The Book of Job-Chapter One:
"Job's Fears and Satan's Cynicism"
Welcome to an informal study of the Book of Job from the Bible. Said to be the first book written down in the Bible, this is an ancient account. Yet it remains, in my view, a vital one for us today, as is the whole of Scripture. The Lord has brought us here, may His will be accomplished in our time together:
Verses 1-3: "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east."
This must be one of the happiest beginnings of any book in the Bible. Job was prosperous and well. This looks like a good start for modern audiences because that's the goal of much of our religion today, isn't it? Prosperity. Well, Job had it. He followed the Lord and had a healthy respect for God. That's the "fear " mentioned in verse one. But other, more unhealthy, fears had begun to plague Job as we can see in the following:
Verses 4-5: "And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. "
Fearing God is a wonderful thing. When done Biblically, it means you are freed from all other fears. It frees you up to serve God by loving Him and others. But Job is starting to fear losing his earthly blessings, too. When that fear creeps into our worship, Satan will not be far behind for that kind of fear makes us very vulnerable.
Verses 6-11: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."
Do you see, beloved, how cynical Satan was about Job's faith? If you are a believer today, he feels that same way about you, too. Just consider for a minute the way he treated Christ as seen in the New Testament at Matt. 4:1-11. These "temptations of Christ" reveal the same attitude toward faith as we see in Job. Satan thought that the Son of God would choose riches and ease over service and true faith. How much more must he despise our commitments to the Lord? Listen to what the Apostle Paul once told a young preacher: "Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (II Tim 3:12) Whether you are a struggling believer, or one struggling to believe, remember there is a world unseen to us. And forces within it that wish us no good. Forces that we can only trust God to deal with. In Job's life the great unseen battle is about to manifest itself in very tangible and personally tragic ways:
Verses 12-19: "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee."
Job must have been reeling. And still he was able to put faith ahead of his greatest fears:
Verses 20-22: "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."
Is Satan right about the Church? About you, and about me? What comes first to us: love and service for Christ, or the blessings we hope to receive and maintain? The world has NEVER been more cynical about the Church than in our time, beloved, and perhaps with good reason. That is why we have entered into this difficult study.