“Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9)
“For whatever things were written before were written for our instruction, that through patience and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
“And all these things happened to those [as] examples, and [it] was written for our warning, on whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
God the Holy Spirit through Paul refers to Old Testament historical examples that are to instruct, warn, encourage, promote patience, and to confirm hope in true believers. One author wrote:
“The historical books record stories of things which took place, which illustrate and confirm the doctrine which is expounded in other books.”
The book of Exodus records the Passover, which history clearly illustrates and confirms the doctrine of Christ’s efficacious atonement which is expounded in other books (e.g., Hebrews, Romans, Ephesians, etc.).
“My brothers count [it] all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfective work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
“My brothers, [as] an example of suffering ill, and of longsuffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of [the] Lord. Behold, we call those blessed who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and you saw [the] end of the Lord, that the Lord is full of tender mercy and pity” (James 5:10-11).
One commentator depicted Job as an “eminent instance of misery.” What do we learn, or what are we instructed concerning the example of Job? How are those who possess unfeigned faith in Jesus Christ to be encouraged?
Did Job count his severe afflictions and sufferings “all joy”? If it is difficult to discern precisely to what degree Job was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10), we do have (at least) this passage:
“But He knoweth the way that I take: [when] He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held His steps, His way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary [food]” (Job 23:10-12).
Contrary to Satan’s “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Job’s love for God is not mercenary. Job does not importune for a release of sorts per his wife’s prodding to “curse God and die.” James had said: “the patience of Job.” Some have asked, “Did not Job complain at least a little bit?” Indeed he did. Job’s characteristic patience for which he is commended was not a sinless patience, any more than the demonstration of Rahab’s faith was in lying about the location of the spies (cf. Hebrews 11:31).
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
1 Peter 1:7 is similar to James 1:2-4 and 5:10-11. The trials by fire are regarded or considered as occasions of joy; these adversities produce the fruit of patience (James 1:2-4).
“Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory also in afflictions, knowing that affliction works out patience, and patience [works out] proven character; and proven character, hope. And the hope does not put [us] to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through [the] Holy Spirit given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).
Trials provide occasions for mortification (Romans 8:13). The joy is in the purpose for which God has decreed these afflicting trials. At least one reason for trials (and joy in them) is confirmation that we are not time-servers (or not Judases, serving God for the moneybag; or Jehus, serving the “god” of selfish ambition and political or personal expediency).
“All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, [and] to prove thee, to know what [was] in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:1-3).
The Lord’s parables concerning the sower sowing seed on various kinds of soil is related to this trying of our faith by the fire of afflictions. Trials reveal whether or not these passages are true of us (true believers in the true gospel).
“Grace [be] with all those that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility” (Ephesians 6:24).
“Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart, being regenerated, not by corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the living Word of God, and remaining forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23).
“Having purposed, He brought us forth by [the] Word of truth, for us to be a certain firstfruit of His creatures” (James 1:18).
Francis Bacon (not promoting him as a true believer) wrote:
“…the pencil of the Holy [Spirit] hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and Adversity is not without comforts and hopes…Prosperity doth best discover vice, but Adversity doth best discover virtue” (Of Adversity).
Important lessons to learn from and mediate upon –from Job to Jeshurun.
“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, thick [and] sated. And he abandoned God who made him, and fell away from the Rock of his salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15).
John Calvin writes on this passage (not a promotion of Calvin as a true Christian, but he puts it quite well).
“Moses here severely censures the ingratitude of the people, because when filled with delicacies, they began to wax wanton against God; for, according to the vulgar proverb, satiety breeds violence; but this arises from men’s detestable depravity, who ought rather to be inclined to humility…Intolerable, then, is the impiety of profane persons, who increase in insolence against Him, when they have gorged themselves with an abundance of all good things. They are here compared to restive horses, which, if they are well fed, without exercise, kick under their rider, and are rendered almost intractable” (Calvin).