Calvin's Sermons on Job Volume 1


Sermons on JOB

Sermons on JOB CHAPTERS 1–14 John Calvin Translated from the French by Rob Roy McGregor VOLUME 1 Sermons 1–56 the banner of truth trust

THE BANNER OF TRUTH TRUST Head Office 3 Murrayfield Road Edinburgh, EH12 6EL UK North America Office PO Box 621 Carlisle, PA 17013 USA © Rob Roy McGregor 2022 First published 2022 * ISBN Print (vol. 1): 978 1 80040 084 9 Print (3-vol. set): 978 1 80040 223 2 Epub (vols 1-3): 978 1 80040 228 7 Kindle (vols 1-3): 978 1 80040 229 4 * Typeset in 10.5/13.5 pt Adobe Garamond Pro at The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh Printed in the USA by Versa Press, Inc., East Peoria, IL

v Contents Translator’s Preface xi Introduction by Dr Derek W. H. Thomas xvii Serm. 1. The fear of God: the secret of Job’s integrity. Job 1:1 1 2. Wealth, integrity, and responsibility before God, and the need for sacrifice. Job 1:2-5 13 3. Sacrifice: a ceremonial acknowledgement of sin and spiritual need. Job 1:5 26 4. The role of Satan in testing the faith and commitment of the faithful. Job 1:6-8 38 5. God permits and limits Job’s afflictions. Job 1:9-12 51 6. The example of Job: preparedness to defend against Satan’s assaults. Job 1:13-19 62 7. There is a just reason for affliction at God’s hand. Job 1:20-22 74 8. Afflictions: God’s just judgments and the proving of believers’ patience and faith. Job 2:1-6 85 9. Receiving both good and evil from God. Job 2:7-10 98

sermons on job vi 10. The comforting of those who suffer, and true repentance. Job 2:11-13 110 11. The spiritual danger of negative emotions, with remarks on the different values society places on women and male children. Job 3:1-10 122 12. The detrimental effect of suffering on the thinking of believers. Job 3:11-19 134 13. Afflictions, ever possible, keep believers humble and dependent on God. Job 3:20-26 146 14. Devoted service to God in affliction or prosperity will not go unrewarded. Job 4:1-6 157 15. They who plough unrighteousness and sow travail will reap the same. Job 4:7-11 169 16. They who dwell in houses of clay. Job 4:12-19 181 17. Despite themselves, God deals gently with his people. Job 4:20–5:2 193 18. God sends afflictions to bless his people and to curse the wicked. Job 5:3-7 205 19. Fearing God’s majesty, believers realise their sins are the source of their just afflictions. Job 5:6-10 217 20. God exalts the humble who persevere in hope, and humbles the wicked. Job 5:11-16 229 21. Blessed is the man God chastises. Job 5:17, 18 242

vii 22. Adversities are necessary for the maturing and ingathering of God’s people. Job 5:19-27 254 23. Obedience brings savour to the adversities God sends for the believer’s spiritual welfare. Job 6:1-9 267 24. How to pray in times of affliction, and how to control our appetites. Job 6:8-14 278 25. The uncharitable are like rushing torrents that run dry. Job 6:15-23 291 26. Those instructed and confirmed in God’s truth will not finally depart from the right path. Job 6:24-30 303 27. Man’s allotted span on earth is to comfort us in times of adversity. Job 7:1-6 319 28. Afflictions from God serve to humble us and bring us to perfection. Job 7:7-15 331 29. The need for God’s presence in times of affliction. Job 7:16-21 344 30. Being just, God, when chastising sinners, mercifully makes a way to take refuge in him. Job 8:1-6 356 31. Following wisdom past and present prevents the faithful from becoming parched deserts. Job 8:7-13 368 32. Despite appearances, God favours not the wicked but those whose faith he tests. Job 8:13-22 380 33. God alone is the righteous Judge before whom we dare not deceive ourselves. Job 9:1-6 393 contents

sermons on job viii 34. The order of nature is to teach us about God’s power and strength, human frailty, and reliance upon him. Job 9:7-15 405 35. It is only apparent that God destroys the righteous and the wicked alike. Job 9:16-22 418 36. God’s just judgments and the role of princes and magistrates. Job 9:23-28 431 37. Under the judgment of God’s law, sinners seek selfjustification, but God provides reconciliation. Job 9:29-35 444 38. Despite all appearances, God does not favour the wicked, but through affliction works for the salvation of his people. Job 10:1-6 456 39. God endows man, made of lowly earth, with life and soul, and sustains him. Job 10:7-15 469 40. Works righteousness and God’s sovereign righteousness: election and providence. Job 10:16, 17 482 41. Victorious living in times of trial as opposed to the ingratitude of seeking death. Job 10:18-22 497 42. God reveals his incomprehensible secret: justification by faith. Job 11:1-6 510 43. God teaches us humility through our ignorance and powerlessness. Job 11:7-12 523 44. An argument against free will and for prayer. Job 11:13-20 535

ix 45. The prosperity of the wicked contrasted with the afflictions of the faithful. Job 12:1-6 549 46. The two aspects of God’s wisdom: revealed and concealed. Job 12:7-16 562 47. God is sovereign over all things, even Satan, but the elect, while cautious, may be confident of God’s protection. Job 12:14-16 575 48. Confidence in the providence of God. Job 12:17-25 588 49. The new creation, free will, and election: understanding and applying God’s word appropriately. Job 13:1-10 601 50. The importance of appreciating God’s majesty and the triumph of faith in the worst of afflictions. Job 13:11-15 614 51. Overcoming the devastating effects of afflictions. Job 13:16-22 627 52. God uses Job’s sins and afflictions to teach us to pray, to learn patience, and to have confidence in his merciful forgiveness. Job 13:23-28 640 53. Original sin and free will, or, only God can cleanse what comes from what is unclean. Job 14:1-4 653 54. Why the sufferings of life if there is no hope of resurrection? Job 14:5-12 666 55. After a lifetime of battles and being changed into Christ’s likeness, the dead shall live again. Job 14:13-15 678 contents

sermons on job x 56. Throughout all the sufferings of this life, God always provides something to gladden our hearts. Job 14:16-22 691

xi Translator’s Preface WHEN I was a senior in seminary and serving the small, rural congregation I had been asked to pastor after graduation, I frequently tossed and turned in restless sleep, deeply conscious that if the congregation did not respond to the word by living increasingly holy lives, my preaching would be in vain. As a result, one Sunday, I used an illustration that I do not recommend to others and that I waver between regretting and not regretting. During the message, as I was preaching standing beside the pulpit with my closed Bible in hand, I pushed it forward and released it, letting it fall to the floor and declaring firmly, ‘If you do not obey the word of God, you do it greater violence than I have just done!’ The story of ‘throwing the Bible on the floor’ came back to me twenty or so years later with a request for verification, which indicated that word of the event was still circulating. Unfortunately, the lesson did not accompany the illustration. What I do not regret, however, is the absoluteness and eternality of its truth: ‘If you do not obey the word of God, you do it greater violence than I have just done!’ I do not doubt that John Calvin in his day and in ours would have faulted me for the action but acknowledged the declaration as his own. If there is any truth evident in his preaching, which is clear even to the most spiritually blind, it is that theology without the personal living of the word is only a take-it-or-leave-it philosophy with God as the basic premise. Turns of phrase such as ‘grow in grace,’ ‘be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ ‘die to self,’ and ‘love one another,’ do little more, I suspect, than passively challenge and temporarily prick consciences with easily evaded guilt and end there. Surprisingly unable as I am to see into the hearts of individuals, I nonetheless hazard the comment that hearers of those words do not proceed to connect them with the ultimate revealed purpose of the work of

sermons on job xii [job 1:1] Christ, wherein Spirit-inspired righteous deeds performed in real time are the productive efforts that contribute to Christ’s eternal glory, which is the singular work of the Holy Spirit himself, the perfecting of the Body of Christ, the Church Triumphant, as portrayed in the image of the Bride of Christ, whose ‘fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints’ (Rev. 19:8 nasb). Participation in that perfection through faith, that working of the Holy Spirit within the believer, is the recurrent emphasis of Calvin’s proclamations, as is also evident in the Job sermons, where the emphasis is indispensable, for in them Calvin is preparing and encouraging the people to resist the explicit work of Satan to disrupt and destroy, by means of natural, political, and social disturbances and personal hardships and sufferings, all efforts to glorify Christ through the Church’s resolute obedience in its hunger and thirst for the Kingdom of Heaven. In order to participate in that single work of the Holy Spirit in perfecting the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem, believers must, according to Scripture, hence according to Calvin, be aware of the majesty of God, else what are they to glorify and how are they to achieve that end? How else are they going to rejoice in him and prepare to enjoy him forever in the joy of which he alone is the content and source? In the fifty-six sermons of this volume, the word majesty itself occurs ninety-seven times, but the concept is the foundation of them all. What, then, constitutes God’s majesty? The short answer, of course, is ‘God himself ’! A longer answer is ‘Whatever God is, wills, and does.’ That is, those things the very angels marvel at, those things which constitute his glory, those attributes which identify and characterize him. Calvin repeatedly, to the point of satiation, dare I say, reminds his hearers that the aspiration of believers is both to fear (for the sake of discipline) and to love God’s revealed majesty-glory by living out, with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, his character and actions as demonstrated in the Lord Jesus. By contrast, the grave sin of believers, then, is to know that revelation and not respond by obediently, insistently, and persistently living in accordance with it. That failure Calvin calls ingratitude and is worthy of condemnation.

xiii Here the obvious may need to be pointed out to some. From John Calvin’s perspective, worship is not limited to the sanctuary or the assembly or public perception. While preaching the word and hearing the word are in themselves acts of worship, the worship required of the faithful emanates from the heart and pervades their lives at every moment. They appear to others as they are, real and unhypocritical, accepted, honoured, and rewarded by God! * * * The French text of the Job sermons used for this translation is that of the Corpus Reformatorum edition, Ioannis Calvini Opera quae supersunt omnia, ed. G. Baum, E. Cunitz, and E. Reuss (Brunswik, 1887). According to the French preface, We have but little information on the collection of Calvin’s sermons on the book of Job. There is scarcely anything to record here but two lines of Colladon (La vie de Calvin, d 7, Tome XXI, p. 76), which state, ‘In the year 1554, he used the book of Job for his daily sermons, which he began on February 26.’ He does not say when the preacher reached the end of these numerous sermons. It is, however, probable he consecrated to them an entire year, for there are 159 of them. A few pages later we read (e 3, p. 79) that Calvin, for his regular sermons of the week, began Deuteronomy on March 20, 1555. … Colladon’s desire to see these sermons translated into Latin was realized long after Calvin’s death. A translation appeared in 1593 under the auspices of Theodore de Beza … The French preface also provides the prayers Calvin offered before and after preaching the sermons as well as his introductory phrase for the Apostles’ Creed. They follow in that order. Let us call upon our gracious God and Father and beseech him to be pleased not to look upon the many failings and offenses by which we continually provoke his wrath against us. And because we are very unworthy to appear before his majesty, may he be translator’s preface

sermons on job xiv pleased to see us in the face of his beloved Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, and accept the merits of his suffering and death as recompense for all our sins so that in this way we will be acceptable to him. May he enlighten us by his Spirit through the true understanding of his word and grant us the grace to receive him in fear and humility so that it may teach us to put our trust in him, to serve and honour him by glorifying his holy name in every aspect of our lives by giving him the love and obedience that all faithful servants owe their masters and children owe their fathers because he has been pleased to call us into the number of his servants and children. And let us pray as our gracious Master taught us to pray as we say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven,’ etc. Now let us bow before the majesty of our gracious God. [Here he adds what the subject matter of the sermon provides special opportunity to ask of God, which is not specified here because it changes in some way in every sermon.] May he grant that grace not only to us but also to all peoples and nations of the Earth and bring all poor ignorant souls back from the wretched bondage of error and darkness to the right path of salvation. To that end, may he be pleased to raise up true and faithful ministers of his word who seek not their own advantage and ambition but only the exaltation of his holy name and the uplifting of the flock, and may it be his will to destroy all sects, heresies, and errors, seed beds of troubles and divisions among his people, so that we may live together in fraternal harmony. And may he be pleased to lead by his Holy Spirit all kings, princes, and lords, who govern with his sword, so that their sovereignty will not be driven by greed, cruelty, and tyranny, or any other evil and unrestrained disposition, but by justice and integrity. May we also, living under them, give them the honour and obedience which belongs to them, and may we, in peace and tranquillity, serve God in all holiness and uprightness. May he comfort all those who are afflicted with different kinds of crosses and tribulations, those he afflicts with the pestilence

xv of war and famine or his other rods, those who are beaten down by poverty, disease, banishment, or some affliction of body or mind. May he give all of them determined patience until he sends them complete relief from their miseries. And may he especially have pity on all those pitiable people who trust in him and are dispersed in the Babylonian captivity under the tyranny of the Antichrist, even those who suffer persecution for witnessing to his truth. May he strengthen them with true steadfastness, comfort them, and not allow the wicked and the ravening wolves to vent their rage upon them, but may he grant them true perseverance so that they may glorify his holy name in life and in death. May he be pleased to strengthen all churches as they suffer today and are attacked for defending his holy name. May he pervert and destroy the plans, manoeuvres, and undertakings of his adversaries so that his glory may shine everywhere and our Lord Jesus Christ’s kingdom may increase and advance more and more. Let us pray for all those things, praying as our gracious Master and Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray, saying, ‘Our Father,’ etc. Let us also pray that this gracious God will give us true perseverance in his holy faith and increase it in us daily, by which we confess, saying, ‘I believe in God,’ etc. * * * Dr Derek W. H. Thomas, an internationally known author and distinguished Job scholar, a faithful preacher of the word, immediately and graciously accepted my request to write the introduction for this translation of Job sermons. I deeply appreciate his enhancing the interest and value of the present volume. I thank Mr Paul Fields of the Meeter Center, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for making the French version available and assisting with the electronic download. I was glad to have at hand Banner of Truth’s 1993 facsimile reprint of Calvin’s Sermons on Job, translated by Arthur Golding and published in 1574. It was invaluable for deciphering certain idiomatic translator’s preface

1 Sermon 1 the fear of god: the secret of job’s integrity. 1 There was in the land of Uz a man whose name was Job, perfect and upright, one who feared God and abstained from evil. (Job 1:1) IN order to get the most out of the present book, we must first have a summary of it. The story written here shows us how we are in God’s hand, that it is he who orders our lives and disposes of them at his good pleasure, that our responsibility is to yield ourselves to him in all humility and obedience, that it is only right that we belong completely to him in both life and death. We even learn that when it pleases him to raise his hand against us, even though we do not know why he does so, we nonetheless continue to glorify him, acknowledging that he is just and impartial lest we murmur against him and bring a case against him, for we well know that we will always be defeated when we take him to task. That, then, is a brief account of what we have to remember from this story, namely, that God has such ascendancy over his creatures that he can dispose of them at his pleasure, and when he displays any rigour that seems strange to us on the surface, let us nonetheless hold our peace and not criticise. Rather, let us confess that he is just while we wait for him to make known why he is chastising us. Meanwhile, we have to consider the patience of the man who is here set before us, as James exhorts us to do (James 5:11). When we show that we have to suffer all the miseries that he will send upon us, we confess indeed that such is our duty, yet we admit our frailty and think that is to serve as an excuse. For that reason, it is good for us to have examples which show us that there are frail men like ourselves who have nonetheless

sermons on job 2 resisted trials and have unfailingly persevered in obedience to God despite the fact that he afflicts them long and severely. We have here an excellent picture of that. Moreover, that is not the only reason we consider Job’s patience. We also have to look at the outcome, as James also points out, for if Job had remained confused, irrespective of a superlative angelic power in himself, that would not have been a happy outcome. But when we see that his hope was not disappointed and that he found grace because he humbled himself before God, we have to conclude when we see such an outcome, that there is nothing better than to submit to God and to suffer in peace whatever he sends us until he delivers us from it by his pure goodness. In addition to considering the story, we have to look at the teaching this book contains both about those who come claiming to console Job but torment him more than his own illness and about the answers he offers to counter their false accusations, which they seem to want to burden him with. Now the first thing we need to note concerning our afflictions is that even though God sends them and they proceed from him, the devil nevertheless instigates them, as Paul also informs us that we war against spiritual powers (Eph. 6:12). For when the devil lights the fire, he also fans it. In other words, he finds men who are always ready to harass us and increase and exacerbate the pain. Thus we see how Job, apart from the pain he was suffering, was tormented, yes, tormented, by his friends, his wife, and especially those who came to test him spiritually. Now I call it spiritual testing not only when we are beaten down and afflicted in our bodies but also when the devil comes and causes us to imagine that God is our mortal enemy and that we must not appeal to him anymore but realise that he will never show us mercy. That is the intention of all the comments Job’s friends offer. They wanted to persuade him he was being condemned by God and deceiving himself by thinking that God was obliged to deal with him favourably. Now these spiritual battles are much more difficult to endure than all the evils and all the adversities that we can suffer when we are persecuted. The fact is that Satan, when unleashed by God, brings with him his henchmen, who will assail us with the kinds of attacks [job 1:1]

3 that Job endured. That much for that point. Yet we also have to note that throughout the dispute, Job sustains a good cause and his adversaries sustain a bad one. Now there is more. When we understand that Job, sustaining a good cause, argues it badly, and the others, sustaining a bad cause, argue it well, we have a key that opens the entire book for us. How does Job sustain a good cause? He knows that God does not always afflict men in proportion to their sins but that he has his secret judgments, which he does not tell us about, and we must wait until he reveals why he does one thing and not another. Therefore, he is persuaded that God does not always afflict men in proportion to their sins, and he has an inner testimony that he was not rejected by God, as the others try to convince him. That is a good and right cause, but it is badly argued, for Job becomes vehement and makes such excessive and immoderate statements that on many occasions he shows himself to be a man without hope. He even becomes so inflamed that it seems he wants to resist God. That, then, is a good cause conducted badly. Now those who sustain the bad cause, namely, that God always punishes men in proportion to their sins, use beautiful and sanctified phrases, and there is nothing in their remarks that we can discount, as if the Holy Spirit had declared it, for they are pure truth, the basis for religion, and deal with God’s providence, his justice, and the sins of men. Such constitute a teaching which we must receive without debate, but their intent is bad, for these men are trying to bring Job to despair and completely devastate him. Now that shows us that when we have a good foundation, we must be careful to build upon it in such a way that everything, as Paul says, fits together, that the builder builds well, inasmuch as he builds the church on the full teaching of Jesus Christ. Yet there must be such conformity that those who come after him will not lay a foundation of wood, hay, straw, but a foundation that is firm and solid (1 Cor. 3:10-12). So, throughout our lives, we must be careful to do that. If we are founded on a good and upright understanding, we must each of us be on our guard so as not to flinch or waver in any way, for there is nothing easier than to pervert a good and just cause to conform to our vice-ridden nature, something we experience at every turn. God sermon 1 [job 1:1]

sermons on job 4 will favour us with a good and just cause, but we will be so harassed by our enemies that we will not be able to remain within our limits or merely follow God’s commands without implementing them in some way or other. Seeing then that we are thus easily carried away, we must pray to God more fervently that when we have a good cause, he will guide us by his Holy Spirit in all simplicity so that we will not exceed the limits he has established in his word. At the same time, we are admonished not to apply God’s truth to bad ends because we profane it if we do, as do Job’s visitors. Even though they speak the right kind of holy language (as we have already said and as we will see more clearly), they are nonetheless sacrilegious, for they corrupt God’s truth and use it wrongly. They apply what is good and just in itself for evil purposes. Therefore, when God gives us knowledge of his word, let us learn to receive it with such awe that we do not obscure the good or excuse the bad, as is often done by those who are the most intelligent, and the most learned will abandon restraints and will, for deceptive and malicious ends, misuse the knowledge God has given them, and they will so pervert everything that all will be thrown into confusion. Seeing that the world is addicted to such corruption, we must all the more pray for God to grant us the grace to apply his word to the pure and simple usage he intends. That is the main thing we have to take note of. Now that we understand what is in the book, we have to look into the contents at greater length so that we can follow the development of the story as we elaborate on what we have mentioned briefly. The text says, ‘There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and abstained from evil.’ Now we cannot determine when Job lived unless we understand that he belonged to a very ancient time. Some Jews have even thought that Moses was the author of the book and had given this picture to the people so that the children who were descended from Abraham’s race might know that God had privileged others who were not of that lineage and so that they might be ashamed if they were not walking in innocence in the fear of God inasmuch as that man who did not have the sign of the covenant, who had not been circumcised but was a pagan, had conducted his life so well. [job 1:1]

5 Now because that is not certain, we must leave it in suspense. But let us consider what is without any doubt, namely, that the Holy Spirit dictated this book so that the Jews might know that God had peoples who served him, even though they were not separated from the rest of the world and did not have the sign of circumcision but still walked in complete integrity of life. The Jews, knowing that, had the opportunity to be more careful to observe the law of God, and because he had granted them the grace and privilege of being gathered together from among all the foreign nations, they had to devote themselves entirely to him. We can also note in the book of Ezekiel that Job’s name was renowned among the people of Israel, for we saw in the fourteenth chapter that it was said that if Noah, Job, and Daniel were found among the people who were to perish, they would save only their souls and that the rest of the people would be cast into the abyss (Ezek. 14:14). There the prophet is speaking of three men as being known and renowned among the Jews, as we have already mentioned. There we see what the Holy Spirit’s intention is, namely, that the Jews might have an image and a pattern by which to know how they were supposed to observe the teaching of salvation which was given to them, for that man, who was of a foreign nation, had been preserved in purity. And that is the main thing we have to remember about the name which is given here when it is said that he was from the land of Uz. It is true that some scholars place the land of Uz in the East, but in the fourth chapter of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the same word is used to signify a part of Idumea (Lam. 4:21). We know the Idumeans were descended from Esau. It is true they still had circumcision, but because they had wandered from God’s church, there was no longer any sign of the covenant. So if we grant that Job was from the land of Uz, he was an Idumean, that is, of Esau’s lineage. Now we know the prophet said that even though Esau and Jacob were fraternal twins, God had chosen Jacob out of his pure goodness and had rejected Esau and cursed him along with his entire lineage (Mal. 1:2-4). That is how the prophet speaks of them in order to magnify God’s mercy toward the Jews, showing them that he had not chosen them for some worth in their persons, seeing that he rejected Jacob’s older brother, to whom [job 1:1] sermon 1

sermons on job 6 primogeniture belonged, and had chosen the one who was least and inferior. Therefore, although that man was descended from Esau’s lineage, we still observe the integrity with which he lived and how he served God, not only in respect of living uprightly and justly among men, but in order to have an undefiled piety, he did not pollute himself with the idolatries and superstitions of unbelievers. As for Job’s name, it is true some translate it as ‘weeping’ or ‘crying out,’ but others take it to mean ‘a man of enmity,’ not that he hated but that he was like a target at which one could shoot. Yet we must not doubt that this man whose country is noted here, whose name is mentioned, existed, lived, and that the things written here happened to him. We must not think that this is a fabricated argument, as if someone were proposing to us under somebody’s name something that never took place. For we have already quoted the testimony of Ezekiel and James to indicate clearly that Job was truly a person, and also when history declares it, we cannot erase what the Holy Spirit wanted to say so specifically. Moreover, we need to note how the world of that time had become estranged from the true service of God and sincere religion. Nonetheless, there was still much more integrity than there is today, even in the papacy. In fact, we see how in Abraham’s time Melchizedek had the church of God and the sacrifices, which were without any pollution. Consequently, even though most of the world was enveloped in many errors and false and evil ideas, God had nonetheless reserved a few seed for himself and some were always held in pure truth while waiting for God to establish his church and choose a people, namely, Abraham’s successors, so that they might know they were separated from the rest of the world. Now it is quite true Job lived after that time, but God’s church was not yet established as it has been since then, for we have learned that in the meantime the children of Israel lived in Egypt and everything seemed on the verge of destruction. And we even see how close they came when Pharaoh ordered the males to be killed and how in the desert it seemed God rejected them (Exod. 1:16). When they came into the land of Canaan, they engaged in great battles with their enemies, and even the worship of God was not established, or the tabernacle, as would be required. So God, not [job 1:1]

7 having yet established the evident features of the church, wanted some few seed always to remain among the pagans to worship him, and he did that to convict those who had turned from the right path, like the pagans; for all that was lacking for an entire country to have a judge was Job. Noah also condemned the world, as Scripture says, for he had always kept himself unstained and walked before God despite the fact that all had forgotten him and gone astray in their superstitions (Heb. 11:6, 7). So Noah was the judge of the whole world to judge unbelievers and rebels. The same was true of Job, who condemned all those of that region, for he was serving God in purity and the others were filled with idolatries, disgraceful deeds, and many errors, and that happened because they did not condescend to learn about the true living God and how he wanted to be honoured. The fact is, God has always intended, as I have said, that the wicked and unbelievers would be without excuse. And for that reason, he intended that there would always be a few people who would follow what he had made known to the ancient fathers. Such was Job, as Scripture tells us, and the present story gives a clear picture of how he served God in innocence and lived among men in complete uprightness. It is said that Job was ‘whole.’ In Scripture, that is understood to mean fullness, that there is no pretence or hypocrisy in the man, but that what is on the inside shows on the outside and even that he has no secret recesses where he can turn away from God, but he displays his heart and all his thoughts and affections, and seeks only to consecrate himself to God and be completely devoted to him. This word has been translated as ‘perfect’ by both Greeks and Latins, but because the word ‘perfection’ was badly explained subsequently, it is much better to use the word ‘upright’ because many people who do not know how to understand that kind of perfection have thought, ‘There is a man who is called perfect; it follows that perfection can exist in us while we live in this present life.’ In so doing, they have obscured the grace of God, which we always need, for those who walk the most uprightly must still find refuge in God’s mercy, and if their sins are not forgiven and God does not uphold them, they all perish. Therefore, although those who have used the word ‘perfection’ have sermon 1 [job 1:1]

sermons on job 8 understood it correctly, let us retain the word ‘upright’ because there are those who have distorted its true meaning, as I said. There, then, is Job, who is called ‘upright.’ How is that? Because there was no hypocrisy, no pretence in him, no deception, for when Scripture wishes to indicate the vice which is the opposite of the virtue of uprightness or integrity, it speaks of ‘a heart and a heart,’ that is, ‘a double heart’ (1 Chron. 12:33; Psa. 12:2). So let us first note that uprightness is attributed to Job to show that his affection was pure and simple, that he did not have one eye on one thing and the other on another, that he did not serve God halfway but endeavoured to devote himself fully to him. True, we can never have such integrity that we will always strive for that goal, as we would like, for those who follow the right path still hobble along, always weak, dragging their legs and their wings. The same is true for us as long as we inhabit this mortal body. We will not, as I said, possess perfect integrity until he removes from us all of the wretchedness which fills us. But we must nonetheless continue to aim at that fullness and renounce all pretence and falsehood. Let us also note that true holiness begins within. If we had the finest appearance in the world in the eyes of men and our lives were so well regulated that everyone would applaud us, if we possessed that wholeness and integrity before God, we would have nothing. The fountain must be pure, and then the streams that flow from it will be pure. Otherwise the water could be clear and still be bitter or have some other unhealthful corruption in it. Consequently, we must always begin with this instruction: God desires to be served in spirit and in heartfelt truth, as we read in the fifth chapter of Jeremiah (Jer. 5:3). So the first thing we must learn is to conform our hearts to God’s will. Now after Job was called ‘whole,’ we read that he was upright. It is uprightness related to the life he led, which is the fruit of that root which the Holy Spirit had planted beforehand. So was Job’s heart upright and whole? His life was simple. That is, he walked and lived with his neighbours without harming anyone, without offending or troubling anyone, without contemplating fraud or malice, without seeking his own advantage at the expense of others. That is the meaning of that uprightness which is added here. [job 1:1]

9 Now those words admonish us to bring our hearts and outward feelings into conformity. It is true, as I said, that we can indeed refrain from doing evil, we can indeed put on a good show before men, but it will be meaningless if before God there is concealed hypocrisy and insincerity when we come to that root planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit. What must we do then? We must begin at that point, as I said, but if we are to be truly upright, our eyes and hands and feet and arms and legs must follow along so that we can proclaim throughout our lives that we want to serve God and that it is not in vain that we say we want to maintain that integrity which is inside us. That is why Paul exhorts the Galatians to walk in the Spirit if they live in the Spirit. It is as if he were saying, ‘It is true the Spirit of God has to live in us and govern us, for it would be meaningless to have a great life which pleases men and is highly esteemed unless we are renewed by God’s grace’ (Gal. 5). We must walk, that is, we must show with the results and by our works how God’s Spirit rules in our souls, for if our eyes are defiled by theft or cruelty or other wrongs, and our eyes are guilty of wicked and lascivious looks, if we are covetous of the goods of others, or filled with pride and vanity and our feet hasten to evil, as Scripture says, we reveal in those ways that the heart is filled with malice and corruption, for neither feet nor hands nor eyes act on their own. Conduct comes from the mind, from the heart. So let us learn to live those qualities which Scripture shows us in this passage when it says that Job, being perfect and upright, also lived right, that is, that he lived among his neighbours without doing any harm, without seeking his own personal advantage, and that he dealt justly with everyone. And that is also how God wishes to test whether we serve him faithfully, not that he needs our service or anything we can do for him, but when we do good for our neighbours and remain loyal to each of them, as nature itself teaches us to do, we give testimony that we fear God. We see many who appear to be very zealous when it comes to debating and making many speeches to say how diligent they are in serving and honouring God, but as soon as they deal with their neighbours, it becomes evident what they have in their hearts, for they seek their own advantage and have no scruples about sermon 1 [job 1:1]

sermons on job 10 accumulating things for themselves and deceiving others when they have any kind of opportunity to do so. There is no doubt that those who seek their own advantage and profit are hypocrites and that their hearts are corrupt. Great zealots they may be, but God declares that there is corruption and poison in their hearts. Why so? If there is wholeness, there must be uprightness. In other words, if the affection is pure within while we live among men, we will procure everyone’s welfare in such a way that we will not be devoted to ourselves and our private interests, but we will have that sense of fair dealing that Jesus Christ says is the rule for living which fulfils the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:40), which is that we do not to others what we would not have others do to us. Therefore, let us then note that many people are condemned in this praise of Job, for the Holy Spirit not only declares that that man had integrity before God but that he also had integrity and uprightness among men. That uprightness that he announces will serve as both sentence and condemnation for all those who are filled with evil intentions, all those who seek only to snatch away and hold on to the goods of others, who seek only to pillage the possessions of others. Those people are condemned with this statement. Now it follows that Job feared God and avoided evil. And also since Job was praised for having maintained uprightness and equity among men, he certainly had to be walking before God, for everything else would have had no value. It is true that we cannot live among our neighbours, as I have already said, without harming anyone and procuring everyone’s welfare unless we look to God, for those who follow their natural dispositions, even though they possess, it would seem, wonderful virtues, are still preoccupied with love for themselves and pressing ambition or some other consideration. As a result, every appearance of virtue in them is corrupted by that very fact. Yet although we cannot possess that uprightness without fearing God, these two distinctive characteristics—serving God and honouring our neighbours—were distinguished in God’s law when he engraved it on two tablets. Let us note, then, as previously under the word ‘uprightness,’ that the Holy Spirit wanted to show how Job lived among men and also wants to include his piety when saying that Job feared God. That [job 1:1]

11 strongly advises us that if we are to give order to our lives, we must respect God and then our neighbours. Let us respect God, I say, in order to devote ourselves to him and pay him the homage he is due. Let us respect our neighbours in order to do our duty toward them in accordance with our responsibility to help them and to live equitably and uprightly with them, and then since God has joined us together, let each person consider how to use all his abilities and opportunities for the mutual good of all. That is how we have to respect God and men if we are to govern our lives well, for it is certain that the person who looks only to his self-interests is filled only with vanity, for if a man wishes to order his life in such a way that men will think he is faultless and God disavows him, what will it profit him when he takes great pains to walk in such a way that everyone speaks highly of him? In the eyes of God, there is in him only pollution, and the sentence recorded in Luke must be carried out: what is noble and excellent in the eyes of men is only abomination in God’s eyes (Luke 16:15). Let us be aware, then, that we will never be able to order our lives as we should unless our eyes are fixed on God and our neighbours. On God, why? So that we will know that we are created for his glory, to serve him and worship him, and although he has no need of us, as our neighbours will, and although that provides nothing for God, he nonetheless wanted to have reasonable creatures who would know him and, knowing him, render to him what is his. Moreover, when the fear of God is spoken of, let us note that it is not a servile fear, as it is called, but one that moves us to honour him as we must, for he is our Father and our Master. Do we fear God? It is certain that we must seek only to honour him and belong completely to him. Do we know him? We must know him as he is, namely, as our Creator and the one who sustains us and shows us such fatherly kindness that we must indeed live as his children—unless we want to be unduly ungrateful to him. We must also acknowledge the lordship and pre-eminence he has over us so that, giving him the honour he is due, we will each learn to please him in all things and at all times. Consequently, the expression ‘the fear of God’ frames the entire worship of God, namely, the service and homage that creatures sermon 1 [job 1:1]

sermons on job 12 owe their God. Job’s fearing God that way was an outstanding virtue, seeing that the whole world had turned from the right path. When we hear that, let us understand that even if we live among the most depraved and corrupt people in the world, we have no escape unless we are committed to God’s service, as we ought to be. Now that is worth noting because many people think that when they are between a rock and a hard place, they are doing all they are expected to do and are cleared of all other obligations, and they think that if they become corrupt later, if they howl with the wolves, as the saying goes, it makes no difference and God will pardon them. But in Job we have a contrary image, for he was called a God-fearing man. What country does he live in? It is not in Judea. It is not in the city of Jerusalem. It is not in the temple. It is in a polluted place, in the midst of people who were completely perverted. In the midst of such people, he remained pure and lived in innocence with his neighbours despite the fact that everything was seething with cruelty, breach of duty, extortion, and all kinds of excess. Let us take note that all such will heap greater shame upon us, if we do not for our part persevere in the service of God and our neighbours when he provides us with the opportunities that we have, namely, the daily preaching of God’s word, the exhortations he gives us, the corrections he provides when we fail. So we have to be very attentive to what is presented here. By way of conclusion, let us note particularly what is added in the text: that he abstained from evil. That is how Job overcame all the difficulties and struggles which would have kept him from serving God and living uprightly among men. He set himself apart. He well knew that if he had given himself the licence to live the way the others did, he would have had to abandon himself to vices and be God’s enemy. Job did not walk that way in the fear of God, in uprightness and integrity without great effort, without the devil working to pervert him and lead him into the world’s corruptions, but he withdrew, he held himself back, from evil. So what are we to do? Despite the fact that we are in God’s church, we will see many evils and under no circumstance will we ever possess such uprightness and purity that we will not be greatly influenced by tempters and depraved people who will be the firebrands of hell, deadly plagues that infect [job 1:1]

13 everything. So we have to be on guard, for there are great stumbling blocks and perversions which would quickly corrupt us. So what are we to do? We must withdraw from evil and follow Job’s example and fight against those kinds of attacks, and when we see many vices and much corruption reigning in the world, even though we are obliged to live in the midst of it, let us not be influenced by it or say, as many do, that we must howl with the wolves. Let us be advised by Job’s example and withdraw from evil, withdraw from it so that Satan cannot induce us to yield to all the temptations that he will place before us, but let us allow God to cleanse us of all our uncleanness and diseases, as he promised to do in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ until he takes us from this world’s stains and pollutions and joins us with his angels and makes us participants in that eternal joy we now must aspire to. Let us now bow before the face of our gracious God, etc. Sermon 2 wealth, integrity, and responsibility before god, and the need for sacrifice. 2 Now seven sons were born to him, and three daughters. 3 He possessed much livestock; to wit, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred she asses, and a large household, so large that it surpassed all those in the East. 4 His sons were accustomed to going and feasting in their houses, each one on his day. They also invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When the day of feasting was over, Job would send for his children and bless them. Then arising in the morning, he would offer burnt offerings according to their number, for he said, ‘It is possible my children have sinned and have not blessed the Lord in their hearts.’ And thus did Job every day. (Job 1:2-5) sermon 2 [job 1:2-5]

sermons on job 14 WE saw yesterday the praises the Holy Spirit attributed to Job, not so much for him as for our instruction so that we may know how we are to regulate our lives as we walk in uprightness of heart so that there will be no pretence in us and our works will also testify to such innocence. In addition, let us fear God, knowing that we must relate our entire lives to him and dedicate them to his honour. And because we are always surrounded by many stumbling blocks and the devil is working to turn us from the right path, let us take care to withdraw from evil and to fellowship with God as we await the day we will be completely separated from the pollutions of this world by death. The text now says that Job was a very rich man, and a large part of his possessions is recounted for us here. It is no small thing that he has seven thousand sheep, five hundred yoke of oxen, and many female donkeys and camels. That is great wealth for a man. In fact, it is said that he surpassed all the men of the East. We will see later why this is mentioned, for his patience was the more praiseworthy because he was deprived of such great wealth and reduced to extreme poverty. Even so, he remained peaceful, as if he had lost very little. That is how God put him to the strictest test, but let us note the character of Job’s virtue when riches did not blind him with pride or unduly attach him to the world or cause him to abandon the worship of God. We see many, thinking they are rich, who are so proud that they cannot be subdued and abuse their status by oppressing the poor and even by being cruel. There is also much ostentation, such that wealth has many unfortunate consequences. It is with good reason that we are told here that Job, being thus rich, persevered in the worship of God, maintaining his innocence. By his example the rich of this world are advised of their duty, which is to consider carefully that since God has placed abundance in their hands, they are not to be ensnared by it and trust it, as the psalm exhorts (Psa. 49:6; cf. 52:7). And then, following what Paul says to Timothy, let them not be exalted by pride and place their hope in the frail things of this world or in uncertain things (1 Tim. 6:17), for the one who is rich today can be reduced to poverty tomorrow if it pleases God. Therefore, seeing that such wealth is fragile and that we can be soon deprived of it, the rich, says Paul, [job 1:2-5]