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Job: Reverent in Suffering

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One of my duties as your pastor is to preach and pray in such a way that you are prepared in mind and heart not to curse God when calamity strikes you or your family. But even more important than preparing you for calamity is teaching you to worship God and bless him no matter how intense the grief or deep the pain he allows into your life.

For the next five Sundays I would like for us to try to understand the message of the Book of Job, and be changed by it.

Virtually everyone in this room either has or will experience a bitter calamity sooner or later. As in Job’s case, some of those calamities will almost certainly seem absurd and meaningless and undeserved when they come. You may be sitting in a restaurant or shopping in the mall or listening to a politicians stump speech when you hear the pop, pop, pop of a gun and your life is irrevocably changed. You may be at the sink shaving, or in the congregation singing a hymn when you feel the lump on your neck. You may be buying ice cream for your daughter at the food court when all of a sudden you realize she is gone. It will seem very absurd, and you will cry out, "Why?" a hundred times before the cloud passes over. You’ll wrack your brain and ask, “What have I done to deserve this?” And the answer may well come back, “Nothing. I’ve been a righteous servant of God, and I’ve done nothing to deserve this.”

Much of our grief and pain comes as a direct result of our sin and disobedience. Grief and pain are the consequences. However, some of our grief and pain comes out of nowhere and baffles our sense of justice. That's why the book of Job is so relevant. Job's suffering seems to come out of nowhere and has no connection to his character. His story is recorded for us so that we will have some help in living through these calamities—and coming out the other end trusting in the goodness of a sovereign God.

This evening, we will look at the section of Job that extends through 2:10. Let's me walk you through the story and then draw out some truths for our lives.


1. Job is introduced to us as a man of faith and character

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1, NIV84)

a. he is a man of integrity, sincerity, and without hypocrisy

1) the foundation of his upright character is that he feared God and shunned evil

2) in his defense to Bildad’s accusations, Job counsels his friend that fear of the

Lord is the beginning of wisdom

“And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’ ” (Job 28:28, NIV84)

ILLUS. Oswald Chambers once said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God, is

that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”

b. if suffering is always intended as a punishment for evil, Job is not a likely candidate

1) he turns away from evil because he fears God

2) he pursues right

3) his reputation is blameless

4) his reverence for God governs all he does

2. Job is introduced to us a man who God had blessed abundantly

“He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:2–3, NIV84)

a. in those days, wealth was measured primarily in terms of sons, land, animals, and

servants; and Job had all three in abundance

1) the sheep tell us that he and his estate were well-fed and well-clothed

2) the donkeys and camels tell us that he was a merchant and traded commodities

3) the five hundred pairs of oxen tell us that he farmed extensively

b. we know from other chapters in the book that Job used he used his wealth

generously for the good of others

1) again in his defense to Bildad’s accusations, Job defends his character

“because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.” (Job 29:12–17, NIV84)

3. in vv. 4–5 we have a specific instance of Job's fear of God and uprightness toward his


a. every time that his sons and daughters gathered for a feast, Job would get up early

the next morning and offer burnt offerings for each one just in case any of them had sinned or cursed God in their heart

b. in other words he was extremely jealous for the honor of God's name, that it not be

profaned, and he was extremely vigilant for the sake of his children, not wanting any of them to come to ruin

c. Job is undoubtedly a loving and doting father

4. in summary we are told that He was the greatest of all the people of the east


1. calamity strikes out of nowhere

“One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” (Job 1:13–19, NIV84)

a. it was on one of those feast days when all ten of his children were gathered in the

home of the oldest brother

1) First (vv. 14–15) a messenger comes to Job and tells him that the Sabeans had

attacked and stolen all his oxen and asses and killed all the servants with them

2) Second (v. 16) another messenger comes and says that the fire of God had fallen

and destroyed all his sheep and the servants with them

3) Third (v. 17) another messenger comes and says that the Chaldeans had raided

the camel herd and taken them all and killed the servants

4) Finally (vv. 18–19) the message comes that all of his children were crushed to

death when a whirlwind caused the house to collapse

b. two of the calamities were caused by evil men—Sabaens (v. 15) and Chaldeans (v.


c. two were caused by, what insurance adjusters would call "acts of God"

1) probably lighting and fire in verse 16 and a tornado in verse 19

2. in an extremely brief period of time—days, perhaps mere hours—Job is striped of his

wealth and his family

“ ... As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped

by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12, NIV84)

a. Job knew what had happened, but he did not know why it had happened; and that is

the crux of the matter

3. because the author allows us to visit the throne room of heaven and hear God and

Satan speak, we know who caused the destruction and why he was allowed to cause it


1. all Job's prosperity is gone in one afternoon

a. what in the world is going on here?

2. to see what is going on we have to look outside the world as we see it

a. this world alone never answers the great questions of life

b. the answer is found in heaven

c. so the writer gives us a glimpse into heaven to understand better what is happening

on earth

4. several important truths emerge from this scene

a. First Truth, God is sovereign in all things

1) He is on the throne of heaven, the angels do His will and report to Him, and even

Satan can do nothing to God’s people without God’s permission

2) “The Almighty” is one of the key names for God in Job; it is used thirty-one times

3) from the outset, the writer reminds us that, no matter what happens in this world

and in our lives, God is on the throne and has everything under control

b. Second Truth—and it may surprise you—is that Satan has access to God’s throne in


1) thanks to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, many people have the mistaken idea that

Satan is ruling this world from hell

2) but Satan will not be cast into the Lake of Fire until the final judgment

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10, NIV84)

3) today, he is free to go about on the earth (Job 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8) and can even go

into God’s presence in heaven

a) and when he does, he accuses God’s people of terrible crimes

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (Revelation 12:10, NIV84)

c. Third Truth is most important: God found no fault with Job, but Satan did

1) God’s statement in Job 1:8 echoes the description of Job in verse 1

“Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8, NIV84)

2) Satan, however, questioned God’s judgement and Job’s character

3) this is a courtroom scene, and God and Satan each deliver different verdicts

about Job

a) as you study this book, keep in mind that God said “Not guilty!”—there was

nothing in Job’s life that compelled God to cause him to suffer

b) but Satan said “Guilty!” because he is the accuser of God’s people and finds

nothing good in them

d. Fourth Truth: Satan can touch God’s people only with God’s permission, and God

uses it for their good and His glory

ILLUS. Phillips Brooks, and Episcopal minister and author of the late 18th century, said,

“The purpose of life is the building of character through truth.” God is at work in our lives to make us more like Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), and He can use even the attacks of the devil to perfect us. When you are in the path of obedience and you find yourself in a severe trial, remind yourself that nothing can come to your life that is outside His will.”


1. vv. 6–12 describe a meeting between God and Satan

a. in v. 7 Satan says that he spends his time going to and fro on the earth

b. then God puts on display a trophy that he delights in very much—it is Job— there is

none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?

ILLUS. John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, says, “It's as

though a diamond thief should meet the owner at the back of a jewelry store late at night. The owner says, "What are you doing?" And the thief answers, "Just walking around in your store." And then the owner says, "Did you see our most precious diamond up there at the front?"

2. Satan is not impressed

a. in v. 9 he insinuates that Job is not such a great specimen of reverence for God

b. He suggests that the only reason Job fears God is to get rich

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:9–11, NIV84)

3. Satan’s accusation against Job was really an attack on God

a. we might paraphrase it like this: “The only reason Job fears You is because You pay

him to do it. You two have made a contract: You protect him and prosper him as long as he obeys You and worships You. You are not a God worthy of worship! You have to pay people to honor You.”

b. what’s the result of this blaspheme?


1. we obviously need to rule out the possibility that God is a bumbler

a. God never says, "Oops."

2. that leaves us with one possibility: God is setting Job up for trouble

a. He is manifestly proud of Job

b. Job's fear of God has endeared God to Job in a very deep way

1) but this will not keep him from trouble

3. the fundamental reason for Job’s suffering was to silence the blasphemous accusations

of Satan and prove that a man would honor God even though he had lost everything

ILLUS. Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Job refers to this as a battle in the


a. Christians need to remember that our battles are not always earthly battles

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV84)

4. Job’s life was a battlefield where God and Satan were engaged in a spiritual struggle to

decide the question, “Is Jehovah God worthy of man’s worship?”

a. God could have said, "I don't need to prove anything to you or anybody else. I know

the heart of my servant Job and that is enough for me."

1) He could have, but in this case he didn't

b. God chooses to get an open victory over Satan for his own glory

1) a test will show that in the heart of Job, God himself is more highly esteemed than

any possession or any family member

2) this is something the world will never fully understand about Christ followers—that

our devotion to God supercedes our devotion to anything else even when we cannot full explain what is going on in our life or why

5. to accomplish this God says what to us seems almost unthinkable

“ ... “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:12, NIV84)

a. why would God do such a thing?

b. we may not know until we get to heaven why God allowed certain things to happen,

meanwhile, like Job, we walk by faith


1. the calamities come

a. Job loses all his wealth and his children

b. what on earth is happening?

2. the answer is that something of immense heavenly significance is happening

a. God is in the process of demonstrating to the heavenly hosts (and to any others who

have eyes to see) that he himself is paramount in the heart of the man Job

b. Job's reverence is not mercenary, as though God himself were of no value

1) Job's reverence is based on the value of God for who God is in himself

c. the revelation of this truth is so important that God is willing to subject his prize

servant to grief and poverty in order to make it known

1) some of the so-called tragedies in the lives of God’s people have really been

events that God uses to still the voices—both heavenly and earthly—of those would deny God

• “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2, NIV84)

• “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 3:10, NIV84)

3. vv. 20–21 record the victory

“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:20–21, NIV84)

a. the hosts of heaven watched to see how Job would respond to the loss of his wealth

and his children

1) Job expressed his grief in a manner normal for that day, for God expects us to be


2) but he also expressed great faith when he cries out, The LORD gave and the

LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised

4. Satan is proved wrong

a. Job did not curse God when he lost his wealth and his children

b. instead of cursing God, as Satan said Job would do, Job worshiped and blessed the


“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:22, NIV84)


1. Job is still recovering from the shock of losing his wealth and his children, when he

contracts a dreaded disease

a. in Job 2:7–8 it says that he was afflicted with loathsome sores from the sole of his

foot to the crown of his head

2. the time lapse between the first and second assaults on Job cannot be determined

a. Jewish tradition says that a year passed between these two life-changing events

3. in these ten verses Job’s testing intensifies

a. up to this point he has lost his possessions and his children

b. now he would lose his health, which Satan hoped would break his will and prompt

him to curse his God

1) these two tests together produce yet other losses that are revealed in the course

of the debate cycle: honor, respect, standing in the community, friendships, and even the support of his wife and brothers

4. it is uncertain just what disease Job had, but guesses range from melanoma to leprosy

a. in Job 7:5 he complained, “My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is

broken and festering.”

b. in Job 30:30 he moaned, “My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever.”

c. it would not have been a pleasant experience to be around Job


1. again we ask "What in the world is going on here?"

a. and again the answer is not given in the world but in heaven

2. in Job 2:1–6 the Lord again puts Job on display before Satan

“Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 2:3, NIV84)

a. and again Satan challenges the authenticity of Job's reverence

1) he says that Job is only reverent because God preserves his health

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.” (Job 2:4, NIV84)

ILLUS. “Every man has his price,” says Satan. “Job can raise another family and

start another business because he still has health and strength. Let me touch his body and take away his health, and You will soon hear him curse You to Your face.”

b. and again the worth of God is challenged

1) is it God himself that Job cherishes or is it the earthly pleasures of family and

possessions and health?

3. Job has shown that God is more valuable to him than family and possessions

a. but what about health?

b. so to show that he alone is Job's treasure, God gives his servant into the hand of

Satan for the affliction of his flesh

“The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” (Job 2:6, NIV84)

4. and again we see that behind these apparently absurd earthly calamities, there are

heavenly transactions of infinite importance

a. the demonstration of the worth of God in the faith and reverence of his people is the

most important matter in the world


1. when Job's health fails, it proves to be too much for his wife

a. she had endured with him the loss of her children and wealth

b. but now with the life of her husband draining away leaving her utterly destitute, her

faith collapses

“His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9, NIV84)

1) surely this must have brought a hopeful smile to the face of Satan

2. but then comes the shattering victory of Job's faith

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:10, NIV84)

a. this rock-solid confidence in the sovereignty of God Job will not relinquish—and

neither should we!

ILLUS. Imagine the scene: Satan in heaven is surrounded by 10,000 angels awaiting

Job's response. Then Job answers, and, unknown to the afflicted Patriarch, 20,000 arms are raised and 10,000 mighty voices shout, "Worthy is the Lord God of Job!" And what does Satan do? He flees from the presence of the praise of God.

3. the way to resist Satan is to be like Job and hold fact your confidence in the free and

sovereign goodness of God

a. when you do, all heaven shouts the victory and Satan is defeated

"Let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19).



1. he uses two weapons: pain and pleasure

a. he uses pain to make us feel that God is powerless or hostile

b. he uses pleasure to make us feel that God is superfluous

2. in his days of pleasure and prosperity, Job faithfully worships God, so he attacks Job's

God-centered joy through pain

a. he fails to destroy Job’s faith

3. there is no doubt what Satan is after in our life: his aim is to destroy our joy in God


1. the great aim of God in creation and redemption is to preserve and display the infinite

worth of his glory

“everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and

made.” (Isaiah 43:7, NIV84)

2. the way God magnifies His worth is by redeeming a people who love him and cleave to

him and cherish him above all earthly treasures and pleasures

a. the mirror that God has chosen for the reflection of his worth is the indestructible joy

of his people


1. in Job 1:12 God says to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon

himself do not put forth your hand," and in Job 2:6 God says, "Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life."

2. God sets the limits of Satan's power to cause pain

a. our God is not frustrated by the power and craftiness of Satan

b. Satan cannot make a move without the permission of God almighty

1) the Devil may be a lion, but he is a lion on a leash

2) God reins him in or gives him slack according to God's own sovereign purposes

ILLUS. William Henry Green, a Presbyterian Minister and a Hebrew scholar at

Princeton University, writes in his book, The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded some very perceptive thoughts about Satan: “With all his hatred of God and spite against His people, he cannot emancipate himself from that sovereign control, which binds him to God's service. In all his blasphemous designs he is, in spite of himself, doing the work of God. In his rebellious efforts to dethrone the Most High, he is actually paying Him submissive homage. In moving heaven and earth to accomplish the perdition of those whom Christ has ransomed, he is actually fitting them for glory.”


1. Job’s confession at the end of his first test is an amazing confession of faith

“and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:21–22, NIV84)

2. Job’s confession at the end of his second test is equally amazing

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:10, NIV84)

3. Job recognizes that it is ultimately the Lord Himself who took away his family and

wealth and health

a. lest anyone would charge Job with accusing the Lord God of evil, the author of the

Book of Job immediately contends, "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong" nor did Job “sin in what he said”

3. God is not the author of evil

a. Elihu, one of Job’s friends understands this

• “So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.” (Job 34:10, NIV84)

• “It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” (Job 34:12, NIV84)

b. yet in the scheme of His will, God has decreed that even evil will ultimately serve His


4. Job's rock of refuge and hope when everything else seemed to be crumbling was the

absolute sovereignty of God

Which leads me finally to . . .


Three Personal Implications

1. Let us join with Job and affirm with all our hearts the absolute sovereignty of God.

Let us say with the psalmist (115:3), "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases." Let us say with Daniel (4:35), "He does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What doest thou?'" Let us make the absolute sovereignty of God the rock on which we build our lives and our church.

2. Let your tears flow freely when your calamity comes.

"Job arose, rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon his face" (1:20). The sobs of grief and pain are not signs of unbelief. Job knows nothing of a flippant, superficial "Well, Praise God anyhow" response to suffering. The magnificence of his worship is because it was in grief, not because it replaced grief. Let your tears flow freely when your calamity comes. And let the rest of us weep with those who weep.

3. Trust in the goodness of God, and let him be your treasure and your joy.

Even if God had let Satan take Job's life, we know what Job would have said. He would have said Psalm 63:3, "The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life."

When your calamity comes, may the Lord give you the grace to affirm the sovereignty of God, let your tears flow freely, and let God himself be your treasure and your joy. Amen

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