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What Is the Fear of God? Decoding 3 Manifestations of Job’s Fear of God
By Zhou Ming
At the mention of “fearing God,” most Christians will think of the story of Job recorded in the Bible. Job feared God and shunned evil, stood witness for God in trials, and so obtained God’s praise and blessings. He lived a valuable and meaningful life, which is enviable. Today, let’s reread the Book of Job and carefully count the manifestations of Job’s fear of God, so that we can have some new knowledge of and entry into the truth of revering God.
1. With a heart of reverence for God, Job never did anything in his life that offended God.
It is recorded in the Book of Job 1:5, “And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.”
Job, who possessed great wealth and was the greatest of all the men of the east, was the equivalent of a millionaire today. In our view, since his life was so affluent, then it would be normal for him to occasionally feast, and even live a luxurious life. However, Job never feasted, and even when his children did such a thing, he never joined them. Some people may have a hard time understanding and think that Job was a little too staid. Actually, that he could set such strict demands on himself and be disciplined in his lifestyle was directly related to his reverence for God. We humans do not have the power to overcome sin, so when we feast, our hearts will become indulged in a life of pleasure. Thus we will become obsessed with the enjoyment of the flesh, can very easily become distant from God, lose our normal relationship with Him, and even do things that offend Him. Job was clear about this in his heart, so he would rather live a simple life than do things that offended God. It can be seen that Job’s behavior was not staid, but rather he took to heart the way of fearing God and shunning evil. He did not think about his own flesh, nor did he focus on enjoying a high-quality lifestyle. What he said and did was for the sake of satisfying God’s will and not doing things that offended God.
Not only did Job fear that he himself would deviate from God’s way, but he also worried that his children would do things that offended God because they frequently feasted. From this we can see that, Job did not condone his childrens sin just because they were his kinship; in contrast, he hated them for feasting because he knew that it was loathsome to God. Therefore, when the days of their feasting were over, Job would send and sanctify them, and he often sacrificed burnt offerings for them. It is recorded in the Bible, “Thus did Job continually,” which further proves that Job feared God with his heart. The manifestation of Job’s fear of God was not empty words, and even less did he occasionally practice this way on the spur of the moment or in high spirits; instead, he took the way of fearing God and shunning evil to heart and began to practice it in the smallest matters. Just as it is said in a book, “Job did not go and look in on his sons occasionally, or when it pleased him, nor did he confess to God through prayer. Instead, he regularly sent and sanctified his sons, and sacrificed burnt offerings for them. The ‘continually’ here does not mean he did so for one or two days, or for a moment. It is saying that the manifestation of Job’s fear of God was not temporary, and did not stop at knowledge, or spoken words; instead, the way of fearing God and shunning evil guided his heart, it dictated his behavior, and it was, in his heart, the root of his existence. That he did so continually shows that, in his heart, he often feared that he himself would sin against God and was also afraid that his sons and daughters sinned against God. It represents just how much weight the way of fearing God and shunning evil carried within his heart” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”).
2. With a heart that revered God and shunned evil, Job could obey God’s domination and arrangements in trials.
Satan accused Job before God and could hardly even wait to tempt him after gaining God’s permission. So, not long after that, bad news continuously came to Job: His livestock was stolen, his servants were killed, and his ten children had their lives taken. In a moment, Job was transformed from a rich man possessed of great wealth to a person who was left with nothing. We can imagine how appalling the scenes were. No matter who encounters such trials, he will not be able to endure them. However, Job behaved very calmly. He did not lose his mind, nor did he send some people to recover his money; instead, he arose, rent his mantle, shaved his head, fell down on the ground, and worshiped. He was unusually calm. Just as a book says, “Job was very calm and clear-headed then. His perfect and upright humanity enabled him to rationally and naturally make accurate judgments and decisions about the disasters that had befallen him, and in consequence, he behaved with unusual calm: ‘Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.’ ‘Rent his mantle’ means that he was unclothed, and possessed of nothing; ‘shaved his head’ means he had returned before God as a newborn infant; ‘fell down on the ground, and worshipped’ means he had come into the world naked, and still without anything today, he was returned to God as a newborn baby. Job’s attitude toward all that befell him could not have been achieved by any creature of God. His faith in Jehovah God went beyond the realm of belief; this was his fear of God, and obedience to God, and he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also for taking from him. What’s more, he was able to take it upon himself to return all that he owned, including his life” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”). “Though he did not see God, he realized that God truly existed, and because of this realization he feared God—and due to his fear of God, he was able to obey God. He gave God free rein to take whatever he had, yet he was without complaint, and fell down before God and told Him that, at this very moment, even if God took his flesh, he would gladly allow Him to do so, without complaint. His entire conduct was due to his perfect and upright humanity. Which is to say, as a result of his innocence, honesty, and kindness, Job was unwavering in his realization and experience of God’s existence, and upon this foundation he made demands of himself and standardized his thinking, behavior, conduct and principles of actions before God in accordance with God’s guidance of him and the deeds of God that he had seen among all things. Over time, his experiences caused in him a real and actual fear of God and made him shun evil. This was the source of the integrity to which Job held firm” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”).
Faced with such great trials, Job not only did not complain, but could also bow down on the ground and praise the holy name of Jehovah God, obeying God’s taking away. This is also one of the manifestations of Job’s fear of God. Job’s humanity was upright, honest, simple, and kind-hearted. He pursued knowing God’s sovereignty and walking the God-fearing, evil-shunning way when encountering the people, events, and things in his daily life. During his tens of years of experience, although Jehovah God had never appeared to him, he truly saw God’s sovereignty and deeds. So he was even more certain that God truly existed and developed a heart of reverence for God. Moreover, he realized through his own experiences, that his property and children were all bestowed by God, and that without God’s blessing, no matter how hard he tried relying on his own ability, he would not have them. So, when his household was robbed and calamities befell his children, he knew clearly in his heart that God’s trials came upon him. His rationality told him that, everything he had had came from God, and so God had the right to confer upon him or take away from him, and that as a created being, he should never blame God, sin with his lips, or offend God, but instead should keep reverence for God in his heart and obey His orchestrations and arrangements. In the end, in distress Job said these words, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). He stood testimony for God.
3. With a heart that revered God and shunned evil, being clear on what to love and what to hate, and having a sense of justice, Job reprimanded his wife in trials.
After Job’s entire body was covered with sores, Satan used his wife to tempt him. Just as the Bible says, “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). So why did Job harshly reprimand his wife after hearing her advice?
A book says, “Seeing the torment he was suffering, Job’s wife tried to advise Job to help him escape his torment—yet the ‘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 of differentiating between love and hate, and 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” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”). God is the truth, the way, and the life, and represents all positive things. On the contrary, all that denies and resists God belongs to Satan and is negative. Job revered God and shunned evil and liked positive things. He was completely upright and clear on what to love and what to hate. He reserved the highest place in his heart for God and could not tolerate anybody denying, judging, or blaspheming God. When he saw others deny God, including his relatives, he would be disgusted with them, still hold fast to the way of revering God and shunning evil, stand on the side of justice and truth, and be unafraid to offend people. So, when his wife asked him to forsake God and deny God’s righteousness, he did not rely on emotion to live but, without mercy, reprimanded her for being an ignorant and stubborn woman. He once again overcame Satan’s temptation and stood testimony for God.
The above are the manifestations of Job’s fear of God. From this, we can understand that fearing God is not a matter of paying lip service. It requires us to focus on entry and imitate Job when encountering the people, matters, things and situations arranged by God. For example, in daily life, we must attach importance to avoiding various temptations. We should not go to entertainment venues or the places which will cause our hearts to be dissolute and grow distant from God; this way, we can be protected. When trials befall us, such as natural disasters or unfortunate things happening to our family, no matter how God acts, we cannot misunderstand or blame Him, but should obey His dominion and arrangements. When encountering disturbances from and confusion of any person, event, or thing, we should uphold the truth and justice, cannot be subject to the constraints of anyone else, nor follow anyone in resisting God or even abandon and leave God. Job is our exemplar for entry into the truth of fearing God. If we can practice and enter into the truth of revering God and shunning evil in our lives and begin in a small way as Job did, then we can also often obtain God’s guidance and blessing and become a person who reveres God.
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