This article provides an exposition of Job 1:20-22, and Job's response to the first set of trials he received from the Lord.

Source: The Outlook, 1981. 3 pages.

Job's First Triumph of Faith

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 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. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1:20-22

The Lord will demonstrate to the devil and the world, and of course to the entire Christian church, what genuine faith and piety really are. That is the basic meaning of the book of Job. And that is one of the Divine purposes, perhaps the main purpose, of the suffering of many Christians.

For this purpose, the Lord uses one of the most pious people that has ever lived, the man Job. There was none like him in all the earth, in his day, and perhaps in all of history. What a pious man he was! The devil says that Job feared God because it paid for him. Perhaps he also made the silly and superfi­cial observation that Job fears God "because it pays to serve Jesus." But the Lord will answer, that Job fears the Lord with an entirely different motive, that he does so with a deep love for his sovereign Lord, and genuine faith of submission. Of course, all this we see perfectly in Jesus Christ years later.

And so we have unfolded before us the drama of this part of the life of Job. At this time we want to see the second scene and the first amazing triumph of faith of this great man of God.

The history we know. The Lord "allows" the devil to deprive the millionaire Job of all his possessions. And that all in one day. Remember also, inciden­tally, that all of this history shows us how the Lord is always in complete control. The devil can do no more than what God allows him to do. This is always true, also in our lives. Job becomes poor "over­night." Satan, however, is allowed to do more. He takes away from Mr. and Mrs. Job all their children in one day, in one great catastrophe. And the par­ents are informed of this greatest of all calamities.

The first question is, "How will these parents re­act to this dealing of God's Providence?" Interestingly, we read very little of Job's wife. From subse­quent history it appears that she was more of a lia­bility than an asset to him. Normally husband and wife can be a strong support to each other in times like these. But Job apparently does not have the support of his wife. He must walk this way of deep sorrow alone.

Here we again see what kind of spiritual "metal" Job is made of. This is always true when adversities overtake us. Do we rebel, become bitter and in­subordinate? How do we react? Wouldn't we expect him to become terribly depressed and bitter?

Job is human. Very much so. He has great sorrow. He is not a stoic. He rent his robe and shaved his head. These were the common expressions of great sorrow in those days. No doubt, he was simply over­whelmed! What parent would not be with such news! But notice, in his sorrow he worshipped God. This is very important, not only for him, but also for all Christians. We don't read of any self-pity in this hour of trial, nor that he reacts with resentment ask­ing, "Why, Lord, why?" That does come later.

In his flood of tears (which we may assume he had) he fell to the ground and in humility worshipped the Lord. And two thoughts come to the foreground. First of all he came into this world without any­thing, naked, with not even one stitch of clothing. So he can claim nothing for himself. And he will depart without owning anything of his own. So what he did have or will have "in between those stations of life" are pure gifts. Following this thought he realizes that he did "possess" much, but it had all been given. Job had earned nothing of it. The Lord gave. This same sovereign Lord therefore also has the right to take it away. That's His prerogative. But notice that he uses the name Lord here, or as translated in some versions, Jehovah. As Jehovah, God is the faithful, covenant God. The God of love in His everlasting faithfulness. It is this God who had given to Job so much. And it is He, in the same love and faithfulness who took it all away. He is still the same Jehovah for Job, still faithful in love. And this is real to Job. And so he even thanks the Lord for having given to him what he had received. Then, in summary, we read those "big words" that in all of the overwhelming, traumatic, and saddest experience of his life he in no way accused God of any wrongdoing. What a man of faith and piety!

Here one feels that human, earthly language is so inadequate to give expression to the work of the Spirit and the tremendous realities of faith. The best we can do is stammer and falter in our attempts to express it.

Well do I remember a fellow-Christian, an elder in the church, who once said to me, "Pastor, I can hard­ly believe there ever was a man like Job." He felt that he had to believe it because we find it in the Word. But to him it all sounded almost too great to have been possible. In our discussion he tried to picture what it must have been like for Job. His children healthy and well in the morning and when evening had come there were ten coffins lined up in the funeral home, as it were. All of his children gone. What a sad funeral that must have been!

It all can be summarized in one expression, he accepted the ways of the Lord. The word "accept" is one of the biggest words in the Christian's vocabu­lary. Here is total submission and surrender. Here is faith that surpasses all understanding of the human mind. Here we see in practice what Paul spoke later, that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think. In it all we see the work of Jesus Christ, who practiced this perfectly.

What we see here is the real triumph of faith. The Scriptures frequently speak of the victory of faith and of overcoming. Overcoming all natural reactions of insubordination and the waves of unbelief. Real faith gives us the victory not first of all when we have passed through the heavenly portals, but while we are still in the midst of afflictions and difficulties. The first real triumph over adversity is in it. There is something very captivating in the sight of a per­son burdened with many tribulations and yet show­ing real Christian faith, character and endurance in the midst of these particular circumstances. What an impact it makes upon us when we see a burdened pilgrim, even broken in body, showing a splendor of child-like faith and trust, with peace in his soul. Such is the first real victory of the Christian. And that we see in the reaction of this great Old Testament saint, Job. We find the same expression of triumphant faith in the words of Paul when he says,

But thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us to triumph in Christ...

The question is bound to arise in our minds, "How could Job have such faith in this hour of trial?" We ask this kind of question not just because we are wondering how Job did it, but to learn how we can do it in such circumstances. It is extremely im­portant to remember that Job was a very godly man before all this happened. And in the measure that we fear the Lord in the ordinary way of life, in that measure He gives grace when the adversities come. Normally such faith does not just come "overnight." Also notice the confession of Job, that he was poor in himself, having come naked into the world, and that he would leave in the same way. And it is Jehovah, the faithful, merciful God who gave him all that he did have. In New Testament language this means that he confessed his unworthiness and poverty on the one hand, and on the other, recognized that it was only by the mercy of God in Christ that he re­ceived what he did have. All credit goes to the mercy of God. This thought cannot be over-empha­sized in describing the faith and godliness of Job. He was deeply conscious that all he had was by the free grace of God. This was real to him in his mind and soul! And if Job had this with the "limited" Old Tes­tament revelation, how much more we should see this, in the light of the Christ having come to this earth, with the cross, resurrection, ascension and the full revelation. From all this we may conclude that where there is with us such a real awareness of unworthiness and that all we have is only by the free sovereign grace of God in our wonderful Savior, and this faith is evidenced in godly living as with Job, the Lord will also give our faith to "come through" in the hours of great need.

What triumphs of faith when, by that same grace, we can accept the ways of this sovereign, gracious Lord and be resigned to Him. The greatest blessings and the greatest enjoyments of life with accompany­ing peace and patience surely are not found in material things, or even in how long we live, but in such victories of faith. This is what James has in mind when he writes,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds be­cause you know that the testing of your faith pro­duces perseverance.

The devil says that Job fears God because it pays, implying that Job is basically still selfish. Selfish­ness and pride are characteristic of all the works of the devil and the heart of all of the sinner's life. Satan does not know what true fear of God is. He has no idea of what it means for man to lose himself, to deny himself and to submit to the ways of His heav­enly Father in whom he trusts. Neither the devil nor the world have any knowledge of what it means to be conformed to Christ and that our wills become blended into that of our sovereign God of love. And that's what true fear of God finally is. Consequently the devil does not know that when man exercises such faith, or even sincerely tries to do so, the Lord gives a sense of victory and sweet peace, even in tears. That was the first triumph of Job. And what a testimony it was!

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