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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:5 (pt. 1) -
Job Sanctifies His Children, by Joseph Caryl
5And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings, according to the number of them all.
This verse contains the holy practice of Job. You saw before that he had grace in his heart, now you may see grace in his life. Holy practice makes grace visible. There it lay in the habit, here it comes forth in the act. Concerning this holy practice of Job we may note these three things for the division of the verse.
1. The actions about which this holy care of Job was exercised: They are two. A. He sent and sanctified them. B. He offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all.
2. The ground of this holy practice of his, what moved Job after their feasting, thus to send and sanctified them. The ground was this, for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.
3. The constancy of Job in this his holy practice, he did not by fits, now and then, but this did Job continually.
“And it was so, that when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them.”
That is the first thing that we are to explain and open unto you, “Job sent and sanctified them.” How could Job sanctify his sons or his daughters? A parent indeed may provide notes for his children, but can he provide grace also? A parent may put money in their purses, but can he put holiness in their hearts too, such that it is said here, that “Job sent and sanctified them”? Is not sanctification the proper work of the Spirit of God? Does not the Holy Ghost alone sanctify?
For the clearing of this, whereas it is said that “Job sent and sanctified them”: First, some expound the meaning thus, that Job sent up prayers to God to sanctify them. And indeed prayer is a sanctifying ordinance. As prayer requires a holy heart, so prayer will make a holy heart; make the heart that prays holy, yea many times get holiness into another’s heart. Secondly, others say, he sent and sanctified them, that is, he sent them to the place that was appointed for sacrifice, they were to be sanctified: He sent and sanctified them, he sent them to the place where the sacrifice should be offered, that so they might be sanctified, that is, he sent a message to them, to command them to prepare and to fire themselves for the holy duty of offering the burnt offering or sacrificing. For, to sanctify, in Scripture, notes two things.
1. The infusion of a holy habit, the infusion of a new principle into the soul.
2. A preparation of the soul to holy duties.
Now when it is said that Job sent and sanctified them, it is not meant as if Job did infuse holy habits into his children, as if it were in his power to make them gracious. Indeed that is impossible, it is only the work of the Spirit of God. No man can come at the spirit of another but the Spirit of God. But this is it, he sent to them to prepare themselves, to advise and warn them to prepare themselves that they might be ready for that holy duty, for the duty of sacrificing. And this preparation to holy duties, is often called sanctifying, as Gen. 35. When Jacob was called to Bethel to offer sacrifice and to build an altar, he said to his household: “Put away the strange gods that are among you and be clean,” (that is, sanctify you, or be you sanctified) “and let us arise and give up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God” (Gen. 35:2). The preparation to the sacrifice, was a cleansing or a sanctifying of them. So, when the people were to be prepared to receive the law, the Lord said unto Moses, “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow” (Ex. 19:10), that is, prepare the people or warn the people that they prepare themselves for the receiving of the law. And likewise, in 1 Sam. 16:5, it is said that Samuel did that which the Lord spoke, and came to Bethlehem, and the elders of the town trembled at his coming and said, “Come thou peaceably.” And he said, “Peaceably, I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord, sanctify yourselves and come with me to the Sacrifice”, that is, prepare yourselves to come to the sacrifice. So, sanctification is preparation. The Jew’s Passover was nigh at hand, and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves, or to sanctify themselves, that they might be fit and ready for the sacrifice. So then this sanctifying of them, was a preparing of them for the sacrifice. There were solemn rules given afterward when the form of the church order and discipline was established by Moses; but even now before that, the Law and light of nature taught this, besides the teaching of God, that they must be sanctified before they came to sacrifice. Job sent and sanctified them, then they came to that holy service
This is the first act of Job. We may here observe, first, the time when Job sent to sanctify them: it was when the days of their feasting were gone about. Job did not take them off from their feasting, or deny them the liberty of their feasting; but when the days of their feasting were gone about, then he sent and sanctified them. The point we may note from hence is this.
It does well become godly parents to give their children leave to take moderate refreshing and recreation one with another.
Job did not severely and austerely forbid them and say, “Why are you feasting and spending your time idly one with another?” Why do you spend so many days in feasting? He never interrupted them until the days of their feasting were gone about. It becomes parents to loose the reins of government so far, as to give them leave for their refreshing, to let themselves out in honest ways of recreation by their mutual society. Job did not call them to this holy service from their feasting, but when the days of their feasting were gone about.
Secondly, Job sent to sanctify his children, though they were in their own houses, though they were at their own disposing, for it appears they had families and households of their own. Though they were men and women grown, yet Job sent to sanctify them. Observe hence:
Parents must not cast off the care of their children, though they are grown up, though they are men and women.
Some think, that if they look to their children at school, and breed them up a while, and have given them some instructions in their youth, they need not then trouble themselves any further. Whereas the care of parents ought to live as long as they and their children can live together. This care went after his children to their houses. He sent to them to bid them prepare themselves.
Thirdly, though these were (as we say) grown men and women, yet as soon as their Father sends the message to them, they all submit and obey. Observe:
Children that are grown up, or have houses and families of their own, ought yet to yield all reverence and submission to the lawful commands, counsels, and directions of their parents.
Do not think you have outgrown obedience and honor to parents, when you are grown in years. We see Job’s children thought themselves under their father’s command and counsel, there is not one of them replies, “What need my father trouble himself about us?” No, but all willingly prepared themselves and came, for he offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. Therefore certainly they came.
Fourthly, from the matter of this act, not what it was that Job did. The text says, “He sent and sanctified them after their feasting”; he did not send a messenger to them, to ask them how they were in health, whether they had not surfeited themselves, or had got any distemper; he did not send to know how the accounts went in their families, whether they had not spent too much; but the matter that he had his eye and his heart upon was, that they might be sanctified and fitted for holy duties. From hence observe:
A parents main and special care should be for the souls of his children.
The care of many parents is only to enrich their children, to make them great and honorable, to leave them full portions and estates, to provide matches for them, but for sanctifying their children, there is no thought of that. Nay many are afraid their children should be sanctified: some parents cannot abide their children, because they suspect them sanctified. Such parents are the Devil’s children. Job’s greatest care was that his children should be sanctified. And every parent ought to say of his natural children, as the apostle John does of his spiritual children, “I have no greater joy, than to hear that my children walk in the truth” (Eph 3:4).