The Book of Job - Part 7

Series: My Preaching Bucket List

October 29, 2017
Brad Shockley

Episode Notes

Most of us, if not all of us, grew up with “sayings,” those life observations that are hard to argue with. We accept them as true because they sound wise, but I want to tell you most of those “sayings” don’t hold up under the daily grind of reality.

Take, for example…

1. Cheaters never prosper.

In reality (as someone has said)… “the rain falls on the just and the unjust [guy]—mostly on the just, because the unjust stole the just’s umbrella.”

In this life, cheaters may very well prosper.

2. The customer is always right.

In reality… often customers are just crazy.

3. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

In reality… life’s struggles can cripple you instead of making you stronger.

4. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

In reality… cruel words can cut all the way down to your soul and leave a life long wound.

Which brings me to another maxim I know you’re familiar with…

5. Time heals all wounds.

In reality… time helps us cope with wounds but it doesn’t necessarily heal them.

And finally, though there are many more, there’s a saying you might be surprised to find doesn’t square with reality…

7. God will not put more on you than you can bear.

I wouldn’t want know how many of us have employed this one when comforting those who’ve suffered great loss, because, it too, just isn’t true.

If anybody ever to live knows this isn’t true it was Job.

He was a great man who enjoyed great wealth, a great family (seven sons and three daughters), great relationships, and most importantly a great walk with God. He was blameless, upright, God-fearing. He turned away from evil. There wasn’t anyone like him at the time.

Yet for reasons we will never fully understand, it was his faithfulness that made him a target for testing.

God presented him to Satan as an example of what a servant should be. Satan challenged God to let him attack Job with suffering, so he could prove God wrong. God said, “OK, you can touch everything he has but you cannot touch him.”

In four waves of unimaginable loss, Satan took away Job’s wealth and family, save his wife. Amazingly, Job responded in a way I’m not sure any of us could…

Job 1:20–22 (ESV) — 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground 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.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Now you might be thinking, “See, the maxim is true. God knew Job was fit for the test. That’s why he let Satan hit him so hard.” Of course God proved Satan wrong. But it’s a mistake to frame Job’s response to such terrible suffering with our old saying.

As I mentioned at my last message’s end,  Job’s suffering wasn’t over yet. Look at the beginning of chapter 2…

Job 2:1–6 (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.” 

This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? And that’s bad, isn’t 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. 

This saying, “skin for skin,” is evidently an ancient proverb or saying of its own. We don’t know exactly what it means, but one Bible scholar says…

“It may be similar to the… ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth … wound for wound, stripe for stripe’ [ideas found in] (Exod. 21:24–25). In this instance it means that Job would give up his property and even his children to save his own life. From another viewpoint, [some] take it to mean that one will yield a less important part of the body to protect a more vital member; e.g., one will raise his arm to ward off a blow to the head.”

Whatever it means, what Satan calls for next was perfectly clear..

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.”

God gave Satan permission to test Job’s motivation for serving Him by bringing suffering into his life AGAIN! Only this time, the only thing Satan could not take was Job’s life. Everything else was fair game.

Job 2:7–10 (ESV) — 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.

Job lost his wealth, his family, and now his health.

Though many have tried to diagnose Job’s condition, it was most likely a combination of ailments. Whatever they were, they caused unimaginable suffering, beginning with sores or boils over every inch of his body that itched so bad he took pieces of broken pottery and scraped them for relief.

Throughout the book we discover more terrible symptoms:

Job 7:4 (ESV) — 4 When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.

Job 7:5 (ESV) — 5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh.

Job 16:16 (ESV) — 16 My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is deep darkness,

Job 19:17 (ESV) — 17 My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.

Job 19:20 (ESV) — 20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.

Job 30:17 (ESV) — 17 The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.

Job 30:30 (ESV) — 30 My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat.

One commentator observed…

“Humbled, Job went outside the city walls and sat down on the town’s ash heap, a collection of the ashes from the city’s ovens, broken pots, and other refuse; it was the abode of outcasts. Sprinkling dust on the head, rolling in ashes, and sitting on an ash heap were ancient ways of expressing one’s deepest grief. On the ash heap Job sat alone, totally isolated from the community’s life, as he mourned his terrible fate in silence.”

At his lowest point, he was attacked by his wife…

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

We are probably too hard on this lady, although we wonder why Satan took his children but not his wife. To be sure,  she suffered terrible loss also. In a way, though, she exhibited the kind of response Satan was looking for in her husband. Even in all this Job hung in there.

And yet again you may say, “See, Pastor Brad, the old saying is true! God let Satan put all this on Job because He knew he could handle it. Look how well he did.”

If the book ended there, I would agree with you. But we are just halfway or so through chapter 2 and there are 42 altogether.  From this point on things will take a turn. We’ll see Job buckle; we’ll watch him agonize over “Why?” to the point of almost giving up.

Of his suffering he will say…

Job 3:11–13 (NLT) — 11 “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? 12 Why was I laid on my mother’s lap? Why did she nurse me at her breasts? 13 Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace. I would be asleep and at rest.

And of God he will say…

Job 9:17–18 (NLT) — 17 For he attacks me with a storm and repeatedly wounds me without cause. 18 He will not let me catch my breath, but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.

That doesn’t sound like a man who’s living out our old saying. 

Even so, some of us still may not be ready to let this go. What about the verse that actually says God won’t put more on us than we can bear? If the Bible says God won’t, don’t we have to believe it? Yes, if that’s what the Bible says. This apparent support of our saying is found in..

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) — 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

If you look at this verse in context, however, Paul is talking about overcoming the snare of sin, not the difficulty of trials. The promise here is that God will not allow us to be tempted to sin beyond what we are able to overcome, to the point of always providing a way of escape if we choose to take it. 

I know Paul wouldn’t agree with our saying because he writes in 2 Corinthians…

2 Corinthians 1:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Conclusion: The old saying God will never put more on us than we can bear isn’t true. We have a hard time letting it go, though. We want it to be true because we want God to gauge the suffering he allows in our life by our ability to handle it. It gives us an excuse to stay weak!

Reality and the Bible refute this idea, but here’s a saying that is true:

God won’t put more on you than HE can bear.

One fellow writes…

“Suffering doesn’t ask if you’re ready. It may come slowly or with a vengeance, but it doesn’t ask permission, and it doesn’t care about convenience. There’s never a good time for your life to be wrecked. But the saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” tells me I have what it takes. It tells me I can bear whatever comes my way. It tells me God permits trials according to my ability to endure. Think about what this conventional wisdom does: it points people inward.

Yet the Bible points us Godward. As the psalmist says, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling’ (Ps. 46:1–3). When our strength is failing under crushing burdens, the answer is not within. God gives power to the faint and increases the strength of the weak (Isa. 40:29). The power comes from him to those who wait on him.

Trials come in all shapes and sizes, but they don’t come to show how much we can take or how we have it all together. Overwhelming suffering will come our way because we live in a broken world with broken people. And when it comes, let’s be clear ahead of time that we don’t have what it takes. God will give us more than we can handle—but not more than he can.

The psalmist asks, ‘Where does my help come from?’ (Ps. 121:1), and we must be able to answer like he did. We must know and believe, deep in our bones, that ‘My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth’ (121:2). When trials come, trust that the Lord’s help will come. This news is helpful to sufferers since we’re saying something true about God instead of something false about ourselves.”

Before we finish this series you will discover that, like Paul, Job was so utterly burdened beyond his strength he despaired of life itself and didn’t hold up as well down the line as he did first. You will also discover he learned something about God he couldn’t have learned any other way.

If Job shows us anything, it shows us the old saying isn’t true. God will put more on you than you can bear, yet He won’t put more on you than He can bear.

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