Job Endured—So Can We!
“Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured.”—JAMES 5:11.
1. What did one elderly Christian say about his trials?
‘THE Devil is after me! I feel just like Job!’ With such words A. H. Macmillan expressed his feelings to a close friend at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Brother Macmillan finished his earthly course at the age of 89 on August 26, 1966. He knew that credit for the faithful service of anointed Christians like him would “go right with them.” (Revelation 14:13) Indeed, they would continue right on in Jehovah’s service by a resurrection to immortal life in heaven. His friends rejoiced that Brother Macmillan obtained that reward. In his declining years on earth, however, he was beset by various trials, including health problems that made him keenly aware of Satan’s attempts to break his integrity to God.
2, 3. Who was Job?
2 When Brother Macmillan said he felt just like Job, he was referring to a man who had endured great tests of faith. Job lived in “the land of Uz,” likely in northern Arabia. A descendant of Noah’s son Shem, he was a worshiper of Jehovah. Job’s tests apparently occurred sometime between the death of Joseph and the time when Moses proved himself upright. During that period nobody on earth was equal to Job in godly devotion. Jehovah viewed Job as a blameless, upright, God-fearing man.—Job 1:1, 8.
3 As “the greatest of all the Orientals,” Job had many servants, and his livestock numbered 11,500. But spiritual riches were of utmost importance to him. Like godly fathers today, Job most likely taught his seven sons and three daughters about Jehovah. Even after they no longer lived in his home, he acted as family priest by offering sacrifices for them, just in case they had sinned.—Job 1:2-5.
4. (a) Why should persecuted Christians consider the man Job? (b) Regarding Job, what questions will we consider?
4 Job is someone for persecuted Christians to consider in order to strengthen themselves for patient endurance. “Look!” wrote the disciple James. “We pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.” (James 5:11) Like Job, Jesus’ anointed followers and the present-day “great crowd” need endurance to cope with tests of faith. (Revelation 7:1-9) So, what trials did Job endure? Why did they occur? And how can we benefit from his experiences?
A Burning Issue
5. Unknown to Job, what was taking place in heaven?
5 Unknown to Job, a great issue was about to be raised in heaven. One day “the sons of the true God entered to take their station before Jehovah.” (Job 1:6) God’s only-begotten Son, the Word, was present. (John 1:1-3) So were the righteous angels and the disobedient angelic ‘sons of God.’ (Genesis 6:1-3) Satan was there, for his ouster from heaven would not come until after the Kingdom’s establishment in 1914. (Revelation 12:1-12) In Job’s day, Satan would raise a burning issue. He was about to call into question the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty over all His creatures.
6. What was Satan trying to do, and how did he slander Jehovah?
6 “Where do you come from?” asked Jehovah. Satan replied: “From roving about in the earth and from walking about in it.” (Job 1:7) He had been seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, 9) By breaking the integrity of individuals serving Jehovah, Satan would try to prove that nobody would fully obey God out of love. Taking up the issue, Jehovah asked Satan: “Have you set your heart upon my servant Job, that there is no one like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad?” (Job 1:8) Job met divine standards that took his imperfections into account. (Psalm 103:10-14) But Satan retorted: “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? Have not you yourself put up a hedge about him and about his house and about everything that he has all around? The work of his hands you have blessed, and his livestock itself has spread abroad in the earth.” (Job 1:9, 10) The Devil thus slandered Jehovah by implying that nobody loves and worships Him for what He is but that He bribes creatures to serve Him. Satan alleged that Job served God for selfish advantage, not out of love.
Satan on the Attack!
7. In what way did the Devil challenge God, and how did Jehovah respond?
7 “But,” said Satan, “for a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch everything he has and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” How would God respond to such an insulting challenge? “Look!” said Jehovah. “Everything that he has is in your hand. Only against him himself do not thrust out your hand!” The Devil had said that all Job possessed was blessed, increased, and hedged about. God would allow Job to suffer, though his body was not to be touched. Bent on evil, Satan left the assembly.—Job 1:11, 12.
8. (a) What material losses did Job experience? (b) What was the truth about “the very fire of God”?
8 Soon, the satanic attack began. One of Job’s servants gave him this bad news: “The cattle themselves happened to be plowing and the she-asses were grazing at the side of them when the Sabeans came making a raid and taking them, and the attendants they struck down with the edge of the sword.” (Job 1:13-15) The hedge had been removed from around Job’s property. Almost immediately, direct demon power was applied, for another servant reported: “The very fire of God fell from the heavens and went blazing among the sheep and the attendants and eating them up.” (Job 1:16) How diabolic it was to make it appear that God was responsible for such calamity even upon his own servant! Since lightning is from heaven, Jehovah could easily have been blamed, but actually the fire was of demonic source.
9. How did economic ruin affect Job’s relationship with God?
9 As Satan pressed the attack, another servant reported that the Chaldeans had taken Job’s camels and had killed all the other attendants. (Job 1:17) Though Job thus experienced economic ruin, this did not destroy his relationship with God. Could you endure great material loss without breaking your integrity to Jehovah?
Greater Tragedy Strikes
10, 11. (a) What happened to Job’s ten children? (b) After the tragic death of Job’s children, how did he view Jehovah?
10 The Devil was not finished with Job. Still another servant reported: “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in the house of their brother the firstborn. And, look! there came a great wind from the region of the wilderness, and it went striking the four corners of the house, so that it fell upon the young people and they died. And I got to escape, only I by myself, to tell you.” (Job 1:18, 19) The misinformed might say that the devastation caused by that wind was ‘an act of God.’ However, demon power had touched Job at an especially tender spot.
11 Grief-stricken, Job ‘ripped his sleeveless coat apart, cut the hair off his head, fell to the earth, and bowed down.’ Yet, listen to his words. “Jehovah himself has given, and Jehovah himself has taken away. Let the name of Jehovah continue to be blessed.” The account adds: “In all this Job did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God.” (Job 1:20-22) Satan was defeated once again. What if we should experience bereavement and grief as God’s servants? Unselfish devotion to Jehovah and trust in him can enable us to endure as integrity keepers, just as Job did. Anointed ones and their companions who have an earthly hope can surely draw comfort and strength from this account of Job’s endurance.
The Issue Gets Hotter
12, 13. At another assembly in heaven, what did Satan call for, and how did God respond?
12 Jehovah soon called another assembly in the heavenly courts. Job had become a childless, impoverished man, seemingly smitten by God, but his integrity was intact. Of course, Satan would not admit that his charges against God and Job were false. Now the ‘sons of God’ were about to hear the argument and counterargument as Jehovah maneuvered the Devil so as to bring the issue to a showdown.
13 Calling Satan to account, Jehovah asked: “Just where do you come from?” The reply? “From roving about in the earth and from walking about in it.” Jehovah again drew attention to his blameless, upright, God-fearing servant Job, who was still holding fast his integrity. The Devil replied: “Skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” So God said: “There he is in your hand! Only watch out for his soul itself!” (Job 2:2-6) Hinting that Jehovah had not yet removed all protective barriers, Satan called for the touching of Job’s bone and flesh. The Devil would not be permitted to kill Job; but Satan knew that physical disease would pain him and make it appear that he was suffering punishment from God for secret sins.
14. With what did Satan strike Job, and why could no human give the sufferer relief?
14 Dismissed from that assembly, Satan proceeded with fiendish delight. He struck Job with “a malignant boil from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” What misery Job endured as he sat in the ashes and scraped himself with a piece of pottery! (Job 2:7, 8) No human physician could bring him relief from this terribly painful, loathsome, and humiliating affliction, for it was caused by satanic power. Only Jehovah could heal Job. If you are an ailing servant of God, never forget that God can help you to endure and can give you life in a disease-free new world.—Psalm 41:1-3; Isaiah 33:24.
15. What did Job’s wife urge him to do, and what was his reaction?
15 Finally, Job’s wife said: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” “Integrity” denotes blameless devotion, and she may have spoken sarcastically to get Job to curse God. But he replied: “As one of the senseless women speaks, you speak also. Shall we accept merely what is good from the true God and not accept also what is bad?” Even this ploy of Satan did not work, for we are told: “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9, 10) Suppose opposing family members were to say that we were foolishly wearing ourselves out in Christian pursuits and urged us to renounce Jehovah God. Like Job, we can endure such a test because we love Jehovah and desire to praise his holy name.—Psalm 145:1, 2; Hebrews 13:15.
Three Arrogant Frauds
16. Who came, supposedly to comfort Job, but how did Satan manipulate them?
16 In what turned out to be another satanic scheme, three “companions” came, supposedly to comfort Job. One was Eliphaz, likely a descendant of Abraham through Esau. Since Eliphaz had priority in speaking, doubtless he was the oldest. Present, too, was Bildad, a descendant of Shuah, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah. The third man was Zophar, called a Naamathite to identify his family or place of residence, perhaps in northwest Arabia. (Job 2:11; Genesis 25:1, 2; 36:4, 11) Like those who try to make Jehovah’s Witnesses renounce God today, this trio was manipulated by Satan in an effort to make Job plead guilty to false charges and break his integrity.
17. What did the visiting trio do, and what did they not do for seven days and seven nights?
17 The trio made a big show of sympathy by weeping, ripping their garments, and tossing dust upon their heads. But then they sat with Job seven days and seven nights without uttering one word of comfort! (Job 2:12, 13; Luke 18:10-14) These three arrogant frauds were so bereft of spirituality that they had nothing comforting to say about Jehovah and his promises. Yet, they were drawing wrong conclusions and getting ready to use them against Job as soon as they had complied with the formalism of public grief. Interestingly, before the seven-day silence ended, the young man Elihu took a seat within hearing distance.
18. Why did Job seek peace in death?
18 Job finally broke the silence. Having drawn no comfort from the visiting trio, he cursed the day of his birth and wondered why his miserable life was being prolonged. He sought peace in death, not even imagining that he could ever have real joy again before he died, now that he was destitute, bereaved, and gravely ill. But God would not let Job be touched to the point of death.—Job 3:1-26.
Job’s Accusers Attack
19. In what respects did Eliphaz accuse Job falsely?
19 Eliphaz spoke first in the three rounds of debate that further tested Job’s integrity. In his first speech, Eliphaz asked: “Where have the upright ever been effaced?” He concluded that Job must have done something evil to receive God’s punishment. (Job, chapters 4, 5) In his second speech, Eliphaz ridiculed Job’s wisdom and asked: “What do you actually know that we do not know?” Eliphaz implied that Job was trying to show himself superior to the Almighty. Ending his second assault, he painted Job as guilty of apostasy, bribery, and deceit. (Job, chapter 15) In his final speech, Eliphaz falsely accused Job of many crimes—extortion, withholding bread and water from the needy, and oppressing widows and orphans.—Job, chapter 22.
20. What was the nature of Bildad’s attacks upon Job?
20 Taking the second turn in each of the three rounds of debate, Bildad usually followed the general theme set by Eliphaz. Bildad’s speeches were shorter but more biting. He even accused Job’s children of doing wrong and thus of meriting death. With faulty reasoning, he used this illustration: As papyrus and reeds dry up and die without water, so it is with “all those forgetting God.” That statement is true, but it did not apply to Job. (Job, chapter 8) Bildad classified Job’s afflictions as those coming upon the wicked. (Job, chapter 18) In his short third speech, Bildad argued that man is “a maggot” and “a worm” and is therefore unclean before God.—Job, chapter 25.
21. Of what did Zophar accuse Job?
21 Zophar was the third to speak in the debate. In general, his line of thought followed that of Eliphaz and Bildad. Zophar accused Job of wickedness and urged him to put away his sinful practices. (Job, chapters 11, 20) After two rounds Zophar stopped talking. He had nothing to add in the third round. All along, however, Job courageously answered his accusers. For instance, at one point he said: “All of you are troublesome comforters! Is there an end to windy words?”—Job 16:2, 3.
We Can Endure
22, 23. (a) As in Job’s case, how may the Devil go about trying to break our integrity to Jehovah God? (b) Though Job was enduring various tests, what might we ask about his attitude?
22 Like Job, we may face more than one trial at a time, and Satan may use discouragement or other factors in his efforts to break our integrity. He may try to turn us against Jehovah if we are having economic troubles. If a loved one dies or we experience ill health, Satan may seek to induce us to blame God. Like Job’s companions, someone might even accuse us falsely. As Brother Macmillan indicated, Satan may be ‘after us,’ but we can endure.
23 As we have observed so far, Job was enduring his various trials. However, was he just barely enduring? Did he actually have a broken spirit? Let us see if Job had really lost all hope.
How Would You Respond?
□ What great issue did Satan raise in Job’s day?
□ By what means was Job tested to the limit?
□ Of what did Job’s three “companions” accuse him?
□ As in Job’s case, how may Satan try to break our integrity to Jehovah?
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A. H. Macmillan