At the outset of these ten things, let me say here, to develop integrity, know this, integrity does not happen by accident. Integrity will not sneak up on you.
Oh, I didn't expect you. No, integrity is something that must be pursued, it must be developed, it must be desired. And part of the one who truly desires integrity, you will discover in their lives they have developed, determined, pure boundaries.
I can tell you where they are. Job got to the place in his life's story where he needed to respond one final time to the counsel of his friends. Job was committed to a set of resolutions. You're going to learn what those resolutions are today. And pay close attention because these resolutions, when kept, will result in a life of integrity. It's important for you to know how to live them out.
And Steven Davey has a message for you today called, The Last Stand of a Desperate Man. Heroic events by those on the battlefields of our world have always fascinated the human spirit. There are literally hundreds of movies on World War I and World War II and the Vietnam War and on and on. I'm convinced that if Alexander the Great had a video camera, we'd be watching some of the bravest acts even today replayed in our generation. One of the ancient favorites would have been The Last Stand of the Spartans in 480 BC.
Their courage created a legend that's still talked about today. When Xerxes led 100,000 Persians against 5,000 Greeks, they thought that they would simply overrun them. But the Greeks just would not give in without a fight. In fact, one of the Greek scouts reported, and I quote him, such was the number of the Persians, he reported to his soldiers, that when they shoot their arrows, the sun is darkened by their multitude.
A soldier nearby named Dionysius responded by saying to all the soldiers around him, our friend gives us good news. If the Persians darken the sun with their arrows, we will be able to fight in the shade. What an attitude to face 100,000 enemy soldiers. It's one of history's famous last stands. In 1836, American settlers were fighting for independence from Mexico, and 6,000 soldiers came to push down the rebellion. There were only 188 defenders holed up in this old Spanish mission we know as the Alamo. When given the opportunity to surrender, however, they responded, our flag is flying, we shall never surrender or retreat.
And they held off this massive army for about 12 days until they were all captured and killed. As brave as it might sound to stand against an army of soldiers or to fight off warriors under the sky with shade created by 100,000 or so arrows, or maybe shoot it out through the windows of an old mission, nothing compares to the true courage of standing alone for holiness or the truth of the gospel. And you usually don't have people around you rooting for you, do you? When you take your stand for Christ, you might be there right now. You might be the only one standing for the truth of the gospel in your world. I have stood in the sanctuary of John Knox and gazed up at his pulpit and imagined what it must have been like to preach against the atrocities of Queen Mary.
No soldiers to cheer him on. I have stood in John Wesley's chapel and imagined what it must have been like to preach with great courage. He was a lone voice. In fact, on one occasion, he preached to his congregation against the evils of slavery. And the congregation responded by rioting and breaking every pew to pieces.
Can you imagine that scene? I would have loved to have visited the courtroom in Worms where Martin Luther in 1521 was called to recant before the highest political and religious leaders of his day. And he stood all alone and he said, my conscience is bound to the word of God. I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand.
I can do none other. Those are truly famous last stands. It's one thing to face trouble and anguish and perhaps even death.
Surrounded by friends and admirers, it's another thing to face it all alone. Like John the Baptist who would point his finger at Herod and call him a sinning adulterer for marrying his brother's former wife and he would lose his life. Or like Jeremiah the prophet who would deliver the news, albeit very unfortunate and unwelcomed and unwanted, and they would be overthrown by the Babylonians.
And the result was they threw Jeremiah in an empty well where he sunk up to his waist in the mud. The chief example of course would be our own dear Lord who truly stood alone with no one to cheer him on. In fact, even his own father abandoned him at those dark hours of divine judgment. No one has ever been alone as he. There's something especially courageous and admirable and rare about someone who stands alone for the glory and honor and truth of God, isn't there?
Perhaps you're there even now in that dormitory. You're the only one standing. Perhaps you're there in those lines of cubicles going from window to window and you're the only one that cares about Christ. Maybe you're the only one in your family that acknowledges Jesus Christ.
To them that name is a curse word. To you it is your Redeemer and you know what it's like to stand alone. We're about to watch the last stand of Job. The last barrage of arrows will darken the sky and head straight for his heart. He will refuse though to surrender his integrity and his character and he will stand alone. Job will deliver his longest speech. It is his final speech before Elihu and then God will speak. The hush of heaven is almost over. If there was ever any doubt about Job clinging to his integrity or to his character, to his principles, to his trust in God, albeit confused, albeit filled with bitterness at times, these chapters we're going to look at today will settle the score once and for all.
Satan will lose his wager. Job will not turn away from God. Bildad in verse 25 delivers his final speech.
It's really a denunciation of Job. He speaks of the power of God in verse 2. Dominion and all belong to him who establishes peace in the heights. Is there any number to his troops and upon whom does his light not rise? He speaks truth as he refers to not only the power of God but the perfection of God in verse 4. How then can a man be just with God?
How can he be clean who was born of a woman? Job, how do you know anybody could ever stand before God who was holy perfection? Now Job has already answered that back in chapter 19 where he said, I know that my redeemer lives and he will one day stand upon the earth. Now there's a last stand for you.
It'll be great to see and part of. Bildad concludes his denunciation by not only talking about the power of God, the perfection of God, but also the purity of God, verse 5. Even if the moon has no brightness and the stars are not pure in his sight, how much less man that maggot and the son of man that worm? That's encouraging.
Good place to stop. Job, you're a maggot and you're a worm. No wonder Job responds in the next chapter, chapter 26 verse 2 with the words, what a help you are to the weak. Verse 3, the latter part, what helpful insight you've abundantly provided.
It's amazing. He still keeps a sense of humor even in these agonizing times. Bildad's speech was, was reverent, but it was irrelevant. He revealed the depravity of man, but he did not offer the deliverance of God. Listen, the primary message of the Bible is not human depravity, but justifying deliverance through the cross work of Christ. The amazing thing is that we are worms, but that Christ died for worms.
The amazing thing to me, the grace of God is that he rescued a maggot like me. You say, that's a terrible self image, Stephen. No, it's the truth.
It's the truth. Paul said, oh, wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this vile corruption, this body of my death.
But he didn't stop there. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. That's the amazing part of the gospel of Christ. We are a company of worms that will one day burst forth with the glory and splendor of glorified bodies and purified spirits.
But until then we are at our best to never completely forget our worst. Alas, and did my savior bleed? And did my sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I? The new editions of hymnals changed those words for sinners such as I.
Sounds better, doesn't it? I mean, sinners bad, but it's better than a worm. Now Isaac Watts said it well.
The problem isn't that Bildad said something wrong. The problem is that he leaves Job without hope. Job, you are a maggot and a worm.
That's true. But what about the grace of God? You are a worm, Job. And the irony of it, ladies and gentlemen, in fact, it's amazing. He responds with tongue in cheek humor. There's a job at that point in time could have looked down at his skin, which was literally crawling with worms.
And he could say, oh, it's never been more true. I am a worm. I am covered with worms. God, you are not worth following.
I'm throwing in the towel. But instead of beginning a diatribe against the unworthiness of God, Job instead begins to describe the greatness of God. It's amazing to me. In fact, in Job's long response to Bildad and these other men, Job will repeat five questions that have still echoed down through the quarters of time. From 4000 years ago till today, these are still perceptive and pertinent questions.
And so we're going to use that sort of as an outline, those five questions as we work our way through. Can you believe it? Six chapters today.
That's a world record for me. Six chapters. I'm just going to touch down every once in a while with that plane, like a pilot who's learning how to fly, touches down, takes off, touches down and takes off. But you'll get the main points. Question number one, who can understand the greatness of God? In verse five, Job invites Bildad to explore the deepest recesses of the earth, go down to the grave, to Sheol. Then when you've gotten out of the bottom, head north, go straight up and out into the atmosphere and beyond and you'll just begin to see the greatness of our God. From the lowest point of imagination to the highest point, God is over all.
And guess what? Verse 14, he says, when you see all of that, you're only seeing the fringes of his ways. Such a great and colorful phrase. These are the fringes of his ways. No matter how deeply you travel or how high you ascend, when you reach the outer limits, you are only at the outer edges of our great God.
You'd have to travel a long way to get to the core of his greatness. You only hear the whispers of his sovereignty, he says. Job says, listen Bildad, you think you have this thing figured out. Your trouble is you think you've figured God out.
You haven't even gotten to the outer edges of his, the fringes of his sovereignty. Who can understand him? Bildad's problem and the problem of every generation is they recreate God to become something understandable and manageable. We trivialize God. We make him small.
A.W. Tozer warned us in his powerful little book I'm rereading, The Knowledge of the Holy. In it he writes this paragraph, so necessary to the church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the church with her worship and her moral standards declines along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God. He said we do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God. Relief, true relief in suffering is bound up in recognizing the great mystery of God who does all things well and right.
One author wrote it this way, whenever there are sores on your body and they are running with pus like Job's and the fever will not go down, the perspective of Job is where you need to be. I don't understand, but I have a sovereign God of the universe who does and he does all things well. He is in charge. I am the clay. He is the potter. I am the disciple. He is the Lord. I am the sheep. He is the shepherd. I am the servant.
He is the master. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, let suffering return you to a high view of this majestic and mysterious God who acts without explanation, who moves beyond our understanding and all we can grasp of this majestic God in this brief period of human history or our own lives, which is so brief, is that we are only merely coming to the fringes of his activity, the outer edges of his greatness. Don't follow a God you completely understand, for you will be following a God of your own making. No wonder Job says for as long as life is in me and the breath of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak unjustly nor will my tongue mutter deceit.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last stand of a desperate man. I will not throw in my trust in this God whom I am at times embittered against, confused by this God that is beyond my comprehension. What follows in Chapter 27 is the logical question of Job as he asks, who can understand God? He would then logically say, well, why does mankind ignore the coming judgment of this God?
How can you not trust him? How foolish is mankind to ignore God? Look at verse eight. For what is the hope of the godless when he is cut off, when God requires his life?
It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that, the what? The judgment, the intuitive understanding of mankind, they know they're accountable. They run from it. Why do they run from God? At the heart of it, he says in verse 21, the east wind will indeed catch him, the judgment of God that is, and he is gone for it whirls him away from his place, for it will hurl at him without sparing. He will surely try to flee from its power. That's what the unbeliever says. I can get away with it.
I can outrun God. He'll let me in. He'll overlook.
He'll slide it under the carpet. So rather than dealing with the justice of God and the gospel of Christ, they foolishly believe that in the end, God's just going to say, well, come on in. Never mind. As Job takes his last stand, he wonders, as everyone who suffers wonders. And here's his next question. Where can I find wisdom to handle the trials of life?
James Chapter one addressed this situation in light of being surrounded by various trials. Ask God for wisdom and he'll give it to you, right? We could add if we were writing that text, he'll give it to you just in time and a little bit at a time.
That seems to be how it comes in. Well, in Job Chapter twenty eight, Job is asking the question, where can you find true wisdom? And he gives a longer answer than than James. The first thing he says is that you cannot mine wisdom from the earth. Go back to verse 12. But where can wisdom be found and where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living. The deep, if you could mine down, says it's not in me.
And the sea, if you could plummets depth, says it is not with me. Not only can you not mine wisdom from the earth, you cannot buy wisdom from other people. Verse 15, pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can silver be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Uphur or in precious onyx or sapphire, gold and glass and and on and on. In other words, you cannot buy this. You say, well, I don't have gold and silver anyway. Maybe it'll be on sale.
No, no blue light special going for wisdom. Sorry, Wal-Mart doesn't sell it. Sam's doesn't even stock it, if you can imagine that. You cannot find wisdom on the shelves of the earth. You can't buy it from people.
So where do you get it from? Both Job and James answer here. Job answers in verse twenty three. God understands its way and he knows its place. He knows where it is. Look down at verse twenty eight.
To man, he says, behold, look, the fear of the Lord. There's wisdom to depart from evil. There is insight. That's wisdom.
Here's the secret unfolded. Wisdom is actually a byproduct. And you gain wisdom as you do two things.
Not after you do two things, not before you do two things, but as you are practicing these two things. Job gives them to us first, when you worship God with total reverence. That's what he means when he says, look, the fear of the Lord there, there is wisdom. When you worship God with reverence. Secondly, when you when you walk with God with transparent obedience. That's what he means when you depart from evil.
That's understanding. You take life seriously. You live life for the glory of God. Wisdom comes to those who are in the process of worshiping God and walking with God. When there is surrender and submission, you discover wisdom. Now, our problem is we want wisdom, but we want it without surrender. We want to know how to handle life, but we don't want to surrender that life to God.
And then we wonder why we lack insight and wisdom. Now, at the end of these verses, at the end of Chapter twenty eight, most believe that there's a pause. And if you look at the beginning of the text, you can tell that something stopped Job and he was finished and then he begins again. Many Bible scholars seem to all agree, as I've read them, that that he's waiting for Zophar to speak. Zophar is the third in line, and he's spoken after Bill that each time.
And in this third round, it would be expected that Zophar would would now speak. No speech. He never does. We don't know if he we walked off and discussed because Job didn't listen to his second speech.
More than likely, he's still there, but he knows he has nothing more to say. But Job does. And so he launches in in verse twenty nine with answering another question. How do you define happiness?
How do you define happiness? Job in this chapter does something he's never done before. He leans back, almost must have just settled into the ash pile, got a little more comfortable if he could. And and said, let me tell you about the good old days. Let me tell you what life used to be like. Now, you know, it's not unlike people who suffer. They love to talk about the past, don't they? When life was was easier, maybe carefree. Let's just take a walk down nostalgia lane. Now, as he walks down this lane, he actually defines happiness. It's not one of these elements. It's all six of them.
Let me give you six ingredients of happy living. First, there was an awareness of God's presence and care. Look at verse two, chapter twenty nine. Oh, but I were, as in months gone by those good old days.
What made him good job? Well, those were the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone over my head and by his light, I walked through darkness. That was verse four, when the friendship of God was was over my tent. I mean, it was obvious that God had God lived on my street.
In fact, his tent hovered over mine. There are plenty of texts that inform us that Joe believes God is still aware of his needs. But in the good old days, it was obvious. Right. You have your own testimony of that.
Maybe right now it's difficult. And you can think back when it just used to be so clear God was right there. Job says in happier times, I had a had an appreciation for whatever God gave me. That'd be the second element, an appreciation for whatever God gives.
He says in verse five, my children were all around me. My family's all there. I love this phrase. My steps were bathed in butter. Some of you can't eat butter anymore, can you?
And you remember the good old days when you get to lather it on thick. I thought, you know, here he's talking about a rarity, a special treat because of the lack of refrigeration. He made it yet eat it.
He says, I just my my steps were bathed in butter. Happiness also to him meant having an opportunity to influence others. He goes deeper here. Verse seven talks about going to the city gate and having the ability to influence others. The opportunity to be generous and compassionate versus 12 to 20. It isn't all just receiving.
It's giving. Happiness was found in a place of respect earned by giving godly counsel versus 21 to 25. Happiness is awareness of God's presence. It is appreciation for what God gives.
It is having an opportunity to influence others, an opportunity to be generous and compassionate toward the needy. And it is found in a place of respect earned by giving godly counsel. This chapter is unique to everything Job has said in this book. I believe it merely sets us up for the great grief as he recounts in the next chapter that everything he had, he has now lost. All these wonderful things are gone.
And so that nostalgic trip just kind of sets us up to hear the agony of Job, who, in chapter 30, does nothing more than catalog all of the catastrophic changes in his life. This is what I have lost. I used to have steps bathed in butter, and now I cannot eat anything. I once had my children around me and my children are gone. I was once in a place of great respect and I could give godly influence and counsel to others. But now look, verse 27 of chapter 30, I'm seething within. I can't relax. Days of affliction confront me. I go about mourning without comfort. I now stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
I used to go there and take the judge's seat. Now I cry for help. I beg. I've become a brother, verse 29, to jackals and a companion of ostriches.
In other words, only the wild animals come to visit me. My skin is corroded. It's falling off me, dead, and my bones burn with fever. Therefore my harp has turned to mourning and my flute to the sound of those who weep. Here's the point.
You would expect Job at this moment to throw him the towel. Maybe you're there too right now. Maybe you've been there in recent days. You remember the good old days.
Butter was plentiful. When your children were around you. When God seemed so close. Can you relate to the reality of you and God having been close at some point in the past, but you feel distant now? If so, I hope this time in God's Word will drive you to pursue Him in fresh and new ways. I'm glad you joined us today for Stephen's lesson called, The Last Stand of a Desperate Man. We're going to stop here for today and bring you the conclusion to this message on our next broadcast. By the way, if you're not in a situation where you can take notes as you listen to Stephen teach, we make his manuscripts available on our website. Visit wisdomonline.org. Then join us next time here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-11 00:23:17 / 2023-04-11 00:33:08 / 10