WHAT ABOUT JOB?

A number of years ago I was in California and had a chance to visit the venerable Crystal Cathedral.  It really is a remarkable piece of architecture.  Completed in 1980 at the cost of $18 million, it has over 10,000 individual panes that are glued in place.  The entire building sits on underground rollers that will absorb tremors to the point that it is supposed to withstand an 8.0 earthquake.  There is a restaurant, a gift shop, a visitors center, etc.  It is a very impressive campus. 

 

But what is really paradoxical is that right in the middle of the grounds is a statue of a twisted, tormented Job.  As I stood looking at it I said to the visitor guide (yes, they have guided tours), “A statue of Job?  Don’t you think Solomon in all of his glory would be more appropriate for this place?”  She looked me in the eye and said, “You’re a real smart Alec aren’t you?”

But what about Job?  It has been a story of continual debate.  Why did God allow Job to suffer to the extent that he did?  Was it God’s fault, Satan’s fault or Job’s fault?  Last Sunday I preached on the subject and was not really surprised that I hit such a cord with the congregation.  We have all had our Job moment and we all struggle with why.

The Book of Job begins with perplexing wager between God and Satan where God allows Satan to trash Job’s life being convinced that Job will stand no matter what Satan throws at him.  In one day he loses all his considerable herds of animals, all his servants and all 10 of his children.  How would you handle such a day?  Most would throw themselves off the nearest tall building.  Job shaves his head, rips his robe, bows down and worships God.  Then he coins the oft-quoted famous line, “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away.”  Although it is true, that that is what Job said, that does not mean it is actually true.  Huh?  All one has to do is read the story and you can clearly see that the Lord gave… and Satan took away. Job did not know that.  He had no access to scripture as Job is actually the first book of the bible that was written.  The statement may be gross over simplification of course, because God did allow Satan to do it, so therefore God may have some culpability.  But it actually is not really the point of the story.  The message you don’t want to miss is Job’s amazing response in the midst of tragedy.  The very next thing the bible says is, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”  This answers two more questions.  One, that it was not Job’s fault and two, it was not God’s fault.  Job clearly recognised it would be wrong to blame God for what had happened.  The bottom line is;  bad things happen to good people.  The scripture says, Job was blameless, upright, feared God and shunned evil.  There was no one on earth that was as good a person as Job and yet he still suffered.

Round two was still to follow and for the next nine months Satan smote Job with painful boils from his head to toes.  Still Job refused to curse God and the scripture says, “Job did not sin with his lips.”  By the end of the book we are expecting some resolution, which we get, but what we don’t get is answers.  Job is basically asking God what is going on with his life.  Instead of answering his question, in Job 38 God responds with a few questions of His own.  “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge. Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell Me,if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements?   Surely you know!   Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened?   Or who laid its cornerstone… and on and on He goes with the most incredible description of God’s omnipotentence anywhere in scripture. 

It sends shivers up my spine every time I read it.  Have a read for yourself.  The conclusion of the matter is that we scarcely have a clue when it comes to understanding God’s ways.  And rather than crying, “Why Lord, Why me?”  We, like Job, are to accept that we will never fully understand God’s ways this side of heaven.  Because of Job’s incredible attitude and response to his trial, God restored two fold everything that the Devil stole from him.

This is not an easy message.  How do you deal with bankruptcy or divorce or worse yet the death of a spouse or child?  These are real life struggles that are painful to the core when they come.  Job’s faith in God sustained him, all the while believing that God was actually responsible.  Oh, that we would have such faith considering our advanced New Testement knowledge, that it is not God’s fault at all!  He’s on our side! …the bigger question then remains; are we on His?

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23 Responses to WHAT ABOUT JOB?

  1. Kendra says:

    Another question should also be about balance. If God is good and just, why would he allow one to suffer who believes wholeheartedly while another sinful person lives unscathed?

  2. Vin A. says:

    Pastor Mark
    That was a great message on Sunday. We need to be more aware that we have an enemy who will influence whoever he can to work on his behalf, so he can steal, kill, destroy and deceive us to get back at God. Job didn’t sin, neither did Abel before him, nor did Stephen a few thousand years later. Good people suffer because there is evil in the world.

  3. Jusuf says:

    GOD is good for all people who believes wholeheartedly and the sinful one, just like in Matthew 13:29 “But he said, `No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Matthew 13:30 “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
    The wheat or the believers must be able to withstand and bear fruits until the harvest that can only be obtained through suffering step by step

  4. Isaac says:

    I heard a really good insight on suffering today on a podcast. When someone might ask, “Why did God let my child suffer and die?” we need to remember that He grieves with us, not just for us but with us, and then remember that He let His own son suffer and die. His ways truly are greater than ours!

  5. Cindy says:

    It all comes down to whether we will choose to believe that God is, and then whether we will choose to acknowledge Him and His love for us in this life. Job had a real knowledge of God and His holiness and was committed to being obedient to Him. God knew this. The love for God that Job had could not be destroyed (sifted, yes). Job’s story serves as a testament to the power of God’s love in Job’s life. It remained true even when Job “lost everything”. This loss was temporary – God restored it all after Job’s faithfulness and love for Him was tested. We too, when we seek Him we will find Him and we can know Him and His love. God is still God in our abundance and our lack. If we will, God becomes all that we need in the midst of our every “thing”.

    Romans 8:38-39 Paul confidently states: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Will we turn away from our pride, our religious traditions, our fears, our earthly short-sightedness to choose the love of God and life abundant found in Christ Jesus alone? This is faith according to His will and to His glory.

  6. Carrie Benko says:

    i am reading a book right now that jumped off the shelf at me in my Church library.
    A very interesting suffering…for anyone to go through it. But God does say, He won’t give us anymore than we can handle. This story,
    i believe, is kinda like the pain of Job.
    it’s a true story of death and life…
    it’s worth the read… it’s called: “90 minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey. (he is an ordained minister since 1985)
    wow…and if you like “heaven” books, you’ll find this interesting too.
    God Bless :)
    C.B. Tillsonburg Ont

  7. Ross says:

    Pastor Mark,

    you note that Job didn’t have our New Testament understanding of suffering – God is on our side and our suffering is not his fault. While I agree with the first claim – God is on our side – I disagree with the universality of the second. I believe there are times when our suffering is God’s ‘fault’.

    In the specific book of Job, I don’t think the debate between scholars for years (perhaps generations) regarding who’s fault Job’s suffering was will be resolved on this blog. However, regarding God’s ‘culpability’ in the Book of Job, Job makes a perfectly true and correct statement when he said ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away’. The Lord took away the hedge of protection that surrounded him; the same hedge that he had given him that Satan complained about: “Have you not made a hedge around him…”(Job 1:10). God’s removal of that protection resulted in Job’s afflictions; twice.

    I think there is evidence elsewhere in scripture that suffering is God’s will. Take Christ himself as an example. Did he not say “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) As the ‘cup’ did not pass from him, can we not assume that Christ’s suffering was God’s will?

    The argument could then come, “But that was how Christ overcame the world! Now that he has, we don’t have to worry about that anymore. Christ was a unique case in this regard.” Let’s look at the leading examples of Christians in the New Testament, post-Christ. Peter suffered for a “death [that] would glorify God” (John 21:19). Paul, on his way to be tried, convicted and put to death, has a horrible boat ride, gets shipwrecked, and then gets bitten by a snake (see Acts 27-28). He speaks of his sufferings in 2 Cor. 11:24-27: ” From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” What did Christ say about these things? “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:16).

    I think the perspective that puts God in our box and says ‘He doesn’t cause our sufferings. He’s too good for that’ makes God too safe and creates a God that fits our purposes. God is good. He cannot be evil. Some of the sufferings in our life are evil, and God is not responsible for those. But God is not safe. His ways our higher than our ways, and his thoughts higher than our thoughts. Will we choose to follow him anyway, as Peter did knowing what would happen to him, and trust that God works all things for the good of all who love him? I don’t know if my son’s death was God’s fault or not. It could have been. Will I trust him anyway with a faith like Job’s? I wholeheartedly agree that Job’s example is a good example to follow.

  8. Mark Hughes says:

    Great comments. however I would never claim that God does not take away. There are countless examples where God takes away, both in the New Testament and Old. And yes, God will allow us to suffer. In fact, He promised us tribulation and persecution. The NT understanding that Job did not have was the existence and mandate of Satan to ‘steal, kill and destroy’. The point I was making was that it was not God to took away Job’s wealth, family and health but Satan. We have been guilty of blaming God for a lot of things He has not done and that often cripples our faith in a loving, caring heavenly Father.

  9. Victoria Nicol says:

    I am a little confused about this topic, although I certainly can relate to it.
    When I became born again at 21, I was brought back to practicing Christianity, and the power of prayer by a girl we’ll call “Ms.Snow”.
    For years things went well,and then after some bad influences and bad decisions, I was forced to walk out of my home and business with only the shirt on my back.
    All the friends I had made disappeared,and I was sick from drug abuse.Dying actually.
    I blamed God. I remember falling to my knees and crying saying,”Why did this happen to me? Why are you punishing me God?”And then I promptly denounced him from my life. 10 seconds later I took it back, and I was SO scared that I EVER thought that!
    I begged God to forgive me and realized that even though bad things happened to me, there must be a reason for it. Healing has taken me years, and forgiveness to those who were a part of it, even longer.
    I have always believed that God had a wonderful plan for me since I was a child, and I have always felt a connection to the holy spirit. I realized I had forgotten this as I numbed myself with various drugs.

    Ms.Snow told me to read the book of Job. This reminded me that I have to suffer tribulation, without expectations, and to never let go of my faith, no matter how long it takes. I still wake up to the morning sun because I never stopped believing in God. God can be in you, and me, and we must treat him as the guest of honor in our hearts and lives. For it is the most powerful magic you’ll ever experience. The magic of LOVE.

  10. Betty says:

    Thankyou Pastor Mark, for that teaching on the story of Job, which I never heard explained in this way before and it was interesting.

    Not to long ago I experienced, what it really meant, to Praise God in the middle of my difficult circumstances and honestly, I was surprised that I could do it, but I knew it was God helping me.

    Some years ago, when my brother got devorced, my family had a very hard time and we were taught, “to stay together, until death,” anyway, I was in depression at the time, so I did not want to spend to much time with someone[like my then sister-in-law] who made me even more depressed,but Praise God, now He takes care of my worries and lets me experience His powerful presents in the middle of a storm.

  11. Jane says:

    We are to be cleansed, purified, as gold and silver are x 7. All the happy go lucky times in the world will never prepare us for trouble and hurt. If we did not have to face bad things in this life how could we know what our behavior would be like in the next. I’ve heard so many people blame God the minute anything goes wrong. Should God in his wisdom give eternal life to anyone who cannot pass the test of suffering? Untested Chistians, that just doesn’t sound like a good idea. I know we will not become perfect this side of heaven but we need to get started. Who would bother with such a thing if their life was great.

  12. Steve says:

    What makes me think is how the Lord touted Job before satan. That Job was upright and shunned evil. It was like God was saying, see if you can take my mighty warrior down because I know he will prevail over you by believing in me. God knew that Job was faithful because Job shunned evil. And this pleased the Lord greatly.
    Job stuck up for the poor. When people saw him smile, it brightened their day. He kept his eyes from lusting over women. He kept himself holy before God.
    There is a prophet named Dr David Owuor from Kenya who has been prophecying about the church. He has spoken against the prosperity gospel to the extent that he says people are worshiping the golden calf in the church and they are bowing before the golden calf. This has caused many other great sins to enter the church according to Owuor. He has gone to say that the repentance of the church will require a huge amount of humility. To admit the whole time they have been saying how good they are doing that in fact they’ve been doing evil.
    He has prophecied all of the latest earthquakes including a warning to Haiti while in Haiti of a historic earthquake unless they repented of their sins. He has been correct with every prophesy. His claim is the Lord has sent him to prepare the church for the coming of the Lord. And what the Lord has been telling him to preach is holiness and repentance to prepare the bride for the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.
    He has said that a latter annointing will bring revival to the church. First we need to build a new wineskin of holiness, then He will fill us with His new annointing. Does this sound like the Lord? Check this guy out. God bless.

  13. tamara says:

    I find it very moving that God didn’t ‘double’ Job’s children. God knows children are not replaceable. By giving Job 10 more, God simply added to the ones Job already had; I always took that to be the first ‘hint’ of the resurrection.

  14. Tammy L. says:

    The book of Job is truly an interesting book and the more I read it the more I see how true is the saying “God is bigger than all our problems”. 
     
    Many of you have pointed out, our journey as Christians are not a bed of roses. We will suffer persecution, trials and tribulations. But God says that to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything (James 1:2-4).

    God challenged Job in considering His wisdom and by doing so, Job was awed by the power and wisdom of God that turned his sight away from His problems to looking into God’s glory through the work of His hands.

    No matter how bad the situation is in our work or our own personal lives, be still and know that He is God. 
     
    Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:2)

      

  15. Steve says:

    Just to make sure no one misunderstood that last statement of mine, I meant to say does this sound like the Lord is moving through this man. I wasn’t refering to him as the Lord. God bless.

  16. Kendra says:

    If Satan is to blame for taking things/people etc away from us then why can’t God stop him? If he can and doesn’t what does that say about God and if he can’t does that mean that Satan is more powerful?

  17. Tammy L. says:

    God allowed Satan to test Job. Satan wanted to prove that if one were to be removed of all forms of securities, i.e. material wealth, health and people that we love, man will reject God. (job 1:9-12). It does say God allowed Satan to do anything to Job but not to lay hands on him. Just by reading this, we know that God is still in control.

  18. Steve says:

    Someone I know told me I need to stay on topic with your blog Pastor Mark and that I think I know everything. What I was trying to say was that Job was righteous and this guy Owuor is saying that the same is what God expects from the church. And I wasn’t directing it at any church but at the church as a whole. To me it seems like an urgent message that the Lord wants to send out there so I’m just trying to do my duty as a Christian.
    Pastor Mark, you’re so right about the awesome descriptions of God and His omnipotence. It sends shivers up the spine when you read what the Lord spoke out of the whirlwind. Amazing!

  19. todd says:

    I was glad to have been at CoR recently when Job was sermoned. I don’t know the bible backwards like some do – that’s why I go to church – to get the condensed real-life analogies that I can relate to. Well that one had me thinking the rest of the week. If something can go wrong for me – it does every time. I mean like the 1% -er chances happen about 100% of the time to me. Most people I know think it’s comical but my tolerance and understanding was getting pretty thin.
    Now I see that in a different light. I’m not sure what these “lessons” are supposed to be accomplishing but I now refer to them as “being Job’d” kind of like being “punked”. So the next the tires are missing from car (or something equally bizarre) – I’ll have a good laugh about it and ponder the latest test for it’s good qualities. Like maybe I’ve been swearing too much lately or – maybe the tires were defective and I just scored a second chance at living. Some how – it’s all good. Right?

  20. Evelyn Bennett says:

    I do understand that God uses our weaknesses to make us stronger people.

    Me personally I am surrounded in obstacles that are out of my control.

    I am sort of a control freak when I do not know what happens every minute of the day.

  21. Steve says:

    I think the story of Job is ultimately about love. God loved Job so much that God had a painful plan to smelt and refine him. God loves the church so much He is willing to do the same. Love is the ultimate theme even though we as Christians don’t always get this straight(myself).
    Refined by fire. Definitely painful, but man do we ever understand the love God has once the refining process is over. God loves the Church and He is in the business of smelting and refining. I know from experience. I think my head is still smoldering.

  22. Betty says:

    Very well put, Steve.
    By the way, I enjoy reading your comments and all the others.

  23. E says:

    In the dreadful conditions of the Holocaust a rabbi once gained strength from understanding that God was there with his people, suffering along with them, not abandoning them. As Isaac said in his comment, “God grieves with us.” Steve, I believe you are right when you say that the story of Job is ultimately about love. God loves us and wants a people who respond to Him, no matter what. Job, (a man with integrity), responded to intense suffering and humbled himself. If we are sinning, or believing a lie, we’ll go through His refining fire over and over. Steve, you are right; God loves His Church and IS calling His people to repent before it is too late, (read His message to the Churches in Revelations). “Lord Jesus, help me to respond to your voice, and humble myself. I don’t want to miss being ‘caught up’ with You when You come back for Your Own.”

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