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It could have been the Wild West. It was neither barren dessert nor lush farmland. It was neither thriving nor desolate. It was neither untouched wilderness nor totally tame. It was a place where political refugees could find safety, second class sons could seek their fortune, and where outcasts could find sanctuary. It was the edge of civilization surrounded by an atmosphere of romance. But it was still violent in parts and from this stretch of open country came the outlaws, marauding bandits to rape, pillage and plunder. Here could be seen both nomadic shepherd and settled farmer. As stated already, it could have been the Wild West. But it wasn’t. It was the wild East.
For an Israelite living west of the great rift valley of the Jordan river, everything east across the river was Quedem, ranging all the way from Midian in the south to Aram-Naharaim in the north (Genesis 29:1). It was in this Wild East land that there lived a man named Job.
We know little of this pioneer. There is no tribal identification given. We do not even know if he was a Trans-Jordanian Israelite. All we know is that this man was a worshiper of God. This is the most fitting thing that we can say. It is probably the only thing that he would wish to be remembered for.
Job was blameless and upright. His personality is the most attractive and pleasing thing about him in God’s eyes (Job 1:8, 2:3). The phrase, literally ‘complete and straight,’ attests he was completely honest. This was a man who found favor in God’s eyes. This was a man that God actually bragged about to others. We could learn much from this man in the opening chapters of this Eastern Wilderness drama.
Job was considered whole, complete, and straight, but the following words expand upon this wholeness, completeness and straightness. His goodness had two aspects: he was devout and “...feared God,” like Abraham (Genesis 22:12), but, perhaps just as significantly, he was also moral. Negatively stated, “...he turned away from evil.”
He feared God. He turned away from evil.
This was a man whose emotional reaction to thoughts of facing the holy God was one of fear. This tells us that, cognitively speaking, he thought deeply about his own life and the purity of the Almighty. Having understood the truth, he feared. But this fear was not wasted on ceaseless hand-wringing. He turned away from evil. Job did not sit in the squalor of apathy and indifference. He didn’t passively receive the events of his life. He thought it through, and he became an active participant. The meaning of the expression, “he turned away from evil,” is that Job didn’t simply shrug his shoulders in the face of wickedness. He didn’t simply ignore it. He proactively chose to steer a path that led away from it. He directed his steps in a course that would lead him away from the wicked.
Job was an active participant in the events of his life, which is more than I can say for many who seem content to let life happen to them. Job proactively sought to walk in a way that would deny assistance to evil doers and would give help to those who also turned away from evil. Job weighed critical choices, faced gritty decisions, and he made those tough calls. He was a man living in the wilderness among rebels, brigands, and pirates. But Job was a good man. He was an active participant, not a passive recipient.
Do you want to be a man like Job? Do you want to be a God-honoring man, who fears the Lord and turns away from evil? It will require that you become an active participant in the events of your life. You will need to actively choose. You must decide. And you must do so knowing that you will give an account to God some day for the decisions that you make and the choices you embraced.
My prayer for you is that you would strive to be like Job. I pray that you will be an active participant in the events of your own life, that you will think long and deep about God and have a heart that fears before Him. I pray that you will actively choose to walk away from evil.
“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Job 1:1