God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II (Part Six)
Job’s Testimony Brings Comfort to God
If I tell you now that Job is a lovely man, you may not be able to appreciate the meaning within these words, and may not be able to grasp the sentiment behind why I have spoken of all these things; but wait until the day when you have experienced trials the same as or akin to those of Job, when you have gone through adversity, when you have experienced trials personally arranged for you by God, when you give your all, and endure humiliation and hardship, in order to prevail over Satan and bear testimony to God amid temptations—then you will be able to appreciate the meaning of these words I speak. At that time, you will feel that you are far inferior to Job, you will feel how lovely Job is, and that he is worthy of emulation; when that time comes, you will realize how important those classic words spoken by Job are for one who is corrupt and who lives in these times, and you will realize how difficult it is for the people of today to achieve what was achieved by Job. When you feel it is difficult, you will appreciate how anxious and worried is God’s heart, you will appreciate how high is the price paid by God for gaining such people, and how precious is that done and expended by God for mankind. Now that you have heard these words, do you have an accurate understanding and correct assessment of Job? In your eyes, was Job a truly perfect and upright man who feared God and shunned evil? I believe that most people will most certainly say, Yes. For the facts of what Job acted and revealed are undeniable by any man or Satan. They are the most powerful proof of Job’s triumph over Satan. This proof was produced in Job, and was the first testimony received by God. Thus, when Job triumphed in the temptations of Satan and bore testimony to God, God saw hope in Job, and His heart was comforted by Job. Since the creation until Job, this was the first time that God truly experienced what comfort was, and what it meant to be comforted by man, and it was the first time that He had seen, and gained, true testimony that was borne for Him.
I trust that, having heard of Job’s testimony and accounts of the various aspects of Job, the majority of people will have plans for the path before them. So, too, do I trust that most people who are full of anxiety and fear will slowly begin to relax in both body and mind, and will begin to feel relief, little by little …
The passages below are also accounts about Job. Let us continue reading.
4. Job Has Heard of God by the Hearing of the Ear
(Job 9:11) See, He goes by me, and I see Him not: He passes on also, but I perceive Him not.
(Job 23:8–9) Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: On the left hand, where He does work, but I cannot behold Him: He hides Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him.
(Job 42:2–6) I know that You can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from You. Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech You, and I will speak: I will demand of You, and declare You to me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You. Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Although God Has Not Revealed Himself to Job, Job Believes in the Sovereignty of God
What is the thrust of these words? Have any of you realized that there is a fact here? First, how did Job know there is a God? And how did he know that the heavens and earth and all things are ruled by God? There is a passage that answers these two questions: I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You. Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5–6). From these words we learn that, rather than having seen God with his own eyes, Job had learned of God from legend. It was under these circumstances that he began to walk the path of following God, after which he confirmed the existence of God in his life, and among all things. There is an undeniable fact here—and what is it? Despite being able to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil, Job had never seen God. In this, was he not the same as the people of today? Job had never seen God, the implication of which is that although he had heard of God, he did not know where God was, or what God was like, or what God was doing, which are subjective factors; objectively speaking, though he followed God, God had never appeared to him or spoken to him. Is this not a fact? Although God had not spoken to Job or given him any commands, Job had seen God’s existence, and beheld His sovereignty among all things and in legends in which Job had heard of God by the hearing of the ear, after which he began the life of fearing God and shunning evil. Such were the origins and process by which Job followed God. But no matter how he feared God and shunned evil, no matter how he held firm to his integrity, still God never appeared to him. Let us read this passage. He said, “See, He goes by me, and I see Him not: He passes on also, but I perceive Him not” (Job 9:11). What these words are saying is that Job might have felt God around him or he might not—but he had never been able to see God. There were times when he imagined God passing before him, or acting, or guiding man, but he had never known. God comes upon man when he isn’t expecting it; man doesn’t know when God comes upon him, or where He comes upon him, because man cannot see God, and thus, to man, God is hidden from him.
Job’s Faith in God Is Not Shaken Because God Is Hidden From Him
In the following passage of scripture, Job then says, “Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: On the left hand, where He does work, but I cannot behold Him: He hides Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him” (Job 23:8–9). In this account, we learn that in Job’s experiences, God had been hidden to him throughout; God had not openly appeared to him, nor had He openly spoken any words to him, yet in his heart, Job was confident of God’s existence. He had always believed that God might be walking before him, or might be acting by his side, and that although he could not see God, God was next to him governing his all. Job had never seen God, but he was able to stay true to his faith, which no other person was able to do. And why couldn’t they? Because God did not speak to Job, or appear to him, and if he had not truly believed, he could not have gone on, nor could he have held fast to the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Is this not true? How do you feel when you read of Job saying these words? Do you feel that Job’s perfection and uprightness, and his righteousness before God, are true, and not an exaggeration on the part of God? Even though God treated Job the same as other people, and did not appear or speak to him, Job still held firm to his integrity, he still believed in God’s sovereignty, and, furthermore, he frequently offered burnt offerings and prayed before God as a result of his fear of offending God. In Job’s ability to fear God without having seen God, we see how much he loved positive things, and how firm and real his faith was. He did not deny the existence of God because God was hidden from him, nor did he lose his faith and forsake God because he had never seen Him. Instead, amid God’s hidden work of ruling all things, he had realized the existence of God, and felt the sovereignty and power of God. He did not give up on being upright because God was hidden, nor did he forsake the way of fearing God and shunning evil because God had never appeared to him. Job had never asked that God openly appear to him to prove His existence, for he had already beheld God’s sovereignty among all things, and he believed that he had gained the blessings and graces that others had not gained. Although God remained hidden to him, Job’s faith in God was never shaken. Thus, he harvested what none other had: God’s approval and God’s blessing.
Job Blesses the Name of God and Does Not Think of Blessings or Disaster
There is a fact which is never referred to in the Scriptures’ stories of Job, which will be our focus today. Although Job had never seen God or heard the words of God with his own ears, God had a place in Job’s heart. And what was Job’s attitude toward God? It was, as previously referred to, “blessed be the name of Jehovah.” His blessing of God’s name was unconditional, unqualified, and without reason. We see that Job had given his heart to God, allowing it to be controlled by God; all that he thought, all that he decided, and all that he planned in his heart was laid open to God and not closed off from God. His heart did not stand in opposition to God, and he had never asked God to do anything for him or give him anything, and he did not harbor extravagant desires that he would gain anything from his worship of God. Job did not talk of trades with God, and made no requests or demands of God. His praising of God’s name was because of the great power and authority of God in ruling all things, and was not dependent on whether he gained blessings or was struck by disaster. He believed that regardless of whether God blesses people or brings disaster upon them, God’s power and authority will not change, and thus, regardless of a person’s circumstances, God’s name should be praised. That man is blessed by God is because of God’s sovereignty, and when disaster befalls man, so, too, is it because of God’s sovereignty. God’s power and authority rule over and arrange everything of man; the vagaries of man’s fortune are the manifestation of God’s power and authority, and regardless of one’s viewpoint, God’s name should be praised. This is what Job experienced and came to know during the years of his life. All of Job’s thoughts and actions reached the ears of God, and arrived before God, and were seen as important by God. God cherished this knowledge of Job, and treasured Job for having such a heart. This heart awaited God’s command always, and in all places, and no matter what the time or place it welcomed whatever befell him. Job made no demands of God. What he demanded of himself was to wait for, accept, face, and obey all of the arrangements that came from God; Job believed this to be his duty, and it was precisely what was wanted by God. Job had never seen God, nor heard Him speak any words, issue any commands, give any teachings, or instruct him of anything. In the words of today, for him to be able to possess such a knowledge and attitude toward God when God had given him no enlightenment, guidance, or provision with regard to the truth—this was precious, and for him to demonstrate such things was enough for God, and his testimony was commended by God, and cherished by God. Job had never seen God or heard God personally utter any teachings to him, but to God his heart and he himself were far more precious than those people who, before God, were only able to talk of profound theory, who were only able to boast, and speak of offering sacrifices, but who had never had a true knowledge of God, and had never truly feared God. For Job’s heart was pure, and not hidden from God, and his humanity was honest and kind-hearted, and he loved justice and that which was positive. Only a man like this who was possessed of such a heart and humanity was able to follow the way of God, and capable of fearing God and shunning evil. Such a man could see God’s sovereignty, could see His authority and power, and was able to achieve obedience to His sovereignty and arrangements. Only a man such as this could truly praise God’s name. That is because he did not look at whether God would bless him or bring disaster upon him, because he knew that everything is controlled by the hand of God, and that for man to worry is a sign of foolishness, ignorance, and irrationality, of doubt toward the fact of God’s sovereignty over all things, and of not fearing God. Job’s knowledge was precisely what God wanted. So, did Job have a greater theoretical knowledge of God than you? Because God’s work and utterances at that time were few, it was no easy matter to achieve the knowledge of God. Such an accomplishment by Job was no mean feat. He hadn’t experienced the work of God, nor ever heard God speaking, or seen the face of God. That he was able to have such an attitude toward God was entirely the result of his humanity and his personal pursuit, a humanity and pursuit that are not possessed by people today. Thus, in that age, God said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man.” In that age, God had already made such an assessment of him, and had come to such a conclusion. How much more true would it be today?
Although God Is Hidden From Man, His Deeds Among All Things Are Sufficient for Man to Know Him
Job had not seen the face of God, or heard the words spoken by God, much less had he personally experienced the work of God, but his fear of God and testimony during his trials are witnessed by all, and they are loved, delighted in, and commended by God, and people envy and admire them, and, moreover, sing their praises. There was nothing great or extraordinary about his life: Just like any ordinary person, he lived an unremarkable life, going out to work at sunrise and returning home to rest at sunset. The difference is that during these several unremarkable decades, he gained an insight into the way of God, and realized and understood the great power and sovereignty of God, as no other person ever had. He was no cleverer than any ordinary person, his life was not especially tenacious, nor, moreover, did he have invisible special skills. What he did possess, though, was a personality that was honest, kind-hearted, upright, a personality which loved fairness and righteousness, and which loved positive things—none of which are possessed by most ordinary people. He differentiated between love and hate, had a sense of justice, was unyielding and persistent, and was diligent in his thoughts, and thus during his unremarkable time on earth he saw all the extraordinary things that God had done, and saw the greatness, holiness, and righteousness of God, he saw God’s concern, graciousness, and protection for man, and saw the honorableness and authority of the supreme God. The first reason why Job was able to gain these things that were beyond any normal person was because he had a pure heart, and his heart belonged to God, and was led by the Creator. The second reason was his pursuit: his pursuit of being impeccable, and perfect, and someone who complied with the will of Heaven, who was loved by God, and shunned evil. Job possessed and pursued these things while being unable to see God or hear the words of God; though he had never seen God, he had come to know the means by which God rules over all things, and understood the wisdom with which God does so. Though he had never heard the words spoken by God, Job knew that the deeds of rewarding man and taking from man all come from God. Although the years of his life were no different from those of any ordinary person, he did not allow the unremarkableness of his life to affect his knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things, or to affect his following of the way of fearing God and shunning evil. In his eyes, the laws of all things were full of God’s deeds, and God’s sovereignty could be seen in any part of a person’s life. He had not seen God, but he was able to realize that God’s deeds are everywhere, and during his unremarkable time on earth, in every corner of his life he was able to see and realize the extraordinary and wondrous deeds of God, and could see the wondrous arrangements of God. The hiddenness and silence of God did not hinder Job’s realization of God’s deeds, nor did they affect his knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things. His life was the realization of the sovereignty and arrangements of God, who is hidden among all things, during his everyday life. In his everyday life he also heard and understood the heart’s voice and the words, which God, silent among all things, expressed through His governing the laws of all things. You see, then, that if people have the same humanity and pursuit as Job, then they can gain the same realization and knowledge as Job, and can acquire the same understanding and knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things as Job. God had not appeared to Job or spoken to him, but Job was able to be perfect, and upright, and to fear God and shun evil. In other words, without God having appeared to or spoken to man, God’s deeds among all things and His sovereignty over all things are sufficient for a man to become aware of God’s existence, power, and authority, and God’s power and authority are enough to make this man follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Since an ordinary man such as Job was able to achieve the fear of God and shunning of evil, then every ordinary person who follows God should also be able to. Though these words may sound like logical inference, this does not contravene the laws of things. Yet the facts haven’t matched up to expectations: Fearing God and shunning evil, it would appear, is the preserve of Job and Job alone. At the mention of “fearing God and shunning evil,” people think that this should only be done by Job, as if the way of fearing God and shunning evil had been labeled with the name of Job and were unrelated to others. The reason for this is clear: Because only Job was possessed of a personality that was honest, kind-hearted, and upright, and which loved fairness and righteousness and things that were positive, thus only Job could follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You must have all understood the implication here—which is that because no one is possessed of a humanity that is honest, kind-hearted, and upright, and which loves fairness and righteousness and that which is positive, no one can fear God and shun evil, and thus they can never gain God’s joy or stand firm amid trials. Which also means that, with the exception of Job, all people are still bound and ensnared by Satan, they are all accused, attacked, and abused by it, and the ones Satan tries to swallow, and they are all without freedom, prisoners that have been taken captive by Satan.
If Man’s Heart Is in Enmity to God, How Can He Fear God and Shun Evil
Since the people of today do not possess the same humanity as Job, what of the substance of their nature, and their attitude toward God? Do they fear God? Do they shun evil? Those who do not fear God or shun evil can only be summed up with four words: the enemies of God. You often say these four words, but you have never known their real meaning. The words “the enemies of God” have substance to them: They are not saying that God sees man as the enemy, but that man sees God as the enemy. First, when people begin to believe in God, who does not have their own aims, motivations, and ambitions? Even though one part of them believes in the existence of God, and has seen the existence of God, their belief in God still contains those motivations, and their ultimate aim in believing in God is to receive His blessings and the things they want. In people’s life experiences, they often think to themselves, I’ve given up my family and career for God, and what has He given me? I must add it up, and confirm it—have I received any blessings recently? I’ve given a lot during this time, I’ve run and run, and have suffered much—has God given me any promises in return? Has He remembered my good deeds? What will my end be? Can I receive God’s blessings? … Every person constantly, and often makes such calculations within their heart, and they make demands of God which bear their motivations, and ambitions, and deals. Which is to say, in his heart man is constantly putting God to test, constantly devising plans about God, and constantly arguing the case for his end with God, and trying to extract a statement from God, seeing whether or not God can give him what he wants. At the same time as pursuing God, man doesn’t treat God like God. He has always tried to make deals with God, ceaselessly making demands of Him, and even pressing Him at every step, trying to take a mile after being given an inch. At the same time as trying to make deals with God, man also argues with Him, and there are even people who, when trials befall them or they find themselves in certain situations, often become weak, passive and slack in their work, and full of complaints about God. From when he first began to believe in God, man has considered God to be a cornucopia, a Swiss Army knife, and he has considered himself to be God’s greatest creditor, as if trying to get blessings and promises from God were his inherent right and obligation, while God’s responsibility were to protect and care for man and provide for him. Such is the basic understanding of “belief in God” of all those who believe in God, and their deepest understanding of the concept of belief in God. From the substance of man’s nature to his subjective pursuit, there is nothing that relates to the fear of God. Man’s aim in believing in God could not possibly have anything to do with the worship of God. That is to say, man has never considered nor understood that belief in God requires fearing God, and worshiping God. In light of such circumstances, man’s substance is obvious. And what is this substance? It is that man’s heart is malicious, it harbors treachery and craftiness, it does not love fairness and righteousness, or that which is positive, and it is contemptible and greedy. Man’s heart couldn’t be more closed to God; he hasn’t given it to God at all. God has never seen man’s true heart, nor has He ever been worshiped by man. No matter how great the price God pays, or how much work He does, or how much He provides to man, man remains blind to it, and utterly indifferent. Man has never given his heart to God, he only wants to mind his heart himself, to make his own decisions—the subtext of which is that man doesn’t want to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil, or to obey the sovereignty and arrangements of God, nor does he want to worship God as God. Such are the circumstances of man today. Now let us look again at Job. First of all, did he do a deal with God? Did he have any ulterior motives in holding firm to the way of fearing God and shunning evil? At that time, had God spoken to anyone of the end to come? At that time, God had not made promises to anyone about the end, and it was against this background that Job was able to fear God and shun evil. Do the people of today stand up to comparison with Job? There’s too much of a disparity, they’re in different leagues. Although Job did not have much knowledge of God, he had given his heart to God and it belonged to God. He never did a deal with God, and had no extravagant desires or demands toward God; instead, he believed that “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away.” This was what he had seen and obtained from holding true to the way of fearing God and shunning evil during many years of life. Likewise, he had also gained the outcome of “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” These two sentences were what he had seen and come to know as a result of his attitude of obedience toward God during his life’s experiences, and they were also his most powerful weapons with which he triumphed in Satan’s temptations, and the foundation of his standing firm in testimony to God. At this point, do you envisage Job as a lovely person? Do you hope to be such a person? Do you fear having to undergo the temptations of Satan? Do you resolve to pray for God to subject you to the same trials as Job? Without doubt, most people would not dare to pray for such things. It is evident, then, that your faith is pitiably small; compared to Job, your faith is simply unworthy of mention. You are the enemies of God, you do not fear God, you are incapable of standing firm in your testimony to God, and unable to triumph over the attacks, accusations, and temptations of Satan. What makes you qualified to receive the promises of God? Having heard the story of Job and understood God’s intention in saving man and the meaning of the salvation of man, do you now have the faith to accept the same trials as Job? Should you not have a little resolve to allow yourselves to follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil?