The Oldest Lesson
We have all “heard of the endurance of Job” (James 5: 11) but the important question is this, Have we “seen the end” which the Lord had in view in all His dealings with His servant? Have we beheld the “end” which He brought about in His own perfect way?
The object and purpose of the book of Job are one. Whatever is said and done, whoever speaks or acts, all has reference to one person, and is designed to bring about one “end”. It consists of forty-two chapters, relating to various events, and different agencies, all of which are brought to bear upon one person, and all directed to one “end”—“the end of the Lord.” We see Heaven, Earth, and Hell, Jehovah, and Satan, the Chaldeans and the Sabeans, fire from heaven, and wind from the wilderness, Job’s friends, his wife, and his children, all engaged and employed in order to secure one “end.”
It is a wonderful book in itself, apart from either the endurance of Job or the end of the Lord. We might study it with reference to the history involved in the book, its national character, or its place in the Canon of Scripture, or the time at which it was written. We could investigate the various references to the arts, natural history, and to astronomy. We might study its eschatology, or its knowledge of mineralogy, metallurgy and mining operations. We could notice its language, the words and expressions employed—especially those that are peculiar to the book. All these and many other matters might well form subjects of separate study, but we leave them all aside because, however interesting, they are not the “end” for which the book was given to us.
Ancient it is beyond all dispute. It probably belongs to the period covered by the book of Genesis, and, possibly, to the time of Abraham. Its lesson, therefore, is the oldest we could have, the very same lesson as that with which the Bible begins. In Genesis 1 and 2 we have the creation of man. In Genesis 3 we have the fall of man, the chapter ending with the statement that man was driven out from the Garden of Eden in judgment (see v24). Then in Genesis 4 what do we have, but the way back again to God through grace? Not man’s way, which Cain invented, but God’s way, the way which Abel took. This is the oldest lesson in the world. It is the lesson that stands on the fore–front of revelation. Job follows it up and expands it by answering the solemn question, “How can man be just with God?” (Job 9: 2).
Now not only is this the oldest lesson, but it is also the most important lesson that it is possible to learn. If we do not know this lesson, it does not matter what else we may know. Our knowledge may be vast, extensive, and deep on all other subjects, but it will not carry us beyond the grave. The knowledge of Job’s lesson will serve us for eternity, and secure our eternal blessing and happiness. If we know this lesson, it matters little what else we do not know! No wonder then that this oldest lesson in the world is thus set at the very opening of God’s Word in Genesis, following immediately upon the record of the Fall! No wonder that, in Job, at the threshold of the Word of God, we have the foundation of Gospel truth securely laid!
The “end” which the Lord had in view was to enforce this lesson in the most powerful way––a way which would serve as an object lesson for all time and impress its importance upon the hearts and minds of all who read it.