Lessons From the Book of Job
Of all the sixty-six books in the Bible, Job is the one that most vividly reveals the problem all of us face in life: how to understand suffering. And that problem always resolves itself finally into one great, perplexing, painful question: who is this who hates me? Who is bringing on me this undeserved calamity? Is it God, or is it Satan?
Your mind may have the correct answer, but what about your heart? Our heart in its natural, unconverted state is “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7), and you’re only kidding yourself if you think you are an exception. “Why me?” is the universal question we ask when calamity strikes us, whether by an accident, or sickness, or loss of a human love, or bereavement. Job is us; he is standing in for us. He couldn’t figure out what “sin” he was guilty of that provoked God to curse him so terribly with the loss of everything he held dear, even his basic health.
Job is the first Christian book ever written; there are links that bind him on his dung heap wailing out in despair, “Why?” with Christ on His cross in total darkness wailing the same “Why?” God was forced to stake His throne and the stability of the universe itself on this one poor, weak, human man, Job. God had claimed that Job was true and righteous. Satan ridiculed the idea; he wagered that if God were to permit enormous affliction to come on Job, he would turn traitor and “curse God.” And God couldn’t back out; one human being in supreme wretchedness was holding the line in this great conflict with Satan, and the universe had to hold their breath in anticipation of what Job would do.
Today there are “144,000” individuals of “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,” each of whom is so important that he or she is holding that same line all alone, like Job did. And, as with Job, there is a link that binds each one to Christ on His cross asking, “Why Me?”
There are many links that bind Job on his dung heap with Christ on His cross, and yes, links that bind him to God’s people today.
Job had to endure his trial alone. Even his wife told him to “curse God and die.” His three best friends turned against him because they couldn’t understand him, and in their supposedly orthodox “Christian” way tortured him even further.
So Christ was alone in His agony on the cross. His closest friends, His mother and His eleven disciples (one had betrayed Him), couldn’t understand Him and fled.
So will His people in these last days stand alone, each one. From of “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” will each be placed in circumstances where his or her faith will be tried as each is forced to stand alone as a witness for Christ.
Job maintained his loyalty to God. In total darkness, with Heaven closed against him, no answers to his prayers, bereft, apparently forsaken by God and by loved ones on earth, Job remained loyal to God.
So Christ with everything against Him, enduring what He knew was the “curse” of God, remained loyal all by Himself.
So will those “144,000” “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” in their darkest hour of trial when again Heaven seems closed against them and no visible or perceived answer to their prayers comes.
The honor of God, the stability of His throne, His credibility, depended on Job choosing to be loyal in his total darkness and despair. As an individual, Job was God’s last hope. If he had taken his wife’s advice and cursed God and died, God would have been proved a liar and a failure, and Satan would have won the great controversy. Job was supremely important.
Could you be as important a person in God’s great universe as Job was? You may say, “I don’t want Job’s job! Give me an easier witness assignment!” But you may already have that important witnessing assignment. Both Job and Jesus chose to be loyal to God, to hold on to their faith when there seemed to be no hope whatever; and that was wonderful. They both honored God.
But there must be another development in the great controversy between Christ and Satan before the end can come. There must be a people, a corporate body of “saints,” who before the world and the universe demonstrate that they “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). The same chapter identifies them as “144,000” who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (vss. 1-5). They are a distinct group who are new on the stage of the world in view of the universe who have been watching this grand drama unfold, because they “sang as it were a new song ... [that] no one could learn ... except the 144,000” (vs. 3).
That means that they will have a new experience, because no one in the Bible sings a song carelessly or thoughtlessly; each is sung out of deep experience. And if they sing from a new experience, they must have a new comprehension of what it cost “the Lamb” to save them. They have identified with Him experientially more closely and deeply than any other corporate body of God’s people through all time. Revelation says that they will grow up to a maturity that qualifies them for a unique place in the plan of salvation: “the Lamb’s wife.”
These people must not come from only one culture or language or society; they are expressly said to be from “every nation, tongue,” every tribe on earth. Each must demonstrate that the grace of Christ has been “sufficient” for one from the most sinful, depraved culture on earth, who believes, to “overcome even as [Christ] overcame.”
If only “143,999” overcome, the line will be broken. That last one must hold the line. He or she is tremendously important. That one is you!
—Robert J. Wieland
From the “Dial Daily Bread” Archive: January 13-16, 2001.