Ahhhhhh…… I love that new book smell! And it’s funny because so often people talk about the book of Job and how much he suffers. But they miss the whole point of the story! The book of Job isn’t about Job, just like the book of John isn’t about John. Every book in this Bible is about Jesus. They all either point forward toward Him or backward to what He did in His ministry and on the cross or forward to what He is doing now and in the future. The book of Job is no different.
Here in the opening chapter of Job we’re introduced to Job and his astounding wealth and prosperity. We’re told that he is “the greatest of all the people of the east”. (Job 1:3) Next we find God holding a heavenly counsel, to which Satan is in attendance. And at some point in this soiree Satan sidles up to God and strikes up a conversation with Him. God asks Satan, “So whatcha been up to lately?”
To which the Accuser of the brethren replies, “Eh, you know, the same old, same old. I’ve been here, there and everywhere; just doin’ what I do.”
With His thumbs stuck proudly under the hems of His robe at His chest God said, “Mmmm…. HEY! Have you seen my man Job lately? Boy that’s a guy I’m awfully proud of. There’s nobody like HIM in all the earth. He’s a real stand up kind of guy that Job. And boy does he hate you.”
“Well sure he loves You! You’ve given him everything a man could ever want; ten kids, all the livestock he could ever need and more, servants to care for his every wish. You’ve got such a high hedge of protection around him that he has no reason NOT to love You. I bet if you took that hedge of protection away and let me at him for a few days he would curse you and spit in your face.”
At this God rubbed His long white beard as He considered the merit of what Satan was saying, he might have a point… and not just the ones on the top of his head.
“Alright,” God said, “I’ll take you up on that bet. Everything he has is in your hands now. But you are NOT allowed to touch him.”
Satan swirled around in his haste to set his plot against Job into action. He knew that if he hit just the right buttons he would be able to get Job to turn away from God. And by the end of chapter one we find Job’s servants coming to him one right on the heels of the other. “The oxen and donkeys and the servants watching them have all been killed except for me.” As the first servant was finishing his report the next one came, “Lightning just struck all the sheep and your servants! They’re all fried crispy but me!” Then the next servant came and reported, “Master, the Chaldeans just surrounded your camels and servants in the fields! It was a massacre! I’m the only one left!” And just when Job had to be thinking, “Dear God, please, no more!” The final servant came to him and breathlessly reported, “A tornado just hit the house where ALL your children were having a party! The house collapsed and killed every single one of them; I’m the only one that survived!”
THAT, my friends, is a bad day.
In a matter of a few simple hours Job literally lost everything but his house, his wife, his life and four servants. Just this should make your day seem at least a LITTLE better. But it’s what happens next that absolutely blows my mind. After all these reports what is Job’s reaction? He worships.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21
Honestly, I don’t know how in the world he did it.
Now I need to tell you another man’s story of Satan working in his life. I think his reaction we’ll be able to relate to a little more readily; at least I know I can anyway. He had a very different reaction than Job did. Come with me to the Last Supper and I’ll tell you the story of Peter.
(Luke 22:31-34) “‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you, both to prison and to death.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know Me.'”
Later that night Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and the soldiers,
“seized Him and led Him away, bringing Him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together. Peter sat down among them.” (Luke 22:54-55) “And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ‘You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I neither know nor understand what you mean.’ And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders. ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know this man of whom you speak.’ And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:66-72)
Here we have the stories of two men; both good upright men being “sifted” (as Jesus puts it) by Satan. One of them boasts in the LORD and His provision and protection and when he has been sifted he continues boasting in the LORD. The second man boasts in his own love and loyalty toward the Lord Jesus. He boasts that even though Jesus tells him that he will deny even knowing Him, Peter adamantly sticks to his guns professing that even if everyone else runs away and hides in fear, he won’t. He promises that even if everyone else denies Jesus, He won’t. Yet when the time comes, He may have been the only one to follow Jesus to the high priest’s house, but he was also the only one even tempted with denying knowing Jesus.
When I read Peter’s story this time I found it quite interesting that it’s a rooster crowing that signals the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic statement of Peter’s denial. It was Peter that was “crowing” about his love and loyalty to Jesus just a few hours earlier. I’d never noticed that before.
Like I said, Peter’s story is an all too familiar one for us, myself oh so included. All too often we crow about our accomplishments to make ourselves look good in front of others, or to make us feel good about ourselves. But that’s not where our identity and safety are found. They’re not found in our generous wealth, or the abundance of our friends, or the amount of our paycheck. Our identity and safety are found in the LORD alone.
For all of us who have fallen short of the glory of God I think we need to finish Peter’s story and receive some hope for the future.
(John 21:1517) “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’
He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’
He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said it to him a third time. ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep,”
At the Last Supper Jesus alerts Peter to the coming danger of Satan sifting him like wheat and then foretells of Peter’s denial of even knowing Jesus. How many times did Jesus say Peter would deny Him? Three.
In the courtyard next to the warm glow of the fire, how many times did Peter actually deny knowing Jesus? Three, and the third time it was even with curses!
On the sea shore after breakfast how many times did Jesus ask Peter if he loved Him? Three.
My friends, this passage is so lacking when it is translated into English!!! So allow me, if you will, a few extra moments to pack in the extra punch that the original Greek contains. There’s a secret play on words that is hidden in the English that is plain as day in the Greek. There are two different words here that have been translated into “love”. There’s “agape”, which is the kind of love that only God can give. It’s a deep relationship and intimacy that has a one-sided generosity without ANY expectation of repayment. And then there’s “philos”. This kind of love is a deep emotional attachment that comes with a deep and abiding friendship. If we were to look back at their conversation in “Greek-lish” it would look more like this.
Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you agape Me more than these?”
Peter said to Him, “Yes Lord, you know that I philos you.”
Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.
Simon, son of John, do you agape Me?”
Peter said, “Yes Lord, you know that I philos You.”
And Jesus said, “Tend My sheep.
Simon, son of John, do you philos Me?”
And Peter, grieved, said, “Lord, You know everything, You know that I philos You.”
To which Jesus replied a third time, “Feed My sheep.”
In Peter’s confession of his own faithfulness, he was crowing about his agape for Jesus. In Jesus’ questioning of Peter’s agape for Him, Jesus was calling Peter to come to terms with his humanity. As humans we aren’t capable of giving agape, only receiving it.
In Peter’s reply to Jesus questioning him THREE times about his love for Him, we see Peter’s heart break on the third time through the process. The first two were to humble him and remind him that his betray was proof of his lack of agape love for Jesus. On the third time through the questioning Jesus comes down to Peter’s level which emphasizes His acceptance of this level of love for Him. “Do you philos Me?” And with a sigh Peter responds, “You know EVERYTHING”.
Jesus KNOWS that we aren’t capable of agape love. He knows that as humans we can do our best to attempt the kind of love towards God that doesn’t expect anything in return, but at some point we will always fall short of the glory of God because we simply were not made to be gods. We were made to be justified by HIS grace. It’s a GIFT and should be received as such. An agape gift where He has given IT with no expectation of repayment; because honestly, He knows that there is absolutely no possible way for us TO repay Him for it. That’s agape! Not that we loved Him. But that He first loved us. And while we do our utmost best for our Highness, we will fall short. And that’s OK.