Jun 18, 2009

Job's Righteous Character

Job's Theology

Job's Righteous Character - Chapter One

Before examining the theology of Job, we should look at the character of Job. It is fair to say that Job has suffered (in the hands, ironically, of many Christian commentators) a "character assassination" of the worst kind. Many believe Job, in character, was not, in reality, as he is described, either in the Book of Job, or elsewhere in scripture. Many consider the things he said about God to be gross error, his theology to be heresy, and surely not, therefore, an inspired prophet of God.

When one compares the divine judgment of Job's character with the judgment of many commentators on Job's character and theology, one sees an intriguing and surprising difference. God's commentary on the character of Job differs greatly from that of many Christian commentators.

The Book of Job begins with a divine interrogative to "The Satan" (or The Accuser) -- "Have you considered my servant Job?"

The same question may be asked of every person on earth, especially of those who read the story of Job, and of all those who are Christians. Have we "considered" God's prophet and servant, the man called "Job"? Have we deeply pondered his character, life experiences, and theology?

In this series of essays on Job's Theology, this is precisely what we will be doing. We will be considering the character and teachings of Job. How will our judgments of Job compare with the judgment of God? With that of The Satan? With that of Job's "friends"? How will our portraiture of Job compare with the scriptural portrait of Job?

Job's Character

"In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." (Job 1: 1 NIV)

"Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (1:8)

These are the words of both God and the inspired writer of the Book of Job concerning the character of Job. They give us a portrait of Job that ought not to be impugned. With such an holy character attributed to him, it is no wonder, as we shall see, that he is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greater sufferer, or greater than Job.

"None like him in the earth."
"Man of Integrity"
"Fears God"
"Eschews evil"
"God's servant"
"In all this Job sinned not"
"In all this Job did not charge God foolishly"
"Job has spoken concerning me what is right"

These are the character descriptions of Job, given in the Book of Job. They are accurate and truthful, being the very judgment of God. One of the ways in which we may judge the correctness of our interpretations of the Book of Job is to compare our estimation of Job and his character with this divinely inspired estimation. Has our interpretation of the words of Job caused us to have a lower estimation of him and his character than that expressed in the above citations from the Book of Job and the oracles of God?

Satan says Job is

1. Selfish (serves God for what he can get from God, i.e., he "uses" God)

2. Really a God hater, but who covers it up ("he will curse you" given the opportunity)

3. A hypocrite

4. Not what God thinks he is, that is, not perfect and upright, etc.

5. Unfaithful, disloyal and unreliable

6. Not a man of integrity

In all this Satan not only condemns the character of Job but also the character and ways of God.

"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." (1: 20-22 NIV)

"Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." (2: 3)

"So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said." (2: 7-10)

These verses are clear and concise and tell us the truth about this man named "Job." Our view of him ought to be the same as that of God. If it is not, then something is wrong with our view of Job, and not with God's view of him.

"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)

Here Job is put in the company of prophets and righteous men. Yet Noah and Daniel have not suffered from "character assassination" as has God's "servant" Job. No reputable Christian commentator questions the holiness or inspiration of the words of either Noah or Daniel, yet a host of them question the holiness and inspiration of the godly Job.

Job the Prophet

"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: 10, 11 KJV)

Is not Job here clearly identified as one of "the prophets" who "spoke in the name of the Lord"? Is he not an "example" of "prophets" suffering affliction? Is he not an "example" of "prophets" having patience in suffering?

Why would Christian theologians and bible students exclude Job from being one of the inspired prophets with so much evidence in support of it?


pkgpiano said...

Mr. Garrett:

I really like this posting on Job...this is Chapter 1...where can I find more on this subject...where is Chapter 2? I want to learn all about this faithful prophet...

I am just not seeing another link...

Thank you,
Pamela Kingham George

pkgpiano said...

Mr. Garrett:
I enjoyed reading about the faithful prophet, Job...I have your Chapter 1, but I am not seeing a link to Chapter 2...I'd love to read your whole series on this man.

Can you share a link to more of this rich teaching?

Pamela Kingham George

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Pamela:

See on my blog dedicated to this series on Job.




pkgpiano said...

Thanks so much for this link...I appreciate you getting back to me so quickly...

In Christ,
Pamela Kingham George