"For what I fear comes upon me, And what I dread befalls me.Job 3:25(NASB)
Job was a man with whom thousands must have identified over the centuries. He was one who trusted God, and the Lord had blessed him in many ways. He had a lovely home, a faithful wife, sons and daughters, flocks and herds. But Job was set to face some of the most difficult trials and problematic circumstances that countless souls have faced - and which many are facing today, in these troubled times in which we live.
The story opens with details about Job, who is the central character. He was a good man who faces tremendous hardships. We learn about his home life, family situation, and business assets. We also discover he was a man of prayer, who had a deep faith in God. He took the spiritual leadership of his family seriously, rising early in the morning to offer burnt offerings to the Lord - for himself and his ten children.
Having been given a peep into Job's circumstances we are swiftly translated into the heavenly realm, where unbeknown to our hero, there is a meeting taking place between the Lord and Satan - who, like ALL created beings, remain under God's sovereign authority. We are permitted to listen into a heavenly conversation where Satan accuses Job of being faithful to the Lord, because of the riches he has received from God, rather than love for his Creator.
Satan challenged to Lord to stretch out His hand against His servant, striking at everything he owns and removing all Job's material advantages. He predicted this would cause Job to curse God to His face. The Lord allowed this and gave Job into Satan power, to do his worst, but God forbade Satan from taking Job's life. It was not the Lord Who afflicted Job, ruined his estate and smote all his livestock. It was Satan, not the Lord that caused the mighty whirlwind to collapse a building on top of his ten, adult children and kill them all. It was Satan who caused Job to become covered with terrible boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head.
Satan was the evil perpetrator of these events, not the Lord. Every good and perfect gift is from our Father of lights. God is not the author of evil, although.. in His sovereign power He permits evil events to happen. God maintains His supreme authority over the world, but because sin has infected the whole of creation He permits bad things to happen to believers and to unbelievers alike - BUT in His grace, He works ALL things together for the good of those that love Him and are fitting into His plan.
Job was ignorant of Satan's accusations against him and the heavenly conversation that would prove him to be God's faithful servant. The satanic trials he faced would become a test of Job's faithfulness and we are given an in-depth, birds-eye view, of the many terrible things that devastated his life - yet Job remained ignorant of the war being fought in heavenly places.
Much of our initial focus is on Job's crisis, his frustrated wife, his unhelpful friends, and own his own questioning, as to WHY he was going through so much pain. However, as the story unfolds, we discover some important principles relevant to all God's people and some doctrinal issues that Job, his wife, and his friends did not understand and had yet to learn.
Job's lack of understanding of the angelic conflict together with certain doctrinal misunderstandings caused him to despair and cry out, "what I fear has come upon me. What I dread has befallen me". The fear that Job expressed; his regret of being born; his desire to die; the accusations he received from his friends and his assumption that the nature of God had changed, show that this man and his friends had a significant lack of understanding about God's character, His goodness, His grace, His sovereign authority, and the fallen state of the world in which we live.
It is sin that has caused the angelic conflict to rage in heavenly places throughout history. Both saved and unsaved men are targeted by Satan. He is like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour - or a deceptive angel of light. He seeks to engender despair in God's servants and deceives both the saved and unsaved, with deceit and lies about God's gracious nature and eternal goodness.
Satan is the accuser of the saints, who deceives us with false doctrines. His desire is to shipwreck our faith by causing us to doubt God's goodness and question His Word. He strokes our fallen egos by making us think that life is treating us unfairly. One particular false teaching the enemy used to exacerbate Job's distress, cause his wife to despair and inflame his friend's criticism, was the false doctrine of “retribution" - which teaches that God only rewards those that are good and only punishes those that are evil. Sadly Job believed this false teaching and blamed God for his misfortune, even though he did not deny God or curse Him to His face.
"Retribution " teaches that the blessings people receive show they are good people while bad things that happen indicate a person has sinned and needs to repent or do penance to get back into God's good books. This is unbiblical, and casts a great slur on the goodness and grace of God for He blesses ALL people both the good and the bad. The sun shines on ALL. The rain refreshes everyone. But it is a belief that is very prevalent today, among some that are saved as well as the unsaved.
God does bless His people - however, it is wrong to suggest that a Christian that is going through a difficult time is due to their sin. We would do well to recognise this and refrain from judgements that are not ours to make - criticisms that are not under our sovereignty. God does bless His children, and although we need to confess any sin to the Lord, we should never assume that difficult circumstances are always a result of our wrongdoing, for it shows a lack of faith in His word and distrust of His promises. It encourages the unbiblical attitude of salvation, or blessing, through works - but salvation and God's blessings are a demonstration of God's grace - not of works.
Job was a righteous man, which means he a sinner - saved by grace. Job trusted in God and his faith was credited as righteous. Although the evil that befell him was permitted by God, Job was wrong to plead 'injustice" to the Lord. Nevertheless, his misfortunes had nothing to do with Job's sinning, as his friends believed. God is neither the source nor the instigator of evil, even though He may permit it in the lives of His children. We on our part are not to fear what may befall us. We are called to trust Him in EVERY difficulty of life and hold fast to His promises, even when we do not understand.
May we be faithful servants who trust in the Lord with ALL our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. May we acknowledge Him in ALL things and allow the Lord to direct our paths in the difficult times as well as the good.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me that the good things that happen to me are not because of MY goodness but because of YOUR grace. Help me to remember that the difficult things that I may have to endure are not always an indication of sin but can be attributed to Satan - the accuser of my soul. Thank You that IN CHRIST there is nothing of which I can be accused because Christ is my Mediator, Whose shed blood cleanses me from ALL sin, past, present, and future. Thank You that I am clothed forever in His righteousness and that Your grace is open to the sinner, and saved alike. I pray that many who are deceived by satanic lies will be set free, and come to saving faith in Christ Jesus my Lord - in Whose name I pray, AMEN.