I’ve struggled with Job – many years. Like most pastors – haven’t talked about it very much.
Didn’t want to steer you wrong. Well I’ve been studying and studying and I’m finally ready to make some statements about what I believe about the book of Job.
Rich guy – ‘Job’ living in a land called ‘Uz’ w/large family and huge flocks.
He’s ‘blameless’ & ‘upright’. – “Always careful to avoid doing evil.”
One day, ‘The Satan’ appears before God in heaven.
God brags how great Job is.
Satan says ‘well yeah but it’s only because you’ve blessed him so much.
‘The Satan’ challenges God – give him permission to punish Job, he would curse God.
God says ‘Fine. Just don’t kill him.’
All hits the fan for Job.
News: livestock, servants, 10 children – dead.
Only thing remained: his wife. Not a blessing.
Rips his clothes, shaves his head.
But still blesses God in his prayers.
Satan appears to God again, God gives permission to try again.
Horrible skin sores. “Clothed in worms and scabs”
His wife tells him to curse God and commit suicide.
3 Friends – Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar
Sit in silence w/Job for 7 days. After, Job finally speaks.
Begins a conversion where each of the 4 men discuss ‘why’.
Chapters 4-37 are mostly his friends giving some of the more insane, ridiculous, ignorant advice that has ever existed.
Book ends w/God speaking to Job and restoring him. More livestock, more servants, more children.
This is a book most people know little to nothing about. Most people know the basic idea of the first half of the fist chapter – 42 chapter book.
Cherry Picked verses
It has a few cherry picked verses, most often used in times of suffering.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)
Most often used to say ‘Everything good is God giving. Everything bad is God taking’.
Brutal example : June 20, 2001 – Andrea Yates – drowned her 5 children in the bathtub. – Stating that God told her to do it.
Russell Yates “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. He gave me all these children and then he took them away.”
Is that true?
This past week I read through Job twice. 42 chapters.
Challenging book, probably the most misunderstood book.
Not uncommon in OT – people get one idea from a story, and when you dig down, it’s saying the opposite.
This guy last week “You think Satan goes to God every time He wants to do something to us and God gives him permission?”
Even saying that shows that you don’t read the bible a lot, because that idea is totally opposite of the true picture in the bible which is God and Satan warring against each other. And Jesus coming to destroy the works of the devil.
I could see if maybe you could have thought that before the cross, but now, there’s no excuse for that kind of nonsense.
A little backstory
Up until this point in the story, the bible has been largely about ‘retribution’.
Duet 11 – Moses “blessings & curses”
Do good & stay faithful – God will bless you.
Turn to wickedness & idolatry. – Punishment & exile.
Entry – promised land. – Forbidden -unfaithfulness.
Israel decends into idolitary – Exile.
Judah follows – exile.
Righteous – blessed
Sinners – punished.
Good happens – good
Bad happens – bad.
Then we come to Job.
The whole story gets thrown out of whack.
Bible: Good people are always blessed!
Book of job: ‘Yeah.. it doesn’t always work that way’
Job is a man of integrity, yet he suffers.
Chapter after chapter Job’s friends argue the theology of ‘retribution’.
Job is suffering so must have sinned.
That’s the way the world works. Moses said so.
Job disagrees. He’s a man of integrity.
A few points:
1. The book of job is poetry.
WHAT you’re reading determines HOW you’re supposed to read it.
Doesn’t mean it’s not anchored in historical events. I may be. But it’s not the important point.
With poetry, you have to watch for the main point and not get bogged down with the details.
Lots of poetry in the bible that we understand how to read.
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. (Song of Solomon 4:1)
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. (Song of Solomon 4:2)
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate. (Song of Solomon 4:3)
Your neck is like the tower of David, built with courses of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. (Song of Solomon 4:4)
Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. (Song of Solomon 4:5)
If you were to take this literally : (pic.)
Bogged down with technical details – miss the point.
What’s important is: what is the author teaching us?
2. The purpose of the book of Job was to point out the unbelievable ignorance of everyone who thought they knew why suffering happens.
The 3 friend come and try to give meaning to why this happened.
“Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed. ” (Job 4:7-9)
That’s dumb! – Innocent people die all the time. How about anyone who dies before the age of 9? How about babies die during birth?
See in Job’s understanding: Job starts out half way decently, but as grief sets in, gets more ruthless, jaded and negative.
He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. (Job 9:17)
“The Lord gives and the lord takes…” but darker.
It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ (Job 9:22)
When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. (Job 9:23)
Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked? (Job 10:3)
If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. (Job 10:16)
You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave. (Jon 10:17)
Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy. (Job 10:20)
Is this stuff we’re supposed to believe? Of course not.
“The bible says it, I believe it, that settles it, let’s do it.”
Let’s all pray that God will leave us alone so we can be happy.
lso, Jesus comes and explains that Satan is ‘the roaring lion seeking who he may devour.’
Job is confusing God and Satan. He’s a man of the sea. He doesn’t have the cross.
“His anger has torn me and hunted me down, He has gnashed at me with His teeth; My adversary glares at me. (Job 16:9)
He’s confusing God and Satan.
Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ (Job 21:15)
Here’s a cool sermon – hey guys, don’t pray. Prayer does nothing.
We know that Job is dead wrong here.
He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes. (Job 30:19)
“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. (Job 30:20)
You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. (Job 30:21)
You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. (Job 30:22)
We’re not to believe these poems.
In fact, at the end, God comes and corrects all of this.
Now for ‘prologue’.
It has a very famous ‘prologue’.
In fact, it’s most of what the average person knows about Job.
What the prologue says: The reason these terrible things happened is because of a bet between God and Satan.
Back up – “the point of the book is to point out how ignorant people are when they think they know why suffering happens.”
And the book starts with the author thinking he knows why suffering happens.
It’s very clever.
“It’s because God made a bet with the devil!”
Imagine if you had a loved one who was suddenly diagnosed with cancer.
So you shake your fist in the air and scream ‘why God why?!’ and you hear a voice from heaven saying “It’s because me and the devil have a bet about you.”
What kind of explanation would that be? A crappy one, of course.
My point: all of the explanations for Job’s suffering are stupid, including the authors!
3. The book of Job isn’t showing us an ideaS we’re supposed to believe, it’s showing us an ideaS we’re supposed to reject.
God finally comes at the end
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2).
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4).
“Who determined its measurements—surely you know! ” (Job 38:5)
“Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this” (Job 38:16-18).
“What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth”? (Job 38:24).
“Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?” (Job 38:33).
God comes and points out the massive ignorance of what we’ve been doing for 38 brutal chapters.
You guys know nothing about how the world works. – No position to accuse anyone.
The final chapter – Job repenting for being so stupid – blaming God for something he didn’t understand.
…“I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3)
Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6)
Job repents – saying – crazy stuff.
Job repents for saying all this crazy stuff. So clearly this isn’t the theology we’re supposed to be adopting, this is the theology we’re supposed to be repenting of.
Crazy: we see people blaming God for stuff we don’t understand and thinking they’re so Holy for it.
Read the book of Job, and remind ourselves to stop blaming God for what we don’t understand.
We see – Russell Yates “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. He gave me all these children and then he took them away.”
He thought he was using Job say something true. But he was the exact type of person the book was written for so that he wouldn’t say things like that.
4. The book of Job encourages honesty in your struggle.
Right after Job repents:
It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. (Job 42:7)
WTF?! – The word ‘right’ – ‘kun’ – ‘To align with’ or ‘to be straight’
In this context, can’t possibly mean you spoke the truth. He just got rebuked for it!
What it means: you spoke to me straight from your gut. He was honest, and real.
As opposed to his friends were all religious, fluffy, retribution and ‘you must have had sin in your life’.
Job ‘God, you absolutely suck.’ You’re such a jerk.’ Kept the lines of communication open. Kept talking to God. As wrong, weird, blasphemous as it was, it was straight from the gut and God loves that.
God honors honesty, – he wants and honest relationship with honest people.
5. The book of Job shows God teaching us where evil comes from.
Chapters 40 & 41 – God sits down Jonah and talks to him in a way he’ll understand, and he talks to him about …. The Leviathan.
And he talks about another sea monster : Behemoth
He’s talking about the forces of evil.
He says they’re so ferocious that only their creator can approach them and even he uses a sword.
“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope? (Job 41:1)
If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! (Job 41:8)
Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering. (Job 41:9)
Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. (Job 41:18)
Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. (Job 41:19)
Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. (Job 41:20)
Nothing on earth is its equal — a creature without fear. (Job 41:33)
It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud. ” (Job 41:34)
Explains how there’s a cosmic battle happening. ‘I’m not the one pulling all the strings here.’
I have an enemy who does things that I’m opposed to. He reminds us how little we actually know.
“You don’t know all that’s going on here.” “Your friends don’t know all that’s going on here.”
What you have to know is that you don’t know.
As I close:
We are ignorant human beings living in an incredibly complex world that’s torn apart in war.
What we understand isn’t even a tip on a huge iceberg.
When we forgot how much we don’t know, we start assuming God is pulling all the strings. We start thinking God is to blame for all the horrible stuff. Or maybe that people are to blame for their own circumstances (like his friends thought).
That’s the point: Don’t judge. You don’t know.
I came out of bible college – convinced I understood healing.
Ultimately here’s the only thing you can be truly confident in: God looks like Jesus.
God looks like Jesus dying on the cross for the people who were murdering Him.
- While the world can be cruel, God is never cruel.
- The world can bring nightmares, but God’s not behind the nightmares.
- The world can kill good people, but it’s not God who’s doing the killing.
John 10:10 – The thief comes to kill, I’ve come to bring life.
You won’t know that by trying to make sense of a broken world. You have to look to Jesus.
When we confuse the fallen world with what God WANTS, when bad things happen, like Job, we push God away.
Dare to believe – God – beautiful as Jesus.
Then when tragedy happens, we can invite God in on it.
Knowing that He’s the God who’s pushing back on the leviathan and the behomoth.
No matter how hard things are, dark things can sometimes look, keep talking to God. Keep those lines open.
Speak – gut.
The best news is this:
Even though we never really understand why things are they way they are.
Why some are healed and some aren’t, etc.
Some suffer more.
It won’t always be like this.
The love of God will triumph in the end.
The good news of the NT is not that everything is awesome now. Because it’s not. Bad things happen to good people every day. The good news is that he wins in the end and it will all be worth it.
Pain / suffering – distant memory.
(Serve the people)
Whatever you’re going through.
I’ve learned this: everyone is going through something.
He knows and he’s there with you.
If you let him. He will help you.
We invite him in, and he’s the master of bringing good out of evil, success out of failure. Healing out of disaster.
Spend a minute – in your heart, be honest with him and invite him in and be confident that he’ll help you.
This is the Table, not of the church, but of the Lord.
It is made ready for those who love Him and for those who want to love Him more. So come,
You who have much faith and you who have little,
You who have been here often and you who have not been here long,
You who have tried to follow and you who have failed.
Come, because it is the Lord who invites you.
It is His will that those who want Him should meet Him here.
Come to the Table.
Take a minute and take communion in your own time.