The book of Job - Part 4

Series: My Preaching Bucket List

September 17, 2017
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

Going through the book of Job has been a slow start. A slow start is necessary, I believe, because the really difficult stuff is at the beginning (though, to be honest, it’s all pretty difficult).

There’s more tough stuff today, and then things will pick up a bit.

Remember, the story began by introducing our protagonist: Job. He was a great and godly man with great wealth, a great family, and great relationships. He lived a life anyone couldn’t help but be envious of. 

Then we were introduced to the antagonist in verse 6: satan, that serpent, the devil, the one who accuses us of sin and is ever our adversary.

Job 1:6-12 (ESV) — 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.

This refers very possibly to a divine council made up of high ranking angels. Somehow Satan was or is able to come before God, and perhaps even does so regularly. 

7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 

Sounds kind of snarky to me. When I read that I am reminded of Peter’s words…

1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) — 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

His very name, satan (which here, if you recall, is more a title than a name), means accuser, and we know he prowls about looking for someone to accuse of sin. Sin is what separates us from a holy God who is by His very nature perfect. 

We don’t understand why God allows him to roam the earth, but we do know his ultimate fate is eternal torment in place called hell (hell is his prison, not a place he rules by the way). And he doesn’t have much time…

Revelation 12:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Maybe he works so hard because of that old saying misery loves company. Those he finds guilty of sin, of rebellion against a holy God, are condemned to suffer his fate. He wants to take as many with him as he can.

We rejoice as Christians when we consider that though Satan is our adversary, Jesus is our advocate!

1 John 2:1 (ESV) — 1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Him.

Let’s move on…

8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 

You can feel the hatred and cynicism in Satan’s response to God’s question, have you considered my faithful servant, Job? The devil’s job was to find people falling short of God’s standards, which wasn’t hard. It still isn’t. We could imagine him getting pretty smug, even cocky before God.

If your job was to find fleas on dogs, you’d think pretty high of yourself, wouldn’t you. But it wouldn’t be because you were good at it, as much as it would be dogs, for the most part, have fleas.

But here’s this guy who really does seem to love God and serve him with everything he has (he doesn’t have fleas!). Why, if there were too many like him, the devil would be out of business and all by himself in hell!

So the accuser found a way to accuse Job anyway. 

 “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.”

One of the things you learn about the devil is he knows how to make a point. Paul warned us that he can transform himself into an angel of light so as to lead us astray. The devil used Scripture against Jesus in the wilderness to trick him into sinning (he didn’t). Beyond all that, he’s been walking up and down and around this earth watching us for a long time.

Just yesterday I encountered a group of hate mongers masquerading as followers of Christ. They preached a message of hate and condemnation, a message entirely void of grace.

I wish I hadn’t, but I engaged one. We went back and forth, and though he was dead wrong and deceived in himself, he was good at making a point. And if someone didn't know any better, they might think he was telling the truth. The devil and his crew are like that.

If this scene is a divine council of heavenly beings God put together to rule over the affairs of men, I can’t help but think when Satan said this, some of them may have looked down thinking, “OOOH, no he didn’t!”

Satan’s accusation against Job makes us think. It forces us to ask ourselves the question, what is our motivation for being in relationship with God?

Do we love God because he is worthy of love or do we love him because of the blessings he gives us? One commentator sums up this dilemma well…

"… Satan, whose preoccupation with hunting out wrongdoing has produced a cynicism which is destructive, replies to God in effect, ‘Do you think Job’s [godliness] is all for nothing? You don’t think he does all this without expecting some reward, do you? In any case, he is a bad example of [a servant]—you, God, have hedged him in with so much wealth, richness, and family support (1:10). No wonder he is good! In the real world of pain, of bereavement, of struggle, people are not good. Take away Job’s possessions and he will fail—he will curse you to your face. Goodness cannot survive in the real world of human pain.’

This is the Satan’s taunt. This question becomes one of the central issues of the rest of the book: ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ (1:9)… Is Job only good because of what he can get out of it? The question sometimes comes to us like that also: … Is your faith in God dependent only on the good you think it will do you?’

… for some people their faith in God serves as a means to some other end, whereas for others, God is seen as an end in himself. This question at the centre of the book of Job is addressed to us all. Why do we serve God? Is it just for what we can get out of it? Or is ours a faith rooted in the reality of a personal communion with God himself—for his sake?"

Now that’s a whole other can of worms, isn’t it? We are finding out fast why Job is hardly ever preached.

Do we serve God for nothing? Do we serve him merely for the benefits? Do we serve AND love him?

Tim Keller says…

"Satan had a point. There is a difference between external religiosity and internal heart love and devotion to God. That gap is to some degree in us all, and it is one of the reasons we don’t have the intimacy with God and the peace and joy in him that we should. What is a real servant of God? Well, think of any love relationship. What if you fell in love with someone who seemed to love you back, but then when you had a financial reversal, he or she broke off the relationship? Wouldn’t you feel used? Wouldn’t you think the person loved the things you could give him rather than loving you for you yourself? It’s no different with God. We should love God for himself alone, not for the benefits he brings."

This makes me think of something that happened in the early church. It’s found in Acts chapter 8…

Acts 8:9–24 (ESV) — 9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. 

We get a hint there of what was going on in Simon’s heart, especially since he had become famous amazing people with his magic tricks.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 

I won’t get into this today, but evidently at this time it was possible to have believed and been baptized physically in the Lord Jesus, but not yet have the Spirit’s power working in your life. Also at this time, when the Spirit came upon you, it was a big event.

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Simon played his hand and revealed his true heart. He had believed in Jesus only so far as to attain personal gain. He wanted to up his game in amazing the people with his powers and this Holy Spirit thing was the ticket. So whatever belief he had in the beginning was not a saving belief.

Some people serve God because they want to avoid hell. Some serve God in exchange for rescue from some crisis. Some serve God because their kids need a good moral foundation.

But how many of us serve God simply because he’s worthy of our love?

We may be getting nervous right now because of how we came in to the faith. Perhaps we didn’t want to go to hell, so we said the prayer and got baptized to take care of that. Maybe we went through some horrible ordeal and it pushed us to our knees and God seemed to bring us through it so we started following Him. Or we decided it’s best to play it safe and started going to church when the kids were born.

Now if that’s where you still are, you are no better than Simon. But it’s not about how you came into the faith that matters so much as what happened to your faith along the way.

Have you ever met someone and thought well enough of them, but the more you got to know them, the more attractive or courageous or kind or loving they became? And where your relationship with them at the beginning was at one level, along the way it became so much more. Your motivation for being in relationship with them changed from maybe one of necessity or convenience to one of true love and devotion.

If you are here this morning and you perhaps came into the faith in less than ideal circumstances but you long to love God for God because you’ve seen how big and kind and merciful he is; you’ve seen how amazing His grace is; you’ve come to understand what a savior Jesus is, you’re OK.

Do you want to love God for God? He can work with that. 

I remember a time when I struggled with this very thing. He produced in me that love I desired. Aren’t you glad we serve that kind of God?

Conclusion: Some people approach God like a tenant approaches a landlord. They pay the rent, so the landlord is obligated to provide the best living accommodations. They obey the rules and God is obligated to bring the blessings. They don’t love God for God, they don’t really love Him at all. They just serve him because they need things from him.

Satan accused Job of this. He accused him of obeying all the rules because God brought all those blessings into his life. He payed the rent because God gave him such fine accommodations for the price.

That question just hangs in the air, making it hard to breathe. Does Job serve God for nothing?

There is one surefire way to find out if a fellow serves God for nothing: bring suffering into his life.

12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

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