Online Bible Commentary
Job 1:13 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" 17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" 18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (NIV)
God has given Job over to Satan to do with as he wishes. The only limit God put on Satan was to not kill Job. Satan has claimed that when he’s done with Job that Job will curse God. God’s purpose in allowing this hardship to come upon his faithful servant Job is to purify and refine him.
Four tragedies came upon Job, all within minutes of each other. First, the Sabeans raided Job’s estate, stealing his 500 yoke of oxen and his five hundred female donkeys, while killing the servants who were tending to the animals (vv.13-15). As Job was hearing this news a second messenger brought news that lightening had struck killing his seven thousand sheep and the servants who were shepherding them (v.16). As Job was hearing this, a third messenger came with the news that Chaldeans had invaded the estate and stole three thousand camels, killing the servants tending to them. The fourth and most tragic news of the day came with the news that Job’s ten children were killed when a great wind collapsed the oldest son’s house where they were “feasting” (vv.18-19).
Upon hearing the horrible news of the loss of all his wealth and all of his children, Job grieved according to the custom of his people (v.20a). He then worshiped God and praised Him (vv.20b-21). Job did not sin by blaming God for what had happened (v.22).
We might describe this day as Job’s “Black Friday”. This was a true Black Friday, not the day that retailers look forward to in our society today. This day was like the first Black Friday in 1869. The gold market crashed on that day causing a stock market crash. Job’s financial loss however was compounded. Not only did he lose his wealth, he also lost his family. Job’s whole world came crashing down upon him on this day.
Job’s day of tragedy could actually have been a Friday. It was the day that his adult children would all gather to party. The following day, early in the morning it was Job’s custom to hold an atoning animal sacrifice so that any sins that his children had committed at their party could be washed away. This day could have been Saturday, the day of rest and worship, which would mean that the parties were culminated on Fridays.
A nominal Christian would have cursed God and gone his own way. But Job was no nominal worshiper of God. Job was sold out to God. Job’s reaction was not to leave God, but was to recognize that God was the source of His wealth and family and, therefore, God could choose to also withdraw those blessings from him. Job could have been especially bitter towards God because two of the tragedies, including the loss of his children, were the result of direct acts of God, lightening and wind. But, in Job’s mind, all worldly things came second to God. While he was deeply hurt and grieved, he realized that God had blessed him once, and God could bless him again.
We do not fully understand why tragedy strikes both good people and bad people alike. In Job’s case the bad people, the Sabeans and Chaldeans, even profited from his misfortune. Human suffering is a fact in the world. The rain falls both on the just and the unjust. There is a relationship between human suffering and divine justice, referred to as theodicy, meaning “God’s justice” in the Greek. God’s justice is always perfect because God is perfect. We may suffer because of sin in our lives, earthly consequences of our own actions, testing by God, or any number of other reasons. What it tells us is that God is the boss, and that there are divine purposes for all things. God is Sovereign. He can do as He chooses. We cannot put God in a box. All the more reason to join his team and start being obedient to his word.