Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Job's Friends Part 2

Job's Friends Part 2 

From Job, chapter 1 verse 2:

"There were born to him seven sons and three daughters."

Scriptures remind us that a blessed man has a full quiver.  Children are a blessing from the Lord, as any new parent can attest.  I wouldn't recommend asking too many parents of teenagers though.  In any case, the first pronouncement of Job's wealth, status and blessing from God begins with a list of his children.  He had seven son and three daughters.

In this age and time it is likely that Job would have had to pay to marry off his daughters, what would later be called a dowry.  However, it is also possible that someone would have to pay him for his daughters, cf. Jacob and Leah/Rachel.  In any case, there is an immediate pecuniary benefit to having seven sons.  We know that Job was an agrarian; a farmer.  In this trade a son would work all day and not require labor wages.  That is to say, there was no out-of-pocket expenditure for his day of labor.  Additionally, the son would be trusted more than a day laborer or hired hand.  I'm of the opinion that private capital leads to better management of resources.  This is certainly not a universally held position, but the Bible supports private ownership and here we see private ownership as a blessing from God.

Having seven sons to help on the family farm, Job had seven captains, if you will, to manage the servants and hired hands.  Instead of having to personally care for everyone, he could delegate and spend his time investing in the education, training and care of seven who would then train and manage others.  In this manner Job was able to have a sizeable farm by any age.  There are farmers today who make a living on fewer livestock than Job had with better technology.

There is an interesting ratio here as well.  In most societies women outnumber men.  They out-live men but are more prone to disease.  However, in most cultures there are more female babies born than male babies and for all of humanity, cultures have embraced males while slighting the female children.  The males were educated, given an inheritance, put in positions of honor.  And other men would judge a man by the number of boys he sired.  Science would later affirm that indeed, it is the father who determines the sex of the child.  It's just human nature.  And this passage is a recognition of Job's masculinity of sorts.

But Job's home wasn't without the grace and beauty of femininity.  He had three daughters to compliment his wife.  Job's wife is not portrayed completely in Scripture.  We know little to nothing of their love, of their commitment to one another, of their fidelity and spirituality.  We know that in extreme hardship - the kind none of us will ever experience - Job's wife doesn't give the best advice.  But neither do his friends, nor does Job hold fast to the best positions and ideals.

It may be that Job's wife was ungodly.  It may be that like all other aspects of Job's life, his wife was a blessing too.  We simply don't know.  In any case, she has borne Job ten children and that much alone is more than any other Godly man I can recollect from Scripture.  Job was blessed.

A family is a precious gift.  We receive it from God and hope that He lets us enjoy them for the entirety of our lives.  I had a sister when I was a child.  God's grace was such that he allowed me to enjoy her for 15 years.  And in God's Providence she is now home with the Lord Jesus Christ and I am left here to carry on.  I had a wife when I was younger.  God's grace was such that he gave me a wife for 8 years.  God has allowed a divorce and broken our family.  So that when I read about Job's family, I know the blessing of family.  I know the heartache of loss.  I don't know these things on the same scale as Job, but the flavor is in my mouth and I can recollect the memories of having a sister and having a wife.  I have a son and he is still a blessing in my life.  I know the love of a son and I know the love of a father.  

Job is not an abstract.  Job does not exist in a vacuum.  His righteousness and humanity is not given to us in parable form, rather it is demonstrated through relationships - real relationships with people who have names and loves and hurts.  His children aren't named for us, as his friends are, but we see something of them and their relationship to their father in the next few verses.  What I find here though is enough for some deep thought.

Job had ten children, seven sons and three daughters.  Job knew the fear that a father knows regarding the safety of his children. Job knew the hopes and dreams of any parent.  Job knew the delight in a daughter or son bouncing on his knee.  Job had a family.  And he was blessed.

This is an appropriate place to start.  I need to remember that Job had a family.  For everything else that I will read about his arguments has to be placed in perspective.  He had a loving family who played together, who worshiped together, who were his very own.  When that family is taken away there is going to be some serious pain.  I think those of us who have lost greatly can empathize with Job; indeed we may be able to sympathize with Job.  I know I can.  After seeing this part of Job's family scrap-book, I am hesitant to condemn anything Job says after he loses his family.  After all, who wouldn't give Job grace upon grace at that time.  Who knows his pain?

We all know the end of the story.  Job loses these children but gets more in the end.  That tells me more about Job's wife - they're in a healthy sexual relationship which produces a lot of offspring.  But he memories will last with him for a life-time.  I have new brothers and sisters today - in the form of my former brothers and sisters-in-law.  But the pain of loss of my little sister, now gone home almost 28 years ago, will never go away completely.

And the two shall become one...  It is interesting to note that Job does not lose his wife.  It may also be instructive that Satan doesn't ask for this either.  Perhaps it is because Satan felt he could use Job's wife against him?  Perhaps it is because the two had become one and God had already said that Satan would not be able to take his life.  If it is the latter, consider the reality of the two flesh becoming one.

When Job married his young bride, they became one flesh.  When one would die, a very real part of the other would die as well.  God sees them as one.  He joins them together, not a preacher, not the State.  God joins them together, he ordains the relationship and it is unique among all others.  They become one in a way that is different.  When God tells Satan that he may not harm Job's body, that includes his wife's body.  When he tells Satan not to kill Job; that includes Job's wife (or at least that is a possible understanding of the prohibition if not an absolute necessary understanding).

Job doesn't get a new wife.  And I believe Job doesn't need a new wife.  Trials come and trials go.  One thing we learn from Job and the trials God allows in his life is this:  Children are not the end-all of families; rather, marriage is.  He lost his children and God gave him new children.  But God never allowed Satan to take away his wife.  Let no man divide or separate what God has joined together - not even Satan.  

Today we are tempted to worship our children, and even to put them in front of our marriages.  I cannot help but see a spiritual truth here in Job though - Job's children were expendable.  Job's marriage was not.  Job's children were a blessing - Job's marriage is a covenant between God and man not to be broken by any man.

Please don't misunderstand me to say that divorce is always wrong; for it is.  But while wrong, it is sometimes allowed - particularly in the case of marital infidelity or sexual immorality.  But marriage is so sacrosanct that God would not allow Satan to severe the marriage so that it could be used against Job in the most severe test of man ever recorded.  For God instituted marriage. He does not break it - even to make a point.  He keeps his promises.

Men, we should treat marriage no less seriously.  Nothing is more important than our marriages.  No career, no child, no personal need is more important than our marriage.  No ministry is more important than our marriage.  When it comes down to it - all else other than the worship of God takes second stage to our marriages.  If we, as men, would do this and honor it, how would it change marriage today?  I'm not suggesting that there would be no divorce.  For women are sinners before God too.  But we have the power men, to at least change 50 percent of the problems in marriage today.

I have lost a spouse.  It hurts more than the loss of a sibling.  It hurts more than the loss of practically anything I can imagine.  And it doesn't stop hurting with time alone.  God's grace is sufficient and He heals all hearts of all hurts in His Providential timing.  I believe God is a God of reconciliation and restoration; but I also believe He is a God of repentance and holiness.  Sometimes he allows reconciliation and restoration - sometimes He does not.  In any case, we are to work for, to aspire for, to yearn for, to long for God's best.  My job is to repent.  My job is to be the best servant of God that I can be - in all my relationships.

Job didn't have ten children in an unhappy home.  There's no indication of an unhappy home here.  My admiration of Job continues to grow.  And we're only two verses into the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment