Today’s read is just three short chapters. In Job 22, Eliphaz speaks one last time, still convinced that Job is hiding wickedness in his heart. He does not believe his friend is as righteous as he claims. In fact, he makes specific allegations against Job, which Job will later address (and deny). Eliphaz maintains his position that all Job has to do is repent and everything will be restored: “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” (22:21) Apparently, the “Prosperity Gospel” we hear in many pulpits today isn’t such a new thing after all!
Job’s response in chapters 23-24 again reveal that while he is struggling with understanding God’s silence, he has not lost his faith. We see two key characteristics of a faith that will sustain us through intense suffering in Job’s words.
First, Job had a right understanding of what it meant to truly be a child of God. “My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (23:11-12) Saving faith is more than an intellectual assent that God is real and that Jesus is His Son who died on the cross for our sins. Saving faith transforms our heart. Job’s heart was to seek God in every step of his life. He delighted in obeying God’s commands and in studying and hearing His words. He was devoted to God, and his life showed it. (In tomorrow’s read we’ll see exactly what that meant in practical terms.)
Second, Job had a right understanding of who God is. “But He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases. He carries out His decree against me, and many such plans He still has in store. That is why I am terrified before Him; when I think of all this, I fear Him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. Yet I am not silenced by the darkness; by the thick darkness that covers my face.” (23:13-17)
Job had what I call a “healthy and holy fear” of God. He knew that God was powerful and had all authority over His life. This knowledge made him tremble, yet because he loved God and was devoted to Him, he was not afraid in the darkness of the suffering. He did not run from this powerful God; he ran to Him. He knew his life rested in the powerful, divine hands of God, and he trusted those hands completely. It was this perspective of God that allowed Job to say with confidence, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (23:10)
How’s your faith? Do you know what it means to truly be God’s child, and does it show by your devoted obedience to His word? Do you really understand who God is, and the power He holds over your life? When suffering comes, how will you pass the test?