Secondly, Job's faith then did not relieve his agony.
In a way, it caused it. The prosperity theologians of our generation must ignore this book, or at least the first 41 chapters of this book. Those who promise that if you watch your P's and Q's, if you mind your spiritual manners, if you give to God everything you can and trust Him with everything else, then God will hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the gateway of your life and you'll skate your way into heaven virtually trouble-free. A trouble-free life doesn't exist. We wish it did, but you've lived long enough to experience problems and pain. You've maybe even had wave after wave of trouble wash over your life. When there are clouds but no silver lining, that's when we worship God with childlike faith. That's when we learn to truly worship Him on the basis of who He is rather than who we expect Him to be. This is wisdom for the heart.
Today, Stephen Davey continues working through the life of Job. Stay with us for this message that Stephen called No Silver Lining in Sight. Let me tell you about an incident that occurred on November 1, 1755. It was an earthquake that rocked Lisbon, Portugal. It wouldn't mean a lot to us, but it meant a lot to that world. In fact, many believe the ramifications reached past and through several generations. It was considered the most far-reaching and well-known natural disaster in modern history. The only exception of just the world knowing about it would probably be the tsunami of 2004, which swept into the coastal regions of Southeast Asia and all the way to India and Thailand. Other disasters that we would be familiar with probably were worse, perhaps more deaths occurred than the Lisbon earthquake, but none was more widely discussed in the modern world and had such profound ramifications. Ironically, the earthquake hit on All Saints Day when churches were crowded with worshipers, which sort of created even more of the sensational nature of this disaster.
You might think that those who were in a church building would be safe. In fact, after the first tremors were felt, people rushed to the cathedrals in Lisbon, assuming that God would protect them there. However, after it was all over, almost every church in Lisbon was reduced to rubble and the people crushed to death. Fires immediately broke out throughout and across the city. Havoc was then followed by a tsunami that came resulting from that earthquake sweeping along the shores and into the shore, tearing ships from their anchors and drowning thousands of people. All in all, tens of thousands of people lost their lives. And as they sort of collected themselves afterward, they realized that it didn't matter if you were religious or rebellious, whether you are rich or poor, whether you were well connected or a nobody, known by anybody, didn't matter. In fact, when it was over, 75% of that city was in rubble, reduced to ruins.
And all throughout Europe, opinions were weighed in. Some believe that the earthquake was the judgment of God, like the mayor of New Orleans who made headlines in 2006 when he said that Hurricane Katrina came because God was mad at America. Others said that the earthquake was a sign of God's mercy because none of Lisbon should have been allowed standing. Many believe that God was somehow trying to communicate with the world, but they didn't know what he was trying to communicate. Some historians believe that because of the sermons that were preached on that earthquake and what men believed to be the reason behind it, preached for years to come that the effects were felt for generations. In fact, some historians went even further in postulating that the revolution in France could be traced back to the earthquake in Portugal and those who believed God had abandoned them.
Historians believe that the Wesleyan revivals in England were traced back to Lisbon and those who believed that God was sovereign. In fact, this has come up, of course, in my study to such a point that in our next session, next Lord's Day, Lord willing, I want to specifically address the questions that are going to come up naturally from this paragraph, like what role does God play in natural disasters? What does he have to do with earthquakes and hurricanes and floods? Does he permit them?
Does he actually perform them? Is he trying to tell us something? Is he angry? Is he warning us or what? There are answers in the Word of God that we'll look at. But for today, what I want to do is focus on what it meant to the life of Job specifically as he experiences an earthquake of unexpected suffering. As he experiences a thunderstorm of unexplained sorrow as the tsunami of grief will roll over this man who faces such unanticipated reversals in life like perhaps few others have felt. These are undoubtedly the most difficult tests of faith a believer perhaps could encounter those things that are unexpected or unexplained, unanticipated.
We've already discovered the unsettling truths in our study. Let me remind you of three of them and reword them a little differently for you. First of all, Job's faith we have discovered will not separate him from suffering. His faith is what initiated his suffering. That's why it's so troubling to consider the implications of this conversation in heaven. Secondly, Job's faith then did not relieve his agony in a way it caused it. No wonder the prosperity theologians of our generation must ignore this book or at least the first 41 chapters of this book.
Those who promise that if you watch your P's and Q's, if you mind your spiritual manners, if you give to God everything you can and trust him with everything else, then God will hang a do not disturb sign on the gateway of your life and you'll skate your way into heaven virtually trouble free. The conversation between God and Satan was different than that, wasn't it? God was saying, have you considered my servant Job?
I know you have. He's a righteous man. He resists evil. He reverences me.
And Satan responded, as you remember, basically by accusing God of buying Job off. He said to God, well, you've kind of got him on the heavenly payroll. He believes in you and you bless him. He behaves and you bless him more. Take away his fortune and watch what will happen to his faith. He will curse you to your face. The disturbing thing about this book, let me put it a third way, is that Job's godly life will not protect him for pain.
It will set him up for pain. The most optimistic Christian, you know, among us would say, well, Stephen, you know, go to Chapter 42. It'll get better. There's a great cloud of suffering here, but there's a silver lining and we're sure Job, you know, will see it.
No, Job will not see it. And those who say it really wasn't that bad because we can go ahead and scoot all the way to the end and look, look at how things turned out. Well, that's perhaps unkind at best, cruel at worst. Reminds me, though, that attitude of Bill Walton, the former NBA star and now sports announcer who once commented, I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on somebody else. And isn't that true?
For us, it's major. Somebody else, it's minor surgery. Let's not race ahead to the end of the book. In fact, let me remind you that even though at the end of the book he will have children, he will not have these children. There will be no quick answer from God, no quick insight, no fast reasoning. No, the clouds will move in and the storm will erupt.
And what I want to do today is basically spend time in the storm. Job chapter one, verse 13. And we'll work our way through these four messengers and their messages pausing briefly in between each one. Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, the oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them. And the Sabaans attacked and took them.
They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword and I alone have escaped to tell you. He's delivered this message that bandits from the kingdom of Sheba in Southern Arabia whose queen will one day visit Solomon, those marauding thieves, those killers have come to steal and then what they did is they eliminated any witness to their thievery. And so this messenger sort of gasping for breath says to Job, I was the only one that made it out alive to tell you.
You have basically lost your businesses. There are still some remaining. Messenger number two before Job even has a chance to hear the last part of the last sentence, verse 16 informs us, while he was still speaking or in the act of speaking, another also came and said, the fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them. And I alone have escaped to tell you, perhaps as many even conservative scholars believe, this was such a lightning storm that that shattered the area, the hillsides. And it was so intense that it could be viewed. Perhaps it was a a column of fire, but it was so long and lasting that it was able to consume all of the servants and three thousand sheep that were dotted on the hillside.
The devastation must have been incredible. But go back and note that this messenger says it was from God. In other words, it came from above where God supposedly reigns. You have men in the first doing their devastating work and now supposedly God. Performing this one, if anything, this would have only added to the shock of Job to hear the words, this is from God. Messenger number three comes verse 17, while messenger number two is still speaking. Another also came and said, the Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword.
And I alone have escaped to tell you. Another stunning loss, tale of death, cruelty. He said, Job, the Chaldeans, Job would have known these were the fierce warriors from northern Mesopotamia. They have swept down and they have stolen away 3000 camels. They've stolen away what took these men years and years to develop. This is the rest of your enterprise.
This is the rest of your economy. And they've also killed all of your employees. Anybody else that breathed is dead. And I alone, you get that repetitive message.
I alone. We know that Satan would have allowed that one to live so that he could go back and tell Job the devastating news. Job is reeling under the staggering losses of his businesses, his fortune, his workforce. Perhaps he considers for a split second the graves that are going to dot the hillsides, the widowed servants, the orphaned children. Maybe in a split moment, the thought crossed Job's mind and he thought to himself, at least I have my children.
At least my family is spared. Interrupting that thought, perhaps another messenger plunges into the scene. Perhaps he is fighting tears. Verse 18, he stammers out while he's still speaking. Another came and said, your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house. And behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house and it fell on the young people and they died. And I alone have escaped to tell you. Job, there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
This whirlwind or perhaps a tornado, perhaps a saraco, these winds that would come in that region and pummel everything in their path, winds that could reach nearly 200 miles an hour. And that home, it seemed that the wind had targeted your home, the home of your oldest son and all of your children, all 10. Job are now dead.
I'm sorry, I have to tell you, I'm the only one alive from that scene. It's as if, it's as if the forces of heaven and earth have conspired against Job. One Bible scholar said that you could track that these are coming from all four points of the compass, north, south, east, west, as if Job has been surrounded and his life, by the way, will never be the same. No voice will speak from heaven. No fifth messenger will come in white raiment with wings and say, Job, it's under control. God is allowing your faith to be tested, but we want you to know you're going to pass the test. None of that.
The heavens are silent. There is no silver lining around this cloud. There is no such thing right now in his life as a silver lining. Maybe you have tasted some of his suffering. I imagine if we had time and we could have each person share their story, there would be a unifying theme of things that you've suffered. You have your own chapter, don't you? Some of you are in the middle of writing the most difficult chapter of your life. One pastor that I often read told recently of a woman in his congregation who had recently gone through an agonizing divorce. Her husband had left her for a younger woman he met at work. They had two small children that she would now raise on her own.
About the time she was moving with her children into her aged parent's small home with two bedrooms, having been refused by the court adequate alimony, she was also diagnosed with cancer. Don't think for a moment that Satan didn't calculate the timing of this so that Job didn't have a moment to breathe before the next message. And he's reeling from that one and that messenger is interrupted.
And then his greatest fear brings him to his knees and onto his face. He's the faithful one. That woman that I referenced, she was the one who walked with Christ.
She was the faithful one. There are no visible silver linings around their clouds. There isn't anything to slap on their back. And we must be careful as we will discover those who weren't with Job. We do know though that there was quite an invisible scene.
It's one of the few texts that inform us that things are happening beyond the line of sight. We know that for Job, Satan and his devils are watching. They are, as it were, breathlessly craning their necks, hovering over this fallen man of God. They're waiting to hear the first whisper of a curse toward God. Just one word of blasphemy, Job.
Just one. They're licking their lips with anticipation. They're sure that something is going to spew from Job's mouth against his God, his silent Lord, his unfaithful sovereign, his absent, his unprotected, his unrewarding, his mysterious, confusing sovereign. And I believe the devil and the demons couldn't wait to race heavenward as if they would follow the sound of Job's cursing into the presence of God and Satan could say, I won. You lost. You are not worthy of worship.
You pay people to bless you. I was right. And you were wrong. But then, by the way, we're not told how much time elapsed between verses 19 and 20. Could have been moments, but I doubt it. It probably was hours after the messengers perhaps had slipped away, after Job's wife came out and fell in the dirt beside her husband. More than likely, friends, extended family were gathering, lamenting, weeping, and wailing the incredible reversals of a godly man. Five verbs appear in quick succession in this verse to tell us what would happen. The text says, then Job arose.
That's the first one. He finally picked himself up off the ground and he tore his robe. The word for robe indicates the outer garment and Job would have reached up by the collar, so to speak, and he would have ripped downward toward his heart. It was the custom to indicate that their heart was broken. We're also told that he shaved his head. This was the custom of expressing that you had lost your glory.
Gray hair is the glory of old men. Shaving it meant that he was saying to his world, I've lost my glory. Humbled entirely, overwhelmed with grief, the imps would say, and Satan their leader, now it's time to raise your fist toward God.
It's time to utter your first curse against now. But it says he fell to the ground. He fell back down. He prostrated himself as the Hebrew word flat on his face, and then he began to what? Worship God.
That's amazing, isn't it? I mean, it's one thing to suffer. It's another thing to suffer when you don't deserve it. It's another thing to suffer when you don't deserve it and it's never explained. It's another thing to suffer when you don't deserve it and it's not explained and you find out, though he won't, that the devil was allowed to touch your life.
There's something that causes us to hang on to grievances and hurts and pain that comes to us unjustly. They didn't treat me fairly. I was mistreated. I didn't deserve it.
It wasn't fair. We want a reason. We want explanations. Besides, as we in this culture are told repeatedly, we have rights. We have a right to know.
Job was given none. But his response will reveal deep lessons on how to suffer injustice and unexpected loss if you dare imitate him. In verse 21, we're given several lessons from his rather unusual and amazing speech.
Unexpected loss refocuses our attention on things that really matter. Notice the first phrase of verse 21. He said, naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return. Doesn't get any clearer than that, does it?
Or more graphic. If you were ever in a delivery room and you watched the delivery of a baby, they were delivered and their hands were probably clenched. And maybe their arms raised and they begin to wail and you thought that was a great thing.
And it was. When we die, he says, our hands, though they may be clenched, will be holding nothing as well. We enter life with nothing. We exit life with nothing. Naked, we entered life.
Naked, we will exit. The second lesson from a suffering saint is similar to the first. It's this. Unanticipated suffering reminds us that everything in life is on loan. We tend to forget that too.
Notice what Job says. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Do you notice he never says that hurricane took away my children? Those Sabaeans, those Chaldeans mount a party. We're going to go out.
They did it. No, he says the Lord gave me everything that I have. And evidently he's chosen to take it all away.
And I mean everything. His possessions, as we'll learn later, his health, his kids, his business, many would think his future. And Job says, as he lies there on his face in the dust, the Lord gave me all of that and the Lord has taken all of that away. Now, you would think that after he said that phrase, he would say, and who does the Lord think he is to treat his beloved like that?
But no, what does he say? Look, the Lord gives, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Wow. Let me give you the third point that I observed in that phrase and it's this. Unexplained sorrow purifies our trust in God who is beyond understanding. We learned in Romans 9 21 that the clay does not have the right to judge the Potter. In fact, the greatest lesson as we watch Job on his face in the dirt is that it is not necessary for us to know God's purposes before we bow to his authority. How often would we say, Lord, explain yourself and then I'll follow you. Lord, answer all of the questions and then count on me. I'm right there with you.
Just fill in some blanks first. No, it is not necessary we learn from Job for us to know God's plans before we bow and surrender in his presence. In fact, it is this kind of sorrow that is unexplained that seems to purify us the most, doesn't it?
Because it tests us so severely. We worship him in times like these more like a child would with childlike faith. We worship him on the basis of his promises, not his explanations. Is it any wonder, then, that this chapter ends with these remarkable words, which would indicate the only cursing you would be hearing could you hear would be from Satan and his demons. Through all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.
Why say that there? Well, because that would be the natural response to blame God. God, you could have stopped it. God, where were you? God, you rule the heavens. This is your universe.
Ultimately, you could have gotten in the way. No, none of that. No blame game here. Find this Job refusing to allow the seeds of bitterness to be planted in his spirit. Seeds of bitterness that will grow down and create those roots of bitterness, that will cloud perspective and stifle worship and shrivel up the soul.
None of that here. Through all this, at the end of round one, there are more coming. Job did not raise his fist against God. Stephen called this lesson, No Silver Lining in Sight. He is working through a series from Job called, When Lightning Strikes.
We will continue this series the next time we are with you. One of Stephen's passions is training and equipping young men and women for service to God. That's why he founded and serves as the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. Learn more about Shepherds Seminary at shepherds.edu. Then join us next time for more Wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 00:32:48 / 2023-01-27 00:41:56 / 9