Jump Start # 2240
Ezekiel 14:14 “even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves, declares the Lord God.”
Monday with Job. Our series is nearing the end. One of the interesting things about the book of Job, for as old, large and important as this book is, it is only referred to two other places in Scriptures. Job’s name is not listed among the heroes of Hebrews 11. Jesus never refers to Job. The apostles make no connection to Job. Job’s name is listed with Noah and Daniel four times here in Ezekiel and he is used as an example of endurance at the end of James, in the New Testament. Righteousness and endurance, that’s the take away from the use of Job’s name in other places.
Righteousness is important to God. It ought to be important to us. It is a characteristic of God. God is a righteous judge. God loves righteousness. The concept of righteousness is being right. It is being right with God. This is a quality of the heart that comes from the inside out. Just occasionally being nice or doing good things doesn’t make a person “right.” Righteousness is who we are. Right with our thinking, which includes attitudes and the proper place of self in this big world. Right with our words, even when we are tired and bothered. Right with our actions. Making right choices, rather than the easiest or most convenient ones.
It is interesting to find Job listed with Noah and Daniel. Daniel was alive when Ezekiel was written. He was a contemporary who was living in Babylon. Both Noah and Job stretch back from the days of Genesis. Because of the genealogy listed in Genesis five, we’d tend to put Job after the flood, but he is not named anywhere in Genesis and we just have to make a good guess.
But of all the names that have passed through the Bible by the time of Ezekiel, God pulled out Noah, Daniel and Job. It’s like a lineup in baseball. His top three hitters. This is like the Yankees’ ‘murderers row’ of the 1920’s. It’s like the undefeated Miami Dolphins of 1972, our the undefeated I.U. Hoosiers of 1976. Champs. The best. Record setters. Between Noah and Ezekiel, we have David, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, all powerful men of faith. Yet, God’s selection was Noah, Daniel and Job. Blameless. Upright. Righteous.
All three, Noah, Daniel and Job had their faith tested. All three suffered. All three had to deal with the doubts and criticisms of others. All three faced life and death situations. All three never gave up on God.
Three simple thoughts from Job’s life:
First, we never know ahead of time what is going to happen. Sometimes, I think we wish we did. But if we knew everything that was going to happen and when it was going to happen, we would be petrified by fear and unable to function knowing what was to happen. As Job begins, there is no indication that he knew what was going to happen. It happened quickly. The layout of the first chapter makes it seem that it all happened at the same time. Attacks from invading countries, fire from Heaven, storms blowing down houses. And just like that, all Job’s livestock, his servants, and his children were gone. This wasn’t a series of slow steps, one by one. He was ruined financially, domestically and personally, immediately. He had to arrange for ten funerals. He had to deal with dead servants. He had to figure out how to live with no income. Satan hit Job hard, very hard.
This is where you and I live. We start off with Monday morning. Off to school, off to work. Just another plain ole’ Monday. Our lists are filled with things that need to be done today. And, just like that, the worst day of our lives could happen. Everything stops, but the world. Suddenly, what’s on our lists, doesn’t matter any more. This day may end with someone in the hospital. This day may end with a family having to choose which funeral home to call.
Long ago we used to hear a lot about astrology and horoscopes. People don’t talk about those things much. I think they found out that they were just made up. The stars, your astrological sign and all that hype was simply that, hype. Truth be, we just don’t know what’s going to happen before it happens.
But one thing we do know, righteous people will know what to do. That’s the point of Ezekiel using Job’s name. Although he didn’t know what was going to happen, he made righteous choices. Job was blameless and upright before Satan’s attacks, and he was that way afterwards as well. The trials didn’t end Job’s righteousness nor were they the force that led him to be righteous. He was righteous before, during and after the trials. So, even though we don’t know what’s going to happen today, we do know that God does. We will continue to trust God, no matter what. We will continue to walk by faith, no matter what. We will not lose our faith, our conviction, nor our cool, because righteous people know that God is with them even in the darkest valleys of life.
Second, a vertical perspective keeps you from having a horizontal crisis. Our up and down must be set first before we can deal with right and left. God is good. His goodness cannot be measured solely upon what happens to me. He is good, even when the day is dark. He is good even though He seems silent to me. He is good even when others are blaming me. He is good even when quitting seems to be the best option. Job was a believer long before his trials started. For someone to suffer what Job did, without faith and without righteousness, would destroy them. This is why suicide seems reasonable to some. This is why the bottle or a handful of pills is the only way some can get through a day. The righteous leans upon his faith. The faithless must find something, and the alternatives is just as dangerous and hurtful as the suffering they are going through.
Third, steadfast faithfulness is the crowning mark of maturity. Satan didn’t lob an underhand pitch to Job. He blasted fastballs as hard as he could throw. Satan threw everything at him, but Job’s own death. God wouldn’t allow that. And, through all of this, Job never lost his perspective. He had some questions. He didn’t understand somethings, but he was always understanding that God was still there and God was still in charge. He didn’t turn to atheism. He didn’t allow the doubts of others to defeat him. He continued to be right even when it was difficult.
So, you and I have choices to make today. We can see how the day develops and allow that to shape our moods, attitudes and disposition. Or, we can decide what we will be no matter what happens. In God’s catalog of righteousness, you’d find three names, Noah, Daniel and our Job. They are there to remind us that we need to continue on even when it is hard.
God’s undefeated team—Noah, Daniel and Job. Makes you wonder, if God was to choose three names from our time, this generation, who he’d pick. It might not be three preachers. It might not be three elders. It may be just three folks who faithfully worship God through all kinds of storms. They’ve had prodigals in their families. They’d have cancer. They’ve lost jobs. They’ve seen valleys, but they’ve seen the Lord through faith. Week after week, there they are. Carrying on the best that they can. Sharing, being generous, being spiritual, being righteous. Right before our eyes, may living examples of God’s righteous people.
Are you one of them?