The Heavenly Origin of Earthly Events | Tom J. Nettles

by | Dec 5, 2023 | Old Testament, Practical Theology

*Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a 9-part series on the book of Job by Dr. Tom J. Nettles. As more installments are released, each part of the series will be linked to each post.

To read part 1, click here:

To read part 2, click here:

To read part 3, click here:

To read part 4, click here:

To read part 5, click here:

To read part 6, click here:

To read part 7, click here:

To read part 8, click here:

To read part 9, click here:

Having seen both the godliness and the prosperity as well as the respected status of Job, we are now introduced to transcendent issues that impinge on human life. The Lord Himself asked Satan if he had considered the character of Job (2:8). The contest against Job, therefore, comes from the suggestion of God himself. God had singled out Job for this question and brought him to the notice of Satan. God does not merely desire to show the character of Job in this but to show how God himself sustains and purifies his people under the most trying and devastating circumstances.

Satan indicates that Job serves in sunny weather, for God has given him an abundance of earthly comforts (2:9, 10). Job’s love for God and his efforts to sacrifice for any possible dereliction of proper deportment is not, so Satan argues, from any disinterestedness, but merely a self-protection device. God is a means for Job’s preeminence and comfortable circumstance; but if those go away, so also will Job’s apparent piety and worshipful submission to God. Satan believes Job will curse God if he loses his earthly comforts (11). All of this piety will flee in a moment when Job discovers that it no longer serves to protect him from harm. Then his true feelings will come out. God will be dismissed from his concerns and appear to his mind and proceed from his mouth only as a curse—a bitter reminder of his foolishness for ever having given himself in so demeaning a way to such a cruel and unloving sovereign.

This heavenly council was the foundation for the afflictions Job received. Luke 22:31-34 gives us the record of another of these. Jesus, on earth, informs Peter that Satan has asked to sift Peter like wheat. Jesus, however, interceded for Peter. We may well believe that this interaction happens with regularity. “Be sober-minded; be watchful,” Peter warned, for “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We learn that Satan is consistently used as an instrument to test the righteous for their greater sanctification. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Also, he deceives the wicked and holds the unregenerate under dominion as his proper vassals. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The unregenerate willingly, and perhaps unconsciously, follow the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Because they live under the sway of deceived hearts they are “subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14, 15). Among other things, salvation involves a rescue from this dominion (Colossians 1:13, 14).

After this heavenly conference, events in Job’s life rapidly destroyed his wealth, his family, and his status (Job 1:13-19). Job receives 4 messages in which every evidence of his great status in the eyes of men is removed and the objects of his natural affection and concern are swiftly snatched away. One escaped messenger fled to report to Job that the oxen and donkeys were taken by the Sabeans and the servants were killed. A second messenger escapes a calamity to report that the “fire from God” burned up the sheep and the servants. A third reported that three raiding parties from the Chaldeans stole the camels and killed the servants. Finally, a fourth escapee tells Job of a great wind that destroyed the house of his eldest son while all his children were inside and killed them. Two groups of marauding enemies succeeded against Job’s interests, and two “acts of God,” fire and wind, leveled all of Job’s earthly evidence of the blessing of God on his life.

Job went into a position of mourning and worship. He placed himself in a posture of abject humility. Torn clothes and bald-headedness were symbols of being outcast and disrespected in society. Every earthly value was now gone, except for the wife that soon would upbraid him. His actions indicate personal abandonment of any appearance of earthly status.

In that attitude of loss of all personal advantage, he also worshipped. His most basic reflex was to put his trust in God when his own soul was downcast. He recognized that as the creature he has no right to make demands or have expectations of the creator. He knew in his conscience the answer to the question, “Shall the thing formed say to its maker, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” (Romans 9:20). When he came into the world, his very birth showed his utterly dependent position. “Naked came I into the world” (21). Thus, all that he had accumulated, like life itself, came to him from God. When he leaves this world in death, none of these earthly accumulations will go with him: “Naked shall I return there.” Thus, he is stripped of the most fundamental contemplation of his soul in the presence of God. No attraction of any worldly thing can now intrude on that attempt to gain a vision of the sovereign disposer of all things.

From dust we were made; to dust we will return. Naked we breathed our first breath, and after our last clothes lose their meaning. Any act of God that fixes our minds on the surpassing value of heavenly and eternal life is an excellent gift.

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