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Worship in the Ashes

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Worship in the Ashes

Worship in the Ashes
The question that started this whole book and driven every chapter since:
We will be wrapping up our series on Job - next week. I said last time that we had one more week to go. That was because we only had one chapter left in the book and in this series, we’ve done as many as 6 chapters in one week - so one chapter in one week - that’s child’s play. “No problem!” I should have known better. In a book that has been building and building for 41 chapters, there’s no way we can we can flip a quick-sermon switch and finish in one session.
The question that started this whole book and driven every chapter since:
“Does Job worship God for nothing?”
The question that started this whole book and driven every chapter since:
42:1-6 …is where the answer to the question comes.
Remember back to the very beginning - we are introduced to this man of faith named Job .....
“Does Job worship God for nothing?”
Then we are introduced to Satan - the devil … God’s arch-enemy … parades before God. God points out his faithful servant Job - blameless and upright - fears God and shuns evil. Look at Job. You can almost God’s pride in this man busting through the words.
42:1-6 …is where the answer to the question comes.
Satan isn’t buying it. “Does Job love you .... does he worship you FOR NOTHING?” “Look at the man … look at everything You’ve given him … he’s the greatest man - the wealthiest person in his part of the world. He has the perfect family - 10 children. Good children who love each other … everything the guy touches turns to gold.” Why wouldn’t he worship you?!
Remember back to the very beginning - we are introduced to this man of faith named Job .....
look at everything You’ve given him … he’s the blest
Then we are introduced to Satan - the devil … God’s arch-enemy … parades before God. God points out his faithful servant Job - blameless and upright - fears God and shuns evil. Look at Job. You can almost God’s pride in this man busting through the words.
.... Job doesn’t love you - he knows that he has a good business arrangement: he will worship you, serve you - keep his nose clean .... and you will give him everything that he wants.”
Satan isn’t buying it. “Does Job love you .... does he worship you FOR NOTHING?” “Look at the man … look at everything You’ve given him … he’s the greatest man - the wealthiest person in his part of the world. He has the perfect family - 10 children. Good children who love each other … everything the guy touches turns to gold.” Why wouldn’t he worship you?!
.... Job doesn’t love you - he knows that he has a good business arrangement: he will worship you, serve you - keep his nose clean .... and you will give him everything that he wants.”
That’s not love … that’s self-preservation .... that’s knowing how to play the game ....”
Strikes at the heart of whether God is to be worshiped and loved … because if Satan is right - then God isn’t a God you worship -- He’s not a God you love … He is a God you pay off. A God you make deals with.
That’s not love … that’s self-preservation .... that’s knowing how to play the game ....” It strikes at the heart of whether God is to be worshiped and loved … because if Satan is right - then God isn’t a Being you worship -- He’s not a God you love … He is a God you pay off. A God you make deals with.
If that’s the God you have .... how can you possibly say that you love Him?
If that’s the God you have .... how can you possibly say that you love Him?
You don’t worship a God like that - you WORK Him.
You don’t worship a God like that - you WORK Him.
Some of us grew up in homes where there was a parent who dominated the mood of the house … strong personality … temper. You quickly learn how to keep peace … what you should say, what you should NOT say … and how to behave.
Some of us grew up in homes where there was a parent who dominated the mood of the house … strong personality … temper. You quickly learn how to keep peace … what you should say, what you should NOT say … and how to behave.
You learn how to play the game … you learn how to WORK your parent. Not in an evil way - no, it’s all about survival.
You learn how to play the game … you learn how to WORK your parent. Not in an evil way - no, it’s all about survival. You do the right things and you get the results you need – the peace, the safety.
So again, let me ask you - - Why did you come to worship this morning? Did you come because ....... things are going well for you - and you want to keep this good groove going for you?
Did you come because things aren’t going well for you - and you’re hoping that God will notice that you took the time and made the effort to come to worship … so maybe He will be impressed enough to fix what’s hurting in your life?
If you are here for either of these reasons - then you are saying that Satan is right. “God is not worth worshiping for WHO He is - not worth TRUSTING … He’s a Divine Vending machine - and you put in your deposits and wait for your treats to fall from the rack into the tray below.
THAT’S the issue that has driven this book. And that’s what Job needs to discover once and for all.
_______________________________________________________
1 JOB GRADUATES UNIVERSITY
The first thing I want you to see here, is that Job is getting schooled by God Himself.
Job is in the university of wisdom. Every single Christian is at some stage of education, when it comes to wisdom - understanding God’s working in this world.
So again, let me ask you - - Why did you come to worship this morning? Did you come because ....... well, things are going pretty good for you, right now - and you want to keep this happy place going for you?
We all start in elementary school. What do I mean by elementary school? Well, that’s when you pick up the Bible and you read , - “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” goes on - verse 9, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine ...”. The emphasis of the whole book of Proverbs and many of the Psalms is that if you follow God, you honor God, you worship and obey the God of the universe - things will go well with you - - you will save yourself from all kinds of suffering .... and your barns will be filled.”
Did you come because things aren’t going well for you - and you’re hoping that God will notice that you took the time and made the effort to come to worship … so maybe He will be impressed enough to fix what’s hurting in your life?
If you are here for either of these reasons - then you are saying that Satan is right. “God is not worth worshiping for WHO He is - not worth TRUSTING … He’s a Divine Vending machine - and you put in your deposits and wait for your treats to fall from the rack into the tray below.
The world around us doesn’t get that. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” - for them - fearing God is foolish … it’s a needless prison.
We get it: “Follow the LORD and you will have long life and you will lend to the poor. You won’t be like the wicked - who are chaff that the wind picks up and blows away - no, you will be that tree, planted by streams of water that bears its fruit in season, as puts it.
THAT’S the issue that has driven this book. And that’s what Job needs to discover once and for all.
Job gets that. Job’s friends get that - - But that’s as far as they get.
_______________________________________________________
So when Job starts to suffer - when his world falls apart and he has lost everything and is suffering more than most of us can even imagine … Then Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad pull out their textbook from elementary school and say, “Well, here’s the problem, Job - - -You’ve sinned. You must have sinned, because God rewards righteousness and punishes sin. Period. No exceptions. You are suffering - you MUST have sinned.”
1 JOB AT UNIVERSITY
There is no other explanation for your pain.
So let’s dig in. The first thing I want you to see here, is that Job is getting schooled by God Himself.
It’s the struggle we all face at various times in our lives today: The pain comes - I know how far from perfect I am. I am Paul, in - “Oh wicked man that I am … the good that I want to do, I don’t do - and the very thing I hate - THAT’S what I find myself doing ...”. Oh how the devil loves to come and rub my nose in the filth of my failures and sins and say: “This pain is your fault - God is punishing you. Always. Without exception. That’s the way this world works, that’s the way it always works … that’s the ONLY way it works.”
Job is in the university of wisdom. Every single Christian is at some stage of education, when it comes to wisdom - understanding God’s working in this world.
We all start in elementary school. What do I mean by elementary school? Well, that’s when you pick up the Bible and you read
Job’s been through elementary school. He’s passed his tests and he’s gone to the next level of education - he’s gone to high school. He recognizes that, yes, in His wisdom, God has made the world in such a way that worshiping Him, serving Him, living a righteous life brings rich blessing - God does make your pathways straight … but that doesn’t mean that things always go easily for you.
made the world in such a way that worshiping Him, serving Him, living a righteous life brings rich blessing - God does make your pathways straight … but that doesn’t mean that things always go easily for you.
It doesn’t mean that the righteous always have smooth sailing.
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”
Job has learned this through his suffering. He knows he is innocent. He knows that, sure he’s a sinner, but his sin hasn’t caused THIS - -
- goes on - verse 9, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine ...”. The emphasis of the whole book of Proverbs and many of the Psalms is that if you follow God, you honor God, you worship and obey the God of the universe - things will go well with you - - you will save yourself from all kinds of suffering .... and your barns will be filled.”
He’s trying to make sense of it all. But he got stuck himself. His is righteous. He is suffering. And God is sovereign. “THIS ISN’T FAIR - This isn’t JUST …”. “God I’ve got a case. Why won’t you hear my case?! Why won’t you bring me justice?!”
Job is on the verge of charging God with doing wrong. If you stay in elementary school of wisdom - you will be naive.
The world around us doesn’t get that. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” - for them - fearing God is foolish … it’s a needless prison.
If you stay in the high-school of wisdom - you will grow cynical. The world doesn’t make sense - because the Sovereign God allows the righteous to suffer. You won’t worship for long if that’s where you end up. Job needs more education. He needs to go to university. And that’s exactly where God takes him when He breaks the silence in chapter 38 and speaks.
He needs to go to university.
We get it: “Follow the LORD and you will have long life and you will lend to the poor. You won’t be like the wicked - who are chaff that the wind picks up and blows away - no, you will be that tree, planted by streams of water that bears its fruit in season, as puts it.
Job gets that. Job’s friends get that - - But that’s as far as they get.
Job’s confession falls into 2 parts - in both parts he quotes the very words of the LORD - he puts them on his own lips. That is exactly what confession is: Taking the words of God on your own lips and agreeing with them - that’s confession.
So when Job starts to suffer - when his world falls apart and he has lost everything and is suffering more than most of us can even imagine … Then Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad pull out their textbook from elementary school and say, “Well, here’s the problem, Job - - -You’ve sinned. You must have sinned, because God rewards righteousness and punishes sin. Period. No exceptions. You are suffering - you MUST have sinned.”
There is no other explanation for your pain.
__________________________________________________________________
JOB CONFESSES HIS IGNORANCE ABOUT GOD’S PLAN, vv. 1-3
Look at verse 2: “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”.
It’s the struggle we all face at various times in our lives today: The pain comes - I know how far from perfect I am. I am Paul, in - “Oh wicked man that I am … the good that I want to do, I don’t do - and the very thing I hate - THAT’S what I find myself doing ...”. Oh how the devil loves to come and rub my nose in the filth of my failures and sins and say: “This pain is your fault - God is punishing you. Always. Without exception. That’s the way this world works, that’s the way it always works … that’s the ONLY way it works.”
“I already knew that you are sovereign - that you are all powerful and in control. There is nothing that can possibly happen in all the universe that You do not allow … that You do not control. Where I got tripped up is that I didn’t ‘get’ that evil could be part of your good plan.” “How can it be part of your plan for bad things to happen to good people?” That’s where I was stuck.
Job’s been through elementary school. He’s passed his tests and he’s gone to the next level of education - he’s gone to high school. He recognizes that, yes, in His wisdom, God has made the world in such a way that worshiping Him, serving Him, living a righteous life brings rich blessing - God does make your pathways straight … but that doesn’t mean that things always go easily for you.
It doesn’t mean that the righteous always have smooth sailing.
Aldous Huxley ....
Job’s learned this through his own experience of suffering. He knows he is innocent. He knows that, sure he’s a sinner, but his sin hasn’t caused THIS - -
Job goes on, in Verse 3, “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
Go back to chapter 38: 1-2, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Those are the very first words that God spoke to Job and Job is quoting them back to God …”.
He’s trying to make sense of it all. But he got stuck himself. He IS righteous. He IS suffering. … And God is sovereign.
Through His whole first speech, God is saying to His servant, “I am God; but who are you?!” He’s proving that there is nothing He CANNOT do; and there is nothing that He DOES NOT do, with unsearchable wisdom … and a finite human being, living for a vapor’s breath of time, bound by time and space into one little corner of God’s vast universe - cannot possibly understand the ways of the Infinite God … The sovereign God who doesn’t answer to us.
“THIS ISN’T FAIR - This isn’t JUST …”. “God I’ve got a case. Why won’t you hear my case?! Why won’t you bring me justice?!”
Job is on the verge of charging God with doing wrong. If you stay in elementary school of wisdom - you will be naive.
By the end of God’s first speech, Job is silenced. After all of his talking through so much of the book - his insisting that he had a case that he needs to argue before God - after all of the words .... God speaks and all Job can come up with, in chapter 40:2, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”
The big talker is utterly silenced.
If you stay in the high-school of wisdom - you will grow cynical. The world doesn’t make sense - because the Sovereign God allows the righteous to suffer. You won’t worship for long if that’s where you end up. Job needs more education. He needs to go to university. And that’s exactly where God takes him when He broke the silence in chapter 38 and speaks.
With the confession in chapter 42, Job passes his final exam. So what marks a graduate from God’s university of wisdom? What marks Job? 3 marks:
But it’s not enough. Job is not humbled ENOUGH. God has more work to do. That’s why He goes on with another speech, through the rest of chapter 40 and 41.
2 MARKS OF THE GRADUATE
Finally, in chapter 42 - Job is where he needs to be. He’s saying, “I get it now. When I start to question HOW YOU RUN the universe - I’m in way over my head. I’m speaking gibberish”. “I am speaking what I don’t understand - things that are too wonderful for me - that I have no idea about.” I get it now!
A - JOB LETS GOD BE GOD
We need to get this: When the phone call comes from the doctor - the cancer is back; when you get your grades back for the semester and you’ve hit a roadblock in your studies - you’ve tried your best, but your best doesn’t seem to have been enough this time - and you don’t understand ...
And God doesn’t give you an answer why ...
Look at verse 2: “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”.
… you need to know that God’s ways are NOT beneath you … not too low to make sense … God is working out His Good plan and His ways are TOO WONDERFUL for us to grasp from this tiny tree-branch perch in the vast universe He is ruling. I’m never going to fully understand.
“I already knew that you are sovereign - that you are all powerful and in control. There is nothing that can possibly happen in all the universe that You do not allow … that You do not control. Where I started to stumble is that I didn’t ‘get’ that evil could be part of your good plan.” “How can it be part of your plan for bad things to happen to good people?” That’s where I was stuck.
“I don’t understand the evil! I don’t understand the pain!” Oh, but God does, Christian - God understands … and rules.
It’s the great struggle to believe - 18th Century Scottish skeptic David Hume summed up well our own society’s greatest obstacle to believing in God:
Dr. Waltke told us of a conversation he once had with C. Everett Koop, who had been the Surgeon General of the United States under Ronald Reagan, in the 80s. He was a pediatric surgeon, who had done all kinds of groundbreaking work, separating conjoined twins, invented surgical techniques for operating on infants - techniques that are used today - helping children with severe needs and challenges ...
“Were a stranger to drop suddenly into this world, I would show him as a specimen of its ills a hospital full of diseases, a prison crowded with malefactors and debtors, a field strewn with carcasses, a fleet floundering in the ocean, a nation languishing under tyranny, famine or pestilence. Honestly, I don’t see how you can possibly square with an ultimate purpose of love.”
He had performed more operations on children with health defects than any other person. He had seen it all. And he said this about the kinds of life and death, heart-wrenching situations he was called as a surgeon to try and deal with ...
Job never got there, but by his increasing complaints about his situation – he was about to start down that road.
Now Job has changed. He goes on, in Verse 3, “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
He had performed more operations on children with health defects than any other person ...
Go back to chapter 38: 1-2, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” These are the very first words that God spoke to Job and here’s Job, quoting them back to God …”.
“I would have gone out of my mind long ago if not for my faith in the God who spoke in - to Moses, at the burning bush … , “Then the LORD said to him ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go and I’ll be with your mouth ...”
Through His whole first speech, God is saying to His servant, “I am God; but who are you?!” He’s proving that there is nothing He CANNOT do; and there is nothing that He DOES NOT do, with unsearchable wisdom … and a finite human being, living for a vapor’s breath of time, bound by time and space into one little corner of God’s vast universe - cannot possibly understand the ways of the Infinite God … The sovereign God who doesn’t answer to us.
If not for that awareness of God’s sovereignty … he said, I could not have continued … would have lost my mind. He was a leader in movements to protect the rights of unborn children and children with special needs and defects. He lived his life out of the conviction that God is Sovereign - even over the things we see as tragic - birth defects and the like … so trust Him.
That’s what Job has learned here.
Notice how Job has changed.
Ravi Zacharias shares a story that he said was often told in India, when he was growing up – the story of a man who was sitting under a tree that was laden with nuts. He looked up into the tree and mockingly said to God, ‘Somehow I do not think You are very smart. You have made a huge tree to hold small nuts and a small plant to hold big watermelons. Big tree, small nuts; small plant, big watermelons. Your sense of proportion does not seem to have much meaning.”
Just then a small nut fell from the tree and hit him on the head. He paused and muttered, ‘Thank God that was not a watermelon!’
God is saying to Job through His speech: ‘Don’t assume that you should only accept what you can fully understand. Look at creation – how much of it can you understand?!” “Have you commanded the morning?” “Does the rain fall at your command? Have you loosed the cords of Orion? Do you feed the lions?”
_____________________________________________________________
2 JOB CHANGES HIS MIND ABOUT HIMSELF, vv. 4-6
By the end of God’s first speech, Job is silenced. After all of his talking through so much of the book - his insisting that he had a case that he needs to argue before God - after all of the words .... God speaks and all Job can come up with, in chapter 40:2, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”
In verses 4-6, Job changes his mind about himself. And that’s natural. The more you appreciate God, the more you are captured by a vision of the glory of God .... the more God rises higher and higher in glory in your eyes .... the lower and lower you will sink.
The big talker is utterly silenced.
But it’s not enough. Job is not humbled ENOUGH. God has more work to do. That’s why He goes on with another speech, through the rest of chapter 40 and 41.
In verses 4-6, Job changes his mind about himself. And that’s natural. The more you appreciate God, the more you are captured by a vision of the glory of God .... the more God rises higher and higher in glory in your eyes .... the lower and lower you will sink.
Verse 4, Job continues quoting God’s words back to Him - “Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. (5) I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; THEREFORE I DESPISE MYSELF AND REPENT in dust and ashes.”
“my eye sees you - therefore I DESPISE myself.” That word, ‘I despise myself’ - is a strong one. You can paraphrase it as, “I nauseate myself. I make ME want to puke. I’m disgusted with myself. I throw aside every proud thought of myself.
I will lay down my briefcase. I will put away my arguments. I will take off my lawyer’s robe that I was going to use to argue my case and fight for my right before You, God.
.... I will exchange that robe for a pile of ashes … and I will sit here, in brokenness … and worship.
Remember where Job is right now. We know enough of the story to know what’s coming in the very next verses - Job is restored - a ‘happy ending’ is coming.
But right here, in our verses this morning, at the beginning of chapter 42, nothing has changed. There is not only no restoration yet, but there’s no light on the horizon.
Finally, in chapter 42 - Job is where he needs to be. He’s saying, “I get it now. When I start to question HOW YOU RUN the universe - I’m in way over my head. I’m speaking gibberish”. “I am speaking what I don’t understand - things that are too wonderful for me - that I have no idea about.” I get it now!
“When darkness falls, many medicate with distraction, wallow in self-pity, or take it out on others. A few fix their eyes on God, and listen for the light.” (Marshall Segal).
Job is worshiping even though nothing has changed … He is still grieving the loss of all 10 of his precious kids - - - he is still childless, he is still penniless, he is still homeless, his body is falling apart … because of the open festering sores, the flesh wasting away - he is still an outcast … living outside the city, on the heap of refuse that is the garbage dump, with the smoke of burning trash rising up all around him. With the eyes of flesh - when this man looks around - he still sees smoke and trash. There is no bright light on the horizon to give him hope.
Job enters into worship even though nothing has changed … He is still grieving the loss of all 10 of his precious kids - - - he is still childless, he is still penniless, he is still homeless, his body is falling apart … because of the open festering sores, the flesh wasting away - he is still an outcast … living outside the city, on the heap of refuse that is the garbage dump, with the smoke of burning trash rising up all around him. With the eyes of flesh - when this man looks around - he still sees smoke and trash. There is no bright light on the horizon to give him hope.
We need to get this: When the phone call comes from the doctor - the cancer is back; when you get your grades back for the semester and you’ve hit a roadblock in your studies - you’ve tried your best, but your best doesn’t seem to have been enough this time - and you don’t understand ...
And God doesn’t give you an answer why ...
He has received NOTHING from God. In fact, God hasn’t even given Job an explanation - hasn’t said a word about the Devil’s wager.
Job’s situation hasn’t changed an iota … But Job has changed. So what’s made the difference?
Verse 6 -
… you need to know that God’s ways are NOT beneath you … not TOO LOW to make sense … God is working out His Good plan and His ways are TOO WONDERFUL for us to grasp from this tiny tree-branch perch in the vast universe He is ruling. I’m never going to fully understand.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, BUT NOW MY EYE SEES YOU; (6) therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes”.
Don’t miss that - “I had heard of you .... BUT NOW MY EYE SEES YOU”.
“I don’t understand the evil! I don’t understand the pain!” Oh, but God does, Christian - God understands … and rules.
That’s important. “I … repent in dust and ashes” … Job is worshiping: “I repent in dust and ashes”. He’s saying that while he is l
In our text this morning - we see Job graduate from the school of wisdom … with honors ....
In one of my classes at seminary - Dr. Waltke told us of a conversation he once had with C. Everett Koop, who had been the Surgeon General of the United States under Ronald Reagan, in the 80s. He was a pediatric surgeon, who had done all kinds of groundbreaking work, separating conjoined twins, invented surgical techniques for operating on infants - techniques that are used today - helping children with severe needs and challenges ...
Verses 1-7 Job arrives at the destination - - He
He had performed more operations on children with health defects than any other person. He had seen it all. And he said this about the kinds of life and death, heart-wrenching situations he was called as a surgeon to try and deal with ...
“I would have gone out of my mind long ago if not for my faith in the God who spoke in
And it ends in such a positive way - the Lord restores Job and gives him 10 MORE children - seven sons and three daughters … exactly the mix he had before. 14k sheep, 6k camels, 1k yoke of oxen and 1k female donkeys. It’s almost the way the book began.
- to Moses, at the burning bush …
What’s going on?
Don’t end on a tragic note like much literature in the 18th and 19th century. There’s an element of restoration here.
, “Then the LORD said to him ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go and I’ll be with your mouth ...”
If not for that awareness of God’s sovereignty … he said, I could not have continued … would have lost my mind. He was a leader in movements to protect the rights of unborn children and children with special needs and defects. He lived his life out of the conviction that God is Sovereign - even over the things we see as tragic - birth defects and the like … so trust Him.
Begins in v. 7. In chapters 38-42 … restoration. God calls Job onto the carpet … question after question
That’s what Job has learned here. Let God BE God. And trust Him
Job can’t answer any of them.
Verses 1-7 Job arrives at the destination - - He
_____________________________________________________________
2 JOB WORSHIPS GOD AS HE IS,
Verse 5, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you ....”.
“v. 6, “… therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes ...”
In verses 4-6, Job shows that he hasn’t only changed his mind about God – He also changes his mind about himself. And that’s natural. The more you appreciate God, the more you are captured by a vision of the glory of God .... the more God rises higher and higher in glory in your eyes .... the lower and lower you will sink.
Look at Verse 4, Job continues quoting God’s words back to Him - “Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. (5) I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; THEREFORE I DESPISE MYSELF AND REPENT in dust and ashes.”
“my eye sees you - therefore I DESPISE myself.” That word, ‘I despise myself’ - is a strong one. You can paraphrase it as, “I nauseate myself. I make ME want to puke. I’m disgusted with myself. I throw aside every proud thought of myself.
I will lay down my briefcase. I will put away my arguments. I will take off my lawyer’s robe that I was going to use to argue my case and fight for my right before You, God.
.... I will exchange that robe for a pile of ashes … and I will sit here, in brokenness … and worship. This is the mark of someone who knows wisdom - -
Quote from Marshall Segal: “When darkness falls, many medicate with distraction, wallow in self-pity, or take it out on others. A few fix their eyes on God, and listen for the light.”.
Job has his eyes fixed on God now – and that leads him to repentance – not of active sin … but of doubting God. He’s worshiping – and in this very act – he is proving that in the wager between God and Satan - God was right and Satan was wrong after all: Job really WILL worship God for nothing.
Remember where Job is right now. We know enough of the story to know what’s coming in the very next verses - Job is restored - a ‘happy ending’ is coming.
The lessons for us are plain and simple and profound:
But right here, in our verses this morning, at the beginning of chapter 42, nothing has changed. There is not only no restoration yet, but there’s no light on the horizon.
Believe with all your heart in the absolute sovereignty of God. Pray that God would give you that conviction.Believe with all your heart that everything he does is right and good. Pray that God will give you that assurance.Repent of all the times you have questioned God or found fault with him in the way he has treated you. Pray that God would humble you to see these murmurings as sinful.Be satisfied with the holy will of God and do not murmur.
Job is worshiping even though nothing has changed … He is still grieving the loss of all 10 of his precious kids - - - he is still childless, he is still penniless, he is still homeless, his body is falling apart … because of the open festering sores, the flesh wasting away - he is still an outcast … living outside the city, on the heap of refuse that is the garbage dump, with the smoke of burning trash rising up all around him. With the eyes of flesh - when this man looks around - he still sees smoke and trash. There is no bright light on the horizon to give him hope. And to make things worse – the three so-called ‘comforters’, who brought him anything BUT comfort … Tormentors is more like
Be like the great George Mueller of Bristol England. On the Lord's Day, February 6, 1870, his wife Mary died of rheumatic fever. They had been married 39 years and 4 months. The Lord gave him the strength to preach at her memorial service. He said,
I miss her in numberless ways, and shall miss her yet more and more. But as a child of God, and as a servant of the Lord Jesus, I bow, I am satisfied with the will of my Heavenly Father, I seek by perfect submission to His holy will to glorify Him, I kiss continually the hand that has thus afflicted me.
He has received NOTHING from God. In fact, God hasn’t even given Job an explanation - hasn’t said a word about the Devil’s wager.
Job’s situation hasn’t changed an iota … But Job has changed. So what’s made the difference?
Verse 6 - “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, BUT NOW MY EYE SEES YOU; (6) therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes”.
Don’t miss that - “I had heard of you .... BUT NOW MY EYE SEES YOU”. Job has heard the WORD OF GOD - - that’s what’s changed.
Job didn’t have what we have - - he lived before there was a written Word – he had no Bible. He had been serving God by the light he was given … he was faithful. He was devoted … “I had heard OF YOU”, ‘friends and family taught me about you, God … You have revealed Yourself in creation’ - but he had no written word.
But now – NOW that God has stepped into his pain and spoken out loud to him – ‘now MY EYE SEES YOU.’ NOW I KNOW YOU … And do you see how Job RECEIVES God’s word? Let’s be honest - God has come across as pretty harsh – challenged this man to a wrestling match – put him on the spot … But Job doesn’t take God’s word as cruel … HE RECEIVES IT AS IT IS - - AS God’s loving rescue – stepping into his error to set him straight.
We have so much more than Job – We this Word – God’s inspired, written word that tells us that even when life doesn’t make sense - - God is in control. Your suffering is part of His Good plan for you – because He loves you. And one day – no matter how black the sky right now – one day those clouds will break, the sun will shine and you will rejoice in EVERY SINGLE DETAIL that God worked in your life
And we have seen His love on display - in the coming of Christ – in the life of Jesus and His going to the cross.
If God has willingly suffered death on the cross, He has made such an extravagant display of His love for us – isn’t that reason to trust and worship Him even when today is filled with questions and pain?!
Could a God who would rather taste death and have the perfect, eternal communion of the Trinity broken – as the Son carried my sin on His shoulders – because He couldn’t stand to see me in suffering, sin or shame - - could He really be someone Who is careless about my pain right now? Who doesn’t have a plan to make it good?
May we Be like the great George Mueller of Bristol England. Cared for 10,000 children in the orphanages he prayed into being – cared for the bodies, as he cared for the souls of these kids who had no parents.
He was married twice: to Mary Groves when he was 25, and to Susannah Sangar when he was 66. Mary bore him four children. Two were stillborn. One son Elijah died when he was a year old.
On the Lord's Day, February 6, 1870, his wife Mary died of rheumatic fever. They had been married 39 years and 4 months. The Lord gave him the strength to preach at her memorial service. He said,
“I miss her in numberless ways, and shall miss her yet more and more. But as a child of God, and as a servant of the Lord Jesus, I bow, I am satisfied with the will of my Heavenly Father, I seek by perfect submission to His holy will to glorify Him, I kiss continually the hand that has thus afflicted me.”
“I KISS CONTINUALLY THE HAND THAT HAS THUS AFFLICTED ME.” That’s where Job is in our passage this morning –
That’s where we want to be. So how do we get there?
Twenty minutes after four, Lord's Day, February 6, 1870, Mary died. “I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, and for having taken her to Himself, and asked the Lord to help and support us.” He recalled later how he strengthened himself during these hours. And here we see the key to his life.
The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.
There’s the key – “A heart at rest - - SATISFIED, not by the things God gives - - SATISFIED WITH GOD HIMSELF. That’s George Mueller’s key. That’s where Job ends up – He has graduated. “Now my eye SEES YOU – and I worship YOU”.
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