About Job (Part 2)
Job’s actual experiences and his upright and honest humanity meant that he made the most rational judgment and choices when he lost his assets and his children. Such rational choices were inseparable from his daily pursuits and the deeds of God that he had come to know during his day-to-day life. Job’s honesty made him able to believe that Jehovah’s hand rules over all things; his belief allowed him to know the fact of Jehovah God’s sovereignty over all things; his knowledge made him willing and able to obey Jehovah God’s sovereignty and arrangements; his obedience enabled him to be more and more true in his fear of Jehovah God; his fear made him more and more real in his shunning of evil; ultimately, Job became perfect because he feared God and shunned evil; his perfection made him wise, and gave him the utmost rationality.
How should we understand this word, “rational”? A literal interpretation is that it means being of good sense, being logical and sensible in one’s thinking, being of sound speech, actions, and judgment, and possessing sound and regular moral standards. Yet Job’s rationality is not so easily explained. When it is said here that Job was possessed of the utmost rationality, this is said in connection with his humanity and his conduct before God. Because Job was honest, he was able to believe in and obey the sovereignty of God, which gave him a knowledge that was unobtainable by others, and this knowledge made him able to more accurately discern, judge, and define that which befell him, which enabled him to more accurately and perspicaciously choose what to do and what to hold firm to. This is to say that his words, behavior, the principles behind his actions, and the code by which he acted, were regular, clear, and specific, and were not blind, impulsive, or emotional. He knew how to treat whatever befell him, he knew how to balance and handle the relationships between complex events, he knew how to hold fast to the way that should be held fast to, and, moreover, he knew how to treat the giving and taking away of Jehovah God. This was the very rationality of Job. It was precisely because Job was equipped with such rationality that he said, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,” when he lost his assets and his sons and daughters.
When Job was faced with enormous pain of the body, and with the remonstrations of his kinfolk and friends, and when he was faced with death, his actual conduct once again showed his true face to all people.
The Real Face of Job: True, Pure, and Without Falsity
Let us read Job 2:7–8: “So went Satan forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself with; and he sat down among the ashes.” This is a description of Job’s conduct when sore boils sprouted upon his body. At this time, Job sat in the ashes as he endured the pain. No one treated him, and no one helped him lessen the pain of his body; instead, he used a potsherd to scrape away the surface of the sore boils. Superficially, this was merely a stage in Job’s torment, and bears no relation to his humanity and fear of God, for Job spoke no words to express his mood and views at this time. Yet Job’s actions and his conduct are still a true expression of his humanity. In the record of the previous chapter we read that Job was the greatest of all the men of the east. This passage from the second chapter, meanwhile, shows us that this great man of the east actually took a potsherd to scrape himself while sitting among the ashes. Is there not an obvious contrast between these two descriptions? It is a contrast that shows us Job’s true self: Despite his prestigious standing and status, he had never loved nor paid these things any attention; he cared not how others viewed his standing, nor was he concerned about whether his actions or conduct would have any negative effect on his standing; he did not indulge in the blessings of status, nor did he enjoy the glory that came with status and standing. He only cared about his value and the significance of his living in the eyes of Jehovah God. Job’s true self was his very substance: He did not love fame and fortune, and did not live for fame and fortune; he was true, and pure, and without falsity.
Job’s Separation of Love and Hate
Another side of Job’s humanity is demonstrated in this exchange between him and his wife: “Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9–10). Seeing the torment he was suffering, Job’s wife tried to give Job advice to help him escape his torment, yet her “good intentions” did not gain Job’s approval; instead, they stirred his anger, for she denied his faith in, and obedience to Jehovah God, and also denied the existence of Jehovah God. This was intolerable to Job, for he had never allowed himself to do anything that opposed or hurt God, to say nothing of others. How could he remain indifferent when he saw others speak words that blasphemed against and insulted God? Thus he called his wife a “foolish woman.” Job’s attitude toward his wife was one of anger and hate, as well as reproach and reprimand. This was the natural expression of Job’s humanity—differentiating between love and hate—and it was a true representation of his upright humanity. Job was possessed of a sense of justice—one which made him hate the winds and tides of wickedness, and loathe, condemn, and reject absurd heresy, ridiculous arguments, and ludicrous assertions, and allowed him to hold true to his own, correct principles and stance when he had been rejected by the masses and deserted by those who were close to him.
The Kindheartedness and Sincerity of Job
Since, from Job’s conduct, we are able to see the expression of various aspects of his humanity, what of Job’s humanity do we see when he opened his mouth to curse the day of his birth? This is the topic we will share below.
Above, I have talked of the origins of Job’s cursing of the day of his birth. What do you see in this? If Job were hardhearted and without love, if he were cold and emotionless and bereft of humanity, could he have cared for God’s heart’s desire? Could he have despised the day of his own birth because he cared for God’s heart? In other words, if Job were hardhearted and bereft of humanity, could he have been distressed by God’s pain? Could he have cursed the day of his birth because God had been aggrieved by him? The answer is, Absolutely not! Because he was kindhearted, Job cared for God’s heart; because he cared for God’s heart, Job sensed God’s pain; because he was kindhearted, he suffered greater torment as a result of sensing God’s pain; because he sensed God’s pain, he began to loathe the day of his birth, and thus cursed the day of his birth. To outsiders, Job’s entire conduct during his trials is exemplary. Only his cursing of the day of his birth paints a question mark above his perfection and uprightness, or provides a different assessment. In fact, this was the truest expression of the substance of Job’s humanity. The substance of his humanity was not concealed or packaged, or revised by someone else. When he cursed the day of his birth, he demonstrated the kindheartedness and sincerity deep within his heart; he was like a spring whose waters are so clear and transparent as to reveal its bottom.
Having learned all this about Job, most people will undoubtedly have a fairly accurate and objective assessment of the substance of Job’s humanity. They should also have a profound, practical, and more advanced understanding and appreciation of the perfection and uprightness of Job as spoken of by God. Hopefully, this understanding and appreciation will help people embark upon the way of fearing God and shunning evil.
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh