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A. Job’s suffering was all about the testing of his faith.
1. Satan’s contention was that Job’s faith would not persist if troubles came upon him.
2. Job’s sinful heart was definitely exposed during these dark days. We’ll talk about that next week.
3. But today we’ll see how Job’s faith did persist.
B. Job 1:20–22 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
C. Job 13:13–16 “Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may. 14 Why should I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my hand? 15 Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. 16 This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him.
D. Job 16:18–21 “O earth, cover not my blood, and let my cry find no resting place. 19 Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. 20 My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, 21 that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor.
E. Job 19:23–27 “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! 24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
II. The story of Job’s faith
A. All through his life, Job had ordinary troubles, like everyone else. But sometimes troubles are more than ordinary. Sometimes we go through, ‘the dark night of the soul.’
B. God put Job at the disposal of the evil one, with only one limitation: he must spare his life. And Satan used every liberty God afforded him. A frightful combination of sorrows and sufferings came upon this unsuspecting man, all in a grand attempt to break his faith and get him to curse God.
C. Soon, Job’s spirit and hope are crushed. He has experienced so much pain and grief that his very existence had become a burden too heavy to bear. The poor guy is so tortured, so stunned, so bewildered, so weary that he curses the day he was born, and longs to die.
D. But Satan doesn’t back off. He keeps the pedal to the medal as he presses Job’s friends to rub salt into Job’s wounds.
E. Job argues with his friends that they are wrong in their accusations, but he has no alternative explanation for his sufferings. He has no understanding or insight to explain what has happened to him. Reason and logic provide no refuge.
F. Would Job’s faith survive the incredible pressure? Would Job continue to seek God now that there seemed to be no external benefit for doing so? This is the question as Job’s story unfolds.
G. The only One Job can run to is the very one who seems to be shooting arrows at him without explanation.
H. But in spite of this, Job cries out, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him,” (Job 13:15) and “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).
I. Job, like the apostles, was “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” And ultimately all this was “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God.” – 2Corinthians 4:7–9
III. In terms of application, let’s look at the four statements Job makes which show his persevering faith.
A. Job 1:21 is probably the thing Job is most famous for.
1. God had allowed Satan to engineer the death of Job’s ten children and the destruction of his entire estate.
2. If you don’t have any children, then you can only imagine how devastating it would be to lose one of them. We’ve had a miscarriage, and a couple of times we’ve feared for the life of one of our children. And those experiences were enough to shake us to the core. But to lose all ten children!
3. How can we even begin to grasp the trauma of this experience?
a. Years ago a number of us went up here to Battlefield Baptist to hear the tragic testimony of the parents of a large Christian family who had been driving along with their kids in a big van on the interstate then they ran over a strip of metal which came up and sliced open the gas tank and the whole van was engulfed in flames. Only the parents sitting next to the front doors could escape, though they were badly burned.
b. Or think about Mary standing before the cross, watching her son die, in fulfilment of the prophecy of Simeon, who told her, “A sword will pierce through your own soul also.” – Luke 2:35
4. But, remarkably, Job responded with extraordinary faith: “Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 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.’ ” Job 1:20-21 What an amazing act of worship!
5. What does worship mean to us?
a. Is it the thing we do Sunday mornings? Is it that meeting where people sing and pray and sit down to listen – and we have to wait a long time for it to end?
b. Or is it offering our lives as a gift to God even if it means hardship, persecution, rejection & pain?
c. Real worship isn’t about offering sacrifices to God; real worship is offering yourself as a sacrifice to God. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1
6. Over the years of pastoring this church, there have been a number of times when I have been so proud of people who came to worship.
a. People who worked all night, but instead of going home to sleep, they came to worship.
b. People who just lost a loved one, but they came to church and brought their tears to the Lord.
c. Or someone who just found out their spouse has been unfaithful, but they came to present themselves to God in worship, and to seek His comfort and help.
d. Or a couple who just got married the day before, and they want to spend their first Sunday worshiping God together.
e. Or people who just got a scary diagnosis, but that didn’t stop them from worshiping God.
f. Or people whose child was just arrested and is in police custody. But they come to worship.
g. They didn’t come for show; they didn’t come for for a gold star; they came to worship their God.
7. We can learn a lot about worship from Job’s example.
8. But we can also learn a lot from Job about preparing for worshiping God in the crises of life.
a. You know, Job could never have reacted to such tragedy like this if he hadn’t spent many years building his house on the rock in preparation for the coming storm. Just as David fighting the lion and the bear was preparation for him to fight the giant, so in the smaller trials Job had learned to trust God for this enormous trial.
B. Job 13:15
1. Job is feeling like his sufferings are going to kill him. But here he declares, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”
2. Here Job is answering Satan’s taunt. He will trust God even if God doesn’t continue His earthly blessings and protections. He will trust God even if God slays him.
3. He will not be driven away by pain. Job will trust God even when the burden God lays on him seems too hard to bear, and the pain God puts him through feels like it is going to destroy him.
4. In saying this, Job foreshadowed the One who bore the weight of the world on His shoulders as He hung on the cross. Though He was righteous, though His body was crushed, though He was treated unjustly, though He was mocked, though He was rejected, He did not cave in to the pressure, He did not turn aside from His mission.
5. This statement also shows us that Job knows that there is life after death. You can only trust God even if He slays you if you expect to exist after He slays you. Job understands the distinction between this life and eternity. He is willing to lose everything in this life and trust God for the future.
6. Probably none of us will ever experienced anything close to what Job experienced – God giving Satan permission to do anything he wants to us except take our lives. But we will all experience sorrows and pains, and sometimes they will feel like more than we can bear.
7. But no matter what the future holds for us, God is our hope even in the darkest of days.
a. Though He slay my career, yet will I hope in Him.
b. Though He slay my church, yet will I hope in Him.
c. Though He slay my ministry, yet will I hope in Him.
d. Though He slay my marriage, yet will I hope in Him.
e. Though He slay my family, yet will I hope in Him.
8. And on that day on which God has appointed us to die, whether it is in the prime of life or when we are ancient, He will be our hope on that day too.
9. But this teaches us another important lesson about trusting God in the face of severe anguish. Here Job is not only trusting God for his present sufferings, but he is saying that he will trust God even if the anguish gets worse before it gets better.
C. Job 16:20 is not one of Job’s famous statements of faith, but I think it deserves our attention.
1. God, who created us, created us to be able to cry. Crying is a normal expression of human pain and grief.
2. There is a time to weep and a time to not weep, of course (Eccl.3:4).
3. But here, the point is not about when we weep, but about where we weep, or to whom we weep.
4. There is a child who, when disciplined lovingly and carefully, runs from his/her parents screaming, “I hate you!”
5. Job does not run from God or reject His maker. He sheds tears, but He sheds them to God, as he says in 16:20, “My eye pours out tears to God.”
6. We see Job’s faith in that he weeps to God. In his grief he looks to God, he cries out to God. Like a child who has fallen down and hurt himself, he runs to God in his pain.
7. If you’ve ever been to our house, you might have noticed that we live on the side of a hill. And it makes it interesting when there’s a heavy rain. The water flows down the hill and down the road, and then it wants to flow down our driveway. But if all that water flows down our driveway and beside our house and through our backyard, it causes erosion, because our hill is very steep.
a. For the first few years I kept trying to block the water from going where it was going, but then one day I realized I had the wrong approach. Instead of trying to stop the water from going where I didn’t want it to go, I needed to decide where I did want the water to go, and then make it go there. And so I dig and fill and push wheel barrows around and rake so that the water goes where I want it to go.
8. The same things is true about our tears. Instead of trying to resist tears, instead of allowing our tears to flow any which way, we need to decide where we want our tears to flow and then set them up to flow there. Like Job, we should train our tears to flow to God. He is, after all, the One who stores our tears in His bottle and records them in His book (Ps.56:8).
9. Dig channels for your tears to God. Don’t just get sad, get sad to God. Don’t just grieve, grieve to God. Don’t just groan, groan to God. Blessed are those who mourn (to God), for they shall be comforted.
D. Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
1. This cry of faith means that on one level, Job knew that in spite of the torment he was experiencing, God was still His friend, God still loved Him, though he didn’t understand why He was allowing him to suffer so.
2. This is exactly what we must remember when we are feeling like God is a million miles away, or when we feel like he has allowed the lions into our house.
3. Job had to decide whether God was his friend or his enemy. But He who appeared to be his enemy was actually his redeemer. And by saying, “I know my Redeemer lives,” we see that Job gets this. And we must get this as well.
4. Jesus said, “I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. ...If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” – John 15:1-2, 6
a. Sometimes it feels like God’s killing me when in fact He’s pruning me.
5. By saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives” Job shows that he knows his suffering is temporary. And how important it is when you’re suffering to remember this! That redemption is coming. That no matter how invisible God seems to us now, one day we will see Him face to face.
a. No matter what happens to a Christian, there is no reason to give up hope. Here, out of the dark bleakness of Job’s suffering comes this expression of confidence in the happy ending God has promised.
b. This is not just having confidence that everything will work out ok. This is not just believing that everything happens for a reason. This is believing that there is a personal redeemer who will set all things straight.
c. And this redeemer lives! He may not be here right now, He may not be showing Himself at this very moment. But He is out there and one day He will no longer be silent, he will no longer seem to be inactive. One day He will rise up, one day I shall see Him, one day He will come, one day He will redeem my life, one day He will make it all right.
IV. Beloved, at times in life there are waves of temptation to give up, times when things don’t make sense, times when circumstances feel like serving God is doing more harm than good. And at those times we need to remember our forefathers who fought through the same kind of difficulties.
A. What a blessing that God has given us Job and others are to us through their example of faith!
B. For All The Saints by William Walsham How
1. For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might; Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight; Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
3. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
4. O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
C. You see, the life of faith is a battle, a marathon. And near the end of the marathon, the runners feel like they’re going to die. And yet, with the crossing of a line, there is a complete reversal, they go from the dying of exhaustion and fatigue to the living of celebration and victory.
1. Sometimes a life of faith feels like dying. And we need encouragement to keep going.
2. My daughter-in-law Aliese is in a running club in Boston. And they enter races not only in their area but sometimes in other places of the country. The strange thing is that it’s not just the runners who fly to some city like Chicago to run. Others go with them, even though they may be injured or unable to run for one reason or another. Why? Because when you are putting yourself through a grueling race, you need encouragement.
3. Christ’s church is a running club. We’re in this together. And we get encouragement from each other – and from those who have gone before us.
4. By the end, Job looked like anything but triumphant. He looked pathetic, broken, tortured, miserable. But to God (and us) that’s a beautiful sight, because Job was faithful, he was running the race. And now Job – and a whole cloud of others – witnesses to us of the triumph awaiting those who press on to the end.
5. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to (our redeemer) Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:1–3
D. You know, Job is only specifically mentioned once in the NT, in James 5:7–11. And this is what it’s about:
1. Be patient, brothers & sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (See also 1Corinthians 15:58.)
E. Some don’t win the prize because they don’t finish the race.
1. In many churches today, you will not hear this. You will be assured that you will be saved no matter what you do. But that’s clearly not what the Bible says.
2. Matthew 24:4-13 - “Many will fall away...But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved." (Cf. Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13) See also Romans 11:19-22; 1Corinthians 15: 1-2; Colossians 1:22-23; 1Timothy 4:1; 2Peter 2:20-21; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17b, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7.
3. Does this mean salvation is by something you do instead of by grace? Not at all. Salvation is purely by something God does. But true faith, which God gives, is persevering faith.
4. Gal.6:9 Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.