INTERESTING FACTS : William Paterson,- ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY; SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; U. S. SENATOR; GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY; U. S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE
"When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. [Invoking Proverbs 29:2 to instruct a grand jury]."
DAILY READING : Job 1 - 4
TEXT : Job 3:24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. Job 3:25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. Job 3:26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
THEME : Fear
Job holds a distinct place in the canon of Scripture. As a Book of the Bible, some consider it as a forty-two chapter allegory on the purpose of suffering as a righteous man. Perhaps this Book more than any other is an encouragement to all who serve the LORD when they cannot understand the reason why bad things happen to good people, or what is the exact cause and nature of their trials and tribulations.
"It has been supposed by some that the book of Job is an allegory, not a real narrative, on account of the artificial character of many of its statements. Thus the sacred numbers, three and seven, often occur. He had seven thousand sheep, seven sons, both before and after his trials; his three friends sit down with him seven days and seven nights; both before and after his trials he had three daughters. So also the number and form of the speeches of the several speakers seem to be artificial. The name of Job, too, is derived from an Arabic word signifying repentance." [A.R. Faussett]
If A.R. Faussett's conclusion is true on the meaning of Job's name [although some say the precise meaning of his name is not certain], than Job signifies the need for continual change in the life of a Christian. Although God brags about Job's reverence and obedience he has nevertheless has a peculiar weakness which we will see.
Once again, if Job is a fictional character and not a historical person, it does not change the fact that the Book of Job is inspired. Therefore, it finds its place in the canon of Scripture. Jesus' parable of Hell with "Dives" [the supposed name of the "rich man" in Jesus parable, though he is never named in Scripture] and Lazarus [Luke16] is no less true than if the characters were real. That is, a parable, regardless if the objects or characters are real or not, illustrates a truth [i.e. a principle or law] of Scripture though given in story like form. Therefore, Job is a didactic Book [i.e. a Book that teaches a moral lesson] that we need to learn.
"This is the most singular book in the whole of the Sacred Code: though written by the same inspiration, and in reference to the same end, the salvation of men, it is so different from every other book of the Bible, that it seems to possess nothing in common with them, for even the language, in its construction, is dissimilar from that in the Law, the Prophets, and the historical books. But on all hands it is accounted a work that contains "the purest morality, the sublimest philosophy, the simplest ritual, and the most majestic creed." [Adam Clarke]
However, it should be noted that not all theologians treat Job as allegorical. Matthew Henry for instance, believes Job was a real person who lived around the time of Abraham. Evidence for this could be supplied by James, who mentions him without saying anything about Job that would lead us to believe Job was not a historical man. Ezekiel treats Job as a real person as well, naming him with Daniel and Noah.
Eze_14:14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
Eze_14:20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
Jas_5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
In addition, most scholars believe Job is the oldest Book in Scripture.
"This book is so called from Job, whose prosperity, afflictions, and restoration, are here recorded. He lived soon after Abraham, or perhaps before that patriarch. Most likely it was written by Job himself, and it is the most ancient book in existence. The instructions to be learned from the patience of Job, and from his trials, are as useful now, and as much needed as ever. We live under the same Providence, we have the same chastening Father, and there is the same need for correction unto righteousness. The fortitude and patience of Job, though not small, gave way in his severe troubles; but his faith was fixed upon the coming of his Redeemer, and this gave him stedfastness and constancy, though every other dependence, particularly the pride and boast of a self-righteous spirit, was tried and consumed. Another great doctrine of the faith, particularly set forth in the book of Job, is that of Providence. It is plain, from this history, that the Lord watched over his servant Job with the affection of a wise and loving father." [Matthew Henry]
All forty two chapters of Job take place within a one-year span of time according to C.I. Scofield. Likewise, Scofield treats Job as a historical person for the reasons cited above. Job is named as a real person by Ezekiel and James. Scofield holds to the poetical nature of the Book, and the fact that it is the oldest Book in the Bible.
"The events recorded in Job cover a period within 1 year. Job is in form a dramatic poem. It is probably the oldest of the Bible books, and was certainly written before the giving of the law. It would have been impossible, in a discussion covering the whole field of sin, of the providential government of God, and man's relation to Him, to avoid all reference to the law if the law had then been known. Job was a veritable personage (Eze_14:20; Jam_5:11), and the events are historical. The book sheds a remarkable light on the philosophic breadth and intellectual culture of the patriarchal age. The problem is, Why do the godly suffer? " [C.I. Scofield]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "Never Take Counsel of Your Fears!"
"Never take counsel of your fears." This advice was given by Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States. It is a nugget of wisdom for every Christian. Further, it is here that we find a specific weakness in the otherwise righteous Job. Namely, he had a secret anxiety about the very events that transpired in his life, Namely, the loss of his family, wealth, prosperity, and prestige. Albert Barnes explains.
"As in the Hebrew "I feared a fear, and it came upon me." This verse, with the following, has received a considerable variety of exposition. Many have understood it as referring to his whole course of life, and suppose that Job meant to say that he was always apprehensive of some great calamity, such as that which had now come upon him, and that in the time of his highest prosperity be had lived in continual alarm lest his property should be taken. away, and lest he should be reduced to penury and suffering." [Albert Barnes]
To this, Adam Clarke agrees.
"For the thing which I greatly feared - Literally, the fear that I feared; or, I feared a fear, as in the margin. While I was in prosperity I thought adversity might come, and I had a dread of it. I feared the loss of my family and my property; and both have occurred. I was not lifted up: I knew that what I possessed I had from Divine Providence, and that he who gave might take away. I am now stripped of my all as a punishment for my self-confidence." [Adam Clarke]
John Gill offers an alternate explanation of what Job feared. Namely, he states that what Job feared was another calamity after the first one struck. Of course, one disaster after another strikes Job. As someone has said "Misfortunes seldom come alone." Anyway, Gill contends that Job feared more troubles once the first one came on him.
"Some refer this to his fears about his children, lest they should sin and offend God, and bring down his judgments on them, and now what he feared was come to pass, Job_1:5; others take in all his sorrows and troubles; which, through the changeableness of the world, and the uncertainty of all things in it, and the various providences of God, he feared would come upon him at one time or another; and this he mentions to justify his expostulation, why light and life should be continued to such a man, who, by reason of his fear and anxiety of mind, never had any pleasure in his greatest prosperity, destruction from the Almighty being a terror to him; Job_31:23; but I think it is not reasonable to suppose that a man of Job's faith in God, and trust in him, should indulge such fears to such a degree; nor indeed that he could ever entertain such a thought in him, nor even surmise that such shocking calamities and distresses should come upon him as did: but this is to be understood not of his former life, in prosperity, but of the beginning of his afflictions; when he heard of the loss of one part of his substance, he was immediately possessed with a fear of losing another; and when he heard of that, he feared the loss of a third, and even of all; then of his children, and next of his health." [John Gill]
Either way, whether Job feared losing what he had, or more calamities after the first one had hit, it is clear God wanted to deliver Job from his hidden torment[s]. For we know that fear brings torment with it. [1Jn_4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.] God accomplished this by causing Job to face his fears.
"But the depths of Job's heart were not yet reached, and to do this was the purpose of God, whatever Satan's thoughts may have been. Job did not know himself, and up to this time, with all his piety, he had never been in the presence of God. How often it is the case that even throughout a long life of piety the conscience has never been really set before God! Hence peace, such peace as cannot be shaken, and real liberty, are not known as yet. There is a desire after God, there is the new nature; the attraction of His grace has been felt: nevertheless God and His love, as it really is, are not known. If Satan is foiled (the grace of God having kept Job's heart from murmuring) God has yet His own work to accomplish. That which the tempest that Satan had raised against Job failed in doing, is brought about by the sympathy of his friends. Poor heart of man! The uprightness and even the patience of Job had been manifested, and Satan had no more to say. But God alone can search out what the heart really is before Him; and the absence of all self-will, perfect agreement with the will of God, absolute submission like that of Christ, these things God alone could test, and thus lay bare the nothingness of man's heart before Him. God did this with Job; revealing at the same time that He acts in grace in these cases for the good of the soul which He loves." [John Darby]
Therefore, we must never take counsel of our fears as President Jackson said. To do so is to invite Satan to accent his advantage on us intensifying an apprehension or anxiety he himself may have placed there! Either way, it is better to learn God by precept than by pain. Both will teach us, and pain and adversity is arguably the better tutor for lessons to be learned. Yet, we can learn to obey God and receive His blessing by simple obedience. Moreover, as Job's name implies [according to Faussett] we must live a life of habitual repentance [read - "change"] as the Holy Spirit guides and teaches us.