Job’s actual experiences and his upright and honest humanity meant that he made the most rational judgment and choices when he lost his assets and his children. Such rational choices were inseparable from his daily pursuits and the deeds of God that he had come to know during his day-to-day life. Job’s honesty made him able to believe that Jehovah’s hand rules over all things; his belief allowed him to know the fact of Jehovah God’s sovereignty over all things; his knowledge made him willing and able to obey Jehovah God’s sovereignty and arrangements; his obedience enabled him to be more and more true in his fear of Jehovah God; his fear made him more and more real in his shunning of evil; ultimately, Job became perfect because he feared God and shunned evil; and his perfection made him wise, and gave him the utmost rationality.
How should we understand this word “rational”? A literal interpretation is that it means being of good sense, being logical and sensible in one’s thinking, being of sound words, actions, and judgment, and possessing sound and regular moral standards. Yet Job’s rationality isn’t so easily explained. When it is said here that Job was possessed of the utmost rationality, it is in connection to his humanity and his conduct before God. Because Job was honest, he was able to believe in and obey the sovereignty of God, which gave him a knowledge that was unobtainable by others, and this knowledge made him able to more accurately discern, judge, and define that which befell him, which enabled him to more accurately and perspicaciously choose what to do and what to hold firm to. Which is to say that his words, behavior, the principles behind his actions, and the code by which he acted, were regular, clear, and specific, and were not blind, impulsive, or emotional. He knew how to treat whatever befell him, he knew how to balance and handle the relationships between complex events, he knew how to hold fast to the way that should be held fast to, and, moreover, he knew how to treat the giving and taking away of Jehovah God. This was the very rationality of Job. It was precisely because Job was equipped with such rationality that he said, “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” when he lost his assets and his sons and daughters.
When Job was faced with the enormous pain of the body, and the remonstrations of his kinfolk and friends, and when he was faced with death, his actual conduct once again demonstrated his true face to all.
Let us read the following: “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat down among the ashes” (Job 2:7-8). This is a description of Job’s conduct when sore boils sprouted upon his body. At this time, Job sat in the ashes as he endured the pain. No one treated him, and no one helped him lessen the pain of his body; instead, he used a potsherd to scrape away the surface of the sore boils. Superficially, this was merely a stage in Job’s torment, and bears no relation to his humanity and fear of God, for Job spoke no words to demonstrate his mood and views at this time. Yet Job’s actions and his conduct are still a true expression of his humanity. In the record of the previous chapter we read that Job was the greatest of all the men of the east. This passage of the second chapter, meanwhile, shows us that this great man of the east should take a potsherd to scrape himself while sitting among the ashes. Is there not an obvious contrast between these two descriptions? It is a contrast that shows us Job’s true self: Despite his prestigious standing and status, he had never loved nor paid them any attention; he cared not how others viewed his standing, nor was he concerned about whether his actions or conduct would have any negative effect on his standing; he did not indulge in the riches of status, nor did he enjoy the glory that came with status and standing. He only cared about his value and the significance of his living in the eyes of Jehovah God. Job’s true self was his very substance: He did not love fame and fortune, and did not live for fame and fortune; he was true, and pure, and without falsity.
Another side of Job’s humanity is demonstrated in this exchange between him and his wife: “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? …” (Job 2:9-10). Seeing the torment he was suffering, Job’s wife tried to advise Job to help him escape his torment—yet the “good intentions” did not gain Job’s approval; instead, they stirred his anger, for she denied his faith in, and obedience to Jehovah God, and also denied the existence of Jehovah God. This was intolerable to Job, for he had never allowed himself to do anything that opposed or hurt God, to say nothing of others. How could he remain indifferent when he saw others speak words that blasphemed against and insulted God? Thus he called his wife a “foolish woman.” Job’s attitude toward his wife was one of anger and hate, as well as reproach and reprimand. This was the natural expression of Job’s humanity of differentiating between love and hate, and was a true representation of his upright humanity. Job was possessed of a sense of justice—one which made him hate the winds and tides of wickedness, and loathe, condemn, and reject absurd heresy, ridiculous arguments, and ludicrous assertions, and allowed him to hold true to his own, correct principles and stance when he had been rejected by the masses and deserted by those who were close to him.
Since, in Job’s conduct, we are able to see the expression of various aspects of his humanity, what of Job’s humanity do we see when he opened his mouth to curse the day of his birth? This is the topic we will share below.
Above, I have talked of the origins of Job’s curse of the day of his birth. What do you see in this? If Job were hardhearted, and without love, if he were cold and emotionless, and bereft of humanity, could he have cared for God’s heart’s desire? And could he have despised the day of his own birth as a result of caring for God’s heart? In other words, if Job were hardhearted and bereft of humanity, could he have been distressed by God’s pain? Could he have cursed the day of his birth because God had been aggrieved by him? The answer is, Absolutely not! Because he was kindhearted, Job cared for God’s heart; because he cared for God’s heart, Job sensed God’s pain; because he was kindhearted, he suffered greater torment as a result of sensing God’s pain; because he sensed God’s pain, he began to loathe the day of his birth, and thus cursed the day of his birth. To outsiders, Job’s entire conduct during his trials is exemplary. Only his curse of the day of his birth paints a question mark above his perfection and uprightness, or provides a different assessment. In fact, this was the truest expression of the substance of Job’s humanity. The substance of his humanity was not concealed or packaged, or revised by someone else. When he cursed the day of his birth, he demonstrated the kindheartedness and sincerity deep within his heart; he was like a spring whose waters are so clear and pellucid as to reveal its bottom.
Having learned all this about Job, most people will undoubtedly have a fairly accurate and objective assessment of the substance of Job’s humanity. They should also have a profound, practical, and more advanced understanding and appreciation of the perfection and uprightness of Job spoken of by God. Hopefully, this understanding and appreciation will help people embark upon the way of fearing God and shunning evil.
Although most people now recognize that Job was perfect and upright, and that he feared God and shunned evil, this recognition doesn’t give them a greater understanding of God’s intention. At the same time as envying Job’s humanity and pursuit, they ask the following question of God: Job was so perfect and upright, people adore him so much, so why did God hand him over to Satan and subject him to so much torment? Such questions are bound to exist in many people’s hearts—or rather, this doubt is the question in many people’s hearts. Since it has confounded so many people, we must lay this question on the table and explain it properly.
Everything that God does is necessary, and possessed of extraordinary significance, for all that He does in man concerns His management and the salvation of mankind. Naturally, the work that God did in Job is no different, even though Job was perfect and upright in the eyes of God. In other words, regardless of what God does or the means by which He does it, regardless of the cost, or His objective, the purpose of His actions does not change. His purpose is to work into man God’s words, God’s requirements, and God’s will for man; in other words, it is to work into man all that God believes to be positive in accordance with His steps, enabling man to understand God’s heart and comprehend God’s substance, and allowing him to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and thus allowing man to attain the fear of God and shunning of evil—all of which is one aspect of God’s purpose in all He does. The other aspect is that, because Satan is the foil and serving object in God’s work, man is often given to Satan; this is the means God uses to allow people to see the wickedness, ugliness, and contemptibility of Satan amid Satan’s temptations and attacks, thus causing people to hate Satan and be able to know and recognize that which is negative. This process allows them to gradually free themselves from Satan’s control, and from Satan’s accusations, interference, and attacks—until, thanks to God’s words, their knowledge and obedience of God, and their and fear of Him, they triumph over the attacks of Satan, and triumph over the accusations of Satan; only then will they have been completely delivered from the domain of Satan. People’s deliverance means that Satan has been defeated, it means that they are no longer the food in Satan’s mouth—that instead of swallowing them, Satan has relinquished them. This is because such people are upright, because they have faith, obedience, and fear toward God, and because they completely break with Satan. They bring shame upon Satan, they make a coward of Satan, and they utterly defeat Satan. Their conviction in following God, and obedience to and fear of God defeat Satan, and make Satan completely give them up. Only people such as this have truly been gained by God, and it is this which is God’s ultimate objective in saving man. If they wish to be saved, and wish to be completely gained by God, then all those who follow God must face temptations and attacks both great and small from Satan. Those who emerge from these temptations and attacks and are able to fully defeat Satan are those who have been saved by God. Which is to say, those who have been saved unto God are those who have undergone God’s trials, and who have been tempted and attacked by Satan an untold number of times. Those who have been saved unto God understand God’s will and requirements, and are able to acquiesce to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and they do not forsake the way of fearing God and shunning evil amid Satan’s temptations. Those who are saved unto God possess honesty, they are kindhearted, they differentiate between love and hate, they have a sense of justice and are rational, and they are able to care for God and treasure all that is of God. Such people are not bound, spied upon, accused, or abused by Satan, they are completely free, they have been completely liberated and released. Job was just such a man of freedom, and this is precisely the significance of why God handed him over to Satan.
Job was abused by Satan, but he also gained eternal freedom and liberation, and gained the right to never again be subjected to Satan’s corruption, abuse, and accusations, to instead live in the light of God’s countenance free and unencumbered, and to live amid God’s blessings to him. No one could take away, or destroy, or procure this right. It was given to Job in return for his faith, determination, and obedience to and fear of God; Job paid the price of his life to win joy and happiness on earth, to win the right and entitlement, ordained by heaven and acknowledged by earth, to worship the Creator without interference as a true creature of God on earth. Such was also the greatest outcome of the temptations endured by Job.
When people have yet to be saved, their lives are often interfered with, and even controlled by, Satan. In other words, people who have not been saved are prisoners to Satan, they have no freedom, they have not been relinquished by Satan, they are not qualified or entitled to worship God, and they are closely pursued and viciously attacked by Satan. Such people have no happiness to speak of, they have no right to a normal existence to speak of, and moreover they have no dignity to speak of. Only if you stand up and do battle with Satan, using your faith in God and obedience to, and fear of God as the weapons with which to fight a life-and-death battle with Satan, such that you fully defeat Satan and cause it to turn tail and become cowardly whenever it sees you, so that it completely abandons its attacks and accusations against you—only then will you be saved and become free. If you are determined to fully break with Satan, but are not equipped with the weapons that will help you defeat Satan, then you will still be in danger; as time goes on, when you have been so tortured by Satan that there is not an ounce of strength left in you, yet you have still been unable to bear testimony, have still not completely freed yourself of Satan’s accusations and attacks against you, then you will have little hope of salvation. In the end, when the conclusion of God’s work is proclaimed, you will still be in the grip of Satan, unable to free yourself, and thus you will never have a chance or hope. The implication, then, is that such people will be completely in Satan’s captivity.
During the work of His abiding provision and support of man, God tells the entirety of His will and requirements to man, and shows His deeds, disposition, and what He has and is to man. The objective is to equip man with stature, and to allow man to gain various truths from God while following Him—truths that are the weapons given to man by God with which to fight Satan. Thus equipped, man must face God’s tests. God has many means and avenues for testing man, but every one of them requires the “cooperation” of God’s enemy: Satan. Which is to say, having given man the weapons with which to do battle with Satan, God hands man over to Satan and allows Satan to “test” man’s stature. If man can break out from Satan’s battle formations, if he can escape Satan’s encirclement and still live, then man will have passed the test. But if man fails to leave Satan’s battle formations, and submits to Satan, then he will not have passed the test. Whatever aspect of man God examines, the criteria for His examination are whether or not man stands firm in his testimony when attacked by Satan, and whether or not he has forsaken God and surrendered and submitted to Satan while ensnared by Satan. It may be said that whether or not man can be saved depends on whether he can overcome and defeat Satan, and whether or not he can gain freedom depends on whether he is able to lift up, on his own, the weapons given to him by God to overcome Satan’s bondage, making Satan completely abandon hope and leave him alone. If Satan abandons hope and relinquishes someone, this means that Satan will never again try to take this person from God, will never again accuse and interfere with this person, will never again wantonly torture or attack them; only someone such as this will truly have been gained by God. This is the entire process by which God gains people.
At the same time as understanding the process by which God completely gains someone, people will also understand the aims and significance of God’s consignment of Job to Satan. People are no longer disturbed by Job’s torment, and have a new appreciation of its significance. They no longer worry about whether they themselves will be subjected to the same temptation as Job, and no longer oppose or reject the coming of God’s trials. Job’s faith, obedience, and his testimony to overcoming Satan have been a source of huge help and encouragement to people. In Job, they see hope for their own salvation, and see that through faith, and obedience to and fear of God, it is entirely possible to defeat Satan, and prevail over Satan. They see that as long as they acquiesce to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and possess the determination and faith not to forsake God after having lost everything, then they can bring shame and defeat upon Satan, and that they need only possess the determination and perseverance to stand firm in their testimony—even if it means losing their lives—for Satan to be cowed and beat a hasty retreat. Job’s testimony is a warning to later generations, and this warning tells them that if they do not defeat Satan, then they will never be able to rid themselves of the accusations and interference of Satan, nor will they ever be able to escape the abuse and attacks of Satan. Job’s testimony has enlightened later generations. This enlightenment teaches people that only if they are perfect and upright are they able to fear God and shun evil; it teaches them that only if they fear God and shun evil can they bear strong and resounding testimony to God; only if they bear strong and resounding testimony to God can they never be controlled by Satan, and live under the guidance and protection of God—and only then will they have been truly saved. Job’s personality and his life’s pursuit should be emulated by everyone who pursues salvation. That which he lived out during his whole life and his conduct during his trials is a precious treasure to all those who pursue the way of fearing God and shunning evil.
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