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Follow Me: Spare His Life

jobObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Job 2[1]

On another day, the angels[2] presented themselves to God. God spotted Satan among them and started another conversation with a familiar question. “Where have you come from?”[3] Satan responded with an evasive answer, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”[4] Satan had recently destroyed Job’s business and killed Job’s servants and children, but he was not satisfied. He continued roaming the earth seeking someone else to devour.

Once again, God directed Satan’s attention to Job. Not only is God’s servant a blameless, upright man who fears God and shuns evil, he maintained his integrity when he lost everything. At this point in the conversation, God accepted the blame for everything Satan did to Job saying, “you incited me against him [Job] to ruin him without any reason.” Other translations say “without cause.”[5]

The Hebrew word translated “without any reason” means gratis.[6] Satan incited God to ruin Job gratis. Satan gained the pleasure he derives from stealing, killing and destroying. God gained nothing from Job’s suffering. He did not consider proving Satan was wrong about Job as an asset to be valued.

Again Satan threw down the gauntlet. “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” There was more of Job to devour but God had limited Satan by forbidding him to lay a finger on him. Remarkably, God accepted Satan’s challenge. But he also set a limit on what Satan could do to Job – “you must spare his life.”[7] Satan left the presence of God and struck Job with “painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.”[8]

The intensifying of Job’s suffering brought the truth about Job to light. He remained callous upon receiving news that all his children were dead. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Praise the Lord,” said Job.[9] Compare Job’s reaction to the news seven sons and three daughters are dead with the reaction of a man after God’s heart. When King David received news that one disobedient, rebellious son died he wept, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son!”[10]

Job was not the only one suffering. His wife was also brought to poverty when Satan afflicted her husband. She spent seven and a half years pregnant bearing ten children and lost all of them in one day. In her grief and pain she was ready to give up. “Curse God and die,” she said to her husband. They could have embraced one another and wept together. Instead, the stronger vessel responded to his wife’s weakness and imperfection by calling her a fool.[11]

Job did not sin in what he said[12], but Job is not the only one who kept a tight rein on his tongue. Balaam was also a man of reputation who knew the Lord. Balak, King of Moab hired him to curse Israel. God forbid him to curse Israel and Balaam obeyed in what he said. That did not stop Balaam from teaching Balak how to lead Israel astray. Balaam had a spiritual problem and so did Job.

Part of Job’s problem came to light when his friends arrived to comfort him. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar were struck speechless by the depth of Job’s suffering. They wept and sat in silence with him for seven days. Job broke the silence by cursing the day he was born, and then he revealed a reason God allowed him to suffer.

Job cried, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.”[13] Fear motivated Job’s service to God, not love. He served God because he feared what might happen if he did not. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”[14]

Yes, Job was a blameless, upright man who feared God, shunned evil and maintained his integrity, but he was far from perfect.[15] His goodness blinded him to the lack of love in his heart. His quest for perfection made him a harsh man who alienated his children and was insensitive to the suffering of his wife, but there is hope because God spared his life.

 

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Some translations say ‘sons of God”.

[3] Job 2:2

[4] Job 2:2

[5] Amplified Bible, King James Version

[6] chinnâm, khin-nawm’, From H2580; gratis, that is, devoid of cost, reason or advantage: – without a cause (cost, wages), causeless, to cost nothing, free (-ly), innocent, for nothing (nought), in vain.

[7] Job 2:6

[8] Job 6:7

[9] Job 1:21

[10] 2 Samuel 18:33

[11] 1 Peter 3:7

[12] Job 2:10

[13] Job 3:25

[14] 1 John 4:18

[15] Matthew 5:48

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