For chapters 1 and 2, click on “The Lord Giveth; The Devil Taketh Away” in the menu.
CHAPTER THREE: THE STORY BEGINS
(Since each chapter builds on the previous one, you’ll want to be sure you read Chapter 2 before this one.)
‘Job,’ chapter one identifies the main character of the story: a man named Job, who was living in the land of Uz. Many Bible scholars believe Uz lay in the area between Palestine and Arabia. Those same scholars lean toward identifying Job as a descendant of Esau and possibly a king of Edom. Job himself makes reference to lying down “with kings” when he goes to his grave, so that idea could have some credibility. Other scholars believe that Job is the oldest book in the Bible and that Job was actually more a contemporary of Abraham himself rather than his sons and grandsons.
The important thing for the child of God to understand is that, either way, Job was in the position of not understanding his Creator and not being able to walk fully in a covenant relationship with Him — in the way that Abraham did. Moreover, if Job was a descendant of Esau, that made him a descendant of the grandson of Abraham who should have inherited the birthright from Isaac, including the direct blessing that came with the covenant God made with Abraham.
However, since Esau chose to sell that birthright — and that inheritance of covenant blessing — he forfeited the privileges that went with them, not only for himself, but for all of his direct descendants as well.
And it is abundantly clear that Job was living his life as one who had no active covenant with God. He says himself, in chapter 9, verses 32 & 33: “For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together. There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both.” King James translates the word “umpire” as “daysman,” which is a very old English word meaning umpire or mediator. So Job is bemoaning the fact that there is no agreement between him and his Creator and no moderator to help them communicate with each other.
Job is described in chapter one as a man who is “perfect” and “upright.” Now, with a word like “perfect,” which leaves absolutely no room for qualifiers, the reader’s spiritual antennae should come out. What does this word “perfect” mean? If it truly means that the man has no flaw, no weakness, no sin or evil in his nature, then the scripture in Romans which says clearly that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is a lie. However, since spiritual wisdom bids the Bible student to always interpret that which comes in shadow (Old Testament) through that which comes with light and revelation (New Testament), then the reader will have to trust what the New Testament says.
That means putting forth a little effort to find out what this word actually meant when it was written in the original manuscript. A brief look at the Hebrew word used here reveals that the word translated “perfect” also clearly means to be “complete, whole, or pious.” Job was obviously a man who knew about God and as much as possible with his limited knowledge and lack of covenant understanding, he was completely devoted to serving God. 2 Chronicles 16:9 uses the same kind of terminology when God says, “My eyes run to and fro seeking to show Myself strong on behalf of him whose heart is “perfect” toward Me (whose heart is completely Mine).”
So based on the light of the New Testament, and the alternate definitions which would make this passage agree with the New Testament, we see that the meaning of the word translated “perfect” is obviously the following: Job’s heart was totally devoted to God, and his intent was most definitely to serve Him. But he was not a man devoid of sin or other flaws in his character or lifestyle.
Also in chapter one, the second character of the story is introduced. The “sons of God” are presenting themselves before His throne. (In the Old Testament, “sons of God” is one term used to describe the angels.) At the time of the story, Satan obviously still has admittance into the presence of God (until the finished redemption work of Jesus), so he also comes before God. The Lord, knowing what Satan has been up to, asks him a question in verse eight. And on the correct or incorrect translation of this single question hangs our understanding of the entire character of God.
The Hebrew words which quote God in this conversation have more than one possible interpretation, because the word translated “consider” has several different definitions. Translators, for whatever reason, chose to use the definition “to consider” rather than any of the other definitions of that Hebrew word, which are “to set your heart on, to mark, to purpose to have.” In the seemingly inconsequential decision to choose a single-word definition rather than one requiring three or four words, God is portrayed as an ogre (an abusive father, if you will) who deliberately baits His hateful enemy to get him to attack, torment, and nearly destroy God’s own man.
“Okay,” the reader may respond, “there are several possible definitions; so how does one know for sure which definition is correct?” There is only one fail-safe formula for finding that answer: weigh each definition against Jesus and the example He gave as He walked the earth showing exactly what God is like.
Can any Bible student find Jesus walking up to the devil and taunting him by bragging about how much His disciples love Him — and then baiting the devil to get him to hurt those men — just to prove they will still love the man that betrayed them? Of course not! And that being the case, the Bible student can safely believe that the Father God would never do such a thing either. Consequently, there’s no guess work left concerning which definitions are correct for those passages in Job.
So using the correct translation, read the passage anew: “Have you set your heart on my servant Job — the man whose heart is perfect toward me and who turns away from evil?” It’s quite easy to see how getting the correct word in this one passage begins to change the whole picture of God and His character in this story. Jesus shows a God who would never have said, “Have you taken a good look at my man Job?” — knowing Satan’s next move would be to deliberately try to destroy that man. Jesus does, however, demonstrate a God who would say, “I see you’ve set your heart on my man Job; you won’t get him.” – or “I see you’ve marked Job and purposed to have him; you won’t get away with it.”
But now comes Satan’s challenge and God’s response to it. And with this response, another old traditional teaching rears its ugly head and tries to hinder truth from coming forth. For generations, Christians have been fond of saying, “God is sovereign. God is in control. God can do anything He wants to do.” Most people who make those statements mean that God is controlling absolutely everything that happens on the earth and in their lives — and they mean that God can do anything at all, whenever and however He wants, even if it goes against a promise He has already made in His covenant.
One particular pastor has this tradition so ingrained in his spirit that he has developed a new doctrine based on it. He preaches about what he calls “God’s two percent clause.” This man preached the following from his pulpit on a Sunday morning: “You can’t put God in a box and make Him keep His Word. Now, God will keep His word almost all the time, but He also has a two-percent clause that He operates in, and about two percent of the time, He will do something else when He wants to – whether it goes against His word or not.”
Now, many readers will shudder when they hear these words spoken out so blatantly, but the truth is that the vast majority of Christians really do believe that way. They would never say those words out loud, but when something tragic happens in their lives that they can’t explain in some other acceptable way, they turn to the traditional belief that God must have wanted it to happen that way or He would have kept it from happening.
It doesn’t register with them that they are saying God broke His own word – that He is not keeping His promise to deliver them from such tragedy. If someone who is ill and has been prayed for several times dies in spite of those prayers, the vast majority of Christians respond with the opinion that it was God’s will for that person to die — despite the fact that His Word and His covenant promises say otherwise. Some Christians go so far as to say — of individuals who ended up in prison because of their own unlawful acts – that God must have had some reason for them to be in jail, because, after all, “He is in control of everything.”
NO, dear reader! That thinking is erroneous. God’s own Word is crystal clear on the matter. It is certainly true that God is sovereign. But what people must also realize is that God used His sovereignty to make a choice. He chose to bind Himself to a covenant with man. Making a covenant with the human race was God’s own sovereign idea. And when He made that covenant, He committed Himself to do certain things for man if man would commit himself to live a certain way with God. He gave His Word. †
Chapter 3 will be the last chapter I’ll post onto this site at this time. The rest of the book is available for free reading on its own page — by clicking on the title of the book in the menu.