The book of Job - Part 6
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
October 08, 2017
Ever heard the saying three steps forward, two steps back? That means progress is slow, which isn’t a good thing applied to life.
But it’s not a bad thing applied to preaching through a book of the Bible. It’s good to back up a bit and then move on so we stay connected to the text.
Let’s back up one step and then take a few forward as we continue our journey through the Book of Job.
Job was a great man with great wealth, a great family, great relationships, and a great walk with God.
Unbeknownst to him, though, God presented him to Satan as an example of an upright and blameless servant.
Satan seemed offended by the idea and accused Job of not serving God because he loved him but because God had blessed him so. In essence, Satan challenged God to prove it…
Job 1:12 (ESV) — 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.
On the one hand, that verse scares us to death because it means God gave satan permission to test Job’s motivation for serving Him by bringing suffering into his life. Which means God allows suffering to come into our life even when we’ve done nothing wrong.
This takes us into those deep waters I’ve talked about. Remember, if we are really exploring who this infinite, all powerful, all knowing God of the universe is, then it’s inevitable we will encounter dilemmas like this.
But on the other hand this verse comforts us because it means God has satan and all evil on a chain. He is in control. Suffering does have purpose and meaning.
So Satan challenged God concerning Job’s motivation for serving Him. God accepted the challenge, giving Satan permission to touch everything Job had, only he could not touch Job.
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
That has a very ominous feeling to it. We aren’t told how much time passed from the events of verse 12 to the events of verses 13 and following, but it could have been a while.
The devil knows how to wait and when to strike. Remember how Jesus went into the wilderness, fasting for 40 days? It was at his weakest Satan showed up to tempt him but failed…
Luke 4:13 (ESV) — 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
That opportune time came three years later when he saw opportunity to use one of Jesus’ own disciples to betray Him.
That’s exactly what he did with Job. He waited until an opportune time. Look at verse 13…
Job 1:13–22 (ESV) — 13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
This takes us back to verse 4, where we learned just how great Job’s family relationships were…
Job 1:4 (ESV) — 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.
Not only did all the siblings get along, they feasted together regularly, even inviting the sisters. These feasts may have been birthday parties (“on his day”).
Satan waited until the eldest son threw a party. He waited until wine flowed and laughter filled the house. While Job’s children celebrated and servants tended all Job’s flocks, Satan unleashed his plan to prove God wrong by unleashing suffering into this good man’s life.
The suffering came in four cruel waves, each bigger and more crushing than the one before it.
14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
In the span of a day, the man who enjoyed such great wealth lost it all to enemies and acts of God.
But the biggest wave that day was yet to roll in.
18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
One commentator says…
“These four plagues revealed to Job that all the forces of heaven and earth had turned hostile toward him. This idea is borne out by the fact that the causes of destruction alternate between earthly and heavenly forces coming from all four points of the compass: the Sabeans from the south, lightning from a storm out of the west, the Chaldeans from the north, and [a] treacherous [wind] blowing off the desert to the east. The number four also symbolizes full measure, totality.”
Job’s loss was certainly total. He lost his great wealth and even his great family (save his wife as you’ll see).
You just have to stop right there and let it all sink in. I can’t imagine suffering such loss all in one day. I can’t imagine it all in one year. I can’t imagine it in a lifetime.
All that leads us back to the big accusation already made by Satan…
Job 1:11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
Which leads to a question: Would the loss of all he had make Job curse God?
Who was right? God or Satan? Did Job love God for God or for selfish reasons?
Look at verse 20…
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground…
These were signs of intense mourning. They imply in one sense Job reacted the way any of us would. He most likely shouted and cried. The weight of it all was so heavy it sent him to the ground on his face.
But this next part is unique. It shows what Job was really made of.
…and worshiped. 21 And he said, “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.”
Now we are forced to stop and let that sink in.
One preacher says…
"My dear friends, every one of us is going to lose everyone we love. Every one of us is going to lose all of our money. Why? Naked we will go. We’re going to leave without a stitch. Every one of us is going to lose everything. The only way the average person can face life is you absolutely blind yourself to that; you refuse to see it. Job did not.
"Do you know what Job is saying? Job is saying, “This is hard, but I knew this was going to happen anyway. I’m not surprised. This is happening a little early, but this happens to everybody. I don’t feel picked out. I don’t feel picked on, because every single person is going to leave naked. I know if I build my life on the things of this life, then of course, I won’t be able to face life; but I built myself a life on things that are bigger than this life, things that are beyond me. I built my life on God.” Do you see? “I leave naked, but praising the name of the Lord.”"
He truly was like the wise man who built his house on the rock and not sand…
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
In all this he did not sin by cursing God or accusing Him of wrong doing. In fact, he worshipped God, acknowledging He ultimately owns it all, even one’s children. What an amazing example of faith and trust in the Father.
Bottom Line: God proved Satan wrong.
Conclusion: Most of you know I’m a big fan of C.S. Lewis, but I wasn’t always. I had never read his works until after I went through my Job experience.
The first book of his I read was, A Grief Observed. In it he recounts how his faith was all but demolished by the death of his wife from cancer.
He suffered terribly with grief and for a time did the opposite of worship: he questioned God. In his darkest hours he wrote…
“…go to [God] when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.”
His journey with suffering impacted me because I could identify. Like Lewis, when I suffered, it seemed as if God had abandoned me. I was angry for a long time. Later Lewis came back full circle, trusting God and acknowledging His goodness. I did too, eventually.
A while back I made a post on a Facebook page dedicated to CS Lewis. It included a quote from A Grief Observed and a personal note from me about how I had not responded to suffering the way I wish I had, the way Job had, how I even shook my fist in God’s face.
Believe it or not, one guy raked me over the coals in the comments. He said…
I can fully understand being hurt and frustrated but to shake your fist at God for bad things that happen to you shows you have much to learn about who you are and who God is.
I think some people think God expects us all to be like Job, that this is in the Bible to show us what God wants us to do when we suffer terrible loss. As if God wants us, when we suffer our own personal apocalypse, to immediately bend our knees and lift our arms exclaiming, “Thank you, God, for this. It’s awesome!.” As if we are somehow less spiritual if we don’t.
I’m convinced the intent here is not to intimidate; it’s not to burden us with an expectation to respond the same if we suffered so. Even though it’d be great if we did.
For one reason, Job wasn’t a regular guy. Regular folks don’t get books of the Bible named after them.
For another reason, even Jesus, at the height of His suffering, did not thank God for the opportunity to die for our sins…
Matthew 27:46 (ESV) — 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
And for yet another reason, folks, Job’s suffering isn’t over yet.
Job 2:1–8 (ESV) — 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And 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.” 3 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? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
The rest of the book is how he came to terms with all this.
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