The collapse of the empire of the “greatest man in all the east” did not come all in one moment. Clearly, it took years of hard work and ethical management to reach such a pinnacle. And one can only assume, what with all the just-in-case sacrifices burned on the altar of “I’m not sure what my children were doing when I wasn’t looking,” that Job invested at least as much into his family as his business pursuits.
He would not be undone in a single moment, no. It would be several moments — a four-pronged assault on his life without really touching his life — closely compacted into the most devastating single minute one can imagine.
In that first moment, a servant — the solitary one left to tell — rushed into Job’s presence to report an attack by Sabeans. Oxen and goats, all gone. Servants slashed with the sword.
The lone survivor had not finished his announcement, hadn’t even begun to unleash his lament, when came another sole survivor with news that fire had fallen from the sky and consumed the sheep and the servants tending them. While this man stood still in his shock, and again while he was still speaking, yet another servant burst in to add shock upon shock that three groups of Chaldeans made of with Job’s camels and slaughtered more servants.
Finally, before Job could take in this most recent refrain of this painfully rhythmic pounding came the fourth, while the third was still speaking, with word of the wind taking down the house where all of his children celebrated, the only survivor this single, desperate servant.
One, on top of the other, these four terrified servants brought news of their own portion of the catastrophe, of the ruin of all that one man had.
Job buckled, tore his clothes, screamed aloud there among the five persons remaining in his life. Four grief-stricken servants and an already hardened wife. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” he cried.
I recall a trainer early in my insurance career urging his students not to use the phrase “act of God.” He sensed it put blame where it did not belong, and preferred we use the term “act of nature.” It seems, perhaps, he was a student of Job.
You can find more on this sporadic look at the Book of Job here.