While the book of Job may be the Bible's oldest book, it's still is current and relevant and it will be as long as men suffer and experience grace. Watch for the pivotal peaks of trust in God during Job's journey to redemption. We'll also sweep over deep valleys of doubt that will be shrouded in darkness. Buckle in for Job's adventure in faith, it is a bumpy ride but a safe landing is ahead.
Well, listen to this. You can tell you're going to have a rotten day, when you see a 60 minutes news team in front of your office. You can tell you're going to have a rotten day, when you call the suicide prevention and they put you on hold. You can tell you're going to have a rotten day, when your twin sister forgot your birthday. You can tell you're going to have a rotten day, when your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck for you as you follow a group of hell's angels on the free-way. That would be bad. You know you're going to have a rotten day, when your income tax check bounces. It's getting to be that time, isn't it? You can tell you're going to have a rotten day, when you put both contact lenses in the same eye. You can tell you're going to have a rotten day, when you wake up in a hospital all trussed up and your insurance agent tells you that your accident policy covers falling off the roof, but not hitting the ground.
In the book of Job, we read about a guy who has the ultimate rotten day. Not just a day, a whole period, an episode of his life, where things go really, really south. It didn't start out that way. In fact, the book opens up with a high degree of drama. There's a guy who's very wealthy, very well off, he owns many animals, he has a great family. In fact, he has 10 children. My mom was one of 10 children. He had 10 kids, he had seven boys and three girls. He had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 head of oxen and 500 donkeys. Very wealthy, blessed man, and yet by chapter 2, verse 8, this man is sitting in a heap of ashes with a piece of pottery and he is scraping himself because of his sores. He looses it all, through natural disaster as well through a group of terrorists that killed his children. It's a horrible story, and yet it's a story of great redemption, how God uses it in this man's life, and that's the book that is before us tonight.
Now the book of Job, you'd be interested to know, is probably one of the oldest books we have, if not the oldest book in the Bible. We don't exactly know when it is written, but we can safely guess that it was written around the patriarchal age. You say, what is the patriarchal age? From the year 2000-1000 B.C. is when the book of Job was written. There's few hints in the book that, that help us out there.
Number 1, wealth is described in terms of numbers of animals, not in terms of coinage, that's a patriarchal designation. You may remember that both Abraham and Lot, their wealth was described in a similar way. Number 2, there's no reference at all to the Law of Moses, probably because the law of Moses wasn't in existence yet. Number 3, there's no reference at all to any Israelite history, because again, this probably predates Israel's history. Number 4, the patriarchal name of God, EL Shaddai appears a lot in this book. In fact, it appears more in the book of Job and Genesis than anywhere else in the scripture. That's an old reckoning of the name of God; more so than a more common, or a more updated occurrence.
And also, we discover at the end of the book that Job dies at age 140. Now that kind of longevity was seen in the patriarchal periods just after the flood, post-Diluvian. Anti-diluvians, they lived a lot longer. Post-diluvians, they lived much shorter but still longer than what is common today.
Well, Job is a book of suffering. And I know a lot of people here have felt like Job at different times, but probably, and I'm just saying probably, no one here has actually lost, what Job lost, and suffered like Job suffered. But I can almost guarantee this, I bet everybody in this room has asked the question, "Why God, why would you, if you are loving and just an wonderful, allow me, especially, to suffer?" Why do good people, godly people, suffer? How can there be a loving God, and at the same time, horrible suffering worldwide?
Now that issue, you're not the first one to struggle with it. Everybody, everyone, has struggled with it, all the way back. Theologically and philosophically, the term is known as Theodicy, T-H-E-O-D-I-C-Y, Theodicy. That's reconciling a loving God and a suffering world. And the book of Job touches, specifically on that. One thing the book of Job should end, and that is this notion that, if you really believe by faith and if you have enough faith in God, you'll never suffer, you shouldn't experience disease, you shouldn't experience hardship. All one has to do is read that book because no one deserved suffering less than Job. He's called the most righteous guy around and yet nobody, or few people have ever suffered as much as Job did.
Now here is how you can divide the book. You could divide the book in its literary form because that really is the natural division of the book. There's first prologue, chapters 1 and 2 is the setup, we call that the prologue. Then chapters 3 through chapters 26 is dialogue, as Job goes back and forth to three of his buddies about the issue of suffering. Chapter 27 through 37 is monologue. Job speaks, a guy named, Elihu, speaks. And then, God speaks, in chapter 38, that monologue could be actually taken into chapter 38 and 39. And then the final section of the book would be Epilogue. So you have Prologue, Dialog, Monologue, and Epilogue. That's really how the book is divided, but I, I don't think we care much about that. I think we really care about the spiritual issues of the book.
So here's how I divide the book. First of all, number 1, physical malady. Physical malady, Job suffers physically, the loss of his children, livestock, servants. Job suffers physical problems on a personal level. Number 2 is spiritual reality. Behind the physical malady is something going on in the spiritual realm or reality that Job has no clue about. He's not privy to it. You and I are through the author of the book, but he is not. Number 3, mental agony. Those chapters between chapter 3 and 26 is, his friends rustle with the issue of suffering as does Job who's going through it. That mental anguish of why and how, and I can't figure it out. And then finally number 4, eventual victory. There is resolution eventually and Job does get victory in understanding this problem of pain.
So let's begin in chapter 1, verse 1. And one thing you're going to notice tonight, just so you don't go, "Oh! Oh! The time is late, he'll never finish." We're going to spend a lot of time upfront, less time in the dialogue because I can quickly and easily sum them up and there is a lot of repetition. But the first two chapters are written in prose. If you have a modern translation, you can just look and notice that. It's written in prose, it's the story that is told.
Beginning in chapter 3, we have a poetic section. The rest is basically poetry and it's one of the most beautiful poetic descriptions we have in the Bible. We are beginning the books of poetry with the book of Job it's set out in poetic form. So let's, let's begin the verse 1. There was a man in the land of Uz. Remember when you went to the land of Uz. You say, "I don't think I have ever been to the land of Uz." Probably right, unless you have been to Saudi Arabia or Jordan. That area of Northern Arabia or Southern Edam, modern Jordan is that area of ancient Uz; whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil.
He had seven sons, three daughters, they were born to him. Verse 3, also his possessions were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large household. So that this man was the greatest of all the people in the East. In Hebrew, the word greatest is the largest or heaviest. Heaviest; now don't think in terms of physical heaviness or largeness. It didn't mean that he was fat, F-A-T, but if you're familiar with the modern designation of P-H-A-T, PHAT. If, if you're familiar with that, I don't need to explain it. If you know what it is, that really fix it quite well. This guy was very great, very renowned and very wealthy. He was P-H-A-T.
Now Job is mentioned elsewhere only twice in the Bible; once in Ezekiel and once in the book of James. In Ezekiel, he's put right up there and compared to the patriarch Noah as well as the prophet Daniel. There God says, "I am going to destroy the land of Israel. And if these three men Noah and Job and Daniel were there, the only ones I would save would be them because of their righteousness. Everybody else is going into captivity." Then James, in chapter 5, mentions his endurance. "You've heard of the patience of Job", says James. He is given as an example of, of endurance. Chapter 1, verse 6, "There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them."
Now you're going to see here. We're going behind the scenes, behind the stage, so to speak, backstage and seeing the, the reality that's going on, as we'll touch on. And we get some very important information about the devil. Number 1, he's accountable to God as you're see. There's a time when the Bar Elohim, the sons of God which are angelic creations, have to give an account before God. This is, sort of, like their, their job review. And among them is Satan, which is interesting.
And the Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?" and Satan answered the Lord, "From going to and fro on the earth and from walking back and forth on it." Which shows us that Satan is not omnipresent, everywhere present. He's not omniscient he's not omnipotent. He can only be in one place at one time. And the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There's none like him the on the earth, a blameless man, an upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil." Verse 9,
So Satan answered and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land." Okay, right off the bat, you can see we have information, Job didn't have. You and I are privy to what's going on behind the scenes. Job is just living his life; he has no clue that this conversation is taking place backstage. I don't think, he would like that idea. We know it because the author tells us that Job has no clue, but verse 11, "Now stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will surely curse you to your face."
Do you hear what Satan is accusing Job of? He said, "Let me just tell you something, God. This Job guy that you think is blameless, he's a mercenary. He only follows you because you bless him, because, because you've given him so much. You strip that away from him and he'll curse you to your face." And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is, is in your power. Only do not lay a hand on his person. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord." Now here's what happens. Four rapid fire disasters fall upon Job and his family, one after another, four of them. He loses his livestock, he loses his servants, he loses his children, they all die. Only four servants are left. And then eventually, Job himself will be touched physically. There will be a physical malady, where he's scraping the sores of his body.
Now I'm going to give you, by kind of reading ahead and going through Job as I did and pulling out verses. I'm going to give you different verses in Job, a composite description of the physical malady of Job. Number 1, he had inflamed lesions and intense itching because of it. Chapter 2, verse 7 and 8, "Painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. He took for himself a potsherd" (That's a little broken piece of pottery), "with which to scrape himself, while he sat in the mist of ashes." That's number 1.
Number 2, these lacerations in his skins must have either attracted worms or housed maggots. Okay, chapter 7, verse 5 says, "His body is clothed with worms and scabs. His skin is broken and festering." Number 3, Job developed some sort of osteopathy, bone disease. His bones hurt there's severe pain. "Night pierces my bones, my gnawing pain never rests."
And then also, there is a blackening of the skin and falling off of certain patches of his skin, some kind of a necrosis of the, of the tissue. Chapter 30, verse 30 says, "The skin grows black. It peels and my body burns with fever". Add on top of that night terrors, you can't sleep when you're in that, kind of, a pain and your mind goes crazy. Chapter 7, verse 14, Job says, "You frighten me, speaking to God, you frighten me with dreams and you terrify me with visions." That's the picture. It says, "If all of the forces of heaven and earth and hell were unleashed on this one man in a moment." It's like having the great tribulation in your own personal life. Job is going through it.
One minute safe, comfortable, family, trusting God, blameless, upright. The next moment, he loses it all, which is why the book of Job unsettles us. We're unnerved when we read, that could be a possibility. And we understand when we look at the whole of scripture, that just because you trust in Jesus Christ does not make you exempt from suffering. In fact, you discover that that God uses suffering for his purpose and your purpose. But it is unnerving at first.
Well, Job will go through it. And I submit to you that as he's going through it, since this is, sort of, a wager between Satan and God, that the whole host of heaven; you know maybe it's a bad analogy but picture of balcony of heaven and hell looking at Job to see what he's going to do now, that he loses everything. Verse 20, "Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head and he fell to the ground and he worshiped." Now the, the first part of that is expected. Deep grief, he tore his robe, he is lamenting, he hates what he's experiencing. Job said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and The Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of The Lord. In all of this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."
Okay the first part was expected, tore his clothes, he's experiencing deep lamentation and grief, that's expected. That's what most people do, that's proper and normal and natural. But the second part of that is unexpected, it says, "He fell down and he worshiped." You see it is possible to suffer greatly and worship simultaneously, it is possible. How you feel about God, when you suffer, is how you feel about God. Now say that again, I want you to listen to that. How you feel about God, when you are suffering, is really how you feel about God. It's one thing to bless the Lord when the blessings flow, but when life takes that turn and it looks as though you have lost it all and the bottom drops out, what do you think about God now?
This is what Job thought about God now. He said, "I came with nothing, I am leaving with nothing. Blessed be the name of Lord." In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Now anybody can say the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, because you can say it like this. "Well, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away." You're, you're just, sort of, burnt at that whole concept. But it's a whole another thing to say, and by the way, "Blessed be the name of the Lord", as Job does here.
You see you're children of God, if you have a relationship through Christ. Sometimes, God will calm the storm for His child. We love it when he does, that's what we pray for. At other times, God didn't do that. At other times, God calms the child of God in the storm. So that in the storm, unabated, still raging, the child of God says, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."
So Job knew what happened, but Job did not know why it happened. We know because we are reading it, he didn't know. So let's look at the spiritual reality. We've seen a little bit of that already, we're going to see more. Who's the main character of the book so far? It's written right at the top, Job, he's main character of the book on earth. On earth, he's the main character of the book, but he's not really the main character of the book in heavenly rooms. You go backstage, you go away from the stage of the earth, and you see that there's a couple of other hidden characters who are dealing with the script of this man's life behind the scenes that Job is not privy to. And so like a movie, what Job is doing is panning and giving you a close shot of the earth and then panning back, backstage toward heaven, in this conversation that's Satan and God are having, then back to the earth, then back toward heaven, then back to the dialogue. We're going to see that throughout the book.
Chapter 2, verse 1, "There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?" and Satan answered the Lord and said, "From going to and fro on the earth and from walking back and forth on it." This is interesting.
If you ask the average person, where does the devil live? Where does he hang out? Most people say, "hell." You're wrong, he didn't. Satan doesn't live in hell, that's a misunderstanding. He will eventually one day be consigned there, but right now, he has freedom to roam the earth and even interestingly enough, has some, sort of, access to God, as seen here in both of these chapters. He is called, in scriptures, the god of this world, the god of this world gives you insight into where his interest lie.
So then you might ask, "Okay, so, so, so what's he up to?" Answer, people watching. He and his minions study. They already know human nature better than we do, they have been studying it for hundreds, thousands, multiple thousands of years. Same bag of tricks, pulls them out every time, but they work at every generation. Verse 3, the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?" See the word 'considered'? It means to study, like a military general would study how to attack an opponent, that's what the word means.
And it's really not put in question form, a better translation would be, "You have been studying my servant Job, haven't you?" "You've been carefully considering this man, who I say is blameless and upright, haven't you Satan? See that's part of the spiritual warfare that there is none like him on the earth, blameless and upright, one who fears God and shuns evil and still he holds fast to his integrity. Although, you incited me against him to destroy him without cause." Boy, it's a pretty frightening thought, isn't it? That he devil has studied you.
How do you think Peter felt the day Jesus said, "Peter, Satan has been asking for you because he wants to sift you like wheat." I wouldn't want to hear that. "Come here, Skip. Come on! let me take a walk with you. Yeah, the devil has been watching you very carefully lately because he wants to destroy you." What did you tell him? What did you tell him? You said, Satan's been asking for you, that he might sift you as wheat. Jesus said, "but I have prayed for you Peter. And when you are restored, strengthen your brethren."
Okay, here's an important thing you need to understand about the devil. He's powerful, but he only operates by permission. Remember, he comes before God and God says, "Okay, you can do this but only go that far." and then the second time, "Okay, you can go that far and no more." He only operates by permission. Remember in the New Testament, the demons and the man of Gadera and all those swine in Gadera. They had to ask permission to Jesus "don't, don't, don't just cast us out and let us wander, cast us into the herd of swine." They had to ask for that. They couldn't do what they wanted.
Satan operates by only permission. So the devil's powerful he's your adversary, he studies you, but he's on a leash. Okay, now I often wonder, why God let's the leash be so long? As we all wonder, but he's on a leash. And if God allows you, at any time, to suffer His wrath, to go through a fire trial, and you say, "The devil is against me." That's not new news, he has been against you for forever. And that's never going to end, but if you are allowed to go through a period of very tough times, understand this. God will keep his eye on you and His hand on the thermostat. He's not like, He puts you in the oven and, walks away and goes on vacation and forget, "Oh! Crispy critter, I forgot all about that guy."
Okay well, we have got other humans. If He allows you to go through it, His eye is on you and His hand is on that thermostat. As Paul said in the New Testament, "He will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able to endure." So remember that, Satan works through permission. So if you are hassled by the devil and I've had people say, "The devil is coming to me, the devil is trying to get me." Have Jesus answer the door, when he comes knocking. Don't knock, don't answer yourself, don't talk to him even. I get weary of hearing Christians, "Talk to the devil, shout at the devil, rebuke the devil." Don't even engage him in a conversation. Don't waste your time, let the Lord deal with him.
Satan isn't afraid you or your rebuke, but he will tremble when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. You let Jesus answer that door. Verse 4, so Satan answered the Lord and said. "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life, but stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh and he will surely curse you to your face." And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, he's in your hand but spare his life."
Verse 7 and 8, there's boils on him and he sat in the mist of the ashes. Verse 9, his wife said to him, (listen this great godly council), "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." Okay, you're already suffering, you lost everything. Now you got physical malady and you have a, "help mate" saying "Honey, I have just the right council. Curse God and die, get it over with." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish woman speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this, Job did not sin with his lips.
You know that's funny, we, we look at World News and we often look at it superficially. We look at the Middle East, for example, and we just assume, "Man, can't these groups of people ever get along? What is their deal? What's all the fuss about?" You know the whole Israel, Palestinian and all these factions and divisions and they this eternal hatred for each other. What's up with it? Not even so often considering what's going on backstage. What's going on in the spiritual round?
There's an interesting scripture in Daniel, chapter 10, where an angel comes to give Daniel a revelation and he says, "Daniel, as soon as you started praying, I was dispatched from heaven to answer your prayer. But for 21 days I have been withstood by the Prince of Persia. And here I am, as a long fight, I'm answering your prayer, giving you a revelation. Now I got to go back and fight with them again, which is a demonic being, the Prince of Persia."
Inside into that is given in Ephesians 6, verse 12, "For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world." You know I've often wondered in reading Daniel 10 or Ephesians, you think that the Prince of Persia who can withstand an angel of God for 21 days, whatever demon force was controlling Persia at that time in the world situation?
If the Prince of Persia was that powerful, I just wonder what like the Prince of Las Vegas is like; or the Prince of Hollywood; or the Prince of San Francisco? What demonic influence is really back there doing a lot of this stuff? Okay, now we go to the third division of the book. After a physical malady, spiritual reality comes to this long set of poetic dialogue between Job and his three friends, mental agony, mental agony. Here's the truth. When you suffer you're not the only wonder, the only person wondering why you suffer, there's other people who are around your life, they wonder why you're suffering so much too. In fact, some of them might think, "Man, that person has really been through a lot. I, I wonder if maybe God's like judging him." See, you're not the only one wondering that, there's other people who will play Monday morning quarterback with your life and wonder why you're going through this.
So Job has three, let's call them, "friends, quote, unquote" who get around him, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Eliphaz is a Temanite, that's an area in Jordan that was known for its wisdom. Bildad is a Shuhite, same area, east of the Dead Sea. Zophar is a Naamathite, something like that, one of those 'ites'. But chapter 3 through 26 begins his dialogue, but go back to chapter 2, verse 11. Let's, let's see these friends. "When Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite; for they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him; (Boy, this is good so far) and to comfort him." Verse 13, "They sat down on the ground for 7 days; (I love this.) no one spoke a word to him." Actually that's beautiful. They should had just stopped while they were ahead. Really, there is a ministry in just being present. We call it the Ministry of Presence.
When somebody is suffering, you know sometimes, we feel, "I got to go in there and give him a sermon on Theodicy and why people suffer." Not while they're suffering, do it later when they can receive it. Just be there for them and listen to them and let them cry, let them mourn, hug them, pray for them. And they sat there and they were with him. And, and then they made it really bad because they opened their mouths. It goes from that to something worse. So chapter 3 through 26 begins this dialogue and here's what it is.
There's three cycles of speeches, all three of them give a speech. Job has something to say about it. He rebuts it or he responds to it. Then they give another set of speeches and he responds to it again. So the first cycle of speeches is in chapters 4 through 14. Second cycle of speeches, chapter 15 through 21, and the third cycle of speeches, chapters 23 through 26. So here's where it gets bad, verse 1, chapter 3. "After, after this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth." And Job spoke and he said, "May the day perish in which I was born." "And the night, in which it was said, a male child is conceived."
We can understand that. Person loses everything. He's saying, "You know what? Is this horrible, it'd be better if I never experience life because this is where my life has ended up. I want to die. It's sad that I was even born." So Eliphaz begins talking to him in chapter 4. Eliphaz, by the way, the first guy, probably the eldest guy. I say that because his speech to Job is a little more tempered, I've read through all of them in this week, a little more tempered, a little more balanced, though it's certainly not perfect, but he is the softest with Job. And it goes to that to more scathing as we go on. But basically he says, "Job, you have sins somewhere along the line and God is punishing you." See that's the softest.
"You've sinned, God is punishing you", verse 7 of chapter 4. He asks the question, "Whoever perished being innocent?" So this whole notion of, if you are really godly, and you have enough faith, you'll never suffer. That's so primitive. It goes far, it goes this far back to the patriarchal age. That's what Eliphaz said. Here's Job's rebuttal, chapter 6 verse 1. Job answered and said, "Oh that my grief were fully weighed and my calamity laid with it on the scales, for then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea. Therefore, my words have been rash." Chapter 6 and 7 are both chapters or Job's response to Eliphaz. Now second guy Bildad, the Shuhite chimes in.
Now another reason I think that this goes all the way back to the patriarchal age because he's a Shuhite, doesn't mean he wears shoes versus sandals. But there was a guy named Shuah and Shuah was the son of Abraham with his second wife Keturah. So this is probably just post that age of Abraham. Bildad says, "Job, you're a hypocrite and the reason your kids died is because they sinned. You're a hypocrite but the reason they dies isn't because what you did but they must have sins."
So Job retorts in chapter 10, verse 1. See I'm covering a lot. "My soul loathes my life. I will give free course to my complaint. I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, do not condemn me. Show me why you contend with me? Does it seem good to you that you should oppress, that, that you should despise the work of your hands and smile on the counsel of the wicked?" So he's getting a little feisty with God, but again I watch people suffer and this is not uncommon and I'm not the one to correct them and go. Excuse me, but your theology is incorrect. That will, that will be, that's a sermon for another day. For right now I want to listen to that. I want to let him weigh his grief because he's saying, you don't understand, you don't feel what I'm feeling.
Chapter 11, Zophar chimes in. Now it's been Zophar is so good but now he comes in and he makes it even worse. And he basically says, "Okay look, let me just cut to the chase. Mr. Job, repent. That's what you need to do. You need to change your ways, your thinking, your faults. You need to repent."
So okay, if physical malady isn't enough, if losing all of your children, all of your livestock and your health isn't enough, now you have got these friends who come in and counsel you like this and you're tempted to say, "With friends like you guys who needs enemies?" Monday morning quarterbacking of Job's condition.
So Job in chapter 13, verse 13 says, "Hold your peace with me and let me speak." He retorts he's responding, "Then let come on me what may." Verse 15, one of the highlights of the book. "Though He (God) though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. Even so I will defend my own ways before Him." "He also shall be my salvation for a hypocrite could not come before him." So you know what? I'm going to speak now guys. I'm going to say this, "Even if God kills me, He can kill me; I'm going to go to the grave trusting Him. If I lose it all, I'll lose my life, but He's also defending the fact that He's been morally blameless. He hasn't done anything to cause this calamity that has come upon Him. Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him." That's a great verse for you to underline, to remember. If I lose it all but I have God. That's what I need and that's all I need.
As Mother Teresa who said, "You'll never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have got." There's a guy who has nothing but God, and he goes, "He could kill me, I trust Him."
Now chapter 15 is Eliphaz's second speech. Job listens to it. Okay, okay Eliphaz is amping it up a little bit this time, kind of turning the volume up. Chapter 16, Job responds, Job has had enough by this time. Listen what Job says. Job answered and said, "I've heard many such things. Miserable comforters are you all." If there's any counselors in the room tonight, this is a good verse to study, to be very careful how you approach people. "Shall, (look at) shall words of wind have an end?" You know what he's saying, don't you? Would you wind bags ever shut up. That's a free translation or what provokes you that you answer? So here's Job's friends who have reduced his suffering to a cut-and-dry philosophy, to just, to just laws and formulas.
Let me give you a piece of advice. Walk softly around a broken heart. Somebody has a broken heart, be very tender, very cautious. Walk softly around a broken heart. Job's friends did not. They tried to explain it. One of the things we must do when people suffer is learn how to be a listener. A listener at that point.
In fact, I will go a step further. Be an unshockable listener because they may say certain things and have outburst at that time that could shake you a little bit. Be an unshockable listener. Imagine if the body of Christ had hundreds, thousands of unshockable listeners and the information stopped with the listener. How good that would be? How safe people would feel? Now he, Job wrestles and as he wrestles, there's flashes of great insight, chapter 19 is his defense to Bildad, the Shuhite.
Chapter 19, verse 23, again a highlight of the book. "Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!" (Little did he know) "That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead forever." First he says, "I just wish this whole thing could be recorded in a book. No, not a book because that will pass away too soon. Something more indelible like lead or inscribed in stone." Again, little did he know, that it will be a whole book with his name on the top of it, 42 chapters that follow, that describe his story for his progeny and all generations to follow.
"For I know, verse 25, for I know that my redeemer lives." You know what the hebrew there is Goel, Goel. Remember that word? Way back, a few books back. Kinsman Redeemer in the book of Ruth. A Goel was somebody related who could buy you back out of slavery; who could redeem your land if you lost it; who could fix things and make things better. "Oh for I know that my redeemer lives and he shall stand at last on the earth and after my skin is destroyed, this I know that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall for myself and my eyes shall behold and not another, how my heart yearns within me." If you're looking for Jesus Christ in the book of Job, there He is, there He is.
This is the Easter message as preached by Job, the patriarch. "For I know that my redeemer lives and even though I die and I know that I'm going to die, it's pretty evident that soon I will die, I also know that I'm going to live." Well, how do you live if you die? If you die, you're dead. How, how can you live if you are dead? Answer, Resurrection. The resurrection is pictured in the book of Job, and he says, "I know my redeemer my Kinsmen Redeemer lives." This is an anticipation of the redeemer who is Jesus Christ. So Job pierces beyond the grave into the future with great hope of immortality. He believes he's going to die. He knows he is going to live.
Chapter 23. After Eliphaz's third speech. Again Eliphaz comes in, the oldest guy turns up the volume has more to say. Now Job, Job replies to Eliphaz. Chapter 23, verse 1, Job answered and said, "Even today my complaint is bitter, my hand is listless because of my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find Him." Now listen to this little section. Here's Job, "I want to find God. Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat, I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments." Verse 8, "Look I go forward but He's not there and backward but I can't perceive Him. When He works on the left hand, I can't behold Him. When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take and when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold."
Let me sum that up. Here's what he is saying in, in brief, "I don't know where God is. I don't know what God's up to. But I know that God knows where I am and He knows what I'm up to". That is such a transforming thought. I don't know where God is. I don't know what He is up to, God knows where I am and He knows what I'm up to. Here is Job's view of the sovereignty of God. What is hidden from my eyes is not hidden from God's eyes. He knows, furthermore, He's in control. This will revolutionize your periods of pain and darkness. If you get your heart, not your mind; your heart around that. When Nate was just a little kid, a few houses back, Nate, we used to play hide-and-seek. We loved playing, he loved it, especially we play hide-and-seek, the sun would go down and we hide in closets and count and find each other.
Um, typically at first when we play hide-and-seek he got really scared because you know where is he. I'm going to jump out at any time. After a while he got very comfortable with hide-and-seek and I remember one night we were playing hide-and-seek and not only he was not afraid but he was giggling, laughing through the house trying to find to me. And, and what was good about that is it showed me that he didn't know where I was but he knew that I knew where he was. He was happy with that. He knew that I knew where he was.
Job can't find God but he knows God knows exactly what he is up to. And he's okay with that. As he's wrestling through these episodes of pain there are, there are areas where he just kind of reaches the very pinnacle of faith, God can kill me, I'll trust him. I know my redeemer lives and now this.
Years ago a lawyer from Chicago named Horatio Spafford send his family off to Europe on a vacation. He paid for it, was on a luxury-liner, he could afford it, but this wealthy man could not be prepared with all of his money for the hard ache he was about to suffer.
Horatio Spafford's entire family on this cruise-liner had a horrible accident on the way over to Europe, the ship went down and all of them were killed, wife and children. As he was going over across the sea and the captain pointed out in the ocean where his family had gone down and his children had drowned, and here he is on the deck of the ship going over to Europe, and here's the spot in the ocean where his family has died, his children have died. He writes a song, he writes a song that some of us have sung before.
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul." What a statement of faith at a time and a place like that.
That's a, that's a highlight of a person's faith. You see whatever you believe about God when you suffer that's what you will really believe about God.
Well, Satan is finally silenced. God can be worshiped apart from His gifts. Job is left with nothing but God but continues to follow God and continues to trust Him. No matter what whether God blesses him or buffets him doesn't matter. He said I can take it, I'm going to trust, I'm going to die but I will be resurrected. Chapter 27 through 42 is a series of monologues. Job talk's uninterrupted fourth friend named Elihu comes in and reflects back accurately what Job has said. He's probably the youngest guy, he's a little impetuous, he gives his own philosophy. Not much different from the others, but slightly, and then God gives a monologue.
So we have physical malady, spiritual reality, mental agony and now the last part of this book ultimate victory. Chapters 38 through 42 God talks. Finally the one who's backstage comes out on stage and speaks directly to Job. He ends the debate and he restores Job.
Verse 1, the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and He said, "Who is this" (speaking of him), "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" Do you know what that means, who is this who clouds the truth with ignorant words? See it's absurd to think that a creature can criticize His creator. Yet, it happens all the time. I hear people criticizing God, shaking their fists, spouting off their philosophy and God would say, "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" Do you really know what you're talking about? Have you gone back stage and you know everything? And basically that's where God is with Job because look at verse 3, "Now prepare yourself like a man and I will question and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding?"
Now in chapter 38 and 39 God gives Job a science quiz. Hey Job, let's just, let's just take some things that you can see in your environment and you explain the mysteries of, of those beings existence in the heavens, the earth and several creatures that he picks out here.
Verse 5, "Who, who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched out the line upon it."
So look I'm God let's get this straight Job I'm God you're not. I made everything you didn't I maintain everything you don't. In chapter 38 and 39 as that mess message basically thou garnish somewhat. Chapter 40 verse 3 listen to this, Job gets it he gets it, Job answered the Lord, and he said, "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken; but I will not answer: yes, twice; but I will proceed no further". But God continues His monologue in the following verses following chapters. His second monologue if you will; basically stating to Job that God is sovereign and He can alone can control what seems uncontrollable. So here's sort of the bottom line message in the second monologue.
Okay, Job if you can't understand way in the physical world then you can't understand my way spiritual realm that you can not see. Here's all the things I'm asking you about that you can see you can't give me an answer. So how can you presume to think you know about what's going on behind the curtain backstage in the spiritual realm.
So Job is now chapter 42 verse 1 very humble very submissive, Job answered the Lord and said, "I know that You can do everything, and no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You" (what a statement of sovereignty is that). You asked who is this your hides counsel without knowledge therefore I have uttered to what I did not understand things too wonderful for me which I did not know. Listen please in let me speak you said I will question you and you shall answer me. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear but now my eye sees you therefore I abhor myself and I repent in dust and ashes." Verse 10, "The Lord, restored, restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends." Interesting he had to pay first for his friends then God restored everything is it the friends that were miserable counselors remember.
"Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Verse 16, "After this Job lived a hundred and forty years, and he saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died old and full of days." It's a good description isn't it? What the old guy die of? Full of days ides, I mean he's just an old guy. It's time for him to go.
So he was blessed in his old age but he died with the scars of a very difficult life. Here's where we had to end this book of Job. Here's the thought we ought to have as we leave tonight. The notion that suffering in the hands of an all powerful and absolutely loving God can be a wonderful tool for us, be very careful not to assign everything that hurts you as bad that's horrible why because it hurts, that's understandable that's where you tear the garment and put sack cloth on the head like Job did. But you can't assign everything that hurts as something bad. It might seem like it's bad it could actually be very good remember Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers suffered and was thrown into prison. Didn't do anything that deserve any of that stuff suffered, suffered, suffered, suffered but eventually things turned and he became prime minister of Egypt and he saw his brothers remember when they came to see him and they thought Oh no! We're dead meat again I'm free rendering here we're dead meat, thus say it to Lord and Joseph said you meant it for evil but God meant it for good. To save many people as it is alive this day.
Yeah you call that bad and I one day I use to call that bad too. It's actually very good, God uses. There's a philosopher named Peter Kreeft of Yale University who, who gave a very helpful analogy. Okay so follow this imagine a bear trapped in a cage caught in a bear trap and a hunter who sees the plight of the bear and wants to release the bear.
Now the bear doesn't know that that's in the mind of the hunter. He doesn't have the ability to comprehend hidden thoughts of a hunter, even communicate. So the hunter wants to release the bear. The bear didn't know that the bear sees the hunter growled. The only way to calm the bear down is to shoot tranquilizing bullet a syringe into the bear to make him fall asleep. So boom syringe pelts the arm of the bear and now what is the bear think when he gets hit with that projectile? Does he think what a loving wonderful man who seeks my good or he thinks he's trying to kill me. In reality the hunter is trying to free him. In the reality the hunter has compassion upon him and once the bear is out he opens the cage takes the trap off sets the bear free.
The bear can not comprehend the motive of the hunter anymore than we can comprehend the motive of God when He allows things to happen in our life. So that's where that faith element comes in. What I know to be true about God. So don't let what you don't understand about God shake you from what you do understand about God. You know we get into this little spiral downward when we suffer. I don't why God did this I don't why God this I don't know. Okay go away from that position. What do you know about God right now? What do you--what are you certain up about God's character, camp there don't let what you don't what you don't know about God shake you from what you do know about God. Camp on all those things you know to be true about your good omniscient, omnipotent sovereign all loving God that's where you camp but I don't you don't need to, you are not seeing backstage.
So you can't comprehend his mind but know this. The mind and heart of God toward you is not destruction anymore than God's was of Job, but one of love in deep compassion.