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Job Description

by Dennis Pollock

In the book called by his name, godly Job becomes more and more upset as he debates with his “friends” about why his life has taken such a terrible turn. Job’s children have all been killed in a tragic accident when the house where they were feasting suddenly collapsed. In addition his livestock have been stolen by bands of robbers and wiped out by a freak lightning storm. In a single day he has been stripped of all his wealth and all his children. Shortly after that, Satan is allowed to afflict Job with painful boils that cover his body. His wife was spared, but she isn’t much help and advises her miserable husband to “curse God and die.”

Job seems increasingly frustrated, as his friends give pious speeches, declaring that all his Job’s woes are his own fault. Surely he must be a terrible sinner for all this to come upon him. Godly Job maintains his innocence, and as the debate becomes increasingly sharp, he eventually begins to hint that God must have done him wrong. If only he could have an audience with the Almighty! Then he could set the record straight and show his Creator that he has been dealt with most unfairly.

After lengthy speeches and debates, God appears and Job gets his wish. God asks Job a series of questions, none of which Job can answer. His questions include:

  1. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
  2. Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?
  3. Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
  4. Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are!’?

God’s address to Job is quite lengthy, and by the time He has finished Job has no spirit left in him, and can only reply:

I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
…I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:3,5,6).

It is an amazing story and speaks powerfully to us of God’s greatness and our need to submit to His sovereign hand. In God’s words to Job we find essentially a “job description” of what it is to be God. Our Creator made all things, He rules all things, and He knows all things. His wisdom, purposes, and plans are not to be challenged or criticized by puny, flawed, ignorant, confused, thick-headed men and women such as we all are.

Humbling the Proud

For the purpose of this study I want to focus on just one of God’s declarations found within this amazing address to Job. In the 40th chapter of the book of Job, God tells his protesting servant: “Would you indeed annul My judgment… Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him. Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low” (Job 40:8,11,12). In this statement, God is declaring that one aspect of His “job description,” one dimension of what it is to be the Almighty is to humble and bring down proud people. It is part of the essence of who God is and what He does.

Since by God’s own mouth, the humbling of the proud is part and parcel of His nature, we should expect that we would find evidence of this sprinkled throughout the Scriptures. And this is indeed what we do find. In fact, we see it a lot! A classic example of this is found in the little book of Daniel. In the fourth chapter, proud Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is standing on the rooftop of his palace, overlooking the magnificent capital city of his empire. He has put a lot of effort in making this city what it is, and boasts, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

This is more than God, the One who “looks on everyone who is proud, and humbles them” can endure. The king immediately loses his mind and spends the next “7 times” (most think this means 7 years) living as a madman, eating grass, sleeping outdoors, never cutting his hair or trimming his nails.  Eventually his mind is restored and he sums up his experience thus: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37). And this, of course, was a part of the job description God gave for Himself when rebuking Job.

It is important that we see that Nebuchadnezzar was not punished or chastened merely for being a sinner. Many of the pagan kings were notorious sinners and never experienced what Nebuchadnezzar did. And this proud statement while overlooking Babylon was certainly not the first sin he had ever committed. In the previous chapter, he had ordered Daniel’s three godly friends to be killed by throwing them in the fiery furnace. There had been no divine rebuke, and his life went on just as before. It would seem that the attempted murder of three men for their faithfulness to God in refusing to bow down to his idol was a far greater sin than his proud boast about how he was responsible for the building of the city of Babylon. But in God’s eyes, pride seemed to call for an immediate judgment, whereas with attempted murder, God was content to wait until Nebuchadnezzar’s turn at the divine judgment bar.

“The Voice of a God!”

A New Testament example of God’s opposition to pride can be found in the book of Acts. It has to do with King Herod, who had begun to persecute the church. He had the apostle James put to death, and then went on to have Peter arrested. He probably intended the same fate for Peter as James, but God sent an angel to free him. In the midst of this fervor to destroy the leaders of the church, he was asked to give a speech to some of his subjects among the people of Tyre and Sidon. Herod had been upset with these folks, and since they desperately needed the provisions he regularly apportioned for them, they wanted to flatter him and win his favor. As Herod waxed eloquent in his speech, some began to cry out, “The voice of a god and not a man!” Herod, no doubt, was highly pleased with such praise, but God was decidedly not. The Bible tells us: “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:23).

Herod was a wicked man descended from a long line of wicked men. But he didn’t have to have his life cut short. He could have carried on in his wicked, selfish, immoral, pathetic little life well into old age, were it not for the sin of pride. In this case his sin was not something he did, but rather something he did not do. He failed to give glory to God. Rather than immediately pausing and telling the people that there was only one God, and he was not Him, Herod drank in their flattery and idolatry, making no attempt to correct them. It cost him his life.


Proud manIt just seems as though pride really, really disturbs our Creator, and often brings a more immediate judgment than almost any other sin. You can lie and cheat for decades and you may never know that the Almighty is displeased – unless of course you read His word. But pride seems to be a different matter. Twice in the New Testament we are told that God resists the proud. To resist is to work against, to actively oppose someone and attempt to disrupt their plans, purposes, and dreams. To be resisted is to encounter opposition. Most of us have had what we consider human resistance to various goals and projects that meant a lot to us. We didn’t like it much. But as painful as human resistance can be, what a far worse thing it would be to have the Creator of all things actively resist us and work against us. If we really understood this, the one thing that would scare us more than about anything else in life would be pride. We would avoid it, or at least attempt to avoid it, like a plague. What sane person would want God resisting him?

In Proverbs we read, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Adolf Hitler, a proud man if ever there were one, found this out in 1945 as he raged, fumed, and directed non-existent armies in the last days of World War II, while his beloved Germany lay in ruins and utter devastation all about him.  If humbling and resisting proud people is a part of God’s “job description,” we would do well to seek its opposite. And the Bible plainly declares what that opposite is: “God resists the proud… but gives grace to the humble.” Humility, therefore, is what we need by all means. Along with wisdom and love and self-control we need a great big dose of humility!

For any God-fearing man or woman, the question is, “How do we get humility.” Should I practice thinking of myself as a worm and completely incompetent in every area of life? Should professional athletes go around calling themselves clumsy oafs? Should stunningly beautiful women say, when complimented on their looks, “Oh, you’re just being kind. I know the truth –I am horribly ugly and hideous to look at.”? Should brilliant men call themselves stupid or highly successful entrepreneurs refer to themselves as pathetic losers?

It is not necessary, nor would it be of any benefit to deny our gifts. But humility recognizes that any gifts we may have are just that – they are gifts from God. The Bible tells us that every good gift comes from the Father. If we are athletic or pretty or smart or have an attractive personality or any other positive attribute, it did not spring up within us by accident, nor did we earn it. We dare not boast of these gifts as though we deserve any credit for them. Humility recognizes that any and every good thing in our lives – whether a talent, a friend, a spouse, children, opportunities, career, or anything else that is good, comes from God. And a wise man or woman also understands that He could take part or all of it away in a heartbeat.

Humility begins with recognizing our need for a Savior. When Jesus said that in order to enter the kingdom of God we must become like little children, surely humility is a part of this. Small children haven’t learned too much about pride yet. They aren’t concerned with being cool, and they don’t normally worry about the latest fashions. They say whatever is on their mind, without worrying about how others will take it.

To believe on Jesus Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior is to humble ourselves, to acknowledge to ourselves and to all the world that we are not “all that.” We don’t have it together, we’ve made a mess of our lives, we’ve lived selfishly and sinfully and are in desperate need of forgiveness. To receive Jesus and become a member of the despised and scorned evangelical Christians is to humble ourselves, and Scripture declares, “He gives grace to the humble.” To those who receive His Son, God gives the grace of forgiveness, the grace of the Holy Spirit to live with you and in you, and the grace of eternal life.

But pride is a deceitful thing, and even after becoming a Christian we can allow this insidious monster back into our lives. We can even become proud of our spiritual gifts or our roles in the church. We can exercise pride by refusing to fellowship with believers that we consider somehow less than us. Perhaps they are less educated or less wealthy or less polished or less talented. And so we hang with those we admire and ignore those who don’t seem too sharp. God is not pleased.

When we truly understand that resisting the proud and giving grace to the humble is an important aspect of our God’s nature, or “job description,” we will flee pride as almost nothing else. We will seek humility in our words, in our relationships, and in always giving God the glory for any good thing we have or do. For He alone is worthy!


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