“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23,24).
Read JOB 1:1–22
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
More books have been written about Job than any other biblical character by both believers and unbelievers alike. The question “why do bad things happen to good people?” has haunted mankind for millennia.
Verses 1–5 provide the crucial information upon which the whole story is based. At the outset, the narrator describes Job as someone who is blameless, upright, fearing God and shunning evil (1). “Blameless” (Hebrew: tam) highlights a person’s moral character, conveying a sense of integrity. “Blameless” and “upright” are parallels and thus similar in meaning. Being blameless and upright, however, doesn’t mean that Job is sinless. We all are human. It simply points out that Job is a person with genuine integrity. That “he feared God” underscores his utmost reverence toward God. To live out his fear of God, Job has chosen to shun evil as his way of life.
Verses 4 and 5 show Job’s relentless concern for making sure that he and his family are right with God. The first five verses of the book thereby lay the foundation for Job’s innocent suffering. Not only was he a righteous, God-fearing man, but his large family, great wealth and high status show how much he had to lose. His righteousness (1) is twice confirmed by God, using the same terms (8). However, Job’s motives are questioned by Satan—“Does Job fear God for nothing?” (9). Satan suspects that Job’s fear of God might be motivated by how well God is treating him.
Satan’s question reminds me of the danger of preaching the prosperity gospel, which emphasizes blessings from God—well-being, abundance, and so on. If this is the sole motive for following Jesus, our faith will soon capsize when adversity arrives. Jesus never promises smooth sailing as he encourages his disciples to enter the small gate and narrow road, which lead to life. Even his perfect righteousness does not indemnify him from suffering.
May Jesus examine our motives, so that we may follow him with a pure heart! May our love of him grow stronger when hardship strikes.
Lord, grant me the insight to see that things which happen in the natural often have a first cause in the spiritual.