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

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 the LORD, 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.

People’s Many Misunderstandings About Job

The hardship suffered by Job was not the work of angels sent by God, nor was it caused by God’s own hand. Instead, it was personally caused by Satan, the enemy of God. Consequently, the level of hardship suffered by Job was profound. Yet at this moment Job demonstrated, without reserve, his everyday knowledge of God in his heart, the principles of his everyday actions, and his attitude toward God—and this is the truth. If Job had not been tempted, if God had not brought trials upon Job, when Job said, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” you would say that Job is a hypocrite; God had given him so many assets, so of course he blessed the name of Jehovah. If, before being subjected to trials, Job had said, “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” you would say that Job was exaggerating, and that he would not forsake the name of God since he was often blessed by the hand of God. If God had brought disaster upon him, then he would surely have forsaken the name of God. Yet when Job found himself in circumstances that no one would wish for, or wish to see, or wish to befall them, which people would fear befalling them, circumstances that even God could not bear to watch, Job was still able to hold on to his integrity: “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” and “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Faced with Job’s conduct at this time, those who love to talk high-sounding words, and who love to speak letters and doctrines, are left speechless. Those who extol God’s name in speech only, yet have never accepted the trials of God, are condemned by the integrity to which Job held firm, and those who have never believed that man is able to hold firm to the way of God are judged by Job’s testimony. Faced with Job’s conduct during these trials and the words that he spoke, some people will feel confused, some will feel envious, some will feel doubtful, and some will even appear disinterested, turning their noses up at the testimony of Job because they not only see the torment that befell Job during the trials, and read of the words spoken by Job, but also see the human “weakness” betrayed by Job when the trials came upon him. This “weakness” they believe to be the supposed imperfection in the perfection of Job, the blemish in a man who in God’s eyes was perfect. Which is to say, it is believed that those who are perfect are flawless, without stain or sully, that they have no weaknesses, have no knowledge of pain, that they never feel unhappy or dejected, and are without hate or any externally extreme behavior; as a result, the great majority of people do not believe that Job was truly perfect. People do not approve of much of his behavior during his trials. For example, when Job lost his property and children, he did not, as people would imagine, break into tears. His “indecorum” makes people think he was cold, for he was without tears, or love for his family. This is the bad impression that Job first gives people. They find his behavior after that even more perplexing: “Rent his mantle” has been interpreted by people as his disrespect for God, and “shaved his head” is wrongly believed to mean Job’s blasphemy and opposition to God. Apart from Job’s words that “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” people discern none of the righteousness in Job that was praised by God, and thus the assessment of Job of the great majority of them is nothing more than incomprehension, misunderstanding, doubt, condemnation, and approval in theory only. None of them are able to truly understand and appreciate Jehovah God’s words that Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil.

Based on their impression of Job above, people have further doubts as to his righteousness, for Job’s actions and his conduct recorded in the scriptures were not as earth-shatteringly touching as people would have imagined. Not only did he not carry out any great feats, but he also took a potsherd to scrape himself while sitting among the ashes. This act also astonishes people and causes them to doubt—and even deny—Job’s righteousness, for while scraping himself Job did not pray to God, or promise to God; nor, moreover, was he seen to weep tears of pain. At this time, people only see the weakness of Job and nothing else, and thus even when they hear Job say “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” they are completely unmoved, or else undecided, and are still unable to discern the righteousness of Job from his words. The basic impression that Job gives people during the torment of his trials is that he was neither cringing nor arrogant. People do not see the story behind his behavior that played out in the depths of his heart, nor do they see fear of God within his heart or adherence to the principle of the way of shunning evil. His equanimity makes people think his perfection and uprightness were but empty words, that his fear of God was merely hearsay; the “weakness” that he revealed externally, meanwhile, leaves a profound impression on them, giving them a “new perspective” on, and even a “new understanding” toward the man whom God defines as perfect and upright. Such a “new perspective” and “new understanding” are proven when Job opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born.

Though the level of torment he suffered is unimaginable and incomprehensible to any man, he spoke no words of heresy, but only lessened the pain of his body by his own means. As recorded in the Scriptures, he said: “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived” (Job 3:3). Perhaps, no one has ever considered these words important, and perhaps there are people who have paid attention to them. In your view, do they mean that Job opposed God? Are they a complaint against God? I know that many of you have certain ideas about these words spoken by Job and believe that if Job was perfect and upright, he should not have shown any weakness or grief, and ought instead to have faced any attack from Satan positively, and even smiled in the face of Satan’s temptations. He should not have had the slightest reaction to any of the torment brought upon his flesh by Satan, nor should he have betrayed any of the emotions within his heart. He should even have asked that God make these trials even harsher. This is what should be demonstrated and possessed by someone who is unwavering and who truly fears God and shuns evil. Amid this extreme torment, Job did but curse the day of his birth. He did not complain about God, much less did he have any intention of opposing God. This is much easier said than done, for since ancient times until today, no one has ever experienced such temptations or suffered that which befell Job. And why has no one ever been subjected to the same kind of temptation as Job? Because, as God sees it, no one is able to bear such a responsibility or commission, no one could do as Job did, and, moreover, no one could still, apart from cursing the day of their birth, not forsake the name of God and continue to bless the name of Jehovah God, as Job did when such torment befell him. Could anyone do this? When we say this about Job, are we commending his behavior? He was a righteous man, and able to bear such testimony to God, and capable of making Satan flee with its head in its hands, so that it never again came before God to accuse him—so what’s wrong with commending him? Could it be that you have higher standards than God? Could it be that you would act even better than Job when trials come upon you? Job was praised by God—what objections could you have?

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