We’re familiar with Job’s story. We’ve heard about his patience. But his first reaction to the tests that he faced was to worship: “Job fell to the ground to worship.”
Job, chapters 1-2; Acts, chapters 6-7
Job 1:20-22 (NLT):
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
The Story of Job
Probably anyone who has ever heard anything about the Bible is familiar with the story of Job. The phrase “the patience of Job” is so common that an internet search of that phrase returns “about 268,000,000 results.” The problem with so common a phrase is that it starts to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.
So I don’t want to talk about Job’s “patience.” Instead, I want us to consider Job’s worship. In chapter 1, God describes Job as “blameless – a man of complete integrity” (Job 1:8). Satan challenges Job’s character; he claims that Job only worships God because God has blessed him so much. “But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:11).
God allows Satan to “test” Job (see 1:12). The “test” included:
- Sabean raiders stealing all of Job’s animals and killing his farmhands (1:15)
- Fire falling from heaven to burn up all of Job’s sheep, and his shepherds (1:16)
- Chaldean raiders stealing Job’s camels and killing his servants (1:17)
- And finally, a powerful wind blew in and collapsed his son’s home, killing all of Job’s children (1:19)
Job Fell to the Ground to Worship
All of this happened on the same day! And what was Job’s response? Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. “Worship” – to ascribe worth to someone (and the only one who is worth our worship is God). When the trials came, Job’s first response was to worship God. He acknowledged that God had given him everything he had. He understood that because God had given it to him, God had the right to take it away (even though God didn’t “take” it; Satan did). And then he said, “Praise the name of the Lord!”
It’s interesting that the author of the book of Job says that Job did not sin by blaming God. Of course, we know the rest of the story; Job questioned God, and he defended himself against his “friends” allegations that Job had sinned against God. But he did not blame God. The literal meaning of the Hebrew phrase is that Job “did not give wrong [or charge wrong] to God.” Job did not attribute injustice or wrongdoing to God.
That’s hard for us to grasp, or to reconcile with our understanding of Job’s story. Job questions God. He wants to know why this has happened to him. When his friends say, “you must have sinned, because otherwise God wouldn’t do this,” Job denies it. But in all of his questions and frustration, he doesn’t charge God with wrongdoing – because God cannot do wrong. “There must be some reason why – just tell me what it is!”
Application: Job Fell to the Ground to Worship
“Falling to the ground” is an important part of this equation, because it indicates submission. Job had questions. His emotions were running wild. He had lost his children and all of his possessions. But he did not accuse God of wrongdoing – he did not sin by blaming God.
There will be times in our lives when we have questions for God. Why did this happen? Why am I experiencing this trauma, this loss, this persecution? It is part of our human way of looking at things to want to understand – and to place blame. But the difference between those who have faith in God and those who do not is that we don’t blame God; we worship God. Even when we don’t understand, we trust God. We believe that he does all things well, even when we can’t figure out what is “good” about a situation.
At the end of Job’s story, God confirms that Job was right – that he hadn’t sinned, that this wasn’t a punishment from God. Of course, knowing that doesn’t make the loss any less painful. But knowing that we can trust God, that he walks with us each day and leads us into a deeper relationship with him, can help us to navigate the challenges this world throws at us. We live in a broken world, and we often experience pain and heartache. In those times – and in the good times – we rest in our relationship with the God who is over it all.
Father, thank you for reminding us that you are worthy of our worship. You’re worthy when things are going great, and we find it easy to worship in those times. But you’re also worthy in the difficult times, because you are still God. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Your faithful love never ends; your mercies never cease. Great is your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23). Amen.