NOAH, DANIEL, AND JOB
Ezekiel was a prophet of God who was taken into Babylonian captivity with the first wave of captives around 606 B.C. His prophetic ministry was carried out during the early part of that seventy year period of exile. In a fascinating statement, Ezekiel wrote: “The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: ‘Son of man, when a land sins against me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,’ says the Lord…‘Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.’” (Ezekiel 14:12-14, 19-20).
A host of important lessons can be learned from the above text, not the least of which is the high esteem in which God held Noah, Daniel, and Job. Of all the great heroes of faith that lived in Old Testament times, why did God single out these three as especially sterling examples of righteousness?
Consider for a moment those who did not “make the cut.” Enoch, who walked with God and did not see death but was translated, did not make the list (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5)! Abraham, the friend of God and “the father of all those who believe,” was not included (II Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23; Romans 4:11)! Moses, the meekest, most humble man in all the earth and the great emancipator of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, did not “make the cut” (Numbers 12:3)! The fact that they were not included says nothing against them, but that Noah, Daniel, and Job are singled out speaks volumes of their moral character and of their commitment to the will of God. Let us look briefly at each of these great men.
Noah – The Bible reveals that within ten generations from Adam “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:5, 7-8). The method God used to destroy mankind was a great flood, but since Noah “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9) and did not partake of the degradation that had come to characterize the rest of humanity God spared Noah and his family from the devastating flood. God instructed Noah to build an ark of gopher wood, with exact specifications and details of just how it was to be constructed. “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). Noah did not presume to alter the instructions for the ark in any detail, but carefully followed God’s pattern in every particular. Writing of this historic event thousands of years later, the apostle Peter said that God “saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness” while “bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5). The eight people saved from the flood were Noah, his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their wives. These later became the means by which God would repopulate the earth (Genesis 9:1ff). In his first letter, Peter had spoken of the eight souls who had been saved by water (the water bearing up the ark), and went on to affirm, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Christ” (I Peter 3:20-21, KJV). Noah is included in God’s grand “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Daniel – Daniel (like the prophet Ezekiel) was among those of Judah who were the first to be taken to Babylonian captivity. It is believed that he was no more than 16 years old when taken captive, and was among those chosen to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans so that he could be used in the service of the king of Babylon. Those chosen were “young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:4). While undergoing three years of training, it is said of Daniel that he “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). God blessed Daniel. Concerning those chosen to serve the king, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17). Daniel explained dreams to Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius, and rose to be one of three governors over all the land of Babylon. Daniel distinguished himself above the other governors, leading the king to give consideration to making Daniel the sole governor over the whole land (Daniel 6:1-3). When jealousy against Daniel led the other governors and the satraps to trick king Darius into making a law forbidding prayer to any “god” except the king, Daniel went to his house, “And in his upper room, with his windows opened toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom from early days” (Daniel 6:4-10). As a consequence of his disobedience to the king’s decree, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6:16-17). But while Darius the king spent a miserable night, walking the floor worrying about Daniel, Daniel slept like a baby with the lions and experienced no harm (Daniel 6:18)! The next morning the king went early and in haste to the lions’ den and discovered that Daniel was safe. “So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:19-23). Daniel is clearly alluded to in God’s “Hall of Fame” when it is said of a host of Old Testament worthies “…who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 11:33-34). From his youth and throughout his life, Daniel stood by his principles, refused to compromise, and maintained his unyielding faith in the one true God of heaven and earth.
Job – Job apparently was a contemporary with Abraham some 2000 years before the birth of Christ. He was a resident of the land of Uz which may have been in the northern Arabian peninsula, near the land of Midian, the land to which Moses would flee many years later. The Bible describes Job as “blameless and upright, and one who feared (highly respected, hf) God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). He was a man of great material possessions, yet by a brutal attack from Satan he lost all of his possessions and all of his children (seven sons and three daughters) in a single day (Job 1:2-19). In his despair, he cried out, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22). Later, Satan carried out a terrible attack on the body of Job, sparing only his life. When urged by his wife to curse God and die, “he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10). When his friends proved to be senseless counselors Job remained true to God. At the end of his ordeal, after God had emphasized His omniscience and omnipotence to Job (chapters 38 through 41), Job said to God, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from you” (Job 42:2). God blessed Job with twice as many possessions as he had had before and blessed him again with seven sons and three daughters (Job 42:12-13). Job lived another “one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days” (Job 42:16-17). Over 2000 years later, James, the brother of the Lord, reminded his readers (who themselves were undergoing great hardships) of “the perseverance (patience, KJV) of Job,” and that they had “seen the purpose of the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). No wonder that Job was held in such high esteem by the Lord! No wonder that he, along with Noah and Daniel, comprised such an unusually holy trio!
Hugh Fulford, August 27, 2019
- September 4: Willette Church of Christ, Red Boiling Springs, TN