Job Trusted in God.
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Job Trusted in God.
Job Trusted in God.
But to preach that way, would be committing a great evil against God. As much as God is love, grace and mercy, He is also a God of justice and sovereignty. His divine attributes cannot be divided up like a piece of pie. God is not bipolar in that one day He is loving and the next day he is angry and wrathful. A preacher that cherry picks God’s attribute of patience or his love without also proclaiming his holiness is out of balance. He is giving an incomplete picture of our God. This is evident as we look at this great book of wisdom in Job. If our mind is set that God is just love and all he does for me is give me health and wealth as long as I have enough faith, this book is going to rattle our cage.
Thus, my great concern in preparing for preaching in Job is that I would give as complete a picture as I can of our heavenly Father. I want to be faithful to Scripture and I want to be faithful in helping each of us to grow in our knowledge and love of God.
Have you ever gone through a trial and someone lovingly encourages you to read the story of Job’s life to see how he handled dealing with suffering? If you have had that experience, did you feel that that was exactly what you needed, or did it leave you with more questions than answers? Job is a wonderful book and it is inspired by God for our good and for our understanding of the problem of suffering. But I think it is best understood as a way to prepare for suffering than as an answer to our suffering when we are in the midst of it.
What do I mean by that? Truth be told, if you have never endured real pain and hardship that makes you question why this is happening to you, get ready, for it will happen to you. None of us who live for an extended period of time can go on without suffering loss, pain, sickness, heartbreak, betrayal, financial hardship, persecution or a host of other problems. Why? Because this world we live in is under the curse of sin. Death and evil reign in the world because of the fall in the garden of Eden. Therefore, since sin is so prevalent, we will endure suffering to some extent.
On the flip side, due to our prideful, arrogant and selfish sinful nature, we will also cause suffering in other peoples lives. I hope and pray that none of us ever have to endure great pain that Job endured. But thanks be to God for this treasure, for in it, we will be able to excavate truths that are more precious than diamonds. Blessed words that can help us to understand suffering in light of God’s glory.
If you have read or studied this book, there is more than likely some questions that are raised especially when we read that Job was a righteous man. God himself says in (1:8) that Job was a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.
So questions are raised like “why do bad things happen to good people?” Or “Why does God allow suffering and tragedy to come to his children? Why did God volunteer Job to suffer under the hand of Satan?” I know there is many other questions that could be listed, but these are obvious questions that even the most mature Christians have wrestled with. So don’t think you are alone in processing these deep difficulties that we need to face. Will we be able to answer these questions? Not fully that is for sure. There is mystery as Job himself was wondering why he was suffering this way. He never got answers to the “why” questions from God. But that is not the point of the book. The main purpose that we are given in this book is that we can trust God even when we go through the darkest of days, weeks, months or even years.
For today, we won’t delve too deeply into the waters of this book but rather I want to just dip our toes into the creek. To test the waters you could say. I want to first of all give some background, as well as introduce the themes and characters of this book.
Point #1 - Background
Point #1 - Background
I have been greatly blessed by Steve Lawson’s commentary in helping bring out many of these points today. So I will follow his lead in giving us helpful and important information. So first of all, what makes the book of Job unique? It contains the longest place in the bible where God speaks in four lengthy chapters (38-41). As well it includes the longest place in the bible where Satan speaks with God (1,2). This conversation gives the reader a very unique behind the scenes look into what happens in the courts of heaven.
This book is one of the 5 wisdom literature books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon). The literary structure of this book is unlike any other. It has a mixture of prose (which is not like poetry but uses typical grammar, logic and vocabulary) as well as poetry which makes up the body. There is a mixture of monologue and dialogue. Therefore, it has its own unique type of literature. It contains more Hebrew words not found anywhere else in Scripture so it contains a rich diversity of language.
We are given special insight into heaven where we are privy to the conversation between God and Satan. As well as the literary structure of this book is unlike any other. It has a mixture of prose (which is not like poetry but uses typical patterns and vocabulary) and poetry. A mixture of monologue and dialogue. Therefore, it has its own unique type of literature. It contains more Hebrew words not found anywhere else in Scripture so it contains a rich diversity of language.
This book as I alluded to in my introduction wrestles specifically with two heart wrenching questions: “If God is all-loving and merciful, why do the righteous suffer?” Secondly, “Where is God in life’s trials?”These are the kinds of questions that we will explore as we go along in this series.
There has been some debate about whether Job was a real person or just a figment of some author’s imagination. I believe that the bible clearly states that Job was a real historical person who was married, had 10 children, and was a very successful businessman. That he really endured one of the most awful and devastating trials that anyone has ever faced. We see evidence of this in ,) as well as James refers to him as one who was severely tested by God (5:11). Paul also referred to him in and . I think it is sufficient enough evidence that if biblical authors say he was real, that is good enough for me.
He lived in the land of Uz which is in the region of Edom. This would be modern day Arabia south east of the Dead Sea. When he lived is widely accepted as during the patriarchal age which is the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So this would have been about 2,000 B.C. This is evident by Job living to about 200 years old which was comparable to the time period as Abraham lived to 205 years, Isaac 180 and Jacob 147. Also, we read that Job’s wealth was counted in livestock which was common in those days. By him sacrificing to God on behalf of his children reveals him as priest of the home which places him before old covenant priesthood in Aaron as the first. The heirs of his estate was distributed including his daughters which was a practise not permitted under the Mosaic Law. So this again points to Job living prior to the law given at Mt. Sinai in 1445 BC.
Who wrote the book of Job? Again, this is pretty difficult to prove 100% but it may have been Job himself as there is many details given that would be intimately known to Job. Some have thought that Elihu wrote it as in order to know these details it would have required an eye witness of sorts. Moses has been suggested as well since the land of Uz is near Midian where Moses fled to after leaving Egypt. Some have thought Solomon or Ezra wrote it. I tend to think it was Job or Moses and that is where I am content but I am not going to worry about authorship. It is inspired by God for us and that is all I need.
Now in having a bit of the foundation of this book laid out, let us turn to the main themes that are brought out.
Point #2 - Themes
Point #2 - Themes
Although this book contains many themes that will come about as we go through it there are four that must be highlighted.
Sovereignty. This is the most obvious theme that we see in the message of this book. Like the undercurrent in a river that always is there even if we can’t see it. As much as we think this book is about Job, it is actually a book about God. In the opening scenes of this great drama, we are able to see behind the veil into heaven’s throne room where divine decisions are made that affect both heaven and earth. God controls Satan and restrains him from going any further than God allows. He also controls man’s circumstances in that Satan is allowed to launch an evil assault on Job and his wife. The book ends with God asking rhetorical questions to Job if he understands and can rule nature and the cosmos. Our understanding of God’s sovereignty is fundamental to Job and to the readers. God is God, there is no other who reigns supreme over all creation. He does as he pleases, with whom he pleases for his own glory and for the ultimate good of his people.
Satan. Here we see our archenemy in the courts of heaven being the accuser of the saints. Pompous, arrogant and the foe of God. Parading around like a proud lion who is shown to be the active agent in afflicting Job with all his sorrow and pain. Satan is in fact a powerful enemy. He is the invisible evil spiritual being that hates God and his people. He is no one to tackle in our own strength. He is the prince of this world but he needs to ask permission to strike Job. Revealing who governs Satan and who holds the ultimate authority over him.
Suffering. As we will see in this book. Pain and suffering appear to almost be unbearable. Why do the righteous suffer? The righteous may ask why, but God is not obligated to answer that question. Remember, we are the created and God is the Creator. His ways are not our ways. Yet, as we see through the course of time and Scripture, we can have complete confidence that God has a plan and a purpose for all that he does. He does not respond to situations and exclaim “Oops, didn’t see that coming.” Not at all. But the reason for the suffering that we endure is often not revealed to any of us. We cry out but in most cases we are never told why we suffer. This was Job’s case, he never was told. God’s answer to why he was suffering was for him to submit to the all wise counsel of the Ancient of Days that surpasses our understanding. The wisdom of Job and his friends never lead him to the answer he was looking for.
Submission. The ultimate answer to Job’s suffering was to submit and trust in God whom he knew personally. In knowing that God is sovereign and that there is nothing in the universe that is out of control, Job, along with all of God’s people are to submit and trust in the love and sufficiency of God’s providential care. Job loses everything in minutes, then his health is destroyed. He first worships then over the course of time he looks for answers and even considers God as his enemy. More time goes on and he finds peace and submits to God’s sovereignty and proclaims “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him.”
Therefore, we can now see this book sort of unfolding. A drama that has a setting in time and space, has themes that need unpacking and now we need to look at the characters that fill out that drama.
Point #3 - Characters
Point #3 - Characters
Job. Here you have the primary character in this divine drama. The meaning of his name in Hebrew is either “persecution” or “the persecuted one”. It could also mean “repent” or “the repentant one.” Either way, Job is a real person who was persecuted by Satan for his faith in God, who after some time had self-righteousness creep into his heart, that when confronted with this by the holy One, he put his hand over his mouth and repented.
God. As we get the blessing to see into the invisible courts of heaven, we are able to see a small glimpse of God himself. We see the sovereignty of God over Satan, circumstances and over human suffering. We are also able to see His perfect wisdom in creation, love and mercy. His patience and kindness with abundant grace to keep Job’s faith and that his righteousness would in fact endure to the end because it is God’s gift of faith that never is lost for those who are truly his children. The universe does not revolve around Job or us, but unashamedly around God. He is the unsearchable, omnipotent, merciful, immutable God who was and is and is to come.
Satan. As we mentioned before, Satan plays a huge part in this drama. He is exposed as the rebellious fallen angel that he is. He is the accuser of the brethren. He has incredible power, but is restrained by God. He attempts to prove that if God lets him assault Job, this human peon will surely curse God. Satan does not understand God. We can see that in his power he can wield giant natural disasters and remove a man’s health, wealth and family.
The three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They come to Job upon hearing of his great trials. The best thing they ever do is remain silent for 7 days upon their arrival. They use their own wisdom to try to counsel Job to repent. They are over simplistic in thinking that the reason Job is suffering is because he is unrepentant and God is judging him. They lack compassion and are ruthless with Job as he continues to hold to his integrity. Job calls them worthless counsellors in his great affliction. Eliphaz’s name means “God dispenses judgement”. Bildad’s name means “son of contention”, and Zophar’s name means “rough”. Very fitting names indeed.
Elihu. The youngest friend and counsellor who had to wait his turn to speak to Job. He speaks with the greatest clarity and perception. He uses better logic and unlike his three other friends addresses the issues correctly. His counsel is the best of the friends as he calls Job to humble himself before God. The meaning of his name is “He is my God.”
Job’s wife. She plays a small part in this drama, but has faced much criticism for telling her husband to curse God and die.
So this gives us an introduction into the book of Job. In thinking about preaching through Job, I pondered how to preach through it. Joseph Caryl, a puritan who preceded the famous John Owen preached on Job for 23 years…you could hear the sermons through your high school years, graduate, move away and get married, have some children and decide to move back and still hear preaching on Job. Don’t think we will undertake that. John Calvin preached 150 sermons on Job and are considered the finest theological work on Job. But I think we will aim to preach through it in 6 sermons.
So what can we learn from Job? Well three things are quite clear, three true truths about the reality of the Christian life and I encourage you to write these down.
First is that for many of us, we will suffer. Some of us here today have endured great trials. Sometimes they seem to pile one on top of another. Through loss of a loved one or dealing with constant pain or financial burdens that never seem to let up. Maybe it is the betrayal of a best friend who has abandoned you. Possibly there may be a darkness that hangs over like a cloud, a time of depression that sucks every last ounce of joy from your being. Whatever you have gone through, are currently going through, or will go through, this is a reality for the Christian.
Second of all is that we will not always understand why we suffer. Questions that roll through our mind in the middle of the night asking “Why”? Many times we never know why. Why has a loved one abandoned their faith? Why does loneliness never seem to leave? Why do we fall into temptation? Why are evil people able to prosper while the good men are taken from us? Understanding of questions like these are often not given to us no matter how hard we plead with God.
But…thirdly, we can always trust in God. Job did not know that God and Satan had this dialogue in heaven. He and his friends tried to understand but were not able to. The friends logic was that since God punishes sin, there must be unconfessed sin in his life. Job as we were told was a blameless and righteous man. Not perfect but he knew God and knew that sacrifices for sin were vital. He loved God and believed God had forgiven him for any sin. So in human understanding, he himself did not know why he was suffering. Yet in the midst of the murkiness and despair...he trusted God. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (19:25).
As Mark Dever states so well. “How would Job’s Redeemer redeem? By living more righteously and perfectly than Job ever could, and by taking upon himself more suffering than Job ever knew. Job’s patience amid suffering, you see, was finally meant to point to the genuinely perfect righteousness and wholly undeserved suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Through his death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day, Christ would defeat the powers of sin and death.”
To all who repent of their sin and trust in Christ as their Saviour, God promises to forgive your sin and make you righteous. So that along with Job you will stand with your Redeemer in the end. Receiving eternal life because of Christ. This book may not give us all the answers we would like, but what it gives each and every one of us is the great truth that we can always trust God in the midst of our darkest valley and on the highest mountain peak. May this series be a great help to each one of us to the glory of God! May this rich theological book cause us to grow in a better understanding of our Heavenly Father so that like Job we can worship God in the midst of our trials and proclaim:
21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”