Why, God, do you seem to be treating my unbelieving friends better than you treat me?
Maybe you've had that question, but you were too afraid to ask. In fact, maybe you're a new believer and one of the first hurdles you've got to get over is the fact that you thought when you came to faith in Christ that solved everything. And you've discovered by now that it actually created more problems than you could have ever imagined. You now feel totally different about the world, totally different about yourself, totally different about your sin.
You now have struggles you never struggled with before. Have you ever looked around, noticed the lives of some unbelievers, and wondered how it is that they could be better off than you? Why would God seem to bless someone who rejects Him? Why would an enemy of God have what seems to be a great life while someone who loves God struggles in life?
Well, if you've ever asked a question like that, you're not alone. Job wondered the very same thing. In fact, he had many such questions and articulated them in the passage we're looking at today.
This message is called what Christians want to know but are afraid to ask. John Henry Jowett, who passed away in 1923, probably a name most of you have never heard yet at one time, the late 1800s, early 1900s, he was considered the most influential Bible teacher in the English-speaking world. I have his books and he was a remarkable communicator. Yet he, this great leader, wrote to his friend on one occasion with open and honest emotion. He said, I wish you wouldn't think I'm such a saint. You seem to imagine that I have no ups and downs, just a level and lofty stretch of spiritual attainment with unbroken joy.
By no means! I am often perfectly wretched and everything appears most murky. Not exactly the kind of thing you'd hear somebody write who was the most influential Bible teacher in his generation, right?
But maybe you have struggled with similar questions at some point, maybe even today. Lord, why have you opened the windows of blessing and it's all streaming out on everybody but me? It's one of the primary questions racing through the mind and heart of Job by the time you reach chapters 20 and 21.
Let me invite you back there. Perhaps it's because Zophar has just concluded one more condescending speech, his second, the last of what we call round two, the second speeches by his three counselors. Here Zophar begins to speak his mind in chapter 20 and it's actually hard to imagine that he's speaking these words to someone who is truly suffering, but look at the condescending pride and arrogance that just sort of comes out of these words.
Look at verse two where he begins his speech. Therefore, Job, my disquieting thoughts make me respond, even because of my inward agitation. I have listened to your reproof, which insults me, and the spirit of my understanding makes me answer.
I have to ask, you're insulted? Zophar, you are agitated. You're not suffering. You're not the one with fresh graves nearby and yet he says, in my great wisdom, because I am agitated, Job, after listening to you respond to my compatriots, I now must give you some wisdom.
Never mind that Job is truly suffering. You could easily outline Zophar's well-worn cliches with four points. The first one is the ungodly don't live very long. The second is the ungodly don't enjoy anything. The third is the ungodly don't die happy. And the fourth, the ungodly don't leave anything behind. And after he's finished, Job will respond by asking very poignant questions, which literally pick that sermon of Zophar's apart.
The first, let's look there. The ungodly don't live very long. Look at verse four of chapter 20. Do you know this from of old, from the establishment of man on earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short and the joy of the godless is momentary? Look at verse eight. He flies away like a dream and nobody can find him.
Even like a vision of the night, he has chased away the eye, which saw him, sees him no longer and his place no longer beholds him. In other words, Job, you need to know that ungodly people don't last very long, which makes you wonder who Noah preached to for over a hundred years in Genesis six where the fact that God gave the Canaanite pagan nation four centuries of idolatry before he finally judged them in Genesis 15. The truth is what we find most troubling is not so much that the ungodly live long or short lives. What we find troubling is the fact that godly people sometimes live short lives. That's the troubling part.
And Job will ask some questions about that in a moment. His second point is this, the ungodly don't enjoy anything. Look at verse 18. He returns what he has attained and cannot swallow it.
As to the riches of his trading, he cannot even enjoy them. Look down at verse 23. When he fills his belly, God will send his fierce anger on him and will rain it on him while he's in the process of eating. In other words, he's going to feel so guilty, so under the condemnation and judgment of God that he's not even going to be able to enjoy one meal. Ungodly people do not enjoy even that. Well, if that's true, then why are there so many secular television programs on cable which do nothing more than cook? Unbelievers evidently like to eat as much as we believers, right?
He's got his blinders on. He says further, number three, the ungodly don't die happy. No force convinced of that. Verse 24, he may flee from the iron weapon, but the bronze bow will pierce him. In other words, God is going to personally hunt down the unbeliever. It's going to be a painful death.
As soon as that bronze tipped arrow pierces through their back, they're going to fall. God will strike him. He will kill them and they will, he says in verse 25, be surrounded in the context of the time of their death by terror. The ungodly do not die happy.
Now, Zophar ends his rather unsubstantiated sermon with one more thought. Fourth, the ungodly don't leave anything behind. Look at verse 28. He says, the increase of his house will depart. His possessions will flow away in the day of God's anger.
This is the wicked man's portion from God and his heritage decreed to him by God. In other words, after they're dead, their stuff's already gone. It's going to vanish. Their money is going to be taken away. They're not going to leave anything for their children.
Evidently, Zophar never heard of trust funds or compounded interest. Their children will have nothing. The ungodly leave no inheritance. He's obviously lived before John Rockefeller and Paris Hilton, right? Who got everything. The truth is unbelievers scramble all their lives to buy as much of Babylon as they can possibly buy up.
And then they leave it all for their children to inherit, which most often ruins their lives. Job knows better than this. While Zophar is spinning these cliches, Job is struggling with deep questions, real questions, honest questions. In fact, things Christians want to know but are afraid to ask. You certainly don't write in your journal, God, why do you bless everybody but me? Maybe he'd even be embarrassed that I quoted that in the pulpit a generation or two later. He wants to know why they have everything and why they seem to be enjoying everything and why there are even no pains in their life or death. It's a classic response. Chapter 21, it's much like Asaph in Psalm chapter 73 who admitted in his private journal, I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Why is the hand of blessing always on the other person? Well, Job is going to ask eight questions. He's going to ask a lot more but I've narrowed it down to eight, eight of them. These are deep, honest, open questions implied in the text of Job's response to Zophar. Question number one, let me give it to you and then we'll look at the text.
It could be worded this way. Why does God treat the unbeliever better than he treats me? Verse seven, look there. Why do the wicked still live, continue on and also become very powerful? Look at verse nine, their houses are safe from fear and the rod of God is not on them. In other words, why am I suffering discipline?
I'm following God. Why do I feel the stripes on my back? Why do I feel the rod? Why do I have heartache while my unbelieving neighbors kind of skate through? They don't have any rod upon their back. They don't feel any stripes.
They don't feel any suffering. Why God, do you treat the unbeliever better than you treat me? Maybe you've had that question but you were too afraid to ask. In fact, maybe you're a new believer and one of the first hurdles you've got to get over is the fact that you thought when you came to faith in Christ that solved everything and you've discovered by now that it actually created more problems than you could have ever imagined. You now feel totally different about the world, totally different about yourself, totally different about your sin. You now have struggles you never struggled with before. Why God, do you seem to be treating my unbelieving friends better than you treat me?
Question number two, why do I have financial problems that others don't seem to have? Look at verse 10. Job is looking at his neighbors and he says his ox mates without fail, his cow calves and does not abort. Down at verse 13, they spend their days in prosperity. Job is honestly asking Lord, I don't understand why the one who never bows is needy to you, why the man who's never seen the east side of an altar, why are you giving them multiplied herds and flocks when they do not acknowledge you with their lives and I have acknowledged you with my life and my herds have been stolen and my finance is gone and my employees killed and my family gone.
And all of the trouble that has come now with this financial ruin that I'm sure Job never thinks he'll ever get back. Question number three, why does the unbeliever have plenty of children and I don't have any? Look at verse 11. They send forth their little ones like the flock and their children skip about. This would be a question that Christians aren't supposed to ask but I'm glad he did.
Number four, Job asks the question, why does the unrighteous person enjoy better physical health than I do? He's just covering all the bases, isn't he? Look at verse 13.
Go back there. They spend their days in prosperity and then suddenly they go down the shield or they're suddenly shattered. Now that sounds like a reference to some quick judgment from God, doesn't it?
But it isn't. This is a reference to a long life of prosperity and then death that comes so quickly there's no room for suffering. There's no room for anguish.
There's no room for trouble. They don't run out of money or Medicare, so to speak. They got a great checkup from the doctor all the way through their life until after their last one. They are never bothered with wheelchairs or arthritis or bad backs or failing eyes, strokes, surgeries, cancer, heart attacks, whatever.
You name it. He's saying the wicked seem to live in one long progression of great health and then they die. Why is it, Lord, that those who really want to go to heaven, you just don't let them come until after they suffer? This is a question you're not supposed to ask, but Job did.
Number five. Why do those who care nothing for God seem to live a carefree life? Their lives are so carefree.
Look at verse 12. They sing to the timbrel and harp. They rejoice at the sound of the flute. It's just one party. They've got the music. They've rented the orchestra.
They're the ones playing and they're having nothing but fun and games. He goes on in verse 14 to say, as it were, if you can believe it, they say to God, depart from us. We do not even desire the knowledge of your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? And what would we gain if we entreat him? Behold, Job says, look, their prosperity is not in their hand. In other words, Job is implying God is sovereign. It's in his hand and he gives it to the unbeliever who says to the Almighty, depart from us.
We don't want anything to do with you. And God gives them all of this, this carefree life. Why doesn't God cut it off? Job asks the question. But if you want to get real enough to ask it, it's there.
Why is it that people who don't follow God seem to enjoy the most good? Another question. There are eight.
This is number six. Why do the ungodly get the promotions and places of power while I am ignored? Look at verse 17.
How often is the lamp of the wicked put out? That is their influence. Or does their calamity fall on them?
Does God apportion destruction in his anger? Are they as straw before the wind and like chaff, which the storm carries away? These rhetorical questions are demanding the answer. No, they're not like straw. They're not like chaff. They are established. They're strong. They're respected. They're looked up to. They're promoted. They're honored.
They're pursued. Why is it that the paparazzi gives the media attention to the ungodly? Why don't the paparazzi chase missionaries around the country, taking pictures of them? Here he is serving. Here he is leaving for the ministry. Why don't they take pictures of us when we leave church?
Here they are exiting Colonial. You live for God and the other guy gets the promotion. You walk with Christ and all your friends get married and move away. Sincerity doesn't bring success. Purity is not rewarded with promotion.
And Job wants to know why not. Number seven, why doesn't God judge the hypocrisy of sinners so their children will be warned? Verse 19, you say, that is so far, you say God stores away a man's iniquity for his sons, implied I say, let God repay him so that he may know it. Let his own eyes see his decay. Let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
For what does he care for his household after him when the number of his months is cut off? What is the unbeliever really care about the generation coming after him? They might talk about family values. They might talk about, you know, whatever, but they don't really care because they're unrepentant sinners and their lives betray the hypocrisy of their words. So Job is saying, Lord, why don't you judge them now that would send a message to the generation that's watching them? Don't follow after sin. Why not bring judgment, Job asks, so that children will be warned not to follow in their footsteps and the generation that follows.
I mean, the best thing a child could ever see is their father or their leaders or whatever their sin dealt with, right? Number eight, why doesn't God make those who belong to him uniquely special before the rest of the world? Job says, I don't understand why God doesn't make it absolutely clear the godly are special and unique and the rest of the world unimportant. This is Job's problem in verse 23. He says, one dies in full strength, being holy at ease and satisfied. Verse 24, his sides are filled out with fat and the marrow of his bones is moist, while another implication, the godly one dies with a bitter soul, never even tasting anything good.
Together they lie down in the dust and worms cover them. What he's saying is in the end, there doesn't seem to be any difference whatsoever. Wasn't in life and now even at the end, believer, spiritual, pagan, god follower, idolater, whatever. In the end, there's no distinction. They all get lumped into the grave. The funeral settles it. There's no difference.
The undertaker is the great equalizer. And in the end, there is no distinction. But the funeral isn't the end, is it?
It's really just the beginning. And that's what Asaph eventually landed at when he said, I finally went into the sanctuary with God and I perceived their end. And Job now here in verse 30 says, oh, I got to remember this point, for the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity. And they will be led forth at the day of fury. The judgment of God will come.
In fact, if anything, pity the unbeliever who lives for the entertainment and the stuff and the things of the world don't wish they didn't have it. It's all they will have. It's all they will enjoy.
It's all they will experience. Job reminds us, after death, the fury of God will be unleashed. I want to encourage you that God is not embarrassed nor embittered by the questions of believers. I'm glad Job surfaced these kinds of questions.
I would encourage you to write them in your journal. Isn't that what asking for wisdom is all about? Perhaps that's why James in James chapter one, verse five says something that strikes me as a little odd anyway, where he says, if you lack wisdom, go to God and he won't rebuke you. And you think, well, why would God ever rebuke you for asking for wisdom? It's because typically when we go to God asking for wisdom, we proceed it by saying, what are you doing? Why aren't you doing it this way? Why aren't you coming through in this way?
Why aren't you doing that? I need wisdom because I can't figure you out. And James promises that God will never rebuke us when we bring our questions to him. I have been enjoying in my study, and I want to close by giving you this story, commentary on the life of Job by Chuck Swindoll, who is a president of Dallas Seminary, and he pastors also. In it, he tells the story of a couple who lived in the same married couple's apartment complex near the seminary that he lived in with his wife. Chuck and Dennis, this man, were seminary students together there at Dallas Seminary in the early 60s. He writes, Dennis and Lucy became good friends of ours. While at seminary, they had a little baby boy whom Dennis absolutely adored. This little boy was nearly inseparable from Dennis. After Dennis graduated, they moved to Los Angeles where he advanced his education with the goal of helping people who struggled through difficult childhoods, as he did, in order to move on and enjoy productive lives. In the midst of his PhD studies, their little boy stumbled into a swimming pool in a neighbor's backyard and drowned. They lost their precious son, which devastated them both, particularly Dennis.
Years later, Dennis admitted to me, Chuck writes, how he had responded to that loss. Long after losing my son, I got into my car and I grabbed the steering wheel and I drove about every freeway in Los Angeles. During those hours, I literally screamed out to God, expressing all the grief and the anger and the sadness and the confusion from deep within my soul. He said, he added, I said things to him in that car that I've never said to anybody before.
I yelled it out and it wasn't very nice. About dawn, Swinall writes, he finally drove back into his driveway at their little home, his shirt dripping wet with sweat. His hands were still gripping the steering wheel.
He turned the key off, dropped his head onto the steering wheel, sobbing with giant heaves. And then he said, strangely enough, I was comforted with this thought, God can handle everything I said. God can handle it. What a great thought. You know, you come to the end of chapter 21 and you don't find God waiting there with a club saying, well, that's it.
You've gone too far. You're not supposed to ask those questions. You can think them, maybe write them down, but don't ask them out loud. These are things that Christians want to know, but should be afraid to ask.
No, not at all. God can handle it. Let me quickly suggest three words of encouragement as you ask your own questions before the Lord. Number one, stop comparing. Stop comparing.
Stop comparing your life, especially with unbelievers, the number of children or grandchildren, what they have in the garage, their title at work, the price of their furniture or their handbag. It's a no win situation. This is what they're living for.
They're pursuing it. We should not be, which means they should always have just that much more. Stop competing in your walk with other believers. Stop competing. Comparison and competition are the twin thieves of joy. They will rob you of your joy when you compare and you compete with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We're competing with temporal stuff anyway, aren't we? We forget that we're sharing the eternal unending, never corroding, never rusting, never perishing inheritance which will never fade away. So the church becomes a place of competition rather than cooperation. And we have this hierarchy. We should start cherishing what God has given us today.
Stop comparing, start or stop competing and start cherishing what we have today. That's what God will eventually share with Job. He will remind Job of everything Job had and has even when Job thought he had nothing. And all the while, remember, keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, the persevering Savior, the author and finisher of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
So consider him who suffered great affliction from sinners. And as a result of considering him, you will not grow weary and lose heart. Stephen has reminded us today that the best way to live is to stop comparing ourselves to others and to start cherishing what we have today.
I'm glad you joined us. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to install the Wisdom International app to your phone or tablet. Once you do, you can take this Bible teaching ministry wherever you go. You can follow along on both the Wisdom Journey and Wisdom for the Heart. And you can access the library of Stephen's Bible teaching. You'll find our app in the App Store for your device. Search for Wisdom International. Do that today, then join us back here next time on Wisdom for the Heart. You
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-06 00:44:37 / 2023-04-06 00:54:13 / 10