Was it worth it to keep the vows and the commitment? It didn't seem to pay off. Has it been worth it to persistently resist sin? I mean my life has at this moment hit bottom and I've tried to live a godly life and is it worth it? All the efforts of integrity and honesty in business, is it really worth it?
I'm behind in the race it seems. I'm going to start fudging and cutting corners like everybody else. Why the bother? Today on Wisdom for the Heart, we begin a series on the life of Job called When Lightning Strikes. The book of Job gives us important insight into the character of God, his sovereignty, and even some information about Satan. Practically, watching Job deal with suffering gives us a model to follow. If there's a single question that has rattled Christians' minds throughout the ages, it's this. Why do God's children suffer?
Everyone asks it at some point in their lives. So what's the answer? Steven gives us some insight from the book of Job.
This lesson is called The Wise Man of Us. What do you say to someone who's lost their job and they can't seem to get another one? They try everything. What do you say to someone who's lost their mate, their health, their child? What do you say to somebody who's lost their dreams? What do you say to the one who asks, where in the world is God? Certainly our world is mesmerized by this question, aren't they?
In fact, suffering is the universal language, believer or unbeliever alike. And the world tries to answer it. Every time a tornado strikes, they ask it. Every time a hurricane levels some area, every time a killer goes on a shooting spree or a terrorist acts out in anger and murderous revenge, the question comes, why would God allow this to happen? And that question seeps into late night television shows and news reporters ask, where is God in all of this? Where's God? Some authors try to answer the problem by saying, well, God doesn't exist. There's no God. You need to get over that crutch and get on with life. It happens to be tough.
Buck up and get through it. God's just a fantasy. Like Eli Weisel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1986, his biographical work entitled Simply Night has sold hundreds of thousands of copies. In it, he describes his suffering as a Jewish boy in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. I recently read his book and it was truly tragic to read of the suffering of the Jewish people at the hands of Nazis who were filled with demonically inspired hatred. But it was more tragic that Eli would write that there in his suffering, there in the concentration camp, in fact, the moment he was standing below the limp form of a young Jewish boy who'd just been hung in that concentration camp, he said there, my God died. His solace was retreat into practical atheism. There's no way God can exist in something like the Holocaust happened.
No way. Another book attempts to answer it a little better, but it's still just as bad. It's still just as hollow and empty. Harold Kushner wrote it, trying to reconcile the problem of evil and the existence of God. The book is called When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
I have a copy of it and read most of it. In it, Kushner offers something that seems better than, well, God's just dead, but it still leads you to despair and confusion. Kushner writes that God exists and he is all loving, but he's not all powerful. He wrote, and I quote, God wants the righteous to live happy lives, but it is too difficult even for God to keep cruelty and chaos from claiming innocent victims. His answer isn't atheism, but a version of God that is weak and unable to come to anyone's rescue.
It rings hollow. Now, at this time, about halfway through our sermon, you're expecting me to get to the answers, not today. In fact, I'm convinced that we're too quick with answers, with a happy verse or two. With a slap on the back of some sufferer who will leave this campus as cold and unfeeling and despairing as when they entered in. We'll get to some answers eventually.
But first, I want to identify the questions. Why do the righteous suffer? Where is God when tragedy strikes? If God is all loving and all powerful, why does he allow evil to happen? Does God really care about us individually and our lives from the trivial irritations of life to the devastating events of life? Does God charge his people money and loyalty for his blessings? Why is God silent when we suffer? And that's just for starters.
If I were to ask the average Christian, where do you go in the Bible to find a book that has not only the questions but provides an answer, most of you would say, turn to the book of Job. Right. So go ahead. I agree. Job is universally recognized as the ultimate sufferer, and rightly so.
So turn there, would you? We're going to begin today our study through the book of Job. I plan it to take about a year to finish. I'm serious about that.
I really hold me to that. I could do what one country preacher did. I've been reading Chuck Swindoll's commentary on Job, and he had a friend who was driving across Texas one night. It was late at night, and he was fiddling with the radio trying to find somebody to listen to to help keep him awake. And finally, he tuned into a country preacher that was preaching on Job. He'd just begun a series, and his sermon title was, I can't eat by day, I can't sleep by night, and the woman I love don't treat me right.
Isn't that good? That's Job in 20 words or less. Well, we're not going to go that quick, okay?
So you just settle back. In fact, before I even begin the first paragraph, let me give you some highlights of this book that you may not be aware of. The book of Job is really one long poem. It begins in chapter 3 in its poetic form and will continue all the way to chapter 42. Before you get to the poem section, you have a prologue, some narrative to set the scene. The last 11 verses, when the poem ends, you have an epilogue where you have some significant things learned by Job. J. Sidlow Baxter, the faithful pastor in Great Britain in the last century, said that this inspired book was a dramatic poem framed in an epic story.
That's true. It is believed by many to be the oldest book in the world. In fact, while the book of Genesis appears first in your Bible, and rightly so, the book of Job is actually older, written earlier by Job and edited sometime later by Moses. Most conservative scholars believe that Job lived during the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchal period of time. In fact, even earlier than Abraham, many believe. The fact that he will offer sacrifices, as we'll see in a few moments, places him before the law because during the law only the priesthood, the Aaronic descendants or the descendants of Aaron could offer sacrifices.
But before the law was given, men offered sacrifices to God personally, men like Abel and Noah and here, Job. By the way, the book of Job contains the longest place in the Bible where God speaks, four chapters in all. It's also the longest place in the Bible where Satan speaks and we'll discover all we can when we get to that point. Job will give us rare insight into heaven and this conversation between God and Satan. And every time I read that it leaves me amazed.
So think about it. Here as we start, this book is not only the oldest book in the Bible, but perhaps the oldest book in the world preserved by God for us to this day. And isn't it interesting that it deals with an issue we're still struggling with 4,000 some years later, suffering and the endurance of faith. Let me just read the first phrase of verse one and tell you some things about Job. The first phrase starts, there was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.
Now you read that phrase and you might wonder if this is indeed a true story. There was a man in the land of Uz, sounds more like the Wizard of Oz, doesn't it? Well, he was a wise man from Uz indeed and it was a real place. It appears first as the name of Shem's grandson. Shem was one of the sons of Noah. It was probably named after or in honor of the great-great-grandson of Noah. It became later known as the land of Edom.
It's the southern region around the southern southeastern part of the Dead Sea. If there was any doubt in the Jewish mind that Job existed, the prophet Ezekiel settled the score in chapter 14 verse 14 where he referred to three godly men as equals. Those three men were Daniel, Noah, and Job. Now as the book of Job opens, God is going to make very clear to us that without any doubt, it is possible for a real man living in a real time with a real family, with real blessings, real possessions that he could be, though incredibly blessed, he could suffer terribly. It's as if God wants us to know, by the way, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Job will suffer, but more than that, that Job did not deserve it, that he would be the one man that you would say, why did that happen to him? If anybody had the right to say life is tough or life is unfair, God will want us to know at the very beginning of this book that it would be Job.
Now as we work our way through these first five verses, I want to sort of give you mental hooks. Six words that reveal the character of Job. The first word is righteous. Notice further in verse one, this man from the land of Oz whose name was Job was blameless. Now this word doesn't mean perfect, by the way, but it does refer to integrity. In fact, the noun appears twice more in Job, once when God is praising Job before Satan, and the second time in chapter two, verse nine, where Job's wife has that classic conversation with Job, and she says to him, are you still holding on to your integrity? Integrity there is the same word translated blameless in chapter one. The Hebrew word is also used in Genesis chapter 20 verse five to speak of moral innocence.
And later on, it's used in Judges 9 verse 16 where the word is related to somebody who is telling the truth. So all of that lets us in on the character of Job. We could say rightly say that he was a righteous man. He was in right fellowship with God. The second word that characterizes Job is not only the word righteous, but the word real. He's called further on in verse one, upright. It's a great word. The Hebrew word Yashar indicates ethical behavior.
In fact, it's a word that refers to relationships. He wasn't the kind of man that was one way on, so to speak, the Sabbath, and another way on Monday at the job site. He was unlike one well-known executive who said on the weekend, my priorities are God, family, and business.
But on Monday, when I get to the job, it's reversed. It's business, family, and God, not Job. Yashar is used by the prophet Isaiah to refer to a straight path, a level road, which gives us the little nuance that Job wasn't crooked. He was honest. His handshake meant something. He was a man of his word. He was the genuine item. That's why I just felt like the best way to say it would be that Job was real. He was righteous.
He was real. Thirdly, Job was reverent. Verse one adds that Job feared God. To fear God means you honor him.
It means you hold him in esteem. You reverence him. In other words, Job did not take God lightly.
And while you know that, what I want to draw is a distinction in Job's life here, and it struck me as I was studying that this would be a key distinction between Job and many of us. So often we treat God as if he wasn't really important. So often we take his word flippantly.
We treat his commands casually. Until what? Until we suffer. Until a trial invades our lives, and then we go, where is that book?
Let me open it up. It's time to read again. I need to be reacquainted with God, and it drives us to our knees, and that's one of the blessings of trials. We dust off our Bibles with a fresh way and a hurting heart, and we become reacquainted. We pursue God. We desire to know him.
The significant thing though, ladies and gentlemen, is to discover that Job is this way before trouble comes. He's this way before pain marches through his front door. He doesn't need a trial to drive him to his knees. He's a remarkable servant of God. Job reverenced God in the present tense. One of the ways you reverence God, of course, is found in the next word that I would suggest is the word resistant. Verse 1 concludes, Job was fearing God and turning away, literally continuously turning away from evil or from sin. He didn't want to sin. He continually resisted sin. That's not the way of the world. When you're wealthy and you're powerful, you don't resist sin.
You experiment with it. You've got the money for it. You deserve a little sin. In fact, when you're wealthy and powerful the way of the world, you get away with sin, right? Who's to call you up short? You own the shop.
You're at the top of the heap. Not Job. He was righteous. He was real, reverent. He was resistant.
He did not want to sin against God. And now we're invited onto his Biltmore estate where we discover that he was incredibly rich. Look at verse 2, seven sons and three daughters were born to him. That is, he was rich in family, filial relationships. He had a full quiver, 10 kids. He was also rich in possessions. Look at verse 3, his possessions also were 7,000 sheep.
That word for sheep can refer to sheep and goats. 3,000 camels. Why would you need that many camels? One author said, well, he was in the trucking business. He would literally use these and they would in that era to bring and export and import goods. And 3,000 meant you had quite an operation going. He had 500 yoke of oxen. The number of oxen signify how many acres he had to plant. 500 would mean he owned thousands of acres which he tilled and harvested. It says he had 500 female donkeys, specifically mentioning female.
Why? They were more valuable. They were more costly.
Some things just don't change, right? They were more valuable than the male donkeys. It cost more. But they gave, of course, that rich treasure of donkey milk, which in this era and even to this day in certain regions is treasured. So he had all of these things and many servants to boot. He had many employees, probably well over 1,000 to take care of just the amount of cattle and camels and sheep that he owned. And then it ends by saying, and that man was the greatest of all the men of the East. I guess he would have been well-respected and would have had great influence. And what a rare combination, by the way.
Don't miss this. Here's a man who is both wealthy and godly. It's possible to be both. You don't have to be poor to be godly. If you're wealthy, that doesn't mean you're not godly.
And it's combined here in this man's life. He had treasure in heaven and he had treasure on earth. As I thought about this particular part of his biography, it struck me, you know, it's possible to have treasure in heaven and no treasure on earth and be poor. Be right with God but have little. It's possible to have treasure on earth and no treasure in heaven. To so live for yourself and your stuff, your things that you do not lay anything up for the kingdom of God.
But here's that rare somebody who has both. Job was that man. He's called the greatest of all the men of the east. Why that biography? I think God is wanting us to know for certain that if there was any person that you would ever expect to be free from suffering, it would be Job. This person lives under the ongoing smile of God. The sun just shines wherever this man walks.
That's what you would think had you lived around Job in that environment. This man had it made. God has just backed the truck up and he gets it every day. And God wants us to know that Job is the kind of man you would never expect to see suffer and for God to remain silent.
One more word that characterized Job and it would be this, he was a reformer. Notice verse four, his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day. Most interpret that is on his birthday. So they would sort of rotate around the family. They all had homes on their own and families and so they got everybody together and they held the birthday party. They'd go hold a feast in the home of each one on his day and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, you get that, how's that for a birthday party? The day is plural.
The days of feasting had completed their cycle. Job would send and consecrate them rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus Job did continually.
You could call Job a reconciler. He was concerned about the relationship of his children to God and note, they're already grown and gone here. You could call him a revivalist. He was concerned that their walk with God was fresh and clean and clear. He is a reformer. He cared deeply about the spiritual condition of his children, even though by now, most of them, if not all of them are on their own.
They've left the home. And so in the days of the patriarchs where the father would act as priest, Job bloodied his hands, offered burnt offerings and said, oh God, if my children have sinned, forgive them. He was deeply concerned about their welfare. What a challenge to me and to every father here, especially in our evangelical community where we live in a generation where we just sort of hand off our children to youth leaders and Christian schools and Christian artists and camp directors and pastors and Sunday school teachers and a lot of workers.
And we have this attitude here. You're the ones to teach them. You're the one to instill in them godly character and values. You trained them. We've hired you. You do the job. You're maybe you're volunteering, but you're in that spot.
We're giving you our kid. We want him to come out minted spiritually. Job becomes an example of what the Word of God would support.
And it is not that. Though the church is to compliment and encourage and help along the way, he would be a shepherd who cared about his own family and he would exercise a priestly example and a godly walk for them to follow. He was righteous. He was real. He was reverent. He was resistant. He was rich.
He was a reformer. Do you see what God is doing in this brief introduction? He's introducing us to the last person you would ever expect to suffer.
If anybody had the right to say life is not fair in a few days, Job could say that. Now let me give you two observations by way of application as we tie this study up today. These are true. These are well known.
These will not strike you as new, but let me just repeat them for our hearts to consider. Number one, God's people are not immune to trouble. Christians are not inoculated at conversion against grief. There is no guarantee to wealth and health and easy times. And those who teach such nonsense will one day themselves experience their own chapter of suffering and accompanying disillusionment. Everyone suffers. Everyone eventually gets sick.
And with everyone it is eventually terminal. God's people are not immune to trouble. Now we would probably all agree with that principle of application. Let me say it a little differently. Number two, godly people are not exempt from trouble.
And that would be the hardest to understand, wouldn't it? In fact, maybe you're there right now and you're wondering if it has been worth the effort, the discipline. Was it worth it to keep the vows and the commitment?
It didn't seem to pay off. Has it been worth it to persistently resist sin? I mean, my life has at this moment hit bottom and I've tried to live a godly life and is it worth it? All the efforts of integrity and honesty in business, is it really worth it? I'm behind in the race it seems.
I'm going to start fudging and cutting corners like everybody else. Maybe you've wondered if your reverence toward God and the things of God, maybe parenting with godly purpose and it's answered with challenges and difficulties and trials. Maybe you're wondering today, why the bother? Why would God do this to me? Lightning is about to strike at this wise man who lived in the land of buzz. As we read these verses, it is a time in Job's life and he doesn't know it, but the storm clouds are beginning to gather against one of God's tall trees who lived 4,000 years ago and his story is fresh and needed today. For starters, it proves once and for all, God's people are not immune from trouble and more significantly, godly people are not exempt from the storms of life. Stephen called this lesson the wise man of us. With it, Stephen began a series from Job called When Lightning Strikes.
Suffering is real and we often wonder why God allows his children to experience it. Stephen will explore that in this series, so join us as we work through this book here on Wisdom for the Heart. Would you be interested in receiving occasional text messages from Stephen? He'd like to be able to communicate with you by text from time to time.
You won't be overwhelmed with messages. He'll send you a text two or three times a month. Of course, once you're signed up and on his list, you'd be able to send him a text as well.
He'd enjoy hearing from you. Grab your phone and I'll tell you how to get signed up. It's very easy. All you have to do is send Stephen a text with just one word. Wisdom. Here's the number. Send a text to 833-676-4051 and that'll add you to the list. Again, Stephen's text number is 833-676-4051. Join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 00:34:54 / 2023-01-25 00:44:24 / 10