“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”. (Job 13:15a)

While driving to work a few weeks ago, this passage in Job came to mind as I was pondering things I have read, a habit I have found myself getting into on the way to work since there really is nothing worth listening to on the morning airwaves these days. As I contemplated the message behind this verse, it became readily apparent that much of what I read in books or the blogosphere these days concerns matters of God lifting someone up out of the muck and the mire, someone finding a job after being unemployed for months, or if we go to the self-help section of the local Christian bookstore, we might find Mr. Smiley himself, Joel Osteen, pontificating on how everyday is a Friday. Now mind you I have nothing wrong with rejoicing with those whom God has blessed or with those who have suffered but have now found relief from the trials of life, at least for a moment. That does not bother me in the least. What perhaps bothers me is the overemphasis on the idea that our love for God is rooted in Him blessing us in this life. It is that element which I will focus on in this post, specifically the need to praise God and to trust Him regardless of what is transpiring in our lives at the moment, whether that be comfort or sickness.

The background of this statement by Job comes after Job has had everything taken away from him while at the same time being stricken with massive boils all over his body. Let’s just say times were a bit rough for Job at this point in his life. Job had just endured some “advice” from his friends Bildad and Zophar. Instead of continuing to discuss his plight with them, Job took his case to God, recognizing that whatever had transpired was in the hands of almighty God. Now mind you Job still had no clue as to why all these horrible things had transpired and he certainly did not have a developed theodicy as to why evil was happening to him. All Job knew was that God had something in mind and he wanted to know what it was and why he deserved all of this agony.

In this introductory portion of the book of Job, we find Job at least noting a very important truth, namely that even though death may come to him despite his pleading to God or relief, Job would still place his full faith and trust in God’s plans for him. The construct of this particular verse presents Job making the statement that even if God brings death to Job, there was an assuredness on the part of Job that when his ways were tried, they would be found true and righteous. Furthermore, Job is declaring that “Even if slain he would not wait (yahal, NIV, “hope”) but would defend his ways before God.[1] Of course anyone who read the beginning portion of Job would know that fact to be true as Job was not being punished for sins committed, but rather to demonstrate something larger that God had in mind.

This of course presents us with a couple of important points for our own lives the first being our own commitment to holiness and second, will our faith in God stand firm when trials in life come or when it seems that God is silent despite our requests for relief. There was a time when the world holiness and the seeking therein of holiness was not considered an evil term in the church. The great preachers and authors of old such as J. C. Ryle, Thomas Manton, and John Owen often wrote of the need to pursue God in all holiness, striving for good works. This striving for holiness was never taught as a method to obtain salvation by works. Conversely, it was always something that should come naturally to a believer who truly understood what the grace of God is all about. In fact, the Apostle Paul in Titus 2:4 declares it was Jesus “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Thomas Manton once wrote “God, that is a living God, must have lively service; but men worship Him as a dead idol…What you do, it must be done with all the heart and all the might. Consider, religion is not a fancy. You do not worship the vanities of the Gentiles; therefore, be not dead, cold, and careless. You worship the living God, and He will be served with life, zeal, and strength of affection.”[2]

Job understood the need for holiness. In fact, in Job 1:1 he is described as being “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Job was of course not perfect meaning he never sinned. What the word perfect actually means is Job was mature and a man of integrity before God. The word translated as perfect in Job 1:1 comes from the Hebrew word tam which comes from the same root word as the Hebrew word tamiym which also means mature. In fact, being tamiym is a requirement of the bride of Christ. Psalm 19:7 describes the Word of God as that which transforms the man or woman of God from a place of immaturity to maturity (tamiym). Job was tam because he trusted God. He was tam because he understood the need to live a holy life before a holy God. Job was a man of faith and his faith in God was demonstrated in a zeal for good works. That foundation in trusting God and His Word was what provided Job the means to make his case before God. Additionally, it was that same foundation which led him to make the declaration that even if God should take his very life, he will still place his hope in God.

So the first question we must ask ourselves is whether we are committed to loving God and in demonstrating our love for God with a desire for holiness. If someone investigated our lives, what would they discover? A life dedicated to the things of God in all areas of our life? Job was willing to undergo that level of investigation, not because he believed he was perfect, but rather because he knew that his faith in God would not be found wanting. I will readily admit that if the curtain was pulled back on my life, it would be a bit embarrassing. There are far too many areas I have yet to give full control to God. What that demonstrates is what it shows in all our lives if we were truly honest and that is a lack of maturity in the faith. One who is mature and who has come to that needed place of tamiym understands what holiness is all about. Their lives are dedicated to serving God no matter what is transpiring in this life. They serve Him when good things happen and they continue to serve Him when trials come.

This leads us to the second important element of Job 13:15, that of answering the question of whether our faith in God will stand firm when trials in life come or when it seems that God is silent despite our requests for relief. Despite what Joel Osteen says, everyday is not a Friday. No matter how much we try to think positively about a situation, there will be times when life is not a bowl of cherries. We live in a world gone made, full of sin and decay. The undeniable fact of life is jobs will come and go, money will come and go, health will come and go and we will all face death and the grave unless the Lord tarries. This seems like a rather bleak outlook compared to the everyday is a Friday approach. However, everyday is a Friday is not reality. Scripture never claims that life will be easy. We know this from examining what God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. This world is under the curse of sin and quite frankly, life will stink more than it will be a bed of roses. It is what we do in response to the likelihood of life throwing us a curveball that will demonstrate our level of tamiym.

Despite not fully understanding why he was enduring such a horrific amount of suffering, Job at least recognized a vital point and that is God is in control. Job understood that his every breath comes from God and that even if God chose to take his life he would still place his full faith and hope in God. I truly wonder in this day of self-help style Christianity, if people really understand how to face trials and tribulations. It seems as if the pursuit of most Christians is deliverance rather than perseverance. Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33 something Job understood and something we need to take heed of:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Two absolute facts are presented in that passage. The first is in this world we will have trouble. There is no way around it and no circumventing that reality. Even if we never experience physical hunger for instance, in the end, physical death will find us all. Sobering thought but as believers we must take note of where our hope lies. Jesus follows the aforementioned reality check with “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” What exactly did Jesus overcome? If we skip the back of the Bible, we find in Revelation 21:4 that when Christ returns to fix this mess, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

You see Joel Osteen has it a bit backwards. Our future hope is not Friday. Loverboy had it wrong as everybody, at least believers, are not working for the weekend and a little romance. The hope of the believer rests upon the fact that Christ will return for His bride. We know that this life will bring trial and tribulation. The tamiym believer stands firm on the promise that one day we will enjoy that Sabbath rest with God as we live in the presence of our God and King forevermore. The tamiym believer has confidence they will hear the words “well done, my good and faithful servant.” The tamiym believer has confidence in these things because they have lived a life not focused on the trials of the moment, but always looking to the blessed hope set before us. Such an approach to life lifts our eyes off the present and focuses the believer on living a life with eternity constantly in mind.

Stephen Witmer writes in his book Eternity Changes Everything, “Life is a fight. Life is a grueling race. How does Paul finish it? How do we? By focusing on the future crown of righteousness; by longing for our future with Jesus. Loving God’s future helps us last in the present.”[3] As believers this side of the cross, we can understand that reality. Job understood that in part and made the declaration that even though life could come to an end, his hope would remain rooted in God.

Do you have an eternal focus? Do you grasp that even when life throws you a curveball day after day after day, the reality is one day all things will be made right again? Or are you leaning towards the everyday is a Friday approach that is so popular these days? You cannot do both. Remember that the tamiym believer is not looking for Friday to come. Conversely, the tamiym believer endures until the end because their hope and focus is set on eternity.

We live in a day and age when the things of God are increasingly coming under attack. We see gay marriage endorsed at every turn, sexual perversion runs rampant, people are looking for the latest fad, and everyone is truly doing what is right in their own eyes. While advances in technology may address matters of a physical nature, spiritual persecution will be on the rise. When that happens, where will your faith and trust be placed in? Will you be suckered into the everyday is a Friday approach or will you have come to that place of tamiym knowing that even if death comes for standing up for the things of God or troubles come for remaining faithful to our God and King, that you will yet praise Him?

Think about it!

References:
[1] Elmer Smick. “Commentary on Job” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.4: I &2 Kings through Job. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 923.
[2] http://www.monergism.com/zealous-good-works-thomas-manton
[3] Stephen Witmer, Eternity Changes Everything (Purcellville: The Good Book Company, 2014), 95.