Thoughts on Life's Goals
Book of Job 1:1-5 A Living Commentary
Introduction to Job: The Character of a Person
From the very beginning of Job we are called to think about what a great person is like. It might not be a topic that we openly discuss with others, but it is one that no doubt aggressively goes about in the mind of many. People have a tendency to focus on outward things: knowledge, reputation, ministry, education, looks, wealth and contacts. Job had many of these things if not all of them. Perhaps he had many things that others would admire and want for themselves.
For many people, if a person has the right house, right friends, right reputation, right investments, etc., he has made a significant mark in life in the eyes of others. What was it that Job had? “And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:2-3). We measure people by dollars today but back then it was by how many animals and people were under a person's control.
We can’t dispute that Job was a famous man. He was the 'greatest man in the east.' We are not sure what made up the east and west at that time, but surely by the world's standards he was a great man. His large family made a big statement especially the fact that he had seven sons. His influence would broaden out in one more generation if not in his own. He could easily become his own nation. But it was also his possessions. The list of animals was one of the easiest ways to characterize a person’s wealth in those days. Many animals meant provision. It meant he had things he could buy and sell such as the products of the animals themselves. And of course, he had a lot of servants to care for such a great amount of livestock.
Many people would stop here. They would be very content with these things. But it wasn’t that way with Job. He also had a spiritual life that outshined others. Notice how spiritually sensitive he was. Every time his children would party, he would always be there to offer a sacrifice. “For Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed god in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually” (Job 1:4-5). How many fathers really ever get to think about the consequences of their children’s sins? They are often too busy counting their gains or mourning over their losses.
But as you know, this is not how the Book of Job began. It began by introducing the characteristics of Job that one cannot easily see: “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). Man’s assessment including the one of himself is often slightly biased. But in this case we should know that this was exactly what God said of Job the man (Job 1:8; 2:3). More than likely the description of verse 1 came from God’s own assessment.
Most people cannot think about success in any terms but by the outward signs of success. They do not recognize that true success comes from ‘inner’ success. We do not at all mean by this a spiritual inclination but a true heart response to God’s ways. When man’s inner life is driven by God and His purposes, then his whole life is lived out in accordance to God’s ways. Possessions are not seen apart from God's good hand upon his life. They are blessings.
The forthcoming test has everything to do with the testing of a man’s heart. The real man is the inner man rather than the outward one (the one people see). This is where he is tested. When our goals and achievements are for the recognition of others and the purposes for looking significant, then we will forsake the development of the inner man in order to attain those outer possessions.
Job is abruptly introduced in this book. We do not really understand his context of life. We see him full grown with a large family. We do not know a lot of things on how he reached the zenith of life. The Book of Job only analyzes what takes place in Job's life in two angles. The first is a thin slice of time in a critical period of life. The last is a very brief coverage of his very long life. This summary of Job's life in the first and last sections of this book run parallel in thought in true fashion of Hebrew poetry.
This book is all about the testing of Job. We are asking all along, “Is he really the man that God says he is?” We will find that it is easy to find those who are willing to tear down a person (Satan, Job’s friends) and very hard to discover those who are there with a proper perspective (God, Elihu). In order to have a good understanding of this book, we need to persistently ask, “Am I a godly man at heart?" "Do I just serve God because of His good treatment towards me?" "Is my heart fully committed to the LORD?”
The results are very important. If we think we are who we are not, then in the end, we will fail. But how can we find out if we truly are completely devoted to Him during life without these tests? What perhaps should concern us the most is that God is very interested in proving the man’s heart. And though our tests will differ, God seems quite willing to shake our lives in order to give us an opportunity to openly prove that we love God more than His gifts.
Job was a great man which we all can learn from. What do we learn from his life? Although his immense wealth was impressive, we know that these possessions this did not 'make' him. His inner qualities distinguished him despite his great wealth. With such position, he could have chosen to do many wrong things as his friends intimated. He could have gone beyond the law and got away with it in the eyes of man. Yet, he constrained his behavior because of his fear of the Lord.
Very few people could imitate Job in his wealth, possessions or even family size, but we all can strive to be like him in heart. The rich and poor have equal access to having a godly character. Job didn't have any advantage in this area. He faced a tough world even as we do.
Job sets a great example for us as he breaks through the cheap materialistic view of the world and dares to live before God's presence. His possessions did not make him great but his character, that is, his inward godly commitments that shaped his decisions. He did not strive to be wealthy but to be acceptable before God and live rightly before men and women. Wealth and the outward prestige came as a special calling.
The heart, attitude and behavior of the godly man.
Bible Study Questions
1. List the things we know of Job?
2. What actual blessings are upon Job and his family?
3. How did Job show his fear of God in 1:4-5?
Applications for Life
1. Have you made a commitment to live a holy life?
2. Have you clearly repented of your specific sins?
3. What was Job’s true goal or ambition for life? What about your life?
4. Look at the diagram above and name which area seems to attract you the most (it can differ from what is on the list).
Job is a great example to help us know what kind of life that we ought to life, that is, a life that God approves. We need to reshape our life's activities and spiritual disciplines to more deeply affirm our dedication to God. What is one thing God is prompting you to do? Write down the steps you are going to take to do it. Then do it!
Overview of Articles on the Book of JobIntroduction to Job Overview of Job Purpose of Job
Job 1:1-5 Job 1:6-2:13 Job 3-37 Job 8_Counseling Job 38-42:9 Job 42:10-17
Other articles on suffering:
Finding Peace in Tragic Times Explanation of Judgment Isaiah53 & Development of Character