the name of Jehovah. His actual conduct made God applaud him, and give him full marks. For in the eyes of Job, his offspring or his assets were not enough to make him renounce God. God’s place in his heart, in other words, could not be replaced by his children or any piece of property. During Job’s first temptation, he showed God that his love for Him and his love for the way of fearing God and shunning evil surpassed all else. It’s merely that this trial gave Job the experience of receiving a reward from Jehovah God and having his property and children taken away by Him.
For Job, this was a true experience that washed his soul clean, it was a baptism of life that fulfilled his existence, and, what’s more, it was a sumptuous feast that tested his obedience to, and fear of God. This temptation transformed Job’s standing from that of a rich man to someone who had nothing, and it also allowed him to experience Satan’s abuse of mankind. His destitution did not cause him to loathe Satan; rather, in Satan’s vile acts he saw Satan’s ugliness and contemptibility, as well as Satan’s enmity and rebellion toward God, and this better encouraged him to forever hold firm to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. He swore that he would never forsake God and turn his back on the way of God because of external factors such as property, children or kinfolk, nor would he ever be a slave to Satan, property, or any person; apart from Jehovah God, no one could be his Lord, or his God. Such were the aspirations of Job. On the other face of the temptation, Job had also acquired something: He had gained great riches amid the trials given unto him by God.
During his life over the previous several decades, Job had beheld the deeds of Jehovah and gained Jehovah God’s blessings for him. They were blessings that left him feeling enormously uneasy and indebted, for he believed that he had not done anything for God, yet had been bequeathed with such great blessings and had enjoyed so much grace. For this reason, in his heart he often prayed, hoping that he would be able to repay God, hoping that he would have the opportunity to bear testimony to God’s deeds and greatness, and hoping that God would put his obedience to the test, and, moreover, that his faith could be purified, until his obedience and his faith gained God’s approval. And when the trial came upon Job, he believed that God had heard his prayers. Job cherished this opportunity more than anything else, and thus he didn’t dare treat it lightly, for his greatest lifelong wish could be realized. The arrival of this opportunity meant that his obedience and fear of God could be put to the test, and could be made pure. Moreover, it meant that Job had a chance to gain God’s approval, thus bringing him closer to God. During the trial, such faith and pursuit allowed him to become more perfect, and to gain a greater understanding of God’s will. Job also became more grateful for God’s blessings and graces, in his heart he poured greater praise on the deeds of God, and he was more fearful and reverent of God, and longed more for God’s loveliness, greatness, and holiness. At this time, though Job was still one who feared God and shunned evil in the eyes of God, with regard to his experiences, Job’s faith and knowledge had come on in leaps and bounds: His faith had increased, his obedience had gained a foothold, and his fear of God had become more profound. Though this trial transformed Job’s spirit and life, such a transformation did not satisfy Job, nor did it slow his progress onward. At the same time as calculating what he had gained from this trial, and considering his own deficiencies, he quietly prayed, waiting for the next trial to come upon him, because he yearned for his faith, obedience, and fear of God to be elevated during the next trial of God.
God observes the inmost thoughts of man and all that man says and does. Job’s thoughts reached the ears of Jehovah God, and God listened to his prayers, and in this way God’s next trial for Job arrived as expected.
Amid Extreme Suffering, Job Truly Realizes God’s Care for Mankind
Following Jehovah God’s questions to Satan, Satan was secretly happy. This was because Satan knew that it would once more be permitted to attack the man who was perfect in God’s eyes—which for Satan was a rare opportunity. Satan wanted to use this opportunity to completely undermine Job’s conviction, to make him lose his faith in God and thus no longer fear God or bless the name of Jehovah. This would give Satan a chance: Whatever the place or time, it would be able to make Job a plaything under its command. Satan hid its wicked schemes without trace, but it could not hold its evil nature in check. This truth is hinted in its answer to the words of Jehovah God, as recorded in the scriptures: “And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face” (Job 2:4–5). It is impossible not to gain a substantive knowledge and sense of Satan’s maliciousness from this exchange between God and Satan. Having heard these fallacies of Satan, all those who love the truth and detest evil will undoubtedly have a greater hate of Satan’s ignobility and shamelessness, will feel appalled and disgusted by the fallacies of Satan, and, at the same time, will offer deep prayers and earnest wishes for Job, praying that this man of uprightness can achieve perfection, wishing that this man who fears God and shuns evil will forever overcome the temptations of Satan, and live in the light, and live amid God’s guidance and blessings; so, too, will they wish that Job’s righteous deeds can forever spur on and encourage all those who pursue the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Though Satan’s malicious intent can be seen in this proclamation, God breezily consented to Satan’s “request”—but He also had one condition: “he is in your hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6). Because, this time, Satan asked to stretch forth its hand to harm Job’s flesh and bones, God said, “but save his life.” The meaning of these words is that He gave Job’s flesh to Satan, but He retained his life. Satan could not take Job’s life, but apart from this Satan could employ any means or method against Job.
After gaining God’s permission, Satan rushed to Job and stretched forth its hand to afflict his skin, causing sore boils all over his body, and Job felt pain upon his skin. Job praised the wondrousness and holiness of Jehovah God, which made Satan even more flagrant in its audaciousness. Because it had felt the joy of hurting man, Satan stretched forth its hand and raked Job’s flesh, causing his sore boils to fester. Job immediately felt a pain and torment upon his flesh that was without parallel, and he could not help but knead himself from head to foot with his hands, as if this would relieve the blow to his spirit from this pain of the flesh. He realized that God was by his side watching him, and he tried his best to steel himself. He once more knelt to the ground, and said: You look within man’s heart, You observe his misery; why does his weakness concern You? Praised be the name of Jehovah God. Satan saw the insufferable pain of Job, but it did not see Job forsake the name of Jehovah God. Thus it hastily stretched forth its hand to afflict the bones of Job, desperate to tear him limb from limb. In an instant, Job felt unprecedented torment; it was as if his flesh had been ripped open from the bones, and as if his bones were being smashed apart bit by bit. This agonizing torment made him think it would be better to die…. His ability to bear had reached its limit…. He wanted to cry out, he wanted to tear at the skin on his body to lessen the pain—yet he held back his screams, and did not tear at the skin on his body, for he did not want to let Satan see his weakness. And so he knelt once more, but at this time he felt not the presence of Jehovah God. He knew that He was often before him, and behind him, and on either side of him. Yet during his pain, God had never watched; He covered His face and was hidden, for the meaning of His creation of man was not to bring suffering upon man. At this time, Job was weeping, and doing his best to endure this physical agony, yet he could no longer keep himself from giving thanks to God: Man falls at the first blow, he is weak and powerless, he is young and ignorant—why would You wish to be so caring and tender toward him? You strike me, yet it hurts You to do so. What of man is worth Your care and concern? Job’s prayers reached the ears of God, and God was silent, only watching without sound…. Having tried every trick in the book to no avail, Satan quietly departed, yet this did not bring an end to God’s trials of Job. Because the power of God revealed in Job had not been made public, the story of Job did not end with the retreat of Satan. As other characters made their entry, more spectacular scenes were yet to come.
Another Manifestation of Job’s Fear of God and Shunning of Evil Is His Extolling of God’s Name in All Things
Job had suffered the ravages of Satan, yet still he did not forsake the name of Jehovah God. His wife was the first to step out and play the role of Satan that can be seen by attacking Job. The original text describes it thus: “Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). These were the words spoken by Satan in the guise of man. They were an attack, and an accusation, as well as enticement, a temptation, and slander. Having failed in attacking Job’s flesh, Satan then directly attacked Job’s integrity, wishing to use this to make Job give up his integrity, renounce God, and stop living. So, too, did Satan wish to use such words to tempt Job: If Job forsook the name of Jehovah, he need not endure such torment, could free himself from the torment of the flesh. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job reprimanded her by saying, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job had long known these words, but at this time the truth of Job’s knowledge of them was proven.
When his wife advised him to curse God and die, her meaning was: Your God treats you thus, so why not curse Him? What are you doing still living? Your God is so unfair to you, yet still you say blessed be the name of Jehovah. How could He bring disaster upon you when you bless His name? Hurry up and forsake the name of God, and follow Him no more. In this way your troubles will be over. At this moment, there was produced the testimony that God wished to see in Job. No ordinary person could bear such testimony, nor do we read of it in any of the stories of the Bible—but God had seen it long before Job spoke these words. God merely wished to use this opportunity to allow Job to prove to all that God was right. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job not only didn’t give up his integrity or renounce God, but he also said to his wife: “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Do these words carry great weight? Here, there is only one fact capable of proving the weight of these words. The weight of these words is that they are approved of by God in His heart, they are what was desired by God, they are what God wanted to hear, and they are the outcome that God yearned to see; these words are also the essence of Job’s testimony. In this, Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil were proven. The preciousness of Job lay in how, when he was tempted, and even when his whole body was covered with sore boils, when he endured the utmost torment, and when his wife and kinfolk advised him, he still uttered such words. To put it in another way, in his heart he believed that, no matter what temptations, or however grievous the tribulations or torment, even if death was to come upon him, he would not renounce God or spurn the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You see, then, that God held the most important place in his heart, and that there was only God in his heart. It is because of this that we read such descriptions of him in the Scriptures as: In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Not only did he not sin with his lips, but in his heart he did not complain about God. He did not say hurtful words about God, nor did he sin against God. Not only did his mouth bless the name of God, but in his heart he also blessed the name of God; his mouth and heart were as one. This was the true Job seen by God, and this was the very reason why God treasured Job.
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