The Patience of Job

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” —James 5:7-11

THE expression by James, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job,” is true of essentially all the Lord’s people, for the story of Job and his afflictions, and his need of patience, is a very prominent one in the Word of God. It has been suggested by some that the experiences of Job illustrate the permission of evil upon mankind and the final restoration of the human race to the sunshine of God’s favor. There is much in the story which lends itself to the validity of this suggestion, but at this time we will discuss the story of Job with a view of applying its practical lessons on the need of patience to ourselves as the servants of the Lord.

Job was a wealthy man and very prominent in the area in which he lived. Job 1:2,3 reads, “And there were born unto 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.”

Apparently Job attained his wealth and high standing in the community along righteous lines, for the first verse of the book reads, “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.” Satan, the great adversary of God and of God’s people, saw in Job an opportunity to strike a blow at the divine purposes and to destroy Job as a faithful servant of God. The record states that “there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”—Job 1:6,7

“And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.”—vss. 8-12

There was a broad latitude in what God permitted Satan to do to attempt to prove that Job was not truly sincere at heart in his professed loyalty to the Lord. With Satan the instigator, calamities began to come upon Job. His flocks and herds were destroyed, as well as his family and his servants. His home was destroyed and fell upon his young men, and they were killed. “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither (Septuagint, depart hence): the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”—Job 1:20,22

Thus, in his first round of assault against Job in an attempt to prove that he was a hypocrite, Satan was defeated. Job humbly resigned to the ill which befell him, and forbore from charging God in any way with being unfair or unjust to him.

In due course there was another conference of the sons of God, and again Satan appeared among them. God asked Satan essentially the same questions as he had before concerning Job, and Satan was still defiant. He explained that if he were permitted to touch Job’s life in the sense of ruining his health, then the reaction would be different: “And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.”

“So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.” This was affliction enough, but when Job’s wife realized what had happened she apparently decided that God was punishing her husband because of wrongdoing, and she said unto Job, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” But Job did not take kindly to this suggestion. Whereupon he looking steadfastly at her said, Like one of the women without understanding hast thou spoken. If we have received good things at the hand of the Lord, shall we not bear up under affliction? In all these things which befell him, Job transgressed not with his lips against God.—Job 2:10, Septuagint

Job’s Friends

Much of the Book of Job is composed of speeches made to him by three alleged friends,—often referred to as Job’s comforters,—and Job’s replies to these speeches. It would be too tedious to attempt to analyze all the details of what these comforters said and of Job’s replies to them. However, the main point which Job’s friends kept insisting on was that he was suffering all the calamities that had come upon him because he was wicked. They knew he had a good reputation among the people of the area, but they used this opportunity to accuse Job of secretly being a sinner.

Job knew that this was not true, but to convince his comforters was another matter. One of Job’s replies to this persistent argument contains a self-evident truth, but apparently carried no weight with the comforters. He said, “The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.” (Job 12:6) Here Job is speaking in harmony with the general permission of evil as related to God’s plan of salvation. Malachi 3:15 reads, “And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea they that tempt God are even delivered.” It is no wonder that when Job reflected upon the erroneous view of his comforters he spoke sarcastically to them, saying, “No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.”—ch. 12:2

A further evidence of the brazen manner in which Job’s alleged comforters talked to him is found in chapter 22, verses 21 to 23. Here Eliphaz says to Job, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.” But Job knew that it was more than this which had led to his affliction. He knew that he had not departed from God, and that he was making every effort to find him and to know his will.

He replied, “Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me. Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me. There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered forever from my judge. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backwards, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: but he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”—Job 23:3-10

Here Job manifests the great degree of patience and faith that he exercised throughout his affliction. He knew that his lack of peace was not because he had forgotten God nor was disobedient to him as Eliphaz insisted. He knew that God was testing him. While he had not as yet found the meaning of this severe trial, he continued to hunt for it. He searched for God on every hand—on the right hand, the left hand, out in front of him, and behind him—but with all his searching he could not find God in the trial through which he was passing.

But how wonderful is his statement, “God knoweth the way that I take,”—I don’t know what God is doing, but he knows the way that I take. He knows what is good for me, and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. In other words, he was confident that he would pass this great test of his faith victoriously, and to him that was the all-important consideration.

The debate between Job’s friends and himself continues to the close of chapter 31. Then a fourth well-wisher appears on the scene; namely, Elihu. Following Elihu’s speech God spoke. He asked Job a series of questions which were calculated to impress upon his servant the fact that his real knowledge of God and of the universe was very limited. This being true, he should be satisfied to let the Creator work out his own problem for him, as he had manifested his ability to do so through the mighty works of creation. Beginning with chapter 38 we read, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”—vss. 1-7

Since Job was not present when God laid the foundation of the earth, and since had he been present he would not have had wisdom to make any suggestions at to how it should be done, it did not behoove him now to doubt God’s wisdom in dealing with him. There are four chapters of these questions, each one of which is designed to impress upon Job his lack of understanding. Any one of these questions is as meaningful as the others, and to read them all is a rewarding experience for anyone who has confidence in the Lord and reverence for him.

Finally Job, having grasped the point of the questions, answered God, and said, “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” (Job 42:2,3) Job had done much philosophizing in refuting the testimony of his comforters, but now he realized that he had come far short of the real truth on the issues discussed—that the things which he endeavored to present to them were things “too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”

Job continues with another remarkable statement. He said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” Earlier in his experience Job had said, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26) While this may well be a prophecy referring to the time when Job is restored to life on earth as a human, to be one of the princes in all the earth, yet in another sense it had fulfillment in the experiences through which Job was then passing. For as he testified, he now, through these experiences—including the questioning by his Creator—could see God and understand him as he never could before.

Job’s Comforters Wrong

We do not need to determine whether or not Job’s three comforters were sincere in their effort to help him. We do know, however, that they were wrong in their viewpoint, because God says so. He said, concerning them, “Ye have not spoken of the thing that is right as my servant Job has.” These comforters were directed by the Lord to offer sacrifice, and then they were accepted by him.

Job also was received back into God’s full favor. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:9,10) We further read, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job and hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.”—vss. 12-17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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