July 5, 1998; No. 2896
Please read Job 1:1-5.
Job most likely lived during the time of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The introduction of the book gives this impression, and there are in the book itself references to sacrifices that were apparently offered apart from the official priesthood, which suggests that the events recorded in Job occurred prior to the establishment of the Mosaic law. The book was most likely written, however, during the time of Solomon, for the style of the writing and the language are similar to Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. The author of Job is not known.
Throughout the book of Job we have remarkable evidences of Job's faith. We have his confession in chapter 1:21, after losing everything: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." And there is the well known confession in chapter 19:25, 26: "I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Job's piety was shown repeatedly throughout his suffering. That piety began at home. Within the confines of his own home and family Job manifested true devotion to God. And that piety is shown with respect to his children.
Today we focus our message on Job's sanctifying of his children.
We read of Job's godly concern with respect to his children especially in verses 4 and 5 of chapter 1. Job had been blessed with a wonderful family which was a blessing to his soul in his old age. His children had grown up, they had settled in their own homes. Most likely at this time they were married and were thriving financially and socially as is evident from their feasts one with another. This feasting was a sign of wealth and prosperity. Job saw his children prospering in wealth as they feasted daily in one another's homes.
Job was blessed with a healthy family-no sickness, no sorrow, but only joy. He witnessed his children living in love and unity. They expressed affection toward one another, inviting one another to their homes. The brothers invited the sisters to come and to feast with them. The children joined in their own private houses, not in public places where, perhaps, temptation would abound. This was clean, healthy fun and fellowship, a legitimate pleasure.
Job was aware of his children's activities. He knew precisely what they were doing, even when he was out of it and remained out of it. He was not a naïve parent, a disinterested parent. He kept a very close eye on his children without intruding in their affairs.
Job was sincerely interested in and concerned about his children's activities. Their activities were valid, positive activities. But yet, in the heart of their father, there was a true concern for their spiritual well-being, a godly concern which every parent must have for his children. It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their heart, said Job. He knew the temptations, even in this legitimate pleasure.
Job was chiefly concerned about God's honor and glory. His concern was more for God's glory than for his children, as is evident from verse 1. He was a man upright, perfect, one who feared God and eschewed evil. He had received these children from God and had the calling to raise them in holiness. And as he stood before God with that weighty responsibility, Job was concerned about the spiritual welfare of his children and the extent to which they would glorify and honor God. Were they reverencing God? God was the One who had given them all their wealth. God had blessed them with unity and fellowship. And Job knew that nothing alienated the mind more from God than indulgences of the flesh. So easy would it be to deny God when feasting and being filled. As we read in Proverbs 30:9, "Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD?"
Job's concern for the spiritual welfare of the children went to the root of the matter: their hearts. Not just the outward actions, but their hearts. There was no evidence that they had sinned or fallen into temptation. But Job knew that sin was deeper than the deed. Sin was a matter of the heart. Even though his children were living uprightly, were doing that which was not outwardly sinful, he was concerned that their hearts be right with God. For Job was one who eschewed all evil, that is, he shunned and avoided all evil, not only the outward deeds but any evil thought or desire. And Job is concerned that it may be that his children have sinned in their hearts. The very possibility of their sinning brought concern to the heart of Job. Job knew God as a righteous, holy God who demands perfection and holiness of His people. And Job's godly concern was the spiritual welfare of his children as they stood before that holy, righteous God.
Job did not merely talk about his children. He did not merely worry about them. He did something. The righteous activity which is identified in these two verses is that Job sent and sanctified them, that is, he made them holy. On Job's part it was an objective, outward, external act, with the goal of God working the real, internal holiness necessary. Job could not himself make his children holy. Only God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, can do such a thing. But Job, outwardly, brought his children to see the need for separation from sin and devotion to God.
We do not read here that Job tried to sanctify his children. We read that he actually sanctified them. The public worship service which Job led had the effect of sanctifying his children by the grace of God. And this habit which Job performed with respect to his children had the effect of destroying the power of sin more and more in their lives. God blessed that effort with holiness. That sanctification was not the work of Job. It is not the work of any parent. But God blessed the diligent worship of Job by using it to work holiness in the hearts of his children.
Similarly, God generally uses our efforts and prayers to bless us with holiness in our children. We pray for them. We take them to church confessing that that wondrous work of God in their hearts is not something that we can do. It is God's work. Only God can work in the heart, where holiness must begin. God promises that He will work in the generations of His children, making His elect, spiritual seed among our own children holy. How? Through the worship and devotion which is taught to them by godly parents.
After seven days, we read, every one his day, Job sent for his children in order to sanctify them. After a week of feasting and pleasure, Job would call his children to be conscious of their sinfulness. They had to be reminded of the serious nature of life. Although their feasting was legitimate, they stood before a holy, righteous God who demanded more than just outward actions. Job would gather his children together periodically to admonish them to examine their hearts and consciences and to repent of their sins.
How did Job sanctify his children? He offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. Job directed his children to Christ. He sacrificed burnt offerings in their presence.
There are six different kinds of offerings in the Old Testament. Sin offerings were made for specific sins. Burnt offerings were offered for being a sinner. These were more general offerings in which the general sins of the person would be placed upon the animal and the animal would be offered in the presence of the individuals, in their place. Job here was not making offerings for specific sins but, rather, in general, for his children's sinful nature and sinfulness. He therefore killed the sacrifice before their eyes so that the sight of the killing might humble them. They would see the animal being killed for their own sinfulness. They would be reminded that they deserved to die, but in their stead the lamb died.
This was used as a picture, pointing his children to Christ. Jesus Christ would take that punishment upon Himself. Job's children must see that their sins were so serious that they deserved death. Death was necessary because of God's justice.
Weekly we bring our children to Christ. We bring our children to Christ to hear His comforting words and to receive forgiveness. We bring our children to Christ by bringing our children to church, where the faithful preaching of the Word is proclaimed. That church attendance is important! Our children must be brought when they are young and urged to attend regularly as they grow older. Our spiritual concern for their personal piety and holiness are our motivation. But also our concern is for the glory and honor of God. Not just that they continue to go to church as we have done (or perhaps our parents). But that they be sanctified through the preaching of the Word and that they show in their lives a true devotion to God and a desire to walk according to His commandments. That must be our urgent desire.
That was the desire of Job. That desire motivated him to bring his children to see Christ in the offerings. As he offered up the burnt offerings in their presence, he pointed them to the necessity of blood being shed for their sinfulness. Even though they seemed to have been walking in godliness, in piety, he repeatedly showed them the necessity of walking with a holy heart.
And this activity Job performed with urgency. We read in this passage that Job rose up early in the morning. Early rising in the Scriptures always indicates urgency. We have that in Genesis 22:3 and Jeremiah 7:13. Immediately, every seventh day, Job arose to gather his children to family worship. The fact of sin was urgent. Job did not minimize the seriousness of sin. He did not want his children to continue long under the guilt of their sin. But he wanted, repeatedly, regularly, to show them the necessity of turning away from their sin and walking with God.
This carries many implications for us. We pray for our children daily that they will be forgiven their sins, that they will not sin, but that they will fear and reverence God in their talk and in their walk. We bring the particular needs and weaknesses of each of our children to God as did Job. According to the number of them all, knowing each individual child and each individual weakness, we bring their specific concerns to God in prayer. We rise up early to do these things because this matter is important to us. It is not something which we can merely turn our back upon. That which is most essential and necessary in our families is that our children walk with God. They can have all the possessions of the world, all the education of the world, but that which they truly need is a heart devoted to God in piety and true reverence.
Job saw that as a necessity with respect to his children. That was his fervent prayer. And we too, regularly and continually, must bring our children to Christ as did Job. Growth in sanctification and holiness is lifelong. Our godly concern and the righteous activity of prayer and worship are not over until we and our children depart from this life. That devotion and that commitment Job demonstrated as one who was a man perfect and upright, one that feared God and eschewed evil.
And as Job labored in this important, righteous activity he was assured by God of blessing upon his labors. Not that necessarily every one of his children would be a child of God, but that God would call His own from among the generations of the godly and faithful. God would use this faithful, humble devotion to work faith and repentance in the hearts of Job's children. God would use it to glorify and to praise His own name in order that all things might be directed to Jehovah who is the Lord, the giver of life, and the One who alone deserves praise.
Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven, we thank Thee for the devotion, the conviction of heart, which Thou didst give to Job, and for his example as is evident here in this passage. We pray that Thou wilt bless us as God-fearing parents that we might have that devotion, that humble commitment to bring our children to worship and to praise Thee. We pray Thy blessing upon our labors as we confess that it is not we, but Thou alone, who canst work holiness, godliness in their hearts. Amen.
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