Job 38:1-42:6 – Death to Self

By way of summary of this series, we began in chapter 1 by being introduced to this righteous man named Job. He was wealthy, respected, faithful and feared God. Then Satan didn’t believe God’s word about Job’s love for God, so God allowed Satan certain limits to bring upon suffering to Job to see if he would worship God if his wealth, health and family were taken from him.

After Satan was done with Job, Job was stuck in unrelieved misery for months with open sores all over his body. During this time he bore the grief of seven dead sons and three dead daughters. All of his wealth had vanished in one afternoon. He had become disgusting to his wife, loathsome to his brothers, and even little children despised him as he lay on the ash heap outside of town.

At first Job bore these calamities with amazing submission: 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 (1:21); Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? (2:10).

But as the misery drug out over the months, Job wavered in his confidence that God was for him. In defending himself against the bad theology of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, he said things about God that were not true. He began to insist on his own righteousness at the expense of God’s justice.

For example, in 13:23-24 he said, 23 How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? Although, he did reach the point where he confessed that after death he would see God as his Redeemer (19:25-27).

Then we come upon the bad theology of Job’s friends. They had taken the position that the severity of Job’s suffering must be the sign of some terrible sin in his life, so God is punishing Job.

But Job silences his friends by showing them that there is no correlation in this world between righteousness and prosperity or between wickedness and suffering. The righteous often suffer more than the wicked and the wicked often prosper more than the righteous. Job is victorious over the superficial theology of his friends.

Then last week we covered Elihu’s rebuke and counsel of Job and his 3 friends in chapters 32-37. The three friends of Job had not been able to account for the suffering of this good man with their theology. And Job had said rash and presumptuous things about God in order to justify himself, and Elihu burned with anger towards them.

Elihu’s point of view is that Job is a righteous man, though not perfect, and that he is loved by God. God is not treating him as his enemy but as his child and friend. God originally allowed Job’s sufferings to commence in order to show Satan and the armies of heaven that Job cherished the worth of God more than his possessions and his family and his health.

But after Job showed that he did in fact love God more than all else in the world, there was another purpose that God sought to achieve by letting his suffering drag on for several months.

According to Elihu, God’s purpose was to purge out of Job’s life a residue of pride that had rested quietly at the bottom of his life. When Job was shaken by suffering long enough, the real pride of Job surfaces and showed its ugly face.

The twofold purpose of suffering in Job’s life was to demonstrate God’s value and glory (on the outset), and its ongoing purpose was to refine Job’s righteousness. His suffering was not punishment. It was not a sign of God’s anger.

Job’s pain was not the pain of the executioner’s whip but the pain of the surgeon’s scalpel. The removal of the disease of pride is the most loving thing God could do, no matter what the cost.

Remember the words of our Lord: It’s far better to suffer the terrible pain of plucking out your eye than to let any sin remain in your heart. If this does not seem obvious to you—namely, that sanctification is worth any pain on this earth, then it is probably because you don’t hate sin and prize holiness the way God does.

We must examine ourselves carefully at this point, so as we dive in to this text this morning, let’s lay our hearts on the surgery table for the Lord to work on:

38:1-3: 1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

God has been questioned by Job long enough. Now it is time for Job to be put on trial. It’s time for God to be who He always has been…the Righteous Judge. SInce God’s discourse is so long, we must try to summarize His interrogation of Job without reading the whole thing. The outline basically goes like this:

God questions Job about the created order
38:4-5: 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? “It was I who laid the foundation of the earth and determined its measurements. You weren’t there Job when I made the earth!”

38:8: “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst from the womb?” “It wasn’t you Job, it was I. You don’t know my power. You weren’t there when I created the seas.”

38:12: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” “You can’t do it Job. It is I who does, and it is I who always will.”

38:18: “Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.” “You have never even been across the ocean to see all the earth that I have created and you take the liberty to call me out.”

God questions Job about the heavenly order
38:19-21: 19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, 20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?” 21 You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
“You do not know these things Job, yet I do, because I AM!”

38:22-24: 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? 24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? “What about the snow, the hail, the lights, the wind, the rain, the dew, the ice, and the frost? Make them at your command Job, if you can?”

38:31-33: “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?” “If not, then maybe we should come back down to the earth again…”

38:34-35: 34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? 35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? “It seems as if you are unable to give me an answer to my questions Job. But what about your wisdom in your questioning of me Job?”

When before the Lord, Job is weak and powerless and speechless! Job realizes that he is surrounded by mysteries all around him. We are too! And God is not impressed with our recent scientific understandings over the last 200 years. We should be utterly humbled and overwhelmed with our ignorance.

And as if Job hasn’t gotten the point, God now questions him about the order of the animals:
38:41: Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?

39:1-2: 1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? 2 Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth,” “I do Job, because I am over all things, and I’m always there.

39:5-6: 5 “Who has let the wild donkey go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, 6 to whom I have given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place?” “I ordain even the steps of donkeys Job…asses!”

39:9: “Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger?

39:13-14: 13 “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? 14 For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground,

39:19-20: 19 “Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? 20 Do you make him leap like the locust?

39:26-27: 26 “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? 27 Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?

Job remains weak, powerless and silent! Job still has no answer and is proved to be nothing compared to God. At the beginning of chapter 40, God pauses for Job’s response…

40:1-5: And the Lord said to Job, 2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” 3 Then Job answered the Lord: 4 “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Job is now getting the point: a finite creature who has no wisdom to run this world has no business instructing his Maker and Ruler on how to run the world, even condemning God for the way he runs it. Think of how absurd this charge against God is. Yet we all do it when suffering comes.

God begins to press Job some more
40:6-9: 6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 7 “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 8 Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? 9 Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?

This is a disturbing argument. Does God mean that we are to submit to the justice of his ways simply because he has a powerful arm? Are we supposed to acknowledge his right simply because he has might? Is something right and good just because God does it?

Yes and no! There is no greater reality than God Himself in which we can judge God’s actions. He would not be God if he submitted to something outside of himself. But when we say the sentence, “God is good,” or, “God always does what is right,” God wants us to see that his power does not make things right in the sense that He could be volatile, unjustified, or irrational and still be right and good just because He’s God.

Instead he wants us to see that his power is purposeful, He Himself is good, and whether it seems He is meaning earthly good to us or not, that He is always in it for our earthly and eternal good, and His glory! You tracking with me?

So in 40:10-14, God challenges Job to join Him in this holy, good and purposeful might:
10 “Adorn yourself with majesty (beauty) and dignity (worth); clothe yourself with glory (beauty) and splendor (worth). 11 Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him. 12 Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. 13 Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. 14 Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.

After this passage, God goes on to display His sovereign power to Job, but we are going to pause here at this passage and unpack what God is and isn’t saying:

God isn’t saying, “Job, I want you to acknowledge that my power is right no matter what I do.” Instead, God says, “I use my power to clothe myself with beauty and worth and to bring low the proud and to bring up the humble.” In other words the rightness of God’s power is not merely that it is God’s, but also that its purposes are consistence with his excellence.

So as God is bringing Job into submission, God isn’t simply saying, “Might makes right.” What God has said throughout this whole discourse is this: “Job there are millions of things about running this world that you don’t know the first thing about, but I know perfectly.”

So it is arrogant and presumptuous for Job to assume that he can counsel God about how to run a more “just” world. Job can’t even begin to know all that has to be taken into account in regards to making decisions about how to run the world for God’s glory and for the good of His people….for eternity, not just our short stint on earth

In 40:14, God eludes to that fact that Job cannot save Himself unless he was God, thus Job needs God to become righteous. He cannot obtain righteousness on his own…

Job humbles himself and heeds God wisdom. His confession and repentance is 3fold:
42:1-2: “Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. He submits to God’s absolute sovereignty: God can do whatever He pleases, and is not constrained by anything outside himself.

42:3: He quotes God then gives his response; ‘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 submits to God’s infinitely greater wisdom and knowledge: he has spoken about things of which he is very ignorant.

42:4-6: He again quotes God and then gives his response. “‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ 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.”

Job 1) acknowledges his sin, 2) confesses his helplessness, and 3) turns to God for salvation.

This all points to the gospel, the very thing that Christ has done. We on our own are hopeless to save ourselves, God in His power and goodness, sent His Son Jesus to be His right hand of salvation for proud, arrogant, self-righteous, evil people, so that those who look to God in humility and know that He alone is God and He alone is their salvation, may have eternal life.

Do you see this? This is the beauty and worth of God. This is the beauty and worth of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are all like Job: in pain, afflicted, desperate, confused, and hopeless without
God’s powerful right arm coming in to bring salvation.

Will you surrender like Job did to God’s sovereign and good power?

Will you confess your arrogance and pride in thinking that God sucks at running the universe because He has allowed suffering in your life?

Will you turn from being your own savior, to Jesus who alone is able to make you right with God.

He alone has atoned for our sins. He paid the price of death that we owed, conquered death, rising out of the grave removing death’s power, then sitting at the right hand of God the Father, sending His Spirit to dwell with His people and to reveal Himself those who are perishing. This is our good and powerful and sovereign God.

Let’s pray!

Colossians 2:9-15: 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Job 32:1-37:24 – A Good Theology of Suffering

Last week we covered chapters 2:11-31:40. In those chapters, Job conversed with his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar about the meaning of suffering. The outcome of it all was that the theory of his friends was unsatisfactory. The Retribution Principle, which essentially says God blesses/protects the righteous, and curses/punishes the wicked. This is a dangerous half truth that we unpacked last week, and I consider it to be a terrible theology of suffering.

Today, we are going to hear from Elihu whom I believe had a much better theology of suffering. All three of Job’s friends obeyed God out of fear of being punished and not getting “good” from God, thus they were essentially obeying for their own good. And they all argued that al this suffering has come upon Job because he was being punished for all of his sin.

Job had defended himself all along by saying, contrary to his three friends’ opinion, that there is good evidence from all over the world that the wicked often prosper and the righteous often suffer (21:29–30). And in his case in particular he was not an enemy of God and had not committed any grievous sin that would set him up for such suffering above others (1:8).

But we also see that Job wavers in his belief in God’s goodness and approachableness during this time as well. (Read excerpts from Job 9)

None the less, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were not able to sustain their theory in the face of Job’s realism and integrity. Their speeches became repetitive, hostile, and shorter as the conversation comes to a close. Finally, only Job was left speaking, but there still was no answer as to the problem of righteous people suffering and wicked people prospering.

We do hear very plainly from the book of Job so far that God governs the affairs of men, and no doubt He does so with great wisdom (28:12-28). And this is not that bad of an answer. I suppose many people could (and do) live their whole lives with this under-standing (that God is sovereign and don’t question Him), but the writer of the book of Job gives us more. God wants us to know that there is so much more purpose in suffering than we may think.

And this is where the young, bold, shameless, and angry Elihu breaks into the picture. Let’s pick it up in 32:1: 1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. 3 He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. 4 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. 5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.

6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: “I am young in years,
and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. 7 I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ 8 But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. 9 It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right. 10 Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.’

So Elihu clearly has an opinion and demands to be heard, but why should we listen from him more than we should the other three friends? Shouldn’t we clump him together with Job’s three friends because of his retribution principle statements (Job 34:10-12)?

Let’s quickly discuss why Elihu’s response should be received by us:
1) His response is separate from the 3 cycles of responses, indicating that what he is saying is different from that of Job’s 3 friends. It also says in 32:2-3 that Elihu burned with anger toward Job and his 3 friends, which tells us that he believes their responses not only fall short of the truth, but to be detrimental to their understanding of God in the midst of suffering.

2) The inadequacy of the theology of the three friends was demonstrated by the fact that their speeches got shorter near the end, and then died out completely. Bildad finishes with six verses (25), and Zophar can’t even manage a closing comment.

It would be very strange, then, if Elihu were given 6 chapters at this point to say all the inadequate things all over again and make no advance on the inadequate theology of these other 3 friends. Surely this large space given to his words signals that something crucial is being said here.

3) In 33:32-33, Elihu says to Job: 32 “If you have any words, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you. 33 If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” Job was successful in silencing his other 3 friends, but he remains silent with Elihu, indicating that he agrees with Elihu. In fact, in 42:6 Job does repent for some of the things he said, which shows that Elihu’s rebukes are not all missing the mark.

4) In 42:7, God rebukes Job’s 3 friends: 7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Then God goes on to tell them how to appease Him with repentance and sacrifices, but no rebuke to Elihu is recorded. It seems as if Elihu’s words are true and pure, and they prepare the way for the final words from God.

5) He was moved and prompted by the Spirit of the Lord (32:18: For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. // 33:4: The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.)

So with that, I believe we should receive Elihu’s words this morning and unpack his wisdom and fresh take on suffering. It is clear that Elihu thinks that Job has been wrong in some of what he has said earlier. In 33:8-12, Elihu points out Job’s main error:

8 “Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words. 9 You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. 10 Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy, 11 he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.’ 12 “Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man.

Whoa! What an indictment! And what a good and loving friend to care enough to speak this truth: “You are not right Job! Is not God greater than man? Then why would you claim innocence before the sight of God even in the midst of your obedient life?”

Again, we can look at 42:6 and see that Elihu was right by Job’s repentance. Job’s suffering (much like us in our suffering) has driven him to an overly optimistic view of himself, and created a disrespectful attitude and toward God. Even though Job was a righteous man, he was not perfect. This is clear in Scripture that we can be righteous in Christ, but we will not be perfect while we are still in the flesh.

So what is Elihu’s view of suffering? What is his answer to the problem of suffering?
Turn to Job 33:15-30 and let’s unpack what Elihu says:

God uses suffering to save, not punish.
vv. 15-16: Elihu here explains the way in which the Lord speaks to man. In his day, there were no written Scriptures yet, so God revealed Himself through speaking to mankind in dreams and visions and also through suffering. God’s purpose in these night terrors and in this painful sickness and soars is not to punish, but save.

– To save us from selfish or arrogant pride that destroys our lives, others lives, and our fellowship with God (v. 17). The righteous still have sin that needs to be rooted out.
– To save us from the pit, or from perishing by the sword of God’s wrath (the promise of God sanctifying his people, if God stops sanctifying, we are not saved) (vv. 18, 30).
– To save us from the love of the world (vv. 19-20).
– To save us by sending a mediator (which is fully realized in Jesus) (vv. 23-24).
– To save us from our self-righteousness (vv. 25-26).
-To save us from depression/hopelessness (vv. 27-28).
– To save us from our false views of Himself (v. 27)

Elihu has showed Job’s three friends to be wrong. They said that the only way to explain Job’s suffering was to say that God was punishing him for sin. Elihu shows that this is not the way to explain Job’s suffering.

The righteous do suffer. And their suffering is not a punishment for sin but a purification of their holiness. Suffering awakens their ears and eyes to new dimensions of God’s reality and new depths of their own imperfection and need. Suffering deepens their faith and godliness. So the three friends of Job are wrong.

But Job is wrong too. He had no better explanation of his suffering than his three friends did. His conception of God’s justice was basically the same as theirs.

Only Job insisted he was righteous, and so he could not make his suffering fit with the justice of God. He became so irritated at times that he thought of God as his enemy. (chapter 9; 13:23-24: 23 How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?)

Job tried to justify himself by his own righteousness, and became upset at God’s treatment of him because he has slaved and labored for God and this is what he gets?! (the story of the gardener, the king and a nobleman in the courts of the king)

So Job was well on his way to being a Pharisee who trusted in his own righteousness, thus needing no savior.

Jesus would have been a good guy, a friend, a role model, but not a savior to Job. And God saved him from that! Job’s suffering has brought out the hidden sin of pride, self-righteousness and ultimately self-reliance.

Now Job’s ears and eyes are open to 2 things in a radical way:
His sinfulness even among his strict obedience to God’s law. God’s holiness and perfection that cannot be attained through his own obedience to the rules of God.

He needed a rescuer, a redeemer, and he must look outside of himself to be saved.

So the central lesson for us from the book of Job today is that the children of God (those who trust in God and are led by his Spirit and have their sins covered by the blood of Jesus) may indeed suffer.

And when they do suffer, it is not a punishment for sin. Christ bore all of the punishment for our sin, and God does not double dip. 1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment (Jesus took the punishment of sin), and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

John Piper: Suffering is not dispensed willy-nilly among the people of God. It is apportioned to us as individually designed, expert therapy by the loving hand of our great Physician. And its aim is that our faith might be refined, our holiness might be enlarged, our soul might be saved, and our God might be glorified.

Suffering is not based on the retribution principle. Rather, it is the “free” application of sovereign grace principle. God, the Righteous One has chosen us freely from before the foundation of the earth. He has regenerated us (made us come alive) freely by the work of the Holy Spirit. He has justified us (declared us righteous before God) freely through the gift of saving faith in Jesus. He is now sanctifying us (making us like Jesus) freely by His sovereign grace through His word and through suffering, according to his infinite wisdom and grace! Praise be to God! May this cause us to break out in worship of Him!

James 1:2-4: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

1 Peter 1:6-7: 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you `have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let’s Pray!

Job 2:11-31:40 – A Bad Theology of Suffering

The first two weeks of this series we have covered God’s sovereignty over suffering, His purposes in it, how to suffer well and now today we’re gonna see how not to view suffering. Today we’ll meet Job’s three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar) who come to his side after he lost everything. There are three cycles of conversations between Job and his friends that covers 2:11-31:40, and each argument is besst explained in everyone’s first argument (or first round of convo’s).

Along with Job’s wife, all partake in the faulty belief called the “Retribution Principle: God blesses those who are ‘good’, and He punishes those who are ‘bad’.”

Now this is a tricky principle, because it is filled with half truth. Yes, God does bless the righteous and punish the wicked, but the blessing and the punishment if only understood in an earthly/temporal way, then you are focused on the wrong blessing and punishment.

God has eternally blessed the righteous (those who trust in Jesus for their righteousness) through the atonement of Jesus on the cross. And He has also eternally punished the wicked by hell being the destination for those who ultimately never look to Jesus the Christ and Lord and Savior. One must understand the gospel if one is able to understand the problem of pain and suffering in this fleeting life.

So what I want to do today is unpack each friends understanding of God’s view of blessing and cursing and point out where their beliefs are wrong and help lead us to a better understanding of what God is like and hopefully aid us in suffering well in this life.

The thing that prompts Job’s friends to make their speeches is his outburst in chapter 3. After seven days of silence with his friends (and probably weeks of suffering before they came), Read from 2:11-3:1-3: “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said, ‘Let the day perish wherein I was born'” (3:1–3).

The weeks of relentless pain had taken their toll on Job’s serenity. He now questions God. Verse 11: “Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should suck?” Verse 20: “Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not?”

Job cannot see any reason now for why he should have ever been given life or why his life should be preserved if there is going to be so much misery. And so he protests that the day of his birth should never have been. And of course this is a protest against God, because, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away” (1:21).

We will only cover the first cycle of responses because the other two do not reveal any new arguments, but they show the three friends becoming more harsh and less credible in the face of Job’s integrity and realism.

So we start off with Eliphaz the Temanite’s response:

The Retribution Principle: Job 4:7, 9: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?… By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.”
His knowledge from observation: Job 4:8: “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.”

How many people do you know who base what they know about God on what they have seen? Creation does teach us some things about God, but it is very limited. Creation teaches that God is HUGE! He is creative. He is wise. He is good. But creation could never teach the depths of God’s love for the world in that He sent Jesus to die for us; this just cannot be learned from creation.

So Eliphaz’s knowledge is limited. I would assume much of our knowledge is limited as well. We are all really great emotional theologians, but when we fail to let God’s word validate our emotions, we are easily led into false beliefs about the God of universe.

The next place Eliphaz finds revelation is even worse. His Revelation came from the spirit world: Job 4:12-19: 12 “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. 13 Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, 14 dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. 15 A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. 16 It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: 17 ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? 18 Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; 19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth.

vv. 17-18 sounds to me like Satan and his demons. God did not charge all of His angels with error, only those who rebelled against Him. It seems as if Eliphaz views God as a quasi (seemingly, but not really)-loving dictator.

Let’s summarize Eliphaz’s theology which is not all wrong, but wrong enough:

GOD PUNISHES THE WICKED: Job 4:7: “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?”

WE CAN NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH BEFORE GOD: Job 4:17-19: 17 ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? 18 Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; 19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth.

DICTATORS CAN NOT BE BOTHERED WITH UNDERLINGS THAT TRY TO BREAK THE RULES: Job 5:1-2: 1 “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? 2 Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.”

PUNISHMENT COMES FOR A REASON: Job 5:6-7: 6 For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, 7 but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

YOUR BEST BET IS TO CALL OUT TO GOD AND ASK FOR FORGIVENESS: Job 5:8-9: 8 “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, 9 who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:”

Eliphaz believes that this quasi-loving dictator will make everything better if you ask for forgiveness. Eliphaz seems to serve God and ask for forgiveness so that He will not be punished by Him.

Now we go to Bildad the Shuhite’s responses. For Bildad, this is all black and white. Job clearly has sinned, God can’t be wrong:

The Retribution Principle: Job 8:20: “Behold, God will not reject a blameless man,
nor take the hand of evildoers.”

His knowledge from history: Job 8:8-10: 8 “For inquire, please, of bygone ages,
and consider what the fathers have searched out. 9 For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. 10 Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?

It seems as if Bildad sees God as a Legalistic Sheriff: “Look at the evidence Job; God only punishes the wicked. There is no doubt that this punishment comes from God; thus you must be wicked.”

Let’s briefly summarize what Bildad believes:

GOD IS JUST AND HE DOES NOT PERVERT JUSTICE: Job 8:3: Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?

HE BELIEVES THAT JOB SHOULD IMPLORE THE COMPASSION OF GOD: Job 8:5: If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy,

IF JOB WAS RIGHTEOUS, GOD WOULD COME TO HIS AID: Job 8:6: if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.

4. GOD ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE RULES: Job 8:11-13: 11 “Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water? 12 While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant. 13 Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish.”

Like Eliphaz, Bildad follows the rules so he won’t be punished. He does not see though the “loving” part of God, rather, he believes that he can be righteous before God somehow.

Now’s let’s get to Job’s third friend, Zophar the Naamathite’s responses, which we don’t hear much from:
The Retribution Principle: Seems to almost assume it, but the clearest statement is in Job 11:13-16: 13 “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. 14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. 15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. 16 You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away.

His knowledge from the school of wisdom: Job 11:5-6, 12: 5 But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you, 6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves…12 But a stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man!

Here’s what Zophar believes in summary:

FOR ZOPHAR GOD SEEMS TO BE AN IMPERSONAL JUDGE: Job 11:4-6: 4 For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’ 5 But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you, 6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. God knows so much that he goes easy on you Job. He could have punished you more.

GOD IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE—THUS WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND OR COMPREHEND HIM: Job 11:7-8: 7 “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? 8 It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?”

Zophar seems to serve and obey God out of fear, not love. There are many people in the world who view God as an impersonal judge.

We will close with Job’s responses throughout these conversations which lead us to the reality that the retribution principle (God blesses those who are good, and He punishes those who are bad) is a bad theology of God and suffering.

Retribution Principle: Job also believes in the retribution principle, but that’s the problem. He doesn’t understand why he’s being punished even though he did not sin.

Job believes in a sovereign God that loves him. otherwise why complain that he is being treated unfairly in his eyes. Just one of Job’s arguments is enough to silence all of the bad theology that came from the mouths of himself and his friends: 7 Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? Their offspring are established in their presence… (Job 21:7; for more context see Job 21:7-21).

This is a great argument. If they can find just one wicked person who is successful and prospering, then their whole retribution principle is faulty. Now let’s go back for a minute to the intro of the book. In the first 2 chapters of the book, the phrase “fears God and turns away from evil” is used 3 times when speaking of Job (1:1; 1:8; 2:3). This phrase sets Job apart from everyone else in the book.

All of the others feared God as well, but only because they were afraid of being punished if they didn’t fear Him and serve Him; that was clear to see from the words they spoke. But Job is different. All the other views of God did not cause them to question “why?”.

But all the other arguments aren’t good enough for Job. They all obeyed God for what God would give them as if the things they got from God were the end, which makes God the means to an end. This is never the case. God is the end. Many of us use God as a means to get what we want in life, and if that’s the case, worship of God is missed.

Okay, so here is the question I am heading towards towards this morning: What are you trying to make much of? Why are you motivated to obey God? What brings you comfort and happiness?

I want to put these questions central because if we don’t ask day by day, “What am I going to make much of today?”, then we will gravitate towards making much of the same things that everybody around us is making much of including Job’s friends, like doing the right things so we can get our blessings, or get our blessings back.

The difference between a Kingdom mindset and a worldly mindset is the King. What place does the King have? Is King Jesus central in our affections, our vocabulary, and in what we want to see happen at work, church, and in our leisure or is king me central?

The person who obeys God because He’s one of the characters we described from Job’s friends, is motivated to obey because of love of self, worldly gain, pleasure or comfort.

At Kineo, we are not going to believe that health, wealth, a big church, a happy family is solely because we have done what it takes to appease God. Christ Jesus alone has appeased God, and our obedience to Jesus because He has forgiven our sin is our evidence to the world that we belong to the King. Any other motivation to obey God is using Him as a means to something greater than God Himself.

Romans 4:4-5: 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Jesus appeased God on the cross, and opens up salvation to those who believe!
Could you imagine if we actually believed every day that we are only accepted by God because we believe the testimony of Jesus? And what if we actually believed that all earthly blessings were truly rubbish compared to what is ours in the new Kingdom? What would it look like if Jesus wasn’t a means to on end, but He Himself was the end that we longed for, and now realize we have!

I so desperately want us to be a church who gets the gospel so well that anything but the true gospel being preached and/or lived out looks and sounds terrible to us. This will mean that we will all be convicted daily with our lack of understanding and living out the true gospel. It will also mean we will renounce the things that are preached and lived out by other influences in our lives and we will strive to be holy as Christ Jesus is holy.

Jesus is beautiful and worthy of our praise. He became dirty on our behalf, so that we could be clean like He was, and thus be reconciled by God, fully accepted by Him, and He can now use us for His glory and our good. Do you see this? This is why we trust in Jesus, not ourselves. This is why the gospel is so central to all of life.

Let’s Pray!

Job 1:1-2:8 – God’s Sovereignty in Suffering

Considered to be both a theological and a literary masterpiece, the book of Job is an honest portrayal of God allowing a good man to suffer. The test of Job’s faith, allowed by God in response to a challenge from Satan, revealed God’s loving sovereignty and supremacy of divine wisdom over human wisdom.

Although there’s much debate as to the actual interpretation of the book of Job, one thing is agreed upon by all; this book’s special contribution to the canon, and to the topic of evil and suffering, is its treatment of what most of us would call irrational evil, or incoherent suffering.

Such evil and suffering do not easily fit into any glib “solutions.” So by the end of this series, my goal is not to have all your questions about evil and seemingly irrational suffering answered. Rather, my goal in this sermon series is to get you to start thinking rightly about God in the midst of seemingly irrational suffering and surrender to His sovereign power and goodness.

“It has become conventional to think as if we are all going to live in this world forever and to view every case of bereavement as a reason for doubting the goodness of God.” J.I. Packer, Facing Death With Courageous Confidence in God.

Believing that God is good despite the seemingly contradicting evidence, Job rested in faith alone. In the depths of agony he could still proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (19:25). In the end God silenced all discussions with the truth that He alone is wise (38–41). Yet God vindicated Job’s trust in him (42), proving that genuine faith cannot be destroyed. The unknown author was probably an Israelite writing sometime between 1500 and 500 b.c.1

“How could such a big, good and powerful God let bad things happen to good people?” The problem with this question is that is assumes that everyone deserves good things from God, or that there are inherently good people. Another problem with this question is that it puts this all-powerful God that you think is bad for allowing suffering on trial, and you (a small created being who may live 70-90 shorts years in light of eternity), become the judge of Him.

Do you see anything wrong with this question now? This questions exalts man and belittles God. I won’t even begin to address the answer to this question until we unpack the proper way that this question should be asked. What we all should be asking, right now, is this: “How in the world can a holy and good and all-powerful God who knows all things, including all the sin in my life, and not strike me dead?”

As long as we are asking the former question, we will always think the problem is out there. You see, the former question implies that the one asking the question believes themselves to be better than some people, and that the problem is those evil people, but not themselves. You tracking with me here? We are the problem!

We live in a sin-laden world. The effects of the fall are all around us and in us, and we were “never” given the promise that we would be protected from the effects of the fall.

Rather, the promise is that God will one day undo the curse of the fall and He will make all things new, and sin will be removed. In the end, the wicked will be tossed into the lake of fire for eternity, and the righteous (those who placed their faith in Jesus) will enter into and live forever in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 20-21).

God sends afflictions to us because, since sin and evil have come into the world, they are the necessary means of purifying and testing us; both purifying and testing are a means of perfecting (sanctifying). These are explanations with which we can and we must comfort and reassure ourselves with. But this is still not the final answer of the book of Job to this great question.2

So the book of Job treats a fundamental question of our common humanity; and the poet has deliberately taken his hero not from Israelite history, but from extra-Israelite tradition.

From beginning to end he is conscious of relating a history handed down among the Arab tribes to the east of Palestine, which has come to his ears; for none of the proper names contain even a trace of symbolically intended meaning. The history and worship of Israel are nowhere introduced; even indirect references to them are nowhere to be found.

The author throws himself into the extra-Israelite position. His own Israelite standpoint is clear though, as we see from his calling God, Lord (Yahweh), throughout the beginning and the end of the book; but the non-Israelite character of his hero he maintains throughout the whole book.

I believe the author has intentionally done this to show the readers that God is known, acknowledge, and worshipped at this time outside of the people of Israel, or possibly before the Israelites were chosen by God.

Humanly speaking, Job is a book that essentially puts God on trial for why suffering happens, especially to good people. But from Satan’s point of view, his major indictment on God is that “His people only serve Him for what He can give them.” God is not satisfied with that; for God desires His people to love Him for who He is, not because He can do great things for them or allow them to prosper. With that intro said, let’s get into the text this morning:

Job 1:1-3: It is a large, princely household east of Israel and west of Babylon (Iraq). The author describes Job as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” In four different ways he describes Job’s character.

The writer now takes a very characteristic feature from the life of Job, to show that, even in the height of his prosperity, he preserved and displayed the holiness affirmed of him.

Job 1:4-5: The text, understood simply as it stands, speaks of a weekly round (Oehler and others). The seven sons dined with one another throughout the week, and did not forget their sisters in their celebration.

There existed among them a family peace and union which had been enjoyed and cherished, in part because of the comfort of their father’s wealth. But early in the morning of every 8th day, Job instituted a solemn service for his family, and offered sacrifices for his ten children, that they might be forgiven for any sins of foolishness into which they might have fallen in the midst of the cheerfulness of their family gatherings.

Job is afraid that his children may have become somewhat unmindful of God during their family parties. Job has an earnest desire for sanctification, which was far from being satisfied with merely good manners externally. Sacrifice (which is as old as the sin of mankind) was to Job a means of grace, by which he cleansed himself and his family every week from inward blemishes. Job got God!

The point the author is clearly making right out of the gates is that Job is innocent before the Lord not because of his obedience, but because of his fear of God, his repentance, and humility before Him as the Creator.

The author now transfers us from earth to heaven, where everything that is done on earth has its unseen roots, its final cause; where all the unanswered questions on earth are answered. Whenever we are graciously given insight into the ways of God and divine dialogue, we better listen up and see what we can learn about what we hear.

Job 1:6-12: It’s an assembly day in heaven. All the spirits present themselves to render their account, and expecting to receive commands; and the following dialogue ensues between Yahweh and Satan:

God: Satan, where have you been?

Satan: Oh, I was just traveling around the earth checking out who your followers were.

God: Did you see my servant Job? He is a devoted follower of mine unlike any other.

Satan: Job doesn’t truly follow you? He fears losing all that you gave him, so he follows
you. You take from that man all that you’ve given him, and he will crumble and
run from you.

God: You are wrong, but to further glorify my name, to clarify to you and to teach others
on earth the fullness of my ways, he is yours to do what you will, only do not hurt

God is setting Job up for trouble on earth. He is clearly proud of Job. Job’s fear of God has endeared God to Job in a very deep way and Satan is not impressed, or could we say, jealous. In verse 9 Satan insinuates that Job is not such a great specimen of reverence for God. He says that the only reason Job fears God is to get rich.

“Job fears God because it will mean health, wealth, and prosperity, that’s all.” So Satan says to God in verse 11, “Take away all that he has and he will curse you to your face.”

To that, God could have said, “I don’t need to prove anything to you or anybody else you dirty rotten liar and thief. I know the heart of my servant Job and that is enough for me.” He could have, but in this case he didn’t.

God chooses to get an “open victory” over Satan for His own glory, as well as to instruct His people (us included) of His character and divine will in suffering. A test will show that in the heart of Job God himself is more highly esteemed than any possession or any family member. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and was free to harm Job’s life.

Job 1:13-22: Then the calamity came. It was on one of those feast days when all ten of his children were gathered in the home of the oldest brother. First in vv. 14–15 a messenger comes to Job and tells him that the Sabeans had attacked and stolen all his oxen and donkeys and killed all the servants with them.

Then in v. 16 another messenger comes and says that the fire of God has fallen and destroyed all his sheep and the servants with them. Then in v. 17 another messenger comes and says that the Chaldeans had raided the camel herd and taken them all and killed the servants. And finally in vv. 18–19 the message comes that all of his children were crushed to death when a tornado caused the house to collapse.

Notice two of the calamities were caused by evil men—Sabaens (v. 15), Chaldeans (v. 17). And the other two were caused by, what insurance adjusters would call “acts of God.” Probably lighting causing a fire (v. 16), and a tornado (v. 19).

Job loses all his wealth and his children! What in the world is happening here?

ANSWER: Something of divine importance is happening. God is in the process of demonstrating to the heavenly realms (and to anyone else who has eyes to see) that He Himself is supreme in the heart of Job. This means more than anything else to God, therefore it should mean more than anything else to us as well!

DO NOT MISS THIS! The revelation of this truth is so important that God is willing to ordain suffering and poverty to His beloved son in order to make God’s value and beauty known.

And verses 20-21 record the divine victory: “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.”

Satan was proved wrong. Job did not curse God when he lost his wealth and his children. He worshiped and he blessed God, and so the superior worth of God became evident to all. And the purpose of God in setting Job up was fulfilled… the revelation of the value of God. “22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

Again, DO NOT MISS THIS! Do not let your mind and your eyes get so stuck on the fact that you could never do what Job did. That’s not the point! The focus is God’s worth to us. God is rooting out of us even now, as we read this, idols that we love more than Him.

I am pleading with you this morning, not to transfix your eyes and your mind on the earthly loss, which if you do, you will never stop to look up and realize the temperance of earthly things, and the eternality of the God Himself. Okay, let’s keep going:

Job 2:1-6: So now another heavenly meeting is arraigned and Satan is ticked. Now Satan’s excuse is that Job’s health is still in tact. So God grants permission again to Satan to take his health, but not his life. Again, let me remind you brothers and sisters, the demonstration of the worth of God in the faith and reverence of His people is the most important matter in the world! This is why God allows this to happen.

Job 2:7-8: So just as Job was recovering from the shock of losing his wealth and his children, he comes down with a terrible disease. It says that he was afflicted “with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.”

According to 7:5, Job was covered with boil-like sores that opened and ran with puss and then got clogged with dirt and infested with worms. This was no chicken pox man! It was a terrifying thing from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.

And in all this suffering, Scripture is crystal clear: comforts and calamities come from the hand of God.

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4

“I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” Isaiah 45:7

“Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” Amos 3:4

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Psalm 115:3

Just picture Satan in heaven surrounded by 100’s of thousands of angels awaiting Job’s response (and our response). Then Job answers, unknown to him, 100’s of thousands of arms are raised, mighty voices shout, “Worthy is the Lord God of Job!” And what does Satan do? He flees from the presence of the praises of God. Oh that we would have eyes to see past this earth & hearts that love God’s kingdom more ours.

Did you ever wonder what Peter meant when he said in 1 Peter 3:8: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world”? Well, you have gotten your heavenly picture of this verse today. Be steadfast in your love and trust in God.

Brothers and sisters, your suffering is not in vain. Your suffering is not meaningless. Your suffering is not detached from God’s will.

You may not understand it as life goes on, but I pray that you can see the magnitude with which God is glorified in your faith in Him no matter the circumstance. I pray that we all can value God’s worth more than our earthly comfort.

Let’s close with a few important truths & observations about God and suffering:

Truth # 1: Satan’s deepest desire is to destroy our joy in God. He uses two weapons to do this: pain and pleasure. He uses pain to make us feel that God is powerless, mean, unloving, and not trustworthy. He uses pleasure to make us feel that God isn’t necessary or not worth our time and affections because we have all we think we need. Pain and pleasure keep us from the God who eternally eradicates pain and gives unending pleasure!

Truth # 2: God’s deepest desire is to display his beauty and worth in the lives of His people. The great aim of God in creation and redemption is to preserve and display the infinite worth of His glory and the beauty of redemption that His Son Jesus has accomplished.

The way he does this is by redeeming a people who love him and desire him and cherish him above all earthly treasures and pleasures. God desires a people who will not trade Him in for anything this world can offer, or turn from Him if any earthly thing is taken or withheld. God will display His beauty and worth to the nations!

Truth # 3: God grants to Satan certain and controlled power to cause pain. In Job 1:12, God says to Satan,“Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” And then in 2:6 God says, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” It is God, not Satan, who sets the limits of Satan’s power to cause pain.

Our God is not frustrated by the power and craftiness of Satan. Satan cannot make one move without the permission of God almighty! He may be a lion, but he is a lion on a leash. God reins Satan in or gives him slack according to God’s own purposes!

Truth # 4: Satan’s work is ultimately the work of God. Now before you label me a heretic and cuss me out under your breath so no one can hear you or think you’re crazy, I want you to hear me out. Did you notice that in the two heavenly scenes God handed Job over to Satan’s power? But when Satan had done his work of taking Job’s wealth and family, Job said in 1:21, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job says that it was ultimately the Lord himself who took away his family and wealth. Then the inspired writer of the book makes a comment to avoid a misunderstanding. Unless anyone says that Job should not have attributed Satan’s work to God, he writes in 1:22, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” It is not sin and it is not crazy to say that what Satan did, God ultimately did, because God rules Satan!

Similarly in the second heavenly scene God says in 2:6 to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Then verse 7 makes it very explicit that “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with loathsome sores.”

Think about the other answers we must give (make up) if we don’t agree that God rules Satan:

# 1: God can’t rule Satan and Satan is free to do what he wants or

# 2: God can only get Satan under control sometimes. These answers are biblically untrue & would be a scary truth if God didn’t have sovereign control over Satan.

In 2:10 Job says, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In other words Job again goes all the way up to the sovereignty of God over Satan and says that his suffering is from God. Satan may have been the secondary cause and the physical change agent, but ultimately it is from God.

And again the inspired writer warns us not to criticize Job here. He writes at the end of verse 10, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” It is not a sin to say that a sickness that Satan causes is “from the Lord.” Job’s firm refuge and unswerving hope when everything else seemed to be crumbling was the absolute sovereignty of God.

Truth # 5: God had the same kind of conversation with Satan when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of many. Jesus is the perfect Job. Job eventually questions God, and then grows through some discipline and still needs God to be declared righteous. Not Jesus. Jesus is God. HE is the 2nd person in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit).

Satan was given freedom to take from Jesus, to tempt Jesus, to cause great poverty and great suffering to Jesus. But this was all the divine plan of God from the very beginning of creation. God gave His Son up, Satan (nor sinful man) took Jesus’ life from Him. This was God’s plan. And we can trust God’s goodness in suffering because of this. He seeks to redeem your soul. To make you like His Son, Jesus. Do you see this?
God’s sovereignty causes truth (judgement for sin) and love (forgiveness for sin) to mysteriously crash together!

Closing: My prayer for us this morning is that we would join with Job and affirm with all our hearts the absolute sovereignty of God and surrender to Him as the High and Good King of Heaven. May we be able to say with the psalmist , “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” (115:3). Let us say with Daniel, “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ ” (4:35).

Let your tears flow freely when your suffering comes. Do not be a robot who feels no emotions. Wrestle out your anger and uncertainty with God. Don’t run from Him and stop dialoging with Him. Don’t stop fellowshipping with His people and don’t put on hold your worship of Him because you’re angry and confused.

That is the time to press into Him all the more. Remember Job after all the calamity in verse 20 says “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.”

The sobs of grief and pain are not the sign of unbelief. Job knows nothing of a flippant, insensitive, superficial “Praise God anyhow” response to suffering. The greatness of Job’s worship is because it was in grief, not because it replaced grief. Let your tears flow freely when suffering comes, and may we weep with those who weep.

Brothers and sisters, trust in the goodness of God, and let him be your treasure and your joy. When your calamity comes, may the Lord give you the grace to affirm the sovereignty of God, may He let your tears flow freely, and may He cause you to remember (or show you for the first time) that the Lord Jesus Christ has sealed our eternal comfort in Him through His assigned suffering on the cross!

You and I do not have the strength to respond to tragedy the way that Job did, neither did Job. Job believed God and God sustained Him. Strength through weakness. Be weak today and call on Jesus and be in it for the 100’s of thousands of voices that praise and glorify God in the face of the enemy, Satan!

Let’s pray!

Fear, Anxiety, and Jesus (part 3)

This is the last of three post that covers that last part of Sunday’s sermon on fear and anxiety:

What Fear Reveals: Fear reveals our values, our loves, our priorities. We only fear losing what we love. We only fear getting what we hate. It reveals a lot about what’s essential to us.

Fear can be vision without optimism: You know where your life is going and you have plans, but you fear all the possibilities of your plans going wrong. “What if this happens? “What about the economy?” “What if I get hurt?” You have vision but the cup is half full.

Fear can be not getting what you want: “I want to graduate from GCU? I don’t think I’m going to graduate. I can’t do homework! I’m a slacker! Oh no!!” “I want to get married. I’ll never get married. What if I don’t? I’m fearful!” “We want to have kids. I don’t think we’re going to have kids. We can’t have kids. We’re fearful.” “I want to serve God. I want to go into ministry. What if I can’t find a ministry position?” I, I, I, I!!

Fear can be getting what you want and losing it: Sometimes success is more fearful than failure. “She said yes! What if she changes her mind? What if he stops loving me?” “I’m graduating! What if I trip in front of everybody when I’m getting my diploma?” “The child was born! What if they die? Or what if they don’t love God?” “I got the job! What if I get fired?” This is fear of getting something your heart longs for and losing it.

Fear can be getting what you don’t want: “I got fired. I didn’t want that.” “My husband had an affair. I must not be lovely. I don’t like that.” “My kids hate me. That was my worst fear. That’s not the way I thought it’d go!” “I’ve got cancer. That’s not what I wanted!” And fear comes. Do you feel that? It’s real. It’s powerful and it will consume you.

This is not something you’re going to learn today and then be fine for the rest of your life. This is something you’ll learn today work on for the rest of your life.

Jesus Gets This About Us: Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus goes here with us. How cool! God comes into human history. His name is Jesus. He gets us. He knows us. He has felt our pain. He can fix us. Jesus knows all about fear & anxiety. Who’s ever had greater fears available to them than Jesus? Jesus is going to the cross to atone for the sin of the world. Jesus is going to endure the full wrath of the Father for our righteousness. We see Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He is sweating drops of blood as he’s anticipating all this!

– Jesus knows what it’s like to have people destroy your reputation.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to have your family think you’re crazy or disown.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to have friends you can’t depend on.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to have someone you love sabotage their own life.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to have someone steal from you, betray you, and commit
suicide. His name was Judas and Jesus loved him and served him.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to be single and alone.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to be homeless.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to be abused, mocked, beaten, spit on, and called names.
– Jesus knows what it’s like to lose someone you love and to face certain death.

Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus isn’t just another religious guy with a picture perfect life, who can’t relate to us, giving us principles that He Himself has no need of! That’s not our Jesus! Don’t you love this Jesus! Let’s turn to Luke 12:22-32 to see what Jesus has to tell us regarding fear and anxiety.

Anxious about life
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life. Remember, Jesus is not a disconnected God who is clueless to your pain and hurt and unable to sympathize with you: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” Heb. 4:15.

So when He says do not be anxious about your life, He has earned the right to speak to us even if we don’t believe Him to be our Savior. But the fact that He is God in the flesh, our Redeemer, He not only has the right to tell us this, but He also has the power to help us walk this out.

Jesus goes on: Don’t be anxious about what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food (in other words, don’t let your stomach become your God; comfort eating), and the body more than clothing (but please, wear clothing, don’t abandon clothing; just don’t let your life be consumed with what you wear and stress about not being hip or a means to cover up how you really are; comfort shopping)

How much time do you put towards presenting yourself as someone you’re not? You want to look like you’re together; like you’re fine. You want to look like you’ve nailed it and you’re lying. If someone comes up to you and asks, “How are you?”, you say, “Great.” They say, “Well you look great.” You get convicted, so you say back, “No, actually I’m freaking out inside, but I was hoping you’d look at my new kicks and not my face.”

24 Consider the ravens: (ravens are nasty, dirty, below pigeon level birds; they are like the bottom suckers of the air…you don’t normally eat bottom sucking fish, and you don’t eat ravens; they’re nasty birds!) they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

We believe in the sovereignty of God and we’re hypocrites because our fears and anxieties are betraying our theology. He takes care of the birds, even ravens! He will take care of you!

25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? (just a little question for application and to check where our hearts are at this point in the conversation; What are “YOU” gonna do by being anxious…?)

27 Consider the lilies, (now Jesus is getting weird on us here…where’s he going with this one; ravens, now lilies?) Consider how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Lilies aren’t freaking out looking at each other saying, “What if I get a whole in my bud? Then everyone will see!! Oh no!!” They don’t toil, yet they are beautifully clothed.)

28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

How much more does God love you compared to ravens and lilies? How much do you actually believe what you just said? Does your life betray you belief?

Here’s the key: 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

“Fear not little flock and seek God’s kingdom, not yours” Little helpless flock standing in the midst of wolves, don’t be afraid, for I am with you and my kingdom is yours. Flocks here is referred to sheep. I’m sorry, but the implication here is a helpless, dirty, smelly, dumb, stubborn, unimpressive sheep. You can’t do anything apart from me, but fear not and seek my face. Treasure me. If you treasure anything above Jesus, you’ll live in a perpetual state of fear, worry, anxiety, pain, loneliness, confusion, or arrogance.

Ultimately, fear comes from putting other people or things on God’s throne and looking to other things to save you. Fear comes from not seeking God’s kingdom, but seeking your kingdom or the temporary kingdom you’ve created on this earth. Jesus says in v. 31: “Instead, seek his (God the Father’s) kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

Who’s on God’s throne in your life? What is it that matters more to you than Jesus? Repent of it tonight, get them off the throne, receive Jesus, acknowledge that He is the only One who is worthy. He is the only one who can protect you, deliver you, redeem you, reconcile you, make you whole. No man or created thing can do this.