The first chapter of Job gives us two very important facts about Job.
1. His godly character: Verse 1
2. His wealth: Verse 3
For many people if they were to obtain great wealth it would negativly effect their spirtual walk.
Recently Back to the Bible did a program in which they talked about this:
That's quite a description of this man Job. Now, as I say, yesterday we learned all about his integrity. Today I want to focus on another aspect of Job, and that is his wealth. This is a man who had moral character and a great deal of wealth. And I know in the 21st century, we often think those two things don't go together--that money corrupts us, and as a result, we cannot possibly be moral and have money at the same time.
So when you look at the catalog of Job's wealth, you're not surprised that this man is the wealthiest man of all the Old Testament. Well, we're talking about Bill Gates' kind of wealth here, or Warren Buffet wealth, or John B. Rockefeller wealth, or your wealth--well, maybe not your wealth (laughter)--but we're talking about a lot of wealth here.
I want you to see the catalog of wealth. Verse 3 (Job 1:3), check it out again. This is a man who had 7,000 sheep. Sheep were generally used for food--lamb in the Middle East is beef in the United States and Canada. We tend toward beef.
The lamb that they do in Israel, they breed what they call fat-tailed sheep. And somehow they get the fat to go to the tail! But when they barbeque lamb, I'm telling you, every time I eat it, I think I've died and gone to heaven! In fact, I schedule when we take a tour (we do this every year to Israel and take folks like you along), when we go to Israel, I schedule lunch around where I can get barbequed lamb. Now don't tell anybody that (laughter) because that would destroy their image!
When you have 7,000 sheep, you are talking about a pretty good flock of sheep. He also has 3,000 camels. Now a camel was never used for food. A camel was always used--they got milk from camels, but they were used for transportation. Camels could go for miles without water. Camels are mentioned as early as the days of the patriarchs.
Later on, of course, the horse replaced the camel as a means of transportation, but a camel was just an incredible animal. And for Job to have 3,000 of them! And then notice also, he has 500 yoke of oxen. Now a yoke is two, so that means he has 1,000 oxen. These are the work horses, if I can use that term, for ancient Israelites and people of the ancient Near East.
So now he has 1,000 John Deeres®, or Massey Fergusons®, or Cases® in his garage because these are the ones who do the work. These are the plowing animals, you know. And the reason they could plow so good was, obviously, they were strong as an ox! (Laughter) Sorry, forgive me, I couldn't help myself!
Oxen--they were used for daily work and then, in addition to that, notice verse 3 says he had 500 she donkeys (female donkeys). These were the more humble means of transportation. This is generally what a person would ride in the ancient Near East. It's kind of like having a Ford® or a Chevy® or a Kia® or something in your garage as opposed to a Mercedes® or a Lexus®, whatever.
What you see here is: You see a man who has just this incredible catalog of wealth, but it kind of rounds out the catalog in verse 3 when it says he has a very large household. You would need a very large household. You need servants to care for these sheep and these donkeys and these camels.
Often in the Old Testament when you were a man of significance, a man of means, a man of wealth, a man of importance, you had personal servants to show the world how many servants you had and how important you were. Wasn't it Abraham that had 318 (was it?) trained servants at his command?
Well, all right, here's Job. Job has all these animals. He has a very great retinue of servants to help him with all these animals. In this country he's a sheik; he is not a Jewish sheik, he does not live in Israel. He's a sheik from the land of Uz. Sometime this week we'll discuss where Uz is, but what I want you to know is this is a man that, in all candor, was the wealthiest man in the ancient East.
When you see that expression there at the end of verse 3, "the greatest of all the people of the East," I don't think that's hyperbole. I think what the Bible is saying is, "This was the greatest person of integrity; this was the greatest person of wealth; this was the best known person in all the ancient East." "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job" (1:1).
This is a country that spawned sheiks like we in the West spawn lawyers (laughter)--they were everywhere. (Sorry about that, Tammy. I don't mean that in any sense other than that there were a lot of them!) There were a lot of sheiks, but if you take all the sheiks in the ancient Near East, and above all of them you find this man, Job.
So we're talking about a pretty significant character here. He's a man of wealth. The issue is: How do you balance wealth with integrity?
Any suggestions on how to balance that tension of having wealth and how much then should you give back, how much should you keep for yourself? That's a difficult decision.
In fact, I think Job provides some good examples here. Let's jump right into the second part of this study today. Think about getting that balance.
How do you get the balance? If there is a lesson for those of us who are less than tycoon-types like Job, what is it that we can learn from this man? When you look at the book, you see a book that bears the name of Job, and this book shows (I think) Job's relationship to God. The intent of the book is to show that throughout his life, whether he was being blessed with sheep or blessed with calamity, Job's relationship with God was never on hold. Job maintained that healthy relationship with God.
So let's notice some things here about how he maintained that relationship. What I want you to see here is that the very first relationship we learn about in the Book of Job is Job's relationship to God; verse 1, he was a man "who feared God and shunned evil."
The second relationship we learn in the Book of Job is verse 2. That's the relationship between Job and his family.
The third relationship we learn is in verse 3. That's the relationship between Job and his holdings (his possessions, his money).
Now here's the thing: I think we've gotten this all backwards today. I think in our 21st century society, we have placed the third relationship as the first one in our list of priorities. Isn't it interesting when you meet a new person and you ask their name, and they tell you their name, what's the next question you ask them? Yeah, "What do you do for a living?" Because we put value on what people do, and we don't ask what their relationship with God is--we don't even ask about their family--we ask, "What do you do that makes money for you?"
I've told you this before, but some time ago I was on an airplane, and I fly enough with the airlines that I got bumped up to Business Class in this particular plane, and I don't ever say no if they want to treat me well (laughter). So I didn't pay for it, but I was up there, and I sat next to a man in a suit, and he was obviously a businessman, and I sat down and the first question he asked me is, "Well, what do you do?"
Now I happened to be in a suit as well. I admit this to you: The flesh got a hold of me. I wanted to say, "I'm a preacher of the Gospel," (laughter) but the flesh got a hold of me, and I said, "Well, I'm the President of an international bi-lingual, inter-lingual, multinational, multilingual, multimillion-dollar corporation."
I want to tell you, I got his attention. (Laughter) Now all those things are true: Back to the Bible is multinational, you know, but he sat up and took notice because of who he thought I was, and I wasn't anything more than when I sat down in that seat, you see. But, you see, that's our problem.
We have our relationships topsy-turvy.
Now here's what I want you to see here: In Job's relationships, the very first thing Job introduces us to is his relationship with God, and I think when you and I have our relationship with God right, whether we have a lot of money or no money at all, we're going to be OK with the money that we have. It's when we don't have our relationship with God right that we're always greedy about getting more.
The second thing I learned about this balance is, after his relationship with God, we're going to learn a lot about his relationship to his family: his relationship to those kids. Now let's face it: Job is not just the wealthiest man in the ancient Near East, he's a daddy--he's got seven sons and three daughters--and he has family responsibilities.
So, his first relationship is his relationship with God (verse 1), his second relationship is his relationship with his family (verse 2), and then his third relationship is the relationship with all the things he had around him.
Now, Job didn't, of course, but it's almost like Job knew the words of the Lord Jesus: Mark 8, Jesus said, " Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and [for] the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:34-36, KJV)
Now, I think Job, even though he was not Jewish (he predates the Law; he didn't have the Old Testament Law to go by; he certainly didn't have any of the Law of Christ to go by; he didn't know anything about Christianity; he didn't know anything about godliness as you and I would define godliness today), this is nonetheless a man who clearly understood what it was like to be a man of God because he feared God and at the same time he shunned evil.
He was a man who had a blameless character and was upright. He knew what was right, innately, not by reading the Ten Commandments, or by taking the Alpha Course, or anything like that. This is a man who knew what was right because he had a relationship with God.
How then do we make the decisions--the tough decisions--that relate to our own wealth, or even our lack of wealth? I think we make those decisions by keeping the relationships intact and making a priority of our relationships.
The most important relationship you have is your relationship with God, and your second most important relationship is that relationship you men have with your wife and your family. And then business, office, the guys, Fantasy Football--all the other things you like to do--that has to come somewhere after that. And when that's right, we don't seem to have a problem balancing integrity and wealth.
I think the program brought up some very good points. I would love to hear what others think about this subject. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.