Commentators place this book historically around the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac or Jacob). The author of the book of Job is unknown. Some scholars believe that the book could have been written by Moses, Solomon or Elihu (Job’s companion). Some credit Elihu with the sections of the book that contain the discourses between Job and his friends, giving Moses credit for the prologue and epilogue parts of the book.
The scripture makes clear that Job was a real person; he is mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and James. He was a Gentile. He may have been from the family of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, who is noted in scripture as a worshipper of God (Gen 31:53).
According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary- “He lived at a time that divine knowledge was conveyed (handed down), not by writing, but by tradition.” The discourses (conversations) between Job and his friends illustrates that the tradition of handing down “sacred truths of undoubted certainty” about God and men were very much intact and undisputed at that time.
Our focus for the sake of prayer will be on three aspects of Job’s example that we see in Chapter 1 – Job’s Integrity, Job’s Discretion and Job’s Intercession for his adult children.
These principles can also apply to anyone you might have in your life that God has placed upon your heart to intercede for on a regular basis. My goal is to help all of us understand how to be effective intercessors for those we love as opposed to getting bogged down with despair, anxiety or frustration. I believe Job’s example here has some valuable characteristics that we need to develop in order to be victorious in the discipline of prayer.
Read Job 1:1-5
Let’s begin by looking at the first aspect we see in Job’s character.
He was a man of Integrity:
Four characteristics of Job’s integrity are noted in verse one: he was blameless, upright, one who feared God and shunned evil.
Blameless - (Barnes states that) His moral character was complete in all its parts…as a father, husband, businessman, worshipper of God. There were no gaps in his life that would betray his character.
Upright -This word can be described as a “straight and level path,” or “true, in the sense of level or even.” Job was without variation, unerring, without deviation, he did not turn aside from following after his God. He understood the consequences of deviation, as well as the blessings of staying on the straight paths of truth.
Feared God -He had respect for God and His commandments, he was sincere in his belief, his aim was holiness, but he was well aware of his own frailties.
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
To turn one away from the snares of death.
Shunned Evil -He made it his aim to abstain from every form of evil.
2 Tim 2:19
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
The identifying mark of a true believer should be a continual departure from iniquity!
Barnes- The four characteristics of Job’s piety: he was sincere; upright; a worshipper of God; and one who abstained from all wrong.
Why is integrity such an integral part of prayer for our loved ones?
Two reasons: Because our integrity determines our inward confidence and our outward witness.
Inward confidence is key in our approach to God’s throne.
If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
So, we want to make sure our hearts are pure before God as we enter into His throne room to bring our prayers for our loved ones. We need to be sensitive to the Divine “checks” that God will give as we approach His throne.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
We need to take the time to allow God to examine our hearts as we come before Him, especially as it pertains to our attitude towards family members. Let Him weed out the sinful attitudes and actions in us first, then we are more able to effectively pray for them.
Outward witness is key to winning your family member
1 Peter 2:11-12
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Hypocrisy amongst Christians is one of the primary reasons people give for rejecting the message of the gospel or for walking away from the Lord. While some of the charges are misplaced, I believe that our family members are the ones who most clearly can see if there is a double standard at play in our private lives. (My conversation with Andrew about hypocrisy)
None of us will ever be a perfect witness for Christ. The best thing to do when you know you have spoiled your witness is to confess it to the Lord and to the person who might have been stumbled by it. We must be willing to confess our faults to one another (James 5:16) in order to restore the integrity of our witness.
Our example can have a positive effect as well:
A friend recently shared that her father, who calls himself a secular humanist and devout atheist had taken notice of her successful marriage and family life and is now, at age 93 considering exploring the option that God does exist!! Your integrity matters because you never know who might be watching, year after year. Remember, after Job lost all the blessings God had bestowed upon him, his wife said, “How long will your hold on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job refused to let go of his integrity. We must be of the same mind, if we are going to be the silent witness to our family.
He showed Discretion towards his children:
There are two examples of discretion in this story:
He showed discretion by giving his adult children space to conduct their lives the way they saw fit.
Job was blessed with adult children that were prosperous and unified in their affection for each other. Most likely there would be some distance between their households in order to accommodate the flocks and herds of each son. Because of the distance, they took great pains to get together regularly, which is a sign of their unity as a family. This is something that every parent would love to see in their kids…each dwelling together in unity (Psalm 133:1).
Nowhere in the commentaries that I studied did I find that Job participated in the feasting with his adult children. That does not mean that the feasting was not sanctioned by Job or that the celebrations were drunken revelries. The fact that the three sisters were included is evidence that the festivities would be under control, according to the customs of the time. No mention is made by Job of any untoward behavior by his sons and the fact that he would allow his daughters to attend shows his approval of the gatherings.
Matthew Henry- “We do not find that Job himself feasted with them. Doubtless they invited him, and he would have been the most welcome guest at any of their tables; nor was it from any sourness or moroseness of temper; or want of natural affection, that he kept away, but he was old and dead to these things, and considered that the young people would be more free and pleasant if there were none but themselves.”
Job gave them space to grow and flourish. He did not micro-manage them through adulthood.
Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house,
Lest he become weary of you and hate you.
This is a picture of good parenting---laying a foundation of godly principles and then relinquishing adult children into God’s care. It is very tempting to continue to parent your children into adulthood but it is not wise. We need to remember that God loves them way more that we do and has a pretty good track record of reaching the lost.
He showed discretion by offering an invitation to his children to participate in the burnt offerings he would offer on their behalf.
Job’s absence is confirmed in verse 5: For Job said, " It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts."
Cursed God—A Picture of neglecting or disregarding God.
He was concerned that they might be guilty of forgetting God in their feasting. This has always been a slippery slope that scripture has warned against.
Deuteronomy 6:10-13 "So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — when you have eaten and are full — 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
His desire in making an invitation to attend the sacrifices he would offer for them was to return their focus to God, the giver of good gifts.
Send and Sanctify Them (Gill’s Exposition)— (Job would offer) an invitation of them to come and attend the solemn sacrifice which he, as the head of the family, would offer for them.
This was not a demand , Job would have offered sacrifices regularly, even daily. This was his way of allowing them the opportunity to examine themselves as they attended the sacrifice or even if they could not attend. No where in the text does it say that the children actually attended the sacrifice, if they lived at some distance, it may have been difficult to attend so soon after the gathering.
To me, this is a picture of graciously giving children the opportunity to come before the Lord in their own time and their own way. Leaving an open door to them, no matter what spiritual state they are in. I have been guilty of “preaching” to my kids on many occasions and I find that they bristle at this approach every time. We need to learn the art of discretion in dealing with our adult children, saved or unsaved! I believe that a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading will guide us as we interact with our kids.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invite them to church or encourage them to seek to find avenues where they might grow closer to God. It just means that you need to work in cooperation with God and while you are giving them space, you are also giving God space to do His work.
2 Tim 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but begentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Sadly, many of our children have been taken captive by the devil and are doing his will instead of God’s will. We must be willing to lovingly correct, if and when the Lord gives us opportunity as we are guided by His Spirit.
He was a man who Interceded for his children:
Streams- “You may not be able to move things on earth with your words, but you may move Heaven.”
Don’t you find it interesting that the theme here is less talking, more walking (your walk), and more praying!
“This Job did regularly” -- Whether the children showed up or not, Job was going to continually make sacrifices and burnt offerings for each of them!!
As the priestly head of the family, his role was to offer sacrifices (a picture of intercession) for his children as a means of making propitiation (reconciling them) back to God.
He made sure that his children knew that he was continually making intercession for them. I have found that even if your loved one is resistant to any spiritual influence you might want to offer to them, they will most always be willing to allow you to pray for them.
Some of you are here today and you may be struggling with the fact that your family situation looks nothing like Job’s. You may be experiencing adversity instead of harmony. Know that you are not alone.
I find it interesting that Job’s name can be defined as “counted as an enemy.”
He was marked for attack by Satan because he was a man who feared God!
This is a painful reality for many of us. Ravi Zacharias once said, “Life is a protracted process of pain management.”
The antagonism that you are experiencing from your prodigal children is something that Jesus warned would happen.
Luke 12:51-53 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
There is a spiritual battle that is raging all around us, a battle for souls and we are waging war against the devil himself for our children. They have been taken captive by the devil (2Tim 2:26) to do his will. When we begin to encroach on his territory, opposition will manifest itself through them. We have to remain vigilant in our prayers, for this is the weapon that is most effective in tearing down the strongholds (2Cor 10:4-6) he maintains in their lives.
I want to close by giving you a couple of reminders that God has recently given me to help me to maintain my hope as I continue to intercede for my children. Both came from a message from Jon Courson on Jeremiah 31.
God is concerned for our families!
Examples in scripture:
**The father of the household of the Hebrew slaves put the blood on the doorposts at Passover, all in the house were saved.
**Noah built the ark for the saving of his house, building rooms for his children 20 years before they were born
**Rahab’s brought her family into her house to save them from the destruction at Jericho
**Lot was saved through the prayer of Abraham
God sees our heartache!
15 Thus says the Lord:
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more."
16 Thus says the Lord:
"Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.
God wants us to dry our tears and hold fast to His promises as we continue to lift up our loved ones to Him!
Let us continue to walk in integrity, give God space to reveal Himself and cooperate with His plan for our prodigals through intercessory prayer and fasting!
Gal 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.