Would you turn in your Bibles to the book of Job, chapter 1. Job chapter 1.
Let's pray. Father we are opening up again as we do week by week and every time we meet, we're opening up your word. The stories, the songs, the rules and regulations, all that form scripture. And as we are confronted with it, encouraged by it, I pray we'd be changed by it, for many of us have become very familiar with this man, others here have only heard of him, never really studied this book or his life. But we continue to worship Lord with now a brand new series that we pray your Spirit would work deep things in our life because of. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Now whenever I teach a series or a subject or a book, I've discovered that God never lets the opportunity go to waste. And what I mean by that is I find myself experiencing it or being tested by those things that I'm going to teach on. If it's love, I might encounter a very unlovely person that I'm called upon to love. Or if it's on peace, there may be a challenge to my own state of peace that I will struggle with just before the message. And I think that's just God's way of not letting the truth become impersonal or academic, he wants it to be real. And it's been something consistent throughout my life. Well I've been studying Job months ago. And I did it for a long period of time and I got excited about things that I saw in it and I outlined and I shared it with my senior staff. Now this is way before that we discovered that my wife had tumor and way before a CAT scan and ultrasound and bloodwork and chemotherapy. But during this process just before one of my wife's tests, she turned to me and with a chuckle said, "You would have to study the book of Job, wouldn't you." Well, we don't like this book. And the reason we don't like Job is because it opens up the possibility of extreme human suffering. And I mean extreme, intense and prolonged. We see that in this man's life.
I found something that I laughed at though it was a true story in a book by Max Lucado, he writes about Chippy the Parakeet. "Chippy the Parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage, the next he was sucked in, washed up and blown over. The problems began when Chippy's owner decided to clean Chippy's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang and she turned to pick it up, she barely said, "Hello," when ______________ Chippy got sucked in. The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum and opened the bag. There was Chippy still alive but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot she grabbed and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet and held Chippy under running water. Then, realizing that Chippy was soaked and shivering she did what any compassionate bird owner would do, she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippy never knew what hit him. A few days after the trauma the reporter who had initially written about the event contacted Chippy's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, ‘Chippy doesn't sing much any more. He just sits and stares.'" Well that's a true story. It's a funny one but it's a true one. And I thought that, I read this, this is the avian parallel of Job. What this bird went through in its poor little winged life is what Job would go through on a more massive scale. He didn't know what hit him, he sat there stunned, he lost the song in his heart. In fact he lost everything as we shall see.
Now we're going to look at his life in this series but we're going to take it from a different angel. As the title implies we want to see how Job meets Jesus and I will explain that tonight. Many Bible readers avoid the book of Job, not for the reason I mentioned but because it is long, it is poetic, it can get tedious, they will typically read the first two chapters and that's all, maybe the last chapter or the last few chapters but that's about it. But we're going to look at several chapters, we're going to look inside this man's life, we're going to look inside this man's heart, and let's just get a sample, shall we by reading some of the verses that set it up for us so we're ready for tonight and the coming weeks.
"There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job." I probably should throw in that I had a roommate oe time who thought this books was the Book of Job and he refused to read it because he was at the time unemployed and thought he would become too convicted if he read it. He didn't know it was a man's name. His "name was Job and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil. And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. Also his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys (a very large household) so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was when the days of feasting had run their course that Job would send and sanctify them and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' Thus Job did regularly. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?' So Satan answered the Lord and said, "From going to and fro on the earth and from walking back and forth on it.' And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? Yet there is none like him on the earth, blameless upright man who fears God and shuns evil. Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him and around his household and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. But now stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will surely curse you to your face.' And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold all that he has in your power. Only do not lay a hand on his person.' So Satan went out from the presences of the Lord. But there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house and a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them when the Sabians raided them and took them away. Indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword and I alone have escaped to tell you. While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them. And I alone have escaped to tell you.' While he was still speaking another also came and said, ‘the Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels, took them away, yes and killed the servants with the edge of the sword. And I alone have escaped to tell you. While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking in their eldest brother's house and suddenly a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house and it fell on the young people and they are dead. And I alone have escaped to tell you.'" Let's stop there, we're going to recover some of those verses tonight and we're going to look at more of them in the coming weeks. There's a few things I want you to notice about Job. I want to paint the picture tonight. Job was a man, he was a significant man we are told in our text the first few verses. Job is one of the most famous people ever to have lived. Now notice how the chapter begins, "There was a man." Stop right there. This is the story of a man, this is not a myth, this is not an allegory, this is not typology as some try to make it. This is a real man who experienced real problems. And this is his story. It was Lord Byron who said, "Truth is always strange, truth is stranger than fiction." This is a true story and some strange things happen truly to this man Job. Now let me reinforce that. Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14 and James 5, two places in the Bible that would be unlikely had those authors thought this was simply an allegory. They wrote aobut it as if it were history. Also, in this book of Job there are names of people and specific places, again highly unlikely and not done in ancient allegory. Now one of the reasons that people smile at this book is it says, "There was a man in the land of Uz." And they go, "Oh come on, like there was a land of Uz, what and Job was the Wizard of Uz?" That is simply an old name, an ancient name of Edom which is also an ancient name but it is more modern than Uz. It was called Uz, then it was called Edom and today it's called Jordan, the country of Jordan. It is to the southesast of the Dead Sea and it lies in present-day southwest Jordan, a real place. Now because it is a real story and Job was a real man, this book is more meaningful to us because of its reality. It will help us navigate through similar circumstances. And here's one of the reasons we love scripture: It's filled with stories that a re real about real men and real women in life situations. They are so to speak on display for us, good or bad, whether in the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Shame, whether they did good or bad, they are all on display. We're reminded of that in Romans 15 when Paul says, "Such things were written in the scriptures long ago to teach us. They give us hope and encouragement as we patiently wait for God's promises." Now here's why the Bible wasn't written as a theology book. That wouldn't be enough for us. It's the reason the Bible isn't just a bunch of laws and rules and regulations, they wouldn't help us. But when you have real stories about real people dealing with real problems, our learning level goes sky high because they form examples. We want to know how people in similar situations acted and reacted. By the way, this is the very same reason why you and I are allowed to suffer, do you realize that? God never lets it go to waste, he will always use what you and I go through on display so that others can learn from it. Isn't that the whole point of II Corinthians 1 as Paul talks about our trials and our tribulations and he says "that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." A. B. Simpson who founded the Christian Missionary Alliance, Canadian clergyman wrote, "You will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing. I have never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim I was able to help by that very experience."
Not only was Job a real man, he was no ordinary man, he was not even ordinarily a good man, he was an extraordinary man, he was an exceptional man. We are told in verse 3, look at it at the very end, he was the greatest of all the people of the East." The word heaviest is godole in Hebrew, it could be translated the largest or the heaviest. It doesn't mean he was a big fat man. The idea is his character and his reputation, he was so widely renowned, he was the greatest people of the East. He would be a like a modern-day sheik, a ruler of an entire region or a tribe. In scripture, Job is compared to the patriarch Noah and the prophet Daniel. In the book of James that I mentioned, he is the example of somebody who perseveres, an example of spiritual endurance. So, he's significantly powerful, he's significantly wealthy and he is significantly spiritual. That's what the first five verses are all about. Now if we were just to stop with that description, we would say Job is the guy everyone wants to be. But the story is just beginning. We find that things go south in verse 6 and for a bulk of the book until Job is restored. Now something that will also be helpful in describing Job, not only is Job a real story and not only is Job a really significant man, he is an ancient man. Now follow me here. We don't exactly know when this book was written but did you know this could be the oldest book in the Bible? Many scholars will say that, the oldest book in the Bible. And they will date Job during the patriarchal times, somewhere between 2000 BC and 1000 BC. And here's why: In the book there's no reference at all to the Mosaic law, there's no reference at all to Israelite history because it probably predated it, there's a use of ancient names like Uz and like Sheba and Temah, these are ancient names that we find in the Mari documents in archaeology, Egyptian texts form that same era, patriarchal times. Also, you have noticed as we read that Job's wealth is measured in livestock, not in gold, not in silver. So was Abraham's. Same time period probably. Not only that but Job functioned as a priest to his family we are told in the first five verses, offering burnt offerings. So if you were to put this in chronology we would probably best fit it between Genesis chapter 11, after the Tower of Babel; and Genesis chapter 12 before the rise of Abraham. That is probably where Job fits. Now why am I telling you this and what point am I making? Simply this, Job is one of the oldest dudes ever. He's one of the first persons in all of history. And that's important because it tells us that these problems are the problems people have always dealt with in all ages. No, you are not the first one to experience them. They have been experienced and they have been experienced since the very beginning of history. And we find them in this book from time immemorial these issues are dealt with as in this book.
So he was a significant man but probably he's most famous for our second point: He was a suffering man. I would say that no one deserves suffering less than Job. God calls him the best there is. But no one or very few have experienced more suffering than Job. He didn't deserve it at all, in fact no one deserved it less but he suffered more than anyone I've known. That is the fact that bothers us. He's godly, he's righteous, he loves his family, he loves God, he does everything right and he suffers. And that is what unhinges us, we don't like that.
Now this book presents a single episode in his life. It probably lasted for months, maybe even a year or so. There's a reference in chapter 7 verse 3 to Job's "months of futility." And in that long episode of suffering, Job loses his kids, his children are all killed as we read, his livestock are all seized and his property is destroyed. Now if that isn't enough he also loses his health in the very next chapter. He'll be afflicted with painful sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. And then to top it all off, if that isn't enough, the bulk of the book deals with these armchair philosophers, three of them are mentioned, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar who will dialog with him. And then there's one other guy, Elihu who just sort of gives a monolog speech at the end. But these three guys sit next to him and they are his Monday morning quarterbacks. They are philosophizing and postulating why Job would be going through such a terrible time of suffering. Socrates said something interesting, the notable philosopher of Athens. He said, "By all means marry, if you get a good wife you'll become very happy, if you get a bad wife you'll become a philosopher." So we wonder about these guys and their marriages.
Now chapter 3 through 31 of the book of Job, that's the bulk of the book, deals with the conversations between these four men, Job and his three (and I put it in quotes) "friends." Though most people think that the book of Job is about his suffering, that is a shallow vie, it is about much more than that, hence this series, because as Job is suffering, his suffering gives rise to all sorts of questions, issues that he probably didn't think about until he was suffering. Now quandaries and queries and questions and perplexities enter his mind and he just shouts them out or cries them out or asks the question. So Job's suffering makes him think very deeply about life and we find a man in chapter 3 through 31 wrestling with these issues. Now I have found and I know there probably are more, some say less, but I have found eight in this book, primary questions or issues or anxieties or perplexities and those will form our series over the next few weeks: Job Meets Jesus. And what is helpful once again is we have a righteous man, a godly man, struggling, questioning, wrestling with these issues. Here's One: How much freedom does Satan have? I mean if he's chained as theologians say, why is that chain so long? Why does he seem to be unrestrained? We discover in chapter 1 and chapter 2 an invisible battle, a conversation between God and Satan that Job had no clue was going on. And so it brings up a question: What do you do when everything you knew about life doesn't make sense. You had it all packaged, probably when you were younger. Everything was spelled out and you read it, you read the books, you underlined it, you memorized it, it just was packaged and predictable and now it's turned on its head, what do you do then? Another issue this book brings up is why do the righteous suffer? That's typically where people focus on the book of Job and that's only one small area but why do the righteous suffer? How does a person live with loss and still believe in God tenaciously? How? How does that work?
Job lost it all. There was an advertisement in the bpaper that reminds me a bit of Job, it was a little ad that said, "Lost dog with three legs, blind in left eye, missing right ear, tail broken and recently injured. Answers to the name ‘Lucky.' That's a misnamed dog. Job was not lucky, Job though blessed lost it all. And those are a couple of the issues the book deals with but there are more. Here's another one: the issue of human sin. Job will ask in chapter 9, "How can a man be righteous before God?" He asks that question. How can a man be righteous before God? Job, though God says he's top drawer, very righteous, he realizes his own sinfulness and God's utter holiness and so he asks, "How can anyone be made righteous before God?" Here's another issue: Job cries out for a mediator in chapter 9, an umpire, somebody to broker a deal between him and God. And he wants a representative, a lawyer. Here's another issue the book deals with, what happens after death. Job asks in chapter 14, "If a man dies will he live again?" You see, you see how real this is? Here's a guy suffering, very isolated and now he's facing his own death. And when he's facing his own death, he asks this question not from a theological, "I'm a student in a seminary." But, "I'm facing death, if a man dies will he live again?" He asked that. Here's another issue the book deals with the invisible God. God's invisible, I'm suffering, I feel it, what I am is very visible. In Job 23, he says, "Oh that I knew where I might find God." I go forward, he is not there; I go backward and I cannot perceive him." IN other words, Job was asking, ‘How do I live in a visible world while believing in a God you never see?' He wrestles with that. As Job suffers he thinks out loud and that will be our focus over the next few weeks. Oscar Wilde noted, "Suffering is a revelation. One discovers things one would never have discovered before." And what Job discovers he doesn't like. So they become his heartcries, his questions, his issues.
So Job was a significant man, he was a suffering man, the third thing I want you to note in this introductory study I he was a searching man. His suffering prompts his searching. He's now on a search and he asks his friends and he asks these armchair philosophers but he doesn't get adequate answers. In fact, as he is searching for answers, now listen to this, Job gets none. None. None in this book. Job gets no satisfactory answer from his wife, her solution in chapter 2, is simply, "Look, why do you hold onto your integrity? Curse God and die." He ws married to that. Job gets no good answers from his three so-called friends, they try to give answers but they're all wrong. And Job gets no answers een from God, in this book. In this book when God finally speaks, do you know what God says? "Why do you darken counsel with words without wisdom? Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" if you know everything. And Job backs down and repents in dust and ashes. In fact, and again listen carefully, the questions that come up in this book are only partially answered in the Old Tstament. It's not until we get to the New Testament and it's not until we get to Jesus Christ that we have answers that fully satisfy us and these issues get resolved. For instance, the problem of the invisible God in Job 23, "Oh that I knew or that I might ifnd him." That's answered in the incarnation of Christ, "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory." Now God is made visible, it's answered in Christ. The problem of human sin, how can a man be righteous before God? Job 9:2 is answered in the death of Jesus Christ as Paul will say in Romans, "By one man's death many will be made righteous." No answer in the Old Testament until you come to Christ. The issue of death and immortality, "If a man dies will he live again?" Job 14, that's answered in Jesus' resurrection, "I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me though he die yet shall he live." So here's the premise of this series: If there were no New Testament, if there were no Jesus Christ, we would simply have all of htse cries, all of these questions, all of these queries by a guy named Job. And all of those cries would be dangling in the Old Testament with no resolve at all. We'd simply have a classic story, fine piece of literature, a great poetic book of wisdom but no answers if we had no New Testament and no Jesus Christ, we would simply have the Old Testament equivalent of Chippy the Parakett. "There's Job, listen to him, look at him, stunned, suffering, didn't know wht hit him, not singing any more. That's all we would have. So our approach in the next several weeks is to listen to Job's cries and see hos Jesus Christ will answer those cries.
He brings clarityk, he brings resolve, he will bring the ultimate answer and these questions cannot be answered without him. Job meets Jesus.
There's a great little thing I read about The Bureau of Standards in Washington. It said, "A fog that is a hundred feet thick that would cover like seven city blocks is only one cup of water. One single cup of water dispersed in six billion tiny droplets over that seven block area, you can't see through it, they blocked everything from sight, you can't see anything. Sound familiar? There's a lot of people that will allow their cupful of questions and issues and troubles to obscure their whole vision in life. They just stop with that, they won't even seek to get the really firm resolved answer. And they allow their whole vision to be totally obscured when God's whole paln in Christ is so that we live in the sunshine. He is the light and by his light we see all things clearly."
So as we close this study tonight I want to ask you a question: Where are you in your walk with God? In your own personal journey with God? Are there some of the things we just mentioned tonight in Job's life that you can relate to, are you facing a trial? Maybe the trial of your life? Maybe the biggest thing you've ever faced so far? Are you experiencing loss? Maybe you're recovering from the loss of a job, the loss of a vision, the loss of a spouse. Perhaps you're struggling with an issue, some point of truth, some point of scripture, some point of even theology you don't quite understand. And maybe you're thinking, ‘You know I hear a lot about evangelism and you come to Christ and all this stuff, but yeah, I just, I have issues, I have some issues that have got to be resolved." I understand but I'm going to encourage you tonight to do something counterintuitive. What would the normal way of thinking would be something like this, "Okay, bring your questions, get the answers, get them all resolved and then as you do carefully consider Christ. And then maybe perhaps receive Christ." I'm saying, "Don't do that, I'm saying, "You've got issues, you've got questions, you've got perplexities? Come to Christ first. Let me finish, come to Christ first, receive the Savior, let him cleanse you of your sin. Keep the questions and bring them forth and get them dealt with but do the first thing first. You know what I've discovered, I say that but I've discovered something: there have been to maybe three time sin my life, three that I can think of where someone has come to me with issues, questions, and perplexities and problems. And I said, "Tell you what, God is touching your heart. You're experiencing that tug. Let's pray, you receive Christ. And then let's sit down and go through that list. And a couple of those occasions I've had people say after they have received Christ, "I suddenly find myself with no questions. I suddenly feel as if it's all been answered." I suddenly feel totally satisfied." Now granted that may have been a temporary feeling that day or that night, those questions will arise and they do need resolve I understand that. But I'm going to tell you tonight and ask you tonight if you haven't surrendered your life to Christ, you have roadblocks, you have issues, understandable. Hang with us in this series. But tonight give your life to Christ. Let Him change you, let Him forgive you.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, there's a whole lot of people that can relate to one or two of these things that Job, maybe even more, asks about, is puzzled with, it strikes a chord. And Father we pray that we would see as clearly as the scripture presents Christ, the one in whom is found all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the fountainhead, the way, the truth, the life. These perplexities, these issues, these quandaries are explained, dealt with and given full resolve in the New Testament and in the life of Jesus Christ. Lord, as we discover how Job and Jesus meet, someone from that far back can be a part of your plan and can be part of the story, I pray you'd help us to navigate through similar waters. Lord I pray for those who have come tonight and who are weary, scattered, broken, life's beaten them up, they're sense of justice and fairness has ben assaulted, their view of God has been altered over the years but still they, they bear something, they carry something, they carry that sense of, "I'm not complete." The sense of< "There must be something more. The sense of loneliness or isolation, feeling unforgiven because they are unforgiven. Because forgiveness like every one of these issues only comes in Christ at t he cross. So Father we pray that some tonight will say yes to the savior. In Jesus' name. Amen.