JOB: The Historical Example of Suffering to the Glory of God (Part-1)

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. 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.

James 5:1-8 KJV

Chapter Five A PATIENT AND EXPECTANT FAITH The believer in Christ is a stranger and a pilgrim, passing through a world arrayed in opposition against God. He sees confusion and strife on every hand, all the result of sin and rebellion against the only One who would have brought peace to this troubled scene had men but been ready to receive Him when He came in lowly guise proclaiming the near approach of the kingdom of the heavens. Because of their refusal to accept Him, wars and tumults have prevailed ever sense, and factions among men of various callings have embroiled one with another in fierce contentions. The struggle between Capital and Labor is pictured in the first part of the present chapter. Nor will these difficulties ever be settled satisfactorily until the Lord returns again to take His great power and reign. To this glad event faith looks on in patience and expectance.

—H.A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Epistle of James (1947)

The United States of America is in the midst of the worst depression in our country’s history. While this statement may shock many of you and cause you to consider me to be a panic stricken fear-monger; please consider the following facts. During the days of the “Great Depression” of the 1930s, the personal credit card had not yet been created! Therefore, the individual citizens in this country had little or no personal debt. Primary personal debt was mortgage debt and a majority of homes were mortgage free. The average American citizen entered the depression believing that personal debt was not in their own best interest. According to the U.S. Treasury department (The World Almanac and Book of Facts—2010), the budget receipts for the years 1926-1930 was 4,069,138,000 and the outlays was 3,182,807,000. These figures are for the period ending on June 30, 1930. The stock market crash began on October 29, 1929! A close examination of these facts reveal that eight months and one day later, the U. S. Treasury had a surplus of $886,331,000. Unlike our current recession (i.e. depression), our country entered into the so-called Great Depression with a surplus of funds.

The Word of God declares, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9); so recessions or depressions are not new to the Father. Since God the Father sustained believers during the Great Depression of the 1930s and during World War II (the greatest war in world history), He can and will supply our material needs during this current national economic disaster. He has promised to supply all of our needs (cf. Phil. 4:19) and to do this for His own glory. The problem is that we often think we need a lot of things that are luxuries and not necessities of life. James makes it clear at the beginning of Chapter five that the economic problems that exist between Capital and Labor will exist until the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to start living by faith (cf. Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38) in the Word of God (cf. Rom. 10:17) and in the God of the Bible (cf. Heb. 11:6). When we are fully trusting in God, then we are not depending upon our own human merit and capabilities (cf. Prov. 3:5, 7). We are commanded not to depend upon any man to solve our problems for us (cf. Jer. 17:5).

The living for the moment crowd believes that money can solve all of their problems (cf. Ecc. 10:19). However, wisdom is of greater value than money; because no one can guarantee that they will be able to hold on to their wealth (cf. Prov. 7:12-14).

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 5:9- 11 KJV

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

James 5:9- 11 NASV

The Father has given us Job, as a great example of a man enduring tremendous testing to the glory of God (c.f. Book of Job). This great believer faced so many different kinds of trials and tests and passed them all to the glory of God.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13 KJV

Many of us are currently going through some trials and tests. These tests may be related to personal health issues, the health issues of loved ones, financial issues, job issues, marital issues, children issues, parent issues, education issues, or any number of other issues. A short time back, a high school girl was shot and killed in the parking lot of the building next door to where we live. This brought us face to face with the realities of crime and violence. Some of you may live in a high crime area. Each one of us has to face our own tests; and we need to be careful not to belittle the trials that others are going through at any given point of time. We must remember that sometimes suffering is a physical issue and sometimes it is not. However, suffering is always a mental issue. In fact, as we seek to bring our emotions under control, most of our suffering will be mental attitude suffering. We must deal with the mental attitude test issues of anxiety, worry, and fear.

All suffering can be traced to one of four spiritual issues. First of all, as the result of Adam’s original sin all human suffering is related to the divine curse upon the Adamic (human) race (cf. Gen. 3:1-7 with vv 16-19). Salvation does not free us from the trials and tests of normal temporal life living; but we are guaranteed that as believers we will be given the grace to pass the tests (cf. I Cor, 10:13). For the believer living the Christian way of life, this becomes suffering through cursing by association. In a spiritually reversionistic nation that has turned its back upon God, this would include our being associated with national discipline under the six cycles of divine national judgment (cf. Lev. 26:14-33).

Secondly, believers come under deserved suffering as divine discipline for personal sins that we have failed to confess to the Father. The discipline is designed to bring repentance from the sins and the spiritual reversionism (i.e. spiritual backsliding) that accompanies our chain-sinning (cf. Heb. 12:3-15). Thirdly, the Father allows undeserved suffering into our lives as a preventive measure to help us to avoid personal sins and to produce spiritual growth (cf. II Cor. 12:1-11). It is the Father’s will for us to have progressive spiritual growth (cf. II Pet. 3:18) throughout our Christian life (cf. Phil. 3:10-14). The Father wants us to be consistently occupied with Christ (Phil. 1:21). When we are facing the trials and tests of undeserved suffering, then our occupation with Christ allows us to relate to the Bible doctrinal truths of Christ’s personal sufferings during His first advent (cf. Heb. 2:5-18); with special emphasis upon His sufferings on the cross of Calvary (cf. Heb. 12:2). Lastly, the Father brings undeserved suffering to the glory of God, by producing spiritual intimacy with God the Father and with the Lord Jesus Christ.

And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

John 9:1-7 KJV

Here Christ told them two things concerning such uncommon calamities: That they are not always inflicted as punishment for sin. Many are made much more miserable than others in this life who are not at all more sinful. It was not any uncommon guilt that God had an eye to inflicting this upon him. Misfortunes are sometimes intended purely for the glory of God, and the manifesting of His works. If God may be glorified, either by us or in us, we were not made in vain. This man was born blind, that the works of God might be manifest in him. First, That the attributes of God might be manifest in him, especially that His extraordinary power and goodness might be manifested in curing him. The difficulties of providence, otherwise unaccountable, may be resolved into this—God intends in them to show Himself. Those who regard Him not in the ordinary course of things are sometimes alarmed by things extraordinary. Secondly, That the counsels of God might be manifested in him. He was born blind that our Lord Jesus might prove Himself sent from God to be the true light of the world. It was now a great while since this man was born blind, and yet it never appeared till now why he was so. The sentences in the book of providence are sometimes long, and you must read a great way before you can apprehend the sense of them.

—Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (1961 American reprint)

The Lord Jesus Christ introduced the disciples to the doctrine of undeserved human suffering for the purpose of bringing glory to God the Father. It was the directive will of the Father for Jesus to heal this blind man. The doctrine of Undeserved Suffering is designed to bring a deep spiritual understanding of the person and work of Christ (cf. I Pet. 3:18 with Phil. 1:21 & Heb. 12:2). It also leads the believer to a spiritual understanding of the power of the Father (Eph. 1:19, 20), of the Son (John 10:17), and of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11) as it was manifested in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It also opens the door of a deep spiritual understanding of the undeserved sufferings of Christ that were separate and distinct from His sacrificial work of atonement and therefore not a part of it (cf. Heb. 5:7-10). Jesus endured human suffering to the glory of God; and therefore, as believers, we should consider it an honor and a privilege to suffer for the glory of God (cf. I Pet. 3:14, 15, Jer. 1:8; Matt. 5:10-12).

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.

Job 1:1 KJV

Job’s character is described in four adjectives, which in their own order remind us of the significance of numbers, which already seems to mark the structure of the book. He was perfect, complete and rounded out in character; humanly speaking, there was nothing uneven or lacking in him. Many men have excellent traits but are deficient in other elements which go to make up a complete man. They are, for instance, truthful, but lacking in kindness; amiable, but inclined to be weak. Job was a well balanced man.

Next, he was upright. This describes his relationship to others. Righteousness marked his ways, as he himself knew all too well.

Then, he feared God; this is the ‘beginning of knowledge,’ and must be taken at its full value. Job was not, as some have thought, an unregenerate man; there was life in his soul. He was a child of God, not a sinner away from Him. Unless this is seen, much of the exercises through which he passed will lose meaning. Lastly, he ‘eschewed evil;’ his outward walk corresponded with the state of his heart.

—Samuel Ridout, The Book of Job (1919)

The Father has given us Job’s story as the great historical example of undeserved suffering (cf. Job 1:1-2:10). Here was a man who possessed moral excellence. His lifestyle was not the false pretence of a religious hypocrite, but the genuine character of a man of God. The Father gives testimony that there was not another man alive on the earth that possessed his spiritual and moral integrity (cf. Job 1:8). The various causes for Job’s suffering illustrate the variety of ways in which the Father allows believers to suffer for the glory of God.

Job lived in the dispensation of the Gentiles the age of Government; and therefore he lived before the coming of the written word (cf. Gen. 10:29). He was a saved Semitic Gentile (cf. Job 1:8; 2:3). He was a believer ‘who not only talked the talk; but also walked the walk’ (cf. Job 1:1). God had blessed him with seven sons and three daughters (cf. Job 1:2). Even though his children were all adults, he was concerned about their spiritual well being (cf. Job 1:5). As a patriarchal priest, he did not hesitate to intercede with God on their behalf (cf. Job 1:5).

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17 KJV

God the Father had blessed Job and made him the richest man in his own country. His great great great great grandfather Shem lived for six hundred years after the flood. So, at this time, Shem was undoubtedly the richest man in the world (cf. Gen. 10:21-29 with 11:11). It is possible that Shem was Melchizedek, in which case his home was in Salem (i.e. Jerusalem); and Job lived in a country southeast of there.

Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Ezekiel 14:14, 20 KJV

These three men; most eminent for holy and upright walking with God, very dear to God, exceedingly desirous of the welfare of others, powerful in prayer. Noah, who it is probable prevailed with God to spare the world for some years, and saved his near relations when the flood came; Daniel, who prevailed for the life of the wise men of Chaldea; and Job, who daily offered sacrifice for his children and at last reconciled God to those that had offended. These should not prevail for any of the wicked generation; it should suffice that their righteousness saveth themselves; this contumacious generation of sinners I would not be entreated for.

—Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible Vol. II (nd)

The Holy Spirit, through verbal plenary inspiration, led the Prophet Ezekiel to connect the names of Noah, Daniel, and Job together as great men of prayer. However, it must be also noted that they are connected together as men whose very lives were a testimony of righteous living. We are all saved by grace (cf. Eph. 2:8, 9) and we are all to live by faith (cf. Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17). Noah was from the dispensation of the Gentiles. He lived for six hundred years before the flood (cf. Gen. 7:6) and for three hundred and fifty years after the flood (cf. Gen. 9:29). Daniel was taken as a prisoner of war to Babylon and became a high government official in that country (cf. Dan. 5:29) and also in the Media-Persian Kingdom that conquered it (cf. Dan. 6:2). The Spirit led Ezekiel to place Job, who we believe was born about three hundred years after the flood, in their company as an everlasting testimony of his faith-walk with God. Job was a spiritually mature believer at the beginning of this test; but the test introduced him to a whole new realm of Bible doctrine.

The study of Job is a Profile of Virtue. As we examine Job’s testing, we must do so for the purpose of coming to a greater understanding of the Father’s grace provision for believers from every dispensation. Job was a man who believed God’s word as it was revealed unto him. Job lived before Abraham and therefore he did not possess the written Word of God as we have it today. If God could carry him through all his trials and tests without the written Word, then He can certainly see us through all of our trials and tests. As believers who live in the dispensation of Grace, the age of the Local Church, we possess the entire Canon of Scripture (cf. Rev. 22:18, 19). We also possess the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7 with Rom. 8:15; I Cor. 2:12). This gives us an advantage over Job. We can be filled with Spirit (cf. Eph. 5:18), taught by the Spirit (cf. John 14:26 with I Cor. 2:9-16), guided by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:14), and empowered by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 15:13). Therefore, it is important for us to learn the doctrine of Undeserved Suffering to the Glory of God.

Historical Impact in The Spiritual Warfare of the Angelic Conflict Lesson II