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A Monument of Praise in the Valley of Despair

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 31, 2023 12:00 am

A Monument of Praise in the Valley of Despair

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 31, 2023 12:00 am

In a matter of thirty-nine seconds, Job lost his money, his possessions, his livestock, and even his children. He is sorrowing over his loss . . . and for good reason. But he is not the only one sorrowing over a loss. Satan, who was convinced that Job would respond to the torment by cursing God, watched in agony as Job fell down on his face and worshiped God instead.

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Satan scoffs back at God. He answers in verse 4, ah, skin for skin.

All that a man has, he will give for his life. This is nothing more than a cruel, unfounded criticism of Job. Satan implies that Job has been more than willing, yes, pain, yes, suffering, but he is more than willing to offer and sacrifice the skin of his children and the skin of his employees so long as he can save his own skin.

Satan says, in effect, every man has a price. If you would have had the opportunity to ask Satan his perspective on Job, here's what he thought. He believed that Job's love and obedience for God was conditional. He loved God because he had a great life. Well, as God allowed Satan to test Job, Job's life kept getting worse. And finally, Satan was allowed to touch Job's health. How do you respond when God allows trials in your life?

Does your faith in God change based on how well things are going for you at the time? Stay with us. Steven has a message for you today called a monument of praise in the valley of despair. We have been introduced to one of the most successful businessmen of old, entrepreneur, businessman, farmer. He recorded one success after another.

He never recorded a loss. He was wealthy. He was respected. He was satisfied.

He never had a bad year. Unknown to him, a pest was moving into his territory. It was Beelzebul, the Lord of the Flies. And he will bring with him pestilence like no man has ever seen, and in a matter, as we saw, of about 39 seconds. Job will receive news that he is not only bankrupt, but he is bereaved of his 10 children. Now, he doesn't know it.

We do. God has allowed the devil to take everything Job had to reveal the glory of God and the sovereignty of God over all things, even the life of Job. Now, you remember, Satan had predicted that Job would curse God if he lost his businesses and if he lost his children.

He was wrong. And we ended at the end of chapter one, where Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, verse 20, and he fell to the ground and he worshiped. And he said, naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Through all this, Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Here's Job in the valley of his despair, raising a monument of praise. Now, if the book of Job ended with chapter one, we would marvel at the purity and perseverance and perspective of Job.

It would be wonderful. In fact, the book, even if it were one chapter, would be entirely instructive. If we could close it and simply hear echoing in our ears the sounds of Job's praise. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

But there is more and you know it, don't you? Now, if the book of Job ended with chapter one, we would marvel at his purity. We would marvel at his perseverance.

We would marvel at his perspective. It would be wonderful. And in fact, at the end of chapter one, it would be entirely instructive if we could close it and simply hear echoing in our ears the sounds of Job's praise.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. You know as well as I do that it's just beginning. There is more devastation in mind.

So don't overlook too quickly the first word of the next chapter. It's the word again. Again. Not again. Surely never again. This man has suffered the loss of his 10 children.

He suffered the loss of all of his business, his finance, his wealth, his family, his employees, all of it. Not anything more. Yes. Again. There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, where have you come from? Then Satan answered the Lord and said from roaming about on the earth and walking around on it. The Lord said to Satan, have you considered my servant Job? Sounds familiar, doesn't it? That's a rhetorical question.

Have you considered Job? Are you kidding? He knows that Satan has had Job on his mind and he has been carefully watching him. God adds, which irritated I'm sure Satan, verse 3, there's no one like him on the earth, is there? He's blameless. He's upright. He fears me. He turns away from evil. Oh, by the way, he still holds fast to his integrity.

Although you incited me against him to ruin him without cause. The Hebrew text, the love consecutive does not mean although you incited me as if God is doing the bidding of Satan could be better rendered and you continue to incite me against him without cause. Satan scoffs back at God. He answers in verse 4, ah, skin for skin. All that a man has he will give for his life. This is nothing more than a cruel, unfounded criticism of Job. Satan implies that Job has been more than willing, yes, pain, yes, suffering, but he is more than willing to offer and sacrifice the skin of his children and the skin of his employees so long as he can save his own skin. Satan says, in effect, every man has a price. I haven't quite found his yet, but I know he's got one.

Let me offer this one. Verse 5, put forth your hand, touch his bone, his flesh. He will curse you to your face. The bones in the ancient days were considered the seat of illness. Satan has in mind here a disease that will threaten Job's life and he also has several diseases to make his life miserable. Satan believed that Job would do anything to keep his health. He's been walking around the planet by this time long enough to know that we treasure our health.

We can take a lot of things, but we would be willing perhaps to do anything to keep one more minute or hour of our lives. He threatened to take a person to life and they will do just about anything to live another day, like Queen Elizabeth I who said on her deathbed in 1603, all my possessions for a moment of time. Satan says, you bring Job to the point of death and he will trade away his precious faith. Once again, God delegates authority and latitude to Satan while at the same time directing the limits of his activities. Look at verse 6, so the Lord said to Satan, behold, he's in your power, only spare his life. This is scene 2 in heaven.

Now scene 2 on earth unfolds, verse 7. Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Now we don't have any idea how much time elapsed from or between the funerals of his 10 children and his employees and the first sight of red bumps on his back, his legs, his face.

Maybe he first noticed them on the back of his hands, but we would have every reason to believe that Satan wouldn't want much time to elapse. He loves to hit when someone's down. He has no mercy. He has no compassion. He knows no leniency or pity.

He is the condemned, defeated angel and his greatest desire is to stifle the worship of his conqueror whom he hates. Skin ulcers begin to pop out all over Job's body. The text indicates that not an inch of his body is spared. From the top of his head to the soles of his feet, which means he can't stand without suffering standing on those sores, but he can't sit down either and he can't lie down to find relief from the pain without aggravating the boils that cover his body. The Hebrew words translated sore, boils, appear as one of the 10 plagues in Egypt, but that was really only the beginning. For the sake of time, let me just quickly go through several texts in this book and chronicle for you the ailments that Job suffered.

These ulcerous sores, of course, in verse 7, persistent itching and no scratching would give him relief. Chapter 3, he couldn't eat. Later in chapter 3, not only lost his appetite, he was overwhelmed at times with dread and fear. Insomnia, he said in chapter 7, when I lie down, I say, when shall I arise or when can I get up?

But the night continues and I am continually tossing until dawn, unable to rest, unable to find a place to lie or a way to sleep without aggravation. Chapter 7 tells us he developed worms in his open sores. He suffered from hardening skin that cracked and then oozed with pus. He had difficulty breathing. Chapter 9, he couldn't fill his lungs with air. He developed dark circles around his eyes.

Chapter 16, he experienced weight loss, which you would only imagine. Chapter 19, he was in constant continual pain. He says in verse 30, days of affliction have seized me. At night, it pierces my bones within me and my gnawing pains take no rest. He was so disfigured, so wracked with pain that when his three friends eventually come to him, it's easy to miss it. But we're told that they did not even recognize him. His pain was excruciating, was relentless.

It was for the most part private. In chapter 30, he said, I go about mourning and nothing will comfort me. My bones burn with fever. He was constantly battling high fever.

Add that to the list. Satan is turning the corkscrews of suffering. He's hoping, he's hoping one word of blasphemy will come from Job's mouth later on when the law of Moses is given. We believe the events of Job occurred the days of the patriarchs before the giving of the law. We read of the warning of God for disobedient Israelites. Their punishment would be the boil of Egypt with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch from which you cannot be healed. Even before the law was given, these things would have been perceived as tokens of God's judgment and his displeasure.

That's why his counselors will assume he has sinned greatly to suffer so greatly. We have every reason to believe as well that the people living in Job's time also had been given instruction to separate from those so judged by God. Sickness, you need to remember in the days of the patriarchs, usually meant sin.

Unlike this dispensation where sickness and suffering can be for all of the reasons of construction and conforming to Christ and even the great apostle Paul who suffered without remedy and our own Lord who suffered and learned obedience through that as a man, God-man. Leviticus 13 tells us that those infected in the days of the lawgivers with these unexplainable diseases, especially those which affected the skin, those which were obvious, were to be put out of the camp. They were to be put out of the city, sort of a discipline, mirroring the discipline today of the church with those who are put out of the assembly for unrepentant sin.

These evidently are refusing to repent and so they're put out. How do we know that Job would be viewed that way? Well, his counselors are going to make it clear for one thing, but before they even speak, you notice where Job is, it's implied you take a closer look and discover with me at verse eight, and he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting where? Among the ashes.

Job is no longer at home. He's not in his comfortable bed between crisp white sheets being waited on by some private medical staff. No, he's where all of the other lepers would be quarantined at the town dump. Towns in the ancient Middle East up to the days of Christ each had a landfill, a city dump, a place where the trash was taken, the sewage would be dumped. Periodically, the rotting mess would be burned as a way of sanitation and the ash heap would just grow higher and higher.

To be sitting among the ashes is to be sitting at this dump, this dung hill, a place where beggars foraged for scraps of food, a place where dogs would fight over a bone or two, a place where the city's sewer disposal site took place, and there Job sat in the ashes of a recent fire, perhaps to give him some warmth. I want you to look at him, as uncomfortable as it may be. His hands, his face, his feet, every other part of him that you could see through his torn clothing would be oozing with open sores. The greatest man of the East, so he was introduced, has swollen eyes from crying. And the dark circles around his eyes made him look demented. His clothes were caked with mud and blood. His breath was short and strained.

The bones in his shoulder blades poked through his dirty cloak, his face gaunt with the lack of food. And there the great man sits. I see him rocking back and forth, perhaps weeping, at times oblivious to the dogs and the beggars and the lepers, making his misery only worse with his incessant scratching with the blunt edge of a broken piece of pottery he's picked up at the dump. His heart is still broken.

He is still grieving over 10 fresh graves and the loss of everything he has owned and known. No doubt he recalls every memory of his children and he remembers the blessing of God, and maybe a God. The blessing of God, it would be then that he would think, that's it.

It is the fault of God. Would he think that? Would he say it? The imp of hell would be pushing him forward.

Say it. God, you are no longer my God. We would expect it.

We would even probably defend it. Then he has a visitor. Someone is speaking to him as he scratches away at his open sores. Verse 9 says, then his wife said to him, do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die. But he said to her, you speak as one of the foolish women, shall we indeed accept good things from God and not accept adversity from God? In all this, Job did not sin with his lips. I'm going to come back to this text the next time we come back to Job, and I want to preach a sermon entitled Mrs. Job and deal with someone who's often overlooked, who suffered greatly with him.

Today, I just want to look at his response. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? You know what's happening? There in the ash heap, Job is raising a monument of praise to God.

And it is almost unbelievable to me. Do you mean to imply here that Job is correct in believing this adversity has come from God? Yes, you read it. He said it.

It was clear. Moses was arguing with God because of the way God had wired him. And he said, I can't go to Pharaoh. I'm not a speaker. I'm not eloquent.

And you know, I'm not used to that sort of stuff. And God said, who makes man's mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf? Who makes him blind or seeing? Is it not I, the Lord? The immediate cause of your suffering might be that disease or that handicap or that deformity.

It might be raging cancer cells in your body, might be blindness or any number of things. But behind it, and Job sees it, at the height of his suffering, it is the sovereign purpose of God. Perhaps hardest to deal with, perhaps with things that we see, the disciples struggled with this. They had fallen into contemporary thought as they walked past a blind man. They asked Jesus, okay, who sinned, the blind man or his parents?

Those were the only two options. It never occurred to them that nobody sinned. It was the plan of God. Jesus responds, it was neither that this man sinned nor his parents, but it was so the works of God might be displayed in him. In other words, this man was born blind so that God might be glorified in the restoration of his sight.

Wait a second, we talk about the sovereignty of God, but we're not sure we want him to be that sovereign, but he is. You mean God caused that child to be born blind? Yes. Do you mean the suffering that his parents went through was ordained by God? Yes. Do you mean that the troubles that he would have as he grew up were in the purposes of God?

Yes. All Jerusalem knew this man had been born blind. The religious leaders knew it. Perhaps thousands of others who walked past his station in the temple precinct where he came month after month, year after year, begging to make a living off the people who pitied him, assuming that he had done some secret sin or perhaps his parents, and now he was paying for it. Jesus said, in effect, this sickness was ordained to glorify God. You see, the greater the number of people who knew him, the greater the number of witnesses to my power. The greater his suffering, the greater his joy and testimony will be on my behalf. And Jesus happened to heal him while he was still on the planet. Most people who belong to God will be healed in his presence. Listen, this man becomes a picture of the suffering saint. He becomes a testimony of something that is going to happen to every one of us, every one of us who by faith have come to Jesus Christ on the day of our glorification. All diseases, all suffering, all affliction will be set aside forever in this glorified body. The apostle Peter added encouragement to those of you who suffer, perhaps even today greatly. He said this, to the degree which you share the sufferings of Christ, follow this, to the degree which you share the sufferings of Christ, you will rejoice with exaltation at the revelation of his glory.

I have two questions. Are you willing to wait? Are you willing to wait perhaps for the day when he will make you whole and that may be on the shore of heaven itself? Not just wait though, but prepare for fresh challenges to your faith, those moments when the word again is written into the journal of your life and you're thinking, wait, I'm already down.

How could it be again? You wait for God again. You trust him, but not just wait. It's possible to wait and grow bitter. It's possible to wait on your particular ash heap, in your particular valley of despair and your heart be turned from God.

So my next question would be, not only are you willing to wait, are you willing to worship? Are you willing to roll up the sleeves of your faith and trust, trust that with prolonged sickness, he is ultimately in charge? Trust that at the grave site of your loved one, he's in control. When the x-rays return and they couldn't be worse, he's in command. When the job is lost and the funds start to run out, he's in charge. When the relationship ends and you've done everything you can, he's in charge. When the pregnancy test is negative, he's in charge. When the pregnancy test is positive, he's in charge.

When the promotion doesn't come, he's in control. When you're struggling with pain and you're alone, he's in command. You don't understand it. You can't explain it.

You don't deserve it. You didn't expect it and you can't escape it. You lift your voice and you praise him like this man did in his valley on his ash heap as he clutched at another breath and refused to sin against God.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is worship at its highest level, its purest form. One author said, this is when you pray, oh God, I trust you. I don't know why I'm going through this. If there's something I can learn, wonderful.

If there's something someone else can learn, great. Just get me through it. Hold me close. Deepen me and change me. This is what I mean when I say you turn your crisis into a testimony of praise. You raise a monument of praise in the valley of despair. One of the men on our elder team handed me a little bit of prose written by Laman Strauss, a converted Jewish man.

My wife and I used to love to hear him preach when we were in college. He wrote these words, God does whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it for whatever purpose he chooses and he involves whomever he will and whatever he does is right. Peter in his letter centuries earlier said it this way, and you, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will complete, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be dominion forever and ever.

Amen. That's another way of saying because of our sovereign Lord and the future of his revealed glory and our own glorified state one day here and now we raise a monument of praise in the valley of despair. If you find yourself right now in a time of testing, I hope this challenge from God's word will help you proceed in faith and hope. If things are going well for you, I hope this will prepare you for the next time that changes. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey.

Stephen called this message a monument of praise in the valley of despair. If it would help you to listen to this lesson again, or if you know someone who's struggling and might be encouraged by this message, we can help you. You can go to our website or our smartphone app and listen to this message anytime. It's available free and on demand. You can listen to Stephen's full length version or read the printed manuscript. You'll find it all at or on the Wisdom International smartphone app. That's all for today. Join us back here next time for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-31 00:32:15 / 2023-01-31 00:41:29 / 9

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