God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II (Excerpt 40)
Assessments of Job by God and in the Bible
(Job 1:1) 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 1:5) 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 1:8) And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
What is the key point that you see in these passages? These three brief passages of scripture all relate to Job. Though short, they clearly state what kind of person he was. Through their description of Job’s everyday behavior and his conduct, they tell everyone that, rather than being groundless, God’s assessment of Job was well-founded. They tell us that whether it be man’s appraisal of Job (Job 1:1), or God’s appraisal of him (Job 1:8), both are the result of Job’s deeds before God and man (Job 1:5).
First, let us read passage number one: “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.” The first assessment of Job in the Bible, this sentence is the author’s appraisal of Job. Naturally, it also represents man’s assessment of Job, which is “that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Next, let us read of God’s assessment of Job: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil” (Job 1:8). Of the two, one came from man, and one originated from God; they are two assessments with the same content. It can be seen, then, that Job’s behavior and conduct were known to man, and were also praised by God. In other words, Job’s conduct before man and his conduct before God were the same; he laid his behavior and motivation before God at all times, so that they might be observed by God, and he was one that feared God and shunned evil. Thus, in the eyes of God, of the people on earth only Job was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and shunned evil.
Specific Manifestations of Job’s Fear of God and Shunning of Evil in His Daily Life
Next, let us look at specific manifestations of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil. In addition to the passages that precede and follow it, let us also read Job 1:5, which is one of the specific manifestations of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil. It relates to how he feared God and shunned evil in his daily life; most prominently, he not only did as he ought to do for the sake of his own fear of God and shunning of evil, but also regularly sacrificed burnt offerings before God on behalf of his sons. He was afraid that they had often “sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” while feasting. And how was this fear manifested in Job? The original text gives the following account: “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.” Job’s conduct shows us that, rather than being manifested in his outward behavior, his fear of God came from within his heart, and that his fear of God could be found in every aspect of his daily life, at all times, for he not only shunned evil himself, but often sacrificed burnt offerings on behalf of his sons. In other words, Job was not only deeply afraid of sinning against God and renouncing God in his own heart, but also worried that his sons sinned against God and renounced Him in their hearts. From this can be seen that the truth of Job’s fear of God stands up to scrutiny, and is beyond the doubt of any man. Did he do thus occasionally, or frequently? The final sentence of the text is “Thus did Job continually.” The meaning of these words is that Job did not go and look in on his sons occasionally, or when it pleased him, nor did he confess to God through. Instead, he regularly sent and sanctified his sons, and sacrificed burnt offerings for them. The “continually” here does not mean he did so for one or two days, or for a moment. It is saying that the manifestation of Job’s fear of God was not temporary, and did not stop at knowledge, or spoken words; instead, the way of fearing God and shunning evil guided his heart, it dictated his behavior, and it was, in his heart, the root of his existence. That he did so continually shows that, in his heart, he often feared that he himself would sin against God and was also afraid that his sons and daughters sinned against God. It represents just how much weight the way of fearing God and shunning evil carried within his heart. He did thus continually because, in his heart, he was frightened and afraid—afraid that he had committed evil and sinned against God, and that he had deviated from the way of God and so was unable to satisfy God. And at the same time, he also worried about his sons and daughters, fearing that they had offended God. Thus was Job’s normal conduct in his everyday life. It is precisely this normal conduct which proves that Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil are not empty words, that Job truly lived out such reality. “Thus did Job continually”: These words tell us of Job’s everyday deeds before God. When he did thus continually, did his behavior and his heart reach before God? In other words, was God often pleased with his heart and his behavior? Then, under what circumstances and in what context did Job do thus continually? Some people say that it was because God frequently appeared to Job that he acted so; some say that he did thus continually because he would shun evil; and some say that perhaps he thought that his fortune had not come easily, and he knew that it had been bestowed upon him by God, and so he was deeply afraid of losing his property as a result of sinning against or offending God. Are any of these claims true? Clearly not. For, in the eyes of God, what God accepted and cherished most about Job was not just that he did thus continually; more than that, it was his conduct before God, man, and Satan when he was handed over to Satan and tempted.
Excerpted from The Word Appears in the Flesh