Job’s Practice of Fearing God and Shunning Evil

By Zhencheng

I saw Job’s story in the Bible: When Job suffered great misfortunes of having his property and children taken away in one day (See Job 1:13-19), not only didn’t he issue complaints, but he spoke the archetypal words: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). He stood witness and humiliated Satan in the trials. Finally, he received God’s approval and blessings and was called a person who feared God and shunned evil by God (See Job 42:12-17).

I often thought: During such great trials, why could Job stand witness, not complain, absolutely obey God and finally speak such words of wisdom? Thinking about myself in the real life, when my husband lost his job, my children got sick, we were needy or misfortunes befell my family, I would complain and couldn’t stand witness for God. Although I believed in God, my conduct during the trials fell far short of Job’s conduct. Then how should I seek to obey God and bear witness for Him like Job?

One day, when browsing a gospel website, I found a refreshing passage, which solved my puzzlement over years, “People these days only know of Job’s words of wisdom, and that those words of wisdom of his did not come easily; he had spent a lifetime gaining it. He experienced a lifetime, saw God’s hand, saw God’s blessings, and saw that everything he owned had been bestowed upon him by God. He had experienced this. If one day these things were to vanish, he knew that God had taken them away. No matter what God did, His name should be praised; this was the conclusion Job came to. So how did he come to this conclusion? He had to go through a process, did he not? This touches upon the path by which people nowadays pursue the truth: how to reach this conclusion and how they can reap such gains. Such gains are not obtained within just a day or two, nor do they come after three or five years. This involves each and every detail of people’s lives” (“Principles of Carrying Out One’s Submission to God”). These short words took hold of my heart and I realized: During his trials, Job never complained, but instead he could speak those words and create a beautiful and resounding testimony for God; he didn’t reap such gains within a day or two, three or five years, but accrued every day in his daily life. I remembered it is written in the Bible: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). This was the appraisal of Job from the author of the Book of Job. Clearly, regardless of whether he was before other people, or before God, Job’s actions and deeds all achieved the standard of fearing God and shunning evil, so he gained the approval of God. Then how did Job experience the work of God in all things? How did he achieve the fear of God and shunning of evil? And how could he trust that all is in God’s hands? Thinking of this, I continued to seek with a yearning heart.

When going on browsing, I found that there was a book of great insights into the experiences of Job on the website. It says that why Job could speak those archetypal words mainly lied in his attitude to the people, events, and things God set up for him.

  • Job’s Attitude Toward His Children

The Bible says, “And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:2-5).

Job sacrificed to the Lord God

First, from these verses it can be seen: Job was not beguiled by his superlative living environment because of God’s blessings to him; instead, he was continually fearful of God, was cautious and prudent in his actions and didn’t sin against God. He knew that God observes everything and that He is at man’s side at all times. Therefore, when his sons and daughters held great feasts, he disagreed and disapproved, and didn’t join them in feasting and making merry. He knew God detests eating, drinking and feasting, so he usually “sent and sanctified them.” This showed us that Job’s practice of fearing God and shunning evil involved each and every detail of his lives. He let his children come before God to confess their sins and warned them not to sin against God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment, and he continually did so. This word “Thus did Job continually” represented the attitude he held toward his children in life, and represented that his fear of God and shunning of evil was neither just empty words nor the actions in one or two things, but was genuinely and truly implemented every day in his life.

Then, when his children didn’t do as they were told and continued enjoying the pleasures of sin, Job’s attitudes showed his obedience toward God. The book says, “Job’s practice was detailed, was it not? What details did it have? First let us talk about how he treated his children. His objective was to submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements in all things. He did not forcibly take the initiative to do anything God did not do, nor did he make any plans or calculations based on human ideas. In all things, he complied with and waited for God’s orchestration and arrangements. This was his general principle. As for his detailed methods of practice, in what ways did he treat his children? (The first was that he neither interfered with nor participated in his children’s feasting and merrymaking; he distanced himself from it.) He distanced himself, and offered burnt offerings for them. What else? … As for how to treat his children, while they were still alive, Job’s attitude was to not try to drag them into believing in God against their will; he did not try to force them to believe, and he did not interfere, because they were walking a different path. He did not interfere with what they did, and did not interfere with what sort of path they were taking. Did Job seldom speak to his children about believing in God? He certainly would have had enough words with them about this, but they did not accept them, and refused to listen. What was Job’s attitude? He said, ‘I have fulfilled my responsibility; as for what kind of path they are able to take, that is up to God, and it is up to God’s guidance. If God does not work, or move them, I will not try to force them.’ Therefore, Job had one other method of practice: He did not pray for them before God, or cry tears of anguish over them, or fast for them or suffer in any way at all. He did not do these things. Why did Job not do any of these things? None of these were ways of submitting to God’s rule and arrangements; they all came out of human ideas and were ways of actively forcing one’s way to the forefront” (“Principles of Carrying Out One’s Submission to God”).

From this I saw: When his children kept disobeying God time and time again and lived in fleshly pleasures, eating and drinking, Job didn’t force his own opinions upon them; instead, after informing them of God’s demands, he didn’t drag them into believing in God against their will based on emotion, or force them into doing things based on his own will, but allowed them to choose their own road they would take. He knew that his children were held within God’s hands and that he couldn’t rule or decide their fates, and therefore all he did was entrust everything to God and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. This was the way Job practiced in his life and was also an expression of one aspect of his submission to God.

Then, the book also says, “So when Job saw his children die, did he feel heartbroken or sad? (He did.) What was he sad about? Did he feel regret for not having urged them to work hard at believing in God, and over their having been punished for not doing so? Speaking in terms of the affection he felt for his children, he certainly did feel that little bit of sadness, but he still submitted. How was his submission expressed? ‘These children were given to me by God. Whether or not they believed in God, the lives of humans are in God’s hands. If they had believed in God, then if God wanted to take them away, He would still have done so; if they had not believed in God, they still would have been taken away if God had said they would be taken away. All of this is in God’s hands; otherwise, who could take people’s lives away?’ What line sums all of these words up? ‘Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah’ (Job 1:21). This is why he maintained this attitude in the way he treated his children. Whether they were alive or dead, he continued to have this attitude. His method of practice was correct; in every way he practiced, in his views with which he treated everything, in his attitude, and in his state, he always submitted and waited, and then he achieved knowledge” (“Principles of Carrying Out One’s Submission to God”).

After I read these words, Job’s attitudes to his children, his absolute obedience and his knowledge of God made me feel inferior. His attitude to his children was totally built upon the foundation of his belief in and obedience to God’s sovereignty and arrangements. No matter what God did, he accepted and obeyed it even if he was sad and uncomfortable. This was his true faith in and obedience to God, and, what’s more, it was his fear of God. He always carried on this attitude of: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,” and truly believed from his heart: All things are dictated and arranged by God, people’s life and death as well as blessings and curses are all controlled by the hands of Him; God can confer something upon man and can also take it away from man and no matter how God does it, it is always righteous. He completely obeyed God in the heart, and consequently could say these words in the trials.

  • Job’s Attitude Toward His Property

The robbers came to the home of Job

It is recorded in Scripture: “And there came a messenger to Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell on them, and took them away; yes, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and has burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell on the camels, and have carried them away, yes, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell you. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:14-21).

I saw another passage of words on the gospel website speak about Job’s attitude toward his property clearly and transparently: “Job’s attitude toward his property reveals to people his true humanity: Firstly, Job was not a greedy man, and was undemanding in his material life. Secondly, Job never worried or feared that God would take away all that he had, which was his attitude of obedience toward God in his heart; that is, he had no demands or complaints about when or whether God would take from him, and did not ask the reason why, but only sought to obey the arrangements of God. Thirdly, he never believed that his assets came from his own labors, but that they were bestowed unto him by God. This was Job’s faith in God, and is an indication of his conviction. Are Job’s humanity and his true daily pursuit made clear in this three-point summary of him? Job’s humanity and pursuit were integral to his cool conduct when faced with the loss of his property. It was precisely because of his daily pursuit that Job had the stature and conviction to say, ‘Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,’ during the trials of God. These words were not gained overnight, nor had they just popped into Job’s head. They were what he had seen and acquired during many years of experiencing life” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”).

When Job heard all his property was stolen by robbers in one day, he was unusually calm. He didn’t fly into a rage or complain that his servants didn’t tend the flock properly, neither did he loathe the robbers, much less do any actions or deeds to get his wealth back. He just rent his mantle, shaved his head and knelt down before God to pray and seek God’s will. From Job’s behavior we clearly see: In his heart, he clearly knew what he possessed didn’t come from his own labors but were bestowed by God. So no matter when God got those back, he would absolutely not complain. From his attitude toward his property and never enjoying himself with his children, we can know that he didn’t care about material enjoyment and that he feared God and shunned evil. It was just because he had such an attitude and knowledge that he could display these acts of obedience toward God when his property was stolen. From this we can see Job’s gains and testimony were intimately linked to his daily pursuit, and, what’s more, were connected directly with his personality.

Thank the Lord for His enlightenment and guidance. Through seeking this time, I finally understood how Job could revere God and shun evil. It was precisely because he was equipped with noble humanity and rationality that he sought God’s will in all things, and pursued to know God’s sovereignty and obey God’s arrangements during his day-to-day life. Because of his attitudes and goals to pursue, he could often see God’s hands and His almightiness and wisdom. He also experienced for himself that, no matter what God does, for man it is love; as a created being, one should of course accept and obey it and not have his own reasons and choices. It was precisely because of Job’s humanity and pursuit that he could believe everything is in God’s hands in his trials. Thus, when his property was stolen and calamity befell his children, he still could obey God without any conditions; he didn’t sin with his lips, but spoke these words to extol the holy name of God which were “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,” thus standing witness for God and gaining God’s approval and blessings. What Job did was not based on his spurt of energy; instead, it was based on his experiences and knowledge of God’s actions all his life and on his suffering and the price he paid. It was the result of his pursuit of fearing God and shunning evil.

Now I have understood: If I want to be approved by God, I should emulate Job, begin with every tiny little thing that happens around me, and believe that everything is dictated and arranged by God. What I should do is obey all of God’s orchestrations and arrangements with a heart of reverence!

All the glory be to God! Amen!

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