5th Tuesday of Pascha – May 6/19 2009
Today we remember Righteous Job. His story is a difficult one to understand in all its specifics, but we can glean useful and soul-saving nuggets from it. This is a good approach with Wisdom literature and much of the Psalter, and indeed the Old Testament especially. Remembering that the OT points to the New, we read in order to glean truths about our Christian faith. Much of the historical context and fanciful poetical expressions are belong our meager ability to understand, but there are some things in Job that “jump out” at the attentive Christian reader. The story of Job, from the (recommended) Menologion program, is at the end.
What follows is an eclectic mix of verses that “jumped out” at me, with short commentary.
A perfect example of how much effort a parent should take to pray for his children
“And when the days of the banquet were completed, Job sent and purified them, having risen up in the morning, and offered sacrifices for them, according to their number, and one calf for a sin-offering for their souls: for Job said, Lest peradventure my sons have thought evil in their minds against God. Thus, then Job did continually.” (Job 1:5 Brenton)
What parent can measure up to the care of the good father Job? I certainly feel the pangs of conscience, knowing that I have not prayed as often and with as much fervor for my children as Job did for his.
I offer a piece of practical advice. An excellent way to pray for your children is to use a prayer rope, and pray a set number of “Jesus prayers” for them each day. I think it is much more powerful to pray for them by name, and not group them together. I myself do this for my family and parish. Much of the time, I pray in the car. What else would I have to do? The radio is a waste of time, or even damaging to our souls. Sometimes, I think, the most productive time I have all day long is when I drive, because of this prayer.
Decide on a manageable number of prayers to say for each child or other loved one. Let’s say you decide twelve is a nice, round, biblical and apostolic number. Use your prayer rope to count off twelve knots, and with each pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (name)”.
In those not infrequent times when a parent is especially concerned about one of his children, this ”usual” number can be doubled or increased in some way.
It may be that counting 12 knots is a distraction to you, since prayer ropes do not come in 12 knot sections. In this case, pick a number that is easy to use. I have a prayer rope with a large bead after every 10 knots. It is really easy to use this rope to pray ten times. I have another with a bead every 25 knots. One can pray 25 times quite easily or perhaps 50 times, by finding the middle bead, and working towards the cross, which is easy to tell by feel. Other prayer ropes have 33 or 50 knots, and of course, one can always pray an entire rope for each child. I wish I could do this, but it takes too long.
Just remember: “less is more.” That is, if you have a small number of prayers you will do them, but if the number is too big, you will end up doing NOTHING. It is better to do a little thing than fail to do a big thing!
We cannot be like Job, but we can be inspired by his example and resolve to pray regularly for our children and loved ones.
A Model for how to react to adversity.
So Job arose, and rent his garments, and shaved the hair of his head, and fell on the earth, and worshipped, (21) and said, I myself came forth naked from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away: as it seemed good to the Lord, so has it come to pass; blessed be the name of the Lord. (22) In all these events that befell him Job sinned not at all before the Lord, and did not impute folly to God. (Job 1:20-22 Brenton)
But he looked on her, and said to her, Thou hast spoken like one of the foolish women. If we have received good things of the hand of the Lord, shall we not endure evil things? In all these things that happened to him, Job sinned not at all with his lips before God. (Job 2:10 Brenton)
The answer would come much later: by the God-man, Jesus Christ redeeming us.
I know of a truth that it is so: for how shall a mortal man be just before the Lord? (Job 9:2 Brenton)
How many of us truly want to know all our sins? To seek out one’s hidden sins takes great courage.
How many are my sins and my transgressions? Teach me what they are. (Job 13:23 Brenton)
A massive understatement!
I have heard many such things: poor comforters are ye all. (Job 16:2)
Job spoke this to his three friends who had come to visit him and console him, after each had spoken to him a long time.
The same things happened to Jesus Christ during His passion.
But thou has made me a byword amount the nations, and I am become a scorn to them. (Job 17:6 Brenton)
My brethren have stood aloof from me; they have recognized strangers rather than me: and my friends have become pitiless. (14) My nearest of kin have not acknowledged me, and they that knew my name, have forgotten me. (Job 19:13-14 Brenton )
All the disciples, save John, fled when He was crucified.
The Invisible World (the angels) was created before the Visible.
“When the stars were made, all my angels praised me with a loud voice.” (Job 38:7 Brenton)
The effective prayer of a righteous man availeth much
And it came to pass after the Lord had spoken all these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Thaemanite, Thou hast sinned, and thy two friends: for ye have not said anything true before me, as my servant Job has. (8) Now then take seven bullocks, and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and he shall offer a burnt-offering for you. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will only accept him: for but his sake, I would have destroyed you, for ye have not spoken the truth against my servant Job. (Job 42:7-8 Brenton)
Here we see that God hears the prayers of the righteous more than those of sinners. This coupled with the fact that God is the God of the living, and not of the dead (that is, the righteous who have reposed in the flesh are alive) is the basis upon which we ask the departed saints to pray for us.
RIGHTEOUS JOB THE MUCH-SUFFERING (C. 2000-1500 B.C.).
Saint Job the Righteous lived about 2000-1500 years before the Birth of Christ, in Northern Arabia, in the country of Austidia in the land of Uz. His life and sufferings are recorded in the Bible (Book of Job). There exists an opinion, that Job was by descent a nephew of Abraham, and that he was the son of a brother of Abraham — Nakhor. Job was a man God-fearing and pious. With all his soul he was devoted to the Lord God and in everything conducted himself in accord with God’s will, refraining from everything evil not only in deeds, but also in thoughts. The Lord blessed his earthly existence and rewarded Righteous Job with great wealth: he had many cattle and all kinds of possessions. Righteous Job’s seven sons and three daughters were amiable amongst themselves and gathered for common repast all together in turns at each of their homes. Every seven days Righteous Job made for his children offerings to God, saying: "If perchance any of them hath sinned or offended God in their heart". For his justness and honesty Saint Job was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens and he had great influence in public matters.
One time however, when the Holy Angels did stand before the Throne of God, Satan appeared amongst them. The Lord God asked Satan, whether he had seen His servant Job, a man righteous and without blemish. Satan answered audaciously, that it was not for nothing that Job was God-fearing — since God was watching over him and multiplying his riches, but if misfortune were sent him, he would then cease to bless God. Then the Lord, wishing to prove Job’s patience and faith, said to Satan: "Everything, that Job hath, I give into thine hand, but only he himself touch not". After this Job suddenly lost all his wealth, and then also all his children. Righteous Job turned to God and said: "Naked did I emerge from the womb of my mother, and naked shalt I be returned to my mother the earth. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blest be the Name of the Lord!" And thus did Job not sin before the Lord God, nor utter even an unthinking word.
When the Angels of God again did stand before the Lord and amongst them Satan also, then said the devil, that Job was righteous, since that he himself was without harm. Thereupon declared the Lord: "I permit thee to do with him, what thou wishest, sparing only his soul". After this Satan inflicted upon Righteous Job an horrid illness, leprous boils, which covered him head to foot. The sufferer was compelled to remove himself from the company of people, he sat outside the city on an heap of ashes and had to scrape at his pussing wounds with an shard of clay. All his friends and acquaintances abandoned him. His wife had to see after her own welfare, toiling and roaming from house to house. She not only did not support her husband with patience, but rather she thought, that God was punishing Job for some kind of secret sins, and she wept, and wailed against God, she reproached also her husband and finally advised Righteous Job to curse God and die. Righteous Job sorrowed grievously, but even in these sufferings he remained faithful to God. He answered his wife: "Thou speakest, like someone hysterical. Shalt we have from God only the good, and have nothing bad?" And Righteous Job did sin in nothing before God.
Hearing about the misfortunes of Job, three of his friends came afar off to comfort his sorrow. They reckoned, that Job was being punished by God for his sins, and they urged this righteous man though innocent to repent. The righteous one answered, that he was suffering not for sins, but that these tribulations were sent him from the Lord in accord with the Divine Will, which is inscrutable for man. His friends however did not believe him and they continued to think that the Lord was dealing with Job in accord with the laws obtaining under human standards, thus punishing Job for the committing of sins. In begrieved sorrow of soul Righteous Job turned with a prayer to God, beseeching Him Himself to bear witness before them of his innocence. God thereupon manifested Himself in a tempestuous whirlwind and reproached Job, in that he had tried to penetrate by his reason into the mystery of the world-order and the judgemental-purposes of God. The Righteous Job with all his heart repented himself in these thoughts and said: "I am as nothing, and I foreswear and repent myself in dust and ashes".
The Lord thereupon commanded the friends of Job to have recourse to him in asking him to offer sacrifice for them. "Since, — said the Lord, — only the person Job do I accept it of, lest I spurn ye for this, that ye did speak concerning Me not thus rightly, as hath instead My servant Job". Job offered sacrifice to God for his friends, and the Lord accepted his intercession, and the Lord likewise returned to Righteous Job his health and gave him twice over more than he had previously. In place of his deceased children was born to him seven sons and three daughters, more beautiful than any other in that land. After bearing his sufferings, Job lived yet another 140 years (altogether he lived 248 years) and he lived to see his descendants down to the fourth generation.
Saint Job prefigures the Lord Jesus Christ, having come down to earth and suffering for the salvation of mankind, and then glorified in His glorious Resurrection.
"I know, — said Righteous Job, afflicted with the leprous boils, — I know, that my Redeemer liveth and He wilt raise up from the dust on the last day my decayed skin, and I in my flesh shalt see God. I shalt see Him myself with mine own eyes, and not through the eyes of some other see Him. In expectation of this, my heart doth jump within my bosom!" (Job 19: 25-27).
"Know ye, the judgment, in which be justified only those having true wisdom — the fear of the Lord, and true understanding — the departing from evil" (Job 28: 28).
Saint John Chrysostom says: "There was no human misfortune, which this man did not undergo. He was the firmest and most adamant, beset by sudden tribulation by hunger, and by woe, and sickness, and bereft of children, and loss of riches, and then suffering abuse from his wife, insult from his friends, reproach from his servants, and in everything he showed himself more solid than a stone, and a source before the Law also of Grace".
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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