God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II

God’s Disposition Has Never Been Hidden From Man—Man’s Heart Has Strayed From God

If I did not fellowship about these things, none of you would be able to behold the true disposition of God in the stories of the Bible. This is fact. That is because, though these biblical stories recorded some of the things that God did, God spoke but a few words, and did not directly introduce His disposition or openly issue forth His will to man. Later generations have regarded these records as nothing more than stories, and so it appears to people that God hides Himself from man, that it is not God’s person that is hidden from man, but His disposition and will. After My fellowship today, do you still feel that God is fully hidden from man? Do you still believe that God’s disposition is hidden from man?

Since the time of creation, God’s disposition has been in step with His work. It has never been hidden from man, but fully publicized and made plain to man. Yet, with the passing of time, man’s heart has grown ever more distant from God, and as man’s corruption has become deeper, man and God have become further and further apart. Slowly but surely, man has disappeared from the eyes of God. Man has become unable to “see” God, which has left him without any “news” of God; thus, he does not know whether God exists, and even goes so far as to completely deny the existence of God. Consequently, man’s incomprehension of God’s disposition and what He has and is is not because God is hidden from man, but because his heart has turned away from God. Though man believes in God, man’s heart is without God, and he is ignorant of how to love God, nor does he want to love God, for his heart never draws close to God and he always avoids God. As a result, man’s heart is distant from God. So where is his heart? In fact, man’s heart has not gone anywhere: Instead of giving it to God or revealing it to God to see, he has kept it for himself. That’s despite the fact that some often pray to God and say, “O God, look upon my heart—you know all that I think,” and some even swear to let God look upon them, that they may be punished if they break their oath. Though man allows God to look within his heart, this does not mean that he is capable of obeying the orchestrations and arrangements of God, nor that he has left his fate and prospects and his all under the control of God. Thus, regardless of the oaths you make to God or your attitude toward Him, in God’s eyes your heart is still closed to Him, for you only allow God to look upon your heart but do not permit Him to control it. In other words, you have not given your heart to God at all, and only speak nice-sounding words for God to hear; your various crafty intentions, meanwhile, you hide from God, together with your intrigues, scheming, and plans, and you clutch your prospects and fate in your hands, deeply afraid that they will be taken away by God. Thus, God never beholds man’s sincerity toward Him. Though God does observe the depths of man’s heart, and can see what man is thinking and wishes to do in his heart, and can see what things are kept within his heart, man’s heart does not belong to God, he has not given it over to God’s control. Which is to say, God has the right to observe, but He does not have the right to control. In the subjective consciousness of man, man does not want or intend to leave himself to the mercy of God. Not only has man closed himself off to God, but there are even people who think of ways to wrap up their hearts, using smooth talk and flattery to create a false impression and gain the trust of God, and concealing their true face out of sight from God. Their aim in not allowing God to see is to not allow God to perceive how they really are. They do not want to give their hearts to God, but to keep them for themselves. The subtext of this is that what man does and what he wants is all planned, calculated, and decided by man himself; he does not require the participation or intervention of God, much less does he need the orchestrations and arrangements of God. Thus, whether in regard to the commands of God, His commission, or the requirements that God makes of man, man’s decisions are based on his own intentions and interests, on his own state and circumstances at the time. Man always uses the knowledge and insights that he is familiar with, and his own intellect, to judge and select the path he should take, and does not allow the interference or control of God. This is the heart of man that God sees.

From the beginning until today, only man has been capable of conversing with God. That is, among all living things and creatures of God, none but man has been able to converse with God. Man has ears that enable him to hear, and eyes that let him see, he has language, and his own ideas, and free will. He is possessed of all that is required to hear God speak, and understand God’s will, and accept God’s commission, and so God confers all His wishes upon man, wanting to make man a companion who is of the same mind with Him and who can walk with Him. Since He began to manage, God has been waiting for man to give his heart to Him, to let God purify and equip it, to make him satisfactory to God and loved by God, to make him revere God and shun evil. God has ever looked forward to and awaited this outcome. Are there any such people among the records of the Bible? That is, are there any in the Bible capable of giving their hearts to God? Is there any precedent before this age? Today, let us continue reading the accounts of the Bible and take a look at whether what was done by this figure—Job—has any connection to the topic of “giving your heart to God” that we’re talking about today. Let us see whether Job was satisfactory to God and loved by God.

What is your impression of Job? Citing original scripture, some people say that Job “feared God, and eschewed evil.” “Feared God, and eschewed evil”: Such is the original assessment of Job recorded in the Bible. If you used your own words, how would you pin down Job? Some people say that Job was a good and reasonable man; some say that he had true faith in God; some say that Job was a righteous and humane man. You have seen the faith of Job, which is to say, in your hearts you attach great importance to and are envious of Job’s faith. Today, then, let us look at what was possessed by Job that God is pleased with him so. Next, let us read the scriptures below.

C. Job

1. Assessments of Job by God and in the Bible

(Job 1:1) 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.

(Job 1:5) 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.

(Job 1:8) And the LORD 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?

What is the key point that you see in these passages? These three brief passages of scripture all relate to Job. Though short, they clearly state what kind of person he was. Through their description of Job’s everyday behavior and his conduct, they tell everyone that, rather than being groundless, God’s assessment of Job was well-founded. They tell us that whether it be man’s appraisal of Job (Job 1:1), or God’s appraisal of him (Job 1:8), both are the result of Job’s deeds before God and man (Job 1:5).

First, let us read passage number one: “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.” The first assessment of Job in the Bible, this sentence is the author’s appraisal of Job. Naturally, it also represents man’s assessment of Job, which is “that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Next, let us read of God’s assessment of Job: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil” (Job 1:8). Of the two, one came from man, and one originated from God; they are two assessments with the same content. It can be seen, then, that Job’s behavior and conduct were known to man, and were also praised by God. In other words, Job’s conduct before man and his conduct before God were the same; he laid his behavior and motivation before God at all times, so that they might be observed by God, and he was one that feared God and shunned evil. Thus, in the eyes of God, of the people on earth only Job was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and shunned evil.

Specific Manifestations of Job’s Fear of God and Shunning of Evil in His Daily Life

Next, let us look at specific manifestations of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil. In addition to the passages that precede and follow it, let us also read Job 1:5, which is one of the specific manifestations of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil. It relates to how he feared God and shunned evil in his daily life; most prominently, he not only did as he ought to do for the sake of his own fear of God and shunning of evil, but also regularly sacrificed burnt offerings before God on behalf of his sons. He was afraid that they had often “sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” while feasting. And how was this fear manifested in Job? The original text gives the following account: “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.” Job’s conduct shows us that, rather than being manifested in his outward behavior, his fear of God came from within his heart, and that his fear of God could be found in every aspect of his daily life, at all times, for he not only shunned evil himself, but often sacrificed burnt offerings on behalf of his sons. In other words, Job was not only deeply afraid of sinning against God and renouncing God in his own heart, but also worried that his sons sinned against God and renounced Him in their hearts. From this can be seen that the truth of Job’s fear of God stands up to scrutiny, and is beyond the doubt of any man. Did he do thus occasionally, or frequently? The final sentence of the text is “Thus did Job continually.” The meaning of these words is that Job did not go and look in on his sons occasionally, or when it pleased him, nor did he confess to God through prayer. Instead, he regularly sent and sanctified his sons, and sacrificed burnt offerings for them. The “continually” here does not mean he did so for one or two days, or for a moment. It is saying that the manifestation of Job’s fear of God was not temporary, and did not stop at knowledge, or spoken words; instead, the way of fearing God and shunning evil guided his heart, it dictated his behavior, and it was, in his heart, the root of his existence. That he did so continually shows that, in his heart, he often feared that he himself would sin against God and was also afraid that his sons and daughters sinned against God. It represents just how much weight the way of fearing God and shunning evil carried within his heart. He did thus continually because, in his heart, he was frightened and afraid—afraid that he had committed evil and sinned against God, and that he had deviated from the way of God and so was unable to satisfy God. And at the same time, he also worried about his sons and daughters, fearing that they had offended God. Thus was Job’s normal conduct in his everyday life. It is precisely this normal conduct which proves that Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil are not empty words, that Job truly lived out such reality. “Thus did Job continually”: these words tell us of Job’s everyday deeds before God. When he did thus continually, did his behavior and his heart reach before God? In other words, was God often pleased with his heart and his behavior? Then, under what circumstances and in what context did Job do thus continually? Some people say that it was because God frequently appeared to Job that he acted so; some say that he did thus continually because he would shun evil; and some say that perhaps he thought that his fortune had not come easily, and he knew that it had been bestowed upon him by God, and so he was deeply afraid of losing his property as a result of sinning against or offending God. Are any of these claims true? Clearly not. For, in the eyes of God, what God accepted and cherished most about Job was not just that he did thus continually; more than that, it was his conduct before God, man, and Satan when he was handed over to Satan and tempted. The sections below offer the most convincing evidence, evidence which shows us the truth of God’s assessment of Job. Next, let us read the following passages of scripture.

2. Satan Tempts Job for the First Time (His Livestock Is Stolen and Calamity Befalls His Children)

a. The Words Spoken by God

(Job 1:8) And the LORD 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?

(Job 1:12) And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

b. Satan’s Reply

(Job 1:9-11) Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.

God Permits Satan to Tempt Job so That Job’s Faith Will Be Made Perfect

Job 1:8 is the first record that we see in the Bible of an exchange between Jehovah God and Satan. And what did God say? The original text provides the following account: “And the LORD 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?” This was God’s assessment of Job before Satan; God said that he was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil. Prior to these words between God and Satan, God had resolved that He would use Satan to tempt Job—that He would hand Job over to Satan. In one respect, this would prove that God’s observation and evaluation of Job were accurate and without error, and would cause Satan to be shamed through Job’s testimony; in another, it would make perfect Job’s faith in God and fear of God. Thus, when Satan came before God, God did not equivocate. He cut straight to the point and asked 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?” In God’s question there is the following meaning: God knew that Satan had roamed all places, and had often spied upon Job, who was God’s servant. It had often tempted and attacked him, trying to find a way of bringing ruin upon Job in order to prove that Job’s faith in God and fear of God could not hold firm. Satan also readily sought opportunities to devastate Job, that Job might renounce God and allow Satan to seize him from the hands of God. Yet God looked within Job’s heart and saw that he was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil. God used a question to tell Satan that Job was a perfect and an upright man who feared God and shunned evil, that Job would never renounce God and follow Satan. Having heard God’s appraisal of Job, in Satan there came a rage born of humiliation, and it became more angry, and more impatient to snatch Job away, for Satan had never believed that someone could be perfect and upright, or that they could fear God and shun evil. At the same time, Satan also loathed the perfection and uprightness in man, and hated people that could fear God and shun evil. And so it is written in Job 1:9-11 that “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” God was intimately acquainted with Satan’s malicious nature, and knew full well that Satan had long planned to bring ruin upon Job, and so in this God wished, through telling Satan once more that Job was perfect and upright and that he feared God and shunned evil, to bring Satan into line, to make Satan reveal its true face and attack and tempt Job. In other words, God deliberately emphasized that Job was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil, and by this means He made Satan attack Job because of Satan’s hatred and ire toward how Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil. As a result, God would bring shame upon Satan through the fact that Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil, and Satan would be left utterly humiliated and defeated. After that, Satan would no longer doubt or make accusations about Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, or shunning of evil. In this way, God’s trial and Satan’s temptation was almost inevitable. The only one able to withstand God’s trial and Satan’s temptation was Job. Following this exchange, Satan was granted permission to tempt Job. Thus began Satan’s first round of attacks. The target of these attacks was Job’s property, for Satan had made the following accusation against Job: “Does Job fear God for nothing? … you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” As a result, God permitted Satan to take all that Job had—which was the very purpose why God talked with Satan. Nevertheless, God made one demand of Satan: “all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand” (Job 1:12). This was the condition that God made after He permitted Satan to tempt Job and placed Job into the hands of Satan, and was the limit He set for Satan: He ordered Satan not to harm Job. Because God recognized that Job was perfect and upright, and He had faith that Job’s perfection and uprightness before Him were beyond doubt, and could withstand being put to the test; thus, God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but imposed a restriction on Satan: Satan was permitted to take all of Job’s property, but it could not lay a finger on him. What does this mean? It means that God did not give Job completely to Satan then. Satan could tempt Job by whatever means it wanted, but it could not hurt Job himself, not even one hair on his head, because everything of man is controlled by God, whether man lives or dies is decided by God, and Satan does not have such license. After God said these words to Satan, Satan couldn’t wait to begin. It used every means to tempt Job, and before long Job had lost a mountainful of sheep and oxen and all of the property given unto him by God…. Thus God’s trials came to him.

Though the Bible tells us of the origins of Job’s temptation, was Job himself, the one subjected to these temptations, aware of what was going on? Job was just a mortal man; of course he knew nothing of the story unfolding behind him. Nevertheless, his fear of God, and his perfection and uprightness, made him realize that the trials of God had come upon him. He did not know what had occurred in the spiritual realm, nor what the intentions of God were behind these trials. But he did know that regardless of what happened to him, he should hold true to his perfection and uprightness, and should abide by the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Job’s attitude and reaction to these matters were clearly beheld by God. And what did God see? He saw Job’s heart that feared God, because from the beginning right through until when Job was tried, Job’s heart remained open to God, it was laid before God, and Job did not renounce his perfection or uprightness, nor did he cast away or turn from the way of fearing God and shunning evil—and nothing was more gratifying to God. Next, we will look at what temptations were undergone by Job and how he treated these trials. Let us read the scriptures.

c. Job’s Reaction

(Job 1:20-21) Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on 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 has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

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