by Mike Ratliff
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-39)
Several years ago in Oklahoma I was a deacon in our church. I also led a small group that met in our home on Sunday evenings. It was made up of couples. One of the couples in our group was a very godly husband and wife who were probably about 10 years or so older than my wife and me. They were a joy to have in the group.
After several weeks of meetings I received a call at work one day from my wife. I could tell something was wrong. The husband of that couple had been found dead in his garage. He had a bad heart condition and it appeared that he had had a heart attack. I was devastated. I called the other couples in the group so we could minister to the family. The other couples in our group got some food together to take to them. I and a close friend in our small group volunteered to take the food to the house and minister to the family.
I dreaded it. I don’t think I’m very good at this sort of thing. We made the trip to the house. It seemed that the whole block was packed with cars. I rang the door bell while my friend started unloading the car. I was expecting a son or a relative to open the door, but it was the wife. She helped us get the food into the house. After we set that up in the kitchen she took us to a private area in the house since there were so many people there. She gave us both a deep hug and we sat with her and talked for about an hour.
It was amazing. We went there to minister to her and her family and she ministered to us. The joy of the Lord was all over her. She was hurting, but she was also in deep worship mode. She told us that her husband was with His Lord so how could she be upset about that? When we left I was encouraged and had a new appreciation for the power of the Joy of Lord.
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” (Job 2:1-3)
This encounter between God and Satan is nearly identical to the first one in Chapter 1, however, we know that this is after Satan has struck Job taking away all of his property and killing his children. This is a gathering of saints worshiping God and Job is probably still the priest leading it. God gestures towards his faithful servant Job and tells Satan that even though you have done evil to him he remains faithful.
Notice two things. Satan may have hurt Job greiviously, but God has not restored anything to him. Also, God tells Satan plainly that even though he is constantly accusing Job there is not one thing he has done to deserve being treated like this. Job is still suffering, but he remains faithful.
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” (Job 2:4-6)
Satan still cannot touch Job without permission from God. He is such a vile creature. He has no understanding of faithfulness. He has not one iota of understanding of a regenerated heart. The genuine believer is a new creation. He or she has the ability to obey God. They have the indwelling Holy Spirit, a regenerated heart and are doing good works within the grace of God. He claims that none of that matters. If sickness or travail comes upon the undeserving believer they will abandon their faith then curse God to His face. Satan is allowed permission to strike Job, but not kill him.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. (Job 2:7-8)
How horrible. Satan knows how to hurt us doesn’t he? I can only think of one word to describe Job’s condition–misery. Once again we see that Satan’s goal is to cause such shock to the heart of Job that he will abandon his faith. Job is in such misery that he removes himself to the ash heap in mourning and scrapes his skin with a pottery shard. This was once the wealthiest and greatest man in the East. He had a large wonderful family. He was the priest for his family and was faithful to God in all he did. Did he deserve this? He is a believer so in God’s eyes he is righteous and blameless, just as all believers are. However, he is also the son of Adam of who was born into sin as all people are. In that sense he did deserve nothing but to be cast from God’s presence, but in his redeemed state, God sees him as blameless and righteous. If you are in Christ then God sees you the same way.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9-10)
We must admire Job. His integrity is wrapped up tightly in his faithfulness to God. His wife wants him to give that up and end his misery. However, Job tells her that God has the right to give and take as He sees fit. In other words, God is the end of all things. He is sovereign and Job knows that it isn’t about himself, but it is all about God and His glory. Also, once again Job says that it is God who has done this to him, but it was not a sin for him to say this. So, when people say things opposed to this, by claiming that God is love and would never cause this sort of thing, we will not fall for that lie.
However, more importantly, we must grow in grace so that we can apprehend the mind of Christ. When God blesses us with discernment, wisdom and grants us repentance we will take on Christ’s character. We will have the joy of the Lord. We will be strong and faithful in the midst of the fires of tribulation.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
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