EXHORTATION For 2007-01-19 Reading: JOB 1 Bro Neville Clark
2007年1月19日讲道词 读经：约伯记第1章 纳维尔克拉克弟兄
I think it would be true to say, brethren and sisters, that the book of Job is one of the less understood books of the Old Testament. We might know a little bit about it: that it’s part of the poetry section of the Bible; that it’s about trial and suffering; that it’s mostly a book of conversations where different people wrestle with the problem of suffering, each looking for an answer. There’s a bit of controversy about who Satan is, who Yahweh is, how much of what Job’s friends said was true, and whether Elihu was inspired or not. But often our knowledge doesn’t go much beyond that.
Perhaps we gloss over the problem by saying, Oh well, it has a happy ending. It is easy in our minds to minimise the intervening trials and to say, “don’t worry, it’ll all be worth it in the end”, and forget that the person living the trial doesn’t know how things will end.
There is no doubt that Job was one of the greatest men who has ever lived. In chapter 1v1 we read that Job was “perfect”, which means complete in a moral sense, not sinless, but true, sound, or blameless. He was “upright”, meaning straight, unwavering and consistent. He “feared God” which means he was a man of unqualified reverence. And he “eschewed evil” meaning to flee from evil. He hated iniquity.
In 1v8 we hear a similar statement from the mouth of God, a repetition of what we’ve seen in verse 1, with one addition. In verse 8 he is called “my servant Job” - he’s actually called a servant of God. You know, in chapter 42 when this whole drama was played out, God says to Eliphaz: “you shouldn’t have said that about “my servant Job”; “you haven’t spoken what was right like my servant Job has”; “you go and offer a sacrifice. My servant Job will pray for you and I will accept his prayer”.
Brethren and sisters, this is no ordinary man! In Ezekiel 14v14, when speaking of the iniquity of Jerusalem, Ezekiel says that if Daniel, Job and Noah were there, they would only deliver themselves by their righteousness. That’s the company Job keeps – he’s in a category with Daniel and Noah.
Brethren and sisters, these are men who led their generation. They were the pre-eminent examples in the world at the time. They were able to deliver others by their righteousness.
弟兄姐妹们，这些人都是那个时代的领路人。他们为自己的时代树立了卓越 的榜样。他们通过他们的义 来带领大家脱离罪恶。
And as far as Job was concerned, as a consequence of his character, it seemed to follow naturally that he was richly blessed in everything he did.
In Job 1 v 2-3 everything we read speaks of completeness: Job had 10 children, 10 hundred oxen and asses and 10 thousand sheep and camels. This is an idyllic prosperity. Job is enormously wealthy. Commenting on his own lifestyle, Job says in chapter 29v6 “I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil” - he was enormously wealthy. So that in reputation and in substance, Job was the greatest of all the men of the east (v3).
It seemed Job’s family also enjoyed the benefits of his greatness. In chapter 1v4 we read that all his sons had their own houses – they are affluent. And each one on his day entertained the rest of the family. And there’s nothing to suggest that these gatherings occurred with anything but the highest integrity. This is a model family in the Truth.
In verse 5 we read that at the end of each period of feasting, Job ministered to his family as the priest. He sanctified them possibly by washings and changes of garments. Then he offered sacrifices for them in case they had cursed God. To curse God here means to abandon God, take leave of God, as a deliberate sin. There was always a risk that prosperity could lead to this, and Job was aware of it in his family.
But of course, Job’s influence wasn’t just restricted to his own family. Come to chapter 29 and here we see the real greatness of Job. 29v7-8 says that when Job went out to the gate through the city “the young men” saw him and hid themselves – those more likely to be brash and impulsive stepped aside, and the “aged arose, and stood up” – those who people stood up for, stood up for Job. In verses 9-10 we read that the princes and nobles held their peace. Those who were known for their patronising conversation were silent in the presence of Job.
And why? Because he was rich? No. In verse 12 we read that he delivered the poor and the fatherless. Verse 13 says he cared for widows and those dying. In verse 15 we read of his care for the lame and the blind. And in verse 16 he was a father to the poor. Anyone in trouble could appeal to Job. They would get compassion, a fair hearing, and material assistance. Chapter 29v24 speaks of the position of Job amongst the people. They loved him, brethren and sisters – everybody loved Job.
Well everybody except one person. And here’s the problem of chapter 1.
In verse 6 we read of the “sons of God” coming to present themselves before “Yahweh”. The “sons of God” here are the members of the ecclesia. “sons of God” is used both in the Old Testament (Gen 6v2) and the New Testament (1 John 3v1) to speak of the ecclesia.
Satan, I believe, is a person. A Christadelphian, or ex Christadelphian. Someone completely cynical about the Truth and the people in the Truth. He couldn’t be anything else. He completely disagreed with God’s assessment of Job’s character in verse 8.
“Yahweh” here, I believe, is an angel. He’s clearly inspired, is able to read Job’s heart and perform miracles. In 2v3 it’s Yahweh who says He was moved to bring the trials on Job, which is most appropriate if Yahweh is an angel rather than, for example, a man.
In verse 7 the angel asks Job where he had come from, and even though Satan doesn’t directly answer the question, what he does say tells us a lot. He’s obviously a traveller, and in those times, that most probably means he was a trader. Job was a trader. Verse 3 tells us had 3,000 camels and that’s what camels were used for. And this might be the clue to the problem. Here was someone who envied Job because of his success. He wanted to be rich too, but he wasn’t. He had a problem with God because God had blessed Job but He hadn’t blessed him. So that as far as Satan was concerned, Job wasn’t really faithful at all. Satan assumes Job was smart and cunning and that he was only in the Truth because there were material benefits for him. Satan says to the angel, “If you stop the money, he’ll leave the Truth”.
Then Yahweh answers Satan. In verse 8 he says to Satan, “well, you’re a man of experience, who has been back and forth in the earth. Have you ever met anyone to match my servant Job – in all the earth? Satan answers God “Do you think Job serves you for free?” He continues in v10-11 and states that Job only serves God because God has placed him in fortunate circumstances.
And have we ever said that about a brother or sister? “Oh, it’s alright for them – they’re rich. They don’t really have trials”. Or “It’s alright for them. They don’t have children like ours”. If we ever think that, then we should ask ourselves if our real motive is envy.
In verse 11 Satan says, “touch all that he hath”. That’s a deliberate understatement. What Satan really means is hit him hard, punish him, afflict him. Then we’ll see what he’s really made of.
And God replies in verse 12 “all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thy hand”. Take whatever you want, but don’t hurt him physically. And from v13 the trials are going to begin.
So we read in v13-15 of his calamity. Firstly the Sabeans, (v15) a people dwelling in Sheba in the south, fall upon Job’s oxen and asses. For Job this means 1000 animals lost, as well as a number of servants dead, possibly brethren. Then in verse 16, fire from heaven falls, probably lightning from heaven. A bolt so fierce that it runs along the ground and electrifies everything. Job loses 7000 sheep and once again many servants. Verse 17 speaks of the Chaldeans, from the north, attacking, and carrying away 3000 camels, and many servants again have been slain. Every time there’s only one survivor, and every time the next one runs in while the last one’s still speaking. And if that’s not enough, v18-19 follows with the death of all his children. And you know, it wasn’t till this last messenger came that Job responded. He could lose everything. But when he lost his children, he stood up (v20). He rent his mantle – an expression of grief and heartbroken astonishment. He shaved his head – a symbol of mourning. And he fell upon the ground – in surrender to God.
接下来的13-15节记载了约伯受到的灾难。先是南边的示巴人将约伯的牲畜抢走，还有很多仆人死亡，这些仆人可能也是敬畏 神的人。在16节中说，“神从天上降下火来”，可能是指受到从天上降下的雷电的袭击，这一次，约伯损失了7000头羊和很多仆人。 在17节说，北边迦勒底人抢夺了3000头骆驼，还有很多仆人被杀害，每一次灾难中只有一个幸存者，幸存者在向约伯报告时有接着发生了下一次灾难。好像这些灾难还不够，在18-19节中，约伯所有的孩子都死亡了。当约伯损失了自己全部的财物时，圣经没有记载他有什么反应，当他所有的儿女都死亡了以后，约伯“便起来，撕裂外袍，”他用这种方式表达自己的悲伤和哀痛。他“剃了头”，也是表达自己的哀痛。接着约伯“伏在地上下拜”，表明他依然顺服 神。
There was no question in Job’s mind. This had come from God. There was just too much coincidence. And even if the Sabeans and Chaldeans could bear their blame, the other two disasters were clearly divine.
在约伯的思考中， 神依然是无可指责的。这些东西都来自 神。但是这里有太多的巧合。即使是示巴人和迦勒底人要承担自己的罪责，但这两种灾难很明显是 神带来的。
In verse 21 Job says “naked came I out of my mothers’ womb, and naked shall I return thither. Yahweh gave and Yahweh hath taken away.” Paul writes similar words to Timothy in 1 Tim 6v7 - “we bought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out”. Job has lost everything he owned.
Job continues in v21-22, “blessed be the name of Yahweh”. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. And Satan was wrong. He made a prediction in verse 11, and it didn’t happen. Job didn’t curse anyone - not God, not the Sabeans, not Chaldeans, nor his servants. Instead he blessed the name of Yahweh.
Well the question is: What’s Satan going to say to this? In chapter 2v1-5 we read that after all that, after all he’s done to Job, he’s not satisfied. You know what Satan says? You haven’t proved anything. Job doesn’t care for anyone. He’s so hard he doesn’t’ even care for his own family, so long as he walks free.
Well, what was Job supposed to do? If he blesses God, Satan says, that’s how hard he is. He only cares for his own skin - he’s a hypocrite. If he curses God, Satan says, see, I told you - he’s a hypocrite.
What do you think God should have done to Satan for that? Destroyed him on the spot. Well I’m very glad he didn’t, because brethren and sisters, we do this ourselves. So Yahweh is patient with him like He is with us. As horrible as this man is, Yahweh wants to convert him, and so in v6-8 he gives Satan license to afflict Job, only to save his life.
Well, if losing his possessions and his family was tough, losing his health as well was devastating. Job would have spent many tearful hours in prayer after the calamities of chapter 1. He would have wondered what had happened to his relationship with God. Time’s gone by, Satan’s gone back to and fro in the earth, Job’s begun to rebuild his life. And now, as if in answer to prayer, he’s blighted by a disease so severe, it seems obvious he’ll die. His three friends come (v12). They stand at a distance, they can’t recognise him he’s so disfigured. They sit down with him (v13) for 7 days and 7 nights, the customary time for mourning the dead, not for the death of Job’s children but, in symbol, for Job himself.
一个人失去财产和家庭是一项沉重的打击，失去了健康同样是毁灭性的，在第一章告诉我们，约伯曾经花费了很长的时间来祷告。他不明白他 与 神之间的关系到底变得怎么样了。随着时间的流逝，撒但依然在地上来来往往地奔走，约伯也要重新建立自己的生活。现在， 正如他在祷告中陈述的，他的病情时那样的严重，似乎就要死亡，接着他的三个朋友到了。他们不能辨认出他来，“他们就同他七天七夜坐在地上”（13节），按照当时的风俗，7天是为死人的时间，这里不是为约伯的孩子吊丧，而是象征性地为约伯本人。
Well Job’s wife has had enough. In verse 9 she speaks. In essence she says, “what’s the point Job? Continuing to bless God might prolong your life, but look at it. Why not curse Him, bring down the final stroke and end it all”. It sounds alarming, but don’t forget she has lost her possessions, her children, and now her husband. This is a desperate suggestion in a time of great extremity. Yahweh never holds her accountable for this, but what she suggests is exactly what Satan wanted. Satan says Job will curse God. His wife suggests he should. Job has spent his whole life offering sacrifices (1v5) for his children in case they cursed God. But Job’s not immune to suffering – the fact is, he would rather be dead and so in 3v1 Job cursed the day he was born. But to his wife (v10) he says “thou speakest as one of the foolish women”. He doesn’t call her a fool. This is out of character for her. And Satan’s wrong again.
但是约伯的妻子受够了。在第9节她开始说话。在本质上她的意思是：“约伯到底是怎么拉？他一直在赞美神，想让自己长寿，但是看看他现在的样子。你干脆弃绝神，结束自己的生命算了” 。这些听起来是一种警告，但是不要忘记她已经失去了她的财产，她的孩子，现在眼看就要失去自己的丈夫。这是在非常极端困苦条件下发出的一声绝望的想法。耶和华从来没有抓住她的话不放，但她的建议正是撒但所希望的。撒但说约伯将会弃绝神。她的妻子也建议他这样。而约伯一生中都坚持献祭给神 ，避免自己的孩子弃绝神。但是这样并不能使约伯免除痛苦，事实上，他宁愿死。因此在3：1中他开口咒诅自己的生日。但是他对他的妻子说：“你说话像愚顽的妇人一样”。他并没有称她是“愚顽的妇人”。这不是他妻子的特性。这一次，撒但又错了。
And here is the type brethren and sisters. As Job said, “shall we receive good at the hand of God and not evil?” Or as Christ said, “not my will, but thine be done”. If Job is a type of Christ, his wife is a type of the bride of Christ, who fails him, who couldn’t match him in trial, who couldn’t drink of the cup of which he drank. Who couldn’t watch with him more than one hour. Who, when he was taken, wanted to forsake him and flee. And Satan is a type of human nature. Cynical, self seeking, materialistic and ungoverned by the principles of the Truth.
But the trial his wife presents nevertheless raises one of the great age-old questions of the Truth. What’s the value of righteousness? Is there any value in righteousness of itself apart from what benefits it might give us now? If living the Truth meant living a life of privation, would we still do it? Job says yes. Satan says no. Satan says Job’s righteousness was simply a refined form of selfishness – it was a business proposition. Job says righteousness is the manifestation of God’s character, which he does because he loves and reveres God.
But if Satan is a brother, how does God convince him and people like him? There’s only one way. Take a righteous man and subject him to trials that will strip him of everything but his righteousness. Only that would prove the point. In short, the just would have to suffer for the unjust. And that’s why we’re here this morning.
Because there is an even greater than Job, who the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 53 calls “my servant” – not just my servant, but “my RIGHTEOUS servant”. Whose visage was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. There was no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. He did no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. And by his knowledge shall God’s righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear our iniquities.
In the greatest sense ever known, brethren and sisters, we come now to remember he who died, as the just for the unjust, to lead us unto salvation.