Donald Karnes - Job

This book is a "gold mine" of TRUTH, a close up of the dealings of God and His ways with men on the earth.

THEME: Misfortunes and sufferings of the righteous. We, like children, don’t understand suffering. Why should one go through the ordeal of having a tooth pulled? Children think the dentist cruel, their parents don’t love them. I doubt if any of us understand this problem any better than Job. Few came out of it as enriched and successful as he. Thus Job must be reckoned as one of the Great Men who lived on the earth, and this Book as one of the Great Writings of all time.

The Bible often quotes, "Each one will be rewarded according to his own works.” It agrees with our own idea of justice. However, viewing the sufferings of the just, the misfortunes of the righteous, while evil prospers and error seems to succeed, one is led to believe that there are many exceptions to this rule. Faith is the answer. We need to see beyond the present veil. Romans 8:28, “All things (not one or two) work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose.” Had Job known what was going on in Heaven, it might have been easier to endure. He walked by faith, not by sight. Right and wrong make claims on the highest level. Satan accused Job. God is tolerant or He’d not allow an accusing voice to be heard. God never argues. He allows time and events to prove His points. I Peter 1:15, “By well doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” God has nothing to fear from gainsayers. If God will listen to Satan, He will listen to us.

God allowed the devil to test and tempt Job. So we’ll not escape. Have we faith to rise above the afflictions, to come forth from the refining fire as gold? Job did.

There are three periods to testing: (Before) Preparation; (During) Formation; (Afterwards) Results. Testing depends upon the degree of preparation. In the potter’s house, a vessel is done on the wheel before it goes into the furnace. These “before” periods in Job’s life helped him through the trials. He feared God and eschewed evil. The Lord had first place.

1st Test: The loss of all his possessions was a hard blow! However, Job had the proper preparation, he was comforted knowing he had used these temporal things aright, for the need of others. Though he was rich, wealth did not go to his head. He had acted as a wise steward of the things committed to his trust. They’ll not rise in judgement against him. “I delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless and him that has none to help. I was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, I was a father to the poor.” Job 1:21, “ The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

2nd Test: Was perhaps a greater blow, the loss of all his family, except his wife who only brought more trouble. “Dost thou still retain thine integrity. Curse God and die.” Job’s answer, “What shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil?” Thoughts of the preparation period no doubt helped him to weather the storm and sin not. He was concerned about the family. He knew that true religion must start at home. He wanted his children saved. He had been a good example, had a good testimony, lived righteously before God. He hadn’t looked upon his children as angels, “It may be my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Though no such signs were visible, yet Job rose early to offer up sacrifices for each one of them. He had no pets nor favorites. “Thus did Job continually.” It was not a yearly event, rather a daily one.

3rd Test perhaps was the hardest to bear, misunderstanding, especially by those who should have been a help. Solomon said, “A friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Do we come up to this standard? Or would we let our brother down? Job’s would be comforters only increased his miseries: as friends – turned out to be accusers, character analysts. Thoughts of his "before" period must have strengthened him, the satisfaction of having lived for others. Eliphaz was honest with the record. “Thou hast instructed many.” Job had time for others. He did not want TRUTH to perish nor right to go out. He felt a debtor to his fellowmen. He had convictions and shared them, wanted others to know this GREAT GOD who meant so much to him. 4:3-5, “Thou has strengthened weak hands.” Job was mindful of others. It was not just talk. He practiced what he preached. He matched his council with consolation, his words with actions. He helped the weak and weary. All knew his stand, his fairness in his dealings. Such examples are prime targets of Satan – envious persons become pawns in his paw to pick to pieces. “Now it is come upon thee and thou faintest; it touchest thee and thou art troubled.” Eliphaz hardly concealed his pleasure. Now it is your turn, your due reward for some wrong instead of acting as Job did when others were needy. God upheld Job before Satan, who used every possible means short of death to bring Job down. Job stood firm in adversity as he had in prosperity. Will we stand? God knows those that are His, and allows them to be put through the fire, which reveals what they’re made of – if the right is there, it produces a finer vessel. What kind of a testimony can God give of us? Would it be one like Job’s?

“Satan came also among them.” He's there to investigate our profession, to see if it is true – if not, to expose it. He’s there to test, to examine, to see how real is our faith. How long we can hold out and under what conditions. It is like the acid test of impurities. As even the hypocrite can serve God when the sun shines, when things are going his way. That is only selfishness, lip service or just pure politeness. That’s why God allows the devil to work on us, to save from such. Satan’s purpose is to separate us from God, get us taken up with the difficulties, complaining about our lot, the sifting, that is only sifting us. We have the same weapons at our disposal that Jesus used to defeat him – “The Word.” “It is written.” Obedience to it brings the Spirit and Power of God to play in our lives.

God said, “Job is different. There is none like him on earth, perfect and upright.” This was in Job’s heart. Not confessing God with his lips and denying Him with his life; something wrought there by the Spirit of God, a Divine nature born from above. We see its beauty when put to the test, not dulled nor dimmed by fiery trials – only shone forth brighter. Job’s words shatter the powers of evil. This is love, now law, acts not feelings. Nothing more fickle that human feelings. Emotions are as changeable as the wind and just as dangerous. They have their place – they make good firemen, but poor engineers on the train of life. What matters most, in the destiny of our souls is: Have faith in God and the facts of the Scripture! Emotions change!

HIS WORD REMAINS! Only God’s Word shall stand, all else is sinking sand. With Job, it was not “think so” or even “hope so.” I know my Redeemer liveth and He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, whom I shall see for myself. Again he said, “He knoweth the way that I take, when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has he in His steps, His Way have I kept. I have esteemed the WORDS of His mouth more than my necessary food.” This Way was a path of proofing and problems, a way of tears and trials , hills and valleys. This Way of faith was God’s sword of faith, to learn to trust Him, rather than just the enjoyment of this life. The fire was there not to destroy but to refine, to bring forth the pure gold. Job’s friends, inspite of good intentions did not understand this Way. They thought Job had taken a wrong way, the way of transgressors, that events had proven him a sinner, one in God’s disfavour. How good to have this confidence and conviction to see us through dark days - long, lonely days of testing. Thus, we’ll not be complaining during this time of processing and preparation while His work is in the making. As it is yet unfinished, the refining is not yet completed. Will there be any gold, something that is Divine, after all that is selfish, worldly and unholy, has been removed from our lives?

Job was sorely tried. “Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me.” No doubt, it was to develop his spiritual gifts. It is in the midst of tests that we go through that we discover the depth of our faith and get to know the riches of His grace. Faith is like a star, it is more visible in the darkness that in the brightness of light. Job asked, “Where is God, my Maker who giveth me songs in the night?” In order for God to prove this fact that He consoles, He must first provide the setting – that is, make the night.. then He can proceed to give the songs in the night as promised. There can be no rainbow without clouds. Rough seas make sailor. The strength of the ship and the greatness of the Captain are best proven in the midst of storms. So the power of faith is best manifested in the midst of trials. Great characters, like great planes take off against the wind. Some of the best prophets, the best books, and the best visions of Christ of the Old Testament were produced in the midst of tragedy and trouble – a nation broken in agony, crushed by an oppressor, and led into exile.

What sort of world would it be if all life was reduced to a commercial transaction? Everytime we did a good turn, we’d be paid for it right away with a corresponding happiness. Everytime we did wrong, we’d be punished by a corresponding pain. So much sin meant so much sorrow, so much good equalled so much gain! In such a world, there would be no great love, no faith, no self-sacrifice, no heroism. No Ester risking her life, “If I perish, I perish.” No Paul praying for the thorn to be removed. The finest gains cannot be measured by any rule or rod, weighed by any scales of this world. The noblest standing is for Christ in spite of scorn or consequences.

The first page of the New Testament opens with the massacre of the innocent. The Gospel centers in a Cross on which charity and perfection died for sin, as sin. A love for TRUTH against all odds. Choosing right in the midst of wrong. This stand will surely brings something of the experiences of Job into our lives. Yet we can pit our feeble efforts with such, knowing it has God’s backing. Let us take up “our cross” and make it a “badge of honour” to His Name and Glory!

Job was a good man. God said, ”There is none like him on the earth.” God was proud of him, Job knew his limitations. 9:20, “If I justify self, mine own mouth shall condemn me. If I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” 30:1, Job knew he could not cleanse himself, nor did he lay the blame on others. Yet he was troubled in his test. “God destroyeth the perfect and the wicked... the earth is given into the hand of the wicked.” Job felt he had to ask, "Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me?” Job didn’t know the answers. He didn’t know what was going on in heaven. Satan had said to God, "Job can afford to be pious, it has paid him well. If God were to remove the favors and rewards (hinting that Job was being bribed), he would curse God to His face." That challenge had to be accepted. Would Job be as faithful in suffering as in success? These questions are not new. They have plagued every generation.

How can an all powerful God allow suffering and sickness? Why are there wars? Why accidents? Why a tradgedy filled world? It looks like Satan wins all the battles. Why should “evil” be more powerful than God? Such reasonings really turn a lot of people off. It appears that the answers would be easier if God were a monster and people only “playthings” subject to His whims and fancies. Many primitive people take that view, that if people could “do away" with God, then evil would not need to be explained. One could work to prevent wars, accidents, cure cancer, relieve suffering, without blaming in unto Him. If an accident occurs, we’d ask, “Why did God do that to me?” If we got cancer, we would demand, “Why did God pick on me?” People could work to end wars without asking, “Why all this bloodshed, destruction and waste?” We have all those arguments because there is a God. And considering the Presence of a Great and Good God, we ask, "How can this be? Why so much evil, riot and rebellion, Why do ‘good people’ suffer as well as ‘the wicked’?"

Job in the long, long ago faced many of these perplexing problems. Yet not as present day pupils, professors, and even some preachers, who argue loud and long heard from press and pulpit bewailing the woes of mankind. Yet they are not personally afflicted, not actually experiencing these ordeals, as Job was. On the contrary, many are well-off, well-placed, and most even well-to-do; whereas Job was speaking from the depths of personal tragedy. His losses and sufferings were immense; his possessions, his family, his home, and even his health. Yet we read, “Job sinned not with his mouth nor charged God foolishly.” That’s so different from most of our modern protestors who spew out vile and venom. The Psalmist depicted them perfectly, “Their throat is an open sepeuchre.” Their refrain, “Why doesn’t God do somthing? Why doesn’t He eliminate illness and accidents? Stop wars? Slay the devil? Fill up the bottomless pit? Or is God dead?" Etc. Etc. Etc.

They forget that God has living priciples: For every "effect" there is a "cause." That every action brings about a reaction! They need reminding of God’s perpetual precept: We reap what we sow! They want a world where it is impossible to "wrong." They want water that won’t drown. Fire that will not burn anyone; gas that won’t explode; falls that will not hurt. Then a person van jump off a cliff and not break a limb, play with fire without getting burned, head-on collision without getting hurt. What kind of a world would that be? What would be the intelligent caliber of its tenants? This world was not designed as an asylum for amiable stupidity; rather a training ground of the watchful and prayerful; a battleground for the brave and the obedient. Test and trials are conditional to our perfectioning. Dangers develop awareness and carefulness. Through difficulties to the stars! Battles won spell victory. The magnitude of the struggles, the puzzling of the problems drive us to God; we realize we can’t conquer alone.

Job’s friends offered the easy answers. Their arguments occupy the most of the Book. They explored every avenue, better than most modern-day critics. They felt that Job’s losses were due to some secret sins, some hidden faults. They saw pain as punishment for wrong committed, favor as pay for good deeds. They believed Job’s tragedy was the proof of his guilt. So much pleasure for so much goodness. So much pain for so much sin. Life thus would be reduced to a commercial transaction. In such a world, there would be no heroism, no courage, na faith, no sacrifice, no great love, no Ester saying, “If I perish, I perish.” No Paul praying for the thorn to be removed and learning, “MY grace is sufficient. My strenght is perfected in weakness.” Yes, the "injustice" of the world is a "hard nut" to crack, but there is meat in it. Life begins with a painful birth and ends with a dreadful death. The fabric in between has many dark threads, yet if willing and obedient the final pattern will be pretty. Job refused to blame God or curse the devil. His wife’s hopeless attitude seemed to reveal the best in Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Such a stand stirred up the devil even more, but it also stirred up heaven on Job’s behalf as the end shows. His "would-be" judges were proven more wrong than Job. We are "not qualified" to be going around assigning blame and blessing. We shall do much better to learn the "lesson" there might be in any given situation, for us. God maketh it to rain on the just and unjust, causeth the sun to shine on the good and the bad. Therefore, we have hope.

Life has its ups and downs, high and low tides. Not always sunshine and light, but also dark days and storm. Variety is the spice of life! We can’t always be on the mountain top, nor do we always stay in the dark valley. When the "going is rough," when things are at a low ebb, we are apt to believe that God has forsaken us. Chapter 29, Job looked back on good days, when all was well, “Oh, that I were as in the months past, as in the days when God preserved me. When His candle shined upon my head and when by His light, I walked through darkness as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me. When I washed my steps with butter and the rock poured me out rivers of oil.” It is quite evident that he now felt God was not with him; and that in his suffering and loneliness God had forsaken him. Job thought back on days of prosperity and felt that former days were better than these. This, however, was only feelings which can be fickle and false. Those testing times were not punishment for some past sins, rather refining fires that really enriched his life, though he could not believe it at the time.

This chapter is wonderful record of Job’s past doing and dealings. He willingly gave to the needy; he helped and comforted others; eyes to the blind, father to the poor, strength to the weak. He was so respected by all; such marvellos marks found in this noble man. How good when we likewise seek to help others, comfort the downhearted, strengthened feeble hands – not weary in well-doing. But how will we respond when the "tide changes" when we find ourselves on the "other end?" We need comfort, help and strengthening – how do we behave then? Maybe God is testing someone else, to see if they’ll be faithful steward when we are down and discouraged.

Job felt far better when he was on the "giving end," when he could hand out help, dispense comfort, share with the needy, and bless others. There is a "time of sowing and a time of reaping." Jesus said, "The fields are white ready to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. One soweth and another reapeth. As the sower casts away his seed, he can rightly feel poorer. Nevertheless, with patience at the harvest, he will be richer, because of his sacrifice." Job found himself in a difficult setting, undergoing terrible times. He who hath been rich, now had practically nothing. He who had been so well and healthy, now was sick and suffering. He who had been respected and appreciated, now was disdained and derided. So often time brings changes: tables are turned. Man isn’t always on the mountain top. Paul said, "I have learned (have we?) in whatsoever state I am, to be content; I know both how to be abased and how to abound – in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." Paul was not discouraged when the going was rough and he kept humble in prosperity and success. We must likewise learn that God is not only with us in sunshine and light but also in storm and in the night.

There are two sides to every argument. The defense has a right to be heard as well as the complainers; when man ceases to question God, and the Lord questions man! Job now got to hear the other side. 40:7, “Gird up your loins like a man; I will demand of these and declare thou to Me, 'Wilt thou dismiss My judgment? Wilt thou condemn Me that thou mayest be righteous?'” 38:4, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? When the morning stars sang together...Who shut up the seas with doors? Hitherto shall thou come, no further. Here, thy proud waves be stayed. Hast thou commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place? Can thou bind the chains of Plelades or loose the cords of Orion?”

Who can maintain rigidity under such cross-examination? We all agree that there is more to the creation than magic and mystery. There’s enough of both to carry us away. Each sunrise takes our breath, but there’s more; Majesty and Might provide perspective. The demand that we be objective in our observation and reporting – that we won’t slant the story. In this riddle of "undeserved suffering," it is easy to forget the "enigma of undeserved happiness." We can be looking at the problem from only one end – ours! The great wonder, is NOT that God permits suffering, but that he had made it possible for us to experience so much delight, so much that is enjoyable, so much that sustains and supports us, so much that is beautiful and bountiful.

The "goodness of God" is the Rock upon which all unbelief must fall and flounder. The Almighty need NOT have stooped down to reply to the creatures complaints. Only Love does that. Love patiently reasons. Love has feelings and thirst for response. Arbitrary power need not have condescended to answer weakness by drawing back the veil a bit to reveal, not only the glory of Creation, but its awesome responsibility, its awful weight. God is not answerable to the creature, yet He never holds man in contempt. We may ask questions. We may ask reasons. Job’s complaints were afforded the dignity of a reply. There is still another side: God made everything beautiful and good; it was man that messed it up. The world is a "workshop for panners." God longs for cooperation and loyalty. He became like us so that we might become like Him. That’s the answer! So let us quit arguing and start trusting! Quit complaining and straying. Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

** Donald Karnes was 88 years old.