Today we began reading the book of Job with its important message for us. It is a strange book in the way the message is conveyed. It is an extended parable based on an actual person and real events. We need to think carefully as we read. Our understanding is that “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan (the ESV footnote says, ‘the adversary’, the meaning of the Hebrew word and how it is translated in 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4 etc.) … Satan came among them” (Job 1:6). This is picturing how the LORD sees the hearts and attitudes of those assembled for worship before Him (cf. Revelation 2:23). In doing that He perceives any jealousies in their minds.

Job “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (verse 1). But because he was so successful in material things, another worshipper was jealous and thinks to himself, and maybe says aloud, “Does Job fear God for no reason?” (verse 9). He is thinking Job is only in attendance before God for the material benefits. This ‘parable’ illustrates that this is not the case, another lesson for us.

After calamities befall them Job’s wife says, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die” Job’s response to this was, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:9,10). It is interesting to study the occasions in which the Hebrew word here translated ‘evil’ occurs, for example, Psalm 10:6 where it is translated, “adversity”. Consider all the “evil” Paul experienced when he turned to serve Jesus.

It is not until we come to the end that we see the essential point the book is conveying. Job confesses to God, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I repent in dust and ashes” (42:5,6). Do we just read of God and reasoned in our minds about Him – or do we “see” Him? Paul told the Ephesians to have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened” (1:18).

The ‘parable’ is complete in the final verses of the book when Job’s losses are restored. “And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before … and the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (42:10,12). We can see its application to the fulfilment of the promise of resurrection and the glories of God’s kingdom, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Let us hold fast to our integrity and “receive the crown of life”, not being distracted by present adversity or adversaries.