Why Did Job Curse the Day He Was Born?
Since I believed in the Lord, I like reading in the Bible the stories of the saints through the ages. After reading the Book of Job, I was very impressed with the words spoken by Job, such as “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21), and “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). From the two sentences we can see that no matter whether God gave to Job or took from him, and no matter whether he received good or evil, he had no complaints about God. He had such great—this was the most precious. Because he stood witness for God before Satan, he got twice as much blessing as he had before from Jehovah God, he had double property and prolonged life, and at last “he died, being old and full of days” (Job 42:17). This shows that Job is a person who is blessed and accepted by God. Thinking of his testimony before Satan, I felt inferior for I don’t possess the same faith as Job. He is worthy of being perfect in God’s eyes.
But then it occurred to me: Though Job was perfect, when Satan abused him, surely he did not do anything inadequate? Surely there were not any flaws in his actions? Then, with the questions, I read the Bible again. And two passages attracted my attention: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped” (Job 1:20) and “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day” (Job 3:1). I thought: Though Job received God’s blessings ultimately, there were imperfections in his actions when Satan’s abuse came upon him two times. The first time when he heard that he had lost a mountain of sheep and oxen and all his property as well as his ten children, he “rent his mantle, and shaved his head.” Was he venting his feeling of depression by renting his mantle? Wasn’t shaving his head opposing Jehovah God? Though he hadn’t sinned through his words and complained against God, it seemed his actions were not obeying Jehovah God absolutely. The second time when sore boils broke out across his body, he took a potsherd to scrape himself. Later, when he reached a point of great pain, he opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. Wasn’t he complaining of God that He had sent him to the world? It seemed that there were imperfections and flaws in Job’s testimony. The two unusual behaviors of Job compromised my approval for Job.
It was not until later, after I read a fellowship and interpretation on the deeds of Job from a book recommended by my friend, that I realized I had been misunderstanding Job and distorting his testimony.
It says in the book: “it is believed that those who are perfect are flawless, without stain or sully, that they have no weaknesses, have no knowledge of pain, that they never feel unhappy or dejected, and are without hate or any externally extreme behavior; as a result, the great majority of people do not believe that Job was truly perfect. People do not approve of much of his behavior during his trials. For example, when Job lost his property and children, he did not, as people would imagine, break into tears. His “lack of decorum” makes people think he was cold, for he was without tears or affection for his family. This is the initial bad impression that people have of Job. They find his behavior after that even more perplexing: ‘Rent his mantle’ has been interpreted by people as his disrespect for God, and ‘shaved his head’ is wrongly believed to mean Job’s blasphemy and opposition to God. Apart from Job’s words that ‘Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,’ people discern none of the righteousness in Job that was praised by God, and thus the assessment of Job made by the great majority of them is nothing more than incomprehension, misunderstanding, doubt, condemnation, and approval in theory only. None of them are able to truly understand and appreciate Jehovah God’s words that Job was a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God and shunned evil.”
“Job was very calm and clear-headed then. His perfect and upright humanity enabled him to rationally and naturally make accurate judgments and decisions about the disasters that had befallen him, and in consequence, he behaved with unusual calm: ‘Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.’ ‘Rent his mantle’ means that he was unclothed, and possessed of nothing; ‘shaved his head’ means he had returned before God as a newborn infant; ‘fell down on the ground, and worshipped’ means he had come into the world naked, and still without anything today, he was returned to God as if a newborn baby. Job’s attitude toward all that befell him could not have been achieved by any creature of God. His faith in Jehovah went beyond the realm of belief; this was his fear of God, his obedience to God; he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also for taking from him. Furthermore, he was able to take it upon himself to return to God all that he owned, including his life” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”).
From these words I became aware that the reason why Job didn’t show extreme distress and sorrow after he lost all his possessions and children was not because he was cold-blooded and cruel, but because he was perfect and upright. He was walking the path of fearing God and shunning evil. “Rent his mantle” and “shaved his head” show his obedience to, and fear of Jehovah God and his attitude toward God’s taking from him, in which there was not any resistance or opposition to God at all. Aren’t Job’s actions and his every move a faithful depiction of what Jehovah God said before Satan: “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil” (Job 1:8)? Yet previously I had a bias against Job’s testimony; wasn’t I nitpicking? Since my interpretations of Job’s renting his mantle and shaving his head were wrong, maybe my knowledge of his cursing his day of birth was also incorrect. Therefore, with a heart of seeking, I began to eagerly look for the fellowship about why Job cursed the day of his birth in the book.
I read these words in the book: “When Satan stretched forth its hand to afflict the bones of Job, Job fell into its clutches, without the means to escape or the strength to resist. His body and soul suffered enormous pain, and this pain made him deeply aware of the insignificance, frailty, and powerlessness of man living in the flesh. At the same time, he also gained a profound appreciation and understanding of why God is of a mind to care for and look after mankind. In Satan’s clutches, Job realized that man, who is of flesh and blood, is actually so powerless and weak. When he fell to his knees and prayed to God, he felt as if God was covering His face and hiding, for God had completely placed him in the hands of Satan. At the same time, God also wept for him, and, moreover, was aggrieved for him; God was pained by his pain, and hurt by his hurt…. Job felt God’s pain, as well as how unbearable it was for God…. Job did not want to bring any more grief upon God, nor did he want God to weep for him, much less did he want to see God pained by him. … He began to deeply loathe his flesh, to be sick and tired of himself, of the day of his birth, and even of all that which was connected to him. He did not wish there to be any more mention of his day of birth or anything to do with it, and so he opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.”
“Amid this extreme torment, Job did but curse the day of his birth. He did not complain about God, much less did he have any intention of opposing God. This is much easier said than done, for since ancient times until today, no one has ever experienced such temptations or suffered that which befell Job. So, why has no one ever been subjected to the same kind of temptation as Job? It is because, as God sees it, no one is able to bear such a responsibility or commission, no one could do as Job did, and, moreover, no one could still, apart from cursing the day of their birth, not forsake the name of God and continue to bless the name of Jehovah God, as Job did when such torment befell him” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II”).
After I finished the two passages, I understood the reason why Job cursed the day of his birth was not because of his complaint about God or a venting of the unbearable pain of the flesh, but because he had felt that God wept for him and was aggrieved for him. He pursued to fear God and satisfy God in all things and was unwilling to see God aggrieved for him, so he opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. This act of Job was entirely a manifestation of care for God’s will. He practiced the way of fearing God and shunning evil in all things. It can be said that what Job said and did are blameless. He is truly worthy of being called a perfect man.
God approves of Job’s actions, yet I nitpicked in his testimony. Didn’t I act like the three friends of Job? I thought of the verses in the Bible, “And it was so, that after Jehovah had spoken these words to Job, Jehovah said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has. Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of Me the thing which is right, like My servant Job” (Job 42:7–8). Jehovah God felt anger with the three friends of Job because they passed judgment on him. From this I realized that God’s disposition is righteous and allows no offense. Before I had various misunderstandings of Job. Only through the revelation of God’s words did I understand the truth of the fact. It is God’s words that helped me clear up the misunderstandings of Job. I am willing to confess my sins and repent before the Lord, and to follow Job’s example and tread the path of fearing God and shunning evil in my real life. At the same time, I hope that brothers and sisters in the Lord could learn a lesson from me and do not blindly comment on matters that we do not completely understand. We should have a heart of reverence for God to seek and wait for God’s time, and God will guide us to know the truth of the facts.
By Zhong Xun
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