Job – Friday Night Genesis, Friday, September 6, 2013
Scripture reading: Job 1:6-12
This month we are looking at the pictu...
his ideas, so that the Universe could judge who is telling the truth – God or
Satan.
The first two chapters really set up ...
Satan didn’t waste any time. In one day he took away all of Job’s possessions
and then he took his kids as well. Can you i...
A lot of the ensuing discourse centers on God’s power and omniscience. The
irony is that all of the participants in this d...
almighty, all powerful and all knowing and you don’t mess with that. You just
accept God’s judgment. Listen to a couple of...
keep us with Him, even if that means becoming a target to God’s enemy. God
really is enough.
Some may look at this story a...
keep us with Him, even if that means becoming a target to God’s enemy. God
really is enough.
Some may look at this story a...
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The Book of Job

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The Book of Job

  1. 1. Job – Friday Night Genesis, Friday, September 6, 2013 Scripture reading: Job 1:6-12 This month we are looking at the picture of God in the book of Job. As I said last month, Job is a rather unique book. It does not fall into the historical timeframe of the preceding books like the books after it do. It is actually believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, and it is generally believed that it was Moses who wrote down the story for us. It is certainly a story that will mess with your head on so many levels. You endure all the long winded speeches which all seem to have the same general gist to them, with the only apparent difference being that Job does not think that he did anything wrong and the three friends proclaim him as guilty as bin Laden. But they all appear to say the same things about God. In the end God Himself even makes an appearance and cowers Job into repenting and apologizing for saying too much. And then at the very end you read this: “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, (who by now was probably awaiting his commendations) “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7) You what?! And so, as much as you don’t want to endure all the long speeches again, it makes you want to go back and reread the whole thing again to see what you missed! So in our time here tonight we will endeavor to unpack this book and try to gain a clearer picture of what is going on in the book of Job. As we do that, we will also gain a clearer picture of God, what He is like and what He values most. Of course, to truly unpack all the issues in this book we’d have to pull an all-nighter like Apostle Paul, but I’m not going to do that to you. In this book we get to revisit some of the themes from our “Big Picture” series, because the first thing the book does is to pan the camera towards heaven and show us the conflict that we are a part of. Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:9 “We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.” The word translated as “spectacle” is “theatron” which quite literally means “theatre”. So our world really is a stage, a theatre of conflict, and as C.S. Lewis put it – we live behind enemy lines. The entire Universe is watching our little planet to see how things develop. As you may remember, the conflict between Satan, who used to be an angel, and God started in heaven. But when God created our world and handed Adam and Eve the keys as it were, they foolishly handed them over to Satan. So our world has been Satan’s platform to develop
  2. 2. his ideas, so that the Universe could judge who is telling the truth – God or Satan. The first two chapters really set up the whole story. The heavenly council is meeting together and the sons of God came to present themselves before God. The interesting things is, that when Luke does the genealogy of Jesus, he quite literally goes clear back to Adam and says “Adam, Son of God” (Luke 3:38). So it would appear that in this heavenly council it was Adam who should have been representing our planet. But instead Satan shows up and God challenges him on it: “Where have you come from?” And Satan is more than happy to rise to the challenge, assuming the air of a king who has just come back from surveying his domain: “From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it.” (Job 1:7). And this next part is so neat, because it is Job that allows God to challenge Satan’s kingship over this world: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8). Put simply, God is telling Satan, that he does not recognize his claim on planet earth, because God still has friends loyal to Him on this planet. Notice also that God Himself calls Job “blameless and upright”, which becomes significant as we go through the book. But here comes the challenge. Satan alleges that Job is a fair weather friend. He is only loyal to God, because God has blessed him and prospered him. When I was a kid growing up in Belgrade, there was an old man in our church. To my shame, to this day I do not know his real name. He wasn’t much to look at. He kind of wheezed and grunted and was barely intelligible when he spoke. He had a mostly toothless grin, wore pretty tattered old clothes, but us kids loved him. And we loved him for a very specific reason. In his beaten up old leather bag, which must have dated back to World War I, he carried little taped up packets which usually contained 3 or 4 candy. And so us kids knew him simply as “Mister with the candy”, and every week after church we would seek him out to get that little taped up pack of candy. Satan alleged this was the kind of relationship that God and Job had. Job was in it only for the candy. Take away the candy, and Job would not only cease to be loyal to God, he would actually turn against Him. And so with the entire Universe watching with wrapped attention, God allows Satan to test his theory. There are some huge questions to be answered: How well does God know people? Is God and His friendship enough, or does God have to buy people’s loyalty with candy, as it were. With the eyes of the entire Universe fixed on him, God entrusts Job, a mere human, to answer these important questions, trusting that His friend will not let Him down.
  3. 3. Satan didn’t waste any time. In one day he took away all of Job’s possessions and then he took his kids as well. Can you imagine losing everything – everything you own in one day?! As if that wasn’t bad enough, that same day you lose all your children! I would hazard a guess that would be a sucker punch from which very few of us would be able to recover. But Job held on. Next time the heavenly council met, Satan was again there strutting like the king of the earth, and God just had to point out – look Job is still there, and doing rather well, may I add. So Satan plays the final card. “Job is a heartless man. He doesn’t care about property or even his kids. But a man will do anything to save his own skin. Let me at him.” And God does, which is yet another thing that messes with our heads. As the camera now pans down to the earth, we see Job in deep depression. Can you blame him? He has lost his family, his wealth and now also his health. Covered in boils Job is sitting among the ashes and scraping himself with a piece of broken pottery. Three of his friends show up to comfort and console him. For a whole week, they just sat with him on the ground in silence. Finally Job breaks the silence with a deep lament. “I wish I had never been born, so I wouldn’t have to endure this!” says Job. Of course, he uses an entire chapter to say it, but that’s what it boils down to. Since Job has now broken the silence, one of the friends, Eliphaz the Temanite speaks up and goes for the jugular. It becomes clear very early on, that there was a basic assumption upon which the three friends operated on. If you were wealthy and healthy, you must be a very good person, because God has so richly blessed you. If you were poor and ill, you must be a sinner and God was punishing you. Since Job was so wealthy he must have been a good man. But now that he has so dramatically lost everything, the three friends just knew that Job must have sinned quite severely, since he has obviously upset God something fierce. Consider these two opening statements by Eliphaz: “Consider now: who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?” (Job 4:7). I don’t know what life was like back then, but I think we can safely say that we see this pretty much every day! But that was their thinking. Or how about this one: “If God places no trust in His servants, if he charges His angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay?” (Job 4:18,19). Does God really not place any trust in His servants? Does He really charge angels with error? Of course, neither Job nor his friends were privy to the discussion in heaven that we saw in the first two chapters. Had they been privy to it, they would have realized that at that very moment God was trusting his servant Job to answer some of the most important questions about Himself in front of the entire Universe!
  4. 4. A lot of the ensuing discourse centers on God’s power and omniscience. The irony is that all of the participants in this discussion acknowledge God as powerful, as the Creator and as someone who knows everything. The three friends keep talking about it as if that is the central issue here, and Job just keeps agreeing with them, acknowledging the exact same thing. God’s power has never been in dispute. James says: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:19). What has been at the heart of the dispute is how God uses His power. Does He use it to coerce by threats of death as Satan charged when he spoke to Eve in the Garden? Does God use His power to buy loyalty as Satan now charged in the case of Job? What really bothers Job, however, is that God is no longer talking to him. His friends just know for a fact that Job must have sinned because he lost everything. But Job is puzzled. He knows that in his heart his attitude towards God has not changed, he has not turned against God, so the only other variable that he sees is that God has turned against him. But why? So what Job really wants is to be able to talk to God and find out what is going on. “I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me.” (Job 10:2). That’s fair enough, isn’t it? “Only grant me these two things, O God, and then I will not hide from you: withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply. How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offence and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (Job 13:20- 24) What is interesting to me in all of this is a very stark contrast. All Job wants to do is to talk with God so he can get things cleared up. This is very significant. In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned, their first reaction was fear. They went and hid from God when He came to the garden because now they were afraid of Him. But Job is doing the exact opposite – he is seeking God out, he wants to talk to God about what is going on. To me this contrast is a sign of a clear conscience, and a further proof that God knew Job very well when He proclaimed him to be blameless and upright. Job’s friends maintain that Job’s troubles are a punishment from God because Job has sinned really badly, as typified by this statement by Eliphaz: “Is it for your piety that (God) rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?” (Job 21:4,5) To them this is completely obvious, and they are rather worried for Job, since he, in their view, wants to challenge God’s judgment of him. And you just don’t do that. God is
  5. 5. almighty, all powerful and all knowing and you don’t mess with that. You just accept God’s judgment. Listen to a couple of things Elihu had to say: “Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, For God is greater than man. “Why do you complain against Him that He does not give an account of all His doings? (Job 33:12,13 NASB) Or how about this: “I won’t ask to speak with God; why should I give Him a chance to destroy me?” (Job 37:20 GNT). It seems apparent that Job’s friends viewed God as a ruthless master. You didn’t talk back to Him, and you certainly didn’t question His judgments. Of course, had they been privy to the first two chapters, they would have known that God’s judgment of Job was that he was blameless and upright, and that the reason for Job’s predicament was that Satan had challenged God’s judgment and God allowed him to test it! Job didn’t know either that the truth was exactly the opposite of what it appeared to be. But here is how he describes his relationship with God. “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when His lamp shone upon my head and by His light I walked through darkness! Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me and my children around me.” (Job 29:2-5). You get the impression that Job is mourning the loss of a special friend. Job may have enjoyed the candy, but he wasn’t in it just for the candy as Satan suggested. Job had a close relationship with God, and to him that friendship was important. That is what hurt him the most – it seemed to him that God had withdrawn His friendship from him and turned against him and Job wanted to know why. This friendship with God was too important to him to throw away. So how did Job say of God what is right? For the answer, you have to go back to the original questions posed in the first 2 chapters: Does God know people’s hearts? Is God enough or does He need to buy loyalty? The book of Job shows us that God does indeed know our hearts. This is very significant both to us and the onlooking Universe. You see, one day we will be neighbors with the angels. And I have a feeling that they have some serious misgivings about ruffians like us moving into the neighborhood. How well can God judge character? Will we really be safe to have around in the heavenly kingdom, or is it possible that some bad apples would be able to sneak in, or good apples be lost? More to the point, are God’s judgments arbitrary or do they reflect reality that can be tested for corroborating evidence? God judged Job to be upright and a true friend of His. Satan tested this claim quite severely and God proved to be right. In testing Job so severely Satan also exposed the answer to the second question. When you strip away the candy, yes, God and His friendship alone can draw us to Him and
  6. 6. keep us with Him, even if that means becoming a target to God’s enemy. God really is enough. Some may look at this story and object to God using us as pawns in a chess game. But I say what a privilege to be the pawn that checkmates Satan! What a privilege to be trusted by God to show the truth about Him to the whole Universe! What a God, that He would entrust us with such responsibility! What God is looking for is friendship. In John 15:15 Jesus says: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” God is not someone to be afraid of, as Job’s friends thought. God is someone to be a friend of. Friendships are based on mutual trust. We need to be able to trust God to tell the truth about us, but we also need God to be able to trust us to stick up for Him in good and the bad and say of Him what is right. The story of Job shows us that this kind of trusting friendship really is possible. God knows our hearts and will speak truthfully and accurately about us before the Universe, and He is also willing to trust us to tell the truth about Him.
  7. 7. keep us with Him, even if that means becoming a target to God’s enemy. God really is enough. Some may look at this story and object to God using us as pawns in a chess game. But I say what a privilege to be the pawn that checkmates Satan! What a privilege to be trusted by God to show the truth about Him to the whole Universe! What a God, that He would entrust us with such responsibility! What God is looking for is friendship. In John 15:15 Jesus says: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” God is not someone to be afraid of, as Job’s friends thought. God is someone to be a friend of. Friendships are based on mutual trust. We need to be able to trust God to tell the truth about us, but we also need God to be able to trust us to stick up for Him in good and the bad and say of Him what is right. The story of Job shows us that this kind of trusting friendship really is possible. God knows our hearts and will speak truthfully and accurately about us before the Universe, and He is also willing to trust us to tell the truth about Him.

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